Sansar Product Meetings week #15: custom avatars and contest

Felsenmeer – Silas Merlin – blog post

The following notes were taken from my recording of the Sansar Product Meeting held on Thursday, April 11th intended to be on the subjects of custom avatars, upcoming changes to the Sansar Discord channel, and moderation capabilities in Sansar.

Custom Avatars

First Time Avatar Selection for New Users

  • With the March Jumping and Questing release, new users can select from a range of (user-created) custom avatars via a new carousel (or opt to create their own look using the system avatars via the Customise button).
  • Stats show that around 50% of new user avatar selections are now custom avatars.
  • Custom avatars are currently selected on the basis of:
    • How good it looks in the Lab’s eyes, particularly to gamers.
    • How appealing the avatar is to all allowed age groups. – including whether the avatar is fully clothed (allowing new users to go directly “in-world” to experiences without having to go to the Look Book to customise their look.
    • Whether the avatar can be easily dressed using Marvelous Designer clothing.
    • Whether the avatar is offered for free in the Sansar Store.
  • The selection of custom avatars will continued to be curated and updated.
A sample of the custom (user-created) avatars on the avatar carousel and available at the time of writing to new Sansar users on signing-up

Avatar Contest: New User Carousel Edition

  • To encourage creators to make custom avatars suitable for presentation to new users through the carousel, Linden Lab have launched the Avatar Contest: New User Carousel Edition.
  • Full details are available in the official blog post. However, in brief:
    • Creators are invited to present custom avatars suitable for use on the new user avatar carousel.
    • Avatars must meet the requirements outlined above, and additionally must have properly rigged hands and mouths.
    • Creators may submit up to five entries (but can only win one of the prizes).
    • Five avatars will be selected from entries, and the designers awards S$27,500 each.
    • The onus is on humanoid avatars, or human anthropomorphic avatars.
    • Avatars can be submitted through until 17:00 PDT on Thursday, May 9th, 2019.
  • If the contest proves popular, it may be run again in the future.

Discord Changes

These are due to come into effect from Monday, April 15th, 2019.

  • Those who wish to keep their view of Discord as it is will be able to do so. All of the changes / new features will be on an opt-in basis.
  • A new public channel (or channels) is to be introduced (most likely on Monday, April 15th) alongside the current “user” channels,.
    • This is specifically aimed at those who might hear about Sansar and who want to check the community, etc., before opting to install the client and sign-up.
    • Existing users are encouraged to join the public channel and participate in discussions there, answer questions, etc.
  • The existing “user” channels will remain only accessible for interaction to those with a Sansar account (which will continue to be the point of entry to them).
    • However, the content of the channels will be available for anyone on the public Sansar Discord channel to read.
  • If the public channel aspect doesn’t work as anticipated, it might be rolled back in the future.

Moderation

This was more of a general discussion / feedback session, rather than an announcement of new features or changes to the current moderation / blocking capabilities. Key points from the discussion are summarised below:

  • The current set of moderation tools with their focus on avatar / avatar blocking have been developed from the perspective of helping new users deal with unwanted situations. It is acknowledged that a broader toolset is required,
  • At present, users can block one another’s avatars – useful if someone is being a particular nuisance, but the experience owner isn’t around to intervene, or if they are just being a very specific annoyance for another user. However:
    • There has been feedback that the current blocking is insufficient, as it doesn’t include removing their text comments from local chat.
    • There is no personal block list, so it is difficult for some to determine whom they might have blocked (possibly accidentally) without the subject of their block actually being present in an experience with them (but being invisible to them).
    • How to unblock also lacks clarity.
  • A lack of ability for experience creators to quickly ban troublemakers from causing issues within an experience being enjoyed by others – such as a single-click eject (back to the user’s Home Space?) / ban capability.
    • Avatar blocking doesn’t work in this situation, as it is purely avatar-to-avatar, so the nuisance can still go on to bother others in an event game, and can also be disruptive as they can continue to interact with elements in the scene.
    • Having to record an avatar’s name, then go to Create > Build Experiences > My Experiences > Publish > Publishing Options > Ban List and then add a name is (rightly) seen as too long-winded.
    • This is something the Lab has considered alongside the current moderation tools and are planning to provide. However, it is also something that hasn’t as yet been prioritised.
    • However, the Lab have looked upon such capabilities as being more event-driven (e.g. large-scale events that require specific moderation  / some form of moderator role which would include the required capabilities.
    • The problem with the Lab’s approach is that potentially, without a broader, more accessible set of moderation capabilities available to them, experience creators already in Sansar are reluctant to hold major events of their own, simply because of the overhead involved in taking action against a troublemaker (or worse, a group of troublemakers) with the current capabilities.
  • Part of the Lab’s approach to moderation is to provide tools that allow users to be both pro-active and to consider the options at their disposal in accordance with a situation (does someone’s behaviour actually warrant blocking, or is muting sufficient? Should they be banned for an experience  – where banning is an option – or should they be reported? Should they be banned and reported? etc).
  • As it is, blocking / muting in VR is not that intuitive. The Lab is aware of this and looking to improve things.
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