Sansar R29, The Places You’ll Go release overview

R29 – Portals! Credit: Linden Lab

On Tuesday, February 5th, Linden Lab issued the latest release for Sansar: The Places You’ll Go  (aka R29). This article is designed to provide an illustrative summary of the release, but do note the lack of an VR headset and controller on my part means that any features described in detail here are looked at from the Desktop Mode. For additional details on the release, please refer to the R29 release notes.

Initial Notes

As with the majority of Sansar deployments, this update requires the automatic download and installation of a client update, particularly as it involves changes affecting the Sansar avatar system.

Client Save Account Credentials

The Remember Me function has changed, and might be inconvenient for people using more than one account to log-in to Sansar (so perhaps disable it?)

With R29, the Remember Me account credentials option has been revised.

  • When checked, your current account credentials are automatically saved so that if you close the client via the top-right X, the next time you launch the client, you will be automatically logged-in to your Home Space or to an experience directly, bypassing the client log-in screen.
  • To display the client log-in screen with Remember Me enabled, you must log out via the More Options > log out function.
  • Uncheck Remember Me if you use more than one account to access Sansar, and wish to avoid having your last-used log-in credentials automatically re-applied to log you in to Sansar.

Custom Animations Re-Assignment

Due to bug introduced in a previous avatar upgrade, a custom animation may have overridden a non-emote animation. So for this release, users must re-assign custom animations to their desired emotes to see the desired results (one time update only).

Group Teleport

You can now generate your own teleport portals to other experiences using the “/portal” command and a valid experience URL. Hovering the mouse over the portal will display the owner’s name. Clicking on it will ask whether or not you wish to teleport to the selected experience.

R29 introduces a new teleport portal capability that can be used when exploring / showing Sansar with / to friends.

Simply type “/portal” (minus the quotes) followed by an experience URL, and a short-lived portal will appear in front of you, and will remain in place until it times-out after about 2 minutes. During that time, anyone touching the portal will be asked if they wish to teleport to the selected experience. If they select Yes, they will be teleported. Simples.

Notes:

  • You can only have one active teleport portal at a time. Calling another will immediately delete the one currently visible.
  • Teleporting between experiences is still via the experience load screen (as with the Atlas and static portals).
  • Remember, you can obtain the URL for an experience via the in-client Atlas (GO > Find Places to Go (Atlas)), by clicking the Copy URL button in the pop-up for the desired experience.
You can obtain the URL for an experience via the in-client Atlas (GO > Find Places to Go (Atlas)), by clicking the Copy URL button in the pop-up for the desired experience

In-Client Atlas Auto-Select

The in-client Atlas search now has an auto-select function that will  attempt to list experiences based on what you’re typing in.

Note that this select experiences on various criteria (e.g. experience and creator name and more), so depending on the combination of characters used, you might get some unexpected results.

The in-client Atlas auto-select will offer experience suggestions based on entered text. However, selections can be based on experience name (l) creator name (c) and … something else entirely (metadata?) – note while “Roman” in purpose, the experience on the right does not feature “rome” in the experience or creator names. Click for full size

VR Updates

The R29 release sees:

  • An updated VR IK system: hand movements should not lag so much against actual hand movements.
  • A new height calibration UI: this includes options to calibrate your height automatically, manually input your height, and remember your height (pull in the last available setting).
  • Shop via VR: VR users can now access the Sansar store and shop.
R29: shop via VR. Credit: Linden Lab

Scripting Updates

  • Script performance in events improved.
  • Simple Scripts have been moved to Scene Script Libraries.
  • New scripts added to the script libraries.
  • New Object Script Library.
  • Added a Store Listing script to users’ inventory.
  • Added three new APIs:
    • Haptic Pulse API – lets a script fire a haptic vibration, so that a controller holding a gun, for example, would vibrate once you pulled the trigger.
    • Sit Event API – notifies other scripts when an avatar sits or stands. Meaning: if you wanted to make a whoopee cushion noise each time a person sits in a specific chair, you absolutely could.
    • Media Action API – Allows media actions to be performed on media surfaces. More specifically, it enables interaction with Twitch’s Mature Stream “Start Watching” button.
  • Please check the scripting API documentation for full information on scripting updates.

Avatar Save Performance Improvement

A new hidden surface algorithm should offer much improved performance when saving an avatar after making appearance changes in the Character Editor.

Feedback

A more modest update in terms of user-visible changes, when compared to recent releases. However, a long list of known issues resolved within it (see the release notes for details). Some nice updates for VR users, but it is the in-world teleport capability for groups that is liable to be particularly welcome.

The new functionality for Remember Me, while handy if you are a sole user of Sansar, feels clunky if you use more than one account with the platform. If you have it enabled, you must remember to perform a “hard” log-out via More Options in order to get back to the client’s log-in screen.

In this respect, it does question why not simply have Remember Me set to record the last-used credentials in the log-in / password fields? Sure, this requires an extra click on the log-in button to access Sansar (and so is perhaps less “seamless”). But conversely, it is both how most clients tend to work and potentially a lot more convenient for those who switch between accounts (although you now have to re-enter your account password).

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Sansar 2019 Product Meetings week #5: release R29 summary

Scurry Canyon shooting game by FullSpectrum

The following notes were taken from the Sansar Product Meeting held on Thursday, January 31st. The full video of the meeting is available here. These notes highlight information pertaining to the upcoming R29 release, and user engagement discussions.

Upcoming Release Highlights

Emotes  / Animations Fix: there is an issue with the current release that can see some odd behaviour with animations, particularly for those in VR. There will be a fix for this in the next release, however, it will mean that users with custom animations will have to re-assign them to their perferred emotes. This will only have to be done once.

Teleport Portal Feature: the next release will include a new chat-driven teleport portal feature. This allows a limited time portal to be created in an experience that can be used by anyone to teleport to another experience. The command will take the format “/portal”, and the portal will exist for around 2 minutes.

So, for example, if you are with friends in an experience and decide you all want to visit Aech’s Garage, one person in the group can type:

/portal https://atlas.sansar.com/experiences/sansar-studios/ready-player-one-aech-s-garage

The rezzed portal can then be clicked on by those wishing to use it to transfer to the other experience until the portal times-out and vanishes. Should this prove intrusive, the Lab will consider adding an option for experience creators to block the capability, if required.

VR IK Improvements: updates to the IK system should mean that hand movements will not lag so noticeably behind actual hand movements when in VR. This is part of work to improve overall IK responsiveness.

R29 should also see the removal of the height calibration menu and storing a person’s height when using VR. There will still be options for setting it, if required (such as when a headset is being used by two different people); but where the headset is only used by the one individual, once height is set, it will be saved, and it will no longer be necessary to re-calibrate in different sessions. In addition, it will also include the ability to manually adjust the recorded height.

Hidden surface removal algorithm: this should seem significant improvements when selecting / updating your avatar looks (the in progress spinner shouldn’t appear for quite so long – the reduction in time estimated to be from the current 20-30 seconds to around 7 seconds.

Edit Server Fixes: R29 will include a number of Edit Server fixes. It is hoped these will help reduce the number of Edit Server disconnects experience creators can be faced with when working on a scene. This work is part of the overall effort being put into stability across the entire platform.

User Engagement

Avatar Movement / Controls

There have been complaints (and still are) about various aspects of Sansar’s control options (many of the complaints on Steam, for example, target the “non-intuitive” set-up of the VR  hand controller options).

One area of frustration many have is in avatar movement. In SL, for example, using the D key will orient the avatar and camera so the avatar is clearly facing the direction it is walking in. In Sansar, the camera will remain in place as the avatar walks to the left or right, giving what can be an odd “strafing” slide to the camera until it is re-oriented.

The problem here is which sort of controls are best: it might be argued that the “strafing” approach is something common in games, while the SL approach is more “non-standard”. However, users coming via Steam seem to be experiencing issues with turning their avatars when walking. So, the lab is seeking feedback on how best to consider possible improvements.

Quest / Progress System and user Engagement

To help new users, LL are working on a “quest / progression” system for Sansar.

  • Initially this will be a tutorial style option for new users, designed to take them through a basic quest and learn to use the basic controls (VR and keyboard), carry out tasks (pick things up, use them, drop them, teleport, etc), complete with some form of rewards / progress system that will deliver them to their Home Space on completion.
  • It will likely include a “come back and do this later” opt-out to allow people who are joining Sansar to attend a specific event (e.g. a show or performance) to log-in and get directly to the event, rather than being diverted into this on-boarding process.
  • Over time, the Quest / progress system will be opened out to experience creators, so they can embed it within their own games / quests, offer their own rewards / prizes (initially via the store), etc.
  • This system will (eventually) include infrastructure and capabilities that will include: information on the current quest a user is playing; how far they have progressed; what their upcoming task(s) is / are, etc.
  • Ideas put forward by both the Lab and creators at the meeting) for quest / game environments that might be built on this system include:
    • Hunts of some description, which also might be across multiple experiences, should experience creators have their builds included and add rewards to the quest.
    • Escape Room style games.
    • Story-based quests  – mysteries to be solved, etc.
    • More social-style games were also suggested, such as board games, card games, etc., that can easily be played by a group of friends.

For new users, there needs to be a clear distinction between goals and achievements. For example, Making 10 new friends might be considering an (unadvertised?) “achievement” within a quest, were a new user happen to do this as they played it; but it would not be a stated goal of the quest (as in, “you must now gain 10 friends in order to proceed to the next level”). This is to avoid new users lobbing multiple friend requests every time they come across other people and possibly annoying them. However, going to X, solving Y / overcoming Y to receive Z from the store, would be a goal / reward.

Another idea put forward is a system of badges / medals that can be received through repeated engagement in the platform. This type of system is used within Steam and is apparently popular there, and High Fidelity utilise a similar system as well.

Platform Promotion: VR AND Desktop Accessibility

One issue seen with Sansar gaining new users is that it is frequently perceived as “VR only” (this is a common form of feedback among Second Life users – I’ve seen it in comments on this blog).

In 2018, the Lab adjusted some of their advertising to de-emphasise the VR aspect of Sansar (such as removing some of the VR bias from the Sansar.com homepage); but conversely, there are still events that are promoted with this bias – Comedy Gladiators being a case in point (e.g. Comedy Gladiators, from Comedian Steve Hofstetter, Takes Live Entertainment to New Heights with Real-Time Ticketing & Physical Merchandise Sales in VR – Linden Lab press release, November 29th, 2018).

It’s been acknowledged by the Lab, that more needs to be done to emphasise the fact that Sansar can be enjoyed directly from the PC desktop without the need for a VR headset.

In Brief

  • Simple Scripts: it is widely felt these are under-utilised by experience creators. One issue is the lack of detailed documentation / tutorial material to go with them. This is apparently being addressed by the Sansar team.
  • 3D Mouse systems: following repeated requests from creators and machinima makers, initial steps have been taken to investigate whether support can be added to Sansar.
  • Other points of discussion, such as bugs, questions on specific aspects of content creation, etc., can be obtained by watching the video.

Sansar 2019 Product Meetings week #3 w/audio

Sansar Social Hubblog post

The following notes were taken from the Sansar Product Meeting held on Thursday, January 17th. The meeting was chaired by Stanley, the Director of Product for Sansar at Linden Lab and who was marking his first time leading a product meeting. Also in attendance (who I noted) were Cara, Aleks, Leslie, Nix and Stretch Linden.

Stanley has been with the Lab for some six months, and has been working closely with the Product team with a focus on improving the consumer experience, particularly the integration with Steam.

Sansar Dollars To US Dollar Conversions

On Wednesday, January 16th, 2019, Linden Lab published a Sansar blog post outlining Sansar Dollar to US dollar conversions. The post follow-on from changes announced in December related to Sansar becoming available on Steam – specifically the closure of the SandeX, which has been replaced by a flat-rate exchange rate for S$<>USD transactions.

The latest blog post outlines the key points of the new exchange process. In short:

  • Sansar dollars can be converted to USD at the rate of S$250 to $1.00. However, anyone who created their Sansar account before December 31, 2018, can exchange at the legacy rate of S$143 to $1.00 through until  December 31, 2019, after which the conversion rate for all accounts will be S$250 to $1.00.
  • The Process Credit page has been re-enabled for moving USD to PayPal accounts. However, to allow for processing of funds that may come via Steam, processing may take up to 30 days to complete a request.

However, there is more – and it has been somewhat negatively received.

  • Only “Earned Dollars” can be cashed out. That is, only S$ obtained via the sale of goods / services. S$ that are purchased or received as a gift / tip cannot later be cashed out (although all S$ held before the January 16th blog post have been converted to Earned Dollar Status).
  • It has been calculated that, even allowing for easements elsewhere in the system, creators are losing some 60% of potential income when cashing out.

This latter point was of particular concern at the Product Meeting, but the Lab’s hand is forced on the matter due to Sansar now also being provisioned through Steam, there is also concern as to whether the S$ > USD exchange rate might undergo further adjustments other than that planned for the end of 2019.

There are currently no plans to introduce adjustments to the cash-out exchange rate beyond those indicated in the blog post, which amount to anyone cashing-out paying around 60% in commissions. To help offset this, the Lab no longer takes a commission on any store-based transactions between users; they only take a commission on the cashing-out of S$.

Even so, and not unreasonably, creators feel that the shifting of fee payments to the cashing-out process means they are effectively subsidising the Steam integration, particularly given that – by the Lab’s own admission – the majority of users in Sansar are still coming directly into the platform, rather than via Steam, yet Steam still take a cut of the cash-out transactions.

The Lab acknowledge this is currently one-sided, but given they have no means at this point in time to accurately judge how much of an impact Steam will have on Sansar’s usage, they have erred on the side of caution. But whether in time the commission percentages could be adjusted, very much depends on how traffic flow through Steam develops over time, with changes to the cash-out process liable to be considered very carefully before being implemented.

It was asked whether Sansar could be provisioned through Steam “without the money part” in order to simplify matters. The problem seen with this approach is it would exclude Steam users from any economic engagement in the platform (as their transactions must come via the Steam wallet), reducing their interest in using the platform (no ability to buy avatar accessories, good, etc.).

The Future With Steam and Other Providers (e.g. Oculus)

Linden Lab see Steam as the “industry standard” for accessing games and for using VR with games. As such, they are unlikely to move away from the current partnership. However, if over time the relationship with Steam does not prove beneficial to Sansar in terms of growth, use, economy, etc., the platform is not in any way locked-in to Steam on a permanent basis, and so a future separation is not impossible.

The Oculus store has also been looked at as a potential channel for Sansar, and talks have been held. However, because of the relationship between Oculus and Facebook, this had proven a lot harder, but is still being worked on.

New User Experience

New User Experience Steam “versus” Sansar

There still seems to be a perception that users coming to Sansar via Steam have a different new user experience to those coming via Sansar.com. Aside for the sign-up process, this is incorrect. Sansar as provided through Steam is no different to Sansar accessed via the website / direct client download: all users go through the same on-boarding experience with their Home Space and the client tutorial, and the new Social Hub.

Enhancing the New User Experience

There are internal discussions at the Lab on further enhancements to the new user experience, such as adding some form of achievements / cosmetic awards system or similar, in order to encourage engagement (particularly among Steam users).

One of the issues Sansar faces (like Second Life) is how it should be pitched, simply because the potential use-cases are so vast and different. Creators, for example, have different reasons to try the platform to consumers; even gamers with an interest in modding view things differently to those purely interested in game play. Thus, the Lab is still juggling with approaches.

In terms of Steam, one of the most basic areas in determining how the appeal of the platform could be improved is via the constructive feedback offered through reviews, given that when provided, these most frequently involve comments on the “non-standard” approach to how control options are laid out on the hand controllers.

Gaming Templates

In keeping with previous Product Meeting summaries in these pages, the Sansar Team is working on various game-style Sansar templates (e.g. shooting games). It is hoped that when these become available, they will encourage creators / users to utilise them within their own experiences, further helping to drive engagement in Sansar.

These templates have also seen the Lab considering issues such as scoring mechanisms, persistence of scores / progress between sessions, etc.

Upcoming R29 Changes

The upcoming R29 release (the first for 2019) includes some further VR updates related to a user’s “connection” to their avatar.

  • One of these will be for the avatar to be more in sync with a users body movements, rather than lagging behind, as can be the case at the moment.
  • Another is to provide better control of arm movements (although this wasn’t clear to me, I assume this is related to keeping the arms more naturally in line with the avatar’s body when moving the hand controllers around).

R29 should also see the removal of the height calibration menu and storing a person’s height when using VR. There will still be options for setting it, if required (such as when a headset is being used by two different people); but where the headset is only used by the one individual, it shouldn’t be necessary to re-calibrate between sessions.

Continue reading “Sansar 2019 Product Meetings week #3 w/audio”

Looking at Sansar’s Social Hub

Sansar Social Hub

On January 10th, 2019, Linden Lab released Sansar update R28.3. no detailed release notes are currently available (if they are needed), but the core of the update appears to be the new Social Hub.

Available from the Atlas or via a user’s Home Space, the Social Hub is intended to be an experience where Sansar users can conveniently explore, relax, play games, and  – hopefully – meet other users. It can also (obviously) be used as a convenient meeting place when joining friends in Sansar.

Social Hub teleport portal

The easiest way for users to reach the Hub when logging-in is via their Home Space, which how includes a small teleport alcove to one side (previously marked as “under construction”). Walking into the teleport device within the portal will load the Social Hub experience and deliver you to it – no need to touch anything.

The Hub comprises five areas at present: the welcome area / arrival point; a games area;, a social area (the tree house); a kinetic sculpture (take parts and throw them to form an object) and a teleport area, all connected by a network of footpaths, with space to allow for further expansion (in fact, one area was marked as “under construction” at the time of my visit).

  • The games area offers a series of simple games that can be played in VR mode as well as (with some fiddling to get used to things) Desktop mode. I confess the 10-pin bowling to be fun – in that the bowling lane would appear to exist in its own local gravity field – when the pins are hit, the ten to fly up into the sky and then remain there until reset.
  • The teleport area has (at the time of my visit) had three touch teleport portals, each of which appears to rotate through popular experiences on what appears to be a timed basis. Hovering the mouse over a portal will display the current destination for a portal.
  • The tree house offers seating for chat, etc, with more seating at the arrival  / welcome area.

Note that when visiting the Social Hub, and as with the Home Space, the free cam capability in Desktop mode (F4) is disabled.

Given the ease of access from people’s Home Spaces, there is a potential for the Social Hub to become popular as a place to mingle and meet. Certainly during my own tour, there were around seven Greys (brand new avatars) who passed through – and interestingly, the ratio of VR to non-VR arrivals was biased towards VR (4 to 3).

Sansar Social Hub: tree house

However, the more I see Greys, the more I find myself wondering how they might dissuade people from sticking around in Sansar unless the find someone who can help them with their appearance (not exactly easy, given avatars vanish into Look Book); again, in y visit, I had two Grey approach me: one confused as to whether my avatar was “real” or an NPC, the other repeatedly asking “how do I look like you?”

Sit point indicator

A further recent addition – I’m not sure which update it came with (R28.1, R28.2 or the current R28.3), is the Home Space seating now has sit point indicators for the chair (as does the Social Hub).

These inverted triangles (or arrowheads) are displayed when the mouse is hovered over any object that has a sit point associated with it (see my R28 release overview for more on sit points), and the object itself is outlined in purple. Left-clicking on the object will cause your avatar to sit on it.

I assume these sit point indicators will become the norm as the sit point scripts are employed in all experiences – to be honest, I haven’t been in Sansar frequently enough since the R28 release to see how sit points are being used.

Feedback

The Social Hub is something that has been promised for a while, and it is good to see it delivered. Together with the log-in Home Space, it serves to make Sansar a friendlier place. Hopefully, it is a place new users will find comfortable and engaging – although a lot will perhaps depend on people being there and willing to  help out.

 

Sansar 2018 Product Meetings #50

The following notes were taken from the Sansar Product Meeting held on Thursday, December 13th, the last such Product Meeting for 2018. As usual, Eliot, the Sansar Community Manager hosted the meeting, with Ebbe, Landon, Aleks, Leslie, Kelly and Julia from the Lab.

High-Level Outlook for 2019

Plans are still being finalised for 2019 and Sansar, so there is some reluctance to talk in-depth about what is likely to be coming and when, however, some high-level bullet points for the platform mentioned in the meeting were:

  • Avatar improvements (e.g. face sliders, custom skins).
  • World (experience) creation easier.
  • Making it easier for people to collaborate and group themselves around “things”.
  • Improving the ability to make interactive content and games.
  • See Sansar be more event-driven.
  • Continue to ship updates at a high rate (the average for 2018 being one update per month).
  • Accelerate the rate of change that is being made with updates, as per that last three releases of 2018.
  • Continue to be responsive to feedback to updates and changes.

A major review of plans is taking place over the final working week of 2018, so early 2019 should see the Lab in a better position to offer some insight into what the year may be bringing to Sansar.

Attending Events

Sansar recently hosted its first ticketed event (sadly at a time far too late for most of us in Europe – hint, hint, Linden Lab) – Comedy Gladiators, hosted by Steven Hofstetter (read more here).  The event apparently went well, with the audience spawning multiple instances and able to see the activities on stage. However, one problem did arise in that people wishing to attend the same instance of the event at times found they couldn’t. The Lab is aware of this and looking to make changes that will allow people access the same instance of a popular event like this, and enjoy it together.

One idea is a “party up” system, that allows a party of named individuals access an instance together. This could be extended to things like team-based games / puzzles / activities, where you need to work as a group and / or work best with limited numbers – so each party of players accessing the game / experience would be delivered to a different instance, thus avoiding interfering with others who already have a game in progress.

In Brief

  • Sansar / Steam Desktop mode issue: there is an issue running Sansar via Steam in Desktop Mode that leaves the audio sliders in Settings non-responsive. This is being investigated by the Lab.
  • Improved camera(s) for 2019? a frequent request through 2018 has been better camera options for filming in Sansar. Idea put forwards include a true “flycam” mode that allows for free filming and avatar movement of the part of the person filming; the ability to create multiple (scripted) camera objects within a scene for filming (and the ability to cut between them when recording); having “flyable” scripted cameras, etc. Such ideas are being discussed by the Lab with no commitment (at present) on what might be delivered or when.
  • Freecamming when using a Sit Point: it is not currently possible to freecam (F4) when seated using the Sit point capability introduced with R28. This will be fixed.
  • “Bigger” Experiences: currently, the upper limit on experiences is 4km on a side (the equivalent area to 256 SL regions). There are currently no plans to expand beyond this, as it is the limit at which the physics aspects of the engine start to break down, and the Lab does not want to get into a Second Life scenario with having to work out how to stitch scenes / experiences together and cater for physically crossing being them.
    • Even working to the 4km upper limit is questionable at present, as Sansar does not have any means of LOD (level of detail) handling within it.
  • Finding Sticky Grab: the new “sticky grab” option introduced with R28 to prevent people picking up guns and then throwing them, rather than firing them (left mouse click), is currently a little obscure when setting it in Edit mode, so it is liable to be better surfaced in an upcoming release.
  • Improved Moderation: an upcoming point release (possibly to appear before Christmas) should allow user-to-user blocking (so not only can a troublemaker be muted, they can be blocked and vanish from your view  – and you vanish from their view).
  • In-client Store Improvements: it is hoped that 2019 will see the in-client Sansar Store achieve parity with the web version of the store (filters and filter options, etc).
  • Steam “Fall-off”: A lot has been made about the fall-off in incoming numbers of users from Steam. This was in some way expected, as at the launch on Steam, Sansar was featured on the Early Access home page (actually how I saw it had been launched), and also on the Steam VR section home page. Since the launch, Sansar is no longer front-and-centre on either page.
  • Avatar Rig: this will likely see changes in 2019. Work is already in hand to try to simplify it; other improvements will be made over time.

 

Sansar R28, the Ready, Aim, Fire! Release

Sitting in my Home Space – one of the new elements in Sansar

On Tuesday, December 11th, Linden Lab issued the Ready, Aim, Fire! (aka R28) update for Sansar, the last planned release for 2018.

Interaction is very much a theme for this release, as is helping new users feel more at home, as well as providing a point of entry when logging-in to Sansar at the start of a session. The release also includes a very long list of scripting updates, some of which are to support the new interactivity functions.

This article is designed to provide an illustrative summary of the release, but do note the lack of an VR headset and controller on my part means that any features described in detail here are looked at from the Desktop Mode.

At the time of writing, there were no release notes available, only a release blog post. Whether this actually constitutes the release notes or not, I’m not sure – so a check on the Sansar Help page might be in order to see of any release notes appear. Similarly, in checking the scripting API documentation, it appeared this documentation was also awaiting update. so again, a check should be made for the addition of information on the new API elements and script updates.

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 their Home Space after selecting their updated avatar.

Home Space

I’ll start with Home Space, a new “home location” so to speak. All users are dropped into Home Space, which resembles an open-plan skybox like apartment with three “rooms”, either when logging-in to Sansar for the first time or at the start of a new session (so in the latter regard it both appears as the back-drop image when logging-in to Sansar and replaces being dropped into the Atlas at the end of the log-in process).

As a physical environment, you can walk around your Home Space, sit on the chairs (albeit it using the teleport > /sit “cheat” and – for new users in particular – offers a starting point for the new UI tutorial (see below for more on this).

Images of the new Home Space taken in Sansar’s new “mouse look” view, showing the various areas. Note the “under construction” teleport portal, also shown enlarged in the last image, that will link Home Spaces to an upcoming new social hub experience. click on any image to view slide show

Note that Home Space is only accessible (for the time being?) when logging-in to Sansar at the start of a session; there’s no option to go back to it once you’re entered an experience, unless you re-log. Should you edit your avatar’s appearance (Create > Style My Avatar) from within an experience, you will still go to look Book and then back to the spawn point for the experience at the spawn point, as per previous Look Book behaviour.

Within The Home Space there is a hint of things to come: on one wall, and marked as “under construction” is the entranceway to the upcoming “Social Hub”. Reached via automatic teleport, this will be a new experience people can jump to and mingle, again with the intent to make it easier for newcomers to meet others. Some of the objects in the Home Space can also be grabbed, allowing basic interactivity to be tried – although the random nature of the tutorial pop-ups perhaps makes this a little hit-and-miss.

UI Tutorial

The new UI Tutorial is designed to help new users start to understand the Sansar Client UI (although it will also display for existing users logging-in to R28 for the first time). The tutorial comprises a selection of pop-up displays to controls and yellow hover tips that are displayed within the client. These can be displayed in both the Home Space and within initial experiences a new user visits.

Some of the UI tutorial pop-up (left) and tool tips displayed for new users. The pop-ups appear at the bottom centre of the UI window

The tutorial – while a good idea – seemed to be somewhat random. It’s wasn’t until my fourth log-in, for example, that I saw the pop-up for grabbing items. While not vital, given there are objects in the Home Space that can be grabbed, making this a little more predictable (coming up with the Walk and Teleport pop-ups, perhaps?) would perhaps be more useful.

Emote Menu and Emotes

New to both Desktop and VR modes for Sansar is the Avatar Emote menu. Access via the Socialise button (or CTRL-E in Desktop Mode), this displays a “dial” pop-up, with the available emotes (aka gestures or animations) on the right, and any emotes you may have already used in your current log-in session displayed on the left (if you have not used any emotes, this area will display an alarm clock like icon).

The new Emotes Menu. Note that Recent Emotes (on the left), are only displayed if you have used one or more emotes in the current session

Emotes are selected from the right of the menu, by scrolling up / down through them and clicking on the desired option. Recent emotes (if displayed) are accessed the same way. For VR users, an added bonus is that moving your head or arms will no longer cancel a playing emote (just walk forward, as per Desktop mode).

Note that the chat commands (“/sit”, etc.) are still fully supported, as is the ability to assign custom emotes to replace the default options.

Continue reading “Sansar R28, the Ready, Aim, Fire! Release”