Project LR: there’s a new game in SL

Game play in SL is becoming “official” as LL slip out a new project. Called “Project LR”, it is currently in beta and available only to those of you with Premium accounts – so pooh to me where trying it is concerned!

Project LR is, to quote Rand Linden, “A fun, creative, and engaging virtual experience produced and provided by Linden Lab.  Project LR takes you through basic exploration and game play, where you can earn Linden dollars by gathering gems and completing quests.”

The project apparently comprises 12 regions currently (Prokofy has one or two pictures from a visit) in operation, with a further 24 apparently waiting in the wings.

Project LR: 12 sims right now

Project LR is a game that appears to have grown out of a demonstration given at SLCC-2011 by Durian, Esbee, and Gez Linden. That demonstration introduced the use of basic gaming mechanics into the SL environment and encompassed a few interesting features. While that demonstration was not intended to be seen on the Main grid, it was fairly evident from comments given that the ideas being developed within it would eventually find their way into SL.

An element of the game demonstrated at SLCC-2011

The Project LR game appears to be quest-based, and provides the opportunity to collect gems that can be exchanged for Linden Dollars. Elements of the game require you seek-out certain things, while other can lead you into a lot of trouble – and “death”. Interestingly, the game utilises something that may be new to some in SL, but which is quite familiar to those who use the Restrained Love API: forced teleports. Get “killed” in the game by one of a variety of means, and you are force-teleported to a “resurrection circle”, where you can resume your quest.

One of the items to find in your quest

It’s also interesting to note that, when demonstrating their initial game at SLCC 2011, Gez and Esbee pointed out they were trying to achieve results without the complication of HUDs, etc. – but Project LR does in fact utilise a HUD. I can’t help wonder if this is to perhaps help ease fears some might have about the entire idea of enforced teleports by providing the security that it can only happen when in the LR sims and wearing the game HUD. Or the HUDS could, of course be down to the fact that hey couldn’t simply work the game any other way :).

The HUDs also include other functionality, and are auto-attached to you when you arrive on the game regions. This is to avoid the need to access your inventory, etc., and get you straight into the game itself. The auto-attach is labelled as non-standard SL behaviour, but one cannot help but feel it may have its origins in RLV, with a bit of tweaking from LL. A further tweak is that the HUD actually vanishes when you log-out of SL, to avoid compromising people’s inventory.

Game HUD

To access the game, and possibly to facilitate the auto-attachment of the HUD, people cannot simply teleport to the game regions. They must instead go via one of a number of in-world portals. These are currently located (I’m informed) near the Premium account gift kiosks – whether this remains the case, or more appear elsewhere when the Project is open to all remains to be seen. Access to the regions is also limited – if the limit has been reached, the portals will reject attempts to use them. I assume this is to keep on-sim numbers to a manageable number without overly impacting performance (and is probably why another two islands of 12 sims apiece appear to be waiting in the wings for development).

Those that have been fortunate enough to try-out the game have given feedback that ranges from “Nintendo-esque” through to reports that while they went for a quick try, they ended up staying for over two hours and got thoroughly immersed in things.

Without having seen it for myself, I can’t really comment on the game per se, but it is clear a lot of thought has gone into it, and it potentially serves a useful end as well as being a lot of fun for those that try it. It will be interesting to see if any of the capabilities used within it do find their way into more widespread use – one can immediately see that a “guidebook” HUD that can be attached when arriving on a sim and poofs itself on departure and which, between times, provides a ready means of teleporting around locations of interest, and provides links to supporting web pages or whatever, could be something sim owners would end up drooling over (to name but one possible application outside of all the gaming opportunities).

In fact, while writing this piece, I see Rodvik himself has commented on that aspect of what’s coming, as well as the game itself:

“Yes glad you are enjoying it. As I mentioned back in SLCC we wanted to go through all the pain of reducing friction to make more interactive experiences ourselves and then pass on those tools to our content creators [my emphasis]. It will be on Premium for beta test for a while then we will roll it out to scale later. After we get it working at scale we will roll out the tools and our creators can make some great stuff.”

What else may emerge from this in terms of Viewer UI enhancements, improved camera controls, or whatever, will also be interesting to see – if indeed, any part of this does have impact on the emerging new Viewer 3.2 UI.

One thing is clear – there are some interesting and potentially useful / exciting new wrinkles entering the world of Second Life. I envy those who will get to blog about it ahead of me!

Project LR is currently in Premium Beta – accessible only to those with Premium accounts. Read more in the FAQ. A portal to the game can be found at Nysray.