It’s time to highlight another week of storytelling in Voice by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and this week’s events are held at The Dickens Project.
Sunday, December 10th
13:00: Tea-Time with Dickens
Join Seanchai Library at Redemption Square. for more from Oliver Twist to share, and a pivotal chapter from Great Expectations.
14:00: Dancing with Elrik Merlin
Elrik Merlin has been a Second Life resident for almost 11 years, and a presenter on Radio Riel for over ten. He programmes the station’s Main Stream two days a week, and handles technical aspects of the station along with international music licensing. He also co-hosts Designing Worlds, the popular TV series on design and designers in virtual worlds. He occasionally DJs for friends and good causes.
The following notes are taken from the 4:00pm PST Sansar Product Meeting held on Friday, December 8th. Product Meetings are usually held every Friday at 9:30am PST and 4:00pm PST, 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 each week, and are listed in the Meet-up Announcements. and the Sansar Atlas events section.
The afternoon Product Meeting featured a drop-in by Ebbe Altberg, the Lab’s CEO, and notes on his comments, with audio extracts are included in this update.
This is still on-course for a deployment – mostly likely during week #51, commencing Monday, December 18th, 2017. For a summary of some of the items included in the release, please refer to my December 1st Product Meeting notes. The following covers only those items in addition to that breakdown, and which were noted in the December 8th meetings:
In addition to clothing, the release will allow the upload and sale of hair attachments, and hair can be removed from an avatar to make it bald. It’s not clear at present if the hair is / can be rigged or not.
Avatar attachments will no longer be limited to a 1m x 1m x 1m size, but will be limited by the avatar bounding box – precise dimensions will be in the knowledge base for attachments when the release is deployed.
There will be a snow material type for those wanting to make winter scenes.
Materials have been made more distinct and most spatial.
Voice fall-off has been revised so it starts fading from 2 metres away from a person speaking, rather than a metre.
Some of the UI panels / floaters will be resizable and relocatable within the client, these include:
People and chat panels in the run-time mode
The inventory, scene object and properties panels can be resized and moved around in Edit mode.
The Event calendar will be available on the Client Atlas, although it will look different to the Web Atlas format.
As previously noted, this release will add the ability for experience creators to edit and change the materials on in-world (not accessories / clothing) on items they have obtained via the Sansar Store. However, any such changes will only be applicable when the object in question is within the scene. As soon as it is returned to inventory, any changes made will be lost.
This change comes ahead of any permissions / licensing capability in Sansar, and has caused some upset. However, Cara indicated that when a permissions system is introduced, any items held in inventory will effectively be grandfathered – so it will still not be possible to save changes to their materials back to inventory.
A Store Update had been planned for between the Friends release (October 2017) and the Friends release (December 2017), but this has apparently been pushed back.
Ebbe Altberg dropped into the afternoon Product Meeting, part of his plan to spend more time at Sansar meetings and meet-ups – and took time to answer questions and offered thoughts on the platform.
An Important Note from Ebbe
You have to be careful when you listen to me, because I mix what’s actually going to happen with want we wish will happen all the time. So I can’t promise time frames for some of these things.
So when you listen to me, think about it as general ideas of where we want to go. Whether it happens or not, that’s kind-of a different story.
On Sansar’s Engine
“We made some really tough choices up front,” Ebbe said on the choice of building Sansar’s engine, rather than opting to utilise something like Unreal or Unity. “We would have gotten something much faster to market that would have been usable if we had just gone with an existing engine … But because of the problem we’re solving for, which is user-generated content in massive quantities, going with another engine really becomes problematic over time.”
Essentially, this choice came down to the issues of backwards compatibility within the platform; using a third-party engine in full or in part potentially opens the Lab to content breakage as a result of changes being made to an engine or elements of an engine that are outside their control. This is a lesson they’ve taken to heart with Blocksworld, which is based on Unity, and has had problems over the last five years as a result.
On The Risk of a Large-Scale “Reset” for Sansar
This goal with regards to continued backward compatibility with content available and used within Sansar means the Lab is hoping that they’ll never have to do a large-scale “reset” with Sansar which might result in widespread content breakage. However, this can never be guaranteed; there may be times – a significant bug, a major technical issue, an implementation (say) of new software the Lab wants to leverage for Sansar – which might result in content breakage. Should anything like this happen, the hope is there will be advanced communication with creators so they understand the issue, together with time allowed for them to swap over to any “new” way of doing things (where applicable) in order to try to minimise the overall impact.
The Supply Chain / Licensing
The supply chain / licensing (/permissions) system is one of the more complex aspects of Sansar the Lab is still working through.
For those unfamiliar with the idea, in essence, if someone creates an experience intended for re-sale which utilises content made by other creators, and then packages the experience for sale, the supply chain system will ensure the other creators will automatically get paid to some degree as well for their creations with each sale of the experience. On a smaller scale, it would mean a building designer could furnish their buildings from a range of furnishing and décor suppliers, rather than having to make everything, and again, the supply chain means those designers receive an amount from each sale of the building.
Obviously, this involves considerable added complexity in terms of permissions, licensing, tracking, payment, etc., – so until things are ready, there is not detailed talk on time frames for introduction – but it is the goal Linden Lab is hoping to achieve.
Avatar Animations for Non-VR Users
When using Sansar in Desktop Mode, the avatars are – in a word – wooden. Changing this is a “high priority” for the Lab. However, how this is to be achieved is still the subject of debate within the Lab. Some want extremely smooth, human-like avatar movement, with blended transitions between animations to give a more fluid movement (such as getting up from a chair being a fluid transition from seated to standing, or a turn to face to the left being a sequence, fluid body move). Other prefer a “snappier” transition – as is the case of turning left or right in Desktop Mode at present, or the avatar “jump” from seated to standing seen in Second Life.
Allowing user-created animations and animation systems (e.g. SL-like animation override systems) is currently much further down the road than trying to provide a more basic animations within the Sansar locomotion graph.
A Broad Look At The Future
The focus thus far has been building-out the platform, getting the software and infrastructure needed to support it all brought together, with more recent work centred on creator tools and needs and initial avatar development and accessories support – all of which will be continuing. However, Ebbe expects some of the focus in 2018 to start shifting towards more general use of Sansar – including user engagement and user retention, hopefully growing the user base for those who find Sansar usable at this stage of its development.
This does mean that the focus will entirely shift away from creator tools and capabilities. Rather it will see more of a blending of things: some work will be focused on the user aspects of the platform – socialising, interactions, etc., other will remain focused on creator tools, and on things like adding more interactive capabilities which can be used within experiences to broaden their appeal.
And his wish for Sansar’s Creator Beats one year anniversary (July 31st, 2018)? That there are more people using Sansar, that the default experience for someone coming to the platform is that there is life within it, there are people, there’s vibrancy within experiences with events and activities to be enjoyed. It is acknowledged that currently, visits to experiences can be lonely, and the Lab will be looking at ways and means to reduce this alongside increasing new user interest / engagement.