Prior to the public Creator Beta opening, Linden Lab issued a challenge to those creators who were a part of the Creator Preview and who helped to move Sansar to a point where the Lab felt they could open the platform to a wider audience.
On offer in the competition, which closed on July 24th, were a series of cash prizes to be awarded to creators who, “create an experience with Sansar that takes the tools currently available and pushes them to their limits”, offered across a range of categories: Best Overall; Best Gaming Experience; Best Media Experience; Best use of Physics; Best use of Scripting; Best Visual Design; Best Sound Design; and Best Narrative Design.
On Wednesday, August 16th, Linden Lab announced the winners of the challenge, together with honourable mentions, and I was pleased to see that some of the places I’ve personally enjoyed the most whilst exploring Sansar from a user’s perspective are among those listed, together with some I’ve been planning to write about.
The Best Overall award has been given to Kayle Matzerath’s Garden of Dreams. This is a recreation of the region with the same name in Second Life, and it also gained the Best Gaming Experience award. As one might expect from Kayle, this is an experience rich in vibrant colour, and offers much to explore and discover.
The primary gaming mechanism can be found in the Dungeon of Dis Pear. Given the current status of Sansar’s development, it is somewhat rudimentary when compared to what can be achieved in Second Life, but can be played with or without a VR headset. Reached via one of the teleport platform at the experience landing point, the game comprises of making your way through three levels of challenges to claim a “prize”. None of them are particularly difficult, although the second level may take a minute or two to work out, as even an initial wrong step or two can see you teleported back to the start point even before you appear to have made progress. However, they do demonstrate some of the basic capabilities available in Sansar to good effect (e.g. automatic teleport back to a level’s starting point on being “killed”, a capability familiar to many SL experience users).
Other games can also be found near the dance gazebo, but these do require the use of a VR headset and controller, limiting their use somewhat. Garden of Dreams is a pleasant experience, full of Kayle’s motifs SL users will find familiar and sits alongside his recreation of the Village of Breeze as two places I like to visit and just wander.
The award for the Best Sound Design went to another of the experiences I love – Teager’s Secrets of the World Whale. This a beautifully put together environment, complete with the plaintive cries of the whale. It’s also one I also mentioned in my Sansar tips and picks article as worthy of a visit as it also introduces various capabilities in Sansar, including the need to use the personal teleporting option. It remains a featured destination in the Atlas, and will be a place I’ll be returning to soon in my upcoming Exploring Sansar travelogue series – as well Maxwell Graf’s LagNMoor (again a name which may be familiar to long-standing explorers of Second Life, having once been a region Max held alongside of his Rustica), which took the prize for Best Media Experience.
Jasmine’s Through the Waterfall: Enter Another World claimed the prize for the Best Narrative Experience. This is something of an adventure narrative, opening with the line Without dreams, we can never become more than that which we already are… and an invitation to jump down from the desk on which we sit and seek the keys which will take us through the story, a scene – or chapter – at a time, starting with the aftermath of a tragic car crash. It’s not an entirely happy tale, but the use of media, music and sounds to craft a story makes this a worthwhile visit.
With seven prize winners and a further 12 honourable mentions, the competition list makes for a set of interesting visits, some of which people may well find easier to get into than others (Ria and Draxtor’s 114 Harvest remains a place – the only place I’ve yet tried, in fact – which persistently outlasts my patience in terms of load time and has me going elsewhere); but all are well worth a visit in some measure, demonstrating both what can be done in Sansar and – in all fairness – how much further along the road the platform needs to travel. In this latter regard, it’ll be interesting to see how they compare to experiences that are being offered in a few months time, as things continue to develop.
To visit any of the experiences mentioned here or in the competition blog post, click on the experience names in the text, or in the image captions.