Return to Linden Realms

Tonight, I’m writing from the Café Grotto. And there’s a picture of me pondering while blending into my dark corner. Cozy little spot, maybe not for the claustrophobic. But as there are rarely more than a couple people here – and I have the place to myself at the moment – compactness is not a problem.

And now to the point. Yes, I spend a lot of time building, scripting, photographing, chatting & IMing, shopping, sorting inventory, and even at last need role plying a little, but now and then one just has to take off and have a bit of a lark. So a few weeks back, I took a fresh look at the Linden Realms game.

I remember having a quick try at the original Linden Realms years back. It looked interesting but life was busy and I didn’t have a lot of time for it. Visiting the rebooted Linden Realms now is quite a different experience, and that’s different in a positive way as I hope to explain below.

Before I go any further, I should make clear I’m not much of a computer gamer and this is not any kind of a walk through or technical how-to article. I’ll leave the fun of discovery to those few of you out there who have been even slower than I to discover it!

Tyrah’s Workshop

First stop, the Portal Park. Turn left and head for the Linden Realms door. This will drop you in the yard outside of Tyrah’s Workshop, which acts as the home base for the Linden Realms experience. Here you get your game HUD (automatically) and can read through some web pages and watch a couple videos about what it’s all about.

The first thing I learn from the background video is that I’m not about to go through a repainted original Linden Realms, this new experience is literally (in so far as that word has any meaning in a virtual world) a reboot built from the ashes of the original. So, I’m actually doing things out of order it seems. Tyrah and the Curse of the Magical Glytches now precedes Realms in the chronology. Eh, not losing any sleep over that.

The workshop area looks way better than the original, kinda primmy build from so long ago. There’s a solid theme that’s consistent throughout the entire area. The layout makes it easy to find the instructions at prepare to get started. Really a good look, marred only by the AFK noob1 standing at the entry point who I’ve cropped from the photo.

The Forest of Realms

As before, if I’m remembering right, the experience is composed of a series of quests. The first takes place in the forest. Dashing past a few wandering rock monsters (yes, they’re back) and gathering a few crystals on the way, I managed to complete this one fairly quickly after getting killed only a couple of times. And I could have avoided both of those if I had, well, actually read the instructional chat that popped up.

Again, the new look is fab. I like the slightly cartoonish look of the trees, landscape, and even the rock monsters. The somewhat open woodland gives the feel of a western North American forest which is fair enough considering where Linden Lab are headquartered. It also means that it is relatively easy to see where you are going. I’m sure the first quest could be made much more challenging just by making the forest a lot denser, but that probably would do little to enhance the game play and much to increase frustration.

The elements of the game and the stages of the quest all went off glitch free. It can be hazardous to stop and enjoy the view, or take pictures, due to the danger of being eaten. But I managed to find a couple high spots that did not appear to be frequented by the rock monsters.

I did not count the regions, but the landscape feels expansive, even when you turn up the draw distance as I did above. The forest goes convincingly on for as far as the viewer can render. The trees are varied and fit together well, appearing natural in the larger landscape, for all its geological unlikeliness. (Besides, it is after all a virtual word; the visual appeal of the environment is more important than its presumed real world structural stability!)

In short, the first quest was quickly doable even for me, and I’m a rubbish computer gamer. As with most games though, the levels get progressively harder as you go on. Next stop after the forest is the Sands of Time Desert.

1Don’t get me wrong, I adore new users and help them out whenever they ask and I can. They’re what keep Second Life going! But standing alone, unmoving in their OI finest, they do present a sad and forlorn look.

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