Patterns gets more substance (editing) and other bits

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

I’m not sure what has happened with the Patterns roadmap; when launched, the original idea was that the product would remain in a Genesis version for about a year prior to progressing to an official “version 1.0” release. However, here we are at the start of 2014, and Patterns is still apparently in Genesis mode with version  0.06 released on Monday January 20th, and the development team promising lots more to come as Patterns progresses.

Not that this is necessarily a bad thing; a lot of what is going on appears to be as a direct result of user input, and the development team are refreshingly engaged with the Patterns community through blog posts, wiki updates, forum posts and live streams. Makes one long for the crazy, heady, communications-rich days of old in Second Life!

The 0.06 update further enhances the Substance Editor introduced at the end of 2013, and which I covered in brief at the start of January. As  explained back then, the Substance Editor allows users to modify the existing surface and other substances (clay, copper, moonstone, etc.), and to create new substances for use in-game. The initial release included the ability to edit the diffuse (texture)  normal (bumpiness) properties of substances.  Version 0.06 adds the ability to edit and modify a number of additional substance properties:

  • Specular: the shininess of a substance  – this uses a greyscale  palette with white being the most shiny
  • Occlusion: – to map darker and lighter pixels resulting in a texture with an illusion of relief, and so allows the creation of hotspots and shadows on substances.  The brick and bonestone substances are good examples of substances using occlusion maps
  • Illumination: defines the glow and light emission effect for materials, using the range of white (most illuminated) to black.  The lava and moonstone substances are good examples of the use of illumination
  • Metal:  affects the metallic quality of a substance. The default is black with white being the most metallic.
The updated substance Editor with the added tabs for spcular, occlusion, illumination and metalic properties (right)
The updated substance Editor with the added tabs for specular, occlusion, illumination and metallic properties (right)

In addition, the Substance Editor gets an HD mode which doubles the texture resolution when using it, although the release notes indicate this makes using the Substance Editor performance intensive. It is also possible to define the total number of substances you include in a new Substance Pack.

The first part of a new video has been produced to explore the Substance Editor. This is described as “in-depth”, but I have to admit that this first part leaves something to be desired; the new properties in the Editor are glossed over with a “I’ll leave you guys to look these up…” Hopefully, there will be a more detailed look at them in the future as these series progresses, this is only an introduction, after all. However, given there has already been a far more detailed introduction to the Substance Editor already (albeit with only diffuse and normal maps), one has to wonder why the approach in that video was not followed, and a more informative piece produced to kick this new series off; as it is, the initial video is  – frankly – disappointing and waffly.

First Person Camera Lock

The new first person camera lock option in Settings. also note the option for applying your own substance sets to a world (top)
The new first person camera lock option in Settings. also note the option for applying your own substance sets to a world (top)

Another new element introduced to Patterns is the ability to lock the camera into first person view (consider Mouselook in SL). This is activated via the Scene Settings options (ESC > Scene settings > Lock first person view).

I actually had problems with this – which I freely admit may well be down to my unfamiliarity with the UI (I don’t play Patterns anywhere near as frequently as I did in 2012 / early 2013). However, once activated for a specific world, going back into Settings and unchecking the Lock first person view option did not return me to third person view on resuming the game … and there was no obvious way of doing so via the keyboard; even calling-up help and looking at the keyboard commands failed to list a means of toggling between third and first-person view. I’m sure experienced Patterns users know how to toggle in-and-out, but if a new user stumbles into this option, it would appear a degree of frustration may result when trying to deactivate it.

Keyboard shortcut for toggling between third- and first-person views?
Keyboard shortcut for toggling between third- and first-person views?

Save Sets

A potentially welcome change with this release is that world save sets are now saved into their own folders, as the release notes state:

Worlds are now saved into their own directory with world data and the lua config file.

  • As those worlds get loaded in-game a new folder for that world and its save files will be created in “\\user\LindenLab\Patterns\WorldData”.  All subsequent saves will be saved to their own subdirectory under “WorldData”

When saving we now create a screenshot of the game in view at the point of saving.  This file will be placed in the world’s directory.

Explosions Overviewed

There are two other new videos on the Patterns Guru wiki. These cover the use of explosions (bombs) in Patterns, which can be used both destructively or constructively (environmental bombs). It is interesting to note when watching the video on environmental bombs, that the upcoming Patterns scripting capabilities will include the ability to activate bombs and apply the results to world. bringing a further level of flexibility to game building in Patterns and additional complexity to game playing.

Feedback

As well as the above, the update adds a couple of new basic Genesis worlds – a new cube and an elongated, flat world. The additions to the substance Editor are perhaps the most interesting in the release, but are rather let-down by the introductory video. Compared to other videos which have been used to promote updates and changes, this one came over to me as pretty flat, both in terms of the content and delivery.

As noted above, the First Person camera lock issue is liable to be more to do with my unfamiliarity nowadays with the Patterns UI, but it is still a potential “Grrr, argh!” for new users.

Since launching on Desura, Patterns has been climbing steadily with user ratings there, going from just above 5 (out of 10) to 7.9. While this doesn’t reflect on how widely Patterns is being downloaded and used, or the overall number of people who have purchased it, it does suggest that those who do try it, like it, which may well bode well for the future.

When reviewing the 0.05 update at the start of the year, I pointed out a slight ToS oopsie – while users were required to accept the ToS prior to using the 0.005 or 0.05a updates, the link  provided within the application to the ToS still pointed to the pre-August 2013 LL ToS. With Version 0.06, this has now been corrected.

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