2018 Sansar Product Meetings #44: Steam – with audio

Wurfi’s Little Gallery – blog post

The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meeting held on Thursday, November 1st. These Product Meetings are open to anyone to attend, are a mix of voice (primarily) and text chat.

Given the recent announcement concerning expanding Sansar’s availability to Steam, the meeting focused on questions, comments and feedback related to this. Notes:

  • While some more general topics were raised, in a desire to abbreviate the length of this update, I’ve intentionally skipped topics were specific answers weren’t available in favour of focusing on the Steam feedback.
  • The order of these notes does not match the order of discussion in the meeting; topics have been grouped together for ease of reference.
  • Audio extracts from the meeting on the Steam change are included. But again, please note they concatenate comments made at different points in the meeting in an attempt to present them in a more concise order for easier digestion.
  • For those who prefer, the entire meeting can be viewed via Twitch.

On Steam

Why Steam?

  • LL believe that given the improvements made thus far, coupled with the remaining 2018 releases, will make Sansar an attractive proposition on Steam.
  • In being out at physical world events, Lab has hit the question of where people can “find” Sansar – with most asking the question pointing to Steam. Thus, Steam is seen as the place to be.
  • Also, Steam is – as the official blog post indicates – where the highest density of people with hardware that can meet Sansar’s requirements tend to be
    • As noted in my article on the decision, this is regardless as to whether Steam users are VR enabled or not, given Sansar’s Desktop mode.
    •  This is not to say that LL isn’t working to reduce the minimum hardware specs to run Sansar, however these are currently tied somewhat to the state of tethered VR, and may not be changing that much in the foreseeable future.
  • Some reports had headlined the Steam change as a “move”, implying Sansar will only be available through Stream. This is incorrect (hence why I referred to the change as “expanding” to Steam).
    • Sansar will still be available for download from the Sansar.com.
    • Linden Lab is in discussions with Oculus VR to make Sansar available through the Oculus Store.
  • The decision to use Steam is about trying to grow the Sansar audience and gain a much broader cross-section of feedback on how the platform could be improved.
  • With the launch of Sansar on Steam there will be a significant amount of ad spend to help promote Sansar and raise awareness of the platform.
    • There will also likely be new attractions in Sansar to encourage Steam users into the platform.
    • Closer to the launch date effort will be put into establishing a Sansar community on Steam, again to raise awareness that Sansar is coming to the service.
    • Sansar will be on Steam as an Early Access programme, which will hopefully set expectations among Steam users and help mitigate negative reviews.
  • There are no current plans to integrate Sansar with the Steamworks SDK.

Sandex, Fees and Transactions

  • SandeX is to be discontinued in order to achieve compliance with Valve’s requirements for Sansar to appear on Steam.
    • In short, the SandeX floating exchange rate for S$ purchases is too volatile for Stream, and the Lab’s position as a mediator did not fit with Steam’s model.
    • This means the Lab has to switch its position to selling S$ directly to users, who can then spend them within the platform.
    • Creators can then come back to Linden Lab to convert their S$ to fiat currency through the existing credit process.
  • Sansar Dollar purchases, conversion rates and fees:
    • The conversion rate for buying Sansar dollars will remain at 100/1 (100 Sansar Dollars for US $1.00).
    • The 250/1 (or legacy 143/1) rates will be applied to converting S$ back to USD when cashing out.
    • The legacy rate will be available through until at least December 31st, 2019, which is regarded as being the checkpoint date at which it might be changed.
  • Item sales fees:
    • The 15% transaction fee on the sale of items through the Sansar Store will be removed.
    • The transaction fee on gifting will remain.

  • The credit process for creators cashing out of Sansar will remain more-or-less the same as it is at present.
    • Steam will not be a part of this process.
    • It will not be possible for creators to convert S$ they have purchased back into US $ (so only amounts earned through the sale of goods can be converted).
    • The current fees involved in the credit process will be retained to cover charges the Lab faces in allowing cashing-out as a money transmitter.
  • Sansar Dollar purchases:
    • Buying Sansar Dollars through Stream will see a 30% fee charged by Steam in addition to the Lab’s fees.
    • The Lab’s fee on S$ purchases will also be 30%.
    • Buying Sansar Dollars directly through Sansar.com via credit card will not be subject to the 30% Steam fee.
  • The 30-day request period in credit processing is being introduced to meet with Steam’s transaction processing requirements. In short:
    • A consumer can purchase $S through Steam and immediately use them to buy items on Sansar.
    • Currently, the creator(s) receiving the S$ can then cash out in some 5 days.
    • However, LL will not receive any payment from Steam for the original S$ purchase for 30-60 days.
    • Therefore, the 30-day request period is being introduced to offer a balance between LL paying out to creators and receiving income via Steam from consumer purchases of S$.

There have been mixed feelings over the fee changes, with some creators feeling they are being hit with additional purchase fees and longer credit processing lead times. Others feel that overall, the move will be a net gain when considering the abolition of the 15% sales transaction fee plus the potential for a greater volume of users passing through Sansar and making purchases.

There was some confusion on the use of “eligible creators” in the blog post. The term was intended to indicate there will be no change in who can cash out from the current situation.

Goods Pricing

There was a brief discussion on whether the changes for Steam such have creators increasing their prices.

  • The legacy conversion rate of 143/1 (S$143 to the US dollar) is intended to match the current exchange rate for converting S$ to USD, and so creators shouldn’t need to feel an immediate need to alter pricing.
  • However, with the licensing system fixing the amount of royalties creators can obtain in perpetuity  on their licensed products once sold – and given at some point the S$ to USD conversion rate will become S$250 to the dollar – some creators might opt to alter their pricing structures now so as to compensate any loss of revenue as a result of the future change in the conversion rate.

Continue reading “2018 Sansar Product Meetings #44: Steam – with audio”

Of Retrospect and a tango in Second Life

Ocho Tango Place; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrOcho Tango Place – click any image for full size

I last wrote about Ocho Tango Place in 2015, as a part of a visit to artist Mistero Hifeng’s gallery space and store. The club and Mistero have long shared a Homestead region, and they still do; but while I’ve written about Mistero’s gallery in the intervening years, I’ve not been back to visit Ocho Tango Place since 2015.

Focusing on the tango, Ocho Tango Place is billed as a location for milonga and romance. At the time of my 2015 it sat atop a plateau above the rest of the region hosting it and Mistero’s gallery. However, whether this continued to be the case after September 2015, when both Mistero and Ocho Tango Place relocated to their current home is unclear.

Ocho Tango Place; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrOcho Tango Place

What is clear is that today, both club and gallery now share a more integrated space. The latter has always used water in its design, and this continues through to the half of the region used by Ocho Tango Place, as designed by Megan Prumier and Sheerpetal Roussel, who owns the club.

Located to the east of the land, the club sits as an island of brick and stone – a former railway station – watched over by the tall figures of steel pylons silently carrying power lines. A terrace before the building offers outdoor seating, a wooden walkway reaching out over the shallow water to the landing point. A locomotive with tender and rail cars can be found at the rear of the club, venting steam as it sits on a single track.

Ocho Tango Place; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrOcho Tango Place

Trees – most of them slender and birch-like – and grass mixes with the water across the rest of the setting, form  moist islands stretching to the horizon. The are broken into small groups by both clear water channels and the parallel lines of rail track as they curl around the parcel to arrive at buffers, the iron fingers of street lamps marking their route.

In the midst of this, a lone sandy hump rises bearing a denuded tree. Draped with blankets and with blankets and cushions beneath, it is one of several places people can sit and pass the time, along with the club’s terrace and upper floor. More can be found scattered across the parcel (and even higher up – check the power lines!). Further to the west is an outdoor events area lies over another low-lying sandbank offering a place for those seeking a little romantic privacy whilst dancing.

Ocho Tango Place; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrOcho Tango Place

Wildlife in the area takes the form of origami flamingoes standing in the water or circling overhead, presenting a slightly surreal, but fitting aspect to the setting for those who fancy exploring it. They are balanced by a family of ducks enjoying the freedom to swim on the waters beyond the club to the east.

I’m not sure on when events are held at Ocho Tango – there is no events board available, and while there is a dedicated group for the club, it didn’t have any details of past events when I checked to offer some frame of reference. However, the audio stream carries music in keeping with the theme of the club, allowing those wishing to enjoy a dance to drop in and pass the time whenever they wish.

Ocho Tango Place; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrOcho Tango Place

Coupled with Mistero’s gallery space alongside it (with TP to his store), a visit to Retrospect and Ocho Tango makes for an engaging visit, mixing art and dance together in a visually striking setting.

SLurl Details

Second Life: November Marketplace update

On Thursday, November 1st, 2018, Linden Lab blogged about further updates and fixes to the Second Life Marketplace. the post also confirms that the promised clean-up of older listings is now in progress.

The clean-up is something that has been requested multiple times through various forum threads over the years, and has been a frequent topic at Web User Group meetings in recent months. In short the clean-up should only  affect:

  • Merchants who have not logged in for five years
  • And only those items which have not sold within two years.

The clean-up is an unlisting of items, not a deletion. Should any merchant notice items have been unlisted that they believe should not have been, they are asked to raise a Jira so that Commerce Team can investigate.

New to the Marketplace with this update are:

  • Three new Categories to Marketplace:
    • Gachas
    • Anthropomorphic
    • Animated Objects
  • A new Anime Marketplace communities.

The blog post lists the fixes for the update as:

  • Marketplace order confirmation mail should include a product link and seller data. So it will from now on.
  • “Items per page” kept resetting to 12 in wish lists.  Annoying!
  • Any search field will now display an x on the right side once the user has started typing.  This will allow you to quickly remove/delete all text in the field instead of having to backspace out the information.
  • Merchants can no longer review their own listings.  Obviously, yours are the best. 
  • Store favourites used to say “Sold by [current user]” instead of the store owner.  That’s silly!
  • Merchant dashboard Report pages were missing the store banner
  • Updates to search for more precise results
  • Fixed searching within “manage listings”
  • Marketplace review helpfulness rating buttons were broken, but we unbroke them.
  • We will now notify a marketplace shop owner if items have their rating changed
  • Marketplace profile – some incorrect truncation of Policies box content was going on, so we put a stop to it
  • You could not preview listing with no price, but now – you can. 
  • Buying item for users not in the marketplace would throw an error, but that’s fixed.  
  • New Marketplace wish list didn’t work in other languages than English.  Wish list Joy to the world!
  • Added a helpful pop-up for the keywords field, which describes Boolean search functionality, so more people can discover it. 

While it is subject to confirmation, the next Web User Group meeting should be on Thursday, November 29th, 2018. Check the WEB wiki page for the schedule nearer the time.