Linden Research has released a trailer for their upcoming sandbox construction game, Patterns.
Freely admitting that they were inspired by Minecraft, Linden Research devs feel like they have the formula for the next big game in the sandbox genre. Unlike Minecraft, it’s being built from the ground up with a large audience in mind, and while the core gameplay—explore, gather resources, make things, survive—are pulled over from the indie hit, it’s getting the benefit of an established development team. It was only a matter of time before we would get to see what happens a when a larger video game studio puts their entry into this genre. I wasn’t expecting Linden—known mostly for their hit massively-multiplayer, open-world game Second Life—but looking back, it actually makes the most sense. I was expecting Valve, Blizzard, or even EA to take a crack at it, but Linden has experience with giving players a place to hang and letting them cut loose on it without reservation. That’s something those other studios would have to learn.
What does this experienced team bring to the sandbox table? The game—which is still in development—will have more scalable graphics than the game we’re used to, which will help bring in a lot of people who were turned off by Minecraft’s low-fidelity. The world itself will be more granular. The bits of the world and its resources will be composed of malleable triangle plates, which can be fitted together to create different 3-dimensional shapes (patterns) in the world. The big thing, however, is physics. The game will feature a physics engine for all constructions, and every trangular plate will be affected by gravity, pressure, and impact—resulting in a more dynamic and challenging world.
In one example given by the developers, a Patterns player could take his/her clay triangles, and turn them into hollow cubes, then stack those cubes like in Minecraft. Unlike in Minecraft, however, a tall stack will become unstable, and likely will fall over. If enough blocks are added to the stack, the weight of the blocks above will eventually destroy the blocks below, causing the whole thing to collapse, with the blocks at the top gaining enough speed in their fall that they also shatter upon impact with the ground.
The video shows some really great examples of all this in action. Though everything still looks rather rudimentary, one can see the track they’re on pretty clearly:
That one can construct a ‘wheel’ of sorts, and roll it around in the world, suggests a lot of possible machines that would work within the engine. There is also the promise of challenge elements like monsters, and additional physics elements—like flowing, volumetric, weighted fluids.
Linden has swiped Minecraft’s development process as well: For $10 anyone can get access to the alpha version of Patterns, which is planned to release on October 5th, 2012. That $10 delivers access to all future releases and upgrades. It’s already avalable for pre-order over on the game’s newly launched official website.