Sansar: February release and Product Meeting week #9 w/audio

Schwefelstein Pass

On Thursday, February 28th, Linden Lab released the C’mon Get Happy release. This is rather a small update compared to previous releases. The full release notes are available, and highlights of the release key features might be summarised as:

  • Save and sell a collection: creators can now pull a group of objects from a scene and save it back in their inventories as a single object.
    • All script relationships and relative positioning for the objects will be stored in that single object, making it easy to drag and drop a collection of items in a scene or sell it in the store.
    • Note the objects will not be linked: when placed back into a scene, they will remain a group of individual objects. This will be coming in a future release.
  • Smoother gifting: there is a new notification to let receivers know that they received Sansar Dollars from another user.
  • Draw distance limit: creators can now define an object’s draw distance limit from the properties panel. The draw distance defines the distance at which an object starts to render in the scene.
    • For example, if an object’s draw distance limit is set to 10 metres, the object will no longer be visible when a user in an experience is beyond 10 metres from the object.
    • This is currently set to infinite by default, so creators are asked to implement it when building their scenes.
  • Extended limits on uploaded Avatar items: the proximity limits on clothing, accessories, and hair are expanded, with the Axis Aligned Bounding Box (AABB) area increased by .1m left/right and .3m front/back.
    • This means that the AABB area is now min(-0.9m, -0.9m, -0.05cm) max(0.9m, 0.9m, 2.2m).
    • This change does not affect emotes nor custom avatars.
  • New avatar reference files: the avatar reference files are now noted as being updated and can now be found here.
  • Emojis have been added to chat.
    • The font used is Segoe UI Emoji, which is not supported by Windows 7. Users on that operating system will see an X in a box whenever an emoji is used.
The Emojis panel can be pulled up using the smiley icon to the right of the text entry field. Users on Windows 7 will see this as a panel of “empty” boxes (as shown in the inset, top left)
  • Two key bug fixes for the release are:
    • Servers should spin-up faster when trying to access an experience which has no-one in it.
    • Chat should no longer scroll to the top when opening the chat panel.

Again, for the full list of updates, please refer to the release notes.

Product Meeting

Sansar as a World

This is something that has been mentioned in recent product meetings – the shifting to emphasise Sansar as a “World” rather than as a collection of discrete experiences. Commenting on this at the product meeting, Landon  McDowell, the Lab’s CPO, explained the reasoning behind this thus:

We asked ourselves what was really missing from Sansar and what we wanted to add to it, and one of the things that kept coming up consistently is … one of the magical things in Second Life is it feels like a world. It feels like place … and when we designed Sansar, we didn’t really implement that; it was a design decision. we wanted the individual worlds to stand alone, and be disconnected and independent … [Now] we feel that lack of place … is something that we’re personally missing and something we want to add into Sansar.

– Landon McDowell, Linden Lab CPO

Questing and Gameplay

The focus of the February 28th Product Meeting was on the updating Quest / rewards / achievements system that has been the subject of recent Product Meetings. This is seen as being both a means to help on-board new users to Sansar and – linked to the above – as a means of providing a capability that can allow grater gaming  and questing with common roots across experiences, thus helping to give a feeling of continuity between them.

Part of this is what the Lab is calling Directed Play, which is liable to start appearing over the next couple of releases (March / April), as outlined by Stanley, the Director of Product for Sansar and Aleks Altberg:

  • The first pass at a quest system. This will initially be a basic approach of complete a task / achieve an objective, and receive a reward.
  • This will initially feature quests formulated by the lab, so will be player focused, but over time will be opened out to allow creators to build using the tools.
  • For the initial release, as it will feature game play from the Lab, the rewards will be small Sansar dollar amounts, as these are the easiest thing for the Lab to offer.
    • The system will be broadened such that when Creators are able to use it, they will be able to offer items as rewards  – accessories, clothing, custom avatars, etc.
  • The ability for creators to use the system and offer rewards will hopefully be made available in the spring / late spring of 2019.
  • Longer-term, the Lab is also thinking about progression systems, e.g. experience points / levelling system or achievements.
    • These are again being considered in terms of both how the Lab might use them and how creators can incorporate them into their experiences.
    • This work might start to be surfaced in the summer of 2019.
  • The first quest that will be deployed in the March release is the previously mentioned “tutorial quest”, specifically aimed at new users. This will take them through the basics of walking, talking, running, interacting with objects, etc.
    • Ultimately, it will push new arrivals into the Social Hub, which will include a new area focused on quests, and tentatively referred to as the Quest Giver.
  • The Quest Giver will have a couple of further quest provided by the Lab:
    • A scavenger hunt spread over some of the experiences provided by Sansar Studios, where player have to locate various Easter Eggs and return them to the Quest Giver.
    • A guided tour approach to various Sansar Studio experiences, with landmarks participants must visit.
    • Both formats will include rewards on completion.
  • One thing the Lab does not want to get into, outside of some “premium” content they will produce, is building quest style content over and over. The focus is very much on producing a set of tools that can be leveraged by content creators whilst providing users with a consistency of use across different types of quest.

Q&A Session On The Quest System
  • Will creators be able to assign and store data against players (experience points (XP), etc)?:
    • The plan is to have a global XP system that works across all of Sansar, but this has not been fully defined. However, the idea is to allow content creators to contribute towards it.
    • This does not prevent creators using their own system if they so wished.
    • One issue is that anyone can be a creator and anyone can be a player, therefore the system has to be robust enough to avoid being gamed, and this is one of the reasons the Lab is approaching the XP system carefully.
  • Will creators be able to gift questors with rewards automatically?: Yes, but creators are asked not to think of it as “gifting”, and don’t want users to have the expectation of a reward dropping into their laps on completion of every task.  Rather the idea is to make these games an overall quest that results in a rewards being given (i.e. a product the creator might otherwise sell in their store).
    • More broadly, the gift capability will remain separate to the quest system and the concept of rewards.
  • Will it be possible to build experiences that only user reaching certain XP levels can enter? Possibly, but the Lab has not got to the point of considering this type of specific requirement as yet.
  • Will it be possible to assign animated characters (NPCs) as quest givers? Eventually, yes.
  • Will it be possible to branch quests (e.g. complete task A, then either go on to B or C, rather than having to complete B then C)?
    • Initially, where quests are related, there will be a linear progression: if you want to do quest B, you must complete quest A.
    • Longer term, branching might be possible, as the Lab is still putting ideas together (hence requesting feedback through this PM).
    • Where quests are not related, it is possible to participate in more than one (so if quests X, Y and Z stand independently to one another and have no requirements one to the next), a user can be involved in all three simultaneously.
  • Will creators be able to set-up and run multiple instances of popular quests they create and track usage, etc? Not initially; but if it becomes necessary, the Lab will consider it.
  • Will it be possible to have objects that can only be obtained / used by players reaching a certain level? Once the levelling system is introduced, mostly likely yes, but objects like that would require explicit scripting on the part of the creator.
  • Will players be able to pick up items and add them to a local inventory (“backpack” or similar) to carry around and use as required, rather than being limited to just carrying things by hand? Potentially, by means of scripted support.
  • Will there be a “quest list” or “log” for users to track what quests they participated in, and their current progress within quests? Yes, and this will be part of the initial release.
  • Will quests be limited to individual experiences or run across multiple experiences? Initially, the system will be focused on quests within individual experiences. However, it will be expanded to support quests across multiple experiences.
  • Why should creators build games outside of the quest system if the Lab is going to be building and promoting its own games?
    • The intent for the Lab (as noted in the audio above) is not for the Lab to be in the market of making content and games. Their involvement is more to test the tools (e.g. the native UI elements), ensure they work and can do what is expected of them before passing them over to creators to start using them.
    • The quests built by the Lab can also function as a means to introduce incoming users to the quest system and how it works, so they will be familiar with the basics before they enter quests built by creators.
  • Will the system allow creators to set a limit on the number of players in a quest, e.g. set their quest so only one or two or just a small group can participate at any one time? Not something currently on the roadmap, but as the idea has been a common request, something to allow this might be added in the future.
  • Can creators / users still do their own thing if they don’t want to use this system? Yes. It’s just another set of tools creators can use if they so wish.
    • Similarly, users do not have to participate automatically. All quests will be opt in.
    • Those opting-in to a quest will gain access to the native UI elements the lab is building for quest players (and which will be available to creators to use when the system is opened out).
  • Will the system include a heath system? Not in the initial releases.

Other Items

  • Why isn’t Sansar built on Unity? Because it was a conscious decision to build a dedicated engine the Lab could manage and extend without being dependent upon a third-party supplied engine that is geared towards trying to support multiple markets.
    • That said there is no reason why user-generated content cannot be used on either platform, and the Lab has been considering a Unity import mechanism (see my previous PM summary notes).
  • Will avatar locomotion include climbing as well as jumping and crouching? No plans for climbing, sliding or things like it at present. Jumping and crouching are the current focus for locomotion additions.
  • Can a slider be added for transparencies to allow opaqueness to be adjusted on objects? Not directly, but can be achieved by setting the materials and using an alpha on the object / face.
  • Will experience concurrency be increased? This is being worked upon, and the goal is to raise the ceiling on avatars in an individual instance of an experience to 100, hopefully be mid-2019.
  • Will Sansar have a particle system? A popular request, but currently on being worked on, although it is a goal for the future.
  • Will there be a “Universal” inventory system usable across all experiences? Again, a goal, but not for the immediate future.
  • Will Sansar allow adult content? There are currently no plans to allow adult content.
  • Custom animations for sit points: still at least a couple of releases away.
  • Private grouping (e.g. allowing private voice calls or text chat between 2 or more users): something the Lab wants to provide, but currently a question of resources and priorities.
  • Object parenting: might be out in the next release for the Edit mode, but this will not include run-time parenting of objects in run time.
  • Windows Mixed Reality support: still no plans to officially support WMR headsets.
  • Ticketing system: the ticketing system has been used for a number of LL organised Sansar events. A new, more robust ticketing system is currently being built, and it is hoped to make that available to experience creators so they can use it with their events.
  • Site-to-site teleporting:  the next release should include the ability to set-up teleports that deliver users to a specific point within an experience
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