Everytime I have a spare moment to do… well… nothing, it seems I end up going to Second Life. I suppose I've played SL for roughly 6 years now, on and off. [See also: iggydix.blogspot.com and secondlifemonster.blogspot.com] I guess its a kind of pointless, aimless wandering game. Which suits me fine. I don't know how other people use it, but if I didn't have an interest in building/3d modelling or programming or virtual spaces, I don't think I would have stuck with casually playing this game so long.
For some reason, despite having a fairly nice little gander about, I kept having intermittent problems rezzing up normally, and instead of looking like a white statue as I had planned, I looked more like a moire pattern. I also kept losing my connection whilst repeatedly trying to TP to the Kowloon parcel I had once visited a long time ago. During the downtime, I saw a small advert on the SL startup screen about a new game also produced by Linden Labs…
A few minutes later (and US$ 9.95 poorer), I had bought an activation key and was up and running with PATTERNS. Visually, it reminds me of Minecraft-meets-Flatland's aesthetic. I'm sure detractors will complain that the gameplay does have a semblance to Minecraft in the "mining" process, but the rest of the game's objective is quite different.
Despite looking very "simple", the pieces rely on a realistic physics and fluid/particle system. And as you build simple bridges or structures or even bombs, you have to find the right kind of material that will not collapse on itself depending on what you are trying to build with it. And unlike Minecraft, there are no Zombies or Creepers about to come to eat you when the sun sets. Its just a big happy sandbox for discovering materials, exploring floating islands by slowly building bridges to cross over to them, and building more and more complex 3d polyhedras out of triangles and squares.
Basically, its like Minecraft minus all the parts of Minecraft's gameplay that annoyed me (i.e.: being eaten suddenly) - multiplied by a mathematics/geometry puzzle. Because oh yes, trust me, you're going to have to figure out how to quickly fit a tetrahedron with a goddamned square pyramid to form a flat plane in order to get to the other island. And then you'll probably want to make more Patterns in the library within the game to order to automate your building process…
The game is blest with amazing environmental light - Linden has really got WindLight down pat, because the environmental light is absolutely gorgeous and brilliant for what seems on first sight to be such a simple game that is entirely built of squares and triangles. In Patterns, the sun and the moon will rise and set in quick succession; you can see the rays of light come into the structures whilst you're inside mining for materials.
You can download Patterns here. This is an early launch called Genesis Release (public alpha) and its available on the site or via Steam for US$ 9.95. More info on building is on the Build Patterns Wiki.
The simplest bomb consists of 1 Brimstone cube + 1 Brimstone square pyramid + 1 Starene square pyramid. It will explode when you touch it on the second time. You can stand on it and the explosion itself will not hurt you, but it may throw you off the thing you are standing on and you might shatter into pieces. Its a quick way of harvesting Unbreakable materials.
The Rocket Bomb consists of 2 Brimstone cubes + 1 tall Rubble square pyramid. The rocket will fly once constructed, for the length of approximately 60 squares and then explode. From experience sometimes it explodes even sooner than you would expect if you are hoping to arc it into the air and have it come down again. If you have shot it in too wide an arc it will almost always certain explode in mid-air, so be warned. Once I bombed the Floating islands in Barren Plains so much that... THE MOUNTAINS OF BRIMSTONE, STARENE AND CLAY COMPLETELY FELL OFF. THEY STOPPED FLOATING! Which brings me to the question: WHY DO THE FLOATING ISLANDS FLOAT? WHAT KEEPS THEM THERE???