Sansar: a handful of personal picks to visit and some tips

(courtesy of Linden Lab)

So, you’ve heard the new about Sansar opening. You’ve signed up for an account and have your new avatar. Now what? The Atlas has many, many places to visit. Some are more interesting than others. I’ve been hopping around for a while now, and so I thought I’d offer a handful of suggestions and one or two tips which may be useful for you.

Once again, as I’m a non-VR headset user, the Sansar experiences selected here have been chosen on the basis they work without having to use a HMD as well as providing a means to gain familiarity with using keyboard controls.

Tip: The URLs in this article lead directly to the experiences described. You can obtain them directly from the Atlas by clicking on the image of an experience. This will open a separate window. This includes a Copy URL button – which does exactly what it says. There are also two page buttons (< and >), allowing you to page through experiences in the Atlas individually. If you want to see all the experiences by a single creator, click on the creator name in the Atlas or Atlas window.

You can obtain the URL for any experience you wish to re-visit through the Atlas, and use the pop-up window to page through experiences individually

Pasting a URL into a web browser will display its Atlas web page. Clicking on the Visit button on the web page will launch the Sansar client and take you to the experience (if the client is already running, you’ll be asked if you want to visit the selected experience).

LOOT Interactive NASA Apollo Museum

Now open to the public, the Apollo Museum is bound to attract me as I love all things space exploration. However, there is another reason for recommending it: it is a good example of some of the interactions that can currently be achieved in Sansar and a demonstration of one method of teleporting.

LOOT Interactive: Apollo 11 Tranquillity Base

This is one of the more “high-end” experiences, and can take time to load; however the wait is worth it. This is a rich content experience, mixing 3D models, audio, video and information boards to take people on a journey through the major Apollo lunar missions. Centred on the Apollo 11 mission, the experience includes information on the other lunar mission in the programme, models of the Saturn V, Command and Service Module and Lunar Excursion Module and a scaled model depicting Apollo 11’s trip from the Earth to the Moon.

Interactive elements are provided through proximity / standing. For example, spread along the floor of the museum. step on these to hear audio extracts from the Apollo 11 mission. Similarly, audio on the various Apollo missions from 11 onwards can be heard.

LOOT Interactive Apollo Museum

Also on the floor close to the upper end of the Apollo Saturn V rocket is another disk. Step on it and it will teleport you to a recreation of Tranquillity Base and the Apollo 11 Lunar Excursion Module Eagle with floating informational text and a sound scape of recordings from the mission.

Throughout, the experience is very well done, with the lighting on the Surface of the Moon particularly well done – as is the Earth (to scale as seen from the lunar surface) hanging in space at the same position it would have been seen by Armstrong and Aldrin. There are one or two problems with the build – sounds can overlap, and it is clearly intended for HMD use; but it makes for a useful introduction to Sansar (and an informative visit!).

Tip: If you’re not using a HMD and are finding movement difficult in third-person view due to the camera, try using WASD or the arrow keys, together with pressing and holding the right mouse key and sliding your mouse left or right  to turn. Combining these allow for a relatively easy means of moving in either 3rd or 1st person view.

Unit 9  Monkey Temple

As featured in the Sansar preview #5 video, Unit 9’s Monkey Temple is a good example of an experience using ambient sounds and Sansar’s environmentals to produce a jungle-style setting with a unique temple in three distinct areas, and which includes interactive games. These are best played if you have a HMD and controllers, however, it is possible to “kick” a “ball” around  by walking into it.

Unit 9 Monkey Temple

Tip: try free-flying your camera around the temple. Press F4 to release the camera and use WASD or the arrow keys to move forwards / backwards or slide left / right. E will move the camera up and C will move it down. You can also use the right mouse button technique mentioned above to pan the camera. The numeric pad “-” (minus) and “+” (plus) buttons can be used to slow / increase the camera’s movement speed when in free flight. Press F3 to anchor the camera back with your avatar once more (note that pressing F3 twice will drop you into first-person look).

Teager’s Secrets of the WorldWhale

Teager’s experience is a true delight, and offer s practical means of learning more about using Sansar’s current controls. A wizened old rat sits near the landing point, and appears to want to tell you something. Look forward, towards the edge of the island you are on, and you’ll see him again, pointing towards the whale. Several more floating islands lie between you and the whale, one of which appears to be the home of a portal. It is clear the rat wants you to reach the whale in the distance – but how?

Tip: you have a personal teleport capability in experiences allowing it. Press and hold the CTRL key on your keyboard. A wide arc will extend out from your avatar. Scroll around using your mouse  until a blue teleport destination point appears. Click the left mouse button to teleport to that point.

The personal teleport can be used by pressing the CTRL key on your keyboard and then scrolling for a suitable location, indicated by a blue cylinder. A left mouse button click will teleport you to the location

Using the personal teleport, you can “island hop” to the portal. When you reach it – walk through it to teleport to the whale. Once there, you can explore the gardens – and keep an eye open for the whale blow-hole / waterfall. It offers the way to a world inside the whale, awaiting exploration. Two teleport portals offer ways to either return you when you’re done – or lead you onwards, depending on which you pick.

WorldWhale is one of my favourite Sansar experiences. It’s beautifully executed and offers a good means of finding your way around using portals and the personal teleport option.

Teager’s WorldWhale

Drivable UFO Bumper Cars

This last one is just a piece silliness in case you want to have some fun with a friend or two. As the name suggests, it allows you to engage in a game of bumper cards which look like odd little UFOs. Instructions are displayed overhead on arrival – just walk up to a “car”, press 1 on your keyboard to “board” it and then move it around with the WASD / arrow keys.

“Driving” is basic – you’re effectively walking – but in first-person view, you can pootle around and bump against one another. It’s admittedly basic, but can provide a little fun.

Conculsion

This is literally just a handful of destinations. I’ve selected them because they should help those new to Sansar to get used to using it in the run-time mode without a VR head mounted device and hand controllers.  There are many, many more experiences to visit out where the keyboard techniques can be tried out – I’d also recommend Maxwell Graf’s Rustica, and Rune., Cica Ghost’s Connections, Sansar Studio’s own Voyage Live: Egypt (look for the doors for teleporting between experiences)  and if you have a headset, Loz Hyde’s Grand Hall.

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31 thoughts on “Sansar: a handful of personal picks to visit and some tips

    1. Sansar has a number of caches under user\[username\AppData\Local\LindenLab. Quite what all of them do, I’m not clear on, but Sansar operates on more of streaming basis than SL, so local caching of data in the manner we see with SL regions doesn’t occur.

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      1. Now that is cool, but the local PC does do a lot of work – I can hear that, and I also have friends that cannot access Sansar, because their computers aren’t powerful enough, so it can’t be all streaming. But I shall look up the cache and see how much it is.
        Overall I think Sansar looks very promising.

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        1. Your PC still has to render the experience & that comes at a cost both in terms of the work it must do, and the hardware needed to to so successfully. The difference is, Sansar experiences are effectively streamed to your PC, loaded, run, and discarded when you leave, rather than data being locally cached for future re-use.

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          1. It took me about a quarter-hour to download the Apollo Museum (but It was wonderful to visit!). But when I came back (without shutting down the client) it took only few seconds to start. So is the experience data discarded only when you close Sansar? It would be helpful if there was a save button or a way to preserve the data, especially for social experiences and other things that you don’t visit just once. Restarting and returning to your favorite experiences in few seconds would improve things drastically IMHO.

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            1. As far as I’m aware, it’s discarded on leaving the experience itself (i.e. exiting and returning to the Atlas or closing the client). That’s tended to be my experience, at least.

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              1. I see. The only thing I can think is that I left the experience (returning to the Atlas) and then I didn’t load another one, but I simply went back there. Then the loading screen appeared only for few seconds, instead of the usual long time.

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    1. Not at present. Sansar currently utilises mesh content, and the editing capabilities are in a separate mode, accessed when creating / editing an experience. I’ll have more on this in due course – and on LL’s plans for Sansar’s development.

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  1. I also had to go to the Apollo Museum. I’m a child of the sixties and early seventies so space is almost genetic.

    I was lucky and was only seven miles away from the launch of Apollo 17. Forever that will be the day of two sunrises in my mind.

    As the countdown was moving toward zero you could see the Saturn bathed in search lights. Then ignition and it seems the sun was rising. A few second later the sound HITS you and the ground begins to shake.

    Forgive me for getting lyrical but you don’t experience that many life changing events. The Apollo museum let me relive it again.

    Getting back to the mundane. Overall Sansar feels to me like primitive alpha software rushed out the door to open beta because the investors are putting pressure on because of too many missed deadlines.

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    1. Wow the launch of the Apollo must have been so wonderful! 🙂

      I agree that Sansar feels more like an alpha than a beta. It feels even more immature if it’s meant as a social VR platform. However if the main purpose of Sansar is showcasing products (like the cars experience), virtual dioramas (like the museum experiences), virtual arts and similar things, then it could be pretty good. But if it needs not only medium-high specs hardware, but also optic fiber connections, and all the rest, I don’t know it if won’t be another niche product. And with only few users, then it won’t appeal the automotive industry to showcase their cars and so on. A free guest visitor access (and registration only for creators) would help too: think if you have to register and to log in in just to read wordpress blogs. Or watch videos in any video stream platform.

      Considering that Linden Lab didn’t start entirely for zero, having SL experience and some resource to reuse, they are quite behind schedule indeed. They announced the project in 2014, with a beta expected for 2015 and a 2016 release, if I remember. Releasing behind schedule happens, but this isn’t just behind schedule, but still incomplete. It looks like they developed a nice graphic VR engine, but with anything else is still basic or missing , and Windows only.

      Did they pass the previous years reinventing the wheel, instead of just getting a modern engine and focusing on the rest? Untiy has VR support, offers quality rendering, it’s highly portable, for Windows, Mac, Linux, mobile devices… There are examples of virtual worlds that run via dedicated client and directly via browser too, like Sinewave Space.

      Of course a platform supposed to work for years needs a good planning phase first, and then other things too, it isn’t just putting an engine. Delays happen, and maybe releasing it in 2016 was overly optimistic, in a Elon Musk way. Yet it isn’t a new company with zero experience, infrastructure and resources. Plus Ebbe was so careful since the beginning, in preparing the terrain for a good start, and yet…

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      1. Just as a point of note, I’m currently working on an article which (among many things) looks into the fact that code-wise, Sansar has no commonality with SL and why the Lab opted to build from the ground up, rather than use an engine like Unity or Unreal.

        Is it behind schedule? Well, we perhaps need leave to remember that any dates mentioned were more “hoped for” estimates than committed time frames. As I’ve quoted Ebbe in these pages, he’s always made it clear Sansar’s opening would be based on when LL felt they have some basic capabilities that would make it worthwhile, rather than looking to an arbitrary date on a calendar, be it 2016, 2017 or whenever. So, any idea that it is somehow “behind schedule” is perhaps more down to people taking the hoped-for estimates and seeing them as some kind of firm commitment. As it is, and given the way the focus in promoting Second life appears (emphasis intentional) to have swung towards a more SL-focused audience, my own feeling is the opening of the doors to the beta is actually premature, and than things could have perhaps been held over for another couple of months.

        Will it be a niche product? I actually think it will – but unlike SL, which perhaps occupies a very specific niche, Sansar could potentially occupy a number of different niches which assorted verticals (as I’ve often noted), and do so well enough to be successful. What’s important here is how rapidly and solidly the platform can move forward with additional and stable capabilities and features in order to become a platform of interest within those verticals. And, perhaps, given that VR itself has a long climb ahead of itself to gain real traction (if it does), how Sansar can be such to be useful to an audience outside of immersive VR.

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        1. Yes, we agree that this open beta feels premature. As for being behind schedule (or the “missed deadlines” as Willow said), the “hopes” for the first open beta dates were missed by about a couple of years, if not a bit more, as it was in fact still premature now. I don’t know what people take for, maybe you wrote about hopes somewhere, in that case I simply forgot, sorry, but in other blogs and tech new sites you could read things like, for example:

          «A beta is expected to be launched in 2015 with the final version expected in 2016. In the meantime, Linden Lab has already told its users that a new version is coming.» — [The Next Web, June 2014 citing what Altberg told them]

          «Altberg told us that Sansar would launch in open beta “before the end of 2016.”» [Tom’s Hardware, recently]

          And in another article you wrote «Where time scales are concerned, the article quotes Peter Gray, the Lab’s Director of Global Communications, as indicating the end of Q2 2016 as being the time when Sansar will be open to “hundreds” of beta testers (previously, it had been indicated by the Lab a more open beta would commence around the end of Q1, 2016), and the initial launch now slated for “late 2016 / early 2017”, rather than “the end” of 2016 as had previously been indicated.»

          Those announcement didn’t sound unsure like «we hope that we are going to open it perhaps in…» even if who read didn’t took that for granted anyway, since those dates were postponed already various times. I believe you however that they where hopes.

          I’m very interested in explanations of the other dubious points, so I’ll gladly read your article. Thank you, they are always informative and interesting.

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          1. Yes.. estimates were mentioned in the past. Similarly, Ebbe has stated the Lab had been working to getting functionality in order, rather than hard-and-fast calendar deadlines (IIRC, he made the comments during at least one Lab Chat event and potentially at one VWBPE Q&A). The two are not mutually exclusive. Rather, the latter has been more the case in point over the former, hence: estimates. As you said yourself, timeframes and estimates slip when developing a new product – and Sansar is a complex new product.

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            1. Yes… I’m the first one saying that delays happens. e.g.:
              «Wasteland 2 will miss its estimated October release — Wasteland 2 was expected out this October, but developer inXile Entertainment announced in a Kickstarter update that it’s a bit behind schedule.» — Eurogamer
              And as you said yourself in 2015 “In terms of Sansar, we do get to learn that times are running very slightly behind schedule, in that we’re still a “couple of weeks” away from the start of initial closed alpha testing”
              Sansar is now quite well behind the original expected release date, even more when in August 2017 it still feels like an alpha, missing features and premature. I’m not surprised of the delays (and I’m not even surprised if ambiguous wording in announcements gives wrong expectations), but it’s clear that the indicated dates weren’t meet and postponed and postponed. I know that it’s a complex project, and as I said it isn’t just putting an engine, but it is even more complex if you reinvent the well and you write everything from ground up.
              What surprises me, is that Sansar has been set as “open beta” in this premature state, when Ebbe Altberg was always so careful in paving the way for a better start and to avoid a bad first impression.

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              1. “original expected release date”

                Except it wasn’t. It was an anticipated opening of the doors. Either way, it’s here now. Features will be built out, although it would have perhaps been preferable to see a couple more added prior to a broader opening of the doors, Creator Beta or otherwise.

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      2. This is for Indra also. The sound. HIT. This is one of the few times SHOUTING is less than what really happened. Even at seven miles away you felt like you were physically slapped.

        After the launch we drove almost an hour North before we found a vacant motel.

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        1. Very much… The sound physically passed through you. SLS should be s similar experience (and Falcon Heavy for that matter!).

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    2. I never saw a Saturn V launch in the flesh (largely because I wasn’t flesh until after Apollo had run its course!). I did see a number of shuttle launches (including one as a guest of NASA with family!), and so I emphasise and understand your description. Listening to the countdown, watching the flash of the SSME ignition, then that second pause before the SRBs ignited and the huge plumes of exhaust rising from them – and then seeing the wall of sound raising a discernible ripple on the waters of the river before actually feeling that extraordinary crackling roar of the SRBs with the basso rumble of the SSMEs beneath it, was always utterly amazing.

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  2. Excellent article, thank you for writing this! It will be a great service to newbies who don’t know where to start, especially those without VR headsets (probably the majority at this point).

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  3. Very nice job explaining Sansar and do you feel this will overtake SL like some feared or just another virtual platform for those using those specialized headsets

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    1. Sansar is a different product to SL, although it carries with it some of the spirit of SL. Right now, it’s just out of the gate and has some way to go before it matches SL in many capabilities. For various reasons, there are some capabilities we see in SL that may never arrive in Sansar. similarly, Sansar will have capabilities we’re may never see in Second Life.

      Right now, Sansar probably doesn’t offer much to the vast majority of SL users. In time, for some at least, this is likely to change, and they may find themselves drawn more towards Sansar than SL. Others might find all they need is here in SL and remain here no matter how Sansar develops. Still others many find they continue to use SL for some parts of the virtual interactions and perhaps use Sansar for others, and so straddle them both.

      One thing to remember is that while Sansar’s focus is on VR apparatus, and the current usability bias leans heavily towards headsets and controllers, it is intended to be accessible and usable in a desktop mode, with mouse and keyboard. You can do that right now, and this desktop aspect will grow – so it shouldn’t necessarily be viewed as “just” a platform for VR headset users.

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