The majority of the following notes were taken from my recording of the Sansar Product Meeting held on Thursday, May 16th, which covered the avatar LOD system, further changes to events, rendering updates and policy reviews feedback.
Avatar LOD System
- The avatar level of detail (LOD) system has now been deployed.
- This applies to all avatars in Sansar, whether default or custom.
- It is an automated process that produces five LOD versions of the avatar using different tri counts, and which are automatically used / swapped so that avatars become progressively less complex the further they are from the observer, reducing the impact they may have on performance.
- The process is “quality” based, rather than tri-count tied, so the system tries to reduce tri count without unduly impacting on the overall shape of an avatar.
- The LOD models are generated after the avatar has been dressed and hidden surfaces removed as the avatar is baked (after something like selection in Look Book or a change of outfit).
- It has been noted that the system isn’t working as well as might be the case with certain avatars and / or avatar attachments (e.g. eyes bugging out when lower LOD models are used by the system).
- Those who do notice particularly odd / deformed avatars in their view are asked to take a screen shot and send it to the Lab via a bug report / on Discord.
- If there are specific issues that occur with default avatars that do not seem to reproduce on custom avatars, again, the Lab request a screen shot showing both.
- There have been reservations voiced about the way events are counted.
- As events now take place in special instances of experiences, these can count against the total number of experiences a creator is allowed to have published, which has been seen as a problem for some creators.
- The Lab is now “temporarily” withdrawing this, until such time as the events system has been improved.
- Thus, creators will for now be able to create / host as many events as they wish without hitting the ceiling on the total number of experiences they are allowed to have published within their subscription banding.
- The Sansar R32 movement update included some rendering updates there were not documented in the release notes. These updates comprise:
- Bloom setting on the scene settings menu – improved to be less blurry and more “bloomy” (so fog may appear denser, for example). This might require experience creators to check any of their scenes using bloom to ensure things are rendering correctly, or whether adjustments are required.
- Billboard material – has been enhanced to include scroll UV support and a non-scrolling mask. An occlusion issue with billboards has also been fixed so they should not occlude other billboards.
- New features for fixed shimmering by scrolling emissive materials. This should also fix a problem with anti-aliasing across the edges of objects, and shimmer when scrolling UVs are used for colour cycling effects.
- Transparent multi-bump scrolling speed has been fixed.
- None of the fixes should require the re-upload on content; they should simply see things now working as expected.
Policy Feedback and Content Guidelines
- Concerns were raised at a recent community meet-up about some of the policies enforced around Sansar. These include the Community Standards and their governance, and the guidelines relating to the Sansar Store not being clear / enforced.
- This has resulted in an internal discussion within the Lab concerning which guidelines may not be as clear as they perhaps could be, those that might be a little heavy-handed and might require further adjustment, and equally those that may need to be made both clearer and stronger.
- In terms of Guidelines, some changes / updates being considered include:
- Store Listing Guidelines – enforcing the (community-suggested) requirement that the screen shot associated with an item listing in the Store must be taken from within Sansar. In addition, the overall listing requirements may be subject to review.
- Atlas Publishing Guidelines and Events Guidelines – these are not currently subject to review, but will be re-evaluated for fitness for purpose based on the feedback from the community meet-up.
- There is a feeling that the Community Standards are inconsistently applied one person in violation of the standards might be treated one way, another committing the same violation is treated a different way, for example).
- LL have acknowledged this and a new process to ensure consistent application of the standards is to be put in place.
- Once ready, the process will be shared with the community, so people can understand what is in place / what to expect should infractions occur.
- The process will be designed to allow those who may have contravened the standards to be aware of what is happening and why – and to give a response that may equally weight on any decision about action the Lab might take.
- The only exception to this is liable to be where the infraction is clearly and significantly egregious and clearly upsetting to others / in violation of the platform’s requirements for decency, etc.
- In terms of general communications / concerns about policy / direction, etc., Galileo, as the community Manager is in place to act as a bridge and enabler of communications between users and the Lab (and obviously, vice-versa).
- As such, people are encouraged to content him to open conversations / feedback, rather than letting concerns fester.
- It is acknowledged that the platform is at a unique point in its development to allow this (the community is still of a size where these interactions can take place), so people are encouraged to make use of it.
Selected Q&A Items
- Experience maximum avatar capacity: the current default for the maximum number of avatars in an experience is still 35 per instance.
- The Lab can manually raise the limit for specific events (e.g. Product Meetings now often run with 40+ avatars present).
- It is hoped that as a result of various improvements and the introduction of the avatar LOD system, the limit can be raised more generally soon. However, more testing is required before this can be done.
- In the future it might be possible for the maximum count cap to be exposed to experience creators to allow them to set their own limit on the number of avatars able to access a single instance of an experience (e.g. for use in games geared for a specific number of players).
- As the Lab faces additional costs for spinning-up instances of experiences that have a low avatar count, limiting the number of avatars able to access an experience to very low numbers might be subject to that cost being passed on to the experience creators requiring it – or even to those wishing to access the experience. However, this all still needs to be examined by the Lab.
- As noted in past Sansar articles in these pages, instances of experiences run entirely independently to one another, so that avatars in one instance cannot cross to another, nor can they see one another.
- The lab is already thinking about how to make it possible for friends who all visit a popular experience all end up in the same instance, rather than possibly being split between instances because some fall on the “wrong side” of the experience avatar cap.
- Avatar 2.0: work continues on developing Sansar’s “avatar 2.0”. The target date for release is currently August 2019, but this may be subject to alteration.
- This will hopefully see:
- Changes to the base mesh, with male and female avatars are a lot more similar in a size and frame.
- This latter point is to make clothing items potentially more unisex: if a jacket fits a male avatar frame, it will also fit a female avatar frame.
- More sliders for morphing / customisation. These will initially be focused on the face, with body customisation capabilities following after the initial release of avatar 2.0.
- It’s not clear what will happen with the current “avatar 1.0” as the new avatar system is deployed.
- Avatar 2.0 will likely result in the breakage of rigged avatar clothing. However, clothing modelled in Marvelous Designer can be resized to fit the new avatars.
- In addition the Lab is working on an MD scaling translation system to allow MD clothing to be scaled and repositioned.
- It is also planned for avatar 2.0 to have defined attachment points for accessories.
- This will hopefully see:
- Store redelivery system: the Lab would “like to have a redelivery system in place around the time” avatar 2.0 is released. However, they are still looking at how easy / hard it will be to deliver in that kind of time frame.