The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meetings held on Friday, October 20th. These meetings are held every Friday at 9:30am PDT and 4:00pm PDT, and are open to all. There is currently no set agenda, and the meetings are a mix of voice and text. The official meeting notes are published in the week following each pair of meetings, while venues change on a weekly basis, and are announced in the Meet-up Announcements.
The October 6th meetings took place at Witchy’s Upside Down, a Halloween themed experience by Beverly Zauberflote.Product team members Cara and Carolyn attended the morning and afternoon sessions respectively, with Jenn and Brett Linden, the Digital Content Manager at the Lab leading / attending both.
- Contest results: both the attachments and the Sansar’s Scariest competitions have now closed and final decisions on winners will be announced via a blog post, potentially in week #43 (commencing Monday, 23rd October).
- New contest: the Lab is in discussions with a new contest for Sansar, and details are likely to be announced “soon”.
- Spooky Karaoke, Saturday, October 21st at 14:00 PDT: taking place at the Studio Club – Karaoke & Hang Out by SIN. Sansar users are invited along to exercise their vocal talents in a karaoke contest. The catch: as it is Halloween, the tune must be in theme with the season.
- Halloween Party, Friday October 27th at 10:00 PDT: taking place at Starry Skies’n’Stuff by Jenn from the Lab.
Sansar Roadmap and Upcoming Releases
A further “roadmap blog post” providing insight into upcoming releases is being drafted, and will cover the next two releases following the upcoming October / November 2017 Friends release.
The roadmap blog post on the Discovery and Friends releases can be found here), in short, the Friends release may include (subject to final confirmation):
- Ability to search for people.
- Improvements to publishing experiences.
- An Events tab in the Atlas to showcase virtual meet-ups and special events to attend.
- New guides to Sansar’s controls in desktop and VR mode.
Additional improvements for locating people are also planned, but will probably not be available for the upcoming Friends release. These include:
- An Atlas indicator for the number of people in each experience.
- The ability to locate where friends are in Sansar (with an option for people to opt-out if they do not wish to reveal where they are).
Store and Fashion Releases
The next two releases are the Store Release, scheduled for November, and the Fashion release, scheduled for December. Details of what will be in each of these releases has yet to be finalised, however:
- The Store release will feature a range of updates and fixes for the Sansar Store.
- The Fashion release will mark the “first phase” of deployment of clothing and fashion support within Sansar. Bjørn Laurin from the Lab outlined the plans for this in week #38 (meeting notes), and allowing for possible changes to the plans since then, I’m including the audio from that discussion below:
The hope is to have Fashion release available around mid-December (ish), to allow for the Lab’s traditional Christmas / New Year holiday closure, when only essential services are covered.
One point of note is that as Sansar does not as yet have maturity ratings (or similar), this avatars will retain a basic baked layer of underwear to prevent full body nudity. Thought is still being given how to implement this baked layer so that it does not interfere with fashion designs from creators.
Repeat / Stale Notifications and Messages
A recent issue is that of repeated / stale notifications and messages (e.g. direct messages from a previous session being repeated and marked as new; friendship requests previously accepted being repeated, etc). This has yet to be fixed, and in the meantime the planned deployment of a sound being played alongside of received messages / notifications has been delayed until the issue has been fixed. The problem has also led to requests that notifications and direct messages are timestamped.
Avatars in Sansar can walk and run as present. In the future the abilities to sit, jump, crouch, and pick objects up will be made available. However, as Bjørn also discussed at the week #38 product meeting (see the link above), not all of this is easy to implement in Sansar, and I’m again including his comments from that meeting for reference:
The improved avatar interactions / animation capabilities are seen as something to be added during 2018, and so will not be a part of the final 2017 releases. As Cara commented in the product meeting, and in addition to the points Bjørn discusses in the audio above, is that Sansar’s ground-up design means that capabilities for animating avatars within in cannot simply be “lifted” from Second Life or a similar-looking game engine. They require building into Sansar’s own avatar rig. Also, as part of the fashion work, the avatar itself is being re-worked to separate out the clothing bakes, and the Lab wants to complete this work before adding additional avatar capabilities.
In September, the Lab announced policy changes relating to the Sansar Store, which, among other things, required creators to file a payment method (credit / debit card) with the Lab. Following concerns raised from those stating they are unable / will not use credit / debit cards and requests for PayPal to be made an option, on October 2nd, the Lab confirmed the credit / debit card requirement would not be enforced.
At the October 20th meeting, Cara confirmed that adding PayPal to Sansar has been moved up on the roadmap, and is now a high priority, although subject to some other back-end work being finished.
Avatar ID vs. Avatar Name
Sansar uses two avatar identifiers; the Avatar Name and the Avatar ID.
- The Avatar Name is somewhat analogous to Second Life Display names, inasmuch as it is a name by which someone is known in-world. Multiple people in Sansar can have the same Avatar Name (just is in the physical world there are multiple John Smiths, for example).
- The Avatar ID is designed to be a unique identifier for each user / account. No two users can have the same Avatar ID.
Currently, both are fixed (although it may be possible to change an Avatar Name in the future). However, as both are visible to other users (the avatar ID being prefixed by “@”), this has raised a concern over account security. Accounts rely on e-mail addresses for log-in purposes, which again are not hard to discover, potentially meaning two out of three unique account identifiers (e-mail address and Avatar (account) ID) can easily be obtained (the third being the password). That said, the Sansar approach is not too dissimilar to Second Life, in that the user (account) name and user’s e-mail address can be discovered.
- Wednesday, October 18th Patch: there was a small patch released on Wednesday, October 18th, 2017 to address some crash issues. Release notes for this update are apparently in-hand.
- In-Scene Interactions: the ability to interact with scripted objects such as light switches, door handles, etc., in Desktop mode is being worked on, but will not be appearing before 2018. Currently, such interactions will only work through direct collisions with trigger volumes.
- Animated Mesh in Sansar: Animated Mesh (Animesh) is now open for testing in Second Life, prompting questions on when similar capabilities will be available in Sansar. Cara confirmed work is continuing on this, and the scripting team will be working on APIs for more granular control of animations, looping, etc. It’s not clear whether this will be available as a part of the upcoming 2017 releases or be targeted for 2018.
- Avatar Attachment Size: avatar attachments are currently limited to a size of 1m x 1m x 1m and a tri count limit (15K per attachment). Requests have been made to increase both. Currently, there are no plans to change either in the short-term, but both may be revisited, depending on use cases offered.
- Store Related:
- Ability to update Store listings: following the Store focus group meetings, this is now “extremely high” on the priority list for updates, although a determination still appears to be required on where it sits in the order of priorities compared to things like licensing / supply chain management.
- Ability to group and sell related items: is on the roadmap, but is sitting lower down the list than things like the ability to update listings (above).
- Community events: the Lab has put together a series of events for October, but is keen to see experience creators organise and host events. Those who opt to do so are asked to contact Jenn with details, so she can help promote and advertise them through blog posts, etc., in lieu of a more structured means of promoting events.
- Dynamic objects:
- The Lab is working out how to improve collision handling with dynamic objects in Sansar (e.g. through the use of convex hull collisions) to improve performance.
- The ability to teleport onto dynamic objects will be looked at in the future.
- LOD (Level of detail) system: again, on the roadmap, but is currently still in the planning stages.
- Sansar and Oculus “Dash” and Windows 10 Mixed Reality:
- Oculus “Dash” is new user interface designed to let users replace traditional computer monitors with highly customisable, nearly unlimited VR screen space described as being like the virtual screens and information displays seen in the 2002 film Minority Report. It is due to start rolling out in December 2017 as a beta product.
- Windows 10 Mixed Reality is currently being deployed, and OEM headsets (currently VR focused) are being made available.
- For Sansar, Linden Lab is watching the Oculus Dash development, and currently remains focused on Oculus Rift / HTC Vive support, rather than looking at Window 10 headsets.