The following notes were taken from my recording of the Sansar Product Meetings held on Thursday, April 4th. The first meeting, lasting 30 minutes, focused on Sansar Events and the changes made to the events system. The second meeting, lasting an hour, focused on upcoming features. This update focuses on the reasoning behind the events changes, and the confirmed work coming up for the R32 release and beyond.
The Questing and Jumping Sansar release saw some changes to how events are managed. In short:
- Events can no longer be joined by finding an experience, it must be done via the event calendar, with the event itself a special copy (not an instance) of the experience.
- Active events are listed on a new Featured tab – Client Atlas only.
- Event creators can change the scene tied to an event, customise the scene like any experience, and delete the experience if it’s no longer needed.
As Linden Lab is looking towards much more in the way of events hosting – specifically with “big partners”, these changes have been made to improve the management of events, the Atlas, and to better support the running of ticketed events. Thus, events are now viewed as much more their own type of experience, rather than being an activity tied to an experience and the Atlas.
- The intent is to make events more a of driver of Sansar use.
- In particular, it is hoped that ticketed events (with the hint of tiered ticketing, such as “general admission”, “VIP admission”, etc.), will be better supported through the new system.
This has resulted in making events harder to find via the Atlas, as events no longer appear towards the top of the event pages on the basis of the number of people attending. To address this (and other pain points):
- With the next (R32) release, events will be folded back into the Atlas, rather than only appearing on the Events panel.
- Some of the Atlas UI will be revised in order to make it more user-friendly to established and new users alike when trying to find things.
- These revisions should mean that users more clearly see both experiences and events as they browse through the Atlas.
- The featured section of the Atlas will be changing, so that both experiences and events will be listed.
- More intelligence will be put behind featured events; e.g. events with an active attendance will be pushed into the featured listing in lieu of any specified as “featured” not having attendees (perhaps because they have not yet opened).
- It will not be possible to bookmark / like the copy of an experience in which an event is being held; however, it will still be possible add events to your calendar.
- In time, it might be that recurring events will be automatically retained in a calendar, rather than just the current date / time.
- Concerns have been voiced that as events now take place in a dedicated copy of an experience, users will no longer be able to bookmark the original experience so they might return to it at a later date.
- A counterpoint to these concerns is that currently, Sansar has disparate ways to find out what is going on: the Atlas to see what experiences creators are making, the Store to see what goods creators are making, etc., and it might be better to present users with a more holistic view of what creators are doing as a whole (this is kind-of possible via profiles).
- However: a) such an approach, if taken, has yet to be clearly thought-through to determine how best to implement it; b) it will not compensate creators who wish to use events to encourage visitors to their actual experience.
Future Developments: R32 and Beyond
R32: Full Body Tracking
- Vive Tracker support has been added to allow full body tracking.
- The Lab provided a video of an Sansar skeleton moving in time to Landon McDowell’s daughter (wearing the trackers) as she danced (see below).
- It is hoped that this will add a new dimension to Sansar for VR users (or at least, Vive system users for now), and that it might in the future be used to record custom emotes (gestures in SL parlance).
- This has involved overcoming a lot of technical challenges, and there is still more work to do to refine the system further.
R32: New Movement Scripting API
- This will:
- Allow objects to rotate and turn.
- Include a set of supporting Simple Scripts.
- Enable frame-perfect animation; movements can be properly queued to be executed at specific times / in a specific order by the engine of the desired frame.
- Allow animations to ease-in and ease-out one to the next.
- Support multiple animation states, with blending between them.
- This system should work for non-rigid bodies as well.
- A major part of this is to allow the development and movement of non-player characters (NPCs), allowing simple patrol / follow behaviours, etc.
- Initially these will be relatively simple: there is no pathfinding, complex interactions, etc.
- However, it does Include line-of-sight location (e.g. if an NPC is designed to chase an avatar, it will only do so if it can “see” an avatar, so such NPCs could be avoided by keeping things like walls between you and them – see the official video below).
- LL plan to suse this system to add some simple NPCs to the questing capabilities.
- Longer-term it is hoped to have NPCs supporting looks, expressions, being able to play recorded voice audio and use Speech Graphics, utilise MD clothing, etc.
- This should allow dynamic assets to drive animated assets, which in turn should enable things like animated held objects like guns, etc.
- Avatar crouching for desktop will be added as a part of R32. This should reduce the avatar capsule to allow walking through spaces with low ceilings, etc.
- New throw capability for Desktop mode which should allow more accurate throwing and placement.
- Throwing will likely include direction and strength indicators for Desktop mode users, allowing them to participate in games with VR users.
- Placement controls should allow Desktop mode users more accurately place items they have picked up, rather than simply dropping them (e.g. pieces on a chess board can be accurately placed).
- Uniform scaling for avatars: scale them up or down proportionally.
- Scaling of individual body parts (e.g. an arm or the head) will not be possible until the “avatar 2.0” is released.
- Partial animation import:
- Allowing a partial / simplified Sansar skeleton (with around 70 bones) to be downloaded and animating directly off of that.
- Being able to hook this into Mixamo’s animator tools.
- Feedback on the latest updates for using Marvellous Designer are being gathered and examples put together and will be fed back to MD in the hope of getting issues to work as expected.
- Work is continuing on the questing system, including opening it to user-generated experiences.
- Currently, the focus is on getting the system to work for the Lab and ironing out issues and bugs.
- For the R32 release, the Lab hope to provide more quests beyond those added in the Questing and Jumping release, with the emphasis on showcasing what is possible, rather than building entire games.
- Performance team continuing to work on a LOD system and performance improvements to get more avatars into an experience.
- There is also a release with a focus on crash fixes coming soon.
- Run-time joints: a feature which will hopefully appear later in 2019 that would allow users to parent things to their avatar (e.g. take a hat in and experience and wear it within that experience).