The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meet-ups held on Friday, August 25th. These meetings are held every Friday at 9:30am PDT and 4:00pm PDT, and are open to all. There is no set agenda (currently), and the meetings are a mix of voice and text. Venues change on a weekly basis, and are announced in the Meet-up Announcements; the August 25th meetings took place at Voyage Live: Egypt. The official meeting notes published the week following each pair of meetings.
The meetings are chaired by Jenn (aka Xiola Linden) from the Community Team, and feature various members of the Sansar teams. The August 24th meetings, for example, saw Cara and Caroline from the Product Team in attendance, with Hydro Linden from the Modelling Team, and Brett from the Community Team.
The tentative date for the next major Sansar release is Thursday, August 31st. This is in keeping with the Lab’s approach to making major (feature) updates at the end / start of a month, with smaller interim releases focused on bug fixes and patches being rolled out as required between these major releases. There is still some work to be done on the release, so the 31st is not a definite date. Highlights of the upcoming release include:
A first implementation of the Sansar Terrain Editor; the ability to upload custom textures to follow. Cara reports there are still some issues with this at present which need to be sorted before it is released.
Scripting Updates and Improvements
A range of scripting updates and improvements, including:
- Trigger Volumes and VR Controller APIs.
- Cached APIs.
- Performance and Technical Changes.
- Method Throttles.
Ambient Occlusion (AO)
An initial implementation of AO to allow things like indirect lighting shadows to help objects and avatars look more “rooted” in a scene. This should not require creators to re-visit and update the Global Illumination (GI) bakes for their experiences, as the AO will be a real-time effect.
Other Notable Updates
- Avatar Attachments: creators will be able to upload and sell their own avatar attachments through the Sansar Store.
- Object Animations: animated objects created in Maya, StudioMax, or Blender can be imported them into Sansar.
- Support for custom music and live streaming: e.g. via Shoutcast an similar services, for audio streaming in experiences.
- 3D Video support: ability to watch 3D movies within experiences.
- Bug fixes.
Once the release has been deployed, details of updates, changes, improvements and fixes will be documented in the Release Notes section of the knowledge base, and form an e-mail to users. Specific feature notes will also published through the forums.
Beyond the Next Release
The following areas are priority work areas for future releases:
Collaborative Building / Design
While seen as a priority, it may take some time to appear, as it is also reliant on other aspects of the platform, such as the permissions system.
It’s also not clear what form it might take – will creators be able to work together to “block out” a scene collectively, using tools in the editor to construct basic models (walls, floors, door, etc), which can then be positioned, modified and used as a reference for the off-line building of the actual optimised, fully textured items for use in the scene, for example?
Social Aspects Improvements
- Making it easier to find others in Sansar and communicate privately with non-friends (currently, you can only direct message someone you have friended)
- Greater avatar-to-avatar interaction when in Desktop mode (e.g. the ability to identify other avatars, ability to directly mute (voice only) other avatars, etc).
- Text chat improvements (e.g. clickable support for URLs rather than reliance on the “Go” button function to identify URLs; ability to copy / paste chat, etc.).
Text chat and messaging in particular lack some core functionality (scrolling back through open chat, for example, no time stamps on messages, muting only applies to voice, etc). The current inability to directly contact non-friends came about as a result of muting being limited to voice chat only, and will hopefully be reversed in time.
An attempt will be made to get someone from the UI Team and from the Product Team involved in the UI / chat tools to come to a meeting to discuss their work and priorities.
Other Items In Progress
- Inventory management improvements.
- User preferences – but no details on what these will be.
There is a Sansar roadmap for updates and improvements, etc. This is currently being refined, revised and prepared for public release. Once available, the hope is that it will form the basis for more focused discussions on Sansar’s development and for obtaining feedback from Sansar users.
A means to refine the texturing of hair for avatars was discussed several weeks ago, but it’s not clear if this is on general release to creators, or something only available for the Sansar Character team to use in refining the current avatars. If it is generally available, a request as been made for documentation / examples.
There is a longer-term project to refine and improve the Sansar avatars. This includes separating clothing from the avatar bakes to make it easier to support clothing (e.g. clothing making, mixing and matching items, etc.). The time frame for this could be several months.