“the centre was now attracting locals as well as tourists, the simulator really is a highlight”
Centre co-ordinator Margaret Griggs
A highlight of the centre’s new interpretation space is the steam ship simulator which provides a virtual experience of captaining a 1910 ship into the Mersey River in stormy, dark, foggy or clear day conditions.
Ai3D were responsible for software and interface with hardware and the creation of a computer simulated world. This virtual environment was focused around Devonport in the early 1900s. The terrain model is to scale and was based on old plans and surveys of the area, it also contains 3D ships, leading lights, lighthouses and watercraft from the era.
The simulator features original steamship controls and the 7x cabin windows are replaced with high definition TV’s in portrait format. The virtual world is displayed at 1920×1080 HD resolution per TV and creates an impressive 180 panorama for the captain. Original steamships helm and telegraph are wired with network inputs to control the steamship. There are full sound effects for the ambient environment and weather and a narration by a 1st mate gives you tips and encouragement when you undertake the missions.
There are 6 missions or with 3 goals each in the initial build of the simulator, set at various times of day and night. These missions are selected by a touchscreen connected to a barcode scanner for purchased tickets.
The simulator features dynamic weather, visibility, swell conditions, AI controlled ships and other period watercraft.
The missions cover the Bass Strait (one of the worlds roughest bodies of water), the entry up the Mersey River into the old township of Devonport (Tasmania) and the headlands at Port Phillip Bay (Victoria) and range in difficulty from mild to very difficult. Even the easy levels are built with difficult patches as Prime Minister Julia Gillard found out much to the delight of the media. The Bass Strait is a very dangerous body of water and has claimed many vessels since the initial European contact.