Sansar: lay-offs, rumours, and confusion

Courtesy of Linden Lab

Update, February 13th: Linden Lab offered a statement on Second Life that references the lay-offs. I’ve posted separately on that with some additional notes on SL. See: An Update About Second Life (Linden Lab) and Linden Lab provide statement on SL in the wake of Sansar lay-offs.

On Tuesday, February 11th, Ryan Schultz reported a claim that Linden Lab had shut down development of Sansar, their Social VR platform, and that there had been a large number of lay-offs (up to 40 of the remaining staff of approximately 60-75 people).

Unsurprisingly, the news gave rise to a lot of speculation on the platform’s status and future. I have a request for information in with the Lab, but due to time differences, I’ve yet to receive a reply (the major reason I had thus far held off on writing about the matter – assuming I do get a reply. But in the interim, here is what has been stated:

  • The Lab is rumoured to have shut down Sansar development.
  • Some 40 staff are rumoured to have been laid off.
  • Some staff are rumoured to have been transferred back to Second Life.

The only official word in response thus far on the matter is a Sansar Discord post by Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg:

So, I’m only going to say this tonight as it’s late. We can pick up the conversation in the following days. Yes, there were lay-offs today. A truly wonderful group of people. But as you can see Sansar is up and running. We are still in discussion about next steps. Including with the wonderful group of people. More to come. Don’t give up yet. Go create and have fun. Not much point in speculating until we can tell you more.

So it would appear the rumour of lay-offs is accurate, if not necessarily the number. There is always a temptation to dig into potential departures, but I would rather not unduly add to speculation on that front until more is known via official sources.

In terms of Sansar staff transferring back to Second Life, it is worth noting that a number actually did so in late 2019 (or at least, some transferred back while some may have resumed splitting their time between Sansar and SL – Monty Linden, for example resumed posting to the SL forums on topics at the end of 2019, while one of the rendering team moved back to SL from Sansar). So, at this point, it is not clear if there may have been further moves from Sasnsar back to SL, or whether the current rumours on on such moves is the result of people picking up on last year’s shifts.

As it is, Sansar currently remains accessible to users (I’m in Sansar as I write this), and events through until the end of March 2020 remain active in the Sansar events page. However, this should not be taken to mean “business as usual”; until the Lab comments further on the matter, nothing can really be taken for granted either in terms of Sansar’s continuance or otherwise.

On a general note, I would hope some form of clarification / statement of intent regarding Sansar is made sooner rather than later. This is because news of lay-offs + rumours and speculation, particularly coming on top of the lay-offs at the start of November 2019 and the shift in emphasis with the platform that occurred at that time, tend to rock confidence for those actively engaged in Sansar (and there are a fair number of creators very active within the platform), and can also easily result in FUD and rumour spreading well beyond the platform, potentially to its detriment.

As further information becomes available I’ll follow-up on this post with either updates or additional articles.

Sansar R39 release overview

Sansar: Hollywood Art Museum

On Tuesday, February 4th, Linden Lab deployed the Sansar R39 release, entitled “Sweet Emote-tions”. It’s again something of a comparatively small update. Key updates within it that are covered in this article comprise:

  • New emotes system.
  • Instance picker.
  • New avatars.

As always, please refer to the formal release notes for full details of all the updates in R39, notably fixes with the release.

New Emotes System

The first pass of the emotes system sees the old system completely replaced, with the ability to use short-cut keys to trigger assigned emotes and obtain and assign emotes to short cut keys without having to go to the Look Book.

Emotes are now access via the Emote button in the client or by pressing CTRL-E (as before). This opens a new, compact menu that lists the default emotes and the keys (1-0 of the number row keys) they have been assigned to.

  • To activate an emote, left-click on its name in the menu or press the assigned number key (e.g. 1 for “wave”).
  • To deactivate a playing emote, either left click the emote name on the menu or move your avatar.

To obtain an emote from the store:

  • Open the Emotes menu.
  • Click the shopping cart in the top right of the Emotes menu.
  • The Store panel will open with the Emotes category selected by default.
  • Refine your search as required using the drop-downs (gender and order).
  • Make a purchase of an emote.
  • The emote is added to your menu and flagged as New, and is ready for use.
The emotes menu and shopping cart button for obtaining further emotes from the Sansar Store

To assign an emote to a short cut key (1-0 on the number row):

  • Open the Emotes menu.
  • Highlight the emote you wish to assign to a key.
  • Hover the mouse over the emote to which to assign to a short-cut key.
    • If the emote is not already assigned to a key, the Assign Shortcut button is displayed.
    • If the emote is already assigned to a short-cut key, hover the mouse of the number button, which will toggle to the Assign Shortcut button.
    • In either case, click on Assign Shortcut.
  • The display will switch to display a list of short cut numbers and the emotes currently assigned to them, or will be labelled “Unassigned”.
  • Click on the number to which you want to assign your selected emote.
    • The menu will update so the selected emote is displayed with its selected short-cut, and end emote previously assigned to the short-cut key will appear at the bottom of the menu.
Assigning emotes to short cut keys

Instance Picker

Where there is more than one instance of a world or event running, users can now see available instances and visit the instance of their choice (subject to avatar capacity. In addition, user can:

  • See a list of all available instances of a world.
  • Copy a link or drop a portal to a specific instance.

New Player Avatars

A new line of electronic dance music (EDM) inspired avatars have been added to the new player avatar carousel. These have been developed by by the Sansar studio team and by selected Sansar creators.

The updated Sansar starter avatars

Backpack Updates

The Backpack functionality has been updated:

  • Sound effects volumes have been reduced
  • Physics properties of some props have been improved so they behave more like their physical world counterparts.
  • Grab point locations on the backpack objects have been improved to fit into hands better

Feedback

A modest update, but one again steered towards live events – the new starter avatars are biased to “EDM looks”, while the new emote system (for now) is dance-heavy, with the original sit animations now gone from it.

The Sansar team have already indicated the instance picker will be enhanced in future updates, but the functionality here does exactly what it says on the tin – although it is hard to test as there are not that many Sansar worlds that require more than one instance at any given time.

Other than that, not a lot to report, having only spent limited time using the update and in Sansar.

2020 Sansar Product Meetings week #5: R39 and more

The Bridge of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701, The Original Series)

The following notes were taken from the January 30th (week #5) Sansar Product Meeting, the video of which is embedded at the end of this report.

Upcoming R39: Event Instances and New Avatar Looks

The opening of the meeting included a short video demonstrating the upcoming instance picker. When a world or event is running more than one instance, this allows users to pick the instance they want to access and / or offer to friends to access as well (individual avatar numbers per instance allowing). With it:

  • An instance of a world / even can be selected.
  • The URL for that instance can be shared (e.g. via chat, when in-world with others).
  • A portal can be dropped based on a select instance.

When released, this will be the first iteration of the instance picker, and further refinement will follow (e.g. a count of avatars in each instance. potentially see which instance(s) of a an event friends are already in (and then join that instance). Such enhancement will depend on feedback from users once the initial release has been made.

The same video also revealed one of the new looks that the Sansar Studios team is providing for default avatars.  These should be available in the upcoming R39 both within the avatar carousel for new users joining the platform and within the Look Book for other users.

As noted in the my week #3 notes, the R39 release will likely also include:

  • A new emote system that will include the ability to assign emotes to the number row keys on -the-fly – no need to access the Look Book, including purchasing an emote from the Store and applying on the fly.
  • New Twitch integration specifically aimed at events and streaming events by users.
  • A further round of bugs fixes.
    • One of these (as an R39 point release) will be the ability to copy / paste entire vectors (X, Y, Z , rotation, colour) between objects in Edit Mode

R39 is being targeted for a Tuesday, February 4th release.

Events News

New Music Genres for Events

Sansar partner events have thus far focused on the electronic dance music (EDM) market. However, this should be broadening in 2020 to include other opportunities / genres. In particular, Galileo, the Sansar Community Manager mentioned that company is working with a heavy metal band. This includes both designing a world for them to play in and coding the avatars to “play” instruments, etc.

This heavy metal event is seen as an opportunity for creators to provide items that might be included in collections related to it. In this respect, it is noted that the band in question (no name given) has a strong fantasy lean, with orcs, etc., a feature in their work / look.

Web Events Update

A web update was released on Wednesday, January 29th, specifically for event creators / hosts. This should resolve the issue of the modal popping up claiming an event couldn’t be updated without an image when trying to update the access list. Also, when looking at your own My World list on the web, it should now be possible to more easily differentiate between event worlds and actually worlds where there are multiple versions of an experience.

COMET News

The COMmunity Even Team (COMET) have earned sufficient points for the entire community to gain a reward, and this should be appearing in people’s Backpacks soon.

Q&A Session Summary

Th Q&A session commences at the 15 minute mark in the video. Note that not all questions are reflected below, just those that could be responded to with details.

  • Will music genres other than EDM and heavy meal be supported? Classical, jazz, blues? Yes. And suggestions for possible acts should be passed on the the Sansar team.
  • Can blocking another user include local chat? Being worked on.
  • Will the UI overhaul include Edit Modes and offer things like inventory folders? No. The first cut of the UI overhaul completely ignores Edit Mode. A future (“not soon”) follow-up will look at Edit Mode at some point.
  • Fees for cashing out have do not appear to have remained fixed for long-term creators as promised (through until the end of 2020). Is this being fixed? Yes – the fix should be available very soon.
  • Backpack related:
    • Can the Backpack be adjusted so that items rezzed from it are persistent – such as furniture in your own space? The idea is to expand the Backpack so that each scene can define the contents of the the backpack (so the contents change as a user moves from world-to-world, depending on on the local rules), and to allow scripted control of the backpack, thus given world creators complete control over what can be used from the backpack, when it can be used and how long it might remain within a world (if relevant).
    • Will there be limits on how many items the Backpack can contain? Will it support folders for organising things? There isn’t currently a limit on the number of items the Backpack can contain, but one may be added, depending on how creators make use of it. There are no plans to add folders to the backpack, as the idea is to keep it as simple and easy to use as possible.
    • Will the ability for world creators limit the number of items a user can rez from their Backpack at any one time? Possibly.
  • Marvelous Designer™ is about to issue a fix for zippers and buttons not working at anticipated. When released, will this be integrated in to Sansar’s MD support? Yes, either within a release or a point release.
  • Is it possible to have a means to test and amend scripts without having to build an entire scene? Sort answer: not at present, although this is a pain point for the Sansar Studio team as well. Suggestions are to:
    • a) build a simple scene where scripts can be more easily tested.
    • b) If the above isn’t feasible, disable things like GI and audio reverb to speed the scene building process, test and adjust scripts as required and then re-enable options that have been turned off when done.
  • Can support for custom avatar heads using the deformation system be provided:  requires rigging to around 200 bones, and while some creators could handle it, it is seen as not something the Lab wants to make user-facing at this point. It would also require an extensive overhaul of import system to support it. As such, not currently a priority,
  • What is the status of full body deformation? No-one working on it, and not on the immediate schedule for work.

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 #3) 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).