VWBPE 2016: Ebbe Altberg transcript with audio

Ebbe Atlberg, through his alter ego of Ebbe Linden, addresses the VWBPE conference
Ebbe Atlberg, through his alter ego of Ebbe Linden, addresses the VWBPE conference

On Wednesday, March 9th 2016, Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg appeared at the 2016 Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education conference, where he gave a brief overview of matters pertaining to Second Life and Project Sansar over the course of the year since the last VWBPE conference, and to answer questions about either platform asked by the audience.

The following is a transcript of his session at VWBPE 2016, complete with audio extracts. Note that note all items are given in the order they are discussed in the video of the session. For ease of reference, I’ve split comments and questions between those specific to Second Life and those focused on Project Sansar. Also, where more than one question was asked on a specific topic, I’ve grouped the questions / responses together under a single topic.

The Summary

Click on the links below to go to the relevant section.

Opening Comments

Thank you  so much. Great to be here again; it’s an awesome event, I hope you’ve all have had great sessions and more sessions to come. I will just spend a little bit of time and just talk about what I am and what we here at Linden Lab are really excited about, and what we’re working on a little bit. Then as usual, very happy to spend most of the time actually talking to you with regards to your questions that you may have.

So, first of all, wow! What an incredible year it’s been. The virtual reality market that we’re sort-of been waiting for is actually in the process of happening. We’re now seeing incredible investments from a  very large number of companies, whether it’s hardware, software, platforms tools, that I’m sure many of you are very excited to get your hands on very soon.

We in the Lab have been playing a lot with the latest hardware that’s going to hit the consumer market soon, over the next few months, and doing a lot of work to integrate those into project Sansar, but there’s also work to get some integration of that into Second Life.

So we feel very fortunate to be having all this incredible experience, together with you all, of running Second Life. Having the opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t work, what works really well and what is not working at all, and what it takes to run a platform like Second Life. What makes creators successful, what makes businesses successful, because our primary goal here is to make creators of experiences as successful as they can possibly be, and share their success.

VWBPE 2016
VWBPE 2016

Second Life Overview

Second Life has made a lot of good strides over the last year since we last met. Performance is continually improving, and we have some more performance improvements in the pipeline to come out soon. Quality is improving, stability is improving, and we’ve also managed to roll out some nice improvements. New avatars, and you have the new, better web control or media on prim, that’s now a really modern browser technology, which hopefully will be really helpful for educators.

New Registration API

We also have a lot of interesting things coming in the pipeline. [An] improved registration API, so that it will be easier for institutions to bring on their customers or clients or students in a more pre-configured way: choosing what avatars they can select from, getting them set-up in the proper groups, and taking them through a whole custom on-board experience.

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Compliance Work

We’ve also done a huge amount of work in what seems boring but is very, very, important to us, and even though you might not realise it, very important to you all as well, which is around compliance, and making sure that all the things we do fiscally within the Second Life virtual economy, and what it takes for people to redeem to fiat currency, US dollars or whichever currency you prefer around the world. We’re doing a huge amount of work to improve all the tools and fraud controls, etc., to make sure we’re running a clean, tight ship where there’s no money laundering or anything of that sort.

We’ve gotten far enough that we’ll be able to soon improve the time it takes for people to redeem money, so we can do that in hopefully just a day or two for most people. We’ve blogged about that, so you might already know about that.

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The SL Team and Other Things Coming Up

So, I feel really good about the Second Life team. Just a few weeks ago we had the whole team together in Seattle. We keep switching spots; sometimes we do it in Boston and this time we did it near the offices in Seattle. And it’s a very tight group, they are very passionate about Second Life, with Oz heading-up on the engineering side, and just a great, tight crew who really just want the absolute best for Second Life and for you all. So I feel very good with what that team has been able to do over the last year, and what they’ll be able to do in the coming years.

Some cool things coming in addition to the registration API. We have a way for, institutions that have had interruptions of viewer updates when it wasn’t something they were completely prepared for can now sign-up to be on an EDU channel, where we can better manage viewer updates.

We’re working on an update to get the current Oculus viewer working with Second Life, and we’re also working on this Quick Graphics viewer (version a the time of writing), so that you can manage when people show up in your regions with way too much clothing or too heavy of an avatar and still get good frame rates within your regions if there are avatars that are too heavy.1 Those will all roll out over the next weeks and months.

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SL Questions

Status of the Community Gateway Programme

Could you elaborate on the progress and future of the community gateway programme and standards?

The Community Gateway programme is very much proceeding. I don’t have like a final ship date for it; it goes very much hand-in-hand with the registration API work we have to do. We had to spend some more time on that than we originally thought, again for compliance; because who can collect what information in what context is something we had to solve for.

The Community Gateway Programme is still coming
The Community Gateway Programme is still coming

But the Community Gateway programme is very much progressing well, I would expect – and I know there are already some people who have beta access to it, and we are taking applications, or signing contracts if you will, simple contracts, to get more and more people onto the programme. Again, it’s going to give you a lot of control over how to bring users onto the platform and customise the on-boarding experience for those users. And there’s a lot of control you’re going to have in how that on-boarding experience takes place. So it’s right around the corner.

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Lab-Managed Gateways

Will an education and non-profit portal be added to the new user experience to encourage more education professionals and student to discover the education communities in Second Life?

Well, we’re doing things to provide gateways, so that more specifically vertically optimised on-boarding experiences for a number of subject matter could be done, including education. It would be more a question for Pete if there would be more exposure on things like destination guides and sort-of those ways for education.

But once we get some community gateways going, we might even do some community gateways ourselves that are more vertically specific and make it more obvious to educators how to get on the platform, how to discover educationally relevant content, etc. That’s something we would like to do for a number of different verticals. It just remains to be seen which of those gateways we might operate versus which ones are better managed by in-world groups or teams or companies.

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More On Cashing-out and Fees

It was announced that quicker cash out are going to be possible soon, and that the more Linden Lab knows you, you can receive money sooner. What can I, as a content creator do to help Linden Lab know me better, anything more than the tax info I have already filled-out to help with cash outs?

Well if we have your … basically know your identity, and we have documentation about your identity, then we have a more trusted relationship and you’ll be more on the fast path. If you’re already reached a certain amount, that you’ve had to provide us [with] all that personal information already, they you’re probably already going to be instantly on the fast path of that.

I believe we’re going to go live with these changes early April, so we’ve already blogged to give you all a heads-up, because there’s some fee changes associated with that roll-out. But the vast majority of you should be able to get through faster, in just a day or two. And then for people who we don’t have appropriate information, depending – I can’t give all the details, because some of this has to do with how we collect information to make sure that we know who you are and not to be snooping or anything. But we have to know who we are sending money to; and at certain amounts, we have to know even more about you in order to do it with full compliance.

So there’s not significant tricks to it. Really, if at some point you have to give us your proper identity, then you should be able to get paid quickly.

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SL And On-line Security

One of the primary concerns from teacher is that of on-line security. What is SL doing to address these issues? [this question wasn’t clearly heard by Ebbe and was reduced to “on-line Security” when he asked for a repeat]

Well, security is a very broad topic, so I’m not sure what specific security the concern would be around. Is this safety of students? Is this safety of data on the platform? Is this safety around credit cards? Obviously, we’re working very hard to ensure the platform is secure, that all data is secure, and this is just part of what we have to be absolutely world-class at, to be fully compliant with regards to the amount of money and user data that we’re handling. So a security question would have to be more specific, but I don’t know of any security issues. so, if you know of any or can think of any, please let me know more specifically, but this may not be the forum to talk about those, depending on what they might be.

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Second Life Content Ratings

Are there any plans to make changes to the current rating systems within Second Life? If a 17-year-old can go to an R-rated movie, why can’t they go to a moderate rated sim in Second Life?

I don’t know why that decision was made, why 17 is what’s required for Mature. But I haven’t heard of any conversation that would suggest that we are going to change what we currently have in regards to that. I haven’t seen any internal conversation or anything on the roadmap that would change what we currently have.

So that would be something if people think we’re doing something sub-optimal or not the right way, it would be great to hear about that and see if we should make some changes. It just hasn’t come up.

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On Recent Creator Bans

There’s been some controversy lately over creators being banned from their accounts without being told what they did in terms of violations of the community practice guidelines. Do you have any comment about the process for reviewing and communicating potential violations?

You know, every now and then, we’ll dip in and see what people are doing; and every now and then, we’ll find that people have crossed the line for what is appropriate content. And sometimes that’s a warning, and sometimes that’s just outright so far across the line for what is appropriate content that we have to ban people.

VWBPE 2016

And sometimes we make mistakes. Maybe there should have been a warning and once you’ve talked to that person, someone here has to make a decision. and we’ll get better and better at making sure we make the right decision. But things we’ll then run into is people will say, “but this person is super-nice”, all the friends will say that this person is really nice. Well, you don’t necessarily know what that person did, what content they put on our servers, or what activities they took part in. And I also don’t want to speak publicly about what these people did or did not do, or what type of content they shared; I mean this is sometimes illegal stuff, and it’s not really for me to speak publicly about what these people did.

And obviously you will often times get people who get banned who will tell you that they didn’t do anything wrong, we didn’t give them the information, and so you kind-of get into these he said / she said [situations], where we can’t really speak publicly about what actually took place, because that’s just not appropriate, and sometimes not secure or sometimes not legally appropriate or what have you. So sometimes we end up being berated for having done something wrong to someone when we really did not. Trust me, we don’t take it lightly.

We haven’t really changed our guidelines, we haven’t suddenly decided to go on some sort of crusade against certain types of content. No. This is really just about actually following our own community guidelines and terms of service that we’ve always had. and sometimes some of that content just flies under our radar for long enough, that by the time we notice it, it might seem like people thought that it was OK, because we didn’t jump on it the second it appeared. There’s a lot of stuff out there, and it’s impossible for us to inspect everything at all times. So sometimes there might be a lag between what someone has done and us discovering what they have done. So I guess that’s what I have to say on that.

And we have to respect people’s privacy; we can’t publicly shame someone with what they did, so it’s impossible for the community at large to expect us to clearly express every decision we made. That’s just not possible for our own sake and also for the users that end up in these situations, for their sake as well.

So, follow the community guidelines. sometimes if it is really, really on the edge as to whether something is defined as sexually explicit or not, people will obviously have different subjective opinions on that, and if we think that is really difficult for someone to understand where that line goes, then it should be to take down some content, and warnings and help people understand where we believe that line is drawn. But sometimes, like I said, that line is just crossed so far that we have no choice but to take action on some of these people.

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Second Life and Sansar – Two different Products

How much support does Linden Lab give the education community in Second Life, given when Sansar is launched, there is the question on how much of an exodus to that platform might occur, thus leaving the colleges and universities with no choice but to close their sims?

Well, I don’t know how many colleges are dependent upon arbitrary traffic for the outside world versus how much they are using their sim for themselves and their own audience and their own students. Clearly, if you have your own audience and your own students that are using the product, then you can just keep going and going and going. If you are dependent on traffic from Second Life in general … Over time, maybe a bunch of people will decide to spend more time in Sansar, but I don’t know how quickly that transition will happen. I think a lot of people will come over really quickly and have a look around, and a lot of them are going to realise, “Oh, I can’t do what I thought I could do”, so they’re going to go back to Second Life.

And we’re going to run these products independently, just like any other company that runs multiple products. We’re going to have a team that’s fully dedicated and focused on making Second Life as successful as it can possibly be, and continue to do everything we can to keep it healthy and if anything, help make it grow. and then some users will prefer to spend their time in Sansar. It’s really going to be up to you where you spend your time.

I can’t really predict how quickly what users might choose to start using Sansar instead of Second Life. It really depends on what your preferences are. Again, the two products are not going to be the same. There’s going to be a lot of things you can do in Second Life and you can’t do in Sansar, and probably some things the other way around. Just like other companies have multiple products in the same category that sometimes look competitive but they also end up targeting slightly different use cases and different audiences for different reasons. So I would expect Second Life and Sansar to both be side-by-side successfully for many, many years. And then it’s too far out into the future to start speculating what might happen if this or that thing happens. So our goal now is just to run two very successful products.

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Sansar Mars landscape (via Linden Lab)
Sansar Mars landscape (via Linden Lab)

Project Sansar Overview

Project Sansar. I’m sure there will be lots of questions on Project Sansar. We’re now slightly over two years in on working on Project Sansar. We’ve been in production environments since around August with just a handful of users. It’s still a very complicated process to create content, but that will be radically simplified very soon. Where today you are dependent upon using Maya as an authoring tool for Sansar, that will be no longer the case come June or so, when we open-up beta access to a broader set of creators. We’re very much focused on creators right now [and] for the rest of the year, and are most interested in creators that have fairly advanced skills in creating substantial experiences on the platform. So sometime in May or June we will start accepting applications from people who want to get on Sansar as a platform and start working with it.

We are aiming to be generally available for everybody by the end of the year. We’re running like crazy here to make that in time. Then it’s free for all of you to come on board and start creating and socialising within Sansar.

I do want to tell you though, that Sansar will be nowhere near as feature-rich as Second Life is. So a lot of things you depend on in Second life to get the experiences and the businesses and the scenarios that you’re solving for, that you’ve come to expect in Second Life; a lot of those things will not be available right at the beginning in Sansar. Yes, you can create thing is Sansar that are prettier and faster and also very much performant in VR, and it will have some nice new features that you don’t have in Second Life for physics and lighting and avatar movements, and all of the likes. But to create a highly functional educational scenario might not be ready yet, because of missing tools or capabilities.

So it’s going to be a time before you can just assume that you will be able to do in Sansar what you’re able to do in Second Life today.

Again, just to reiterate, Second Life and Sansar are two separate products that will continue on, and separate teams that are working on these products will keep improving things. So there’s no path to migrate you all or move you to Sansar; you get to choose where you want to spend your time for years and years to come. And they will remain different products. We can’t even look out far enough into the future to guess at what will happen. so we’re just going to focus on making both products as good as we can possibly make them, and then let you all choose where you want to spend your time and energy.

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Sansar Design and Progress

Note: the following comments come for later in the session, in answer to a combined question of physics, rendering and getting to see Sansar in action (e.g. via demos). It is included here as it provides more of an overview of the state of Project Sansar at the time of the session.

Right now, the in-house art and design team we have, they create all the Sansar experiences I’m currently playing with in Maya completely. The entire scene is created in Maya and then exported and uploaded to the Sansar cloud, and then I go to the demo room, where we have all the nifty new hardware, and I hop into these scenes and I have social experiences within those scenes with people. These scenes are evolving over time so that they get more and more interesting, and we’re trying to figure out what types of experiences to play with. It’s mostly for testing purposes to make sure that we’re building the right runtime, and testing physics and lighting and systems like that. Some basic scripting is starting to fall into place as well, so that you can create more interactive things. I was just in a scene today where we had 360 videos all around me playing.

So, the content is getting more interesting by the day, but the actual creation process is still sort-of very much under construction. I’ve seen videos or demos of people using VR hand controllers to actually re-arrange objects within the editor in Sansar, so I can just grab a couch and just move it to the other side all in VR with hand controllers, so you’re in this space that you’re creating, which is going to be really cool. You may have seen some demos of that from Unity and Unreal as well. So we’ll support the capability of authoring from inside of VR.

But there’s still lots to be done there. There’s just a tremendous amount of plumbing to make sure that you can do highly performant content. So the UI for authoring is nowhere near done yet, and a lot of the tools are not completely done yet. but every day I see, like, “OK now we have unlimited undo starting to work; now we have the ability to set these properties on objects kind-of working”, it’s evolving. But it’s going to go faster and faster now, because for the last couple years we’ve spent a tremendous amount [on] what I call plumbing. Low-level systems to make sure that we can then build highly scalable, performant authoring tools and run times on top of all that plumbing.

What do scenes look like? Well, we’re released some screen shots that you can see on lindenlab.com that can give you a little bit of the sense of the graphic fidelity you can get out of it. Those are still just still pictures, but they give you a little bit of sense of how shiny things might get. And then it’s just a whole other thing when you see it in motion; the smoothness of the graphics and physics and also just lighting.

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Runtime and Editing Environments

Because we are taking one big difference that people should be aware of maybe, is that in Second life, editing and runtime is sort-of one and the same thing. In Sansar, runtime and editing are two distinct modes. You go and you author, and then you publish. And in that publishing step there will be, depending on what quality setting you have, it could be a fairly extensive baking process, as it’s called, to optimise for lighting, to optimise for spatial audio, to optimise for content performance, and then boom! You get this runtime version of the environment spat out that you can hop in and socialise within.

Although Sansar will eventually support "original" content creation capabilities - possibly primitives or voxels (see below) - from the comments made at VWBPE, it is unlikely that these will allow real-time, in-world building of the kind SL users are familiar
Although Sansar will eventually support “original” content creation capabilities – possibly primitives or voxels – see below – , it will not allow these tools to be used to build content in the runtime environment, as is the case with SL. All original content will be built in Sansa’s editing environment, and then published to the runtime environment, as with any other content produced with other tools

But that’s just something that’s required if you want to get the fidelity we’re aiming for and the performance and the same time. So it will be a bit different. It won’t be as much as walking down the street in Second Life and watching someone build a house down the road, and then you walk a little further and see someone build something over there, because that editing inside the runtime environment comes with a lot of performance penalties; can’t afford that when you’re trying to do VR. So, that’s a little bit of a riffing on Sansar.

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More On Revealing Sansar

Note: again, this came towards the end of the session, following a request that someone from the Lab’s Sansar team attend the next VWBPE conference o discuss more of the technical aspects of the platform.

We’re trying to lay out how much of this thing we will reveal over what period of time. I mean, some of it, it’s just work in progress; we’re still looking for some answers in some areas, so we don’t have 100% clarity on everything. For some things it might just be … Yeah, there might be other reasons as well why we don’t just fully reveal everything we’re up to.

Comment: you don’t want to give anything away to the competition, right?

Yeah, that too. and if we were a start-up, and we didn’t have Second Life, we’d probably be more transparent maybe. Because sometimes we show something that’s a work in progress and it creates all kinds of waves and confusion, and then we have to manage the confusion; so people can sometimes jump to conclusions based on what they see or whatever. So we’re just trying to manage that, so that there’s not too much crazy speculation based on things we show. So that’s also part of it.

But yeah, between now and June we will start to reveal more. Like, for example, we have yet to show Sansar in action to any press. So you’re not missing something a bunch of other people are getting. We’re basically only showing it to ourselves and maybe some potential strategic partners that we’re talking to. Other than that, we’re not really showing it to anyone yet.

But around June, we’ll probably show more. Obviously more pictures, and maybe a little bit more of the specifications of the product and maybe a little bit more of videos that show things. but it’s probably not in advance of June. So when that beta starts to grow, we’ll talk more about what it can and cannot do. Because that will also help inform people whether it’s worth their time to hop on a beta or not.

We don’t want beta people because they just want to go snoop around and look and find out what it is. We want people who understand what it is and commit their time and energy to do work on the platform. Those are the only people who we’re interested in at this point. And then come fall, we’ll reach a point, some time in Q3, where we can really start to reveal more about what it is; and then we’ll just continue to reveal more and more and more until you can all come and see it in its full “V1”, if we want to even call it “V1”, by the end of the year.

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Sansar Questions

HTC Vive / Steam VR Support

Is Sansar going to be able to support Steam VR?

We are right now actually making integration with the Vive; I don’t call it Stream VR, but it’s the hardware and software that’s done in collaboration between Valve, that runs Steam, and HTC. And from my understanding, Sansar is rendering just fine right now, and there’s some few bugs before I can get to hop into Sansar inside of the Vive myself, but it’s right around the corner. We’re working very well with the Oculus hardware, and I’m guessing that next week I’ll be able to hop into Sansar using the Vive as well. So we’re playing with Oculus, we’re playing with Vive, we’re playing with both of their hand controllers, so we’ll have full support for both of those.

Sansar will support the HTC Vive
Sansar will support the HTC Vive

How much of an integration this ends up having with Steam? That’s a whole other ball of wax; I don’t know what that would look like.

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Skill Gaming In Sansar

In project Sansar, will creators be allowed to create skill games around the existing Second Life Skill Gaming policy, and if so, will the approved skill game creators in Second Life be automatically approved to create skill games in Project Sansar?

That’s an interesting question at an education conference. From the beginning, there will be absolutely no way to be able to do a skill based game in Sansar the way you think of it in Second Life. I mean, there’s a lot of functionality, object pay and a number of things that exist in Second Life. And so when we start end of this year, early next year, I would not expect the platform to be mature enough to make it possible to create those kinds of things.

Where we want to be able to support skill based gaming at all in Sansar has yet to be determined. I mean it’s a fairly complex thing to operate, fairly costly to operate; there’s just so many laws and regulations and a lot of oversight we have to do. We know that it’s an interesting business for obviously a lot of creators and operators, as well as creating a lot of engagement among our users because they love playing those games. But we’re going to focus more on doing what we can with that within Second Life, and continue to see if we can make it easier and better and still compliant within Second Life before we decide whether we’re going to make that possible to do in Sansar as well. So I think it’s just too early, the platform is not at the level of getting that level of detail as far as a use case.

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Applying for Access to Project Sansar

How do people get invited into Project Sansar?

So, right now we’re doing it only by invitation, because we have a very few, and we hand-pick certain companies or individuals who we know have the skills that we just sort-of know about. Again, around May or June or so we will provide a way for people to sign-up on-line somewhere on our website to request entry, if you will. And then depending on skills, and the projects we have in mind, we will select people to come on-board.

We very much want to focus on people who can devote time and effort in helping us to make the product better. People who are just interested in snooping around is not necessarily the people we’re looking for from the beginning. So people who are skilled and have experience and have time to devote to providing us with a lot of feedback.

So we’ll get into the hundreds of people around June who can get onto to the platform, and we’ll continue to add additional users every month throughout the rest of the year, and we’re hoping by the end of the year we’ll have many hundreds of creators. Again, creators who are willing to create and work with us and provide feedback, even though they’re not going to be able to necessarily expose their experiences to any users other than other beta users for the rest of this year. And then it will be available for everybody. So, May / June you can start to apply, if you will.

And from later in the session:

We’ll ask for some information on what you’re trying to accomplish, and then we’ll start to pick people who have the right skills and the right motivations to come on throughout the rest of the fall. We’ll keep adding and adding people, more so starting around June through the end of the year, until it will be available to everybody.

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Sansar Age Range

What age range will Sansar be open to? Will it be a 13+? 16? 18? This will impact the level of educational use at the secondary school level.

I think we’re starting with 13+ as the goal, and trying to force ourselves to make that possible. We’re also thinking about Sansar a bit differently from Second Life in what content is accessible and the fact that you can create an experience and more easily attract users, your students, for example, directly into that one experience without necessarily making it obvious of everything else that’s available, although people will be able to move from one experience to the next, obviously, with things like destination guides and stuff. But we will very much think about content ratings so that we can make it safe and fun for 13 and up. That’s where we’re starting from.

Again, things are early, things may change as we move forward, and I can’t guarantee that’s something we’ll offer on day 1; but we want to solve this problem, well I don’t want to call it a problem, we want to solve Sansar in such a way it can be 13+. That’s our goal.

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Sansar and Adult Content

What sort of stance might Linden Lab take on any possible adult oriented experiences that might pop-up in Sansar, and will there be similar ratings to those SL has to address things here?

I don’t know if it’s completely finalised yet. There will be content ratings [but] how much effort? Certainly in the beginning I don’t think we’ll spend a lot of effort to specifically target adult use cases; but there’s also generically at some point the platform will be flexible enough that users can create things that would meet their needs with regards to adult content. Certainly people will create content that doesn’t have a lot of technical dependencies, that will clearly still be seen as adult content, and that will be classified as adult content.

It’s not that we will not allow or support adult content, but we also might not focus specifically on making adult …  whatever features might be unique or specific to adult is not something we’ll focus on early on.  But again, we have no plans to disallow that content.

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Sansar Operating Platforms

Will Sansar be available on tablets when it’s launched, in the long-term?

So, right now we are building Sansar for PC, Windows specifically, and Oculus and, like I said, any day now also for the Vive HMD. We are compiling our application, or whole stack for Android and for iOS to keep ourselves honest, and we actually have at least one person working full-time on making sure that we will be able to deliver mobile versions of Sansar. The goal is for us, and I don’t know how far we’ll get with a native client for iOS and Android by the end of the year, but we should be getting close.

We do have a streaming solution of Sansar, which some of you have seen in the past with regards to Second Life from third parties, but we do have a streaming solution. Using cloud GPUs we can stream all of Sansar to an iPhone. That’s something I see demoed every day. That would have to come with a slightly different business model, because you can’t do streaming off of cloud GPUs in a free-to-play model.

So, we have PC. Somewhere along the line we’re going to have to figure out how to deliver for Mac, for Mac OS. We will have support for Oculus, we will have support for the Vive, and we will have, maybe by the end of the year, iOS, maybe Android, but that might slip into 17 a little bit. and we will also be able to do streaming, which will have to come with a slightly different business model that we haven’t yet decided at what subscription level you might get sort-of a streaming version.

It is planned that Project Sansar will run on suitable iOS and Android devices, and will have a subscription-based streaming option (image representative only; not an actual screen shot)
It is planned that Project Sansar will run on suitable iOS and Android devices, and will have a subscription-based streaming option (image representative only; not an actual screen shot)

A streaming version should be able to be even streamed just through whatever browser you have, or ultimately through thin clients for various mobile operating systems. Our goal is to be as cross-platform as we can possibly be, so that you never have to leave Sansar behind when you go on the road or wherever you might be. So that’s the goal, and that’s how we’re behaving. It’s just hard to say exactly when a really stable mobile client will be available.

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Sansar Currency

Will Project Sansar share the Linden Dollar with Second Life?

A lot of interesting conversations around that topic as well. Currently, the answer is probably no. Ideally, in some ways the answer should be yes, but for various reasons the answer will probably be no.

So what we’ll do then is most likely an exchange in between Sansar and Second Life so you can take your Lindens and move them over to Sansar and take whatever Sansar will ultimately be called, whatever monies over there might ultimately be called, over to Second Life, and move back and forth.

But there’s probably going to be an exchange in between, because we’ll have quite different business models between the two, and we don’t want to have the situation where someone can make money on one side and redeem on the other side, and start sort-of circumventing our business model in awkward ways. so it will probably be another system than the Linden dollar, but probably similar in other ways.

Hopefully, it doesn’t matter too much, because you should be able to transfer from one to the other and take your earnings from one side and using an exchange, bring it over to the other side, and spend it on the other side. and vice versa.

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Porting Sansar Capabilities to Second Life

Are there any plans to incorporate any new technology developed for Project Sansar back into Second Life, once that technology has matured?

It’s probably going to be difficult; it’s probably more about learning than technologies, because the technologies are quite substantially different. You couldn’t just airlift something from work we’re doing in Sansar, or in Second Life for that matter, and just throw it over to the other side and just have things work. The technologies, the code bases, very, very different. So I think it would be very difficult for us to share significant technology between the two.

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Sansar Content Creation Tools

Will Sansar only work with mesh? Or will there be similar building tools to Second Life?

So, over time, there will be lots of different building tools. We do want to support, very strongly, third-party tools; we don’t want to try to become a super set of all modelling tools in the world. So people who want to create mesh in Maya or Blender or Sketch-up or whatever; we want to support common file formats, so that people can just bring that content in from those third-party tools.

Sansar alpha testing is focused exclusively on Maya - however, the Lab intend the platform to support a wide range of 3D content creation tools as work progresses
Sansar will support a widening range of third-party content creation tools

We will also have tools inside of Sansar, obviously. Ultimately, you will have some terrain tools, you have Layout tools – right now we’re focusing more on layout and basic object manipulation tools, so that you can take a lot of assets and arrange a scene within Sansar.

Then over time, we’ll start to think more and more about tool that allow you to create, call it original content, from the ground-up from within Sansar. Probably, a variety of different tools we’ll expose over time, and whether we have some  notion of basic prims you can just drop in and start playing with, or if it’s with some voxel editing tools or sculpting tools, we’ll have to see over time.

"Original" content created will be supported by Sansar at some point and in some way, possibly using primitives, possibly using another method, such as voxels
“Original” content created will be supported by Sansar at some point and in some way, possibly using primitives, possibly using another method, such as voxels

Right now we’re mostly focused on making sure we get [the] whole back-end done right, to do authoring right with the ability to make sure we can be backwards compatible over time; performance, and layout so you can easily arrange scenes, and sort-of customise to create scenes.

So, it will probably be for quite a while in Sansar a reliance on third-party tools to create a lot of original assets that you then bring in to Sansar to arrange in a scene within Sansar.  Then we’ll start tackling the tools for original content over time.

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Closing Remarks

The final question was on when Ebbe would “update his avatar”. He pointed out that the avatar he used at the conference was one of the new default classic starter avatars, which he was quite comfortable with. He also indicated that while people have made him various items for his avatar, spending time in making and customising his avatar  – together with making an Ebbe Linden bear – hasn’t made it to the top of his list.

He then thanked the organisers, participants and attendees at VWBPE, and promised more discussions of this kind in the future. He also encouraged people to continue to use and enjoy Second Life, noting that it will be some time yet before there is anything  – including Sansar – able to match it, and to keep offering feedback, offering suggestions, etc., which can help to make the platform even better.

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  1. Simply as a point of clarification. The Quick Graphics viewer isn’t region related. The Avatar Complexity controls within it, allow users to set thresholds above which avatars with a very high render cost (due to wearing meshes, the use of high-resolution textures on clothing and accessories, etc), will not be fully rendered in that user’s personal view of Second Life. The user can also option to do things like select other avatars such as friends, that will always fully render in their view. This is seen as a means by which users on low-end systems can improve their personal experience and performance when in SL.