Note: as of December 2011, Linden Realms is avialable to all SL users, not just Premium accounts.
A benefit of being Premium right now is getting to take a look at the new Project LR game (LR apparently standing for “Linden Realms”) that is set to introduce new concepts and tools to Second Life. As I had a spare
15, 20, 30 minutes – hour last night, I decided to see what it was like.
The first issue (as everyone is now probably no doubt aware) is getting to the game regions – you cannot teleport directly. Instead, one must go to one of the Premium gift kiosks locations and then locate the game portal. Not actually that taxing in effect, but an interesting way of managing numbers in the game regions: when the limit has been reached, the portal(s) cease teleporting until someone in the game leaves.
There is nothing to touch or sit on at the portal, no need to manually trigger a teleport – just walk through…
…And find yourself in a strange, mist-laden landscape. You’ll also find a HUD has attached itself to your screen, of which more anon.
The game has its own Windlight presets, and I strongly recommend you keep them to add to the sense of fun (and to make it harder to spot lurking rock monsters through the gloom).
The HUD is a simple-looking affair and auto-ADDS itself to the top left of your screen (it won’t knock-off any HUD item(s) already there). It comprises a register of crystals collected, a help button that will take you to the game’s FAQ page and a very tidy little prompt display that appears in the lower centre of your screen.
There are some nice touches to it: nothing is placed in your inventory; the HUD is simply delivered and attached. If you remove it or log out with it attached, it is deleted (in the case of removing it in the game regions, you are also automatically teleported home). Your progress in the game isn’t lost – records of your crystals collected and quests completed are stored on the server side, and you can resume where you left off on leaving the game.
Playing the game is relatively straighforward: follow the HUD prompts and complete each quest in turn. Along the way you can also earn small rewards in the form of L$.
Well, obviously, it is not all that straightforward, otherwise where’s the fun? There are obstacles to avoid – such as the aforementioned rock monsters that will, if given a chance, hunt you down and (presumably) squish you. However, they are by no means the only obstacles that can “kill” you.
The rocks themselves aren’t really all that monstrous – they actually look quite cute, but they’ll turn an angry pattern when chasing you down and they can be sneaky – popping up unexpectedly. Given FLY is denied in the game areas, you need to be fleet of foot when avoiding them. Having sound on helps, as you can hear the rumble should one get behind you and out of camera view, and so can take avoiding action.
I’m not saying anything about other hazards – if you’re able to play, you can find out about them for yourself :). However, this being SL, no-one stays dead for long; on being “killed” you are teleported to the nearest “resurrection circle”, from which you can resume your quest.
Crystals come in a number of colours, and the HUD informs you of how many of each you need to collect, as well as the number of each colour collected. When you’re reached the required number for all the colours you have to collect, you’ll receive instructions on what to do next.
There’s actually nothing stopping you from grabbing as many crystals that you come across regardless of colour – and that makes something of a game in itself: simply grabbing crystals and avoiding rocks and other obstacles. You don’t physically pick the crystals up (no need to touch or right-click) – just run through them to add them to your tally.
Crystals appear to be somewhat randomly “seeded” on the game regions, with the result some are next to impossible to reach – take the one above for example: the tree it is under isn’t phantom, so walking through the crystal isn’t really possible.
When you opt to end the game just teleport home and detach the game HUD (or detach the HUD in the game regions to be auto-releported out). As noted above, the HUD will be deleted and you’ll receive a fresh HUD on your return, complete with your progress to date.
Currently, quests are limited – although LL are apparently considering adding more. I’ll be curious if this is the case: at the moment it would appear that once you have completed the available quests and removed the HUD, a new one doesn’t attach to your screen on returning to the game. I’ve visited the game twice since completing it, and on both occasions, no HUD materialised on my arrival at the Summoning Circle. Whether this is by design or a bug, I have no idea and am curious as to whether anyone else has experienced this.
Some have reported issues with lag in the regions, but my own experience last night was anything but – even with people arriving and leaving at regular intervals, I had not lag, excellent frame rates and a lot of fun. My only real issue was that some of the region boundaries were exceptionally bouncy without apparent cause (the neighbouring sim didn’t appear overloaded), but this didn’t dampen the fun.
Overall, this is a clever little game that is well put together and which offers very simple, but highly effective fun. Tiggs Linden and the rest of those who worked on it are to be congratulated.
As to the future of this particular Linden Realm game, if the current plans within LL come to pass, it will flow from “Premium-only” beta to being available for all SL users and thence to being an activity-based follow-on for new users to try their hands at after Welcome Island.
However, for many, it’s the tools within the game that hold promise – tools that are to be made available to the content creation community. HUD-wise, one can see a whole raft of potential uses for these in a wide variety of sims: combat environments, immersive art features, tour guide systems – the list goes on. Secure server-side auto teleports also have a number of potential uses as well, properly implemented, and I know from discussions that Tiggs Linden has worked hard to ensure this feature cannot be abused. Then there is the nascent AI aspect of the game – the rock monsters reacting to your presence and chasing you (which will happen regardless of having a HUD on).
I had fun last night; if you’ve not had a go already, why not give it a try? Nysray is a good place to start.
- Turn off your Viewer’s Fly Override, if enabled – flying is cheating 🙂
- Turn on ALWAYS RUN if you really want to avoid the rocks, otherwise be daring and walk until you encounter them!
- If you are using Penny Patton’s camera position settings (or a camera HUD similar in nature), you might want to revert back to default camera placement – I found that with a rock chasing me, there were times when the rock totally blocked my immediate screen view and I had no idea what lay ahead as I ran!
- Keep to the local Windlight settings if you can.
And no, I’m not going to give hints on gameplay or what to do – the first is easy enough, and the second is more fun if you discover for yourself :).