Wednesday, July 18th saw the release of the the Sansar Express Yourself update. As per my preview, this brings a lot of new capabilities to Sansar, including the ability for creators to upload custom (and pre-dressed) avatars, user interface improvements, script updates, and more.
This article highlights some of the more visible new features and updates with the release. As always, full details of the updates in the new release are available in the release notes.
- As with the majority of Sansar deployments, this update requires the automatic download and installation of a client update.
- Updates in this release mean that on logging-in for the first time following the update, users will be placed in the Look Book (Avatar App).
Sansar now permits the uploading of custom avatars, although there are some caveats / things to note:
- Custom avatars have a maximum tri limit of 40K (compared to 16K for the default avatars).
- It will not be possible to clothe custom avatars or add attachments, etc., via the Look Book – they must be outfitted prior to upload, hence the higher tri limit compared to the default avatars.
- The option to change outfits on custom avatars through Look Book might be added in the future.
- The base tri count limit is seen by the Lab as being for testing purposes, and a balance between allowed custom avatars to be pre-dressed and potentially allow for future outfitting of avatars through Look Book without have to adjust the tri count downwards in order to do so.
- Custom avatars must use the .FBX file format and be developed using the male or female skeleton provided by Sansar, available via the Sansar skeleton and skinning details knowledge base article
- If custom avatars are to be sold, they must adhere to the Sansar Store listing guidelines and must also include a thumbnail asset upon import and which itself adheres to the Sansar Store image guidelines.
- All new avatars must comply with the Sansar Avatar Guidelines, which include no nude avatars and no use of avatars / characters that infringe on the Intellectual Property rights of others.
Uploading custom avatars is handled through Sansar’s Look Book, as shown below.
Once imported to Look Book, custom avatars can be worn from the avatar panel and / or listed in the Sansar Store (right-click the thumbnail for the avatar and select List).
Custom Avatar Competition
To mark the launch of custom avatars, Linden Lab is running a Sansar Custom Avatar contest with a first prize of US $50 (approx. S$5,000). See the competition page for more.
New Avatar Looks
- Lolita outfit: clothing, hair and shoes.
- Punk outfit: clothing and shoes (shown on the right, with Lolita hair and wearing system sandals rather than outfit footwear).
- Goth outfit: clothing and shoes.
- Adventurer outfit: clothing and shoes. (shown on the right).
These are available directly from the avatar panel’s outfit and hair tabs in Look Book.
Improved Avatar IK – VR Mode
Ikenema has been improved to improve avatar movement in VR. These updates include improved handling of forearm twist bones, better clavicle motion and less droopiness in clavicles, and better constraint handling in shoulders.
The Express Yourself release has two core sets of scripting updates: HTTP support, Simple Scripts and .FBX animation support. All of these options are covered in-depth in the Script API updates notes available in the Sansar knowledge base, and which include links to detailed HTTP documentation in the case of the HTTP API.
The HTTP API allows objects within experiences to communicate with external services. This is a two-way communications capability – meaning data from experiences can be exported a stored externally (as might be the case for game / adventure progress); and data from the physical world can be used to drive what happens within a scene (so an experience can reflect the weather in a physical world location, for example).
The addition of the API means that certain personal data can be exported from Sansar (just as it can from Second Life):
- Avatar name and the user’s unique avatar identifier.
- When an avatar enters or leaves an experience.
- Where within experience avatar exists whilst visiting.
- Public chat of avatars whilst in the experience.
This is a set of 14 basic scripts intended to make it easier for non-scripters to add functionality to their scenes and experiences. They have been automatically added to the Exit Mode inventory.
Some examples of how these scripts might be used include:
- SimpleInteraction: allows direct interaction with any object in a scene, can be used with buttons, switches, etc., so turn lights on/off, etc.
- SimpleMover: moving objects from point-to-point, changing their specified position and/or orientation, such as moving platforms, opening / closing doors, etc.
- SimpleSound: trigger a sound effect heard with other interactions.
The scripts can be “stacked” together for more complex interactions, so SimpleInteraction might be used for a button to call an elevator that is moved by SimpleMover, and SimpleSound pays a sound as the elevator arrives.
.FBX Animation Support
.FBX files containing multiple animation clips can be imported and then manipulated via scripts.
UI Updates and Improvements
The July 2018 brings a range of UI improvements and updates to both the runtime and edit modes.
- People App: people searches will now work using partial or full Avatar IDs and using full or partial avatar names.
- Chat App:
- CTRL+T now opens / closes the Chat app.
- Emotes are now no longer echoes in chat (so type “/sit” and your avatar will sit, but the command will not appear in open chat.
- Settings Updates:
- Avatar Comfort Zones in VR: Users can now set how close friends and non-friends can approach in VR first-person mode. Both options are by default set to 0.75 metres, and can be adjusted via their sliders, with a zero setting disabling them completely.
- Audio Device settings: it is now possible to set input and output audio devices from within Sansar.
- Both of these options are explained in the Sansar’s Client Settings notes.
Edit Mode Updates
- Animated materials update: it is now possible to specify which textures in a material will be subject to the scrolling effect. This affects the following shaders:
- Standard + Emissive + UV animation.
- Standard + Alpha Mask – UV animation.
- Standardise geometry option: by default, all objects uploaded into Sansar will go through an optimisation process that makes objects more efficient, foregoing the upload window optimisation process.
- This can be disabled via a drop-down panel option.
- The auto decimation will not apply to clothing or avatar attachments.
- Object total triangle count: view the total triangle count of objects.
- Multiple Object Select / property application: The properties panel now works when multiple objects are selected, allowing the value of a property to be changed and applied across all selected objects.
- Real-time Gizmo updates: Position/rotation values update in real-time as the Gizmo is manipulated.
- Rotation values no longer flip 180 degrees as you enter values
- Scene settings no longer close the properties panel and vice versa; both can be displayed at the same time.
General Client Changes
Panel persistence: the client will now remember where panels in both runtime and edit mode are placed between sessions, rather than moving them back to their default position on the next log-in.
- Log-out, or Exit: two new options in the More Options list:
- Log-out: keeps the client running and returns to the log-in screen.
- Exit Sansar: completely shuts-down the client, as per clicking the X button in the top right of the client window.
- Set recurring events: it is now possible to set recurring events using the Host Again option. See Hosting Events More Than Once in the Sansar knowledge base.
- Events export: events can be exported to a number of calendars: the Sansar calendar, Google calendar, Apple iCalendar, Yahoo calendar, and Outlook calendar. This is only available from the web events pages.
- Networking Changes: the networking model has been updated to make user interactions with their avatars and the world more responsive regardless of network latency. These updates include the warning:
- “Interacting with dynamic bodies will be completely responsive. However, multiple users interacting with the same body will lead to “pops” as multiple user interactions are reconciled on the server. This means that the dynamic bodies will move instantaneously form one position to another.”
- Rendering of Tinted Emissive Materials: the Tint attribute, affecting the colour of a surface, now also affects emissive surfaces (so emissive textures such as light bulbs) can now be coloured. However, these updates may affect existing content.
- See the release notes for more information on both of these updates.
Sansar Dollar Bundles
This release sees the official announcement that Sansar Dollar bundles can now be purchased directly for a fixed price (not tracked by the SandeX), as a more convenient way of obtaining Sansar dollar amounts.
Sellers on the Sansar Store can now see stats about their store sales.
A lot of meat for creators in this release, and it will be interesting to see what comes with the custom avatars capability – and whether / when the Lab might open the use of custom avatars for dressing / outfitting through the Look Book in the future.
Criticism has been levelled at the mark-up on the Sansar dollar bundles compared to buying through the SandeX, but this is seen by the Lab as a good trade-off against people who might otherwise be put off by having to use the SandeX. Again, it might interesting to see how this balances out against the use of the SandeX once the Sansar public audience actually begins to grow to meaningful numbers.
As a non-scripting designer of spaces (I actually do have one in Sansar, although it is not open to the public) the Simple Scripts may well find a use as I play with things. As for the rest, I’ll wait to see what people say at the next Product Meeting 🙂 .