So what has been updated? Speaking in the update video, Mike Cox, a producer for Patterns, tells us the Shaping Stone, the physics engine(s) , and performance optimisation have been the focal points for the update. The world has also been updates with additional areas to explore.
On start-up, Patterns now defaults to full screen mode, and on entering the world you’ll find yourself in a familiar “spawning” pyramid. On getting outside, the world initially appears to be little changed from the initial release; perhaps the most obvious change is that the leaves on the trees are a darker green and sport a different texture. Get yourself across the first chasm, however, you’ll see that things have indeed changed.
Getting to the new islands is something of a challenge. Matters are not as straightforward as 0.01a as height differentials are more extreme and xome substances are pushed to breaking. In my case at least, I found creating a specific shape greatly eased the process of getting across gaps. Gypsum, a substance that was rare to the point of non-existence in 0.01a (unless I managed to miss it), is much in evidence on the additional islands. However, getting to all of it, and to the other things which are available is a further series challenges, simply because of the topography.
I’m not sure what has been done with the Shaping Stone, but I initially had issues in working with the newer version which I didn’t encounter first time around with pieces refusing to link. I thought it was my SL instincts kicking-in and causing me problems. Certainly, coming back to Patterns after a night’s sleep left me merrily building away again, and accumulating a range of objects, although I’m still at a loss of what, precisely, an “antiprism” is, although it does seem to be popular with others…
The other engine updates are perhaps too subtle to notice in-world. I didn’t really have noticeable performance issues with 0.01a, so it is hard to tell if anything has improved. Sadly, the camera remains largely untouched and frustrating to use. It does appear that if you’re standing on a large open space and TAB-toggle the camera, it will set itself further back from your avatar than version0.01a, but this could simply be me not having noticed with the initial release.
The new islands are obviously the biggest change and as mentioned above, offer a significant set of challenges both in getting to them and around them. Much need for ramps and stairways, so it’s likely older islands may well find themselves vacuumed for resources once more.
The other major change is the ability to have your own creations (formations, to use the Patterns parlance again) interact with one another more freely. It’s now possible, for example, to create ramps and tracks and move your other formations – cheese rolls, wheels, balls … trucks – along them without them falling apart.
I did encounter one odd control, while tearing down the side of a pyramid, an on-screen control popped-up, which I’ve not seen before. I have no idea if it’s been there all the time (not seen mention of it), if it is new for 0.01b (perhaps to do with moving your own formations around?) or something else. All I could get it to do was change colour from orange to green (Update: it’s the rotation tool . I’ve not used this before, and it is supposedly activated using R, which for may has simply added / removed a building block from my avatar’s left hand. As I was dismantling a wall at the time and using the mouse, as in the screen cap, its appearance totally threw me).
A small, iterative update with some nice touches, but nothing that is particularly revolutionary – which is precisely the point; the Genesis Release is about evolution, not revolution. Certainly, there is nothing here which is going to get those who have already made up their minds to give Patterns perhaps more than a further cursory glance. However, with the update schedule confirmed as being around every fortnight (two weeks), then it’s fair to say that Patterns is liable to keep initial interest going among those who are already engaged with it. Some of this may well be increased should Linden Lab / Free Range Software reveal that they are implementing user requests (of which there are many in the forum) and that multi-player is on the cards, if still a good way away.
For my part, I’ll keep digging, building, exploring, falling and, umm… oh yes – blowing things up .
Videos courtesy of Linden Research Inc and Damien Fate.