Patterns, from Second Life creator Linden Lab, now available for $10
Patterns is a Minecraft-esque "break things and then build with them" type of game that adds more varied geometry and a physics engine to the mix. Under development by Linden Lab, most famous for virtual world Second Life, an early build of the game is now available for $10 from their official site. The developers say that, like Minecraft, this represents an early buy-in price that will guarantee you access to future updates as the game takes shape.
Currently, players have access to a single, hand-crafted world space made up of a variety of materials to collect and build with. While you begin with only the standard square cube, exploring the world will unlock new shapes like pyramids and tetrahedrons that can all be stuck together to create anything from towers to physics-enabled giant wheels. A special bench in the game allows you to combine shapes you've found into different ones, such as using four triangles to make a three-dimensional pyramid.
The physics engine also tracks material stress, so trying to build a one-by-one bridge of clay is probably going to buy you an all-expenses-paid plummet into the abyss that lies below Patterns' floating isles. Likewise, building a tower of a weaker material straight up will eventually cause the blocks on the bottom to start breaking, halting your progress. It will be necessary to think about geometry and load-bearing to construct anything truly massive.
The version you can get your hands on now is a very early one, according to the developers. On the immediate agenda before the "1.0" release some time next year are procedurally generated worlds, multiplayer support, and the ability to craft your own avatar out of the various materials in the world. Some examples given were a character made out of a very heavy, dense material that can survive long falls, but isn't as agile, or a character that eschews limbs to become a giant, rolling ball.
Check out the video above to get a look at the current build for yourself. If you like what you see, head on over to the Patterns site to get started.