Linden Lab announces Creatorverse and Patterns

Update, October 9th, 2014: Linden Lab announced that development work on Patterns has been discontinued.

Updated February 19th, 2014: Linden Lab has discontinued Creatorverse, therefore link to its website have been removed.

Linden Lab has today announced the first two of its new products, Creatorverse and Patterns. coming after a year of speculation which started at SLCC-2011 in August last year when Rod Humble announced that the company would be diversifying its product stream,

Both of the new products  go some way towards revealing the directions in which the company is heading aside from the continued development of Second Life.

Creatorverse

Creatorverse is described as a “Simple, shared 2D creative space” which will be available on the iPad. The basic idea is that users create whatever they wish – pictures, puzzles, games, etc, and then place them in the creatorverse universe, where others can download them, add to them and re-share.

A Creatorverse screen shot (copyright Linden Lab)

As with in-world building in Second Life, Creatorverse appears to use simple and complex shapes which can be dragged and dropped into the application and combined to create more complex elements, forms and shapes which can in turn be animated. There is a website associated with the new product, and the Lab’s press release includes a video overview of the product, narrated by Rod Humble. It has been submitted to the Apple Appstore and should be available in the next few weeks.

Patterns

Patterns first came to prominence in July of this year,  when it appeared that the official Linden Research website was being prepared for a re-vamp (which has subsequently happened – see below). At the time, it wasn’t clear if “Patterns” was indeed a new product or simply a placeholder in a proposed new web design (interestingly, and in something of a repeat of events surrounding Linden lab’s “other” leaked product, dio, the images relating to the proposed site redesign vanished shortly after the news broke). The press release describes Patterns thus:

Patterns is a new 3D creative environment to explore and shape, where you can build large-scale structures that reach the sky, bridges that traverse chasms, and more, all while the pull of gravity challenges your construction techniques. Soon, we’ll share more details with a video trailer, and adventurous early adopters will be able to get the ‘genesis release’ (our first public build), help shape the development of Patterns by providing feedback and suggestions, and get their names added to the credits as founders.

While the Linden Research website adds:

Imagine a 3D universe of creativity… Explore caverns and valleys, while you harvest substances with real world densities. Build large scale structures that reach the sky or bridges that traverse chasms. Challenge real-world physics to see which creations will tumble — or withstand — the power of gravity.  It’s your universe to shape. Interestingly, and in difference to Creatorverse, there is no mention of any specific platform for Patterns. Whether this is indicative of it being available for platforms other than the iPad (the only platform mentioned in reference to Creatorverse) remains to be seen.

Revamped Corporate Website

Alongside the announcement, Linden Research have launched a new, much slicker, corporate website, which places equal emphasis on both Second Life and the two upcoming new releases – with plenty of room for further products to be added over time.

Part of the revamped Linden Research website

The website still includes an opportunity to sign-up for the company’s beta programme for new products, which I reported on at the start of the year thanks to a nudge from Daniel Voyager, although the sign-up page itself has also been given the once-over.

Initial Thoughts

While it is hard to judge either product from what is seen in this release and on the websites, it would appear that perhaps they are aimed at different age groups. Creatorverse in particular would seem at first glance to be the kind of activity that might find appeal amount younger people and could even be used as something as a learning tool to encourage children to interact with tablet devices (or at least (initially?)  the iPad). Certainly, it would seem to be something one could see parents and children playing with together. Obviously, a large part of this observation is based purely on the graphics shown within the screen captures and the video; the reality of the product might will be something else entirely.

Patterns appears – again on the basis of the screen shot and web text – to be somewhat more involved, and thus potentially aimed at an older audience. Both products certainly appear to build on concepts found within Second Life, such as building complex, potentially interactive creations using relatively primitive building blocks. As I’m not an iPad owner, I doubt I’ll get an opportunity to play with Creatorverse.

If for no other reason than this, I hope that Patterns will be more widely available for those of us who have not taken a bite from the Apple. And if it is intended for mobile use, I hope LL takes account of the fact that Android is increasingly enjoying the lion’s share of the mobile market. Nevertheless, the news is now out – and with at least one, if not two more products also in the offing, times are certainly about to get interesting when Linden Lab is concerned.

A PrimPossible Update

I don’t usually run product reviews (as I’ve mentioned in the past!) – and am unlikely to start. For one thing, others do it so much better than I. For another, I actually don’t tend to buy that much nowadays; nigh-on six years in SL with this avie, and I have an inventory which would probably terrify me were not 3/4s of it packed away…

However, I’ve been in love with Ample Clarity’s PrimPossible range for a good while now, and I decided in my wanderings to go take a peek at what he’s been up to of late. Turns out, rather a lot!

For those of you unfamiliar with the Ample’s work, he specialises in producing comprehensive furniture suites and other items using a single sculpt, offering tremendous value for those operating on a land impact budget. I’ve used Ample’s furnishings extensively – notably in my Linden Home, where they are of huge benefit in allowing me to have a comfortable set-up with a minimal prim outlay (allowing me to “mod” the house somewhat.

The PrimPossible store with a demonstrator of the new sim extender in the foreground

One of the new offerings from Ample is an “all-in-one” sim surround, which provides a customisable mountain range to surround a region which features 24 different mountain shapes and 476 different textures to produce a range of finished effects. It can fully sround a sim, or be set to display on just or or two sides. I’m personally ambivalent about sim extenders – while they can dramatically improve the vista surrounding a private sim, I’m not altogether sure they also don’t cause viewer issues to varying degrees; I certainly appear to encounter more issues on sims employing extenders than I do with those that do not. Whether this is indicative of a real problem, or something with my system, I’ve no idea. However, this offering from Ample appears to provide a very tidy option to those who wish to extend the view around their sim with a potentially flexible means of doing so which doesn’t limit them to a single layout / style. More on this item can be found on Ample’s SL Marketplace store.

It’s really Primpossible furniture that I’m in love with.  As noted above, I use Ample’s furniture in my Linden Home;  the only reason it’s not in use in my primary SL home at the mo is that it doesn’t quite suit the design of my skyhome – although that’ll likely change the next time the building itch strikes!.

In the meantime, Ample has extended his range of suites and set-ups, and one at least has alredy caught my eye and got me thinking about home changes so that I can fit it in! This is the indoor / outdoor corner sofa, a 5-seat unit with over 1,000 texture options, allowing it to be used – as the name suggests – indoors or outdoors. As with all of Ample’s lounge suites, it is powered by the AVsitter engine, and it includes 190 sit, cuddle, dance, and other animations.

The new indoor/outdoor sofa

I’ve also previously covered Ample’s kitchen range which helps to complete a home. He’s now in the process of bringing out a bathroom suite as well, for those who like their homes fully and realistically furnished. Comprising a bath, washbasin, loo and even a toilet roll, the suite is sculpted from a single prim and includes a range of washing animations. I’m not personally into bathrooms or kitchens within SL myself, but I’m aware Ample’s kitchens are already very popular; once the bathroom suite is formally launched, I’m guessing it will also find popularity.

Coming soon: the new bathroom suite

As well as furnishing, etc., Ample also produces what amounts to a “one stop” potted plant. A single prim plant and pot which you can set to any one of 114 different plants, and also re-texture the pot itself to one of 16 different styles – and both plant and pot can be resized. At L$100 per flower, this provides a means to quickly and relatively inexpensively have indoor plants which you can change to suit your mood and / or the season (a copy version is also available on the Marketplace at L$800).

I’m an unabashed fan of Ample’s work, and I’m happy to admit so. I love his fully featured grand piano – which is a hard thing to say after my long love affair with Persephone Milk’s beautiful Musical Alchemy concert grand. Ample’s own top-of-the-range concert grand is simply a wonder, and I love having it gracing either of my homes (it’s “on show” at the Linden Home right now, but liable to bounce back to my little sky home soon!).

My PrimPossible Linden Home: downstairs I have a primpossible lounge suite complete with tables, books, lamp and rug, concert grand and plant – all one prim piece; upstairs a bedroom suite with bead, bedside tables and lamp, etc., and a further sofa – all at 1 prim apiece

For those who haven’t tried Ample’s work, whether or not prim counts / land impact ceilings are an issue, I really do recommend you take a look. I doubt you’ll be disappointed. Not only are his items very well made and represent really good value, I can – as I’ve mentioned in a previous piece on his work – speak from first-hand experience of his superb customer care. In fact, I’ve little doubt I’ll be back at his store in a couple of days to pick up that indoor / outdoor sofa, which is calling to me even as I write this!

Related Links

Group tools: giving notice to people

Group Tools is a Windows client for Second Life specifically designed for those who need to send out group notices or IM messages simultaneously across a number of groups.

Rather than having to create individual notices for each group, or copy & paste a message multiple times into different group IM sessions, Group Tools allows you to set up a single message (with attachments, if required) as a notice, as an IM or both, to all groups you have determined should receive the information. As such, the client is aimed towards people like entertainers, large event organisers, venue owners, and so on, who may operate multiple groups which need to receive the same information, or are members of multiple groups to which they frequently send the same information.

To achieve its goals, Group Tools is designed to be used with an alt account, which is treated as an in-world bot for the sending of messages. So to make effective use of the client, you will either require an alt account which can be used in this way, or create one specifically for use with Group Tools. The bot itself needs to be a member of all the groups to which you regularly send IMs and notices (ans will require permission to send out notices in the case of the latter), and be logged into SL via Group Tools in order to send messages as required. To add flexibility, Group Tools includes the concept of an “Operator’s Group”, which allows those you trust to be able to send out notices / IMs through the bot (they do not need to be running Group Tools).

Account Registration

Group Tools is unusual in that it requires an account registration process and a licence fee payment in order to be used. The registering account should be your main account, which is used to manage your bots, and not any account you intend to use as a bot. Accounts are registered in-world at the Group Tools office.

Licence fees can be purchased on an in perpetuity basis (one payment only) or on a monthly renewable basis. For those wishing to try-out Group Tools, a free one week trail period is available, which provides access to Group Tools in full. Licence prices can be found on the Group Tools website, as can the Privacy Policy, which is a recommended read.

Registration will also supply you with a sample notecard which can be used as a template to help with formatting your own message notecards.

Once you have registered, you’re ready to download Group Tools (if you’ve not already done so), and set-up your bot(s).

Download and Install

The Group Tools download .EXE is 7.56Mb in size, and should install OK once downloaded. However, issues have been reported using Norton Internet Security, and guidelines have been posted on the Group Tools website for those who may encounter similar problems.

Control Centre

Group Tools comprises two parts: the Control Centre, used to set-up bots and log them into Second Life, and the Client Window, where specific operations can be carried out.

Launching Group Tools displays the Control Centre screen which you use to define your bot(s). Bots are set-up using the account name / password for an SL account and linking them to the registered  Master account. Account names are entered with a period between the first and last name, not a space (i.e. “Inara.Pey”, not “Inara Pey”).

Control Centre screen as it appears before any bots have been defined

Once this initial information has been entered, SAVE BOT should be clicked. This will create a dedicated bot account within Group Tools, complete with a Group Tools-specific password, which is quite separate to the bot’s SL password (and so cannot be used to log-in to SL with the bot via other means). Clicking SAVE BOT will also refresh the Control Centre screen to display a SETTINGS button next to the bot’s name. Clicking on this opens a tabbed panel (below), allowing further options to be set for the bot.

Updated log-in screen for a saved bot

The Settings tab comprises options to:

  • Set a default log-in location for the bot when using Group Tools
  • Allow the bot to automatically sit on a defined prim (useful if the bot is logged-in to a busy area and you do not what it to be an obstacle to traffic – just supply the UUID of the prim on which the bot is to sit)
  • Assign the bot to an Operators Group – see below.
  • Set whether or not Group Tools should start and log-in to SL using the bot whenever you start Windows.

The Misc tab allow you to set various options, including:

  • Whether or not the bot can accept friendship offers from anyone or just from operators
  • Whether the bot can use money
  • An automatic IM reply sent in response to incoming IMs
  • How inventory offers are received by the bot.

Once you have set / changed any of these options for a bot, make sure you click SAVE BOT to ensure the settings are correctly stored by Group Tools.

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