ATX-72 Now Includes Modifiable Version

Fans of Erick Gregan’s popular ATX-72 are in for a pleasant surprise next time you bring out your airplane. The custom version of the airplane, named ATX CUSTOM EG Aircraft is now customer modifiable. According to the release notes, this and some “bug fixes” are the primary change in this 3.7 release.

One significant effect this may have is that you may start seeing more paint packages available for the ATX-72. Since the original version required the release of UUID’s to paint the plane it was difficult for painters to securely create paint packages. Now, a simple no-modify no transfer drop script can be used to apply paints securely.

The ATX-72 includes many highly innovative features in it. The addition of the ability to modify the plane itself by the customer will no doubt make it an even more popular craft.

As with any modifiable aircraft, if you choose to take advantage of this feature, you should expect to do so at your own risk. Make sure you keep an original in your inventory to fall back to. It is very easy to “break” any complicated build if certain cautions are not followed.  Above all, do not change the root prim. Here are some cautionary notes that apply to ANY plane you might modify:

  1. If you link new parts to the plane, make sure you select your objects first and the plane LAST.  That keeps the root prim as root.
  2. Name your own object in some unique way such as your initials so you don’t accidentally replicate the name of an object already inside the plane.
  3. Set the Physics Shape Type of any newly added prims to “None” (unless it needs to be physical for some reason).
  4. Don’t mess with any moving parts of the airplane.
  5. After linking new parts, take your plane back into inventory and re-rez it. Many scripts do an on-rez check of the prims by name to identify the link numbers.
  6. If it worked before you modified it, and doesn’t work after you modified it, what you did was probably a bad idea.  Undo it.

As anyone that reads my column knows, I strongly support modifiable content. But the ability to modify your toys must be taken with caution. When it goes wrong, there is no fault of the creator. SL Airplanes are delicate instruments, which is one of the reasons some makers remain hesitant to come home from the dark (no-modify) side.

To Erick, thank you for taking this leap of faith. I believe it will benefit both you and the fans of your fine airplane.

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Why Modifiable Content is Important

Anyone that has read past articles on this blog knows that I have a strong fondness for planes, cars and boats with modifiable builds (scripts excepted). My recent experience in painting three aircraft, coupled with recent posturing by one prominent aircraft maker (not on this site and I will not identify them publicly), have given me reason to double down on this stance.

Note: I hope to have a review out soon instead of another “why” column. That will follow shortly after a particular aircraft is released.

 

Discovery

With the release of the Porter PC-6 by Carly, it fell upon me to paint the airplane with the Vulture Air colors. This being my first experience at painting an airplane, there were a few learning curves to tackle. One of those lessons was that with a modifiable airplane, I was able to leverage my dual monitors, with Firestorm on one and Paint Shop Pro on the other. With that, I could apply a local texture to the airplane, modify that texture in Paint Shop Pro, and the results were immediately visible on the plane.

Had that plane been no modify, every change I made would have to be uploaded (10L down the tubes each time), inserted in the aircraft maker’s applier tool, and applied as a separate step. So one pixel out of alignment and I’m down another 10 lindens and a good 30 minutes.  A small amount by itself, but after several iterations with multiple faces, it adds up fast. It also multiplies the time it takes to paint the plane by several factors.

This scenario has been repeated twice now with a release of another aircraft, and pending release of yet another one. And why if a non-modifiable aircraft is released, someone else will have to paint it. I won’t touch it. Or buy it.

Experiences and Anecdotes

Blocking modify ability assumes a one size fits all approach can work in our global environment. It cannot. You can create a cargo plane full of boxes and only freight haulers that need planes full of generic boxes will be interested. You can leave it empty and make the pilot wear a lame, laggy wearable to have the “cargo” appear on the plane, only to crash at a sim crossing and have that wearable still stuck to your avatar.

Or you can do like Carly did and click on that little box that says “Modify” and the buyer can put what they want in the plane. That is why my cargo configured, non-modifiable plane has been permanently mothballed in favor of the modifiable cargo version of the PC-6.

An Anecdote

I recently discovered the S&W 429 Executive did not have a spotlight. As I happened to have an AS365 that had one. It took nothing more than pulling it off the 365 and attaching it to the 429. Nothing stolen – I have the rights to both. The copter did not disintegrate in an explosive self destruction. I just made a simple change and had exactly what I needed. Most users probably did not even care about that little detail.

Now some of you might be saying “but that’s not fair because S&W didn’t sell it with a spotlight”. And I say, General Motors didn’t sell my truck with a spotlight either but if i want one I can go down to Pep Boys and buy one and attach it.

Another Example

Many RP regions need beacons, combat scripts or other specialized additions to their vehicles. No-modify craft are useless to them.

The Real Reasons for No-Modify

Most creators claim they are doing no modify because modifiable content can be easily stolen. That was true in the prim days. In the days of mesh, that is pure monkey dung. You cannot edit a build and copy the sizes to steal a mesh.

Some creators also think (inaccurately) that textures can be stolen via scripts. That was in fact possible several years ago. Then one day, Linden Labs discovered the loophole, shut down all script capability grid wide for several  hours in a panic while they closed that loophole. So that argument doesn’t work anymore either.If you run a script now to try to get the UUID of a texture, it returns all zeros unless that texture is in your inventory.

It is all about control. A plane maker can deny a painter access to their closed texturing system if they don’t like that person or their work. At least one I know of would probably come unglued at the concept that their creations are not absolutely perfect and need something as minor as a spotlight or a specialized combat script added.

Final Thoughts

As more modern thinking, customer oriented creators join the list of creators that understand this, the harder it will be for the dinosaurs that cling religiously to that empty Modify check box to survive. Virtually every new creator entering the aviation community is clicking on that Modify check box.

It is a positive trend. Please, to all buyers that value this, please let it be known in appreciation to those creators that started out with modifiable creations, and to those that have come home from the dark side.

Blue Skies!

P.S. If you reviewed the above linked list and there is a name missing from it, please let me know. I have recently added a couple names and will add more as they are identified to make it a complete list.