This page is a part of a transcript of the Meet the Lindens presentation held at the SL13B celebration on Tuesday, June 21st, featuring Ebbe Linden (Ebbe Altberg, CEO at Linden Lab), answering questions from hosts, Zander Greene and Jo Yardley, and members of the audience. It covers the questions asked about Project Sansar.
Please use the following links to jump directly to a topic of particular interest.
- Ebbe on Ebbe and the Lab
- How did working at Linden Lab come about?
- What were your fist impressions on joining the Lab?
- Which part of the job do you like the most?
- What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced
- What is your management style?
- What are the things you see SL residents doing that you admire?
- Do you think critics are right when they say the digital age has made us more isolated?
- Do you have a Linden Bear?
- Are the monetisation issues for Blocksworld a / the reason for it not reaching the Android platform?
- Ebbe on Sansar
- Is the approximate SL / Non-SL creator ratio known for Sansar Creator Preview applications?
- Avatars and Freedom of Expression
- Will there be recommended hardware specifications for Sansar?
- Are we anywhere near a name for Sansar?
- Ebbe on Second Life
- Is there any explanation for the recent LindeX exchange rate fluctuations?
- When can we expect a version of the SL viewer supporting the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive?
- Has the Lab considered cubemap reflections?
- Does the Lab have and plan / strategy for Mainland / re-populating abandoned Mainland?
- When will we have more control for environmental factors in SL / Sansar?
Ebbe on Sansar
What is the approximate ratio of SL content creators to non-SL content creators who have applied to be a part of the Sansar Creator Preview? – Inara Pey
I’m not sure we’ve actually had the ability to analyse all of the applicants yet. I mean it’s in the multiple thousands … I think it’s approaching 5,000 people – and not just people, but companies and studios that have signed-up to get access.
It does look like the majority are Second life users, but a big portion of non-Second Life users as well. It’s mostly people who have intent of creating, not just visiting for visiting sake. And we’ve been saying that all along, that that’s not what we’re looking for; we’re looking for people who have the skills, the technologies and the intent combination that is going to make them useful for us to learn from as we start down the process of having them come in and start to create things. As well as trying to ensure that they’re going to be successful in what they’re trying to achieve.
So, there are people saying, “Hey! I want to do a project that will do this, this, and that!” And we go, we don’t have the features or the functionality or the capabilities for that type of use-case that they’re trying to solve for, for the next six months or nine months or a year or ever. So, we’re not going to prioritise those people, because we don’t want them to come in and go, “Oh, it doesn’t work,” and then just leave.
So we’re trying to find the people who have that mix of skills, the technology experience and are trying to do something that the platform is ready to support.
Will there be regions in Sansar? Different type of land, different sizes of parcels available. will that be a similar type of concept as we’re used to seeing in Second Life – Derek Galaxy
Well, I mean there’s similarities and then there’s huge differences. Internally right now we don’t call them regions, we call them scenes; we do not have a notion of parcels, I don’t know if we ever will. And one of those scenes, which is basically a simulator, like this region we’re in now is running on top of a simulator that running on top of some server on our grid. What I can say is that a scene in Sansar will be multiple kilometres by multiple kilometres, as opposed to just a couple of hundred metres, so they can be extremely large. And at the moment, because they can be so large, we’re also not at the moment solving for sim crossing; don’t know if we ever will.
You can obviously stitch together with some sort of portals to go from one scene to another scene, but it will not be a totally seamless thing. I wouldn’t know that you would say the sim crossings are completely seamless either; but there’s all kinds of technical reasons for that.
So that’s where we are now, and then we will see beyond that, what else we would need to do. But we want to make it possible for people to make it easy to stitch together lots of these scenes to get the optimal overall experience. “Experience” is what well call a collection of scenes. It could be one scene that makes the experience, or it could be a collection of scenes to make up and experience. Think of scenes as being just very, very large regions.
Will you be able to buy private island / land / regions and rent them to other users in Sansar for collaborative projects? – STAJ
Certainly I would expect a model to be more similar to where people are renting space because they want to be part of the experience, not just purely because of land cost. So the notion of, call it land barons or land arbitrage, where people buy lots of land from us and they do subdivisions, i.e. parcels, and then rent those smaller parcels to people, that’s not how we’re thinking right now.
So therefore right now, we’re not thinking about parcels. We want this land to be cheap enough in Sansar that you should be able to afford yourself a full scene – or more than one scene. Basically not sort-of requiring that land middle-man, if you will.
And then hopefully people will create incredible experiences that people will want to be part of, and come and live in, or be members of or whatever you call it, whether that’s because it’s a club and you pay a monthly fee to be a part of the club, or if it’s a game you pay monthly to have access to, or if it’s a place where you just want to have your own space within it.
But that’s where we also have to think about things where how do you allow people to modify portions of a scene. We clearly want authoring of Sansar scenes to be a multi-user experience; but because you have to publish it, that means that at some point someone’s going to hit the publish button and whatever people are working on is going to be published. So you’re not going to have that same what I think is kind-of a neat thing in Second Life, where I can be over here refurnishing my apartment, while you’re over there remodelling a different building or something, and we’re doing it at the same time on the same region, and that kind of way.
Because Sansar will be more of a create / publish and then sort-of use or run, then it makes for a different dynamic. I think it will take a while to figure out how some of these use-cases will be solved for, and how soon they pop-up to being important use-cases to give ability for people to sort-of live in a creation and have some control over how to modify their portion, whether it’s their apartment or their sub-area of a scene. Don’t know how to solve for that yet.
So, what’s the right solution for that and when do we have a solution for that will be interesting to see. Is it that you stitch multiple scenes together, but then you have less of this seamless transition from outside my apartment to going inside my apartment, which is a separate scene. We’ll have to see.
And that’s what I want to make clear with everybody, is that Sansar is not trying to be the same thing as Second Life. so a lot of things that people take for granted, or have a strong preference for, you will not get in Sansar, because it’s a different product doing things differently. And so for some of you that will be great, and for some of you that will not be as great as Second Life is. So you may prefer to stay in Second Life for some reason. I actually think that for many people, that will probably be true.
And then over time, as Sansar evolves, you might find that you use Sansar in a different way to make it worthwhile for you, and not necessarily use it or think of using it in the same way.
I mean one thing we’re trying to do in Sansar, for example, is to make it possible for you to put an entire experience on the marketplace, not just an item, but I can create an incredible experience and put that on the marketplace for someone to buy it from, kind-of like an app economy, if you will. So I think the dynamics and the types of creations and the use-cases these creations will solve for will be different from Second Life, and sometimes there’s overlap and sometimes there’s not.
Are the scenes in Sansar land-based, like Second Life, or is ground and gravity optional and settable? for example, if you want to build a sci-fi scene – Will Webb
So we don’t want it to be a sense of land. But can you make it into a ball and make it feel like a planet? It’s still a fairly small planet. But yeah, we don’t necessarily want it to be that it has to be land, over time.
Now we’re building on a terrain-editing toolset that has land assumptions in it, and I bet a lot of it will be land; but yeah, it should be ultimately able to be water or land or space. At least in my opinion; but again, we’re not necessarily even making some of those decisions yet.
Are the avatar controls in Sansar comparable to Second Life? A detachable camera, ability to fly, some of these more basic things that we have in SL. Are we likely to see options for movement and control that we’re familiar with? – Will Webb
Some of it is similar; you have first person, you have third-person. We don’t fly yet, we’re still working on some of the basic movements: walking speeds and running and stuff like that.
But we’re also spending quite a time thinking more about what’s it like to be inside the avatar in VR: what should my hands look like when I look at them in first person? How do my hands function? How do I grab things? Because in VR, I’m going to use my controller to grab and object and pick it up and hold it in my hand and throw it, OK? What’s the right system for that? So we’re thinking a lot about hand IK [inverse kinetics], body IK.
Should I, in first person, see my arms? Probably not, because it’s a big confusion for you to see your elbows pointed outwards in your avatar, when physically they’re pointing downwards. So, it’s probably better to actually not see your arms in first person view in VR, and just see your hands, because the hands are at least positioned correctly in 3D space in front of you, whereas your elbow may not be.
Should you see your lower body in VR? But that again that gets weird if my avatar is standing or I am sitting, or vice-versa, again those are immersion breakers. So sometimes it’s better in first person, in terms of how you look at yourself, to see less. rather than incorrect more. So we’re dealing a lot with these kind of VR use-cases. What should happen when I turn my head and I’m twisting myself around, what should the avatar body do? Do I look over my shoulder? When do I start to move my feet? So there’s a lot of interesting problems we’re trying to solve for there that are VR focused. And like the whole thing with facial expression that I think are unique to VR that we’re focusing on.
So less about trying to get the same set of things from Second Life, and again thinking about Sansar differently with the context of VR in mind.
Will we be able to customise our Sansar avatars? (Note: this question based on the response given. The actual question was lost on in-world voice, as was the questioner’s name.)
I don’t see why not, ultimately. Now for role-play, you want to have quite a bit of control over what your avatar looks like; that will take a while. Right now we’re still working on the base avatar, and the capabilities of a base avatar. The customisation of this avatar in the beginning will be fairly basic: skin tone, maybe a couple of hairstyles, a couple of pre-defined outfits.
You know, “day 1” for Sansar, if we call it January of next year, when all of you can come in, there won’t be a simple way to create clothing or avatar parts and put on the marketplace, because we still have more work to do to get sort-of the whole customisation system of avatars to a place where you can easily create custom clothing and custom avatar parts, to then be able to have other people purchase and attach to their avatars.
We’re trying to do system that will make things easier, and solve things so that they’re less, I would say, technically complex than Second Life. I mean all of you obviously took the time and effort to learn how to use Second Life and successfully deck out your avatar to get it to look how you want it to look. But I think for a large number of users, that system is just too complicated. So how to get clothes that can auto-fit, so that I can buy a shirt and I know that it’s going to fit regardless of the shape of my avatar, within reason.
So there are a number of things that will not be there, day 1. and we boosted the character team, we call it, with a couple of more people, to try to accelerate how much we can get done; but there’s still quite a bit of work to do before Sansar gets anywhere near the capability of customising your avatar and the way you look, like you can in Second Life.
But the goal is to have as much freedom in Sansar as we have in Second Life?
Is there subject matter in Second Life we would not allow in Sansar, is that what you’re asking? I mean all of the role-playing communities that I know of are completely reasonable.
But we also have to see, because of the product, and the feature and VR, will those be the most important things for us to focus on, and will those be the most important things for you to use the platform to do. I don’t know yet; I don’t know that anyone knows. That’s something this journey will sort-of tell us. but I don’t see a reason why it wouldn’t be great for that.
I mean, it’s even more immersive in VR, when you can actually not just look at it, but be there, and be the avatar and be amongst other people who are the avatars. It’s incredible.
Will you be able to tell the intended age of an avatar in Sansar by looking at – whether adult, child, etc? – Catherine Fredericks
I don’t know. I don’t think that should be complicated, but I’m not sure.
Will there be Profiles in Sansar that we can look at to kind out about people?
Well now we’re getting into identity, which is a tricky subject.
Second Life is on, I would say, the far spectrum of the anonymity side; and on the other side you have what we call real names, real identities, like probably the most successful real system on planet Earth is Facebook.
And there’s a reason why they’ve been extremely successful with that; and there’s probably a reason why 100% anonymous networks like Twitter and Second Life run into some really interesting challenges. And there are pros and cons; and we’re trying to think of ways of potentially mixing these models, but we have not made final decisions yet.
I have a preference, some other team players have slightly different preferences, so we’ll see where it ends up. But I think what would be best for Sansar would be real names, and then the ability to have personas underneath that.
so I could go into a role-playing, or into an experience as an anonymous user in that context. But to the platform, I am not anonymous. And so, without making that too complicated and confusing, is that the right answer? We’ll see. But I think to, it would certainly help with griefing and other things. And it also supports a lot of interesting use-cases where anonymity is actually just really confusing, and actually gets in the way.
You can think of a lot of professional use-cases where there are teachers and students and professionals having meetings where these anonymous identities makes things really confusing; “I know Bob, I want to talk to Bob. Who the hell is this Jumping Jack guy?”
So we’re still debating this, and I’m pushing in one way, and people are pushing in different ways, and we’ll see where we end up. I mean, unfortunately, to implement real names is also really complicated. Do you hitch a ride with Facebook, or do you have to somehow build your own real name system.
And building a real name system is incredibly difficult. Facebook did it in an extremely clever way, by basically relying on the social graph to ensure real names. Because just having everybody having to put a credit card down, or identification to prove their real identity is super cumbersome. So, interesting topic.
Many people in Second Life are connected to PayPal, which is a way for you to identify us, while we remain anonymous to everyone else.
If we have to rely on like, for some it’s PayPal, for some it’s this, for some it’s that, it gets really complicated for us to do that.
It’s definitely something we’re thinking a lot about. but do I want that people in Sansar should be able to walk around anonymously? Absolutely! You can in the physical world. I don’t have to have a name tag on myself and show my ID to every person I approach on the street. not that I’m trying to hide anything, but I also don’t think everybody should know what the hell I’m doing all the time. It’s none of your business; it’s my business.
So I totally want to have that mix of, we know who you are but you can also be whoever you want to be, and still have a somewhat functional society going on within that. So we’ll see where we end up.
Will you be releasing recommended specs for Sansar ahead of the open access beta, along with recommended VR devices that will provide an ideal experience? – Catherine Fredericks
We certainly do want VR users. It not necessarily that we’re going to require everybody to have an Oculus Rift or a HTC Vive – those are the two VR platforms that we support today. It’s not certain that all of them are going to need that.
If you’re going to VR, then Oculus and HTC have already set a min spec for what computer you need. There are already tools on Oculus‘ and HTC’s site you can run on your computer to tell you whether you computer’s ready for that hardware. So that’s something we don’t have any say in, they’ve already said that that’s the min spec for VR, done.
We obviously will not require that min spec for you to run Sansar on a PC, but what that min spec will ultimately be, I think it’s still too early to tell. There’s still so much performance work still to be done in Sansar, so what our minimum spec CPU and GPU requirements will be, is still a ways out. and it’s not something we will finalise in advance of the creator preview coming up here in August. So I think it will take us at least until the end of the year to have a recommended min spec. And the over time, maybe that min spec will actually come down as we further improve the performance of the product.
Are we anywhere near a name yet for Sansar?
There’s reasons why I’m not being specific on this yet, but we’ll know soon. For what we’re trying to do, there’s some assets we have to get our hands on, whether it’s name or trademarks or this and this and that. And before you have all that in your hand, we’d rather not be letting it be known what it is we’re after. So until we have all the assets in hand, it’s going to be unknown to all, what it’s going to be.