Sansar: August release and upcoming Edit Server

Scurry Landia

Thursday, July 16th saw the release of the Sansar Script, Snapshot and Share update. After the extensive updates in the July release, this is a more modest update, with a focus on what the Lab refers to a “quality of life” improvements – focusing on user-related capabilities, notably for creators.

This article highlights some of the more visible new features and updates with the release. As always, full details of the updates in the new release are available in the release notes.  In addition, these notes also include comments from the August 16th, 2018 Product Meeting, which preceded the release. Boden was attending the meeting, together with Aleks and Zaius. Their voices, along with that of Community Manager Eliot, can be heard in the audio extracts included below.

To jump directly to information on the upcoming Edit Server changes click here.

Events Improvements

This release follows in the footsteps of the web Events on the Sansar website, allowing you to add your events to your local Sansar calendar, which also has its own tab within the Events panel.

To make use of it:

  • Within the client, either while displaying the Atlas or within an experience, click on the Events calendar icon in the top right set of icons. This will open the Events panel (note: you can also get to the Events panel via the open Atlas and clicking Featured > View All Events).
  • The Events panel, which now comprises just two tabs: All Events and My Calendar (which replaces the My Events tab). To add an event to your Sansar calendar, click on the Add To Calendar button.
  • You Can then view all your recorded events (including those in the recent past) in the My Calendar tab. This actually lists:
    • Events you have created and are hosting, if you have created any.
    • Upcoming events you’ve added to your calendar (if any).
    • Those events you’ve recorded / attended in the past.
  • Listed upcoming / past events include a Remove From Calendar button, allowing your list to be managed.
The new option to add events to your Sansar calendar (ringed). Note that Featured events are no longer listed in a separate Events tab, but are highlighted within the main listing (arrowed). This was, IIRC, made in a prior release, but worth pointing out here in case someone missed  it

Events added to your Sansar calendar will also appear on the web version of the your calendar and vice-versa (a refresh of either will be required if both are open at the same time when adding / removing events from one or the other).

There is currently no ability to add events from the client to external calendars (Google, Apple, Outlook, Yahoo) as you can via the Sansar web site. This will hopefully be in a future update.

Snapshots to Profiles Update

It is now possible to save snapshots taken with the client to your Sansar web profile via a new button – Share. When you’ve positioned the camera and sized the capture area to your requirements, clicking the Share button will:

  • Save the image.
  • Upload it to your profile on the web.
  • Open a tab in your default web browser and display the snapshot.
With the August 2018 Sansar release, it is now possible to upload snapshots to your web profile, where they can be viewed by yourself and others

In the snapshot web page, it is possible to:

  • View all of your snapshots.
  • View all snapshots of the Experience featured in a given picture.
  • View the latest snapshots uploaded by anyone.
  • Delete the snapshot you are displaying (your own snapshots only).
  • Report a snapshot (only available when viewing snapshots uploaded by others).

The options are listed above an image when viewing them in your browser, and are arrowed in the image above. You can also obviously share the image URL if you wish.

You can view other people’s snapshots directly from their web profile. So, if you click on the name of an experience creator, or on the name of a friend in your Friends list, for example, you can view their snapshots alongside of their published experiences and current store listings (if they have any of either of the latter). Clicking on a snapshot will display it in its own page, with the options described above.

Side Notes on Snapshots to Profiles

  • Snapshots to profiles can currently only be viewed on the web, they cannot be seen when viewing profiles from within the client.
  • There is no ability to caption a snapshot with a description. This is intentional on part of the Lab, although it may be reconsidered in the future.
  • In the future, snapshots will be appended to the web pages for experiences as well, whether uploaded by the experience creator or anyone else (however, the experience creator will be able to moderate which snapshots remain displayed on their experience page.
    • This is why the ability to include descriptions in uploaded snapshots has been excluded; it is felt that there is too much risk of people leaving inappropriate descriptions with images, giving experience creators a moderation headache.
    • This option is ready to go, but will be turned on once the necessary moderation tools are in place for experience creators to manage snapshots shared to their experiences.
  • However, a future update to the capability will include the ability to tag snapshots, making them searchable.

Other snapshot items raised at the Product Meeting:

  • This update doesn’t change anything else within the snapshot app. However there have been requests put forward the Lab is considering:
    • Adding date and time to snapshots when captured.
    • Auto-generating sequential file names for snapshots taken in sequence, rather than each one having to be manually named.
    • Possible offering a broader range of saved file formats (e.g. TGA, JPG, etc).
  • One thing that is being considered is the option to take a series of snapshots and have them “held” during a session, allowing the user to then go through them and select which ones they want to actually upload to their profile and discard the rest.

Edit Mode Improvements

Scene Report Generation

It is now possible to export a .CSV breakdown (comma-separated values file that may be opened in a spreadsheet or text editor.) of every object in your scene. These reports comprise:

  • Name.
  • Size estimate for download.
  • Number of textures.
  • Number of triangles.

Reports are generated via Scene Toolbar > About This Scene > Generate Report > Set the destination location on your computer > Save.

Import Lighting from .FBX

This release allows creators to create point lighting (e.g. colour, intensity, animation) in their preferred editing tool and then import them directly into the scenes as .FBX files. Once in Sansar, the properties for these lights can still be edited  when the .FBX file is within a scene.

Additional Edit Mode Enhancements

  • Locking persistence: objects locked within a scene when editing will now remain locked between Edit mode sessions.
  • Scene objects panel enhancements: these comprise:
    • Rename a scene object’s name: the name fields for various scene objects have been removed from the properties panel, with the Rename option moved to the scene objects panel.
    • New object icons: there are new object icons attached to scene objects to help guide you in distinguishing items
  • Toggle visibility per object: it is now possible to toggle an object’s visibility in a scene.
  • Toggle selectability per object: the ability to select an object within a scene can now be disabled or enabled. This allows for easier selection of objects which may be layered behind others, etc (e.g. lighting within an object).
  • Trigger Volume filter: it is now possible to now filter by trigger volumes.

Scripting Updates

New Simple Scripts

Simple scripts were introduced in the August release with the aim of offering non-scripters the ability to achieve basic functions within their scenes (such as opening / closing doors, etc.), in an easy-to-understand and simple manner. The August release builds on this with three further simple scripts:

  • SimpleDispenser to rez objects.
    • Currently this does not include any form of parameter to allow spawned objects to decay, but does include the ability to remove the last or all spawned objects.
    • It includes the ability to cap how many items can be spawned in a given time.
    • Objects are spawned as the are imported into the script. So a dynamic object imported into the script will spawn as a dynamic object, for example.
  • SimpleMedia to change the streaming media
 – the Greenwall VR experience utilises the SimpleMedia script on their media board.
  • SimpleObjectReset to reset an object’s position.

Additionally, the SimpleCollision script has been revamped to better handle Trigger Volumes.

New Base Script Class: ObjectScript.

In anticipation of rezzable scripts (not yet enabled), this base class only has access to ScenePublic and a maximum of 10 parameters. SceneObjectScript scripts will not run on rezzed content; ObjectScript scripts can run on scene content or rezzable content.


Other Scripting Updates

  • Parameters limit for scene objects increased from 10 to 20 parameters.
  • ObjectPrivate.AddInteraction: an Interaction to an object dynamically. Used to add Interactions to rezzed objects or when it isn’t desired that the Interaction prompt be a script parameter.
  • Improved syntax for [DefaultValue] on vectors, quaternions and colours. These no longer need to be specially formatted strings, simply list 2 to 4 values: [DefaultValue(1.2, 3.4, 5.6)]
  • SimpleScript base class deprecated. Not to be confused with the new Simple Scripts. Scripts that use this base class will still compile with a warning. Support for new compiles will be disabled in a future release.

Store Categories

It is now possible to browse the Sansar Store using the two new top-level categories of Avatar Looks and Scene Creation, with the sub-categories defined accordingly.

New Edit Server

Due to appear in a point release between the August (R24) and September (R25) updates is the Edit Server release. This moves scene editing from within the Sansar Client (and local) to being server-based. It means that when editing a scene for the first time, there will be a delay in accessing Edit mode and the scene being edited as the Edit Server instance is spun-up.

The reason for this change is to pave the way for a range of new capabilities in Sansar, most notably in relation to the platform’s upcoming licensing / permissions / supply chain system.

Moving the Edit capabilities server-side allow the Lab to incorporate the ability to check the licenses associated with all of the objects within a scene and verify what can / cannot be done with them (e.g. is an object / script modifiable? Can it be incorporated into objects intended for sale? etc).

The initial benefit of this is that it will allow creators to build complex objects in a scene and then export them as a single object back to inventory (so a car is complete with its wheels, engine, seats, etc.), rather than these all being individual objects), allowing the composite object to be sold.

Additionally, this will enable the licensing / permissions / supply chain system of Sansar’s economy, so that duly licensed objects by other creators can be used within an individual’s own creations, which can then be saved to inventory and sold through the Sansar Store. The first elements of the licensing  / permissions / supply chain system is due to start deployment in upcoming releases following the switch to using the Edit Server. Beyond this, the move may in the future allow for things like creators being able to work collaboratively within the same scene.

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2018 Sansar Product Meetings week #32: Edit mode

Channelling my inner Trekkie at the Roddenberry Nexusblog post

The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meeting held on Thursday, August 9th. These Product Meetings are open to anyone to attend, are a mix of voice (primarily) and text chat. Dates and times are currently floating, so check the Sansar Atlas events sections each week.

The primary topic of the meeting was Sansar’s Edit mode, with Regomatic, who is a part of the Edit Mode development team talking about what has recently been released for Edit Mode, future plans, and taking a Q&A.

Date of Next Release

The planned release date for the next Sansar update is Thursday, August 16th, 2018. However, it is entirely dependent upon Sansar’s schedule of public events for August – see below for more on this – which my cause the update deployment pushed back until later in the month.

Promoting Sansar

Not strictly a technical aspect of Sansar, however, the platform is spending time “on the road” and also raising its visibility among different global audiences.

  • On August 1st through 5th Sansar was at the Star Trek Las Vegas convention, where the Roddenberry Nexus was unveiled – see More Star Trek in Sansar: the Roddenberry Nexus for more.
  • On August 10th through 12th Sansar is at the Los Angeles edition of KCON, with the promise of “more exclusives” with regards to that.
  • A further e-sports “thing” is also in the offing for later in August. An earlier attempt at an e-sports link was pulled shortly after being announced. It’s not clear if this is a further attempt, or something else entirely.
  • A the same time, Sansar and Twitch are hosting “Twitch Streamer” days throughout August, with Twitch users being encouraged to drop into Sansar and explore.

Express Yourself Release Edit Mode Updates

The July Express Yourself update included a number of Edit mode updates:

  • Multiple Object Select / property application: The properties panel now works when multiple objects are selected, allowing the value of a property to be changed and applied across all selected objects.
  • Animated materials update: it is now possible to specify which textures in a material will be subject to the scrolling effect. This affects the following shaders:
    • Standard + Emissive + UV animation.
    • Standard + Alpha Mask – UV animation.
  • Standardise geometry option: by default, all objects uploaded into Sansar will go through an optimisation process that makes objects more efficient, foregoing the upload window optimisation process.
    • This can be disabled via a drop-down panel option.
    • The auto decimation will not apply to clothing or avatar attachments.
  • Object total triangle count: view the total triangle count of objects.
  • Real-time Gizmo updates: Position/rotation values update in real-time as the Gizmo is manipulated.
  • Fixes:
    • Rotation values no longer flip 180 degrees as you enter values
    • Scene settings no longer close the properties panel and vice versa; both can be displayed at the same time.

In addition to the above, the focus mode has been improved. Rather than just centring on an object when pressing F, it will now zoom the camera to the object. If two objects are selected and focus is used, the system will find a balance so that both are visible after zooming.

Upcoming Edit Mode Updates

August Update

  • Per-object settings: this should be a part of the August release, this will allow visibility to be toggled on individual objects within a specified type. So, rather than only being able to toggle visible for all audio materials, it will be possible to toggle it for an individual audio object. The state set for each object will persist between sessions. States will be indicated by “eyeball” icons.
  • Improved selectability of objects: it is currently different to select an object in Edit mode when it is “stacked” with others. The August release should improve this be adding a “selectability” icon / option. When set, it will make objects either selectable or cause them to be ignored when attempting to select others groups with them. Again, the individual states of objects will be indicated by a cursor icon, and will persist between sessions.
  • Container naming and renaming objects: the August release will include friendlier names for container, and the ability to rename anything in the scene objects list, rather than having to go through the Properties panel. Names can be up to 64 characters.
  • Analytics improvements:
    • The diagnostics ribbon in Edit mode is to be enhanced to include number of textures and the estimated download size, as well as the number of triangles.
    • There will be a new report option that will give a breakdown of all object in a scene and the amount of space they take up.
    • In addition, it has been requested that the analytics include the number of draws it takes to render an object, as high draw counts can often be a performance issue.

September Update

  • Folder support for scene objects: allowing objects to be placed together in folder, and allow entire folders to be selected and pulled into a scene, the ability to see the combined properties, etc.
    • Once scene object folders have been deployed, inventory folders will be coming as a future update.
    • Folder names will have a maximum length of 64 characters.

Still to be Prioritised for Future Release

  • Arrays for scripts: ability to use arrays rather than hard-coded parameters (e.g. an array to allow a user to pick a sound, rather than having to hard-code “sound 1”, “sound 2”, “sound 3”, etc.).
  • Locking improvements: currently, locking a container does not necessarily lock all of its children. In a future release  this will be revised such that it does.
  • Inventory folders: these are being worked on, and discussion are being had on the use of folders and the possible use of saving search categories / grouping by category to go with folders.

General Q&A

Scene / Experience Management Requests

  • Disabling capabilities in run-time: there are so types of experience that would benefit from having some run-time capabilities such as free camera movement or teleporting disabled in the Runtime mode (e.g. blocking the ability for someone to avoid traps in a game by teleporting past them, or using the free cam to cheat their way around a maze). These could be done via the scene settings, and Regomatic is going to look into it.
    • It was noted that if abilities to disable user-facing options are added to Sansar. then the ability to inform users as to what has been disabled (voice, teleport, freecamming, etc.), either before or when they enter the experience.
  • Search capabilities for scene objects: name, object type, etc. Possibly inclusion of thumbnail images of objects within the scene list to allow for visual recognition of objects, particular where multiple objects might have similar names (“Rock A”, “Rock B”, etc.).
  • Image size standardisation: currently, multiple image sizes and formats are required for items – one size saved within inventory, a different image size for the store, etc., requiring multiple image uploads. Automatic re-use of a single uploaded image would be preferable, and the Lab is looking into this.

Continue reading “2018 Sansar Product Meetings week #32: Edit mode”

2018 Sansar Product Meeting week #31: physics

Scurry Waters: product meeting location

The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meeting held on Thursday, August 2nd. These Product Meetings are open to anyone to attend, are a mix of voice (primarily) and text chat. Dates and times are currently floating, so check the Sansar Atlas events sections each week.

The primary topic of the meeting was Sansar physics, although inevitably other subjects were also covered.

My apologies for the music in the audio extracts. This is from the experience where the meeting was held, and I didn’t disable the experience audio input.

Express Yourself Release Updates

The July Express Yourself Release (see my overview here) had two short-order updates following its deployment.  Both were to provide fixes for emerging issues. The first went out on July 19th, and the second on July 30th.

Client-side Physics

The Express Yourself release included an alteration to network behaviour that means physics interactions occur locally within the client first, allowing the user an immediate response. The idea is to allow the kind of immediate feedback to the user that will be essential to dynamic activities such as drive or flying a vehicle as well as allowing for more immediate response when picking an object up, walking, firing a gun, etc.

However, as the updates still need to pass through the server and then back out to everyone else, this can result in objects appearing to instantaneously move when control is passed to another avatar. More particularly, it was discovered the change could adversely affect any movement governed by scripts, which require additional time for server-side processing, and this resulted in some content breakage, which in turn caused the updates  – notably that of July 30th – to be issued in order to fix things.

It has also resulted in some behaviourial changes with scripted interactions; for example: when firing a scripted gun, as the action still requires server-side script processing, while initial movement response is client-side, it is possible to fire a gun while moving and have the projectile appear to spawn separately to the gun and avatar (e.g. behind or slightly to one side). This is to be looked at if the July 30th update hasn’t fixed it.

This work is going to be refined over time to make interactions both responsive and smoother, and is seen as an initial step towards more complex object interactions, such as being able to pick in-world objects up and hold them in the avatar’s hands.

Avatar Location Issue

One side effect of this is that avatars in an experience, when seen by others, can appear to be in a different place to where they have placed themselves. At the meeting for example, some avatars appeared to be in the local group in their own view (and, I think, to some others), but were appearing to still be at the spawn point for the experience in other people’s views. This seemed to be particularly noticeable with avatars standing still, with movement required to force the server to update everyone’s client on the location of an avatar. A further confusion from this issue is that as voice is based on an avatar’s position relative to your own, if they appear to be much further away, they cannot be heard, even if in their own view they are standing right next to you.

Avatar Locomotion Enhancements

Improvements to avatar locomotion are said to be in development at the Lab. This work includes:

  • The ability to use animation overriders.
  • Additional animation states (e.g. jump)
  • Avatar physics driving – allowing avatars to be affected by physics for things like ballistic movement or falling.

It has been suggested this work should include an ability for the avatar IK to be enabled or disabled alongside creator animations, depending on the animation type being used.

The client scripting idea requires careful consideration: will creators want their scripts run client-side? Could it be a toggle option so scripts can be expressly flagged to run of the server only? What would be the communications mechanism between script on the client and scripts on the server to ensure they remain synchronised? Should client scripts be limited to only certain capabilities, with the server still doing the heavy lifting? and so on. So – look for the ability to attach avatars to vehicles (and vehicles to avatars and objects to one another) in the future.

Vehicles

As noted above, the work on making physics more client-side active is aimed towards enabling better vehicles (using the term generically, and not as a representation just of road / wheeled type vehicles) and their controls in Sansar.  This will likely initially take the form of an ability to attach avatars to vehicle objects (a-la Second Life), allowing both to be “driven” via scripted control. This would allow for very simple vehicle types.  From there the Lab’s thinking is moving in two directions:

  • A scripted approach (client-side?) that would allow for a more flexible approach to defining vehicles and their capabilities;
  • A “vehicle component” within the platform that could be applied to different vehicle models to enable movement, etc. This would be potentially the easier of the two approaches, but would limit the degree of customisation that could be employed to ensure it fits certain vehicle types,

Scene Load Times

There has been  – from the start with Sansar – much discussion on scene load times. While a lot has been done on the Lab’s part to improve things there are some experiences that do still take a lot of time to load, and for some, depending on the circumstance may never load. There are really two issues for scene loading:

  • Bandwidth – the biggest.
  • Memory footprint – some experiences can top-out with a physical memory footprint of 14.5 Gb. For a PC with “just” 16 Gb of memory, that represents a struggle. Virtual memory (disk space) can obviously compensate, but can lead to a performance degradation.

In hard, practical terms, there is little the Lab can directly do to resolve these issues – a person’s bandwidth is whatever their ISP provides, and physical memory is whatever is in the box. However, as noted there has been a fair amount of work to offer improved optimisation of scenes, improve load times through the way data is handled – notably textures, potentially one of the biggest causes of download problems, and sound file handling (another big issue) – and more work is coming, with Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg recently noting a number of options being considered, by way of the Sansar Discord channel:

  • Progressive texture loading.
  • CDN distribution (for more localised / faster availability of scene objects materials and textures, rather than having to call them “long distance” through the cloud).
  • Background scene loading.
  • Addition of better LOD capabilities for model loading /rendering (if it is far away, only load / render the low-detail model).

Further indicators are, I understand, also planned for the Scene Editor, designed to keep experience creators better informed about the load times of objects and elements. Appropriate elements of this information will also be made available in store listing for items, allowing scene builders to again make more informed choices about the items they may be considering buying for inclusion in their experiences. There are also some practical work creators can do to ease things across the board: use smaller textures, decimate their mesh models correctly,  employ reuse of sounds and textures, etc.

In Brief

  • Aggressive render culling: Sansar can employ some aggressive render culling resulting in objects appearing clipped or vanishing from a scene unexpectedly. This is most obvious with animated objects using bone animations. This is to be looked at.
  • The last few minutes of the meeting were focused on ideas such as having a mini-map capability to find people within an experience; an ability to “go to” teleport to a friend; the ability to offer a teleport someone in an experience to your location, etc.

2018 Sansar Product Meeting week #29: avatars, permissions system, roadmap

Aech's Basement, Sansar; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrSansar: Aech’s Basementblog post

The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meeting held on Friday, July 20th. These weekly Product Meetings are open to anyone to attend, are a mix of voice (primarily) and text chat. Check the Events calendar for dates and times for future meeting.

The focus for this meeting was initially on the increase in allowed experiences (see here for my thoughts) and on the July Express Yourself release, which I reviewed here.

Experience Increases and Sansar Subscriptions

The news that Linden Lab have increased the number of allowed experiences under each membership tier (Free – 20; Creator (US $9.99 per month) – 25; Super-Creator (US $29.99 per month) – 30; Professional ($99.99 per month) – 40) raised two core questions during the meeting:

  • Will this move see the Lab increase transaction fees?
  • What value is there for people on paid subscriptions to keep those subscriptions given the massive increase in allowed experiences for Free account holders?

In addressing the fees issue, Landon from the Sansar Product team indicated that the Lab does not intend to make any changes to transactions fees as a result of this change – but that future possible changes could not be ruled out as Sansar continues to develop. Eliot, the Sansar Community Manager also made it clear the increases to allowed experiences are not part of any bigger plan to increase fees or anything else.

In terms of maintaining the value of Sansar paid subscription options, Landon indicated the plan will most likely be to make them more attractive by adding further practical benefits and perks in addition to the current Marvelous Designer free trial and subscription discounts.

A side question to this was whether the limit on the number of items Free accounts can list on the Sansar Store might be re-introduced, in order to make subscription accounts more appealing. Landon indicated he would prefer not to take steps like this, that might be seen as limiting creativity, but rather work to deliver more value to subscription accounts.

Express Yourself Update

Custom Avatars

The new custom avatars option has been well received, with a number of creators making avatars for their personal use, with some also being offered on the Sansar Store.

The first Custom Avatars are now available on the Sansar Store. They can be viewed by clicking Explore in the Store’s top menu and selecting Avatars from the drop-down list, or by clicking on All and then selecting Avatars from the categories drop-down (shown above).

Note that custom avatars are a single piece wearable – they cannot be combined with other Sansar clothing or avatar accessories.

Once obtained from the Store, custom avatars are stored in the Look Book inventory and can be worn via the appearance editor panel in Look Book, as explained in the image below.

Wearing a custom avatar via the Look Book: click Customise to open the appearance editor. Click the avatar tab (arrowed at the top of the appearance editor) if it is not already open. Click on the avatar button (circled, top right. Click on one of the the avatar wearables in your inventory, which will be applied to your avatar. Click Done.   

Other points from the custom avatar discussion:

  • Blender custom avatar export issues: some people have reported problems in exporting custom avatars from Blender into Sansar. To help with this, Jeremy Linden has produced a new knowledge base article to hopefully address these problems:
  • Dynamic bones for custom avatars: this is being thought about at the Lab, but is not something that will be seen for at least a couple of months.
  • Avatars as NPCs: there are currently no plans to allow custom avatars to be used as non-player characters (NPCs) within Sansar.
    • An alternative suggestion is to allow existing avatars to be used as NPCs (presumably through additional scripting support). This is something Landon and Cara from the product team have agreed to look into.
  • Clothing on custom avatars: as noted above, it is not possible to use Sansar clothing and accessories on custom avatars. Some creators have already expressed a preference for this remaining the case, as it will eliminate the need to provide multiple sizes of clothing to fit different avatars, and the work that can involved with rigging.

Multiple Object Select / Property Application

Following on from the introduction of object multi-select, a request has been made to take this a stage further and allow the creation of an empty container into which other elements can be placed. This is something that will be coming, and will have the ability to hold tangible and non-tangible objects (such as scripts) and make them available in a scene.

Interaction Physics

Express Yourself sees many of the physics related to avatar / object interactions moved client-side. On the one hand, this should allow for more accurate interactions, such as bouncing a ball off of a bat. On the other, its has resulted in some functional breakages within experiences where scripts expert the server to run physics interactions in a specific order, which can no longer be guaranteed with running some of them on the client.

Continue reading “2018 Sansar Product Meeting week #29: avatars, permissions system, roadmap”

Sansar: Express Yourself release

Courtesy of Linden Lab

Wednesday, July 18th saw the release of the the Sansar Express Yourself update. As per my preview, this brings a lot of new capabilities to Sansar, including the ability for creators to upload custom (and pre-dressed) avatars, user interface improvements, script updates, and more.

This article highlights some of the more visible new features and updates with the release. As always, full details of the updates in the new release are available in the release notes.

Initial Notes

  • As with the majority of Sansar deployments, this update requires the automatic download and installation of a client update.
  • Updates in this release mean that on logging-in for the first time following the update, users will be placed in the Look Book (Avatar App).

Avatar Updates

Custom Avatars

Sansar now permits the uploading of custom avatars, although there are some caveats / things to note:

  • Custom avatars have a maximum tri limit of 40K (compared to 16K for the default avatars).
  • It will not be possible to clothe custom avatars or add attachments, etc., via the Look Book – they must be outfitted prior to upload, hence the higher tri limit compared to the default avatars.
    • The option to change outfits on custom avatars through Look Book might be added in the future.
    • The base tri count limit is seen by the Lab as being for testing purposes, and a balance between allowed custom avatars to be pre-dressed and potentially allow for future outfitting of avatars through Look Book without have to adjust the tri count downwards in order to do so.
  • Custom avatars must use the .FBX file format and be developed using the male or female skeleton provided by Sansar, available via the Sansar skeleton and skinning details knowledge base article
  • If custom avatars are to be sold, they must adhere to the Sansar Store listing guidelines and must also include a thumbnail asset upon import and which itself adheres to the Sansar Store image guidelines.
  • All new avatars must comply with the Sansar Avatar Guidelines, which include no nude avatars and no use of avatars / characters that infringe on the Intellectual Property rights of others.

Uploading custom avatars is handled through Sansar’s Look Book, as shown below.

Custom avatars are uploaded via Look Book via the Customise button and the Avatar Tab in the appearance editing panel, which has a new Add Avatar button that opens the upload panel (shown on the left). The Browse buttons in this panel can be used to select the avatar .FBX file (1) and  the associated thumbnail image (2). The name field (3) set the inventory name for the avatar – if left blank, this will default to the uploaded file name. The optional Materials settings button (ringed in the upload panel) can be used to choose specific shaders and textures for the avatar model. Upload will upload the model

Once imported to Look Book, custom avatars can be worn from the avatar panel and / or listed in the Sansar Store (right-click the thumbnail for the avatar and select List).

Custom Avatar Competition

To mark the launch of custom avatars, Linden Lab is running a Sansar Custom Avatar contest with a first prize of US $50 (approx. S$5,000). See the competition page for more.

New Avatar Looks

A series of new outfits / looks have been added to Sansar with this release:

  • Female:
    • Lolita outfit: clothing, hair and shoes.
    • Punk outfit: clothing and shoes (shown on the right, with Lolita hair and wearing system sandals rather than outfit footwear).
  • Male:
    • Goth outfit: clothing and shoes.
    • Adventurer outfit: clothing and shoes. (shown on the right).

These are available directly from the avatar panel’s outfit and hair tabs in Look Book.

 

Improved Avatar IK – VR Mode

Ikenema has been improved to improve avatar movement in VR. These updates include improved handling of forearm twist bones, better clavicle motion and less droopiness in clavicles, and better constraint handling in shoulders.

Scripting Updates

The Express Yourself release has two core sets of scripting updates: HTTP support, Simple Scripts and .FBX animation support. All of these options are covered in-depth in the Script API updates notes available in the Sansar knowledge base, and which include links to detailed HTTP documentation in the case of the HTTP API.

HTTP API

The HTTP API allows objects within experiences to communicate with external services. This is a two-way communications capability – meaning data from experiences can be exported a stored externally (as might be the case for game / adventure progress); and data from the physical world can be used to drive what happens within a scene (so an experience can reflect the weather in a physical world location, for example).

The addition of the API means that certain personal data can be exported from Sansar (just as it can from Second Life):

  • Avatar name and the user’s unique avatar identifier.
  • When an avatar enters or leaves an experience.
  • Where within experience avatar exists whilst visiting.
  • Public chat of avatars whilst in the experience.

Simple Scripts

This is a set of 14 basic scripts intended to make it easier for non-scripters to add functionality to their scenes and experiences. They have been automatically added to the Exit Mode inventory.

The new simple scripts library

Some examples of how these scripts might be used include:

  • SimpleInteraction: allows direct interaction with any object in a scene, can be used with buttons, switches, etc., so turn lights on/off, etc.
  • SimpleMover: moving objects from point-to-point, changing their specified position and/or orientation, such as moving platforms, opening / closing doors, etc.
  • SimpleSound: trigger a sound effect heard with other interactions.

The scripts can be “stacked” together for more complex interactions, so SimpleInteraction might be used for a button to call an elevator that is moved by SimpleMover, and SimpleSound pays a sound as the elevator arrives.

.FBX Animation Support

.FBX files containing multiple animation clips can be imported and then manipulated via scripts.

Continue reading “Sansar: Express Yourself release”

2018 Sansar product meetings week #28: July release preview

The Art of Drew Struzan: The Studio Experience blog post

It’s been a while since my last Sansar product update. This has been in part due to the fact that for a time they seemed to vanish from the Sansar events listing (they’re back, but under the more generic title of “Community meet-ups”). However, the following is a summary of the meeting held on Thursday, July 12th, 2018, which was particularly focused on many of the features and updates in the upcoming July Sansar release, due in week #29 (commencing Monday, July 16th).

July Release

Custom Avatars

It will be possible to upload custom avatars to Sansar, with skeletons and avatar meshes available through the knowledge base.

  • Custom avatars have a maximum tri limit of 40K (compared to 16K for the default avatars).
  • It will not be possible to clothe custom avatars or add attachments, etc., via the LookBook – they must be outfits prior to upload, hence the higher tri limit compared to the default avatars.
    • The option to change outfits on custom avatars through LookBook might be added in the future.
  • The base tri count limit is seen by the Lab as being for testing purposes, and to potentially allow custom avatars to be dressed, etc., using the LookBook and clothing from the Sansar Store in the future, hopefully without their overall tri count becoming exorbitantly high.

As a part of the overall work on avatars – but not part of the July release – the Lab is trying to improve face deformations, etc., to allow for more realistic facial moments when mimicking mouth movements, etc., when speaking.

Experience Interactions Changes

The July release should enable experience creators to define smoother interactions with objects in their scenes.

  • Dynamic objects / bodies will be completely responsive to physics; however, if multiple avatars are interacting with the same object  / body, it might vacillate between them.
  • With scripting, physics will be immediately applied in the client, so there may be an increase in perceived lag, as interactions make the client-server-client round trip.
  • These changes will be iterated upon and improved in future releases.

Scene Editor Updates

  • Selecting an object within the scene editor will display the triangle count for the object in a display similar to the diagnostics tool.
    • This may eventually be expanded to display further information – creator, etc.
  • The Scene Settings panel should no longer conflict with the Properties Panel.
  • It will be possible to select multiple objects in the scene editor, and apply something like an audio material across all of them, rather than having to apply it individually to each one.

Auto Decimation Changes

The June release included automatic decimation, which was later disabled. With the July release, it will be re-introduced, but made optional.

  • By default, any scene object (static or dynamic) being imported into Sansar will be set to auto decimate.
  • This can be disabled via a drop-down panel option.
  • The auto decimation will not apply to clothing or avatar attachments.

Script Updates

  • New scripts added to inventory: further scripts will be available in inventory by default (exact scripts TBA). Some of these will be packaged with the client, other may only be in specific folders (e.g. the Script API folder).
  • “Simple script examples”: a small library of approximately a dozen script examples designed for use by non-scripters to allow them to achieve object interactions, etc., and which can be stacked together within objects to achieve combined results.
    • These include things like a mover script (for opening / closing doors, moving platforms, etc.), a switch script (for light switches, etc.), a sound management script, etc.
    • They will be in the drop-down menu of an object-properties.
  • HTTP API: an http: API will be included in the July release. This will mean that data such as avatar name, avatar UUID, an avatar’s location within an experience, will be shareable with external databases.
  • .FBX animation imports: .FBX files with multiple animations can be imported and have scripts applied to them.

In Brief

  • Avatar comfort zones: The July release will include comfort zones, allowing people to define how close other avatars can come to their own avatar, depending on whether or not the other avatar is a friend or not.
  • People Search Update: the ability to search for other avatars within the People app is currently limited to using the Avatar ID. With the July release, this will be expanded to allow searches by avatar name, and using partial avatar IDs.
  • Copy chat: it should be possible to copy text from the chat window with the July release.
  • Panel positioning persistence: the client should remember the placement of any re-positioned panels between sessions, and re-open them at the “last used” position, rather than at their default screen location.
  • Bug fixes: the release will of course include a range of bug fixes.

Other Items

The following were discussed at the meeting, but are not part of the July update.

  • Hand Controller / Keyboard Mapping: further work is to be carried on custom keyboard mapping, which will hopefully encompass headset hand controllers, allowing experience creators to define custom operations to keys and buttons (e.g. for use in games, etc.).
  • Events: there will at some point be an update (or updates) to Events to add many of the requested functions to events management (e.g. set recurring events, etc.).
  • Permissions system: this is still being worked on, with the Lab getting “closer” to having something ready to present, but no time frame on when it will appear.
  • User-to-user S$ transfers: this is also being worked on, and it is hoped to will appear “pretty soon”.
  • Aspirational roadmap: it’s been suggested that Linden Lab might follow the example of other platforms and provide an “aspirational roadmap” – a guide to what they’d like to achieve with Sansar’s capabilities over a broad range of periods (e.g. “short term”, “medium term” and “longer term”) which are tied to specific date ranges / time frames. This idea is being taken back the Sansar marketing and product teams for discussion.

Sansar Dollar Bundles

A relatively recent (I believe) update is the addition of purchasable Sansar dollar bundles, available at fixed prices, and which will be immediately delivered to your account on payment, rather than waiting for Sandex orders to be filled.

Sansar dollar bundles are available for purchase by those who do not wish to use the Sandex. This list of available bundles can be access by clicking on your account balance when logged-in to the Sansar website (arrowed, top right).
  • Click on your account balance (top right of the Sansar web pages when you are logged-in) to display a list of available bundles.
  • Click on the relevant red payment button to buy  a bundle – if you don’t have a payment method on file, you’ll be asked to provide one.
  • Note that the prices for bundles are not necessarily as competitive as buying through the Sandex, as the bundle prices are static.
  • A link at the bottom of the list of available bundles will take you to the Sandex (which is no longer listed in the website’s top menu).