The Linden Realms game: Rock on!

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.

Game Portal

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).

Game world and HUD

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.

Rocky Chaser Cutie Show

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.

Resurrection Circle

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.

Where’s a good hobbit when you need one?

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.

Lurid landscape

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.

Opinion

Tiggs Linden

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.

Quick Hints

  • 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 :).

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12 thoughts on “The Linden Realms game: Rock on!

  1. Great post. And you have to use a mesh-enabled browser … heading there using Phoenix (which I did at first) has you running around large lumpy shapes that are supposed to be trees. 🙂

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    1. I actually had a comment that the trees are mesh when talking about their non-phantom-ness, but removed it when trimming the article for length, totally forgetting the estimate is that around 40% of users still *aren’t* on a mesh-capable Viewer as yet! Silly me!

      Hopefully, by the time the game goes “live” for all, Phoenix will have jumped the chasm into the world of mesh (it is now the only one of the major Viewers not to have mesh rendering capability, poor thing!), and the new Firestorm will be out (which may encourage more people over to the V3 realm.

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  2. The problem for me is not the tools, the game or whatever LL is trying to do to bring more people up to Second Life.
    Not even the fact that (much more then 44pct lol, all the places i go Phoenix is used by more then 90pct of the residents) most users don’t use a mesh viewer (I have singularity, but Phoenix image with same settings is much more alive and warm, as the radar works much better, and for racing you really need to have it, besides a neat feature when building, being able to uncheck highlight prim selected, a must for when working on small prim).
    Is the terrible lag and problems any are getting on full sims, and on homesteads, Hardware problems with latest generation Vga’s, lack of what users want to do in World due to not knowing in fact what Sl is about for 90 pct of LL workers!
    And most of all, the fact that Europe, a real base for Sl profits, is getting into a mess, and sooner a lot of incomes will stop flooding due to that!
    If you add the fact that the competition is not sleeping (Inworldz and more), the only way that the Sl will survive is, to understood that, not all that want land want it to sell, but just to enjoy and build on it, and lower really lower big time, tiers on full sims, and homesteads!
    And make sure that fancy bits can’t hide the fact that LAG, TIERS, REAL LIFE RECESSION, NOT BEING ABLE TO UNDERSTAND THE USES NEEDS; LACK OF COMMUNICATION and so on and on, are the biggest issues LL will have to deal with!
    And i can only hope that this game is really just a way to give users more tools, cause if the Lab still thinks Sl is a game, then it will be not WHY but WHEN, all its users base will move on!

    Ho and btw with a optical fiber 200m mega download connection, latest intel cpu and latest nvidea vga,. win 7 pro 64bits, 12 giga ram, Running Sl at 1024 draw distance ALL TIME, Max VGA hardware settings allowed via Nvidea control panel (32 AL, 16AA HQ), at an average FPS of around 70, Im not complaining personally, for me SL is a dream made true!
    But i saw it more and more empty every day and it saddens me, to see ppl leave cause of all the above!

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  3. Like you i used to have a Premium account as i had Linden land.
    After selling the land i saw no reason to stay premium? no benefits from the free account.

    As for the game direction they now seem to be heading, its a waste of time… if people want to play a game they play Modern Warfare or Call of Duty etc…

    People come to Secondlife for a different reason, to interact with other people chat and make friends. If you want to just blast Zombies buy an Xbox or PS3 its better and no lag 🙂

    we have a couple of ex “THE SIMS” staff now, i hope they dont try and turn us into something similar!!

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    1. Hi Duke

      Funny thing that; I never used my free tier when premium! Have always had land in private islands.

      I’m not sure “game direction” is quite right – although a lot of people are taking the Linden Realms game that way. It’s a means to an end – enabling capabilities to be introduced and used prior to delivering them to the community to use creatively for themselves. It also potentially presents a way for those entering SL to take a step beyond Welcome Island, gain familiarity with interacting with things like HUDS, etc.

      I found it a fun diversion – something I’d be prone to do now and again if I logged-in with nothing on my mind and if mre core circle of friends were all either busy or offline. It’s fun!

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  4. Second Life’s Linden Realms / LR game appears to be a direct copy of my very popular Crystal Quest copyrighted game that has been running throughout most of 2011 in the Lani region of OSGrid, OpenSim virtual world.

    They even copied the same color crystals in my game: Red, Green, Blue, Gold, Silver etc.
    They copied the same gaming objectives I use: to collect the crystals and make it back without getting damaged by my traps and monsters.

    The game concept and reduction to practice in the sim, is my original invention.
    In mid-2011, I added more advanced RolePlay Game and HUD by working together with other talented creators*. This enabled gifts with each Crystal attainment goals, and many other features that Linden Realms hasn’t even developed yet.

    While I support the possible addition of more LSL script gaming commands and features, I believe that Linden Lab’s (Linden Realms) should give credit where it is due, and/or get licenses from the creators. They should also ask creators of the various advanced RolePlay Games within SecondLife and OpenSim what kinds of features they would like to see. An inworld sim database system and processor available using LSL scripting would be #1 on my list, because it would alleviate much of the outside world http processing used now.

    Lani Global
    LANI GLOBAL SYSTEMS ™
    HyperGrid – OSGrid – OpenSim – SL
    Lani region of OSGrid

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  5. It appears to me that this last effort from LL is actually to help them understand content creator requirements. And this is good. At least, things that we have been begging for in years will be discovered by the powers that be in LL house. And they will be motivated to implement them. What I take for my first experience playing the game is that even though the game mechanics are really really simple, they had to implement new features to allow even this game to exist. I am happy that LL has recognized the amount of friction that SL has as is. Also, hopefully, LSL itself will be improved as a result, and hope that we will end up with a decent physics engine.

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    1. When the game prototype was demonstrated at SLCC 2011, Dorian Linden did sate precisely as you’ve surmised – that the game (at that time) was as much to help LL developers understand the environment and content creator requirements as anything else. They were quite frank about what they had learnt and the challenges they’d faced in putting something together that was relatively straightforward to use and which enabled them to explore the development of new tools and features.

      LSL-wise, it’ll be interesting to see what functions emerge alongside these kinds of new mechanics. Physics-wise, and on a broader front, it’ll be interesting to see what comes out of the upcoming Havok upgrade.

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    1. As per the article, try Nysray. You’ll arrive at the Premium Gift point – there’s a green line leading down to the portal (sitting just off-centre of all four Premium Gift regions there). Fly down to the portal following the line.

      No e-mail was sent out; someone tumbled upon the game prior to it actually going into Beta and word spread from there (Tiggs Linden was still working on bits when people started showing up!). The most there has been is the FAQ, which I linked to in my original piece on the game, but neglected to link when reviewing the game.

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