Project Sansar: in the news and marketplace thoughts

“Project Sansar” has been getting noticed again. In Dublin, at the 2015 Web Summit, Ebbe Altberg, the Lab’s CEO gave a presentation about  the new platform, the end of which included short video of the platform, which was captured by attendee Janne Juntunen. Following this, at least a couple of articles have appeared in on-line media outlets, with my colleague Ben Lang offering a brief write-up in Road to VR, while Fortune On-line, to which I was directed by Ciaran Laval, also carried a piece.

The Fortune article offers an enticing headline, How ‘Second Life’ Developer Hopes To Deliver The ‘YouTube For VR’, drawing on the Lab’s YouTube / WordPress analogy they’ve used in talking to the media over the last few months, but neither – beyond offering an image captured from “Project Sansar” and which can be seen on the Lab’s redesigned corporate website, has much that is new to those of us following “project Sansar” as closely we can.

An image from the Lab's redesigned corporate web site showing the Golden Gate Bridge model from "Project Sansar", complete with glying vehicles moving around it - a moving versions of which was show at the Dublin Web Summit 2015
An image from the Lab’s redesigned corporate website showing the Golden Gate Bridge model from “Project Sansar”, complete with flying vehicles moving around it – a moving versions of which was show at the Dublin Web Summit 2015

The YouTube  / WordPress analogy is fitting, given that “Project Sansar” is designed to be pretty much a white label environment where clients and customers can come into the platform, develop their virtual spaces and then market them to their users under a brand of their own choosing, complete with dedicated access from the web.

Given most of the statements made in both articles will be familiar to those following Sansar, I was drawn to one statement in particular made by Ebbe Altberg:

We want to make it less expensive and less difficult for creators to get started with Project Sansar, while at the same time enabling them to create higher quality, larger, and more immersive experiences, reach larger audiences,and create much larger business opportunities—whether selling virtual items or monetizing entire experiences. In addition to supporting our community of creators we’ll give them tools to create and support their own communities and serve their customers and audiences. [Emphasis mine.]

The first part of this comment again doesn’t really reveal anything new; however, I’ve highlighted the last past of it because it presents another opportunity for some speculation.

A further image from the Lindenlab.com home page showing a scene which formed a part of the Lab's Dublin Web Summit video
A further image from the Lindenlab.com home page showing a scene which formed a part of the Lab’s Dublin Web Summit video

Yesterday, and thanks to a huge amount of legwork by Vick Forcella, I wrote about the Lab’s subsidiary Tilia Inc, and the filing of a trademark for Tilia, a payment processing system.  Seeing Altberg’s comments about providing “project Sansar” customers / clients tools to … serve their customer and audiences”, I find myself wondering if “Tilia” might be intended to provide “Project Sansar” customers with a further white label environment in which they can build and brand their own marketplace presence and control the goods and services presented to their customers.

Thus, rather than sending their users to a generic “Project Sansar” marketplace where they might be confronted with a plethora of goods, including those from competitors or which might otherwise be unsuitable to their target audience, customers using Sansar could present their users with exactly the virtual good they wish them to see and use, a level of control which could be extremely attractive to the core vertical markets towards which “Project Sansar” seems to be being steered (e.g. education, training, simulation, architecture and business).

Ebbe Altberg presents a short video featuring footage shot from inside "Project Sansar" at the Dublin Web Summit 2015 (image via )
Ebbe Altberg presents a short video featuring footage shot from inside “Project Sansar” at the Dublin Web Summit 2015 (image via Janne Juntunen on Twitter)

In his Road to VR piece, Ben Lang focuses more on the technical aspects of the new platform, pointing-out that style and looks can be an integral part of a game or platform’s longevity, and that in his estimation  of these initial screen shots, “Project Sansar” is hitting the nail pretty much on the head.

It is in the Road to VR piece that we do get an interesting insight. It has been previously indicated that “Project Sansar” will offer ways and means to optimise content to improve performance, rather than just shoving everything down the pipe and little the viewer try to handle it all. In discussing things with Ben Lang, Ebbe Altberg gives some indicators as to how this will be achieved.

We’ll do a lot of things to help users understand how to create performant content. There’s a lot of work yet to do, but we have plans for things like automatic optimization of content, polygon reduction of content that preserves quality at the same time, including showing users that create content some sort of visual indication of how performant their content is going to be across various platforms [i.e. clients].

Both articles offer good light reading on “Project Sansar”, even if they don’t offer anything especially new, with the Fortune articles also underlining a few facts, good and bad, about Second Life.

I remain intrigued by the direction the Lab is taking with their new platform. While it is early days, and given the fact I  still tend to feel “Project Sansar” will end up  niche product  – albeit it a much larger niche than filled by the likes of Second Life and OpenSim today – I also tend to think that the Lab is far more one the right track in their thinking than those behind some of the other platforms currently in development out there.

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P.S. Ben, if you do read this, please check the e-mails, still awaiting a reply vis our discussions!)

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5 thoughts on “Project Sansar: in the news and marketplace thoughts

  1. One of the things Ive pondered on in the past is whether Linden Lab will move towards a Linden Lab marketplace that covers content for Second Life, Project Sansar and other ventures. Similar to Player Studio which covers more than one title.

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    1. I think that is quite possible. And – in the case of externally produced content – why stop at just “Project Sansar” and Second Life?

      Again, I can’t help but look at the “Tilia” trademark goods & services descriptions and ponder.

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  2. From an Altberg interview about Sansar. It sounds like we might have to buy everything instead of making it.

    “Altberg acknowledges that figuring out the customer in Second Life is hard. Is it the creator? The community member? The consumer? “With Sansar, we explicitly said, the creator is king, and the creator is the customer.”

    And the creator isn’t necessarily — or even probably — a model maker. That’s not the toolset the company is working on at first, though it will come: You can download 3d models from lots of places, after all. The initial focus is letting people make experiences, and the authoring tools will reflect that need. “How many things in your home did you make,” asks Altberg. “But it still reflects your identity. We didn’t make the chairs in this room or the table,” he continues, gesturing around to encompass the reinforced brick walls, “but we are making an experience.”

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