Patterns gets its first update

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

In keeping with Rod Humble’s promise of rapid iterative cycles, Patterns received its first update on the 18th October.

Looking at Reactions to Date

Before getting down the the update, I thought I’d take a look at reactions to date. It is fair to say that overall, Patterns has been generally well-received in the “gaming community”, with positive comments appearing in response to articles about it, on the Patterns forum and forums elsewhere, together with a host of largely positive videos and tutorials being promoted to You Tube.

Within the SL community, the reaction has been somewhat more mixed. While many (myself included) have been willing to give it a chance and are happy – for now at least – to see where it leads and forgiving current shortfalls and bugs, others aren’t and have written it off before even the first update has arrived. Still others are loudly remonstrating that Rod Humble is pushing LL into something “it isn’t”, a “games company” with the subtext that it can only end in failure. Perhaps it will; my own view at this point in time is that it’s just too early to tell, although I remain of the opinion that diversification could be beneficial to the company and SL over time.

But to come back to Patterns. Many of those who have been working with it have been flexing the overall building capabilities – and this has in some ways mirrored early usage of Second Life. While Those at linden Lab expected their world to be filled with the unusual, bizarre and unthought-of, most early adopters worked with prims in remarkably familiar ways: houses were very much based of real-world designs, etc.

Of course, Patterns is a much harder world to go directly to the fantastic as the physics engine isn’t so obliging to turn a blind eye to a stately mansion sitting atop a tree or floating over a mountain (not unless they are part of a protoworld to start with, anyway). Even so, people have been playing with recognisable builds – such as Damien Fate, and his lighthearted look at building a house.

Others have been looking at the question of vehicles in Patterns – and while axles per se are lacking at present, some have been having fun nonetheless…

Rtan Slattery’s “SWAGON”, as seen in the Patterns community forum

I’ve been playing Patterns since it came out two weeks ago, and have to say I’ve found it buggy (not unexpected with an alpha release), very limited in terms of things to do (ditto for an alpha release), frequently repetitive (if only because for the last couple of days I’ve been reduced to vacuuming-up everything in sight….) – and oddly compelling and absorbing. The workbench / forge (or to give it its proper name, the Shaping Stone) has had me beavering away at what is / isn’t possible to build, and I’ve enjoyed experimented with different means of building bridges, ramps, stairways, etc while exploring in-world. More recently, I’ve been enjoying simply blowing this up (although I admit, creating “starene” bombs passed right over my head until Nalates Urriah pointed out one is built in the original promo video. Doh!).

So… what about the update?

A Word About Savesets

Before we get to that, a word about Patterns savesets – one I wish I’d read before launching into the update and building things :).

By default when starting the update, a player is starting over; this is a new version with a new world, so you’re essentially starting from scratch, which is a bit of a pain if you’ve collected a few tonnes of substances in your inventory or created a slew of custom shapes.

However, all is not lost. Providing you’re not too heavily into the update, you can re-load various elements from earlier sessions with Patterns (providing you saved your games) into the new version. This not only means you can revert back to just playing within the 0.01a world – you can load your inventory and shapes! The process for doing this is currently a bit complicated, but the indications are that future versions will included the ability to load data from previous versions etc.

In order to load-up data, you’ll need to access the savesets for the game. These are located in the following folders:

  • Windows: C:\Users\[user name]\Appdata\LocalLow\FreeRange\Patterns\SAVEDATA|
  • Mac: \\Library\caches\FreeRange\Patterns

The savesets themselves are called:

  • character_ProtoWorld_0
  • data_ProtoWorld_0
  • inventory_ProtoWorld_0
  • patterns_ProtoWorld_0
  • shapes_ProtoWorld_0

Note that if you have already played the update, you may also have savesets from version 0.01b. These are differentiated from version0.01a savesets by having a “2” in the filename.

To use a saveset file from 0.01a in your updated Patterns, all you need to do is add a “2” to the name so, for example: “data_ProtoWorld_0” (the world file) would be renamed “data_ProtoWorld2_0”. Note that this may overwrite any existing 0.01b file with the same name.

 

The Update

So what has been updated? Speaking in the update video, Mike Cox, a producer for Patterns, tells us the Shaping Stone, the physics engine(s) , and performance optimisation have been the focal points for the update. The world has also been updates with additional areas to explore.

On start-up, Patterns now defaults to full screen mode, and on entering the world you’ll find yourself in a familiar “spawning” pyramid. On getting outside, the world initially appears to be little changed from the initial release; perhaps the most obvious change is that the leaves on the trees are a darker green and sport a different texture. Get yourself across the first chasm, however, you’ll see that things have indeed changed.

New islands in the sky

Getting to the new islands is something of a challenge. Matters are not as straightforward as 0.01a as height differentials are more extreme and xome substances are pushed to breaking. In my case at least, I found creating a specific shape greatly eased the process of getting across gaps. Gypsum, a substance that was rare to the point of non-existence in 0.01a (unless I managed to miss it), is much in evidence on the additional islands. However, getting to all of it, and to the other things which are available is a further series challenges, simply because of the topography.

I’m not sure what has been done with the Shaping Stone, but I initially had issues in working with the newer version which I didn’t encounter first time around with pieces refusing to link. I thought it was my SL instincts kicking-in and causing me problems. Certainly, coming back to Patterns after a night’s sleep left me merrily building away again, and accumulating a range of objects, although I’m still at a loss of what, precisely, an “antiprism” is, although it does seem to be popular with others…

The other engine updates are perhaps too subtle to notice in-world. I didn’t really have noticeable performance issues with 0.01a, so it is hard to tell if anything has improved. Sadly, the camera remains largely untouched and frustrating to use. It does appear that if you’re standing on a large open space and TAB-toggle the camera, it will set itself further back from your avatar than version0.01a, but this could simply be me not having noticed with the initial release.

The new islands are obviously the biggest change and as mentioned above, offer a significant set of challenges both in getting to them and around them. Much need for ramps and stairways, so it’s likely older islands may well find themselves vacuumed for resources once more.

The other major change is the ability to have your own creations (formations, to use the Patterns parlance again) interact with one another more freely. It’s now possible, for example, to create ramps and tracks and move your other formations – cheese rolls, wheels, balls … trucks – along them without them falling apart.

I did encounter one odd control, while tearing down the side of a pyramid, an on-screen control popped-up, which I’ve not seen before. I have no idea if it’s been there all the time (not seen mention of it), if it is new for 0.01b (perhaps to do with moving your own formations around?) or something else. All I could get it to do was change colour from orange to green (Update: it’s the rotation tool :). I’ve not used this before, and it is supposedly activated using R, which for may has simply added / removed a building block from my avatar’s left hand. As I was dismantling a wall at the time and using the mouse, as in the screen cap, its appearance totally threw me).

An additional build tool?

Reaction

A small, iterative update with some nice touches, but nothing that is particularly revolutionary – which is precisely the point; the Genesis Release is about evolution, not revolution. Certainly, there is nothing here which is going to get those who have already made up their minds to give Patterns perhaps more than a further cursory glance. However, with the update schedule confirmed as being around every fortnight (two weeks), then it’s fair to say that Patterns is liable to keep initial interest going among those who are already engaged with it. Some of this may well be increased should Linden Lab / Free Range Software reveal that they are implementing user requests (of which there are many in the forum) and that multi-player is on the cards, if still a good way away.

For my part, I’ll keep digging, building, exploring, falling and, umm… oh yes – blowing things up :D.

Related Links

Videos courtesy of Linden Research Inc and Damien Fate.

11 thoughts on “Patterns gets its first update

  1. I have saved my previous games (I just periodically copy all the directories to a backup location). Primarily I did this to give myself some fresh “New Game” slots, as deleting all the files of a numbered set will then cause Patterns to repair itself on startup and provide you with the NEW option once again. However, with this new update I think I’ll just start fresh and carry the experience from previous games forward, but not the “stuff.” Good for people to know how to do that, though, as the world gets bigger and starting over becomes a burden.

    I hadn’t seen Damien’s house build before. Cute. ๐Ÿ™‚ I see he uses Starene for decoration, too. There was a glitch in the game that let you accumulate extra everything, so I used a lot of Starene in my first build. I put a video up at – http://youtu.be/wQx8S9TZ6-0

    I didn’t want to just rehash all the “fumbling around in this new game” videos that are being posted (many of which have been very entertaining, not knocking them) so I decided to make one that’s more tutorial for beginners, specifically regarding the bridges. Looked to me like a lot of people were just throwing stuff down (blocks mostly) to span the gaps, but me being a chronic neatnik — everything has to be tidy and aesthetic in my world — I had to have bridges that blended in with the surroundings, so I made a video for that also at – http://youtu.be/DlRVMQwLxFc

    By the way, this new full-screen mode is a BAD thing for machinima-making and we need a way to resize the window down implemented asap! I don’t mean resolution changes, I mean a true window, that can be resized with the mouse.

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    1. Hadn’t thought of the full screen mode for machinima. It totally buggered-up my screen capture software tho’ (which usually can handle full screen stuff via hotkey). I’ve switched back to the fixed window siae on the highest resolution. Not perfect, but works.

      LOVE the video – your little chap’s thought bubbles as he does things are adorable :).

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      1. The larger screen is also causing much more lag in the game, since the video card has more work to do (I suppose). At any rate, capturing machinima at that screen size is going to make helluva huge files; not good. Things need to be captured at 1280×720 for HD.

        I managed to get out to all the new remote locations with box-only bridges, and to scale the high tower by zig-zagging boxes up the walls. Then I proceeded to demolish a bit less than 1/3 of it with a combination of explosions, manual taking, and pushing large sections over the edge. I left the ramps out there for future access so I can mine more later. I noticed that if you push a big element over the edge but it gets hung up, then you push another chunk over on top of it, both of them shatter and go into your inventory. ๐Ÿ˜€

        During my demolition it occurred to me that if you have enough Jasper to build a huge block (such as that skyscraper) an option for building halls and rooms would be to create a big solid block first, then carefully remove what is not needed … you know, Michelangelo style. ๐Ÿ™‚ Tomorrow I’ll re-build my big ramp inside the workbench pyramid and make a short video of it, I think.

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        1. How do you manage with SL machinima? Granted, it’s run in a window, but a window close to full screen size (curious as my GPU can’t handle FRAPS & the SL viewer together at all well unless I dial-down DD to a point where I could probably film great interiors or the odd tree). I didn’t notice that much difference between playing this version of Patterns full-screen and 0.01a – which did seem to stutter a lot.

          Talking of the skyscraper (and yes, well done Lelani!), have you read any of the Patterns forum threads on fortifications, large builds and multi-player? Some energetic minds out there!

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        2. Okay, two things. First, I thought about the above after pressing enter and it’s probable that the increased lag I’m noticing is a combination of a) there’s more game to rez and b) the larger screen is just making it more noticeable. Patterns lags heavily during building and mining, sometimes, and I think that is entirely because of the physics calculations (i.e., when you add or take away a lot of shapes it has to calculate whether it’s going to fall apart or not). However, now I’m noticing a bit of stuttering while running around as well.

          As for machinima in SL I reduce the window size to 1280×720(HD) from the drop-down menu, turn off the HUD display and the user interface, and capture the window in Camtasia 8. By reducing the actual window size to the final rendering size the picture is the most sharp, as the rendering process does not have to compress or expand the image size to be HD. On top of that, there is much less for the recorder to store and the file sizes are considerably smaller. Video is a massive storage space hog.

          The Patterns window should be sizeable to that ratio as well for better recording. It’s possible to program a window to be only proportionally resized (that is, not stretched up or down, but only diagonally), and I’d like it if that were possible with Patterns.

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          1. Ta for the update :).

            I’ve not noticed significant delays in digging or building in-world as yet (in comparision to 0.01a), but will see what happens when I (eventually) get back in-world. The main “lag” I have noticed is that the forge / Shaping Stone seems to be a lot less responsive than version 0.01a, and occasionally prone to “contra-rotating” – i.e. I adjust the camera position to the right or left around the Stone, only to have it move very slowly back towards the starting poin, very, very slightly (but visibly). Not sure if this is because I’m working with a trackball rather than a mouse.

            Hope to jump back into Patterns later this evening as it is quiet at home, but beavering away at SL-related bloggy stuff right now ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. Great information about getting older saved sessions! As it happens, I was up until 4am, getting all the way through the new areas. Took all the starene visible, plus two others not visible. Those long reaches were tough, but possible; I tested the limits of a long, thin but heavily anchored bridge made of the small prisms. As it started to crack behind me, I quickly threw blocks at the far wall, which had just come within reach. To my relief, my “Dorita” jumped to the nearest block when it got close enough, and I was on the other side.

    Somehow I lost about 3 hours hosing down the high-rise… ::rubs eyes:: and even with the long buttressed bridges, I still have more than 15,000 jasper blocks, with more to Hoover.

    The rotate tool is not new, but it can’t work if the block you’re placing (say, turning a pyramid on its apex) is obstructed. Nice to know I won’t have to do it all again in the next update.

    The camera controls are slightly better, it didn’t take as long to throw bridges together, but the keyboard shortcuts were different. Previously the shapes could be selected by pressing a number, and I couldnt get screenshots to work. In fact, I crashed early in my first session and had to breakout and rebuild the first bridge.

    I went to bed about an hour before my alarm went off… still smiling at how absorbed I was, but got to get some Z Z Z blocks before building new stuff!

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    1. Good going!

      I wish I’d read the sessions instructions first…I spent the first 2+ hours rebuilding all the shapes I’d previously made (and was narked to find one just refuses to work with the upgrade).

      The rotation tool cauht me out simpy because it popped-up before. All the R key seems to do for my is add/remove the last shape I used for building from my avatar’s left hand. I was also confuses as I was dismantling a pyramid at the time and not even touching the keyboard, so was just right-clicking and rolling my trackball to shift my target focus from shape to shape (trackballs make dismantling stuff manually very fast ๐Ÿ™‚ ). As I was refocusing by rolling the trackball, I assume the software got confused and thought I was trying to rotate a piece.

      I’ve not scaled the tower as yet, I’ve been going down to a couple of the lower levels playing with bombs to knock them out of the sky & since watching Damien’s cideo on house building, have been playing with “life-like” structures :).

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    2. OMG you took down that entire skyscraper in one sitting? You must have gone into a trance; after I had accumulted over 12,000 J’s I decided I’d leave the rest for later. There are still plenty to collect over in the “lowlands” of the original game. All of that material over there is purely for mining, I think. The terrain is too jagged and full of potholes for building anything.

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      1. I only took the top off, cutting down and around (not very systematically) and dropped onto the rusty “imperium” that is its core. Then I pushed the loose chunks off. I estimate there’s still 3/4 OR MORE of the high rise left to mine. It’ll involve a lot of undercutting and removing the anchoring on the back walls.

        I had done something like this on a smaller scale with the jasper pyramid at the far back corner on the lower level; cut all the supports after getting the “good stuff” and dropped it neatly on its inner platform.

        I really need to check out the community forum, and see about the best settings for screenshots. I’ve never done machinimatrix but I’m tempted to play around with it.

        But yes, when I finally made it back home, saved game yet again, and logged off, it was 3:50 AM.

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