Sansar Product Meetings week #14: events + future updates

The Roddenberry Theatre: often the location for Product Meet-ups

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.

Sansar Events

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.

 

R32: General

  • 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).

Beyond R32

  • 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).
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Andrea DeLauren at DiXmiX in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery: Andrea DeLauren

It’s been only a few days since my last visit to DiXmiX Gallery, curated by Dixmix Source, but I was drawn back to it with the opening on a new exhibition there, this one featuring art by A. DeLauren (AndreaDeLauren).

Located in the gallery’s Grey hall, immediately adjacent to the main entrance, Body Lines presents series of 12 avatar studies. I confess to not being overly familiar with Andrea’s work, but these are striking images, rich in colour, boldly presented, and with an abstract tone to them that captivates.

DiXmiX Gallery: Andrea DeLauren

As the title of the exhibition might suggest, the focus is very much on the avatar body, with – I assume – Andrea being her own model. But this is only part of the story; each image uses a mix of geometric lines, colour, tone, blurring / soft focus and overlays to produced a finished picture. This results in each of the pieces being an abstracted piece that holds the attention quite marvellously and evocatively. When coupled with the individual titles for each of them, it is possible to start weaving a narrative to each image – although strictly speaking, no narrative is required; it is sufficient to be drawn into these images through the use of line and colour.

Some of the pieces, visually and by title, have an obvious focus – take Chest as an example, together with Milk and Honey. Others are more broadly evocative. In this, I was particularly drawn to the somewhat psychedelic tones and feel of Windows 70s, while the mix of colour, geometry and natural curve of Hips (also used in the exhibition’s poster advertising) completely captivated me.

DiXmiX Gallery: Andrea DeLauren

The use of geometry within the images is given further depth in pieces like Zebra, and particularly the “joining” of Surrender and Back Lines, where shadow elements are used to extend the lines of the individual pieces beyond their canvas and into the gallery.

A small, but elegant exhibition, Body Lines sits well with Moon Edenbaum’s The Likelihood of n e a r e s s, on display in the gallery’s Black hall (and which I reviewed here).

SLurl Details

The Animesh Water Horse in Second Life

~* Water Horse*~ Animesh horse

On Friday, April 5th, the ~*Water Horse*~ team released their new Animesh rideable horse – something many in their group, myself included, had been eagerly awaiting.

Those who follow my Content Creation User Group updates will know that Animesh allows the avatar skeleton to be applied to any suitable rigged mesh object, allowing the object to be animated. This opens up a whole range of opportunities for content creators and animators to provide things like independently moveable pets / creatures, and animated scenery features.

Comparison between ~*WH*~ Bento and Animesh horses

For the ~*WH*~ Animesh horse, it means the ~*WH*~ team have been able to produce a horse that:

  • Can be ridden by attaching it to an avatar directly from inventory, akin to the manner of a Bento attachment. However, as it uses its own skeleton, it will not clash with any other Bento attachments the avatar might be wearing.
  • Can be rezzed in-world, where it has a range of capabilities (subject to certain land constraints), including the ability for it to be mounted and ridden.

These points make the ~*WH*~ Animesh horse a very flexible new product; one that will continue to be offered alongside the ~*WH*~ Bento horses, but with notable differences, as indicated by the graphic on the right, provided by Tyrian Slade, the ~*WH*~ brand owner.

At the launch, two breeds of the new horse were made available:

  • A warmblood with English riding tack and a 38 Land Impact when rezzed in-world
  • A quarter horse with American riding tack and a land impact of 37.

Given that all Animesh creations have a basic LI of 15, both of these horses are really impressive in their relatively low LI. As a worn attachment they also have a reasonable complexity value, adding roughly 12,000 ARC to an avatar in the case of the quarter horse. Both also have extreme compact script memory usage (231 KB).

The horses are also supplied at two price points:

  • L$4,499 for the “personal version”, which can only be ridden (controlled) by the purchaser (~*WH*~ group members can purchase this for L$4,050).
  • L$12,999 for a “public / friends” version, that can be ridden (controlled) by anyone when it is rezzed in-world.

In both variants, the overall features are the same (so both variants can carry “passengers” for example), and all of the horses are supplied Copy / Modify. This latter point means that you can have multiple horses on your land for use as décor, if required, and you can add accessories (increasing their LI) or remove items (the riding tack can be removed, for example, if a horse is rezzed purely as décor), and they can be re-textured.

The package for each comprises: four versions of the horse itself (with stirrups, without stirrups, jousting version, version for large avatars); separate wearable stirrups; a riding HUD; a texturing HUD; a visual guide to the HUD buttons; a texture creator kit and some (minimal) documentation (detailed documentation is available on the web).

The Riding HUD

The HUD is a core part of the system, comprising two sets of buttons:

  • A set of gesture buttons for animating the horse when riding. Note that the button to lead the horse via its halter only applies if the horse is directly worn from inventory.
  • A set of buttons accessed via the gear button, combining a number of options for making adjustments to the rider, and for setting different capabilities for the horse when it is rezzed in-world (see below).
~*Water Horse*~ HUD options

Riding the Horse

Before riding the horse, make sure any AO you have (scripted or client) is turned off to avoid any conflicts. Then either:

  • Add it to your avatar from inventory as a worn attachment.
  • Mouseover the horse in-world, and left-click.

Both options will play an animation as your avatar mounts the horse. If the horse has previously been rezzed and set to wandering, the riding tack will render on it prior to the mounting animation being played. In both cases (worn or rezzed) there will be a brief pause as the riding animations are loaded.

Mounting and riding the Animesh horse (when worn or rezzed)

Movement is via the usual WASD / Arrow keys, with W / Up for forward motion. Speed can be increased from walk through trot and canter to gallop with further taps on W / Up; releasing the key will bring the horse to a halt. Tapping S or Down will slow the horse or cause it to walk backwards. Your vertical position in the  saddle can be adjusted via the HUD or via Hover Height. To dismount a worn horse, right-click on it and select Detach. To dismount a rezzed horse, click on the viewer Stand button.

Passenger Riding

Passenger riding only works with the horse rezzed in-world.

  • Mount the horse as rider and open the HUD to the second set of options.
  • Click the Passenger mode button (shown right).
  • Select who you wish to have ride with you via the displayed dialogue box.
  • The nominated person can then mouseover the horse and left-click sit.
Passenger riding with the ~*WH*~ Animesh horse

Camera Position

Many SL users now set their own camera presets (see: SL Camera Offsets in this blog). Due to the way camera control has been implemented in the horses, this can result on some odd camera positions for the rider (which attaching the horse) or for a passenger. Should this happen, try positioning your camera behind you and, once mounted / seated, use CTRL-mouse wheel / the mousewheel to set your camera to a comfortable position above and behind the horse for viewing.

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