Of Glytches and gems: the Lab’s grid-wide Second Life game

Tyrah and the Curse of the Magical Glyches – bonus region portals

On Monday, September 18th, 2017, Linden Lab announced the launch of their latest Experience Key based game for Second Life users to enjoy. Entitled Tyrah and the Curse of the Magical Glytches, it is something of a departure from previous games such as Linden Realms, PaleoQuest and the Horizons adventure. Not only is it grid-wide in nature (the first time Second Life experiences have been used on a grid-wide basis), it will in time also allow parcel holders to host the game on their land if they so wish – possibly attracting traffic to their locations.

I was able to see and try the game ahead of its launch, and thought I’d offer an overview and some feedback, as well as take the opportunity to ask a few questions of Dee and Patch Linden about the game and the reasoning behind it.

Tyrah and the Curse of the Magical Glytches is a combination hunt, capture game and first-person shooter. It builds on elements seen in previous games from the Lab, but is far broader in scope. There are two basic aims of the game:

  • Capture mischievous Glytches as they wander SL and perhaps gain gems from them, and / or an immediate prize of a Glytch – which might be a shoulder / head pet, held pet, or follower (all of which can be traded between users) or even complete avatars.
  • Collect coloured gems – which can be redeemed for weapons upgrades, and/ or access into the game’s bonus regions and / or prizes

A video outlines the game’s back story. I’m not going to say much on this other than, “alas, poor Magellan, I knew him, Horatio. A fellow of infinite drinking ability and most assured desire for food…” – or something (with apologies to W. Shakespeare, Esq).

 

Hartyshire

Game-play Essentials

There are several aspects to playing the game, which are covered in another video; but for those who prefer to read things,  I’ve outlined them below.

Hartyshire

Hartyshire is the heart of the game. Reached via the Portal Park, it is the place where people can learn more through the aforementioned videos, and where players obtain their Glytch Starter Kit, can upgrade their weapons, claim prizes or – gem and weapons upgrades allowing – access the special bonus regions. There is also a range of free gifts for visitors, whether or not they join the game. There are three important areas in Hartyshire:

The Gem Apothecary is where players can:

  • Obtain a game Starter Kit: with everything needed to start playing: a note card of instructions, the game HUD (see below) and a jar – your first Glytch catching weapon. The kit is delivered as a folder to your Inventory.
  • Upgrade their Glytch catching weapon: use gems given by Glytches to upgrade from jar through swatter and net to gun. Each weapon improves the chances of catching Glytches. Replacement weapons can also be obtained here.
  • Claim Gem Lottery Prizes: contains prizes from the Lab’s previous games, split into three groups – Common, Rare and Epic, corresponding to the three gem colours – Green, Pink and Blue. Prizes in each category can be obtained by redeeming the required gems of each colour.
Inside the Gem Apothecary – start kit, weapons upgrades and “captured” Glytches

The Gift Shop is where visitors to Hartyshire can collect game-related free gifts and hatch their SL14B gift egg to gain their first Glytch.

The Bonus Region teleport portals – of which, more below.

The Glytch catching weapon upgrades. Credit: Linden Lab

The HUD

To play the game, players must wear the game HUD. Removing this at any time stops all game-play, saving the player’s current status (e.g. gems taken, current weapon upgrade, etc). Players can re-join the game at any time simply by wearing the HUD once more; there is no need to return to Hartyshire in order to do so. The Glytch catching weapon can also be worn, although the game will also function without it.

The main game HUD

With the HUD worn, players click the Next Loc(ation) button to teleport to a location where they can hunt Glytches. On arrival, the Map can be opened to see where the Glytches are. A maximum of five Glytches can be caught per location, after which players should use Next Loc to move to another location to continue the hunt.

At the moment, Glytches can only be found on assorted Linden / LDPW regions and parcels. In the future, residents will be able to apply for their land to be added to the game – of which more anon.

Glytches

A Glytch in the wild – is worth more in your cage

Glytches can be hunted in either first- or third-person view, but must be captured in first-person (Mouselook) view by clicking on them with the left mouse button.  Note the range at which a Glytch can be caught varies with the weapon being used, and not all captures will be successful.

A failure to catch a Glytch can result in it casting a spell on the hunter. They’ll also use spells if startled or to protect one another. Spells vary from silly dances to anvils dropping on heads, but they will allow the Glytch to escape by de-rezzing (another will rez nearby).

A successful capture will result in a cage appearing around the Glytch and a message displayed on the game HUD. The Glytch may also offer you a reward. This might be gems or it might be a Glytch prize – or both.

Note that when a glitch prize is given, players must switch to third-person view (ESC) and Accept the Glytch via the notification displayed in the top right of the viewer window. Failure to do so may result in the prize being lost. If the notification collapses before it is clicked on, it can be re-opened via the Notifications tray.

To help keep the game fresh, new Glytches will be added over time A wiki-based Glytchopedia will also be published in due course, listing all the Glytches.

The Bonus Regions

Tyrah and the Curse of the Magical Glytches includes three bonus regions, accessed via portals (seen at the top of this article) in Hartyshire. Entrance to any of them requires players have the right weapons upgrade, and pay a gem “fee” at the portal. Each region has its own theme and opportunities to capture Glytches and/or collect more gems for prizes:

  • The Forest of Gathering: contains Glytches only – captured in the same way as other regions.
  • The Sanctuary of Wind only contain gems for prizes – obtained by walking / running over them. Collecting 100 Green gems will convert them to a Pink gem; 100 Pink gems will convert to 1 Blue gem
  • The Rusty Cauldron is reserved for Premium members, has both Glytches and gems, and offers the chance to win Glytch avatars.
The Forest of Gathering – one of the three bonus regions

All three regions have assorted hazards and traps. Falling into any of these in the Forest of Gathering or Sanctuary of Wind will cause a player to be re-rezzed at the start point (there’s no re-rezzing in the Rusty Cauldron). Traps in the Rusty Cauldron might be used to help players reach some of the high-up gems. All of the bonus regions are also no-fly zones, and any attempt to do so will be penalised.

Play in a bonus region is against the clock (30 minutes each time a region is entered), after which a player is teleported back to Hartyshire. If a player leaves a region before the available time has expired, the remaining time will be added to the time allowance when next entering a bonus region. All game-play in a bonus region is tracked by an additional HUD which is automatically attached on entering a region and detached on leaving:

The Bonus Region HUD

 

Claiming Gem Prizes

Gems can be redeemed for prizes at the Gem Lottery in the Gem Apothecary in Hartyshire.

Including Resident’s Land to the Game

While it is not available with the launch of the game, landholders will in the future be able to host the game on their land.

“This is the really big thing for us,” Dee said in explaining the option to me. “No residents’ locations will be included without them asking for it to happen, so nobody has to worry that we’re just going to start adding this to their home without their knowledge or permission. But they will be able to apply if they want.”

Once available, those wishing to host the game on their land will be able to collect a special kit from the Gem Apothecary. When this is rezzed on the parcel which will host the game, it will carry out a series of requirements and security (to prevent the option being used for griefing) checks on the land to ensure it is suitable for hosting Glytches (which can only be interacted with by people using the game HUD). Full details on these requirements and checks will be made available when the option is introduced.

Why Another Game?

Bianca Linden models a Glytch avatar. The net and balloon are not part of the avatar.

This is the sixth game involving Experience Key and experience-type capabilities the Lab has released over the years, the one prior to this being the Horizons game. I asked Patch why the Lab focuses on games.

“We utilise the games to engage our users (user retention), to provide technology and feature demonstrations to educate Residents on the capabilities Second Life can offer,” he replied. “But I’d point out that not all of our focus is in-game mechanics; Learning and Social Island being prime examples of non-game experiences utilising the same core technologies.

Patch also gave me insight into the inspiration behind Tyrah and the Curse of the Magical Glytches. “We wanted to replace Magellan’s Grid hunt with something with an updated storyline,” he said. “And which utilises the most recent aspects of experience tools. We’ve also used the Magellan and Tyrah story arc which is featured in some of our other games for a sense of familiarity.”

Given that since the launch of Experience Keys in Second Life there has been interest among creators in  being able to create grid-wide experiences of their own, I wondered if Tyrah and the Curse of the Magical Glytches might indicate the Lab is considering making them more widely available. Patch was careful not to be drawn either way, replying, “This may not be a pre-cursor to rolling out grid-wide experiences.”

A Personal View

As might have been gathered from the description above, there are aspects to Tyrah and the Curse of the Magical Glytches which echo past games from the Lab (for those familiar with them). However, there is also enough here to engage the casual player with time to idle away.  While there are awkward wrinkles – like having to jump out of first-person view to claim a Glytch prize – these don’t spoil game play. That said, the number of gems a player needs to collect to claim prizes or access the bonus regions, etc., might be seen by some as excessive.

Wearable / follower pets are popular, so it’ll be interesting to see just how frequently Glytches start popping-up on avatar heads or shoulders or following them around. I’m particularly curious to see how popular the game proves to be with land owners, once the option to have parcels added to the game opens.

Related Links

With thanks to Patch Linden, Dee linden and Shaman Linden.

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