2018 Sansar Product Meetings week #4

2077, Sansar; Inara Pey, January 2018, on FlickrSansar: 2077blog post

The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meetings held at 9:30am and 4:00pm PST on Friday, January 26th, 2018. These Product Meetings are open to anyone to attend, are a mix of voice (primarily) and text chat, and there is currently no set agenda. 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 sections.

Nyx, Cara and Carolyn from the product team joined Jennifer for the meetings.

Inventory Updates

  • Filter / sort / search: the Lab is trying to fine-tune inventory to allow better sorting and filtering. This will hopefully include a search by item name function. This is seen as the first improvement to inventory for 2018, and at the time of writing was still being worked on, so it is not clear if tit will make the January release (Release 17 – see below for a re-cap on this).
  • Folders: inventory folders are frequently requested. These are now something the Lab hopes to start working on “soon”.
  • Scene Templates: the scene templates (currently available from the Scene Template drop-down list to the System Object menu to allow for easier drag-and-drop of scene templates at any time.
An update to the WEB Atlas means that events are now shown in your local times zone – not PST. A similar update will be deployed to the Client Atlas soon

Release 17

As note on my 2018 week #3 notes, the January release is simply called “Release 17” by the Lab, and focuses on:

  • Bug fixes.
  • Performance improvements – for example, the amount of data sent to the client for avatar and dynamic object animations has been reduced by some 60%, which will hopefully make things more fluid for users in busy experiences.
  • An experience loading progress bar has been coded, although the scene loading page has yet to be revised to show it, and it is hoped this will be in Release 17, or deployed shortly thereafter.

At the time of writing, the Lab is aiming to deploy the release around mid-week in week #5 (commencing Monday, January 29th, 2018).

Valentine’s Day Store “Express Your Love” Event

Jennifer has blogged about a special Valentine’s Day store event called Express Your Love. It has a very short lead-time (official closing date January 31st, 2018, although submissions may still be accepted beyond that), and creators are invited to submit wearables / clothing with a strong Valentine’s Day theme (e.g. chocolates, roses, jewellery in the case of wearables, gowns or suits for a romantic evening out for clothing) for inclusion in a special Sansar Store Valentine’s Day collection, which will be available from February 1st through February 14th.

Attachment Poly Counts / MD Issues

Currently the poly count for individual avatar attachment is restricted to 15K triangles. As the Lab is looking at various optimisations to help improve Sansar’s performance, this is unlikely to change in the immediate future. Some of the requests to increase the poly count is as a result of issues being encountered in using Marvelous Designer (MD). Cara understands that higher poly counts can be avoided when importing MD clothing if the particle distance is not smaller than 20mm – which matches that of the Sansar avatar. It is acknowledged that this may cause problems in some designs, and so is offered as a suggestion, rather than a hard-and-fast recommendation.

Suggestions have been made on how complex clothing might be better handled, such as splitting a rigged gown into two parts, but having them annotated such that they are handled within Sansar as a single item when worn. In response, Nyx reiterated that what was made available in the Fashion Release was only an initial release, and the Lab are looking at further refinements and improvement options, so final limits on things like poly counts and options for handling clothing and attachments are still being examined and considered.

Functionality over Immersion?

While not ideal, Second Life does have the floating dot over people’s heads, and the visible green sound bars flashing when someone is actually speaking. This eases locating someone talking at a meeting a lot easier (as can having the people floater open and checking for the voice indicator there).

A similar approach in Sansar has been seen by the Lab as “immersion breaking”, but its is now being recognised as there needs to be some easier means to locating who is speaking rather than trying to spot moving avatar lips. Suggests put forward for such a capability include:

  • A voice indicator in Sansar’s people floater.
  • An auto-rezzing “speaker’s stick” indicator that automatically rezzes in front of (or over?) the avatar of someone speaking, and vanishes when they are silent.

Sansar Store

  • Product updates: the Lab is working on a mechanism to allow creators to offer product updates to purchasers.
  • Merchant / customer communications: offering merchants the ability to better communicate with their customers is on the radar and being looked at.
  • Gifts / Gifting: the ability to gift items in the Store to people is “on the radar”, but is seen as lower on the priority list, so no work has started on it as yet.

In Brief

  • Building Gizmo: it’s been noted that the gizmo used to move and position models in a scene is not easy to see and manipulate when handling very large models. The Lab is a ware of this and looking at options for improving the tool.
  • Level of detail: there are plans to add level of detail (LOD) capabilities / optimisations to Sansar, but these are still a little further down the road.
  • Advertising outreach: options for people to be able to better advertise / promote goods, services, activities, etc., are being thought about. These could include user profiles and group options similar to those found in SL; an ability to “follow” others and receive updates and notifications from them, etc.
  • Events promotion: the Lab is working on a mechanism for people to submit their own Sansar events directly to the events calendar without having to e-mail a member of the Community team. This will not be in Release 17, but will hopefully be deployed in a future release update.
  • Improved Desktop Mode interactivity options: the ability to click on buttons, etc., in Desktop Mode, is being looked into, and additional engineering expertise has been brought in to work on interactivity in Sansar in general.
  • Sitting: an initial ability to allow avatars to sit is being investigated. Avatar animations in general are also being considered – please refer to recent Product Meeting notes in these pages for more.
  • Chat: improvements to Sansar’s chat capabilities are being planned, including things like group chat sessions independent of people all being in the same experience, etc., and it is hoped these will start being deployed later in 2018.
    • The Chat App currently does not support copy from the chat history. However, the Lab is looking into trying to offer a text copy capability within the local chat window once more (the “original” ability to do so having been a bug).
  • PayPal support: still on the road map, but no work carried out as yet.
  • Subscription plans & experiences: there are currently no plans to change the current number of experiences per Sansar subscription plan.

2018 UG updates #4/2: TPV Developer meeting

La Vie; Inara Pey, January 2018, on FlickrLa Vieblog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, January 26th 2018. The video of that meeting is embedded at the end of this update, my thanks as always to North for recording and providing it. Time stamps in the text below will open the video in a new tab at the relevant point of discussion.

Viewer Pipeline

[0:00-1:25] The Voice RC viewer updated to version on January 26th, bringing it to parity with the Alex Ivy release viewer. The reaming viewers in LL’s pipelines remain as:

  • Current Release version, dated January 9th, promoted January 17th. Formerly the Alex Ivy Maintenance RC – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Nalewka Maintenance viewer version, January 17th.
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version, dated November 17th, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer version, May 8th, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Forthcoming Updates

  • The Voice RC is the next in line for promotion to release status, and this could happen in week #5 (commencing Monday, January 29th, 2018).
  • The Animesh and Project Render project viewers both have new updates in QA.
  • There is a new project viewer for media handling (with updates to the latest version of the Chrome Embedded Framework) also due to be made available.
  • A further 64-bit update is in the works.

Environment Enhancement Project (EEP)

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements, including:

  • The ability to define the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, water settings) at the parcel level.
  • New environment asset types (Sky, Water, Days – the latter comprising multiple Sky and Water) that can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others.
  • Scripted, experience-based environment functions, an extended day cycle and extended environmental parameters. This work involves both a viewer updates (with a project viewer coming soon) and server-side updates.

Current Status

[12:25-15:43] Rider Linden now has a test simulator on Aditi where he is able to successfully apply windlights at the parcel level. The work will now allow windlight settings to be applied by height above ground, but this will likely be fixed ranges defined on the simulator rather than allowing completely arbitrary heights for different windlight settings, as can be done viewer-side with some TPVs at present.

General Discussions

Level of Detail / RenderVolumeLODFactor

[4:17-5:21] The latest Firestorm release,, has altered the behaviour of the debug RenderVolumeLODFactor so that changes with set it to any value higher than 4.00 will not persist across log-ins (see my Firestorm release overview here for more). The Lab is now considering implementing a similar change within the official viewer.

Land Impact / Avatar Complexity Calculations

[5:33-5:52] I’ve referred to this project a number of times, which is intended to gather more representative data on the actual cost of rendering object in-world and the cost of rendering avatars and their attachments, with a view to revisiting the formulas used in calculating them, to see if anything can be done to make the calculations more representative of the “real” rendering costs (allowing for issues such as the potential to break content). It is currently hoped that the Lab will have enough data on this in the next for weeks to start carrying these investigations forward.

[27:13-28:12] One of the reasons often cited for creating one very detailed level of detail (LOD) model and a very low LOD model, rather than a number of LOD models (high, medium, low and lowest), is that the latter can penalise the finished model’s overall Land Impact (LI). This is something the Lab is going to be looking at in order to try to remove / reduce disincentives to making optimised content for SL as a part of this work.

[28:35-30:25] These updates are likely to affect the LI of existing and rezzed content. However, they will not be made in Q1 of 2018. Instead, the Lab plan to carry out simulator-side testing to ensure whatever changes that are decided upon cause as little disruption as possible, and will offer a strategy to help people transition to the new system to try to avoid any unnecessary item returns, show the revised formula run the risk of some content being returned when implemented (this might even comprise an increase in land capacity, if the difference between the “old” and “new” LI calculations aren’t too big). Improved tools for understanding LI are also planned as part of this work.

[31:08-31:47] To help people understand LI, content building, etc., Oz Linden has been trying to get more of the Lab’s own documentation on design and building to where it can be seen in public. This also extends to making more of the Lab’s own scripts being made available for public viewing.

Camera Presets Project

[7:09-8:00] Jonathan Yap is moving ahead with his camera presets project (see here and STORM-2145). This will most likely include Penny Patton’s recommendations for improved camera placement as one of the default sets of camera presets.

AIS Project

[8:51-10:28] The Lab is initiating a further Advanced Inventory System (AIS) project. this project will initially be focused on bug fixes, then will include looking for opportunities to deprecate old UDP-based inventory operations in favour of AIS – this work will likely take several months to complete, once started. Once any patches related to this have been made available to TPVs (with time given for them to be implemented), inventory UDP messaging will be turned off at the simulator end.

Texture Rendering and Caching

[16:05-17:15] Kitty Barnett has been looking at texture fetching/decoding and has noted some issues around discard levels in the viewer. Oz Linden would like to learn more on this.

In the meantime, the Lab’s own attempt to re-work how texturing caching works in the viewer hasn’t produced the results LL had hoped (e.g. improving the amount of textures which can be loaded per second). However, tests will continue in the hope that improvements can be gained. If the work is successful, then the Lab will look towards improving object caching as well.

Inventory Folders and Load Times

[18:52-20:50] Inventory and folders:  the recent change (current SL maintenance RC viewer and Firestorm 5.0.11) to include folders in the total inventory count has raised concerns about increasing inventory load times.

The Lab’s rule-of-thumb remains one of balance:

  • Individual folders with tens of thousands of item in them (object, links, sub-folders) – including trash – can cause the inventory load process to freeze, due to the way folders are individually loaded at log-in. Therefore, these are best avoided.
  • Conversely, having an individual folder for every single item – or just very small number of items can cause lots of little fetches that don’t achieve very much.

Therefore, somewhere between these two extremes is preferable.

Other Items

  • A resource has been made available to update the wiki documentation on the new viewer log-in screen widget.
  • There is liable to be something of a focus on the render pipe (there’s already the rendering project viewer in the pipeline), as a resource with SL rendering expertise has returned to the fold from Sansar.

Next TPVD Meeting

[1:35-2:05] The next Third-Party Developer meeting is set for Friday, February 16th, 2018 (although in theory this should be a date for the Web User Group meeting, which usually alternates with the TPVD meeting).