The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meeting held at 9:30am PST on Friday, February 9th, 2018 – unfortunately, I was unable to attend the afternoon meeting, so have not notes from that.
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.
Product Meeting Changes
The “new format” for the Product Meetings, featuring specific subject matter experts from the Lab making themselves available to answer questions from users will now likely start in the week commencing Monday, February 12th.
- The meetings are liable to be held on different days of the week relative to one another, rather than both on a Friday.
- Dates and topics will be announced via the usual channels (Sansar Discord channel, meeting announcements, Atlas Events).
Find And Connect Update
The Find and Connect release (see my previous Product Meeting report) was updated on Wednesday, February 7th, 2018, comprising fixes for some known issues. A list of changes / remaining known issues is available in the release notes. The following provide a little more context on the update.
A couple of avatar issues have been fixed, forcing users logging-on for the first time after the update to go to the LookBook (avatar app). These are:
- The avatar’s head only having limited movement (particularly noticeable in VR).
- Switching between avatar genders could merge female and male avatars together.
Experience Loading and Progress Indicators
This was noted in my previous meeting notes, the progress bar seen on an experience splash screen is still in its first iteration, and can appear to “hang” while loading content for uncached scenes.
- It’s been suggested a count of assets loaded (e.g. 23 out of 96 or something) could help prevent feelings that the load process has hung.
- It’s been noticed that on occasion, an experience can hang on loading, then quiting and restarting the client / reloading the experience can cause it to load and start OK.
- This was noted before the progress bar was added, and has been more noticed since the addition of the progress bar, which might be indicative of a load problem / connection issue upsetting the load process.
Experience Concurrency Indicator
The experience concurrency indicator (green icon in the top left of the experience Atlas thumbnail / description image) is reporting avatars as being present in experiences when no-one is in fact visiting.
- This is a known issue, caused in part by a degree of latency which can occur between people entering and leaving an experience, and the Atlas being updated, and the Lab is looking to improve this.
- If the Atlas has been left open for an extended period, refreshing it (e.g. reloading the page in the case of the web Atlas) might force an update of the concurrency indicators for experiences that have seen a change in the number of people visiting.
- Note that this indicator only applies to visitors in a published experience, it doesn’t count people actively editing the scene associated with the experience.
Outside of the points raised above, general feedback for the Find and Connect update is:
- Load times have (in general) improved.
- Performance has improved within experiences, probably as a result of the update optimisations included in the release.
- LookBook is a lot more responsive and gives a smoother experience.
- Issues of names not showing in Desktop Mode when hovering the mouse over an avatar seem to have increased, and dropping into / out of LookBook and re-spawning in an experience no longer consistently fixes the issue. This is a known to the Lab and is being investigated.
Voice and Text
The debate on how to more easily identify who is speaking continues both at the Lab and among users. Ideas put forward include:
- A over-the-head indicator of some kind (a-la Second Life) – perhaps a an illuminated dot only seen when speaking. There is some resistance at the Lab to this approach as it “breaks immersion”
- A voice indicator in Sansar’s people floater. Potential problems here:
- It requires people to always have the people floater open, which could be intrusive and “immersion breaking” for some (possibly more so than a dot that only illuminates when someone is speaking).
- It currently wouldn’t work for people in VR, who cannot see the chat / people floaters.
- An auto-rezzing “speaker’s stick” indicator that automatically rezzes in front of the avatar of someone speaking, and vanishes when they are silent.
- An avatar animation (again a-la Second Life “speaking” animation gestures); but again, this might be a problem for users in VR using hand controllers.
Currently, this issue s not on the immediate road map to be addressed.
Text Chat / People Floater in VR Mode
- This is still being considered at the Lab and not currently on the implementation road map.
- It is possible that the first iteration will allow VR to see text chat, but not necessarily have the means to type text.
- Users may have the option to toggle this on or off.
- Some form of indicator that messages have been left in text chat, even if the text panel isn’t visible is also seen as advantageous.
- The ability for VR users to respond in text is seen as a longer-term issue to resolve.
Voice vs. Text Debate
There is an ongoing debate about preferred communications in Sansar.
- The platform is a lot more geared towards voice use; so there is a concern that encouraging text chat (as with making text visible to VR users) could shift the bias away from voice to text.
- There are situations where text chat is the better means of communication, e.g:
- As a means of saving a transcript of a business discussion / arrangement.
- To assist with character role-play (e.g. no issues of a voice failing to match a character – orc, dragon, elephant, etc), or a male user having a female character or vice versa, etc.
Discord has been pointed to as a “solution” to group chat, etc., with Sansar. However, while there are advantages to this (e.g. Linden Lab do not have to develop a Discord-like environment within Sansar) there are also disadvantages (e.g. Discord is not particularly intuitive for a new user; it actually means time in Discord is time potentially away from Sansar; it means placing data and information in the hands of yet another third-party, etc.).
- There is potentially a bias towards Discord at present, as it does only have a very small community of Sansar users involved within it. There are questions as to how well it scale should Sansar reach tens of thousands of active users trying to engage in group conversations, locate groups, etc.
- Conversely, can Linden Lab realistically encompass everything users need directly within Sansar without overwhelming the ease-of-use aspects the platform is supposed to have, and are approaches used in Second Life (e.g. full group integration) the most optimal solution?
The Voice / chat debate and options for text chat and voice indicators may form a part of one of the new focused Product Meetings in the future.