Sansar Product Meeting 2017 week #38: upcoming releases

(courtesy of Linden Lab)

The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meetings held on Friday, September 22nd. 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, and the official meeting notes are published in the week following each pair of meetings. Venues change on a weekly basis, and are announced in the Meet-up Announcements. The September 22nd meeting took place at the Zen Garden by Sansar Studios.

Bjørn Laurin attended both meetings to talk about the upcoming September / October release, and the next couple of releases beyond that. As such, the discussions were lengthy, so I’ve attempted to bullet-point key aspects of the major topics below, and have included a number of audio extracts of  Bjørn’s comments.

Again, for ease of reference, some of the audio extracts comprise comments made at different points in the conversations, which I’ve attempted to bring together to offer a cohesive flow of information. There is ambient background noise in the audio, as there is currently no way of disabling this in the Sansar client. Similarly, any sounds of background typing is due to others in the meeting leaving their microphone open while not speaking.

Discord Channel

The official Sansar Discord channel launched on Thursday, September 21st. 2017. The channel is designed to act as an extension to the Sansar user community, allowing them chat with one another, make friends, plan meet-ups in real-time, exchange ideas, etc. Discord works on the web, a desktop app, and a mobile app, allowing users to stay connected wherever they are.

The Sansar Discord FAQ provides full details on the channel. Joining is a case of following this link and the instructions provided. Those who do not already have a Discord account will have to create one as a part of the process.

Sansar Store Focus Group Meetings

There will be two sessions focusing on discussions and feedback on the Sansar Store in week #39. Guidelines on intent and scope of the meetings and their location(s), will be published on the Sansar blog ahead of the first meeting. However, the dates / times are:

  • Monday, September 25th, 15:00-16:00 PDT.
  • Wednesday, September 27th, 14:00-15:00 PDT.

Upcoming Releases Overview

The Lab is referring to the next release as the “Discovery release”, of which highlights include:

  • Easier discovery of experiences in the Atlas
  • Branded stores on the Sansar Store
  • The ability for users in Desktop mode to be able to interact with objects in an experience (picking things, up, throwing them, etc.).

Currently, this release is scheduled for deployment on Thursday, September 28th, 2017, depending on final bug fixes / QA.

Bjørn also indicated that fashion and avatar customisation has risen closer to the top of the pile of upcoming features following the Discovery release. He specifically notes work on hair together with skin shaders for the hair and avatar skin; the upcoming fashion / clothing support releases, and coming options for experience owners to be able to monetise their experiences (e.g. ticketed access, etc.).

Desktop Mode Object Interaction

  • In the Discovery release.
  • Will allow those running Sansar on  the desktop to have a similar level of interaction with in-world objects as those using VR. Desktop user will be able to pick up objects, “hold” them, throw them, drop them.
  • Objects around an avatar with interaction will highlight on a mouse-click, allowing the user to select which one they want to pick up.
  • Initially  will not include animations: clicking on an object will cause it to float over the avatar’s hand. However, future releases will support “holding” objects (and eventually “picking up” objects see more on animations below).
  • There is some debate within the Sansar team in giving creators an explicit means of differentiating between users in VR mode and users in Desktop mode, or in allowing the platform to handle it internally.
    • Games designers see the ability to differentiate as “critical” to allow better design of control options, and which can be used by players in either mode, and Bjørn leans more towards this approach.

Atlas Improvements

  • The Discovery release includes a search option in the client version of the Atlas and a new Featured tab for featured experiences.
  • Future improvements for the Atlas will include a Favourites / Bookmarks tab, an Events tab and the ability to sort listed experiences.

Store Branding

  • Will be part of the Discovery release.
  • Comprises the ability to add a masthead logo to creator’s items. Details of masthead sizes available on the Discord channel.
People gather at the Zen Garden for the Friday, September 22nd meet-up

Beyond The Discovery Release

Avatar Identification in Desktop Mode

  • Possibly appearing in the October  / November release.
  • This will most likely offer the same capabilities as VR mode currently has: click on an avatar and see their name, offer friendship, mute them.

Fashion and Clothing

  • For the most part, fashion and clothing will be handled as a single release rather than a series of iterative releases over time adding essential capabilities.
  • The exception to this will be handling clothing layers which will be handled in two parts: separation of the current clothing bakes from the avatar and then the rest of the capabilities.
    • The separation of the bakes will see clothing initially defined as either a single, complete layer (e.g. socks, underwear, pants / skirt, blouse / shirt, jacket all-in-one), or possibly as a “top” layer (e.g. undershirt, shirt, jacket) and a “bottom” layer (e.g pants, underwear, socks, skirt).
    • Further division of individual clothing layers will come in the future, but is seen as a more complicated task.
  • Clothing will naturally fold, flow and fall like real clothing and cloth from the initial release.
  • The Sansar Store will also be updated with the “main” fashion update is released to more fully support clothing.
  • Bjørn’s hope for the “main” fashion release is December 2017.
  • Due to what is involved with support for fashion / clothing, there may be a requirement for creators to sign NDAs – Jenn will be reaching out to creators about this in due course.

Clothing Physics
  • Clothing physics will be part of the initial release.
  • It’s currently not clear whether cloth physics will have to be assigned prior to upload, or if it is something done from within Sansar (such as by right-clicking on an item in Edit mode and selecting a “make cloth” option).
  • Bjørn indicated that the process will not be complex but there will be two specific routes to achieve different sets of results for clothing.
  • There is vagueness around how things will work due to contractual obligations, but some may be familiar with the tools the Lab are using to making clothing in Sansar work.

Avatar Updates

  • The back-end avatar rigging will be changing over the next “one or two months”.
    • These changes will not be visible to the casual user, but the changes will facilitate clothing design and will allow designers to create their own clothing.
    • One consequence of this is that all current outfits will break – however Bjørn indicated that all broken outfits will be replaced.
  • Future avatar updates will include the ability to change the avatar shape – more body fat, less body fat, etc. However, these will not be in the Discovery release.
  • As part of the work on hair (noted towards the top of this article), it will be possible to blend hair styles with the face, and things like masks or facial tattoos with hair and facial features, so they all work naturally together, and  masks / tattoos respond to facial movements.
  • Aside I: the individual working on the avatar design spent ten years on developing the characters in the Halo game series.

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