Sansar Product Meetings week #17: R32 overview

Scorpion’s lair: Hall of Light

The majority of the following notes were taken from my recording of the Sansar Product Meeting held on Thursday, April 25th, which served to introduce members of the Sansar team, discussing the upcoming April release.

Avatar Controls

  • Extra tracker controls for VR: as per my week #14 notes, R32 will include fully body tracking for the HTC Vive, utilising the hip and ankle trackers.

  • Desktop throw indicators: when attempting to throw something when in Desktop mode, a visual indicator of the arc the object will take when released will be displayed, and the mouse scroll wheel can be used to adjust the strength of the throw.
    • The visual arc is not a perfect representation of where the object will go, and will fade out after a time, but is designed to give overall guidance.
  • Avatar crouching: crouching will be joining jumping as an option with R32.
    • Crouching will be physically enabled in VR, and via keyboard in Desktop mode.
    • The avatar’s motion will be correspondingly slower when crouched.
    • The collider / bounding box for the avatar will also automatically adjust to match the avatar’s height as well, making it possible for tunnels, etc., to be made through which avatars must move when crouched.
    • The collider / bounding box in VR will collapse in accordance to how low the user crouches.
  • Keyboard turn / face forward:
    • Currently, when moving sideways using A and  D, the avatar will strafe to the left or to the right whilst walking, while S will cause the avatar to walk backwards.
    • With this new keyboard option enabled, the avatar will turn to face the direction of travel when walking to the left or right or backwards, and the camera will automatically follow.
    • With the option disabled, the avatar will resume the strafing walk.
    • Users weill be able to set whichever they prefer or toggle according to circumstance.

Avatars

  • Avatar scaling: R32 will see the first implementation of avatar scaling to allow differently sized avatars.
    • The initial release will allow avatars to be uniformly scaled down to 1/2 the size of the current default Sansar avatar and 1.25 times larger.
    • Scaling will be applicable to custom avatars as well, and will include all avatar attachments.
    • Initially walk / run speed, jump and crouch heights will be normalised against the default avatar’s height / stride (e.g. so if your avatar is of a small size, it will seem to move very fast proportionate to its size; when made larger, it will appear to take shorter strides).
    • This may be revised in the future so that walk speed / stride / jump height, etc., will be proportionate to the actual avatar size.
  • Partial animations:
    • A new simplified Sansar skeleton (with around 70 bones) will be available for download to be used specifically for animations.
    • This does not mean a simpler skeleton is being used by the avatar – that remains unchanged and will see animations created using the new simple skeleton will be applied to the full skeleton; any bones not used by the simplified skeleton will remain in the reference pose.
    • The importer will (obviously) work with this simpler skeleton, and with any other skeleton, as long as it is topologically the same in terms of ordering and naming for bones.
    • This will hook-in to third-party tools such as Mixamo’s animator tools.
    • As the full skeleton is still used by the avatar, things like facial animations can still be driven through Speech Graphics, although dedicated facial animations will still require the download and use of the full skeleton.
  • Object movement APIs:
    • There will be a new moveable from script objects flag that when enable will allow use the flagged object (mesh, sound, trigger volume, light, etc.), will be moved.
    • This also allows interactive objects and the root element of animations to be moved without them having to have a rigid body.
    • It will 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 and allow animations to ease-in and ease-out one to the next.
    • Overall this should allow:
      • The development and movement of simple non-player characters (NPCs), allowing simple patrol / follow behaviours, etc.
      • Dynamic assets to drive animated assets, which in turn should enable things like animated held objects like guns, etc.

  • Rigged assets to support collision meshes: R32 will allow keyframed physics rigid bodies to individual bones (so an animated trunk on an elephant can physically knock / move things around, for example).
    • Should be used with consideration, as adding this to every bone in a body could place considerable additional load on a scene.
    • Not suitable for ragdoll physics, as this requires the set-up of physics joints between the bones.
  • Atlas and events updates: as per the week #16 product meeting, the Atlas and events will once again be more closely integrated.
  • Sansar Store:
    • The Store will be updated so that Marvelous Designer items will be more clearly tagged.
    • It should be easier to wear newly purchased wearables when purchased through the client version of the store.
  • Edit mode: the gizmo tools for moving / rotating objects within a scene should be more selectable / easier to use.
  • Scripting updates: these will include the ability to call the Sansar new user experience tutorial when required, among other changes.
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HoPe: a world without humankind

HoPe; Inara Pey, April 2019, on FlickrHoPe – click any image for full size

We first visited HoPe on the suggestion of Shawn Shakespeare at the start of April 2019. This is yet another region designed by the team of Fred Hamilton (frecoi), Alexa Maravilla (Spunknbrains) and Lotus Mastroianni, who have previously produced settings like Little Havana (with Sofie Janic – see: A trip to Havana, with a little Voodoo In My Blood), so the names alone were sufficient to further pique my curiosity on hearing about the region.

At the time of our first visit, HoPe had just opened, and was subject to some heavy traffic, so I opted to hold off blogging, as the region can take its toll on the viewer, and having a lot of avatars bouncing around at the same time certainly doesn’t help! Things are quieter now, so while the region can still present a performance hit for the viewer, I thought this week might be a good time to head back and take another tour.

HoPe; Inara Pey, April 2019, on FlickrHoPe

During out initial visit, the About Land floater had a short description about nature reclaiming a city that has befallen a disaster. On my return mid-month, that had changed to a more succinct description: The World wouldn’t die without the Humankind. A bleak outlook perhaps, but one that accurately describes the setting.

The is a setting in which it is clear some form of widespread catastrophe came to pass; the shattered remains of an elevated roadway almost rings the empty remnants of a city in which the roads lie crumpled and ruined, and the buildings are little more than empty shells, some of them leaning against their neighbours  as if seeking support as they stumble over the ripped and broken asphalt beneath them.

HoPe; Inara Pey, April 2019, on FlickrHoPe

In one corner, a subway tunnel had been thrown up, a broken maw spanned by the ruin of a subway car. From this, and the wrecks of cars in the streets and on the roadways – including those of fire trucks -, together with the broken fuselage of an aeroplane, indicate whatever happened, came suddenly and without warning, bringing chaos in its wake.

Oddly, the one part of the city that appears to have suffered the least from the cataclysm is a building site off to the south, atop a low hill. Here stands the skeletal frame of what might have eventually been a set of pristine apartments offering a grand view out over the city below; or perhaps it was destined to be a shiny new office building or some new factory premises. Earth movers sit outside, as do free-standing banks of spotlights – still oddly working; and while the sky crane towers might be broken, and the safety fence stands rusted and leaning, with nature encroaching into the building itself, the site stands oddly pristine, like the bleached bones of a whale on a beach.

HoPe; Inara Pey, April 2019, on FlickrHoPe

Throughout the setting are all the signs this was once a place of bustling human habitation. Faded store fronts line streets city, and graffiti sits on walls. Given the chaos that has ensued, some of the latter might actually now appear prescient: from one wall, the likeness of the late Heath Ledger’s Joker stares down at a street, a spray can of his laughing gas in one hand, while just around the corner, Harley Quinn, from her days in the Suicide Squad, swings her bat, both of them bringers of pandemonium.

While the initial catastrophe made have visited itself on the city without warning, nature has long since announced its determination to lay permanent claim to the neighbourhood. Open spaces now lie flooded, for example; might there have been a tsunami as well? Or has global warming subsequently led to a rising in sea level? You decide. Along the fractured streets, trees now add to the chaos, trunks further breaking the asphalt, roots eating into the foundations of building, adding to the canted appearance of some.

HoPe; Inara Pey, April 2019, on FlickrHoPe

It is with the trees that we have perhaps the clearest indication of whatever happened here happened a long time ago: some have matured to such an extent that, should people ever return here, without a significant lumber operation, the elevated roadway can never be repaired. For now, however, the buildings and town houses are home only to bushes, shrubs and brambles, the raised sections of subway now little more than trellises for plant growth, the air heavy with the sounds of birds, the once proud rising form of the new building now an apartment house for (possibly now feral) cats.

All of this is evidence that, when all is said and done, nature has the power to survive, no matter what humans might do. But also, on some deeper level, perhaps, just perhaps, there is a message that humanity also has the power to survive: just catch the sound of a radio in the air, caught within the cacophony of bird song, or the child’s rubber duck sitting on a streetside bench.

HoPe; Inara Pey, April 2019, on FlickrHoPe

Heavy going on the view it might be, but HoPe offers an ideal backdrop for photographers looking for something to frame their avatar studies, or who are looking for a more unusual landscape to capture. Those who do take photos are welcome to submit them to the region’s Flickr group.

SLurl Details

  • HoPe (Syn Isles, rated: Adult)