The Sansar release for February 2018, called “Bust A Move” was deployed on Thursday March 1st. This release builds on some capabilities added in recent Sansar releases, as well as adding some new capabilities. to the mix, notably for experience creators, but also to help improve with user-user engagement.
The release notes provide full information on the new features, updates, documentation changes and resolved / known issues within the release. The following is a general overview of the update’s key changes.
- As with Sansar deployments, this update requires the automatic download and installation of a client update.
- One launching the client the first time, following update, the log-in splash screen’s Remember Me option will be unchecked, and needed to be re-checked for log-in information to be correctly retained by the client.
- Changes to the avatar system (e.g. avatar emotes) means that on logging-in for the first time following the update, users will be placed in the LookBook (Avatar App).
Experience Access Controls
The new means of controlling who can access an experience have been introduced with the Bust a Move release:
- Only Me: only the creator can access the experience.
- Guest List: only those defined on an access list will be able to see the experience in their Atlas, and access it, regardless of whether or not they are on your Friends list.
- Ban List: maintain a list of individuals specifically banned from accessing an experience (they will not see it listed in their Atlas).
These options work alongside the existing options of making an experience open to anyone, or limiting access to only those people on your Friends list, and are set when publishing an experience.
The default published status for an experience is to have to open to everyone, and with only the ban list active (if used). To change this:
- Either edit the experience and select the Publish option or from the My Experiences list, click on the Publishing Options buttons for the experience you with to update.
- Make sure the Publishing Options > Who Can Visit tab is open (if not already selected).
- Use the top drop down (Everyone, Only the Following, Only Me) to set the initial level of access to the experience.
- Selecting Only the Following allows you to limit access to an experience to friends and / or a guest list (both can be set together).
- Note that any experience you have set to access by friends only and / or a guest list will appear in your Atlas with a yellow icon in the top right corner of their Atlas image.
Creating either a Guest List or a Ban List comprises the same basic steps:
- Click on the required Edit List button. This opens the list, which will display the names of anyone already added.
- Click the Add button to add further avatar names / avatar IDs (no “@” required for the latter) and click Search.
- Click the correct name in the list box (if more than one) to highlight it, and then click Add Selected to add them to your list.
- Repeat for each new name; click Done when finished, to return to your updated list.
- Click Save to save the list.
Names can be removed at any time by clicking on any name in a list to highlight it, then clicking the Remove button – note that no confirmation is required.
Bookmark Favourite Experiences
Users can now bookmark experiences for display in a Favourites tab within both the Client and web Atlas. To add an experience to your list of favourites:
- Display the information page for the experience in either the Client or web Atlas.
- Click on the heart icon to add the experience to your list of favourites. The icon will turn a solid white, indicating you have added it to your favourites, and the Favourite count for the experience will increment by one.
- To remove an experience from your Favourites, display the information page for the experience and click the heart icon again. It will no longer appear solid white, indicating the experience has been removed from your favourites, and the Favourite count for the experience will decrease by one by one.
A rudimentary set of “avatar emotes” (that’s basic animations to you and me) have been added for Desktop mode with this release.
Triggered by nearby chat commands, three basic animations are provided:
- /clap – Causes your avatar to clap its hands for a few seconds.
- /dance – Causes your avatar to perform a short dance.
- /thumbsup – Causes your avatar to give a “thumbs up” gesture.
The dance animation perhaps leaves the most to be desired, bringing to mind as it does visions of the hoary old “dad dancing at a wedding” visual gags. The clapping is (for me) the most effective, and the thumbs-up sitting between the two.
The Lab has indicated that more sophisticated means of animating avatars will be coming down the pipe, so regard these options as just a first step along the way towards more expressive avatars.
It is now possible to access the chat app from experience load screens and the Atlas, allowing conversations to continue more broadly across Sansar.
In response to creator requests, the Bust a Move release includes a set of diagnostic tools which are available in both Edit Mode when editing a scene and in Run-time Mode when visiting an experience. They are intended to help measure graphical performance, and help creators make informed decisions about how to improve performance in their scenes.
These tools can be accessed in one of two ways:
- By selecting Tools > Diagnostics from the tool bar at the top of the screen when in Edit Mode
- By selecting More Options > Diagnostics when in Run-time Mode.
The toolbar constantly displays the following information:
- Rate – The current frame rate, measured in frames per second. Higher values are better.
- Time – The amount of time elapsed in milliseconds for the last sampled frame. Lower values are better.
- Draws – The number of draws required to render the current view. Larger numbers of draws have a larger negative impact on performance. This number changes as the number of visible objects enter and exit the viewable area. Each material on a model counts as one draw. If a material uses an emissive layer, it incurs another draw. Shadows also increase the number of draws.
- Prims – The number of triangles (also known as primitives) currently being drawn. When visiting a scene, occlusion culling reduces the number of triangles, but occlusion culling is not performed while editing a scene so this number remains fixed. The larger the number of triangles, the bigger the negative impact on performance.
In addition, the diagnostics tools include a set of rendering metadata options (triangle density, overdraw complexity, lighting, sensitivity) – all of which are explained with examples in the diagnostics toolbar documentation.
To improve performance and stability, this release sees a change to the physics engine, which the Lab warns may affect existing and new dynamic objects in an experience.
From now on, dynamic objects with collision meshes will automatically be converted to a fitting Convex Hull of the mesh in the run-time Mode. This does not, however, apply to objects with the keyframed or static motion types.
Also with physics, Gravity scaling is now possible within a scene / experience, with a range of 0 (no gravity) to 5 (5 times Earth normal), and the ability to change the acceleration of objects under gravity in metres per second/squared.
The remaining updates in this release can be summarised as:
- Motion types and keyframed objects – the IsDynamic flag has been replaced by a motion type selector, allowing creators to can set an object’s motion type between: Static, Dynamic and Keyframed, with the Keyframed motion type being a new motion type.
- Item Names for objects in inventory (created or purchased) can now be changed using the Rename feature in the action menu.
- It is now possible to teleport to a targeted vertical surface while editing a scene, allowing creators to target an item in a scene and teleport directly beside it for easier editing.
- Script updates:
- New Scene properties allows you to adjust gravity acceleration in runtime.
- New Vector operations and FindScript improvements.
- Objects now have a new keyframed motion type which has corresponding script support.
- New Scene properties allows you to adjust gravity acceleration in runtime.
Another update – as the Lab indicated would be the case – focused on refinements, rather than major new features. Things like the updates to experience access controls re liable to be well-received, as are the diagnostics tools and other creator-focused updates. From recent discussions, I gather the next update or two will be focused more on interactivity in Sansar.