Inside the Horizons Experience in Second Life

Horizons Experience
Horizons Experience

Update, November 19th: some users on TPVs may find the gun used gun in Quest 3 of Horizons Experience doesn’t work with their viewer. The Lab is aware of the issues, and is investigating options for a fix. For the moment, those affected will need to swap to the official viewer, but  only for Quest 3. Full details can be found in llTakeControl issue and the Horizons Experience.

On Tuesday, November 15th, Linden Lab announced a new Mainland community initiative called Horizons. First hinted at during the Meet the Lindens talks at SL13B in June 2016, it became the subject of widespread speculation when two testing environments related to it appeared on the Second Life world map in October, with Patch Linden further stirring up interest by posting some teaser images to his Profile feed.

Picking up on the SL13B hints, I contacted the Lab with the idea of covering Horizons. Patch and his team were very receptive to the idea, and as result, I had the opportunity to tour the regions ahead of the opening, and learn more about Horizons from Patch Linden and Naughty Mole of the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW).

In short, Horizons is a new themed Mainland residential community built around a central, 6-region gaming environment called Horizons Experience. As I’ve covered the community aspects at length in New Horizons in Second Life, this article focuses solely on the new six-region gaming experience.

Looking down on one of the Horizons Experience quest regions
Looking down on one of the Horizons Experience quest regions

Horizons Experience essentially builds on the Lab’s work with PaleoQuest, the dinosaur themed adventure which opened in July 2015 (see Experiencing PaleoQuest, the Lab’s latest adventure in Second Life). As with PaleoQuest, players are tasked with completing a number of quests and multiple tasks in order to come to the rescue of Magellan Linden’s assistant, Tyrah, who is in deadly peril at the paws of the nefarious Doctor Talpa. Note that the game is on Adult rated regions, but this is not reflective of the games content.

“PaleoQuest was our most recent gaming project that we had put out at scale,” Patch said as we discussed the game ahead of our tour. “We took from that a lot of the game mechanics which people really enjoyed and liked, and we’re including them and a lot of new elements within the Horizons Experience.

“For example, one of the big new features is the ability to participate either as a player in the game or as an ‘explorer’ – someone who is not active in the game, but who can travel through the regions and observe as a bystander. With our other gaming experiences, you’re either in the regions with the intent to play, or you wouldn’t go. As Horizons is part of the Mainland, we felt it was important that people be able to drop in without disrupting the game-play.”

“We’re using different coloured indicator above people’s heads in the game regions to indicate whether they are a player or an explorer,” Naughty Mole added. “If they have a blue ball floating above them, they are an explorer. If they have an orange ball, they are a player. That way, the people in the game know who is who. Obviously, you can’t complete any of the quests as an explorer, nor can you receive any prizes; but you can walk or fly around and watch players (who can’t fly). Oh, and you can still be killed by any of the quest hazards!”

Part of the Horizons Experience start region, showing the Portal Room where returning players can jump to their last point of progress
Part of the Horizons Experience start region, showing the Portal Room where returning players can jump to their last point of progress

Given that Horizons Experience is sitting in the middle of a residential area where flying vehicles are permitted, I wondered if there was a risk of aircraft interfering with the game. “Flying vehicles can pass over the gaming regions,” Naughty Mole answered, “but they must keep above a certain height. If they are too low, they will get a warning, and if they don’t increase their height, they will be auto-returned and those on board will be transferred to a resurrection hub inside the gaming areas as explorers.”

“The six regions of the experience are all uniquely themed,” Patch resumed, “The first region you go into is the starting region, where residents are introduced to the quest and receive their game HUD. While there they can watch an in-depth tutorial video and background story video, see the payout stations or follow links to the Horizons Experience wiki page for more information. Beyond all this are the five gaming regions, which are linear, like PaleoQuest. Each must be completed before you progress to the next one.”

Horizons Experience can be accessed in a number of ways. Anyone in the Horizons regions can fly to the central gaming regions, or they can use the teleport portals located at the Horizons info hubs and community centres, and  which are scattered across the residential regions. Direct teleport via the map is possible, and there is also a Horizons Experience gateway at the Portal Parks.

Down in the mines
Down in the mines

Naughty added, “When people first arrive, they are given the choice of being a player or an explorer. If they selected ‘player’ they are registered for the game and receive a HUD. If they remove their HUD, they become an explorer. If players leave the game regions, their HUDs are automatically removed. However, all progress up to the point where they removed their HUD is saved.

“Returning players arriving at the start area can use the Portal Room to jump directly to any quest they have previously completed, or go to the Quest they were on when they left the game. So, if someone left while trying the third quest, they can use the Portal Room to get to quests one, two or three, but they will not be able to jump to quests 4 or 5.

“Also, there are HUD kiosks throughout the quest regions, so any player who removed their HUD can get a replacement, and they will be asked if they would like to teleport to their last point of progress. Explorers who have never played the game can also use these kiosks to obtain a HUD, and they will be asked if they would like to teleport to the start of the first quest.”

Continue reading “Inside the Horizons Experience in Second Life”

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New Horizons in Second Life

Image Courtesy of Linden Lab
Image Courtesy of Linden Lab

On Tuesday, November 15th, Linden Lab announced a new Mainland community initiative called Horizons. It’s been the subject of much speculation and debate since two blocks of 60 regions associated with it appeared on the main grid map for testing purposes in October. Patch Linden further stirred up interest by posting some teaser images to his Profile feed!

Picking up on the SL13B hints, I contacted the Lab with the idea of covering Horizons – not only what it is, but also how and why it came about. Patch and his team were very receptive to the idea, and as result, I had the opportunity to tour the regions ahead of the opening, and learn more about it from  Naughty Mole of the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW).

In short, Horizons presents a new 36 region Mainland community residential environment open to Premium members. Associated with this are four identical info hubs and two community regions, together with twelve regions of open water. All of this has been built around a new, six region experience-based adventure / quest called the Horizons Experience, which is open to all residents.

As I’ve covered the gaming experience in Inside the Horizons Experience in Second Life, this article focuses solely on the residential aspect of Horizons, and the supporting info hubs and community regions.

The residential regions have 1024 sq m parcels with a 702 LI (x2 object bonus). The supplied houses do not count towards the LI per parcel, the limits of which are defined by the "inner" white boundary markers
The residential regions have 1024 square metre parcels with a 702 LI (x2 object bonus). The supplied houses do not count towards the LI per parcel, the limits of which are defined by the “inner” white boundary markers

As noted above, the residential regions are available for Premium members. Designed with a “retro futuristic” look (think The Jetsons and you’ll be getting close), with integrated road system and waterways, each of these regions offers a number of 1024 sq metre parcels which, with the increased land capacity for Mainland, coupled with a x2 object bonus, have a total Land Impact capacity of 702 each. But that’s not all.

Associated with each parcel is a “mailbox” control centre allowing parcel holders to select one of six different house designs which are provided “free” for their use: they do not count towards the parcel land impact allowance. The houses can be held individually or by a group, and can be used for residential or business purposes. In addition, the “mailbox” offers a resource pack containing textures and bits to allow the houses and parcels to be dressed, while each house design includes a built-in control panel for lighting, window shades  security, etc.

For those who don’t wish to use the six supplied house designs, there is an option in the mailbox to clear the parcel. Land holders can then put down their own choice of home / structure instead – although this will count towards the total LI capacity for the parcel. It is hoped that those who opt to go this route will select a design in keeping with the overall “retro futuristic” theme of the regions.

The six supplied house styles
The six supplied house styles

A couple of further points to note is that the Horizons regions are all Adult rated and are connected to the north side of the Zindra Adult mainland continent. I’ll get to why in a moment, but suffice it to say for now, this shouldn’t be taken to mean the environment is for purely adult activities. The second point is that terraforming, including parcel subdivision, is not allowed on any of the regions.

So how did this all come about?

“We decided to develop Horizons as a result of thinking about what we could do to give the Mainland something new and exciting for residents to both participate in and enjoy,” Patch replied. “We wanted to offer a structured residential experience, somewhat modelled after the success of Bay City,  together with a really unique six region gaming experience. However the basic idea is to give Premium residents the ability to purchase and own parcels that are all uniquely themed and intermixed with the gaming experience itself.”

“It’s been a very big project for us,” Naughty Mole, of the Linden Department of Public Works, added. “It’s something we’ve been working on for the last seven months. We have the thirty-six residential regions, the info hubs and community regions, rezzing zones for boats and flying vehicles, which we hope residents will find attractive. All of the waterways can be navigated, and the roads are suitable for driving along.”

“We wanted to give people maximum flexibility,” Patch continued. “Making the houses opt-in or opt-out offers that kind of flexibility. We also have a lot of little neat features and attributes scattered throughout the regions for people to discover. Then there’s the Info hubs as well. They’re designed to tie-in to the current info hub system that’s out there, but are different to the traditional info hub in that they have different areas residents can visit to find out more about Horizons. So people can explore them, watch videos, visit the gaming experience from them, and so on.”

All of the residential regions have navigable waterways - rood bridges will automatically retract as boats approach. Rezzing areas for craft (and aerial vehicles) are available at the info hubs and community centres
All of the residential regions have navigable waterways – rood bridges will automatically retract as boats approach. Rezzing areas for craft (and aerial vehicles) are available at the info hubs and community centres

It is through the four identical info hubs visitors coming to Horizons via the Destination Guide will gain their first introduction to the regions. “Each one has a landing point,” Naughty explained as we teleported into one. “Spread out around that, are the rezzing zones for boats and flying vehicles and the land information area, where people can find out about obtaining a parcel on Horizons. This has an introductory video and a link to the Horizons wiki page which has everything you could possibly need to know.

“There is also the demo area where people can preview the available free houses. This is split between individual and group owned units; the house options in both are the same, but group owned have an additional controller for group access. The info hubs also include an area for the Horizons Experience, which includes videos, a link to the wiki page, a prize display and a teleport portal to the game regions.”

An infohub, with the house rezzing areas visible top left and right. Like the new Social Islands, these encourage visitors to explore and learn
A Horizons info hub, with the house rezzing areas visible top left and right. Like the new Social Islands, these encourage visitors to explore and learn

The two community regions comprise three social areas open for use by residents: a bar – the H(orizons) Bar, a more chilled-out lounge, and a meeting facility. “These are spaces where you can socialise,” Naughty explained as we toured the regions. “You can have a formal meeting, an informal meeting, or go hang out in the bar, where we have music and dance balls, so will hopefully be a place for people to hang out, meet friends and so on.” As well as the social spaces, the community regions also include their own rezzing zones for water and aerial vehicles.

Continue reading “New Horizons in Second Life”