2018 Sansar Product Meetings #43: October release preview

The Art of Drew Struzan: The Studio Experience

The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meeting held on Thursday, October 25th. These Product Meetings are open to anyone to attend, are a mix of voice (primarily) and text chat.

Native Sit Capability

The Sansar team is working on a native sit capability. This would allow avatars to (finally) sit on objects properly in Sansar (rather than using the awkward teleport + “/sit” command.

  • Will likely initially comprise defining a sit point and exit point on an object to allow sitting / standing using (initially) a basic male or female sit pose.
  • This would work on both static and dynamic objects, although it would potentially means that a chair (and its occupant) could be picked-up and thrown / tossed around, something the Lab is a little cautious about allowing.
  • However, the precise mechanism has yet to be determined.

Avatar / Avatar VR  Interactions

A further capability being developed in for users in VR to directly interact with one another via fist bumps and high fives and sense the feedback through their VR controllers.

October Release Preview

Note: although referred to as the October release, the next release for Sansar is now likely to be early in November 2018.

VR Updates

Button Remapping: The next release will see some of the buttons in VR realigned; the teleport function will no longer be a trigger button, but will be moved to the lower thumb button on each controller. This is to start exposing the trigger buttons for use to fire guns, potentially with the upper thumb button being used as a “reload” button, thus increasing the number of buttons being used by Sansar. Within the Sansar team, this work is being called “Project Pew! Pew!”.

IK Updates: the IK movement capabilities in Sansar have been improvements over the last couple of releases, so that avatars closely follow physical movements. These will continue with release #27, which will also allow VR users to see their own avatars in first-person view. The first version view does cause some clipping of the head, depending on how they are rigged. To help reduce this, the October will include documentation to provide guidance on rigging custom avatars.

Hand Gestures: the upcoming will allow hand gestures to be seen in the blue VR hands in third-version views, and the hands will show with custom avatars. So, if some in 1st person is looking down at their hands in VR, they will see the blue hands for manipulation (useful for avatars which may have things like tentacles are longer than the avatar arm). In the future it should be possible to hide the blue hands altogether, such as when a custom avatar’s hands are correctly rigged.

VR menus: the menus displayed in VR are being resized so they don’t dominate the scene when open.

VR keyboard: VR users will be able to call up a VR keyboard and type chat and direct messages, search the Atlas, etc. This will apparently include Swedish characters!

Custom Animations

The October release will allow creators to upload and sell custom animations. Initially, the capability will not include the ability to designate the emote command, so the existing emotes will have to be re-mapped to use  any custom animations on a per-avatar basis.

  • When purchased, the animation will appear in a new emotes library in the character editor, and the user can re-map an emote to use the animation from there. For example, if a custom dance is uploaded, it can be re-mapped to play using one of the existing dance emotes
  • Although this doesn’t mean emotes can only be used for similar animations, any of the emotes can be remapped to use any custom animation.
  • However, as this is on a per-avatar basis, emotes must be re-mapped if the avatar type is swapped from one gender to the other.

The Desktop Mode Menu

The Desktop Mode menu will change to the left side of the screen, and will offer fewer buttons, as the options have been distilled down to logical groupings. So, for example, Go will offer a sub-menu for the Atlas, Events, etc.

  • This is being done to make the UI more user friendly for new users.
  • There are no plans at this time to make the button positions configurable (e.g. left or right, top or bottom of the screen).

New User Experience Update

Starting with the October release, new users will be taken to an experience on logging-in to Sansar for the first time, and have a default avatar. The experience will be one of those currently populated with other people, the idea being to get new users interaction with other users as quickly as possible.

Which experience a new user is sent to will depend on a number of factors: whether it is public; how many are already in it (to avoid sending new users to an experience nearing its capacity and the possibility they may be re-directed to an empty instance); and those experiences that present a heavy  / long load time will also be avoided.

Permissions / Licensing

There will likely not be any changes to the permissions / licensing system in the next release.

Other Items

  • Additional dance emotes: “dance5″ and” will be added to Sansar with the next release, these will also be available for re-mapping to use custom animations.
  • Avatar skin sub-shader: this will initially only be applicable to custom avatars, not the Sansar system avatars – that will come in time. This will eventually allow people to change the skin of their avatars.
  • New typing indicator: this will be displayed in a similar manner to the speaking indicator, above those using text chat when they are typing. The indicator will be shown in both Desktop and VR modes.
  • New emissive shader.
  • Keyboard language options: Sansar will support a broader range of keyboard layouts beyond the English QWERTY layout, with support for around 20 languages.
  • Updates to Chat and People Apps, including working copy / paste of chat.
  • Client settings: new microphone / voice check option
  • Script updates:
    • scripted raycasting.
    • “motions of interia” API to prevent things like spinning gyroscopes toppling over.

In Planning

The Lab is still working on:

  • Providing more sliders for avatar customisation.
  • Offering the means to change attachment points, but there will not necessarily be an increase in the number of attachment points.

Purple Leonis: Witch at DiXmiX

DiXmiX Gallery: Witch

Opening at 12:00 noon on Saturday, October 27th at DiXmiX Gallery is a special exhibition of art by Purple Leonis ONeill (Nel4481). Entitled Witch, it celebrates the mystery and mysticism of Halloween as a time of witchcraft and dark magic by recalling the story of a woman whose fate is very much tied to black magic and dark arts.


My name is Madeleine and I’m a witch …. well …. I was … here is my story.

Thus we are introduced to the protagonist of the story, a woman who went against her times to seek out the forbidden, to communicate with the dead, and to join with other women of like mind to found a coven.

DiXmiX Gallery: Witch

Though brief, the story colours her life sufficiently for us to track it from that first evening of temptation through until her death at the hands of local villagers. It is a story reflected in the  images arranged into the lower and upper floors of the gallery’s Grey Hall, itself decorated to presented a suitably haunting look.

The images are striking both in their richness of character, and in the manner in which they both illustrate and add subtext to Madeleine’s tale. Some show her awakening through subtle means: a seemingly gentle evening game with a cat (felines – albeit generally black ones – being the usual familiar for witches) or the innocent-looking brush of fingers over a Bible. Others are more direct: caught in a Ouija board induced trace, naked dancing around a night-time fire in the depths of a forest and – ultimately, trapped at the stake as the flames rise.

One night, everything has changed. Village men came to capture me. That night sounded my end….
Beaten, maltreated, tied up by the villagers, I was tied to the pyre of those condemned for witchcraft.

DiXmiX Gallery: Witch

With – again appropriately  – 13 images in total, the exhibition sits as both a display of art and – in a sense – a graphic novel telling Maeleine’s tale. My one small quibble with the story is the date on the tale: 1890, a time long after he period when women would be burned for the perception of their witchcraft.

Music for the opening will be provided by Miss Dee Hannaha, and given the nature of the event  – although it is not openly stated – suitable dress may will be appreciated.

SLurl Details

High Fidelity announces FutVRe Lands

via High Fidelity

On Thursday, October 25th, 2018, High Fidelity announced FutVRe Lands, a one-day VR celebration featuring a host of activities and events to take place on VR Day, Saturday, November 17th, 2018.

Virtual Reality Day is a series of VR/AR events organized worldwide to help virtual and augmented reality become more mainstream. Any individual, company or organization can host a free public VR/AR event and become part of the Virtual Reality Day phenomenon. This is a completely voluntary and grassroots effort. It’s about bringing the energy and interests of the greater community together, and focusing that energy for the benefit of everyone on one special day.

– From the VR Day website

Billed as “a celebration of the communities developing in social VR. It’s an all-day binge of ground-breaking experiences”, the High Fidelity FutVRE Lands event will run from 12:00 noon through to 17:00 PST, and will include live music, performances. art, speakers, games and contests, ways to earn High Fidelity Coins (HFCs) and opportunities to win VR headsets.

Attendance is open to anyone with a home computer (via High Fidelity’s Desktop mode), VR headset or who uses Google Daydream. Attendance is free, but space is limited, so people are advised to reserve tickets sooner rather than later. Those in the San Francisco area can additionally register to attend the event in person.

via High Fidelity

Event Contests

Best Avatar Contest: show-off your best avatar creation and win US $1,000 (100,000 HFC), with two runners-up each receiving US $500 (50,000 HFC). Enter Here.

Favourite Domain Contest: do you know an amazing domain? Nominate it for the Favourite Domain Contest! The festival attendees will have an opportunity to visit it and vote for their favourite. The domain with the most votes will win US $700 (70,000HFC)  Nominate Here.


Jason Gholston departs Sansar and the Lab

Jason Gholston

Jason Gholston, who through social media and interviews, had become something of a public “face” for Linden Lab’s Sansar Social VR platform, has left the company for pastures new.

Jason joined the Lab in April 2012, working initially on Second Life before transitioning into the Sansar team as a Director of Product.

While working on Second Life, Jason Led the maintenance engineering team with a focus on customer retention and quality of service, and oversaw the attempts to integrate Oculus Rift with the platform.

On transitioning to work on Sansar, he worked on creating the Unity prototypes used to greenlight the development of Sansar. As Product Manager, he was responsible for management of the monthly releases of Sansar from the engine, rendering, audio, level editor, terrain editor, VR level editor, avatar simulation, and content pipeline teams. He also initially hosted the weekly VR meet-ups with the creator community within Sansar to gather feedback, help troubleshoot issues.

Jason was also responsible for establishing Sansar Studios, the content creation team for Sansar. This team has been responsible for developing a range of experiences on the platform designed to help demonstrate capabilities within the platform and for working with content partners to develop unique experiences.

From left to right: Jason Gholston, Drew Struzan, Greg Aronowitz discuss the Drew Struzan Gallery in Sansar during a Deviant Art livestream event with host Matthew Holt. Credit: Deviant Art

As a part of running Sansar Studios, Jason initiated and negotiated unique partnerships and content commissions between Linden Lab and partners, valued at over US $2 million. Some of these partnerships have included the development of experiences tied-in to the Ready Player One movie – Aech’s Garage and Aech’s Basement, the Star Trek ties-ins, Bridge of the USS Enterprise and the Roddenberry Nexus, and most recently No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man, a collaboration between Linden Lab, Intel and The Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Jason also managed the collaboration with Greg Aronowitz and Drew Struzan that resulted in the Hollywood Art Museum, featuring Star Wars memorabilia reproduced in Sansar, together with the art of Drew Struzan and a reproduction of his studio workshop.

The Bridge of the USS Enterprise – a social space where people can watch weekly broadcasts of the Mission Log Live series by Roddenberry Entertainment, hosted by Ken Ray (seen on the viewscreen) and John Champion. One of several collaborative experiences in Sansar Jason Gholston helped bring to fruition

In leaving the Lab, Jason has moved to work for UK-based Speech Graphics, where he takes up the role of Creative Director, working out of the company’s Bay Area offices. Speech Graphics is one of Linden Lab’s technical partners with Sansar, the platform utilising the company’s technology to provide accurate avatar lip-syncing and facial animations, driven in real-time as users simply speak into the microphones on their HMDs or audio headsets.

On a personal note, I had the pleasure of dealing with Jason on several occasions whilst preparing Sansar articles for this blog, and would like to thank him for his willingness to provide his time and assistance, and for supporting this blog through social media. I wish him every success at Speech Graphics.