Update, October 9th, 2014: Linden Lab announced that development work on Patterns has been discontinued.
On Wednesday 19th September, LL issued the trailer for “Patterns”, one of the two new products announced this week that are completely separate from SL and which represent the company’s first steps in diversification.
Watching the video, again narrated by LL’s CEO, Rod Humble, it is clear that Patterns (apparently the product of a partnership with Free Range Games) is a much more involved product than Creatorverse – and one that is perhaps even more built on LL’s experience in developing world-building tools.
When the new first broke, Lomoco Binder, speaking at an in-world User Group, referred to it as “Minecraft with triangles and physics” – which should not be taken negatively. He was perhaps the first outside of LL to draw the line connecting Patterns with Minecraft in terms of similarity of approach, although it is something that was clearly not lost on LL. The Minecraft parallel is mentioned pretty much front-and-centre by Rod Humble himself in an interview with IGN: “The notion was you take a very simple 3D creation tool, you take that lovely elegance of the resources that’s in Minecraft, and then make the whole thing have physics right from the ground up,” Humble said in describing Patterns.
The core aspect of the game is that of “shared creativity”; people working individually or collectively, developing their own work, sharing it with the world at large so that others can enhance or modify creations and everyone learn from one another. Two additional aspects of the gameplay in Patterns are an element of discovery and the use of a physics engine from the ground-up.
The discovery element is designed to lead people naturally from the basic triangle through to creating more and more complex shapes, using a variety of materials, including wheels and the like. Creations can then be manipulated using the physics engine and can also be naturally affected by the physics engine. For example, build upwards without providing the proper foundations or bracing, and your tower (or whatever) could collapse as a result of the ground giving way beneath it, or simply as a result of its own mass. Similarly, build outward (such as with a bridge) without the proper support, and your structure may collapse before you complete it. Even the materials you chose to build with have different properties and react differently with the physics engine.
While it is going to be a while yet for Patterns to make a formal debut to the world at large, it will shortly be open in what Linden lab is calling a “Genesis Release” program – effectively a pre-alpha release – available to early adopters (Founders) for $10. This is aimed, according to the video, at helping to develop enhanced features within Patterns which can in turn be a part of the launch product and form the basis of on-going collaboration both between users and between users and the company to enhance and develop the product over time. Founders will apparently get all future updates to the game in return for their input.
Details on the Genesis Release have yet to be fully release (although IGN state it is happening this week) and neither the video nor the IGN interview hint at the platforms on which Patterns can be used. However, given the pricing of the Genesis Release (which is described as being “low” by OGN, suggesting the released version will cost more), it would appear the game is perhaps not initially aimed towards mobile devices. In the meantime, those interested in gaining further news can try their hand signing-up to the Beta Release form on the Lab’s website.
Patterns also appears as if it will be getting its own dedicated website in the future – buildpatterns.com. At the moment, this resolves back to the Linden Research promo webpage for the product, but it’ll be interesting to see if this remains the case once Patterns is launched and is being used creatively and collaboratively.
Video and images courtesy of Linden Research Inc.