2020 Sansar Product Meetings week #3: looking at 2020

The Nexus, January 2020

The following notes were taken from the Twitch stream recording of the January 16th (week #53) Sansar Product Meeting.

Upcoming R39 Release and Beyond

The upcoming R39 release will include.

Updated Emote (Gestures/ Animations) System

  • A new emote system that will initially allow users to:
    • Find an emote on the Store and immediately use it without having to go to the character editor to assign it.
    • Allow emotes to be assigned to short cut keys in Desktop mode, so they do not have to be selected as played via the emotes wheel.
  • For VR use, the system will present a new panel for emote selection, but will not allow specific emotes to be tied to controller buttons.
    • When assigning an emote, it will automatically switch to 3rd person view allowing the user to check to see what the emote actually does to their avatar.
    • Thereafter, the emote can be toggled on / off via the panel.
  • Subsequent releases will expose the system to manipulation via script for use by creators to assign animations to users engaged in their worlds / games / quests.
    • As it is driven by the server, it will mean they may be some delay in emoted running which might impact certain types of animation playback (e.g. sword swings and the like).
    • However it should allow for actions such as pulling levers, opening doors, synchronising dancing among a group of avatars, etc.

Instance Picker

  • Where more than one instance of a world / event is running, will:
    • Make it easy for users to see the instances and join them
    • Give the ability to share the instance URL with friends who can use it to access the instance.
  • Will be updated in subsequent releases to allow:
    • Users to see how many are active within each instance of a world / event.
    • Possibly see which instance of a world their friends are in and more easily access that instance (subject to capacity) to join them.

Other Items Planned for R39

  • Updated Starter Avatar Carousel: intended to offer new users better define an avatar and build a look using free (I assume) items from the Store.
  • New Twitch integration specifically aimed at events and streaming events by users.
  • A further round of bugs fixes.

Beyond R39

The following updates are planned for after R39, but potentially within a 2020 Q1 release time frame:

  • Scene-based Backpack improvements: extending the Backpack functionality to provide creators with an API that allows them to add / remove items from the backpack of users visiting their worlds, and which can be used at specific points in a scene. For example:
    • In a quest, a user finds a sword, and the sword is added to their backpack and is available for use when they need it.
    • In a game, a user finds a “power pack” then can use once, after which it is removed.
    • At an event, a DJ hits a button and all attendees receive an object they can wear  / use within the event, or have the items in their backpack change to match whatever music is being played.
  • Moderation Tools:
    • These will initially be enhanced for the Lab, then offered to world creators and will likely include: easier means of muting people, removing them from a world, etc.
    • They will also likely be matched by in-client improvements to managing whitelists, etc., and for raising tickets.
  • In-world social activity improvements:
    • Making it easier to find / add friends and communicate with them.
    • Introducing the notion of group travel and group chat.

UI Re-design

As per the last Product Meeting of 2019, a “comprehensive” client UI redesign is in the works for 2020 to make accessing capabilities in the client easier and provide more intuitive controls over some functions (e.g. adjusting the volume at which you hear other individuals talking), etc.

Some of this work, such as individual voice volume controls for other avatars, may be surfaced in 2020 Q2 (April-June).

Q&A Session Summary

Why is Collaborative World Building Hard to Implement?

Collaborative world building – people working together to build a world together – has been a constant request, and one promised as “coming”. However, it is proving hard to implement.

  • Edit Mode was original client-side, and thus hard to implement on a collaborative basis.
  • It was moved to being server-side with the intent to make offering collaborative editing in a single server space possible.
  • However, the Edit Server system also has to handle aspects of licensing and edit process validation, and managing this when when several people are working on a single scene has proven difficult to achieve.

General Questions

  • Will it be possible to see the total number of people in Sansar, including those in Edit Mode and / or in non-public worlds, at any given time?
    • Has been discussed at LL, but has not seen any move to implement.
    • Will be added back to the list for further internal discussion.
  • Will it be possible for creators to limit the number of people accessing an individual instance of a world (e.g. a team game / quest that is best played by a defined number of users without risk of other wandering around spoiling things, or to simply to maintain a good level of performance within a complex environment)?
    • No plans at present to limit the number of people accessing worlds below that set by LL.
    • There are issues in doing so. For example: instances incurs cost. If a game is limited to 10 players but is very popular among users, resulting in dozens (or more) instances at any given time, who meets the cost of AWS provisioning and running all those instances?
  • When will a) custom skin texture uploads and b) full body avatar deformation be made available?
    • a) Custom skin textures may appear before the end of 2020 Q1, but may not be immediately made available to creators at that time.
    • b) Full body sliders are still considered to be “further out, for sure”, with no defined time frame.
  • What is the official stance on the invisible avatars available in the Store being used to eavesdrop on others, particularly as they are hard to detect?
    • No official policy at present, and currently down to individual world creators to determine how to respond to the use of such avatars.
    • LL have encountered them being used for griefing / trolling in worlds, and have moderated (banned?) on this basis.
    • The Nearby panel can be used to see who is nearby in a scene, and in VR there is is the “person person who” for a list of people in the world with you.
  • Financial / revenue:
    • Will the percentages taken by Linden Lab on cashing-out from Sansar be reduced in 2020? No plans to do so.
    • Will tipping be possible in Sansar? This is being explored, but no firm decisions as to how it might work or when it might be introduced. If / when such a capability is introduced, it will likely include the option for users to cash-out what they have earned, although a fee may apply.
  • Will it be possible for VR users to remain in VR when their avatar is seated? Eventually, yes.
    • However there are issues to be resolved (e.g. what happens to the avatar when you physically turn in your chair?).
    • Hopefully, whatever is implemented will also take into consideration full body tracking as well, and deal with current issues of VR hand placement.
  • Will it ever be possible for creators to develop their own websites where visitors can sign-up / access Sansar directly, without having to go via Sansar.com? This is not something on the roadmap at this time.
  • What is the status of Try Before You Buy?
    • Still being discussed, and unlikely to appear until much later in 2020.
    • Ideally, LL would like to have this available in both Edit Mode and the Look Book:
      • In Edit Mode it would allow a creator to build a scene using items from the store they can place out and test in their scene, then prior to publishing, be presented with a breakdown of the third-party items and their cost, together with an option to buy them, which must them be accepted in order to the scene to be published with all of the items included (which are added to the creator’s inventory).
      • In the Look Book, it would allow a user to outfit their avatar with clothing and accessories from the Store and then being presented with a breakdown of the items and their cost, and an option to buy them when saving the avatar.
  • “Joint” system: mentioned in 2019, this would allow avatars to be linked to objects (e.g. a vehicle), objects to avatars, object to other objects etc. It is not currently being worked on, but is something the Sansar team would like to get back to in 2020, possibly in Q2.
  • Facial expressions: something the Lab would like to implement, possibly akin to the emotes system and using user-generated emotes alongside some basic options, but still discussing best approach (should expressions be selectable from a panel, a-la the current emotes system? Should emotes trigger an expression (e.g. give a thumbs-up and the avatar smiles)? Should they be triggered via a text chat keyword in a similar manner to SL gestures?, etc).
  • What about the ability to just recompile scripts in Edit Mode without having to re-bake an entire scene? Has been requested numerous times and is something the Sansar Studios team would like as well, but no indication on when it might be provided.
    • One idea being considered is to have a “test” option of some description that allows a “limited” bake of a scene for repaid testing / iteration when building a scene.
  • Will clothing layering be added to Sansar?
    • Marvelous Designer® supports this, and a mechanism to make the ability visible / usable in Sansar needs to be added.
      • For now in MD, items overlaying others can be achieved using the clothing simulation option (e.g. wear a shirt and then a jacket, and use the simulation tools to select the jacket and shape it so it properly lays over the shirt).
    • For rigged clothing the issue is harder to solve.

Sansar at the end of 2019: a personal perspective

My Avatar 2.0 in the Sansar Nexus

The end of December 2019 brings with it the end of the second full year of public accessibility to Sansar. The year has been marked by both a continuing round of updates to the platform, some of which have given rise to concerns among the established base of creators while others have been welcomed; plus a shift in emphasis in an attempt to try to further build Sansar’s audience base and which might be described as “risky”.

I’ve tracked most of these changes through my Sansar reports, particularly those related to the (generally) monthly updates and releases and my Product Meeting summaries. As such, I thought I’d review some of the more notable changes the year has brought forth, and take a brief look into 2020.

Significant Updates and Releases

Avatar 2.0

The Sansar avatar 2.0 release was one of the biggest changes to Sansar made in 2019 and arrived as a part of the September R36 release, potentially the biggest Sansar release for 2019.

Avatar 2.0 was a complete overhaul of the avatar system, rendering the original avatar system obsolete. It introduced a new range of starter avatars, and provided a set of tools to help users and creators adjust their avatar clothing and accessories to fit the new avatar skeleton. In particular, the system provides a completely new deformation capability, initially limited to the head / face, but with the promise at the time of release that full-body deformation would likely follow before the end of 2019.

The facial customisation options introduced with Sansar’s avatar 2.0 in September 2019

Response to the new avatars was mixed, with the female avatar in particular being critiqued for its proportions and overall lack of feminine shape (which gave rise to new range of body form garments designed to provide the avatar with some semblance of bust, waist, hips and bum).

Beyond this, 2019 saw other avatar improvements, including the ability to jump and / or crouch/crouch-walk, uniform scaling, improvements to object manipulation / throwing (again for games), IK updates, better desktop movement controls and improved VR body tracking, etc, most of which came with the April R32 release.

Gaming, Questing, and Experience Points System

Late 2018 through much of 2019, Linden Lab was pinning attempts to build Sansar’s user base on gaming / questing type capabilities – for example, at the end of 2018, Sansar was released through Steam. More particularly in 2019, the March R31 release saw the introduction of Sansar’s questing capabilities, initially for the Lab’s use only. The ability for creators to build their own quests appeared in the July R35 release, with the ability for creators to offer rewards added in October, and an experience points (XP) system officially released in November’s R36 release.

The questing system is designed to be used in games (e.g. adventure quests), games, puzzles, tutorials, guided tours through experiences (or “worlds” as they would be renamed), with the XP system designed to be a multi-functional means for users to gain points and “level up” in Sansar, whether they actively participated in quests and games or simply spent time exploring the worlds in Sansar or come to the platform to socialise and attend events.

Questing capabilities were first introduced to Sansar with the March 2019 R31 release

Given their nature, these updates also fed into changes within the entire Sansar user / social experience, although changes in this area started in advance of the quest system deployment.

User / Social Experience

The first significant change to the social structure in Sansar came in the January 2019 point release 28.3 with the introduction of the Social Hub. Linked directly to users’ Home Spaces (the point where users were at that time logged-in to Sansar when using the client rather than an experience URL), this was intended to provide a common space all users could easily reach and so meet one another, reach other places of interest via portals, play games, etc. It also became the focal point for the first Lab-derived quests deployed with the March release of the quest system.

To further encourage social interaction, personal and group teleport portal capabilities were introduced with the February release for easier individual / group movement around Sansar, while the May R33 release saw the in-client Atlas receive an overhaul with the aim of making finding events and places easier.

The Nexus, Prime Portal and Codex

The biggest change to the user experience came in the September R36 release, alongside the avatar 2.0 update. This saw the introduction of the Nexus, Prime Portal and Codex.

  • The Nexus: a new landing point towards which all users were initially directed towards when logging-in to Sansar. For new users, it included a set of tutorials built around a series of quests intended to help users gain familiarity with the platform.
  • Prime Portal: a physical location within the Nexus linked to a new UI element that replaced the in-client Atlas. It was intended to manage the process of new world discovery (experiences were re-titled “worlds” by this point) by users.
  • The Codex: a new UI element to allow users record, manage and quickly return to places they have previously visited while in Sansar.

The Nexus was also supposed to introduce an evolving “backstory” to Sansar, initially revolving around an non-player character (NPC) called Agent Primus. However, this back story didn’t receive much growth, with Agent Primus acting as little more than another quest giver.

The splitting of world discovery away from what has been the in-client Atlas and into the Nexus / Prime Portal led to concerns that the latter would become a bottleneck with users, discouraging exploration of “new” (to them) worlds.  This concern appears to be confirmed by a chart released by user Gindipple. While only covering a single week, it shows the Nexus gaining 70% of all Sansar visitors, while 19 other worlds accounted for just under 28% of users by popularity. This split tends to indicate a “pooling” of users within the Nexus, without much of a spread outwards to other world (the 2nd most popular world only gaining 3.69% of logged-in users, for example).

Gindipple’s chart for one week of Sansar visitors by world

However, Linden Lab promised to evaluate the use of the Nexus, and in the December R38 release, they formally changed the log-in process to once again deliver users to their Home Space when using the client instead of the Nexus. In that release, the Codex was also updated to list all public worlds a-la the old Atlas, rather than just those a user has visited, thus hopefully making it easier for people to discover and visit worlds they have not previously been to.

Continue reading “Sansar at the end of 2019: a personal perspective”

Sansar Product Meetings week #51

Bryn Oh, Handblog post

The following notes were taken from the Twitch stream recording of the December 19th (week #51) Sansar Product Meeting.

Point Releases for R38

There have been three point releases for the R38 “Rediscover the Party” since December10th, none of which have had release notes posted to the Sansar website.  The core element of these point releases was bug fixes and performance improvements.

Linden Lab and IP

There has apparently been a lot of discussion about (and confusion over) the Lab’s approach to IP protection on Sansar. As a result, Lacie Linden has published A Word About IP on the Sansar blog. This specifically references Linden Lab’s

Both of which can be found on the Lab’s corporate website, and which apply equally to all of the Lab’s platforms.

Plans for 2020

Emotes

  • Updated emote (gestures/ animations) system coming “soon”. This will include the ability to obtain an emote from the Sansar Store and immediately use it and assign a keyboard short-cut to it.
  • Emotes will also be per account in the future, not per avatar – a move intended to remove the need to re-apply emotes to each avatar a user creates.
  • A downside of this is that when first introduced, the new emote system will mean script will no longer be able to access the number keys without triggering an emote.
    • However, a means for users to re-bind keys to whatever they want will be provided, so scripts will not longer be pointing at a specific key, but rather an identifier, which can have any key assigned to it.

Animations

  • Synchronised dancing for music events – probably built into the dance floor, which they set avatars dancing, rather than using emotes.
    • API will allow for both full body and upper body looping and / or single play. This won’t interfere with people wanting to use their own dances.
    • This system will also support other uses with animations.
  • The default idle animation is to be improved.

Backpack

The Backpack is to be extended so that individual scenes (worlds) can define what the Backpack contains. This will include a scripting API to define the state / content of the Backpack at different points in a world (e.g. reach a point in a quest where you have obtained an item, and it is unlocked in the Backpack and available for use).

New User Experience / First 10 Minutes in Sansar

This is to be entirely re-thought, with changes to the initial on-boarding quest experience. This is to align the on-boarding experience more with music and live events – the current focus for Sansar development and audience acquisition.

Moderation Tools

These are to be enhanced, initially for Lab staff but then for world creators – e.g. muting people more easily, removing them from a world, etc. Together with in-client improvements to managing whitelists, etc., and for raising tickets.

Avatar

  • The ability to upload and use custom skins will hopefully be one of the first early avatar updates for 2020.
  • A lot of work has been completed on the full body deformation capability, but it is not clear where the work sits in the work order for 2020.

UI Re-design

There will likely be a “comprehensive” client UI redesign in 2020, aimed at things like reducing the number of clicks required to get to certain capabilities, improving the information available in certain panels (e.g. local chat), with options to use this information to access other panels (e.g. access a user’s Profile from local chat and then adjust the volume at which you hear their voice chat).

This work is forming the “tail end” of a lot of “other, bigger changes”.

Q&A Session Summary

  • There have been reports of issues with the Look Book – items not updating what changing an avatar; saving updates taking a long time. There has been some work going on with the look Book, and this may have caused a few bugs, which are being / have been addressed by the Sansar team.
  • Nexus sounds: the background sounds (referred to as the “old sounds” are interfering with the music, etc.. These are to be removed.
  • The bug by which a blocked individual can continue to harass in local text chat is being investigated.
  • The Sansar team is looking at a lot of the pain points within the content creation process in order to try to smooth the process end-to-end and make it easier for content to be brought into Sansar and used to create scenes and worlds. This work may encompass things like UI improvements and allowing creators to version their worlds.
  • Will there be an AFK indicator when people are absent their computer? Being considered, but not clear if this will be SL-like or something like returning an avatar to their Home Space after a certain amount of time inactive has passed.
  • Tipping: is also being looked at, but may be driven from tipping “official” performers rather than a generic person-to-person exchange of Sansar Dollars.
  • A Sansar mobile client is still on the road map, but no significant updates at the moment other than it is being worked on.
  • Why is is still necessary to run events in a copy of a world, rather than the original? This actually goes back to the way in which the ticketing system works – and this is frustrating for the Lab and world creators, as it is still inward-facing (creators cannot as yet make use of it for generating revenue off of their own events).

Sansar R38 release overview

A Victorian Christmas

On Tuesday, December 10th, Linden Lab deployed the Sansar R38 release, entitled “Rediscover the Party” release. It’s again something of a comparatively small update, but brings with it changes that have been requested by users and creators.

Key updates with this release that are covered in this article comprise:

  • Changes on logging-in.
  • Codex improvements to help world discovery.
  • Events changes.

As always, please refer to the formal release notes for full details of all the updates in R38.

Changes on Logging-In

With this update, existing users are no longer channelled to the Nexus by default (forcing them to cancel the world launch in order to reach their Home Space or Go Home from the Nexus). Instead, existing users are delivered to their Home Space directly on logging-in.

Also, with this release, the Quest Log is closed by default when logging in (as per multiple user requests). It will open automatically on accepting a new quest or can be re-opened manually via Go → Quests.

The Codex and Discovering Worlds

Since the introduction of the Nexus and Prime Portal with the R36 release (see: Sansar: R36 – Avatar 2.0 the Nexus, the Codex and more) there has been concern that forcing users to go to the Nexus and visit the Prime Portal in order to discover new worlds was causing a bottleneck on users willingness to discover new worlds and explore, and simply stick to those within their Codex.

At the time of the R36 release, Linden Lab stated they would monitor the situation and make changes as and when they felt it necessary. With this release, and following the voiced concern and their own tracking of user behaviour, the functionality found in the client version of the Codex has been updated to shift the Prime Portal functionality to the Codex with the Lab noting:

We (and you) found that after the change to make the Prime Portal in the Nexus the hub of all travel we noticed that it was actually much more difficult and confusing, especially for newer players, to find new interesting and populated Worlds to explore.

We’re bringing back the old view which we used to call the Atlas; where all published Worlds were always available from the Explore menu. There’s no longer a requirement to travel to the Nexus and interact with the Prime Portal in order to find new Worlds to explore and people to meet.

The new-look Codex – avoids the need for users to go to the Nexus and the Prime Portal to discover new worlds

As such, the updated Codex now resembles the Prime Portal panel. By default, it will open on the Explore tabs that offers:

  • A list of events ordered by time and date, with the most recent first.
    • Hovering the mouse over a thumbnail will bring up the Interested button (adds the event to your calendar) or transfer you to the event if it is about to start.
    • Alternatively, clicking on an event thumbnail will display more information about it.
  • Worlds ordered in terms of Popular (visitors at the time the Codex was opened); Featured (those selected by the Sansar team for special highlighting); Community Favourites (worlds that have previously enjoyed a high level of activity by users); New (worlds recently published) Recently Updated (self-explanatory).

Further:

  • In all cases of the above, a full list of events or worlds in each category can be accessed by clicking the See All buttons associated with each category.
    • Note that clicking See All from the Popular list will open a page of ALL published worlds.
  • Tabs at the top of the Codex allow for easy movement between the Explore page and those for Events, and worlds the users has: marked as a favourite; visited; or created.
  • The search and sort options from the Codex remain as per R36.

These changes have been welcomed by users and creators on Sansar Discord.

Events Update

Users can now see the level of interest in an event (web Atlas event page shown)

One of the problem with events – in terms of getting together with other users – is actually seeing how popular an event might be with others ahead of time, rather than on arrival.

To help with this, Sansar R38 introduces a count of those who have registered an interest in an event. This is displayed on the event detail page on the web Atlas or within the Codex / Prime Portal.

However, there is a slight issue with this in the initial release: the number of those interested in attending an event is not registering / updating in the Codex or Prime Portal event details pages.

Feedback

Another small updated compared to R36, but one that responds to multiple requests from users and creators, and which hopefully encourage exploration of worlds by users. I admit that since the introduction of the Prime Portal as the means for discovering worlds, I’ve actually been using the web version of the Atlas in preference to going to the Nexus / Prime Portal, so I’ll be interested to see how the new Codex changes my behaviour in future.  Hopefully the events interest indicator on the Codex  / Prime Portal will be fixed in an upcoming point release.

Bryn Oh’s Hand in Sansar

Bryn Oh, Hand – Sansar

Three years ago, in December 2016, Bryn Oh unveiled Hand, a full-region installation offering visitors an immersive experience mixing art and storytelling with a touch of mystery and discovery. I visited that installation on the occasion of its opening – see Bryn’s Hand in Second Life – so I was delighted to learn via a Tweet from fellow traveller Wurfi that Bryn has opened Hand within Sansar.

The original Hand was an interactive experience, utilising many of Second Life’s capabilities, notably the use of a HUD as a guide tool and storytelling device. Sansar currently lacks any real ability to provide an HUD-like capability, but this doesn’t lessen the impact of Hand in Sansar. Instead of the HUD, this installation make use of dynamic objects within the installation to tell the story, notably in the form of the principal character in the story, Flit – or Flutter, as she is also known.

Bryn Oh, Hand – Sansar

I won’t dwell on the story in great depth, given I did so in my original piece on Hand, but I will repeat something I noted in that article:

This journey takes us through a strange, broken urban setting with decaying, collapsing buildings; a place where adults are almost (but not entirely) absent, apparently leaving their children to fend for themselves …  Walking through the streets and buildings I seemed to come across nods to dystopian sci-fi: a hint of Soyent Green here, a reference to rampant consumerism there. While Flit and the other children brought to mind shades of And The Children Shall Lead, minus the space alien angle.

Bryn Oh’s Hand in Second Life, December 2016

Bryn On, Hand – Sansar

What is particularly impressive with this build – which Bryn has specifically built around the use of VR headsets to gain a full sense of immersion that the original in Second Life perhaps couldn’t achieve – is the richness of colour, sound and sense of presence, the latter being fully appreciable even when visiting in Desktop mode as I did.

This edition of Hand, as Bryn notes in her blog, has been made possible through the support of the Ontario Arts Council, an organisation that has – to the benefit of us all – long supported Bryn’s work. In that post, Bryn also muses on art within virtual spaces, and how the capabilities of VR headsets coupled with creative environments like Sansar can help to bring a new artistic movement to the attention of a wider audience:

We had the Cubists, Impressionists, Surrealists, Modernists and I see our movement as the Immersivists. I have believed in this idea a long time but now with virtual reality headsets such as Vive or Oculus, the immersion is less fragile. You don’t look at a computer screen and beyond its borders see a bill that needs to be paid or your cell phone rings… instead you are in the world I have created and firmly there. Unlike painting where you stand from a distance and look at a static scene or cinema where you are told a story as a passive observer, virtual reality artwork can offer the ability to be an active participant in the art.

– Bryn Oh

Bryn Oh, Hand – Sansar

Hand is proof of this. Within it, we can not only follow Flutter’s story, but we can look elsewhere. Spaces that can only be hinted at in a painting or seen as a passing background in a film can be turned to and explored. Of course, this has always been the case with Second Life, but the personal immediacy of VR does take this personal involvement within a an installation like this adds a further layer to the narrative within it.

As captivating as the original – Desktop users note that some free-camming might be advised – Hand remains as an engrossing story in Sansar as it did in Second Life.

Bryn Oh, Hand – Sansar

URL Details

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.