Sansar Product Meeting 2017 week #39: upcoming releases

Starry Stars And Stuff…

The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meetings held on Friday, September 22nd. These meetings are held every Friday at 09:30 PTD and 16:00 PTD, 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 Starry Stars & Stuff, an experience built by Jenn from the Lab, demonstrating what can be done by someone who does not create original mesh can do in Sansar just through a little terraforming and by buying items through the Store (and with a  little scripting help from Gindipple!).

Cara from the Product Team attended the morning meeting, and Carolyn attended the afternoon meeting.

Discovery Release

The Discovery Release is now scheduled for week #40 (commencing Monday, October 2nd). Highlights include:

Client-Side Atlas: ability to search the Atlas, matching the capability already in the web Atlas; a new Featured tab for featured experiences.

Desktop Mode Object Interaction:

  • This Will allow Desktop users 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.
  • Object selection will be via mouse selection.
  • Initially this will not include animations: clicking on an object will cause it to float over the avatar’s hand. However, future releases will support “holding” the selected object.

Sansar Store: masthead banners for branding; URLs are being improved to look more “store-like”.

Future Updates

  • Future improvements for the Atlas will include a Favourites / Bookmarks tab, an Events tab and the ability to sort listed experiences – some of these will be appearing in the Friends Release, due at the end of October / beginning of November.
  • The client-side Atlas uses a “gaze pointer” in VR mode, requiring  people focus their eyes on items in the Atlas – entries, the scroll bar, etc. This is not proving particularly user-friendly for some, particularly with the size of the Atlas, so the plan is to replace this with a means to select, scroll, etc., using the hand controllers.
  • Work is in progress to improve:
    • The upload of some file types.
    • Collision handling within Sansar, including convex hull collision, particularly for multi-part objects.
    • Performance for full collision meshes
  • More specific details of some future updates and an overview of the Friends Release (October / November) can be found in these reports here and here.

Sansar Store

The recently announced store policy and listing guideline changes came up for discussion.

  • The requirement that images for scripts listed on the Store “must focus on the script’s capabilities” has caused some concern due to the potential for confusion. How do you represent the sound of a gentle breeze in an image? Does an image of a carousel convey the idea of a rotation script to a consumer, or that the item on sale is a carousel – regardless of any accompanying description?
  • The Lab is looking at listings for audio and scripts with the idea of providing a set of icons creators can associate with their items when listing them on the store.
  • An audio preview capability is also being worked on, which will hopefully be available in the next couple of months.
  • The concerns expressed will be added to the feedback gained from the recent Store focus group meetings and carried forward to similar discussions at the Lab and in future focus group discussions – which Jenn will try to get a notice out about soon.
  • There is an acknowledgement that the announcement of the policy changes could have been handled better given meetings on the Store had been planned for the same week. Things came down to a matter of bad timing; Jenn has indicated LL will try to be more pre-emptive with meetings and announcements in future.
  • A suggestion was made about sharing ideas on policy, requirements, etc., via viewable documents and allowing feedback. This has – to a degree – worked with some of the technical work with Second Life (proposals for inventory updates and Windlight Environment Enhancements were made available through Google docs – although the latter was somewhat spoiled by pre-pubescent comments being left on the document).

Account Identification, Security, Etc

There are concerns about account verification, security, etc. Some of this is handled by the Lab’s subsidiary, Tilia Inc (Tilia Branch Ltd., in the UK), particularly with regards to payment information, payment processing, etc. Jenn is going to see if she can get input from the Tilia team on some of the issues.

Edit Mode Issues

The afternoon meeting focused in part on issues and pain points within the Edit mode. Items raised include:

  • Changing or deleting a script leading to the loss of parameters, etc., associated with another script (not clear is this is a copy of the same script used elsewhere).
  • The Gizmo used to manipulation objects can be hard to select and use.
  • The UI itself (issues with reading, etc.).
  • Lack of ability to:
    • Manage inventory – even described by the Lab as “desperately needed”. It is being worked on.
    • Easily return objects to inventory (with metadata for position, etc. saved?).
    • Customise options (mouse buttons, moving windows around, etc.).
    • Easily move and focus the camera, including better panning  / rotation and  flycamming type movements (this is something needed in the runtime mode for things like machinima)

A suggestion was made that it could be beneficial to split the Editor UI between Desktop Mode and VR, rather than trying to combine the two into a single UI, particularly given Desktop offers a full keyboard to use, whereas VR is obviously more limited.

Other Items

Edit Mode: Desktop or VR?

The morning session saw a straw poll taken of those attending on whether they used VR or Desktop mode in Edit mode. Some attending expressed surprise that editing in VR was possible.

Overall the choice appears to be being increasingly task-driven for those with HMDs rather than a clear either / or split. There are some aspects of scene building which are intuitively better in Desktop mode (initial design and placement, scripting, etc), while some are far easier in VR mode (e.g. relocating objects and their associated elements adjusting positions, etc.), and several of the creators at the meeting indicated they are now naturally moving between to the two modes, depending on what they are doing.

Experiences Dropping from the Featured Category When Updated

This is a pain point for both experience creators and the Lab. When an experience tagged as a Featured Experience in the Atlas is updated, the tag denoting it as featured in the Atlas is lost. A fix for this is being looked into. In the interim, those who are updating their experiences and finding they get dropped as Featured in the Atlas can drop a line to Jenn who will pass it on to the Product team.

Experience Loading Information

Suggestions have been made to carry over the experience description from the Atlas to the load screen on an experience, so that users entering the experience can be more informed (where descriptions are provided).

A request was made for some kind of progress bar to be displayed in experience load screens. This has been looked at by the Lab, but because experiences are coming via AWS, it is apparently harder to implement than may appear to be the case. Instead, the Lab is looking at alternative approaches, such as keeping frequently visited experiences cached for faster access and reducing the amount of data requiring download.

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