Sansar Product Meetings week #23: Avatar 2.0 and a little Q and A

The Sansar World Oceans Day Charity Event: Virtual Beach Clean Up – help Linden Lab (with additional support from the Roddenberry Foundation) raise money for EarthEcho International. Find out more on the Sansar World Oceans Day event page.

The majority of the following notes were taken from my recording of the Sansar Product Meeting held on Thursday, June 7th, which was largely a general user Q&A and feedback session. The official video of the meeting is embedded at the end of this article for reference.

R33 Updates

The Early Access pop-up, displayed when installing the client / a client update

There have been a couple of updates to the R33 Give more, Get More Sansar update. These have focused on bug fixes, and were released on May 31st (release notes) and June 5th (release notes).

One of these updates appears to also have changed the client updates process – although this may have been done a while ago, and I’m only now seeing it; I’ve not been that active on Sansar recently.

On installing a client update (and presumably when installing it for the first time) and new pop-up in displayed once installation is complete.

As can be seen on the right, this confirms that Sansar is still in “Early Access” (which may well also be a reference to the Steam Early access programme, and so the pop-up may only appear to Sansar users coming to it via Steam or who have linked their Sansar account to Steam). It warns user that things are in a state of flux, and also provides links to the Sansar website and the Sansar Discord channel.

A Launch button at the bottom of the pop-up will launch the client proper, allowing a user to log-in to Sansar (either manually or automatically if they have Remember Me checked in the client log-in screen).

Avatar 2.0

  • Avatar 2.0 represents a substantial update to Sansar and is currently one of the primary focuses for the Sansar team. It will include:
    • An updated avatar skeleton.
    • Bone deformation (e.g. allowing the avatar’s face to be directly selected and shaped / contoured as the user wants).
      • For this initial release, the deformation system will only work with the Sansar base avatar.
      • As resources become available, it is hoped to expand this to custom avatars in later releases.
    • Volumetric morphs (e.g. using sliders built-in to the base mesh to make adjustments).
    • Support for uploading and using custom skins for the base avatar.
    • The ability to use the base avatar to create custom avatars directly, which can then be sold through the Sansar Store (although this functionality will not be in the initial Avatar 2.0 release).
      • This will hopefully include the ability to create avatar shapes (a-la Second Life), rather than having to create entire avatars.
  • Avatar 2.0 reference files for use by creators are in development.
    • The current plan is to make these files available to creators approximately a month before the actual Avatar 2.0 deployment.
    • This early release of the reference files will be supported by the Sansar avatar development team, who will be available to test avatars and clothing built / rigged to the new avatar format and test them internally at the Lab and provide feedback, as creators will not be able to test directly until the new avatar system has been deployed.
    • It is anticipated that this process will work in a similar manner to the way in which Sansar fashion support with Marvelous Designer was deployed at the end of 2017; the difference her being the files will be available to all creators wishing to experiment with them, rather than just a selected few.
    • Note: the recent updates to the avatar reference files that have been distributed to so creators for testing purposes are not avatar 2.0; they are updates to the current avatar intended to reduce issues found with blend files, together with a general clean-up of the files.
    • It is anticipated that additional updates to the reference files will see the inclusion of textures. However, decimation for these reference files will remain a user task, although the plan is to include decimation support in the avatar 2.0. reference files.
  • Avatar 2.0 will not initially support different  / custom bone structures, although support for this may be added in the future.
  • To help with the introduction of Avatar 2.0:
    • The Lab has been working on Marvelous Designer scaling and translation, which may be deployed in week #24 (commencing Monday, June 10th). This will allow MD clothing to be more easily scaled / rotated / translated, hopefully making it easier to update to fit the new avatar skeleton (and other shapes).
    • Emotes are being re-targeted, so they should continue to work with the new avatar.
    • Similarly, a re-mapping capability for attachments is being looked at, primarily aimed at allowing attachments to be moved between attach points, but which may also ease some of the transition to the new skeleton.
  • It is currently not clear what will happen with the current avatar skeleton when Avatar 2.0 is ready for release.
    • The Lab view trying to support both skeletons as being “difficult”, and they may opt to only support avatar 2.0 going forward.
    • This calls into question content breakage for all of the current custom avatars (and rigged items) associated with the current avatar skeleton.
    • It was intimated during the meeting that those who have purchased custom avatars using the current avatar may receive some form of refund / stipend from the Lab in lieu of no longer being able to use those avatars.
    • It was also indicated that some form of update system will be made available to creators to allow them to make updates to items they’ve made specific to the current avatar to work with Avatar 2.0, and distribute them to customer who have purchased the previous version.
  • Given the extent of the changes with Avatar 2.0 and the fact that some decisions are still in flux, it has been suggested that in the weeks / months leading up to the release:
    • A portion of each Product Meeting is allocated to discussing Avatar 2.0, particularly where the Lab has reached a decision.
    • A Product Meeting ahead of the actual deployment (when it is ready to roll) is devoted to Avatar 2.0.
  • A goal with the updates is to (at some point) open up the materials editor for the avatar both pre- and post-upload, so maps can be altered / updated for both the base and custom avatars.

Look Book

  • Currently, Look Book cannot be searched. For those with a sizeable avatar inventory.
  • This can make finding a specific item painful it is:
    • Either a lot of scrolling through clothing or accessories within Look Book to find the required item(s),
    • Or, if a search function is to be used, going to the Store, searching there, clicking the Wear It Now button (which applies to already purchased items as well) to return to look Book and seeing it worn.
  • The Lab is working on adding more functionality to Look Book, but right now, the focus is on Avatar 2.0 (see above), and so it will be a while before anything for Look Book is deployed.

General Inventory Capabilities

Inventory in Sansar essentially comes in two forms: Avatar inventory (clothing, hair, accessories) that can be obtained through the Sansar Store and which is available via the Look Book. Object style inventory – scripts, building, sounds, media, plants, rocks, lights, etc., which can also be uploaded and obtained through the Sansar Store but which are available only through the Edit Mode inventory.

  • LL have been discussing making the latter more user friendly through the introduction of folders.
  • There has also been some discussion of providing an “experience” style of inventory, such that an avatar can obtain / carry / select items they wish to use directly within an experience.
  • Currently no information is available on how either approach may work or when they might be ready for deployment.

The “Three Pillars” of Sansar

In the discussion, Landon McDowell, the Lab’s Chief Product Officer, defined the primary “three pillars” for Sansar as a platform as being:

  • Content creation – including provided a set of well-round tools / support for tools for both avatar and world creation.
  • Socialisation – making sure people can interact with one another, make friends, hold social events.
  • Gaming  / exploration – quests, mini-games, people exploring experiences and discovering what has been put into them.

So if someone wants to come into Sansar and do something under one (or more) of these umbrellas, the Lab wants to be able to support them.

In Brief

  • Local persistence: something the Lab wants to offer, but not currently being worked on.
  • Questing system:
    • Further Lab-built questions will be forthcoming.
    • The quest system itself is being enhanced and improved, but is not yet user-friendly enough to be opened to experience creators.
    • The plan remains to make the question system available once it is robust and friendly enough to be used by experience creators. It is liable to be several more months before it is available on a platform use.
    • The system will most likely include a scripting API.
  • Particle system: this is something the Lab want to do this, but the focus at the moment is on performance, and will remain so for another “couple of months”, so development of any particle system is deferred until at least this work has been completed.