Sansar product meetings 2017: week #35

People gather for the Sansar Product Meeting, Friday, September 1st

The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meetings held on Friday, September 1st. 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 September 1st meeting took place at Maxwell Graf’s Rune, which is one of five parts of his Rustica “grand experience”. 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.

August / September Release

The next release was pushed back from August 31st as a result of a couple of last-minute issues which required fixing. The release is now being targeted of Wednesday, September 6th.  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.

Highlights of the upcoming release include:

  • Terrain Editor (first pass): ability to edit the current terrain options; the ability to upload custom textures to follow.
  • Scripting Updates and Improvements, including:

  • Ambient Occlusion (AO): allowing things like indirect lighting shadows. 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.
  • Avatar updates, including:
    • Selling Avatar Attachments: creators will be able to upload and sell their own avatar props (attachments) through the Sansar Store – more on this below.
    • Having been removed from Sansar due to speed issues when seen in VR mode, the ability for avatars to run will be returning in the next release.
    • Further improvements to avatar customisation, e.g. adding nail colours.
  • Ability to upload multi-part objects: there will be some limitations placed on this, which will be specified in the release notes.
  • Object Animations: animated objects created in Maya, 3D Studio Max, or Blender can be imported them into Sansar.
  • Media updates, including:
    • Support for custom music and live streaming via Shoutcast, Icecast and similar services. OGG should be supported via web links, although AAC will not be supported with this release.
    • The ability to play back s£ movies within experiences.
  • Bug fixes.

Some of these features may yet be subject to final testing by the Lab, so please refer to the release notes once the update has been made for details and links to supporting documentation. The release notes will form an e-mail to Sansar users and be available in the Release Notes section of the knowledge base.

When the release is rolled out, it will mean down time for the platform, and this will be announced through the forums and on the log-in screen, etc.

Sansar Product Meeting, Friday, September 1st

Avatar Attachments

As noted above, creators will be able to make, upload and sell avatar attachments in Second Life through the Sansar Store with the next platform release. However, because the initial provision of attachment points on the avatar lead to some outsized (non-resellable) props being made, there will be a number of initial limitations placed on the props which can be uploaded and sold, including:

  • Uploaded props will not initially be allowed to exceed a 1m x 1m x 1m size.
    • Existing props which are larger than this can continue to be used, but creators will not be able to sell them.
  • Attachments will be limited in terms of total triangles they can contain.

Full details of the limits and upload requirements will be documented in the Avatar Attachments knowledge base article once the release is public. Some of the limitations may be relaxed over time.

Contest Announcements

Partially to mark creators being able to upload and sell avatar props through the Sansar Store with the next release, and because Halloween in approaching, Linden Lab has launched two Sansar contests. On offer are five prize packages featuring Oculus Rift + Touch bundles. In addition, the Halloween themed contest includes a US $10,000 grand prize. Details can be found on the official Sansar blog, and on my blog.

HUDs and Web Support in Sansar

Second Life users are all familiar with the concept of HUDs to enhance users’ abilities to interaction with other scripted objects (usually attached to an avatar) and / or interact with external web services. Specific scripting support for HUD objects (and the ability to attach them to the Sansar UI) isn’t at present being worked on by the Lab.

Some broader web support, is being developed. This includes the ability to display web pages and media on objects in an experience (again, in SL parlance, the equivalent of media on a prim). There will also be some form of web browser capability within the Sansar UI, but there is currently no time frame on when this is likely to appear or what it will look like.

Request have been made to provide Sansar with a similar scripted functionality to LLHTTPRequest to enable more complex interactions between Sansar and external web services. Provision of such a capability has not – as yet – been discussed  for Sansar.

Avatar Sitting

The ability for avatars to sit on objects within and experience is not the roadmap, but will not be part of the next release, and may yet be further down the road, possibly as much as six months hence – although this needs confirmation from the Lab.

Sansar Social

The Lab is planning a series of Halloween events throughout October, including – if all goes to plan – a meet-up at the winner of the Halloween-themed experience design contest.

A major critique with Sansar is that it currently lacks depth in its social tools. While more social capabilities will be added over time, the Lab is looking at other ways to encourage social activities and bringing people together.

One way of doing this is the daily (Monday – Friday) meet-ups which are held each week at a different location for the week (see the Meet-up Announcements for details each week). This meet-ups are a chance for Sansar users to meet and chat about Sansar and anything else of mutual interest, giving people the opportunity to get to know one another, friend one another etc.

Another means to help people meet others in Sansar that’s being considered, is to provide people browsing the Atlas with an idea of the number of people currently visiting each experience, so they can then “go where the people are”.

Desktop Mode makes interaction with other difficult, as there is currently no way to readily identify people around you when in a busy experience. The VR mode offers a mouse hover display of an avatar’s name and ID, with options to friend, etc. This is apparently coming to the Desktop mode, but there is no ETA on when. In the meantime, some users have taken to wearing attachments such as badges on their lapels or name tags over their heads to make recognising them easier for those in Desktop mode.

Discord Server

This has been in progress for a while, and is now close to being deployed. The Discord server will replace the use of Slack for Sansar users and Lab staff, and will provide an interim means for Sansar users to interact with each other outside of the Sansar itself, allowing meet-ups and events to be planned and advertised. Existing and new users will be given the option of joining the Sansar Discord channel once it is live. Again, this is only an interim solution, and will remain until more of the social tools are available in Sansar itself.

As the USA is experience a broad spectrum of weather, Jenn came with her own pool to cool off from the heat, and Solas came prepared for a lot of water…

In Brief

Feature Requests, Feature Roadmap, Focus Groups

The roadmap is still being finalised for public dissemination. When available – possibly in week #36 (commencing Monday, September 4th), it should outline the major features / updates being worked on for the next 2-3 releases.

Feature requests should be posted via the Feature Requests section of the forums. In order to gain specific feedback on certain product areas (e.g. the Store, avatars, etc.), the Lab are planning to start holding focus group meetings.

A question was asked on how large potential clients should approach the Lab to discuss ideas for using Sansar and understanding how the platform is being developed. No clear answer was given, but hopefully, any such client would have the wherewithal to contact Linden Lab directly (e.g. through the marketing department).

Atlas Deletions

There are guidelines for publishing experiences to the Atlas, and experiences found to be in contravention of the Lab’s Terms of Service or which don’t follow the guidelines may be deleted from the Atlas. When this happens, the experience creator is e-mailed with an explanation on why the action has been taken, and in most cases related to failure to adhere to the guidelines, fixes are generally easy to make.

Transparency, Alpha Masking, Texturing and Reflections

There is a lot of confusion on transparency, alpha masking and texturing in general. Jenn suggests that the best place currently to discuss texturing is at the daily casual meet-ups.

Reflections are apparently on the roadmap, but it’s not clear on how extensive this might be.

Keyframe Animation Support

This is being developed, but will not be in the August / September release. When available, it will hopefully support direct import of keyframe animations from any suitable tool which can produce keyframe animation output.

Lab Technical Presence at the Friday Product Meetings

The  Friday Product Meetings generally involve members of the Sansar Product Team – Cara, Caroline, Hydro, etc., and attempts will be made to get both Bjorn (VP of Product at Linden Lab and in overall charge of Sansar’s development) and Jason (aka Widely Linden), the Product Manager for Sansar, back to some of the meetings. It’s also hoped that Kelly Linden or one of the scripting development team will be able to attend a future meeting.

Sansar Metrics

There are currently no user-facing metrics on Sansar (number of active users, visitors per experience, etc). However, metrics over a wide range of areas (including those merchants do / might require) are being considered, so expect this to change in time.

Bad Reactions To Experiences

One person has reported having a bad reaction and migraine to some lighting in an experience. As a result of this, Jenn is interested to hear from users who may have experienced similar discomfort in visiting specific experiences.