The UFO is controlled using the standard keys for vehicles. It is powered up and down by saying ‘start’ and ‘stop’ in chat. When seated, say ‘help’ to get a reminder of the control keys. The throttle can also be controlled using chat commands in the following format…
/121 throttle 20
The number at the end sets the throttle percentage – it is not a speed, as such. So, “/121 throttle 100″ means ‘maximum power”. You can use this to change to a set power level instantly. The vehicle uses real physics, which means it will take a moment or so to reach the new speed. However, it does change speed very quickly. Since this method uses standard chat commands, it follows that you can create gestures to make throttle changes with a single keystroke, and there are some starter gestures included in the outfit. Feel free to edit the settings to whatever you prefer.
The craft uses standard SL physics for flight. Unlike most aircraft, it does not bank into turns – it remains completely level. This feels strange at first, but remember that this is an anti-gravity craft that uses alien technology to power it – earthlings expect their aircraft to bank, but aliens know that this isn’t neccessary. It is also perfectly circular and rotates about its centre when you steer. All this adds up to something that flies very strangely to the outside observer – it doesn’t bank like a plane, and there’s no ‘shape’ that you see turning in the sky.
UFOs are famous for their incredible speeds, and this one is no exception – it will easily outrun virtually anything to be found in the SL skies. Not only is it very fast, it is capable of rapid acceleration and deceleration. Speed is changed in discrete steps – one keypress will increase or decrease it by a set amount. At low speeds, the change is small, and is bigger at high speeds. This means that you can move very slowly for manuevering and cruising past unsuspecting avatars, and zoom away very quickly if somebody gets suspicious.
To make large changes in speed, simply tap the forward/backward keys in quick succession – it will remember the number of presses and reach to desired speed very quickly. The reason you don’t hold these keys down is due to the rate of change of speed – it would become uncontrollable. The power setting thus attained is then set – you don’t need to keep pressing keys to maintain speed (a bit like a cruise control). For steering and changing height, however, you can hold the keys down. To make small changes in direction or height, tap the appropriate key, or hold it down to rotate/rise/fall at full speed. Rotation and height changing are set to have sensible maximum rates, and those rates will reduce to zero when you let go of the keys.
In summary, you set your speed by tapping the power keys – like setting cruise control, and then steer/rise/fall as required. Just remember to tap the slow-down key to decelerate.
The control panel has a green sphere in the middle – this is your speed indicator. As you speed up, it changes colour smoothly from green to yellow to red. For most flying, a greeny-yellow shade is good. Bright yellow is pretty fast, while bright red is very, very fast. Be aware that the UFO is not impervious to failed region hand-offs, ban lines or full parcels – you have been warned (and it has copy permissions, just in case something zaps it).
The hemispherical dome at the top can be opened and closed – simply click on it. It opens by means of a hole appearing at the top, which gradually gets larger. Although the dome is shiny and opaque on the outside, it has a transparent blue tint on the inside. In fact, visibility is very good when flying in mouselook mode, and the UFO is great for sightseeing when travelling at low speeds.
For added fun, the UFO is fitted with a classic alien abduction beam – a bright white column of light that points straight down from the centre of the craft’s underside. The beam extends 50 metres, and is phantom (it will pass through objects and avatars as if they weren’t there – looks spooky and vaguely menacing). The beam can be switched on and off using the tall green tapered beam-shaped button to the right of the speed indicator sphere. Green means it’s off, and red means it’s on. (Please note that the beam cannot actually abduct avatars – Linden Lab, not to mention the abducted avatars, might not like it.)