Sansar: of backpacks and vehicles

Playing with the Backpack in Sansar

On Tuesday, November 19th, the second Sansar R37 point release was made (oddly dated “November 11th” in the release notes), containing the first pass of a much-requested capability. Also on the same day, a short video was dropped on Twitter previewing the first cut towards providing another oft-requested feature at some point in the future.

R37 Release Update 2 – The Backpack

Critiques levelled at Sansar by users and creators is the lack of the ability for using items from their inventory in-world, or to have a means of conveniently carrying multiple items they can then call upon when needed without necessarily having them attached to their avatar all the time.

These requests have typically revolved around the idea of a “backpack” that can be used to store such items (perhaps even collected from within a world, during the course of a quest for example), and from which they can be drawn and used when needed.

The R37 Release Update 2 offers the first pass at trying to address at least some of the functionality for such a “backpack”. However, rather than being an item worn directly by the avatar, the Backpack takes the form of a new UI element that is only active in worlds where its use has been allowed. With this initial release, the Backpack comes with 6 items:

  • 3 items that automatically attach to the avatar (right hand): two light wands and a light disc / frisbee
  • 3 dynamic objects that can be dropped in-world, picked up, pushed around, etc: a die, a beach ball, a balloon.

It is used by clicking on the UI button, then clicking on the the required item’s image. Those that can be worn are attached directly to the avatar; those that can be dropped in-world spawn directly in front of the avatar. All six items can be be thrown, pushed, dropped or picked up, and can also (with this release at least) be “shared” between avatars: if avatar A drops a ball in world, Avatar B can push it around or pick it up.

The Sansar Backpack UI element and the initial 6 default items within it

These objects are perhaps not intended to be useful (although the light wands and disc would likely find use when dancing), but appear to be geared more towards simple demonstrations of what the Backpack can initially do.

Further key points with the Backpack are:

  • With this initial release, the Backpack has been enabled throughout all public worlds in Sansar by default. World creators can opt to disable (or re-enable) it via Scene Settings → Backpack → Item Source setting.
  • There is currently no means to “return” an item to the Backpack – items can only be spawned / dropped in a world.
  • Concerns have been raised over the impact (visual / performance) in having Backpack items littering a scene. However, a time-out of approximately 4 minutes is enforced on items spawn (either in-world or held by an avatar) is enforced.
  • As per the week #46 Product Meeting, a future iteration on the Back will allow world creators to define a list of objects that can be spawned within their world(s).

Other Items in the Update

In addition to the Backpack, the R37 Update 2 introduces Valve Index Headset and Controller tracking (finger tracking is not yet supported). There has also been a minor tweak the to Nexus teleport portal seen in the Home Space, and a number of bug fixes – see the release notes for more.

Vehicles in Sansar

Another long-time request for Sansar has been the ability for avatars to correctly operate (“drive”, etc.) vehicles. Again, it is a capability that Linden Lab has indicated it is a capability they would like to introduce to Sansar at some point.

During the week #46 Sansar Product Meeting, it was indicated that the Sansar team were experimenting with the idea of “jointing” or “sticking” avatars to dynamic objects such as vehicles, and on November 19th, a video showing some of this experimentation was tweeted via the @SansarOfficial Twitter feed, and is reproduced below (note that this video is looped).

This doesn’t necessarily mean the drivable vehicles are about to become a “thing” with Sansar – the video seems to indicate the system is still very rough around the edges and in need of further refinement – but it does show that vehicles (at least land vehicles) could be something Sansar may be on the way to getting.

The R37 Update 2 point release and the video might go some small way to countering some of the perception that, as a result of the switch in focus to live events, LL are “pausing” Sansar development in other areas – although admittedly, it will only be through the course of further major releases to the platform that we’ll really have insight into how LL will continue to enhance the platform with significant capabilities and options beyond supporting “live” virtual events.

2 thoughts on “Sansar: of backpacks and vehicles

  1. A backpack? Seriously? How is it that so many things are so very backwards in this allegedly next-generation virtual world? In SL we have many thousands of items available at all times. We can organize them in folders, set up wearables as outfits with pics to show what outfit is what so that after you make a hundred or so you don’t forget. In Sansar you get a backpack with 6 items you don’t get to chose? Gee, I wonder why Sansar isn’t catching on?

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    1. It comes down to perspective – if you see Sansar as some form of “next gen” Second Life, then a backpack with a minimal selection of items (we don’t actually know what the final tally will be, or how it might unfold over time in response to user feedback – this is only the first pass, not the “final” version), the the backpack *as is* doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. However, it has been made clear that Sansar is a broader audience than those of us entrenched in SL and the “SL way” of doing things, and to present them with somewhat different opportunities for engagement than SL can perhaps offer.

      A further point to remember with the “Backpack” is that creators engaged in Sansar have actually requested this kind of functionality, so that i both allows visitors to their scenes to be able to “rez” / use objects – but for creators to control what can be rezzed / used. The reason for the latter is to offer visitors some flexibility without breaking the overall immersiveness of an experience (e.g. so that visitors to a medieval setting can access and rez / use items specific to that period, but cannot pull out a car or 20th century photo props and start using them and break the immersiveness of the experience for other people visiting it at the same time).

      How well the Backpack succeeds over time remains to be seen; a lot will depend on how the functionality is extended and the feedback of those actively engaged in Sansar. Thus far, the majority of feedback from those who are has been mixed, although some of the negative feedback was directed more towards initial technical issues with the capability, rather than with the idea itself.

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