The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meetings held on Friday, September 8th. 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 9th meeting took place at Mold3D’s Astro Port. The official meeting notes are generally 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. Cara, Carolyn and Jeremy joined the Friday, September 8th meeting.
August / September Release
The long-awaited August / September release arrived on Friday, September 8th, 2017. Highlights of the release are noted below (please refer to the release notes for full details of this release, including known issues). Note that many of these features are still work in progress, rather than being final / polished versions.
Terrain Editor / Sculpting
Experience creators can now edit terrain objects in Sansar: create mountains and hills, create dips, craters and valleys or uneven terrain (“noise”). This is the first iteration of these tools, and features will be added over time.
Simply drag and drop a terrain plain (in one of four texture defaults) from the system objects panel, then use the sculpt tool and options to shape it. Individual plains can be placed together to create as big an area of terrain as required (within Sansar’s own limitations).
See Working with terrain in the Sansar Knowledge Base for more information.
- Terrain plains can be sculpted on in defined areas, from around 32 metres on a side up to 256 metres on a side.
- The paint tool can be used to apply textures (from pre-set families of four) to the sculpted terrain, with automatic attempts made to blend textures with height / depth (e.g. so grass gradually gives way to rock). The brush size for painting can also be varied in size from (approximately) one metre in size upwards.
- The textures / materials associated with the editor are currently limited to only working with one family of four textures / materials at a time, although creators can hot swap between them.
- This is not voxel editing, and is currently restricted to height maps, so no tunnelling into terrain at present. The sculpting tool is somewhat similar in approach somewhat similar to the Second Life terraforming tool, presenting a view of the terrain and the selected tool overlaid on it at the appropriate size, although unlike SL a choice of tool shapes is offered (round or square).
Future Terrain Editing Capabilities
The ability to add use custom terrain textures and height maps is coming soon, together with support for mega textures. The latter will allow more textures to be blended together at a time, which are then composited together when an experience is published.
Jason (aka Widely Linden) indicated that the roadmap for terrain editing in Sansar currently includes (exact implementation still TBD):
- A hybrid form of terraforming, using height maps for efficiency when sculpting the terrain, then switching to a voxel element when creating tunnels / caves, etc., which is then “stitched” into the mesh height map.
- The ability to “geo-paint” environments – use a painting technique to add boulder, rocks, vegetation, etc., onto a terrain map. This will likely start with pre-defined geo elements, before moving to allow users to define their own elements.
A suggestion from Maxwell Graf to assist in making custom height maps (once they can be imported), is to consider installing Unreal or Unity (both free) and then purchasing a terrain editing tool for the relevant engine, and using that to create terrains, then export the height maps for import into Sansar (once possible) It was also noted that Visual Studio 2017 comes with Unity support, and it is easy to add Unreal support.
.OBJ File Format, Animated & Multi-part Object Import
- Sansar now supports .obj file import. as well as .FBX – with the exception of avatar attachments at this time.
- Keyframe animated and multi-part objects can now be uploaded to Sansar see:
The Animated objects capability isn’t, at this point, fully animated mesh – there is no ability to import or use a skeleton for an object (a-la SL’s animated objects project), although this is coming.
Future Capabilities / Ideas
Also coming in a future release for animated / multi-part objects, are collision meshes. These will allow can be bound to rendered meshes for collision purposes. So a multi-part cable car could have collisions enabled on specific parts to allow avatars to ride it. This has already been done as a test with the gondolas in Colossus Rising.
Jason indicated that – further into the future, and via a scripted / API meachanism which the Sansar product team is considering – animated objects should allow for very dynamic things like trees which not only sway in a breeze, but which move in accordance with the (changing) wind direction / force (rather than just randomly moving) or stop swaying if there is no wind. The same scripts will also be able to trigger associated sounds of the wind in the branches when affected by a breeze.
New Stereoscopic Media & UV Animation Shaders
A series of new shaders in the materials editor:
- Standard + Emissive + Stereographic
- Media Surface + Stereographic
- Standard + Emissive + UV Animation
- Standard + Alpha Mask + UV Animation.
UV animation supports both scrolling UVs and flipbook UV, and brings the ability to animate things like water, animated lighting, etc, in Sansar. Currently, these have to be configured and applied prior to upload, but future updates will allow editing and refinement of the maps post-upload.
Trigger volumes allow scripted events (e.g. teleporting) without the need for dynamic objects, allowing for more flexible interactions inside events.