Friday, October 19, 2012

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5 Things Patterns Needs to Keep Me Interested

Patterns 2
Iris Ophelia's ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

When Patterns debuted, it didn't really do anything for me. Even though I'm a huge fan of Minecraft, Linden Lab's Patterns didn't seem to offer many of the things I actually enjoyed about that game. It was SL designer Damien Fate's DamoPatterns videos on YouTube that finally caught my eye and got me interested in this sandbox game.

Now that I've played around with the beta, there are a few things I'd love to see in order to maintain my interest in the game. Because Patterns is still just a fraction of what it will one day be, some of these ideas (if not all of them) are already in the works (and in fact one of them was sort of included in this week's update). Regardless, these types of changes are necessary to add more depth and 'playability' to this rose-tinted world. For example:

Customizable Avatars

This was obviously going to be my first point, and it's not because I don't find squinty-anime-eyed-corn-chip-man endearing, but he (or she) just isn't an avatar or expression of me in any way I can get behind. You'll probably be able to change the material he's made of in the future, but I'd like to see more. Let me build my avatar in the shape stone, designating head, body, and limbs. Let me build things and then scale them to fit my avatar, and attach them (that sounds familiar...). Let me skin! Let me do something to make that avatar as identifiably mine as the landscape is.

Scalable Objects

This is something else that might sound familiar, but the simple ability to resize objects allows for an entirely new level of building complexity that very few other games of this type can claim. Yes, just like Second Life, but for a slightly different crowd, and with a slightly different approach.

Patterns 1

Goals/Achievements

Right now the thing that keeps me busy in Patterns is getting all the starene on the map. Once I do that, I feel a little bit listless. Obviously the point of the game is to build, but I think the only reason i ever built a house in Minecraft was to keep the zombies away at night. Patterns can't just do what Minecraft already does if it wants to stay fresh and interesting, but aside from the hardcore builders, many players like me need a reason to do something. Just a little push to get things going.

I'll admit I'm one of those people who is in favour of an achievements system for SL, not because I believe that new users need to be given a purpose, but rather because I think they need to be given time to find their purpose. The point of achievements wouldn't be to lead players around by the hand, but to keep them directed and interested long enough for them to figure out what they're interested in pursuing on their own. The longer you can get someone to play, the better your chances are of getting them invested in the game.

Patterns 3

Expand and Add Complexity to the Environment

I could make due in a game without goals if the environment was broad and interesting enough, but Patterns' floating (and partially indestructible) islands really limit how much exploration is possible. The latest update added several new chunks of land and a couple new starene idols to destroy, but that new content didn't keep me busy for very long. Obviously the world of Patterns will grow, but I would love to see these pre-made floating islands connect to the ground -- and a procedurally generated map, maybe with pre-built temples and structures scattered randomly throughout. New plants, maybe even a small critter ecosystem like the one dropped from early iterations of SL. Adding an element of wonder and surprise to an otherwise straightforward premise is a great way to keep players interested.

Multiplayer

Minecraft multiplayer was a huge pain for me to set up. Honestly, I didn't want to host a group server or anything like that, I just wanted to be able to invite a few friends into my world to play around, Diablo-style. Instead I spent an irritating afternoon fussing with port forwarding and router settings and a whole bunch of garbage that soured the experience for me rather dramatically. With Patterns on Steam already it seems like it could be a match made in multiplayer heaven, so I'm optimistic. Worlds like this are meant to be shared, and sharing should never be a chore.

Mixed_reality_iris2010 Iris Ophelia (Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.

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Pussycat Catnap

A lot of this article reads like "Patterns would be great if it was SL."

Which makes me wonder who the market for Patterns is.

Iris Ophelia

Both Patterns and SL are sandbox worlds with building tools. SL has been around for awhile, so they've had more time than most to figure out what works and what doesn't in that vein, what people respond to and what they'll reject. Even though Second Life and Patterns are completely different constructs in my opinion, they can still be informed by each other because they share a foundation.

As for the market, look at something more directly comparable to SL, like some of the big shared Minecraft servers with their own in-game economies. Those players are still using Minecraft for that activity and not Second Life, so even if SL and Patterns were more alike the markets for each would still have their distinctions. Maybe they're participating in both, but they must be getting something different from each one, otherwise why bother? If I want bananas, why buy the same bananas from two different stores?

shockwave yareach

The product will be successful if they can get a tie-in and some cash from the company that makes Doritoes. For a short time, give away a free ranch for every new dorito player too. Nacho worst strategy for getting publicity, and better than anything LL has thought up on its own...

Imagine the blurb on the bag -- Free world inside every bag of Doritoes.

shockwave yareach

The product will be successful if they can get a tie-in and some cash from the company that makes Doritoes. For a short time, give away a free ranch for every new dorito player too. Nacho worst strategy for getting publicity, and better than anything LL has thought up on its own...

Imagine the blurb on the bag -- Free world inside every bag of Doritoes.

Iggy

Doritos? You folks have low-brow tastes.

It's Pecorino Romano or Manchego Viejo wedges I'm seeing in Mister Patterns Man.

When I find a *DESKTOP* to install this new and innovate product I bought but won't run on my laptop, I'll share my findings here about the exact variety of cheese in Patterns.

Lesson one: always read tech specs before buying.

Metacam Oh

The best thing about Patterns is the graphical aesthetics. Other than that the game is currently not there. They should not even be offering it for sale at the current state. Smells bad.

Nitz

There are different kind of people who likes different kinds of fun (see Bartle's work on player types http://goo.gl/tBICA)

From what I've seen so far, I agree with the need to customize the character and to create a goal or purpose to cater for the "needs" of the players including the social aspects. I think Iris is spot on in her observations. Add some game design to it and it's a not too bad "minecraft 2.0" product.

Cio Koba

When people say that patterns is a minecraft copy I reply that minecraft is a copy of secondlife.
You can build if you want a minecraft looking space in sl with no poblem. Great and complex building tools in a game like that are what have shaped SL to what it is today, a bastard of our real world.

Cio Koba

I must also say that LL should stop fooling around and should try to bring somehow a program with blender´s 3D capabilities into a game, not even a game but some kind of fun and appealing shared environment.

Nitz Lane

Cio, you might be right about Minecraft being a Second Life copy, but a very successful one if so. If you ask me it's because they did the game elements thinking, and got it right.

I bet them people using minecraft would be amazed if they realised of all the really creative things you can do in a sandbox using just prims, but SL does not really work that way or offer that kind of gamelike approach to it.

It's nothing you cant fix with a little planning, especially with the new pathfinder functionality, we could steer where people should appear when they login and what HUD's they should wear by default, we could even offer "Patternz mode" and normal "Second Life Mode" allowing users to switch with a click of a button, but I guess noone bothers with that, sadly.

Minecraft: 44,561,277 registered users, of which 7,766,791 (17.43%) have bought the game.

In the last 24 hours, 131,126 people registered, and 11,710 people bought the game.

Current price on the website is €19.95 for a copy, which makes a awful lot of €'s in the end. ;)

(http://minecraft.net/stats)

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