Patterns: of web updates, livestreams and more

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

It’s been a while since I last looked in detail at Patterns, Linden Lab’s desktop sandbox environment for the PC and Mac. Since that time, the game has come on in leaps and bounds, adding many new features and capabilities, including multiple worlds, multi-player options, creatures, new playing modes and more.

The last significant update to the game itself was in May 2013; however, work developing both the game and the supporting websites is continuing – including the creation of a nascent Patterns wiki.

The updates Patterns website
The updates Patterns website

The forums have also had a much-needed overhaul in terms of appearance, although active participation remains small. They do see a reasonable amount of developer activity, particularly where features and updates are concerned – which is hardly surprising given the game is still in its Genesis mode until the end of the year – although responses to questions are perhaps a little slow. It’s been over a month since an “Ask the Devs” thread requested questions on the platform from users, and despite only four questions being asked, replies have yet to be posted.

The Linden Lab team responsible for Patterns recently held a live stream event in September, which they promised would be “the first”, run in association with Twitch TV. How many more there are liable to be is open to question, but it’s an interesting way of reaching out to the Patterns community and gaining feedback. It appears to have garnered a lot of interest.

The Patterns team at the Lab recently held an informal livestream event via Twitch
The Patterns team at the Lab recently held an informal livestream event via Twitch

The stream offered users the chance to see the devs, learn about features and ask questions – such as whether or not the game will gain a character editing mode (the team revealed that while discussions on the subject have been held, and the idea considered, no definite decision either way has been made), together with other questions on the possible future directions for the platform.

At just over an hour in length, the recording has some interesting tidbits for those who are enjoying Patterns. Unfortunately, refuses to let me embed the video, even via Gigya, so all I can do is provide a link.

A ram-like creature from Patterns (l) and a more malevolent monster (r)
A ram-like creature from Patterns (l) and a more malevolent monster (r)

If the Lab are keeping to their original roadmap for Patterns, the formal release of version one should come around the end of the year.

Related Links

Patterns: now on Desura & the Lab teams with Alienware again

Patterns on Desura
Patterns on Desura

Update: Linden Lab sold Desura to Bad Juju Games on November 5th, 2014.

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

I’ve been keeping an eye on Desura for a while, mainly to see if any rebranding commences. In doing so, I came across the fact that Patterns is now available on the Lab’s latest acquisition.

Whether the Lab heard my speculation on the subject of Patterns and Desura or not I’ve no idea* , but Patterns appeared on Desura  at the start of August, just after I last poked at the digital distribution service. It arrived with a “special offer” of an additional 25% off the purchase price (so 75% off rather than the “usual” 50% for the Genesis version). This offer ended on Monday 5th August, and the price is now back to the 50% off the “Alpha” price.

Response from the Desura community has so far been small but positive, with most ratings sitting at 8-10 (out of 10). The Desura web page includes a Vimeo version of the Lab’s last video promo for Patterns, which appeared back in early July. This is actually quite stylish and something of a departure for the Lab video-wise (as have their Blocksworld promo videos – have they hired in a new team for marketing, or are the Boldai team having an additional impact? :P).

Patterns Competition

Patterns-compWhile I may not have received notification of Pattern’s arrival on Desura, I did receive an e-mail notifying me of Patterns-based competition the Lab is running in conjunction with Dell / Alienware.

The competition appears to have launched on August 12th, and is linked to via the Patterns website, Patterns on Desura and Patterns on Steam. On offer to the winner is an Alienware X51 gaming desktop.

Entrants to the competition are required to design and construct a unique alien landscape within Patterns using the in-game shapes and abilities offered in the game and then upload a screen shot of the build to the Alienware competition web page before September 15th, 2013.

An Alienware Arena account is required to enter the competition, and as has ben the case in the past, the competition is only open to legal residents of the United States (other than Rhode Island and US Territories), and entrants must be 13 years of age or older. The winner will be selected through a split between public voting (open to Alienware Arena members) and “Expert Judging”, and based on a combined score from both. Judging criteria will be on the originality / creativity within a build and relevance to Alienware / Dell.

Further details on the competition can be found on the Alienware Arena Patterns Competition page, as can the Contest Rules.

Continue reading “Patterns: now on Desura & the Lab teams with Alienware again”

Patterns moves to Steam’s Early Access platform

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

Patterns, Linden Lab’s sandbox building game available for Windows and the Mac, which launched on October 2012 utilising Steam as the initial download mechanism before becoming directly available via the Lab’s own Patterns website, has now moved to the Steam Early Access platform.

Launched on March 21st, Early Access allows users to play games that are currently in development. It initially kicked-off with a total of twelve titles in various stages of development, and which users can purchase and play. In return, developers gain access to community feedback, players can play games in alpha or beta stages, and Steam gets to remain the one-stop shop for digital downloads.

As such, Patterns – which remains in its Genesis Release phase and at the Genesis price of £6.99 ($9.99) – is an ideal candidate for the new Steam service, as it brings the game to the attention of a much wider audience than has perhaps been available to it until now.

Patterns now available as a part of Steam's Early Access platform
Patterns now available as a part of Steam’s Early Access platform

Coming alongside the move, the Patterns Community page on Steam has also been updated with news on the move, commenting in part:

We first launched Patterns as a ‘genesis release’ in October 2012, and we are now happy to make it available to everyone on Steam as part of the Early Access program. We are still very early in the game’s development, but have already made many updates. If you’re interested in seeing how Patterns has grown and improved so far, check out our update history in the News section.

As genesis release users, your feedback will help shape Pattern’s evolution. Please keep the comments, screenshots, videos and your thoughts coming! Know that we are reading and paying attention to your feedback, even if we are not able to respond to every post with a comment.

Since its initial launch, Patterns have continued to be enhanced, with both bug fixes and new features being regularly added to the game – many of the latter in direct response to ideas and input from Genesis users. These new features include additional worlds, more substances for building, more formations, some with new – such a slide, bounce and fly.

More enhancements and capabilities – again, some of which have been user-requested – are due in the future, including a multi-player mode, the ability to build personalised worlds and shared them with other users,

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

Of all the new products launched to date by Linden Lab, Patterns is the one which potentially has the most visible traction  – the Steam / Genesis user community is active, the community pages contain a good mix of discussion, ideas and Q&A, and the game appears to have picked-up a good level of support and enthusiasm from non-SL users – something which could bode well now it is effectively available on a more widespread basis within the Steam community.

Related Links

With thanks to Daniel Voyager

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 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 (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 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 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.

Related Links

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.

Continue reading “Patterns gets its first update”

Patterns to update on October 18th

It appears Linden Lab are keeping to their promise of “rapid iterations” for Patterns, as an update will be released on Thursday 18th October, two weeks after the initial Genesis Release launch.

The e-mail announcing the update reads in full:

Hello Patterns Customer,

Our first update is right around the corner. We’re going to be updating to a bigger world, adding more shapes to find in the world and –  based on your feedback – we’re adding the ability to place formations on your own creations as well as ours. We’re also fixing plenty of bugs.

Our plan is to update on Thursday October 18 on Steam. We’ll keep you posted on our progress.

Thanks for all the great feedback and thanks again for being an early adopter of Patterns!

Patterns: expanding on Thursday 18th October

I’ll be looking forward to the update; things have been a trifle dull in Patterns land of late, as I’ve run out of shapes I can think of to build.

Hmmm… I feel a review update coming on as well – you have been warned! :).