Sansar Product Meetings week #44: release R37

The First Portal

The following notes were taken from the Twitch stream recording of the November 1st (week #44) Sansar Product Meeting. This meeting focused on two aspects of Sansar:

  • The upcoming R37 release, covered in detail in these notes.
  • The shift in Sansar development focus, which will emphasize “live” events in Sansar for the foreseeable future. This is summarised below and looked at in more detail in a companion piece, Sansar changes emphasis: of live events and audience.

New faces

The Friday meeting featured some new (to the meeting) faces:

  • Coho – the Sansar release Manager.
  • Binah – user interface / user experience design.
  • Skylar – Manager of Engineering.
  • Julia Munck – VP of Product (Sansar).
  • Sheri Bryant – VP of Business Development and Marketing for Linden Lab and now the General Manager for Sansar (as CowboyNinja in-world).
  • Hari Raghavan – Director of Marketing (formerly the Senior Manager, Marketing Communications.

Product Team Changes

In addition to the meeting attendee notes above, there have been some changes to the Sansar team:

  • Lacie Linden is taking over more direct management of Sansar support.
  • Harley Linden has transitioned from Sansar to working back on Second Life.

Overall, the change in focus for the platform means the Sansar team is smaller. This has led to the suggestion that some members may have departed the Lab (although LL does not officially comment on those leaving the company). Names have been mentioned in this regard, although at this point in time I’ve been unable to corroborate such claims, and one of the three of the names I’ve seen mentioned has the appearance of still being at LL, at this point in time.

“Live” Events Focus

The decision has been taken to prioritise Sansar as a platform for hosting “live” virtual events.

  • This has in part been sparked by the rise in popularity of “live” virtual events in a number of platforms (most notably the Fortnite / Marshmello event and the 11 million attendees it garnered) and the more modest successes Sansar has had in hosting electronic dance music (EDM) events in Sansar.
  • The intention is to make Sansar the “best possible” destination for virtual events. However, the Lab see this as a two-pronged approach:
    • Enabling more partnership-style events such as those seen with the likes of Monstercat and Spinnin’ Records, and in have other “branded” events (if not outright partnerships)
    • Promoting more in the way of user-created events, hence the changes being made to the events system with R37 (see below) to help encourage creators to run events of their own.
  • It will mean a lot of attention will be placed on the Sansar events system going forward.
    • However, it does not mean work on other features  / capabilities is being abandoned, although some will be re-prioritised and may be pushed back in terms of possible deployment time frames.
    • The work will be carried out alongside an expansion of Sansar’s socialisation and communication capabilities to help encourage greater user/user interactions.
    • Attempts will be made to “integrate” user-developed events with major marquee events, so that audiences attending the latter will be made more aware of the former, and encouraged to explore more of Sansar beyond the current event they are attending.
  • The new user experience will be further looked at / enhanced so that it can be a more “unforgettable” experience in order to encourage visitors to return and become active within the platform.

I have more on this in a companion article / opinion piece, Sansar changes emphasis: of live events and audience.

Sansar’s development is to be more focused on making the platform as a venue for “live” virtual events, such as those hosted by Monstercat at their Call of the Wild event space

R37 Release

The next Sansar release – R37 – is due to be deployed during the week commencing Monday, November 4th, and should include the following features / updates.

World and Editing Updates

  • Desktop aiming improvements (shooting, throwing, etc). Essentially a new grab point on objects – “aim at cursor” on objects to make the avatar use IK to aim at the target as pointed to with the cursor.
  • Pre-morph skeleton support.
  • Camera updates:
    • Freecam capability when editing an avatar through the Look Book.
    • Scripted camera positioning (so, for example, when a user enters a world, they can be taken on a video / cinematic flight through the world).
  • New Edit Mode capabilities:
    • Support for setting scripted spawn points within a world users can be delivered to when moving between worlds, rather than having to go via the main spawn point
    • Scene building snap to grid (move, rotation and planar), to allow better alignment of items in a scene, with the threshold defined by the creator.
  • Edit Mode Texture handling improvements:
    • Improved texture tracking capabilities in the object stats.
    • Ability to move the colour picker.
    • JPEG file import support and the removal of texture dimensions limitations.
    • Avatar texture log:
      • Essentially establishes a rendering budget for every avatar in a scene (possibly 100Mb).
      • When textures on an avatar exceed this budget, the system will switch to rendering them at lower MIP levels.
      • People’s own avatars are not exempt from this limit when in their own worlds.
      • The idea is to help raise the avatar limit for scenes / worlds, and to assist those trying to access Sansar on lower-specification systems.
      • The Sansar team will be looking for feedback on this budget threshold from world builders, and will be iterating on the approach in the future.
    • Scripting: a new simple script will be added to the library to support accessing a creator’s store in the client UI by clicking an in-world object.
  • Questing: the ability for users to abandon in-progress quests (so, if you start a quest, decide you don’t want to complete it, you can abandon it and have it removed from your Quest Journal, rather than seeing it hanging there every time the Journal is opened).

UI / UX Updates

  • The in-client store is being updated to:
    • Be a moveable / resizeable panel (similar to the Codex).
    • Provide improved search filtering.
    • Support creator stores searches / filtering.
  • Chat improved to support the sharing of links to stores and items in the Sansar Store.

Events Changes

  • Event creation updates:
    • With the next release, evens are created by selecting a published world (not a scene template).
    • This means that when someone attends an event, the link to the originating world is added to their Codex.
    • However, these links cannot be changed (so if a creator sets-up an event using a copy of their World A, and then decides they would actually like to run the event using their World B, the link is not updated – so users attending the event will still get World A added to their Codex, not World B).
    • It also means that while a copy of the world will be used to host the event, the original world will gain the “credit” of the traffic generated by the event.
  • Event notifications will be sent to the client to notify users when they can access an event they’ve marked as being interested in attending.
  • Events will support the new scripted spawn point capability mentioned above, so those arriving at an event can be delivered directly to the event area, rather than the world’s main spawn point, if required.

Persistent Storage

  • New scripted APIs to allow data to be saved from experiences. The data is defined as “anything you like” – so visitor stats, avatar progress through a world or a quest, etc.
    • Creators will have the ability to share “tables” of data between one another, to assist with collaborative projects.
    • Details were a little vague and offered with the promise that the documentation around this will explain things in full.

General Q&A

  • When will flying be added to avatar movement? Not actively being worked on.
    • However, LL are looking at making certain capabilities specific to events / event tickets (e.g. having a ticket price that including having your avatar’s gravity to be adjusted at the event so you can be set to float around, etc.)
  • How can people contact other Sansar users when they are not friends, e.g. to enquire after a product, report an issue with a product, etc, given people don’t like accepted random Friend requests? This is known to be an issue, and the only way to circumvent it at present is to try via Discord.
  • When will individual volume controls be introduced for avatars? Has been discussed numerous times and has bounced around the priorities list, but currently is not on the feature roadmap.
  • What is being done to improve world discovery?
    • As per the notes on live events, LL is looking at ways to broaden the awareness of those attending major live events that there is an entire platform of worlds to be explored.
    • Feedback is still being gathered on the effectiveness of the Nexus in encourage new users to explore Sansar.
  • Will Sansar offer an Animation Override capability of a similar nature to Second Life? No plans at present – but the animation system may be expanded.
  • What about the ability to sync animations between avatars (e.g. have everyone synced to the same dance)?
    • While it has been done, no plans as yet to make it a user-driven feature.
    • However, capabilities like this are compelling within the events environment (e.g. a group of avatars attending an event being able to sync-up for a dance), so the idea is not completely out of the question.
  • Does the shift in focus mean that avatar improvements are now on the back-burner?
    • The current avatar system is seen as “relatively robust” and suitable for things like attending events.
    • While the focus will be on the development of features around events / events management, avatars will remain central to Sansar’s development – they just won’t be a subject of focus in the immediate future.
    • Nothing is being taken away from the plans for future avatar development.
    • This does mean that full body deformation, that had been viewed as possibly being a Q4 2019 (October-December) release has been pushed back to a 2020 release, but no clear indication of when.
  • When will it be possible to update items without having to re-list them in the store? Currently, not on the roadmap.
  • Will “drivable” vehicles be available any time soon? With the change in focus to events, probably not any time soon.
  • When will creators have inventory folders? Not on the revised roadmap – keep asking for it.