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.

14 thoughts on “Linden Lab announces Creatorverse and Patterns

  1. I can’t help seeing the extremes to which the Lab has swung since the days of Mark Kingdon. Kindon and Humble seem to represent polar opposites in terms of strategic direction. I’m very disappointed.

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    1. That’s interesting, because in many respects what I see under rod Humble is the continuance of many practices started to be put in place under Mark Kingdon’s tenure, and which obviously came from the board.

      In that respect, I really see little change; which in turn prompts me to consider whether our disappointment is born of the fact that we simply didn’t read the writing on the wall at the time and were further blindsided by Rod Humble’s apparent innocence and enthusiasm coming into the job. The irony here – for me at least – is that I did, on a number of occasions in 2010 (and after), go on record as saying we shouldn’t expect anything major to change as a result of Kingdon going and Humble coming, simply because both serve at the pleasure of the the board – and throughout, the board has remained largely unchanged.

      However, in terms of the new products – I do see these as a very positive move. They are not detracting in any way from Second Life or the efforts being put into enhancing SL in a myriad of ways and to better define how the platform can gain users who “stick”. However, what they are doing is potentially – and time will tell on this – freeing Linden Lab from being completely dependent upon just one volatile product as its revenue earner. Should Patterns, Creatorverse and (eventually) Dio prove to be financially successful to the company, they not only serve to help ensure its continued survival and growth – they could potentially have a very beneficial impact on Second Life itself, simply because LL is not longer dependent upon it for revenue.

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        1. Missed this earlier. I actually have little issue with Humble leading a “gaming” charge at this point in time, for reasons I’ve stated elsewhere in this blog with regards to Steam. In a nutshell, it seems a good cross-over when it comes to broad interests, and those using Steam are liable to be using the hardware which will allow them to enjoy SL to the fullest – so why not? After all, where else is LL supposed to look for new users who may well “stick” with SL longer than a few minutes / couple of hours?

          And if they did look anywhere else, would we be any more approving? Let’s face it – we’ve pretty much pooh-poohed every attempt they’ve made to date.

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      1. concerning using profits from other products to somehow make LL no longer dependent on SL revenue, I don’t see anything that would lead me to believe they would change policy at the Lab just because they have more money from different sources.

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        1. Right now, LL are hoist by their own petard vis-a-vis the land tier (server rental) / revenue knot. Makes it extraordinarily hard for them to do anything without potentially hurting themselves more – and despite all the cries for lowering tier, doing so could very much hurt them far more than not lowering tier, something I’ve previously covered at length.

          At least with alternative sources of revenue – assuming they are successful – in place, the company at least has the option of being able to adjust pricing within the SL product. Will they do so? That is the question, and I agree, it’s by no means certain they will. But having the option (and assuming they wish to keep SL going as a viable concern – and despite all the doom and gloom, I actually don’t see them as not wanting to do so) is a lot better than no option at all.

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        2. I suppose it comes down to how I see SL and LL. I see SL as sadly fading, and from this shift in focus and resources to “gaming” I see more evidence that LL feels it has done all it can do to make SL successful.

          You said it best above, “we simply didn’t read the writing on the wall at the time and were further blindsided by Rod Humble’s apparent innocence and enthusiasm coming into the job.” THIS is the source of my problem with LL. I haven’t let go of the notion that SL can be much more than it is.

          Hopefully Steam will bring in waves of new users and I’ll be completely wrong in my view that the Lab is doing nothing for SL.

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          1. Without wishing to sound like I’m picking on you – which I’m not 🙂 –

            “I see more evidence that LL feels it has done all it can do to make SL successful”

            How so? LL are pouring a massive amount of resources into trying to improve Second life and make it more attractive. for example, and as a key point list:

            • They’re continuing to invest heavily in hardware and infrastructure. While it has been pointed out this could be repurposed, it’s hard to see why the company would even consider the initial investment in the first place if the aim is simply to leave SL to slowly whither on the vine. Why not leave such investment until such time as they actually need it for whatever “future purpose” they have for it?
            • They’re investing heavily in manpower, time and effort to bring greater and broader capabilities to Second Life. Granted, we may not agree with some of these capabilities (such as pathfinding, although ironically, AI capabilities were something, like mesh, which was subject to persistent calls for implementation from users in the past) – but they are working hard to get them going: mesh, pathfinding, materials processing, avatar bake fail, interest lists & object rezzing, improving sim crossings, group list management, and so on. Were the company at a point where they were thinking, “can’t do any more”, it’s hard to see why they’d bother with even half of these projects – particularly when you take into account the vociferous and negative response given to some of them (vis, pathfinding, above).
            • They’re pro-actively working to find a new audience for SL – one that has the intuitive understanding to perhaps “get” the potential of SL far quicker than randomly aiming at Facebook or corporate users, as has been the case in the past – and who are going to have the necessary computing horsepower to really experience SL to the fullest. Again, we’re not privy to the Steam link-up, there is an argument to say that there is a financial deal of some description in play here to make it worth Valve’s while to provision SL to its users – and LL are not like game companies, where they can get Valve to list SL for free in return for a percentage of sales from other products sold to users through the Stream mechanism. So again, if LL were no longer interested in making “SL successful” (actually a premise I would dispute in itself, as it implies SL isn’t successful), why would they even bother with this effort?
            • They’re still pro-actively recruiting for positions which appear to be more directly related to the development and support of Second Life than to the development of mobile / tablet-based products.

            We may not like the way that LL goes about its business where it impacts us – the lack of communication, the disengagement from the community, and so forth. We may not even like some of the things they are doing to try and breathe additional life into SL – again, pathfinding (which I freely admit, I don’t see as being a “big win” in any way, shape size or form either now or in the medium-term future) and the Steam link-up (which many have responded to with a degree of hostility). However, our disagreement with these acts, directions, etc., doesn’t actually equate to LL “doing nothing” for SL.

            My comment on the writing on the wall wasn’t intended to mean I feel LL has in any way given up. Rather, that we were all too willing to slip on the Rose(dale?)-tinted glasses and believe that when Kingdon was given the order of the boot, everything was going to be fine and dandy once more: Philip was back (even in the short term) and all the “wrongdoing” unfairly laid at the door of Mark Kingdon was now behind us – when in fact very little in terms of high-level policy and direction was actually going to change. When Rod Humble arrived, full of outward enthusiasm, we further allowed ourselves to slip into a kind of complacency that all was right with the world once more, rather than accepting the fact fact the times were still a-changin’ – and that along with the good news there would still be some hard times ahead and the need for difficult adjustments.

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        3. “Without wishing to sound like I’m picking on you – which I’m not” Yeah, which means your are, of course.

          I need to say this though, you’ve asserted that Second Life is “successful” and I’ve read your list of items you feel proves your point. I understand your arguments and maybe if I weren’t packing for a long distance move I’d feel like engaging you. If Steam and all the things you’ve cited make Second Life even more “successful” then I’ll be wrong.

          You tirelessly report on events in this blog and I appreciate your efforts.

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          1. Actually, not picking at all… I’ve been crafting an article over the course of the last week on much of what you’ve brought up (I was in all honesty anticipating something of an announcement vis new products to occur either this month or early next month), so was aware that any reply might be taken as me “unloading” on you. However, I’m not sure how you can deem a product that has endured for ten years – and which keeps you and may other engaged – as not being successful?

            Anyway good luck with the move, and hope all goes well.

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  2. Well, at last we get a glimpse of what LL is aiming at 🙂 Like you, Inara, I have no issues with LL trying out their luck in the highly competitive market of games. Their advantage, compared to most start-ups, is that they don’t need to apply for venture capital funding to tinker with some radically new concepts — they’re a solid company with the ability to invest in new areas. If any of the products fail to become a success, they still rely on good, old tier from SL to keep the stakeholders happy, and can innovate in other directions.

    CreatorVerse seems actually cool, even though for me it would quickly lose interest after a download 🙂 But I would be willing to buy it for a few dollars if I had an iPad. It’s catchy enough, and a good thing to play with if you’re bored and have nothing to do and an iPad handy. I don’t see how it may have long-term appeal, though. Maybe people are able to share creations somehow…

    What I found interesting is that both products (even if we haven’t got any snapshots from Patterns) rely heavily on the physics engine. Mmh. So Rod studied “Angry Birds” and found a team at LL who have lots of experience tinkering with physics. I think that’s quite clever of him. To be honest, I’m not a gamer, but I have Angry Birds on my web browsers and on my iPhone for those odd moments where I have to wait for someone and have nothing else to do 🙂 I’d certainly toy around with CreatorVerse on those moments (if it ran on the iPhone, which it doesn’t). But of course the clever bit is to have found something “different” — leveraging on the knowledge they have of tinkering with physics engines — and pushing that into simpler games that are totally independent from SL.

    Well, I see this as a good move 🙂

    Kudos on the new corporate web site. It looks fantastic!

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    1. I was passed a quote from a User Group meeting when this was all bubbling up yesterday. It was from Locomo Binder, who described Patterns as “Minecraft with triangles and a physics engine”. I’m not sure as to the overall context of the quote (said positively / negatively, etc.) – but I’m assuming it was meant in a good way.

      After all, look at how massively popular Minecraft is. If Linden Lab can replicate that on tablets and (I’d suggest) more particularly mobile devices, they could well be on to a huge winner.

      Like you, I’m not a gamer by any stretch of the imagination (I actually downloaded Lord of the Rings Online via Steam after signing-up due to the forthcoming link-up, but have yet to actually create a LOTRO account, much yet log-in!), but there is something about Patterns which, from even this brief glimpse, has got me curious. Again, hence why I hope it is not just going to be targeted at the Apple market.

      I wasn’t being intentionally dismissive of Creatorverse, although the feedback does read that way on reflection (hence why I normally try to leave my opinion out of “news” pieces – although this one warranted something being said!). It’s not something that engages me from first looks (which is interesting, as Patterns does, based on a picture and a short description – the power of words in action?) – but it does look like something that could have that younger age group appeal as well, possibly given it a wider spread, assuming parents are willing to put their iPads in the hands of their little mites :).

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    1. Actually, and I know it’s blasphemous to say so, I’m also not an iFan of any description. That’s why I’m hoping “Patterns” at least will be available on more than just the iPad.

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