Sansar update: R34 and avatar 2.0

Creator Academy: Hall of Materials

The following notes combine the June 26th R34 release and aspects of the June 27th (week #26) Product Meeting. I’m a little late in getting to both, in part because of work related to SL16B, and in part because I had been waiting to see if a video from the June 27th Product Meeting will be officially posted.

R34: A Richer World Release

The new inventory filters for clothing

The R34 release, issued on June 26th, 2019. As with the majority of Sansar deployments, this update requires the automatic download and installation of a client update. Compared to other release releases, this was somewhat smaller in scope, offering the following:

New features

  • Gifts are now adjustable in increments of 100, amounts can be entered directly. Gifts are capped at a maximum of 9999 Sansar Dollars each.
  • New filters in the avatar editor that enables users to show male, female or all clothing in the inventory. This allows users to wear male clothing on female avatars and vice versa.

Improvements 

  • Chat improvements – less lag when joining an experience with a long backscroll.
  • More stable voice server connections – less disconnects and more reliable reconnects to the voice server.
  • Avatar broadcasting performance improvements – Better broadcasting behaviour for streaming performers and dealing with broadcast instance crashes.

In addition, the release included script updates and stability improvements – these are documented in the official release notes for R34.

Two additional updates to the release have since been issued:

  • The first, issued on June 28th, comprises bug fixes and a new script example, HintText.cs, available in the Scene Script Library. Details are again in the release notes.
  • The second (labelled “updates 2 and 3”), issued on July 3rd, included additional new features:
    • New support for the Valve Index controllers (although note that Sansar does not support the Valve Index headset).
    • A new Memo feature on the My Experience panel allows creators to write and view notes for each of the experiences they own.
    • The People panel has been updated so that the block/unblock and muting features can be more easily accessed. Some inactive buttons have also been removed.
    • The Chat panel has been updated to allow gifts to be send via it, and other users to be blocked/unblocked.
    • New script API for per user gravity factor, which allows scripts to define the gravity factor for individual users.
    • See the update release notes for full details, including fixed issues.
The new chat options for gifting and blocking / unblocking

Avatar 2.0

As I’ve previously reported, the new Sansar Avatar 2.0 is planned for release in September 2019 (see Sansar Product Meetings week #24: more on Avatar 2.0). During the June 27th Product Meeting, the Sansar team unveiled a video showing a “first look” of manipulating the new avatar face using the bone deformation capabilities with the upcoming new avatar system.

The video was (briefly) posted to You Tube, but then taken down while the Lab “decided what to do with it”. I contacted the Sansar Community Manager, Galileo, to ask if a capture from the meeting could be posted, and received a “should be OK” reply.

The video demonstrates the ability to manually adjust the features on the avatar through a touch interface that allows fine tuning of adjustments. For those used to having sliders to adjust features, as with Second Life, the approach taken with Sansar may appear a little odd. However, the full system, when ready for release will also include some sliders to allow for blend morphing.

The overall feedback from those watching the video appeared positive, with Lab staff noting that the approach should allow a highly diverse range of avatars to be created once Avatar 2.0 is released, and the skin texturing / layering system (still being worked on as well, and not shown in the video) should add to this, allows different skin tones, make-up finishes, freckles, wrinkles, tattoos, etc.

Avatar 2.0 Points of Discussion Raised at the Meeting

Please also refer to the week #24 meeting notes, as they bullet-point much of the Avatar 2.0 discussion that formed part of this meeting.

  • Avatar 2.0 will have around 30% less bones that the current avatar, which should simplify skinning to it. The face should have around 50% fewer bones (140 to 70).
  • A more neutral avatar mesh to better support deformation.
  • The skin texturing / layering system may not be part of the initial release, but will follow-on.
  • Bone deformation will only be for the face in the first release of Avatar 2.0, but will be extended in subsequent releases.
  • Avatar expressions available with the current avatar will still work with Avatar 2.0.
  • Mouth movement should also continue to work a seen today, and there is a be a refresh of the mouth / voice animations.
  • There will also be a refresh of the avatar IK system with Avatar 2.0.
  • The system includes a face preset feature that allows users to adjust their avatar’s face using the bone deformation feature and the blend morph sliders and then save the results, allowing them to be used with different avatar bodies.
    • While not in the first release, Avatar 2.0 will include the option for people to create and sell faces on the Sansar Store.
  • It is still planned to release the Avatar 2.0 reference files in August 2019, to allow creators to gain familiarity with the new skeleton ahead of support being deployed to Sansar, and to start updating those items they make / sell that require adjustment / re-rigging to work with Avatar 2.0.
    • As a part of this, the Lab will be running a Creator Programme,  to help creators to develop assets (avatar, rigged items for avatars, etc., and pass them for testing and feedback by the Lab.
    • Details on how to be a part of this programme will be issue by the Lab via e-mail in the near future.
  • Avatar 2.0 may support asymmetric faces. The ability is there, but the Lab hasn’t decided if / when the button to enable it will be toggled. This will in part be governed by feedback from users after Avatar 2.0 has been deployed.

In Brief

  • The Lab is working to extend blend shape support to custom avatars, and the importing of pre-morphed skeletons that can be used with the sliders.
  • The ability to give other avatars items will probably also be released around the time of Avatar 2.0 appearing, and will use the quest system to enable it.
  • Item update mechanism for the Sansar Store  – this is still being working on, and will most likely follow “a couple of releases” after Avatar 2.0.
  • Push-to-talk on the microphone has oft been requested, but not currently on the roadmap.
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Tackling an Evening Star in Second Life

Playing with the Evening Star Linden Houseboat. Note the additional “window” towards the stern and the spiral stairs

My playing around with the Linden Home houseboats is something of a matter of record in this blog. I’ve previously written about the result of my fiddling with the Windless (see here and here), and the Barnacle (see here).  In all, I’ve come up with half-a-dozen different interior layouts for three of the available houseboat designs (including the Wallower).

But there is one I’ve tended to avoid: the Evening Star. There are several reasons for this: of all four designs, it perhaps has the smallest interior space (although this could be a toss-up with the Wallower); the use of ladders to reach the rooftop deck really doesn’t appeal (nor does the narrowness of the gap between the ladders and the lower deck railings).

The Evening Star interior can be divided into two and the upper skylight area converted into an upper “floor”

I’m also no fan of the way the majority of the windows are crowded towards one end, leaving the “skylight” area at the stern of the design to provide a glimpse of natural light. Even the skylight itself strikes me as a “wasted” (if possibly small) space, and like the Barnacle, the Evening Star has a curved wall that I’m not particularly fond of.

But, these are the things that niggled me: could something be done to overcome them? As it turned out, the answer is yes.

Despite its apparent small size, the raising ceiling area of the Evening Star can be converted into a reasonable bedroom, and a spiral staircase reduces the amount of floorspace a staircase might otherwise need

Take that skylight space, for example. Small it might be, but it only takes a few prims to create a suitable for on which a bedroom can be established. Further, said prims can be extended to provide a non-plank ceiling for the deck below, if needed, Add a suitable spiral staircase, and you have a compact way to get between the two “floors”.

The same design of spiral stairway (which I’ve previously used on one of my Windlass designs) solves the problem of avoiding the Evening Star’s ladders by adding a copy to the front of the houseboat, connecting the open upper deck space with the docks I slipped in at water level. A pair of Anywhere Doors (also used with the Windlass designs) solves the problem of accessing the upper deck from the bedroom.

The new “bedroom door” to the upper deck (a Curio Obscura Anywhere Door pairing) and a couple of additional prims to “fix” the truncated window.

One of handy things about these houseboat designs is that as unique as each of them might be, all of them naturally lend themselves to using similar components like this.

Take Blush Bravin’s Party Boat add-on, for example. Designed for the Barnacle, I’ve used elements with both the Windlass and the Wallower. And with the Evening Star, the “brick” panel allows me to overcome that curved wall at the rear of the lower deck, squaring things off nicely for the kitchen (a combination of items from [DDD] ~ Dysfunctionality and Trompe Loeil). The addition of a faux doorway against this wall adds the illusion of there being a bathroom at the back of the boat. The slatted room divider from Blush’s kit also allows me to split the lower deck into two without leaving it feeling totally closed off.

One of the faux windows showing the “blinds” drawn from the outside.

Even so, splitting things can leave the back of the boat feeling a little “dark”. So why not add a couple of faux windows? Just 4 LI apiece and with suitable internal / external textures, and that can be made to look (from the outside) as if the blinds are drawn, and from the inside, they offer “views” of the “sky”. OK, so the inner and outer appearances of the windows don’t actually match one another, nor do the “windows” actually admit light – but they do help give a sense of brightness to the back of the houseboat. A quick bit of scripting also means the “inside” sky images are automatically swapped with images of the drawn blinds during the local SL “night”, avoiding the “view” from them clashing with what can be seen outside!

Dividing the interior into two isn’t necessary, but for me, it makes things a little more cosy and offers distinct living spaces – lounge and kitchen / dining. However, given the sheer amount of glass at the front end of the Evening Star, it leaves a small problem of where to hang pictures. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to add a couple prim walls to block-in two of the windows – and these can run back toward the rear of the houseboat, covering both the wall panelling on the inside (which I mentioned I wasn’t too fond of) and the weird black semi-circle on the outer walls.

The Evening Star showing my mods (forward spiral stairs, upper side door to the new bedroom area, new side walls and “windows”), compared to the original look, inset.

I think it fair to say the Evening Star  – like the Wallower – surprised me. What at first seemed to be a potentially awkward living space with limited options, is actually pretty flexible and capable of being modified in a fairly low land impact: 82 LI including all the ceiling, walls, lighting, pictures, kitchen, kitchen fixings and docks for my boats and planes (of course, a custom vehicle rezzer for the latter finished things off 🙂 ).

I continue to be impressed with these Linden Homes and the sheer flexibility they can offer. Put it this way, I now have a different houseboat for each day of the week 🙂 .