Sansar Product Meetings week #24: more on Avatar 2.0

Sansar Social Hub

The majority of the following notes were taken from my recording of the Sansar Product Meeting held on Thursday, June 13th, which primarily focused on the upcoming Avatar 2.0 release.

R33 Update

A third R33 Give More, Get More update was deployed on June 11th. This comprises:

  • A new ability to copy and paste components within the “Object Structure” panel – creators can copy and paste audio, light, and script components in the ‘Object Structure’ panel via the right-click context menu. Components may be pasted within an object, or into another object.
  • A fix to prevent crashing when editing scenes that have objects with joints.

Avatar 2.0

Target Release Periods

  • The target date for the initial Avatar 2.0 update is early September 2019.
  • It is hoped that the Avatar 2.0 reference files will be available for release to creators in early August 2019
    • This is to allow creators to gain familiarity with the new skeleton ahead of support being deployed to Sansar, and to start updating those items they make / sell that require adjustment / re-rigging to work with Avatar 2.0.
    • As a part of this, the Lab will be running a Creator Programme, this will:
      • Allow creators to develop assets (avatar, rigged items for avatars, etc., and pass them to linden Lab for testing in an environment the Lab has that support Avatar 2.0, then allow creators to receive feedback on their assets: did they work, were there problems, did things not fit as expected, do adjustments need to be made, etc.
      • Be open to all interested creators, and details on how to participate will be made available when the avatar reference files are released.
      • It is noted that this may not be as effective as creators testing their items directly; however, as there is no public beta testing environment, there is no real alternative.

General Notes

  • This is both a new avatar skeleton and mesh. As noted in my previous meeting notes, this will support:
    • Bone deformation, allowing the avatar’s face to be directly selected and shaped / contoured / scaled as the user wants (default avatars only with the initial release, but will hopefully be extended to support custom avatars in later releases.
      • Facial presets will be a part of this, allowing users to make adjustments to their avatar’s face from a pre-set look.
      • These presets will extend to allowing creators to make and sell their own facial presets.
    • Blend shapes (initially just for the base avatar, but hopefully to be extended to support custom avatars).
    • Support for uploading and using custom skins for the base avatar.
  • A large part of the reasons behind the update are: to support bone deformation; to make the avatar more expressive, and to allow users to give their avatars more in the way of individuals looks.
  • Avatar 2.0 has:
    • A skeleton with 170 bones (compared to the 230 for Avatar 1.0), which should simplify skinning to it.
    • Bone-based facial deformation (rather than blend shapes) to better support both facial deformation and to support attachments that will correctly move in response to changes to the facial bone structure.
    • A more neutral avatar mesh to better support deformation.
    • A set of skeletons, from “complex” to “simple”, to make it easier to develop custom avatars (if you have an avatar design that doesn’t require all 170 bones, use one of the simpler versions).
  • It is acknowledged Avatar 2.0 represents a substantial change (particularly the male avatar).
  • Both the male and female default avatars will be of the same shoulder height (but obviously this can be adjusted through the uniform scaling option).
  • The overall aims for Avatar 2.0 is to provide an avatar system that:
    • Meets requirements as expressed by creators, and which forms a solid foundation for all future avatar enhancements / updates without having to completely overhaul the entire avatar system again.
    • Can be used to develop avatars using the default avatars which can in turn be solid through the Sansar Store.
    • Can be used to create wholly custom avatars.
  • Avatar 2.0 sees a re-working of the procedural speech animations and some IK reworking, both of which should result in improvements in animations and VR-related movements during body tracking.

Avatar 1.0 and Avatar 2.0

  • The Lab will not continue with supporting Avatar 1.0 when the new avatar is deployed.
  • Rigged objects (hair, clothes) designed for Avatar 1.0 will need to be re-rigged for Avatar 2.0.
  • There will be little in the way of bone matching between Avatar 1.0 and Avatar 2.0 (although creators can obviously do re-mapping through their own tools, if they wish, allowing for the potential of texture stretching).
  • As recorded in my previous meeting notes:
    • The Lab has been working on Marvelous Designer scaling and translation. This, together with a clothing translation tool LL are working on, should allow MD clothing to be more easily updated to fit the new avatar skeleton. However, some of this may be limited due to the fact that MD only support uniform scaling.
    • Run-time re-targeting in being introduced to allow animations and emotes using the core bones should work with Avatar 2.0.
      • Very specific custom animations may require the creator to re-target.
    • Similarly, a re-mapping capability for attachments is being looked at, primarily aimed at allowing attachments to be moved between attach points, but which may also ease some of the transition to the new skeleton.
  • Compensation / redelivery: it has been intimated:
    • Those who have purchased custom avatars / rigged items using the current avatar may receive some form of refund / stipend from the Lab in lieu of no longer being able to use those avatars.
    • Some form of update system will be made available to creators to allow them to make updates to items they’ve made specific to the current avatar to work with Avatar 2.0, and notify customers the update is available.

Capabilities Release Order

  • Lab’s first priority is to get Avatar 2.0 working smoothly enough for an initial release, which will support facial deformation.
  • Open things to allow texture (e.g. skin) uploads that can be applied to the base avatar (providing skin uploads for custom avatars is regarded as a harder option to support, due to the need to support custom UV maps).
  • Then extend support to full body bone deformation etc.

Custom Avatar Skeleton Pre-Morphing

This is a “would like to have” from the Lab. The idea is that for custom avatars with unusual both shapes (e.g. a gorilla with longer arms, shorter legs and a tapered torso), the skeleton can be morphed and skinned through Maya (or other tool), thus avoiding the need to additional UV work to avoid stretched textures when users adjust the avatar. The morphed skeleton (and skin) can then be uploaded into Sansar and run-time animation re-targeting can be used to ensure the default animations / emotes work with it.

Ultimately, the Lab would like to get to the point of supporting fully customised animations / locomotion graphs, but this is still a way off, and this is seen as a good initial step to help better support custom avatars.

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Sansar Product Meetings week #23: Avatar 2.0 and a little Q and A

The Sansar World Oceans Day Charity Event: Virtual Beach Clean Up – help Linden Lab (with additional support from the Roddenberry Foundation) raise money for EarthEcho International. Find out more on the Sansar World Oceans Day event page.

The majority of the following notes were taken from my recording of the Sansar Product Meeting held on Thursday, June 7th, which was largely a general user Q&A and feedback session.

R33 Updates

The Early Access pop-up, displayed when installing the client / a client update

There have been a couple of updates to the R33 Give more, Get More Sansar update. These have focused on bug fixes, and were released on May 31st (release notes) and June 5th (release notes).

One of these updates appears to also have changed the client updates process – although this may have been done a while ago, and I’m only now seeing it; I’ve not been that active on Sansar recently.

On installing a client update (and presumably when installing it for the first time) and new pop-up in displayed once installation is complete.

As can be seen on the right, this confirms that Sansar is still in “Early Access” (which may well also be a reference to the Steam Early access programme, and so the pop-up may only appear to Sansar users coming to it via Steam or who have linked their Sansar account to Steam). It warns user that things are in a state of flux, and also provides links to the Sansar website and the Sansar Discord channel.

A Launch button at the bottom of the pop-up will launch the client proper, allowing a user to log-in to Sansar (either manually or automatically if they have Remember Me checked in the client log-in screen).

Avatar 2.0

  • Avatar 2.0 represents a substantial update to Sansar and is currently one of the primary focuses for the Sansar team. It will include:
    • An updated avatar skeleton.
    • Bone deformation (e.g. allowing the avatar’s face to be directly selected and shaped / contoured as the user wants).
      • For this initial release, the deformation system will only work with the Sansar base avatar.
      • As resources become available, it is hoped to expand this to custom avatars in later releases.
    • Volumetric morphs (e.g. using sliders built-in to the base mesh to make adjustments).
    • Support for uploading and using custom skins for the base avatar.
    • The ability to use the base avatar to create custom avatars directly, which can then be sold through the Sansar Store (although this functionality will not be in the initial Avatar 2.0 release).
      • This will hopefully include the ability to create avatar shapes (a-la Second Life), rather than having to create entire avatars.
  • Avatar 2.0 reference files for use by creators are in development.
    • The current plan is to make these files available to creators approximately a month before the actual Avatar 2.0 deployment.
    • This early release of the reference files will be supported by the Sansar avatar development team, who will be available to test avatars and clothing built / rigged to the new avatar format and test them internally at the Lab and provide feedback, as creators will not be able to test directly until the new avatar system has been deployed.
    • It is anticipated that this process will work in a similar manner to the way in which Sansar fashion support with Marvelous Designer was deployed at the end of 2017; the difference her being the files will be available to all creators wishing to experiment with them, rather than just a selected few.
    • Note: the recent updates to the avatar reference files that have been distributed to so creators for testing purposes are not avatar 2.0; they are updates to the current avatar intended to reduce issues found with blend files, together with a general clean-up of the files.
    • It is anticipated that additional updates to the reference files will see the inclusion of textures. However, decimation for these reference files will remain a user task, although the plan is to include decimation support in the avatar 2.0. reference files.
  • Avatar 2.0 will not initially support different  / custom bone structures, although support for this may be added in the future.
  • To help with the introduction of Avatar 2.0:
    • The Lab has been working on Marvelous Designer scaling and translation, which may be deployed in week #24 (commencing Monday, June 10th). This will allow MD clothing to be more easily scaled / rotated / translated, hopefully making it easier to update to fit the new avatar skeleton (and other shapes).
    • Emotes are being re-targeted, so they should continue to work with the new avatar.
    • Similarly, a re-mapping capability for attachments is being looked at, primarily aimed at allowing attachments to be moved between attach points, but which may also ease some of the transition to the new skeleton.
  • It is currently not clear what will happen with the current avatar skeleton when Avatar 2.0 is ready for release.
    • The Lab view trying to support both skeletons as being “difficult”, and they may opt to only support avatar 2.0 going forward.
    • This calls into question content breakage for all of the current custom avatars (and rigged items) associated with the current avatar skeleton.
    • It was intimated during the meeting that those who have purchased custom avatars using the current avatar may receive some form of refund / stipend from the Lab in lieu of no longer being able to use those avatars.
    • It was also indicated that some form of update system will be made available to creators to allow them to make updates to items they’ve made specific to the current avatar to work with Avatar 2.0, and distribute them to customer who have purchased the previous version.
  • Given the extent of the changes with Avatar 2.0 and the fact that some decisions are still in flux, it has been suggested that in the weeks / months leading up to the release:
    • A portion of each Product Meeting is allocated to discussing Avatar 2.0, particularly where the Lab has reached a decision.
    • A Product Meeting ahead of the actual deployment (when it is ready to roll) is devoted to Avatar 2.0.
  • A goal with the updates is to (at some point) open up the materials editor for the avatar both pre- and post-upload, so maps can be altered / updated for both the base and custom avatars.

Look Book

  • Currently, Look Book cannot be searched. For those with a sizeable avatar inventory.
  • This can make finding a specific item painful it is:
    • Either a lot of scrolling through clothing or accessories within Look Book to find the required item(s),
    • Or, if a search function is to be used, going to the Store, searching there, clicking the Wear It Now button (which applies to already purchased items as well) to return to look Book and seeing it worn.
  • The Lab is working on adding more functionality to Look Book, but right now, the focus is on Avatar 2.0 (see above), and so it will be a while before anything for Look Book is deployed.

General Inventory Capabilities

Inventory in Sansar essentially comes in two forms: Avatar inventory (clothing, hair, accessories) that can be obtained through the Sansar Store and which is available via the Look Book. Object style inventory – scripts, building, sounds, media, plants, rocks, lights, etc., which can also be uploaded and obtained through the Sansar Store but which are available only through the Edit Mode inventory.

  • LL have been discussing making the latter more user friendly through the introduction of folders.
  • There has also been some discussion of providing an “experience” style of inventory, such that an avatar can obtain / carry / select items they wish to use directly within an experience.
  • Currently no information is available on how either approach may work or when they might be ready for deployment.

The “Three Pillars” of Sansar

In the discussion, Landon McDowell, the Lab’s Chief Product Officer, defined the primary “three pillars” for Sansar as a platform as being:

  • Content creation – including provided a set of well-round tools / support for tools for both avatar and world creation.
  • Socialisation – making sure people can interact with one another, make friends, hold social events.
  • Gaming  / exploration – quests, mini-games, people exploring experiences and discovering what has been put into them.

So if someone wants to come into Sansar and do something under one (or more) of these umbrellas, the Lab wants to be able to support them.

In Brief

  • Local persistence: something the Lab wants to offer, but not currently being worked on.
  • Questing system:
    • Further Lab-built questions will be forthcoming.
    • The quest system itself is being enhanced and improved, but is not yet user-friendly enough to be opened to experience creators.
    • The plan remains to make the question system available once it is robust and friendly enough to be used by experience creators. It is liable to be several more months before it is available on a platform use.
    • The system will most likely include a scripting API.
  • Particle system: this is something the Lab want to do this, but the focus at the moment is on performance, and will remain so for another “couple of months”, so development of any particle system is deferred until at least this work has been completed.

Sansar R33 Give More Get More release overview

Courtesy of Linden Lab

On Thursday, May 30th, Linden Lab updated the Sansar Give More, Get More (R33) release. An official summary of the update is available, and please refer to that document for details of bug fixes. Highlights of the release key features reviewed here are:

  • Client Atlas updates.

Initial Notes

As with the majority of Sansar deployments, this update requires the automatic download and installation of a client update.

Client Atlas Face-Lift

R33 bring with it an overhaul of the in-client Atlas. The new format comprises three broad categories: What’s Happing In Sansar; Popular Now and Featured.

The new in-client Atlas Discovery panel

This appears to in preparation for changes to the Atlas outlined by the Lab in recent Sansar Product Meetings that will see the Atlas display three selections of experiences that have been previously defined as:

  • Three featured experiences reserved for the Lab’s content partners.
  • Three featured experiences that align with other internal goals the Lab has which “may or may not be obvious”. These might, for example, focus on live music concerts.
  • Three  featured experiences open to Sansar creators, and will be changed on a weekly basis, and selected through a new criteria mechanism (details TBA).

The Experiences category will switch to the familiar listing of Sansar experiences, complete with the sub-selection options (All, Friends, Favourites), search bar and ordering options drop-down menu.

The new in-client Atlas experiences layout

The final category option is Events, offering the familiar listing of upcoming events with the sub-categories for listing past events, those you are hosting, and your calendar of all events you’ve bookmarked, and which are rounded out by the button for setting-up new events you wish to host.

The updated Atlas Events category

Other Updates with R33

  • Gifting: transaction fees for gifting Sansar dollars are to be removed, so the full amount of Sansar dollars will be passed to the recipient.
  • Event creation  / experience caps: as per my Sansar week #20 Product Meeting notes, with R33, event versions of experiences will no longer count towards the total number of experiences a creator can have published. Creators will for now be able to create / host as many events as they wish without hitting the ceiling on the total number of experiences they are allowed to have published within their subscription banding.
    • This is seen as a “temporary” change, pending further revisions to the events system, including finding a means to link events back to the originating experience.
  • New Item inventory icon: new items purchased  / obtained via the Store will be tagged with a “new” icon in their inventory thumbnail image.
The “new” icon for new i(and previously unworn / used) items in your inventory
  • New progress bar scripting API: this enables creators to add a progress bar or countdown timer when an action is triggered in an Experience. Descriptive text may also be included with the progress bar.
  • Foot IK improvement: an avatar’s feet turn when it changes direction in desktop, just like in VR
  • New right click capability: this enables users to cut, copy and paste text on various text fields.

Improvements List

This list taken directly from the release notes:

  • Avatar related:
    • Upgrading an avatar caused the Marvelous Designer clothing to fit over whatever the avatar had on during the upgrade process.
    • Marvelous Designer clothing can now be adjusted with two hands in VR.
    • The Customise option no longer exists after upgrading an avatar that has been deleted from the user’s inventory.
    • Make an empty fist in VR without worrying about other controller actions from working.
    • The scale values now apply properly on avatars using avatar animations that were uploaded using a partial skeleton.
  • Decimated crashes triggered from the avatar editor and scene editor.
  • New fix for exposure metering on Nvidia RTX GPUs to correct the problem that varied the experience brightness from one video card to another.
  • Making changes to a group of similar script attributes no longer changes the wrong attribute of some of the selected scripts.
  • Assets that contained unlicensed information no longer prevent the gizmos from appearing when selecting object structure components such as containers, static meshes, or volume components.

Sansar Product Meetings week #20: avatar LOD, policies, and more

Sitting at the Product Meeting, Wurfi (r) demonstrates that with the R32 release, it is possible to be a Tiny in Sansar …

The majority of the following notes were taken from my recording of the Sansar Product Meeting held on Thursday, May 16th, which covered the avatar LOD system, further changes to events, rendering updates and policy reviews feedback.

Avatar LOD System

  • The avatar level of detail (LOD) system has now been deployed.
  • This applies to all avatars in Sansar, whether default or custom.
  • It is an automated process that produces five LOD versions of the avatar using different tri counts, and which are automatically used / swapped so that avatars become progressively less complex the further they are from the observer, reducing the impact they may have on performance.
  • The process is “quality” based, rather than tri-count tied, so the system tries to reduce tri count without unduly impacting on the overall shape of an avatar.
  • The LOD models are generated after the avatar has been dressed and hidden surfaces removed as the avatar is baked (after something like selection in Look Book or a change of outfit).
  • It has been noted that the system isn’t working as well as might be the case with certain avatars and / or avatar attachments (e.g. eyes bugging out when lower LOD models are used by the system).
    • Those who do notice particularly odd / deformed avatars in their view are asked to take a screen shot and send it to the Lab via a bug report / on Discord.
    • If there are specific issues that occur with default avatars that do not seem to reproduce on custom avatars, again, the Lab request a screen shot showing both.

Event Changes

  • There have been reservations voiced about the way events are counted.
  • As events now take place in special instances of experiences, these can count against the total number of experiences a creator is allowed to have published, which has been seen as a problem for some creators.
  • The Lab is now “temporarily” withdrawing this, until such time as the events system has been improved.
  • Thus, creators will for now be able to create / host as many events as they wish without hitting the ceiling on the total number of experiences they are allowed to have published within their subscription banding.

Rendering Updates

  • The Sansar R32 movement update included some rendering updates there were not documented in the release notes. These updates comprise:
    • Bloom setting on the scene settings menu – improved to be less blurry and more “bloomy” (so fog may appear denser, for example). This might require experience creators to check any of their scenes using bloom to ensure things are rendering correctly, or whether adjustments are required.
    • Billboard material – has been enhanced to include scroll UV support and a non-scrolling mask. An occlusion issue with billboards has also been fixed so they should not occlude other billboards.
    • New features for fixed shimmering by scrolling emissive materials. This should also fix a problem with anti-aliasing across the edges of objects, and shimmer when scrolling UVs are used for colour cycling effects.
    • Transparent multi-bump scrolling speed has been fixed.
  • None of the fixes should require the re-upload on content; they should simply see things now working as expected.

Policy Feedback and Content Guidelines

  • Concerns were raised at a recent community meet-up about some of the policies enforced around Sansar. These include the Community Standards and their governance, and the guidelines relating to the Sansar Store not being clear / enforced.
  • This has resulted in an internal discussion within the Lab concerning which guidelines may not be as clear as they perhaps could be, those that might be a little heavy-handed and might require further adjustment, and equally those that may need to be made both clearer and stronger.
  • In terms of Guidelines, some changes / updates being considered include:
    • Store Listing Guidelines – enforcing the (community-suggested) requirement that the screen shot associated with an item listing in the Store must be taken from within Sansar. In addition, the overall listing requirements may be subject to review.
    • Atlas Publishing Guidelines and Events Guidelines – these are not currently subject to review, but will be re-evaluated for fitness for purpose based on the feedback from the community meet-up.
  • There is a feeling that the Community Standards are inconsistently applied one person in violation of the standards might be treated one way, another committing the same violation is treated a different way, for example).
    • LL have acknowledged this and a new process to ensure consistent application of the standards is to be put in place.
    • Once ready, the process will be shared with the community, so people can understand what is in place / what to expect should infractions occur.
    • The process will be designed to allow those who may have contravened the standards to be aware of what is happening and why – and to give a response that may equally weight on any decision about action the Lab might take.
    • The only exception to this is liable to be where the infraction is clearly and significantly egregious and clearly upsetting to others / in violation of the platform’s requirements for decency, etc.
  • In terms of general communications / concerns about policy / direction, etc., Galileo, as the community Manager is in place to act as a bridge and enabler of communications between users and the Lab (and obviously, vice-versa).
    • As such, people are encouraged to content him to open conversations / feedback, rather than letting concerns fester.
    • It is acknowledged that the platform is at a unique point in its development to allow this (the community is still of a size where these interactions can take place), so people are encouraged to make use of it.

Selected Q&A Items

  • Experience maximum avatar capacity: the current default for the maximum number of avatars in an experience is still 35 per instance.
    • The Lab can manually raise the limit for specific events (e.g. Product Meetings now often run with 40+ avatars present).
    • It is hoped that as a result of various improvements and the introduction of the avatar LOD system, the limit can be raised more generally soon. However, more testing is required before this can be done.
    • In the future it might be possible for the maximum count cap to be exposed to experience creators to allow them to set their own limit on the number of avatars able to access a single instance of an experience (e.g. for use in games geared for a specific number of players).
      • As the Lab faces additional costs for spinning-up instances of experiences that have a low avatar count, limiting the number of avatars able to access an experience to very low numbers might be subject to that cost being passed on to the experience creators requiring it – or even to those wishing to access the experience. However, this all still needs to be examined by the Lab.
  • Instances:
    • As noted in past Sansar articles in these pages, instances of experiences run entirely independently to one another, so that avatars in one instance cannot cross to another, nor can they see one another.
    • The lab is already thinking about how to make it possible for friends who all visit a popular experience all end up in the same instance, rather than possibly being split between instances because some fall on the “wrong side” of the experience avatar cap.
  • Avatar 2.0: work continues on developing Sansar’s “avatar 2.0”. The target date for release is currently August 2019, but this may be subject to alteration.
    • This will hopefully see:
      • Changes to the base mesh, with male and female avatars are a lot more similar in a size and frame.
      • This latter point is to make clothing items potentially more unisex: if a jacket fits a male avatar frame, it will also fit a female avatar frame.
      • More sliders for morphing / customisation. These will initially be focused on the face, with body customisation capabilities following after the initial release of avatar 2.0.
    • It’s not clear what will happen with the current “avatar 1.0” as the new avatar system is deployed.
    • Avatar 2.0 will likely result in the breakage of rigged avatar clothing. However, clothing modelled in Marvelous Designer can be resized to fit the new avatars.
      • In addition the Lab is working on an MD scaling translation system to allow MD clothing to be scaled and repositioned.
    • It is also planned for avatar 2.0 to have defined attachment points for accessories.
  • Store redelivery system: the Lab would “like to have a redelivery system in place around the time” avatar 2.0 is released. However, they are still looking at how easy / hard it will be to deliver in that kind of time frame.

Sansar Product Meetings week #19: R32 updates and LOD support

Sansar: Eternity

The majority of the following notes were taken from my recording of the Sansar Product Meeting held on Thursday, May 9th, which covered updates to the R32 release and an overview of the upcoming deployment of initial level of detail (LOD) support in Sansar.

R32 May 7th Update

The R32 Movement release (overview here) was updated on May 7th, which offered a number of improvements and fixes and two additional features:

  • Toast notifications for Events: users now receive notifications when adding and removing events from their calendars
  • People indicator for Events: a new people indicator shows the number of users in an Event.

LOD Release

  • This is an update that is coming “very soon” and “before the next major release”.
  • It will mark the first time the Sansar level of detail (LOD) system will be enabled, and will initially only apply to avatars.
    • This will be an automated process, which will take place after the avatar has been dressed and hidden surfaces removed as the avatar is baked (after something like selection in Look Book or a change of outfit).
    • Five LOD versions of the avatar will be created with different tri counts
  • LOD models will be selected based on the distance between the avatar and a viewing camera (e.g. the further an avatar is from your camera position, the lower the LOD version for that avatar that will be used).
  • Effort has been put into trying the minimise the sudden increase in detail (which can cause an avatar to suddenly “pop” into shape) when moving to higher LOD models as an avatar in approached.
  • It is hoped that this will have a “non-trivial” effect on improving performance in experiences / events where there is a high avatar presence.
  • In the future:
    • The system may be opened-out to give creators more control over the LOD models that are generated and / or users greater control over when the different LOD models should be used within their view.
    • An avatar imposter system might also be implemented.
  • LOD options for objects and terrain are under consideration, and will become available in the future, and the Lab is looking to consider issues of (again) creator / user control; management of objects taking up large amounts of screen real estate, texture loading, etc.

Experience Stress Test

The meeting included an experience stress test  – users were requested to come in one of three avatar types in order to help the Lab gather data on experience instance performance under avatar loads. The test was similar to those that have been carried out internally at the Lab, and are specifically aimed towards gathering data to help the Lab expand the numbers of avatars an instance of an experience can comfortably handle.

A second part of the exercise was to gather feedback on how people feel about being asked to wear a specific type of avatar to an event. Apparently one of the ideas being looked at is that, in order to manage avatar loads, people attending a large-scale event will be asked to (made to?) use a pre-defined avatar & outfit.

In Brief

Featured Experiences in the Atlas

It should be noted that the new format for featured experiences in the Atlas is still to be deployed. However, he plan remains for this to be:

  • Three featured experiences reserved for the Lab’s content partners.
  • Three featured experiences that align with other internal goals the Lab has which “may or may not be obvious”. These might, for example, focus on live music concerts.
  • Three  featured experiences open to Sansar creators, and will be changed on a weekly basis, and selected through a TBD criteria set.

Avatar Contest: New User Carousel Edition

  • To encourage creators to make custom avatars suitable for presentation to new users through the carousel, Linden Lab launched the Avatar Contest: New User Carousel Edition in April.
  • As of the closing date (May 9th, 2019), no entries had been received.
  • Feedback was offered at the meeting on why there had not been any entries. This ranged from some creators not feeling confident in competing with more experienced avatar creators; some creators feeling that the amount of work involved in developing a fully dressed avatar was beyond their usual avatar design remit given the value of the prize; some felt that new users would be more attracted to customisable avatars that could be dressed / use other clothing off the Store, rather than being supplied “complete”. Even the length of time of the competition (a month) was considered problematic.
  • This feedback was taken by the Lab and will be used to determine how this and competitions might be revised to make them more appealing.
  • It was also pointed out that there is nothing stopping creators from selling undressed versions of a “new starter avatar”, or from selling the avatar itself through their store when it is not featured on the avatar carousel for new users (when it is on the carousel, it must be free).

User-Generated Documentation

  • A new Help page has been created for user-generated Sansar documentation.
  • If this proves popular over time, then effort may be put into developing a formal Sansar wiki.

Sansar Product Meetings week #17: R32 overview

Scorpion’s lair: Hall of Light

The majority of the following notes were taken from my recording of the Sansar Product Meeting held on Thursday, April 25th, which served to introduce members of the Sansar team, discussing the upcoming April release.

Avatar Controls

  • Extra tracker controls for VR: as per my week #14 notes, R32 will include fully body tracking for the HTC Vive, utilising the hip and ankle trackers.

  • Desktop throw indicators: when attempting to throw something when in Desktop mode, a visual indicator of the arc the object will take when released will be displayed, and the mouse scroll wheel can be used to adjust the strength of the throw.
    • The visual arc is not a perfect representation of where the object will go, and will fade out after a time, but is designed to give overall guidance.
  • Avatar crouching: crouching will be joining jumping as an option with R32.
    • Crouching will be physically enabled in VR, and via keyboard in Desktop mode.
    • The avatar’s motion will be correspondingly slower when crouched.
    • The collider / bounding box for the avatar will also automatically adjust to match the avatar’s height as well, making it possible for tunnels, etc., to be made through which avatars must move when crouched.
    • The collider / bounding box in VR will collapse in accordance to how low the user crouches.
  • Keyboard turn / face forward:
    • Currently, when moving sideways using A and  D, the avatar will strafe to the left or to the right whilst walking, while S will cause the avatar to walk backwards.
    • With this new keyboard option enabled, the avatar will turn to face the direction of travel when walking to the left or right or backwards, and the camera will automatically follow.
    • With the option disabled, the avatar will resume the strafing walk.
    • Users weill be able to set whichever they prefer or toggle according to circumstance.

Avatars

  • Avatar scaling: R32 will see the first implementation of avatar scaling to allow differently sized avatars.
    • The initial release will allow avatars to be uniformly scaled down to 1/2 the size of the current default Sansar avatar and 1.25 times larger.
    • Scaling will be applicable to custom avatars as well, and will include all avatar attachments.
    • Initially walk / run speed, jump and crouch heights will be normalised against the default avatar’s height / stride (e.g. so if your avatar is of a small size, it will seem to move very fast proportionate to its size; when made larger, it will appear to take shorter strides).
    • This may be revised in the future so that walk speed / stride / jump height, etc., will be proportionate to the actual avatar size.
  • Partial animations:
    • A new simplified Sansar skeleton (with around 70 bones) will be available for download to be used specifically for animations.
    • This does not mean a simpler skeleton is being used by the avatar – that remains unchanged and will see animations created using the new simple skeleton will be applied to the full skeleton; any bones not used by the simplified skeleton will remain in the reference pose.
    • The importer will (obviously) work with this simpler skeleton, and with any other skeleton, as long as it is topologically the same in terms of ordering and naming for bones.
    • This will hook-in to third-party tools such as Mixamo’s animator tools.
    • As the full skeleton is still used by the avatar, things like facial animations can still be driven through Speech Graphics, although dedicated facial animations will still require the download and use of the full skeleton.
  • Object movement APIs:
    • There will be a new moveable from script objects flag that when enable will allow use the flagged object (mesh, sound, trigger volume, light, etc.), will be moved.
    • This also allows interactive objects and the root element of animations to be moved without them having to have a rigid body.
    • It will enable frame-perfect animation; movements can be properly queued to be executed at specific times / in a specific order by the engine of the desired frame and allow animations to ease-in and ease-out one to the next.
    • Overall this should allow:
      • The development and movement of simple non-player characters (NPCs), allowing simple patrol / follow behaviours, etc.
      • Dynamic assets to drive animated assets, which in turn should enable things like animated held objects like guns, etc.

  • Rigged assets to support collision meshes: R32 will allow keyframed physics rigid bodies to individual bones (so an animated trunk on an elephant can physically knock / move things around, for example).
    • Should be used with consideration, as adding this to every bone in a body could place considerable additional load on a scene.
    • Not suitable for ragdoll physics, as this requires the set-up of physics joints between the bones.
  • Atlas and events updates: as per the week #16 product meeting, the Atlas and events will once again be more closely integrated.
  • Sansar Store:
    • The Store will be updated so that Marvelous Designer items will be more clearly tagged.
    • It should be easier to wear newly purchased wearables when purchased through the client version of the store.
  • Edit mode: the gizmo tools for moving / rotating objects within a scene should be more selectable / easier to use.
  • Scripting updates: these will include the ability to call the Sansar new user experience tutorial when required, among other changes.