Sansar: Secrets of the World Whale

Secrets of the World Whale; Inara Pey, August 2017, on Flickr Sansar: Secrets of the World Whale – click any image for full size

I’ve mentioned Secrets of the World Whale several times in my Sansar posts of late, so it seemed to be a good place to launch into my Exploring Sansar series.

Designed by Teager, of Breeder’s Choice and Teagle fame in Second Life, this is one of the more enchanting early Sansar experiences.  It is also one of the winners in the Lab’s Creator Challenge, winning Best Sound Design – although in my opinion, it could have just as easily been awarded Best Narrative and / or Best Visual Design.

Secrets of the World Whale; Inara Pey, August 2017, on Flickr Sansar: Secrets of the World Whale

A visit begins on a floating island hanging in a clouded sky, the Sun illuminating the scene as it shines from beyond a very near-looking full Moon. Other islands of rock float in the sky and, beyond them, a great blue-coloured humpback whale swims through the sky.  Beneath a tree close to where we stand sits an old rat, wrapped in a cloak and holding a walking stick in one paw.

“Look yonder! The World Whale passes!” he whispers hoarsely at our approach. “A creature as ancient as time itself, it wanders the sky, swallowing civilisations whole, leaving chaos in its wake.  It is said that buried deep in the beast’s belly is an untold treasure, lost to man some thousand years. Perhaps, if we act quickly, we might discover it before the whale is lost to us again!”

Secrets of the World Whale; Inara Pey, August 2017, on Flickr Sansar: Secrets of the World Whale

Just beyond him, a tumble of rocks offer a way down to the island’s lower level as the rat tells us of the whale’s passing, and music drifts through the air. We encounter him again as he stands near the edge of the island, as he points outwards. “There! On that island!” he rat whispers once more, “An ancient doorway! But how to reach it?”

How indeed. There is a gulf of empty air between the island on which we stand and the smaller one on which the glowing portal stands. But, there are other islands as well. Perhaps, by using the personal teleport capability (CTRL+mouse + left click) we can jump one to the next with teleport hops. Take care as you do so, as the wind will howl around you, and a misplaced step could see you fall into the abyss – and back to the start of the experience.

Secrets of the World Whale; Inara Pey, August 2017, on Flickr Sansar: Secrets of the World Whale

Stepping through the glimmering portal will carry you to the whale, where your companion rat is again waiting to guide you onwards to where a garden and ruins awaits. Paths run around and over the gardens, but it is one in particular you need to seek: the one that leads down inside the whale itself. Once you find it, you’ll find yourself in a cavern-like world, where great stalagmites rise and stalactites descend, and a rough road leads you onwards. It many take a second or two to realise the formations are teeth and the road is the whale’s tongue.  Two portals await you – one leads back to the garden above, and the other – well, you’ll have to visit the world whale in its mysterious flight and find out for yourself.

Secrets of the World Whale is an engaging experience, combining strong visuals with a rich ambient sound scape and music, with a narrative track to follow. There are a couple of small hiccups, potentially down to Sansar’s state of play – stay too close to the rat for too long while he’s speaking, for example, and his words can end up in an overlapping series of loops – just keep walking to the edge of the audio fall-off to avoid it. However, none of this detracts from the central attraction of the experience.

Experience URL

4 thoughts on “Sansar: Secrets of the World Whale

  1. Same as I noticed with Drax’s and Berry’s atlas hopping videos, Sansar makes a rather dark and gloomy impression. While that windlight setting (do they call it Windight in Sansar at all?) may be nice for certain experiences it would be too moody for most others I guess. I don’t even activate shadows in SL most of the time since they are too harsh and overdone and ruining a good vision.

    Drax said something about everybody should come over to Sansar and make at least an account … before anybody else registers with your name. Hmmm, of course I know just about EVERYFUKNBODY wants to impersonate the (in)famous Orca Flotta, so should I try out Sansar too?

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    1. There’s actually a wide variety of natural lighting environments used in Sansar: daytime, night-time, evening, morning, indoor, outdoor, although some of the more noted experiences have tended perhaps towards a darker look. Lighting is also pretty flexible as it is.

      The environmentals in Sansar aren’t officially referred to as “Windlight” (although users might call them so for ease of reference, I suppose). They also operate on a different principal. Windlight places control of the environment in the hands of the user visiting a region, allowing us to see it as we choose. Within Sansar, the environment settings are entirely controlled by the experience creator, they cannot be adjusted by the users – and this is an intentional move on the part of the Lab.

      There are pros and cons to both approaches: in Second Life, Windlight allows greater freedom on the part of users to view (and photograph) a setting – and this can be important given the lack of real optimisation of scenes by the platform (as you note, shadow rendering can be a killer for a GPU, for example). Within Sansar, it ensures the scene is viewed by everyone visiting it exactly as the creator intended – and for some use-cases (training, simulation, role-play, storytelling, art, etc), this could be creativity important. Sansar also has a platform-driven optimisation process that should help reduce the load on systems as they run experiences, although as with everything else, hardware and connectivity still results in a degree of “your mileage may vary” as to how effective this is.

      As to whether you should create an account – that’s entirely up to you. Sansar is in early days where most capabilities are concerned, although the next few months should see that further change for creators (and also add some options for “consumers” (non-creative users) of experiences as well, one would hope – I hope to have more on such improvements *when* I remember to get along to the weekly update meetings, as I’ve missed the last several through my own stupidity). However, it is far to say that in comparison to SL, right now there is very little for the non-creative user to actually “do” when Sansar is compared directly to something like SL. That said, there’s no harm in “reserving” an account and your avatar name in Sansar “just in case”).

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