Patterns: updated Genesis release now being sold directly through the Lab’s Patterns website

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

On Friday December 21st, Linden Lab announced it is now selling Patterns directly through its own website at BuildPatterns.com. Until now, the first of Linden Lab’s new products to be released had only been available via Steam, requiring those wishing to purchase it to set-up an account with Steam prior to being able to download Patterns.

Patterns: development isn't a case of "either/or" with Second Life (image courtesy of Linden Research Inc.)
Patterns: now available directly from Linden Lab at BuildPatterns.com (image courtesy of Linden Research Inc.)

In a press release announcing the move, Linden Labs state:

Today, the updated Patterns ‘genesis release’ is available at BuildPatterns.com at a 50% discount for adventurous early adopters. Since the genesis release of Patterns was first launched in October, updates have expanded the game with new substances you can destroy, build with, bounce, and slide on; new formations you can create to blow things up or cover surfaces with ice; new planets to explore; and more … Buyers of the Patterns genesis release will receive all updates up to and including version 1.0 at no additional cost.

Initial take-up of the product appears to have been strong, with many non-SL users already signed-up to Steam downloading and engaging with the game, leading to a fairly lively Patterns community on the BuildPatterns.com website. Many have also produced their own videos of the game in use and have put forward suggestions and ideas for the development of the game. Feedback has been such that Linden Lab has routinely issues updates and improvements to Patterns, many of which incorporate ideas and feedback obtained about the game and its user interface.

Commenting on the reception and take-up of the game in the press release, Rod Humble says: “Patterns is still in its infancy, but it’s been great to see the early positive reviews and the fantastic things that our founding players have already created … There are lots of exciting developments on the roadmap for Patterns in 2013 as we progress towards version 1.0, and we’re happy to be able to give interested early adopters more ways to get into the game at this early stage.”

The new release of Patterns marks the sixth update to the game and includes:

  • Contact Bomb explodes on contact.
  • Time Bomb goes off after a short while
  • Trigger Bomb and Plunger allows you to set it off remotely
  • Ice Bomb spreads ice all over the blast radius
  • Proxy Bomb build it and it will go off
  • Kiln and Forge that enables you to take a substance and turn it into another substance. Turn clay to brick for example
  • Visual updates to the sky
  • New day night cycle measured by sun and moon
  • An assortment of visual effects for physical substances
  • New character animations.

A video has been produced to provide an overview of the new features.

The video also provides an overview of some of the forthcoming features in 2013. Chief among these will be the ability to share creations and builds with other users of Patterns, and to download and modify builds by others. Whether or not this will see a means for people to monetize their creations in the future remains to be seen; certainly, this has been mentioned in the past where the new products are concerned, and particularly with reference to Creatorverse, so it is not unreasonably to assume Patterns may well also be moving in this direction.

Also coming in 2013 – and which most definitely has been repeatedly requested by Patterns users is multiplayer support.

The caption says it all (courtesy Linden Lab)
The caption says it all (courtesy Linden Lab)

There are no time frames for the delivery of either the capability to share builds or multiplayer support – which is entirely in keeping in the Lab’s philosophy of not assigning dates to feature deliveries. However, that both are going to appear in 2013 is liable to make those already actively engaged with Patterns very happy.

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SL project news week 51/2

Server Deployments

The RC channel deployment took place on Wednesday 19th December as planned, with no major hiccups or issues apparently being felt / reported. This release saw all three RC channels receive the same package, which is the Magnum deployment from week 50, with a single additional bug fix.

The release notes (for Magnum, but applicable to all three RC channels) can be found here, and the forum discussion thread is still open should anyone have comments (allowing to the start of the holiday period & delays in any replies from LL).

SL Viewer Update

The last beta release of 2012 arrived on Thursday December 20th with the release of 3.4.4.268479 – which as the name suggests, uses the 3.4.4 code from viewer-development. Chief among the updates in this release include:

  • Moving viewer crash logger and SLPlugin from the Carbon API to Mac OSX Cocoa for the Mac viewer
  • Fixes for fontconfig crash-on-start issues experienced with Linux
  • Revisions for pathfinding options, including additional of tear-off option for Pathfinding menu when opened from Build menu; introduction of Region Rebake option to Pathfinding menu
  • Fixes for 3.4.2.266708 release issue of flexiprims stopping flexing after teleports
  • Further fixes for llTargetOmega() issues

The full set of release notes can be found here.

Forthcoming Viewer Graphics Enhancements

Alongside of the upcoming materials processing capabilities of normal and specular maps, the SL viewer will be receiving further rendering improvements in 2013, comprising:

  • Gamma correction capabilities
  • Improvements to the “Shiny” capabilities in the viewer (Build floater > Texture tab >Shiny button) when running in deferred mode, to make shine appear more as it does in the real world, with the level of shine based on the amount of reflected light / angle from which a shiny object is viewed from relative to the light source
  • In-world scene reflections on shiny surfaces.
Gamma correction: from Exodus to the SL viewer in 2013
Gamma correction: from Exodus to the SL viewer in 2013

Gamma correction is a process by which lighting on a screen can be adjusted to make it look more natural to the human eye by adjusting the RGB channels to give a more natural-light contrast. It can also be used to produce interesting photographic effects. Exodus viewer already has gamma correction, which can be adjusted via the Visual Settings floater (above).

A simple, if extreme, example of gamma correction: both images were taken under the same lighting conditions
A simple, if extreme, example of gamma correction used for a photographic effect: both images were taken under the same deferred lighting conditions, the image of the left with “normal” (default) gamma correction in the viewer, the one on the right taken with all three channels increased in value to produce an image with a much deeper contrast

As with materials processing, all three of the new capabilities are being introduced to the SL viewer via the Exodus team, lead by Geenz Spad, who indicated that in the case of gamma correction, the new capabilities will be somewhat more capable as a process within the SL viewer than is currently the case with the Exodus viewer.

As with material processing itself, which is still progressing, as I reported last time, there are no time frames as to when each of these new capabilities will be available within the viewer.

Threaded Region Crossing Code Test

Wednesday 19th December saw a “pile-on” test take place on Aditi for the new threaded region crossing code. The test has been called by Caleb Linden with a view to trying-out region crossing under a range of tests, including avatars with heavy scripted loads, repeated crossings by vehicles, via teleporting, etc.

In all, six regions were / are available for tests: GC Test 9, 10, 15 and 16 forming a block of four running in “threaded” mode, and GC Test 2 and 8 running in “unthreaded” mode, but otherwise the same server code.

Turn-out for the tests wasn’t particularly great (around 15 people together in the test region at any one time), with a range of ground and air vehicles being used to try-out the crossings and compare them directly with crossing between the two unthreaded regions (and testing between threaded / unthreaded).

The overall consensus from those at the tests were that crossings between threaded regions were somewhat improved – but the overall improvements were not that spectacular. At times recovery from loss of control of a vehicle appeared to be faster – a matter of one or two seconds – but at other times, things seemed to be the same, with vehicles ploughing through the ground / flying into the air for 6-7 seconds at a time before recovering, giving pretty similar results to those encountered crossing between threaded / unthreaded and between unthreaded regions.

Crossing between threaded regions in a vehicle: some improvements, but not a lot
Crossing between threaded regions in a vehicle: some improvements, but not a lot

Crossing between regions on foot, even under an excessive HUD / attachment script load (373 scripts accounting for 2.87800ms cpu time) and with vehicles zinging back and forth, did appear to me to be somewhat improved, with little or no “rubber banding” or walking off into the sunset, but a recovery of control after just a few paces.

Post-test, Caleb has requested those participating in the test file JIRA on any specific issues they encountered, and include “Region Crossing” in the description / subject heading for the report.

With thanks to Darien Cauldwell for information on the viewer enhancements discussed at the Opensource Dev meeting.