July 24th, 2014 by Marianne McCann
So I’ve been spending some time in The Cornfield, a new project by Linden Lab’s Linden Department of Public Works within Second Life®.
But before I talk on that, a word or two about the Linden Realms Portal Park that leads into the Cornfield, as well as The Wilderness, Magellan’s Grid Scavenger Hunt and Linden Realms. The Portal Park is what the portal on the “social Island” should have been
It has a central area to land in, but the decoration of the area draws you out of this space. There are no benches facing in, nothing to serve as a focal point. Meanwhile the paths to the different experiences wind tantalizingly out of site from the hub, drawing you down. No featureless portals here. You get a sense of the area you are entering before you go, but with informational note card and the overall dressing of the area.
You can tell that Linden Realms is soft fantasy, that the Cornfield is a dark, well, cornfield, and the grid hunt is snowy. The other portals are clearly designed with expansion in mind, most notably the largely-dressed-but-unmarked Arena portal.
Very well planned, very well built. My only complaint might be the overall simplicity of the build — but I am sure this is by design. Very helpful for those who are not running big gaming rigs. I might also wish there was some way to drive people to a non-gaming area, akin to a “back button” to other choices (including social and information spaces).
Now then, let’s discuss the Cornfield.
It’s a simple “shooting” game. Go to the cornfield and collect corn to turn in for “Corn Bucks.” Beat up the baddies (in this storyline, griefers left over from the old Linden Corn Field penal area) to get more corn bucks. Get beaten by them, you lose you corn (but not saved corn bucks) and go to a spawn area. Oh, and corn bucks can be redeemed for armor, better weapons, and prizes to take home.
It all uses the experience keys, which were roughly formed for use in Linden Realms and are soon to finally roll out to other users. As such, when you go into the realm, your HUD, armor, and weapons appear, and all your saved states appear from where you last left off. Leave the area, and all the armor, weapons, and the HUD automatically detach. It’s a level of playability that has been lacking in Second Life based games for, well, ever.
It’s not the easiest game in the world, with the baddies in the corn being hard to spot in the dim light. Most take a couple hits to kill, while you are soft and fleshy, and easy to harm. This makes armor — and the odd bottle of moonshine you might find in the field — very helpful.
There are also other items in the field you can sit on for a breather, and even a still that will power you up to full strength.
The prizes are simple but fun, ranging from corn necklaces (which would be nicer if modifiable or at least resizable) and system t-shirts (I’m surprised they weren’t fitted mesh) to “griefer avatars” and plush toys. Cute, but these are not necessarily the most useful items.
Still, the fun is in the play. It’s an enjoyable bit of playtime to get out there and beat up the baddies for a while. The prizes are secondary to the overall game play in my opinion.
It’s clear that the LDPW has done all they can to limit issues of lag in the build. Designs are simple and textures are repeated. Scripts are minimal. Nevertheless, when it is crowded, you will face some lag from other users and other typical Second Life latency issues.
It’s a great use of the Second Life platform. Much like with Linden realms, it’s fun to take your day-to-day character and “enter” an alternate world. It feels a bit like the old TV show “ReBoot” and hopping into incoming games to beat the user — while retaining the shape you always inhabit.
I’d recommend it. Go play.