Devins Eye: springtime beauty in Second Life

Devins Eye, April 2020 – click any image for full size

I was a little stunned to realise that it’s been close to two years since I last blogged about Devins Eye, the Homestead region designed by Ally Mildor & Roy  Mildor (and which is also their home and the base for their store).

Always an eye-catching place to visit, Devins Eye currently sports a wide-open setting much in keeping with past designs, and with the familiar care and eye for detail Ally and Roy share with their designs, set under what resembles a spring afternoon  sky.

Devins Eye, April 2020

On that last occasion of a visit, we found the region was enclosed in a off-sim surround; this time it stands alone, and in doing so offers a very defined island setting with  an equally clearly defined north-south orientation in which the landing point lies slightly off-centre to the east, caught between the rugged southern uplands and the northern dimpled coastline.

Such is the lie of the land, that standing on the grass of the landing point, the land sloping and stepping upwards to the south and dropping gently down to the waters of the north, it’s entirely possible to imagine Devins Eye not so much as an island but a stretch of inter-coastal lowlands backed by a spine of hills that conceal the lands beyond them from view.

Devins Eye, April 2020

This is a place of wonderful contrasts and settings, perfectly blended together into a whole that is an honest delight to explore – and one of the best ways to do so is on horseback. Sadly, scripts are turned off within the region which means that if you want to ride your own wearable horse, you must mount it before teleporting to the region. Fortunately, a rezzing point close by the landing point is available to offers “local” horses to riders.

Buildings are few and fair between, adding to the richness of the setting, while the age and condition of some of them offer a sense of life and history to the island. To the south and at the end of a climbing walk among the hills sits a Tuscan villa. Reached via a grassy path that passes through iron gates and between blankets of lavender floors, it crowns the region, looking down from on high across the lowlands to the west and north.

Devins Eye, April 2020

Down on that coast sits an old pier, home to a squat radio shack, long since converted into something of a den for visitors. This and the villa make up the two main fixed “residential” structures on the island, although scattered between them is an old stone cone of a windmill, its ageing sails still turning, a trailer home that has seen better days, and a small hut occupying sitting on a pier extending into the waters of the region’s lake, watched over by a tall water tower. Power lines are strung across one side of the region, held aloft by a marching line of wooden poles – but whether they still offer a service is debatable – they start and end without connecting to anything.

The age and lie of the buildings provide a sense of the history I spoke of above, giving the island a feeling of being lived in – something readily apparent of the hints of ruins and aged cut stone the are scattered across the grasslands. But there are also signs that this is also a place that is still being renewed: two new looking, stout bridges span the fast-flowing stream that flows out to the sea from the island’s lake, and the water tower is obviously maintained.

Devins Eye, April 2020

Another attraction to the region is the low coastal region to the north. Broken by humpbacked, rocky hills and shingle banks, this coast shares the sense of age of other parts of the region, inlets hiding a variety of elements from wreck fishing boats and rowing boats to places to sit while more sprays of lavender provide a colour link to the higher slopes. Poppies also add their colour to the region – in fact it is the colour casts by the flowers, lavender plants, poppies, yellow daisies, white wildflowers, and so on – that provide more of the region’s depth.

Cut by pools and streams, rising from water’s edge too high hills, there is nothing that can be found in Devin’s Eye that isn’t immediately photogenic, the entire region finished by an ideal windlight and a gentle sound scape. It’s a place of quite remarkable views and quite original features – full kudos to Yvonita Dash for her composite creation ~ xantes ~ Tears Rock, and to Roy and Ally for using it.

Devins Eye, April 2020

Simply put: not a region design not to be missed whether you are seeking a place for photography or for a like romance – or to experience a sense of the outdoors at a time when we’re all being encouraged to minimise out time outdoors.

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Sansar Product Meetings 2020, week #15

The gang’s (almost) all here (l to r): Colo, Aleks, Torley, Lacie, Galileo, Cynno, Binah at the first Sansar Product Meeting under the Wookey banner

On Thursday, April 9th, Sansar held its first product meeting since being acquired by Wookey Project Corp (see: Sansar: looking at the apparent new owner – Wookey Projects Inc. and Linden Lab confirm the sale of Sansar to Wookey Project Corp – updated). The meeting was really a means for the team to say “hi! We’re here!”, rather than providing a huge depth of hardcore information, although there were some Titbits of news.

The following is a summary of the key points.

On Wookey and Sansar

No-one from the Wookey management team was present at the meeting, in part because they have yet to have avatars made; however, their presence is expected at times in future meetings, when they’ll be able to talk more about Wookey Project Corp and their goals / view of Sansar.

Sheri Bryant, Sansar’s GM at Linden Lab, and now heading the team at Wookey; credited with bringing the deal together for Sansar to move to Wookey. Fun fact: she’s a huge Godzilla fan, and her Sansar avatar – Cowboy Ninja – features a Godzilla shoulder pet.

A shout-out from the Sansar team was given to Sheri Bryant. Sheri (aka Cowboy Ninja in Sansar) was the General Manager for Sansar at Linden Lab, and she is credit with leading the work in bringing about the deal between LL and Wookey Project Corp. She has also moved to Wookey, where she remains in charge of Sansar.

Many of the team are already with Wookey- attending the meeting were: familiar names: Binah (UI Engineer); Aleks (Product Manager); Galileo, Lacie, and Torley, (Production Director, Sansar Studios). While he wasn’t that the meeting, Boden was also mentioned as having joined Wookey as well, retaining his position as a Product Manager.

Also joining the meeting were some new (to me at least) names:  Cynno (Art Production Manager Sansar Studios) and Sansar Studios (Colin – the Creative Director at Sansar Studios), both of whom report to Torley; together with  Colo, the Director of Engineering and the Release Manager, and Steel, one of the QA Engineers.

Many positions are still being recruited into, and it was indicated that there are a number of engineering team positions that need to be filled, and these and the SARS-CoV-2 situation are slowing the full resumption of work on Sansar. In this latter regard, the Sansar team was less distributed than the SL team while at Linden Lab, with most of them office-based; this means equipment, etc., has been / is being sourced and shipped to their home locations to allow them to start remote working.

The meeting was also an opportunity to say farewell to Galileo as the Sansar Community Manager, who is departing the Sansar team as a result of having accepted a new position with Pocket Gems, a games development company. This means Lacie will be taking over as the official Sansar Community Manager, although Galileo will continue to be an active Sansar user and involved in the COMETS programme.

Roadmap

As has been indicated through various sources (see the Lab’s press release and the Sansar blog post both announcing Wookey’s acquisition of Sansar), the emphasis remains on building Sansar as an events platform that will attract “thousands”.

There is no public road map as yet, although it is promised that one will be produced – probably not as granular as the internal road map – and might be available in two weeks time at the next Product Meeting. However, current areas of focus comprise:

  • Continuing on from where things were left off.
  • Moderation tools development and deployment.
  • Narrowing the new users on-boarding experience – making it easier for people to get from sign-up to event; improvement the tutorials, etc.
  • Working on stability improvements for events.
  • Tip jars are seen as being on the “tail end” of the moderation / on-boarding work.

However, it will take a little while longer for work to ramp-up once more due to both the current SARS-CoV-2 situation and the need to recruit additional personnel.

Avatars, Vehicles, Edit Tools Improvements, etc

Due to the current state of play, a lot of the planned / promised engineering / dev work has already been pushed back further in the road map. Specifically mentioned in this regard were:

  • Avatar improvements.
  • Vehicles.
  • Edit Mode improvement such as folders for items, etc.
  • Allowing world creators to nominate “admin staff” to help run their worlds.
  • Creator access to the Backpack.
  • Collaborative building.

Sansar Mobile Service

Back when Sansar had yet to début, there had been talk of the platform being accessible from mobile devices. Ultimately, this got pushed to one side – but is now something of a priority.

Not much can be announced at this point in time other than:

  • It will most likely be a streaming service, initially for iOS and Android.
  • It will not (initially at least) support VR headsets like Oculus Quest.
  • Precise initial capabilities are still TBD.
  • Again, no time frame on when any first cut might appear, nor have potential fees been set.

Event Partners

  • MonsterCat, Roddenberry Entertainment and Fnatic will be returning to Sansar to host events.
  • There have been continuing talks with musicians and “major names” about coming to Sansar to perform. None of the specifics are ready to be announced as yet, but some may be ready by the time of the next Product Meeting.

General Notes from the Meeting

  • Support tickets before March 24th, 2020 need to be resubmitted, if still relevant.
  • The partnership with Marvelous Designer™ should continue as before.
  • Two-factor authentication for Sansar is “on the list” of things the team would like to implement. However, no time frame on when it might start to surface.
  • The entire approach with the Nexus is to be re-examined, specifically with the view to making it more linear for incoming users to get from it to the event they wish to attend / the most popular locations in Sansar.
  • It is still planned to eventually extend the ticketing system so that world creators can use it with events they organise / host.
  • The Sansar team is looking into improved documentation sharing, tutorials, offering tips and tricks through a wiki-style environment, world templates, etc.

Possible Changes to Accounts

  • Wookey / Sansar looking at things like the partnership with Steam, subscription options, and how they are structured, but nothing to announce.
  • The number of worlds a Free account can publish may be revised in the future. Whether this will mean those who have already published multiple worlds will be allowed to keep all of them or not if they have published worlds beyond the new limit, is TBD.
  • There will likely be a tightening of requirements for users organising Sansar events (e.g. events may only be hosted by “authorised / approved / trusted” – details TBD – accounts).