This is an early review of Linden Lab's Patterns from Robert Thomas, an interactive music composer and app game designer who was part of the team that created Inception the App and other hits at RjDj, and before that, developed several acclaimed projects in Second Life. As a longtime Linden Lab follower who also helps make extremely popular interactive apps, he's in a unique place to offer a perspective on Patterns. WJA
Having explored Patterns quite a bit over the last week or so I feel pretty positive about it. It's still at a very early stage. But even now at 0.01, it is performing well and feels good as a user experience. However I would say many of the reasons how it does this were proved in Minecraft. I think where the team at Linden choose to take it now will be very interesting. I can see many different directions it could go.
The things I like most right now are:
It's all about creation and discovery
There really isn't anything else you can do in Patterns so far. I have always thought that creative environments is what Linden Lab do best. Patterns is currently a ( relatively small ) environment which you can wander around, learn how it works and learn how to transform creatively.
Its minimalism boosts creativity
The minimal shapes in Patterns ( and difficult in making complex ones) really prohibits users from attempting to make realistic models. I think this actually makes the experience MORE creative and steer the UGC away from competing directly with professionally created game environments. I think this will also help it deliver smoothly.
It's potentially ambitious but technically achievable in a way that delivers a UX which is comparable to what users expect. However I'd suspect the more difficult and critical technical challenges are still in its future.
Feels early and not definite in direction
The possibilities for innovating to get the most of its similarities with other products but also to do things differently too. I really think there is potential for innovation here - not just imitation.
It's fresh thinking
I think this can't be overstated. It has been a very long time since Linden Lab as a company actually released something genuinely different from its core product. I would imagine this is like fresh air through the company and very invigorating. It appears there is lots of interesting thinking going on at LL ( not just with Patterns but also in regard to Creatorverse and their other projects ) It seems to be thinking thats not just about replicating standard approaches or competing directly against larger more traditional game studios, but really going back to first principles of game/ experience design.
Picture of Robert playing Patterns from his Instagram stream.Tweet