Sansar Product Meeting 2017 week #46

Creator Academy: Hall of Materials – location for the Friday, November 17th, 2017 Product Meeting

The following notes are taken from the 4:00pm PST Sansar Product Meeting held on Friday, November 17th. Product Meetings are usually held every Friday at 9:30am PST and 4:00pm PST, and are open to all. There is currently no set agenda, and the meetings are a mix of voice and text. The official meeting notes are published in the week following each pair of meetings, while venues change each week, and are listed in the Meet-up Announcements. and the Sansar Atlas events section.

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the Friday, November 17th morning meeting, hence these notes only covering the one meeting.

Store Release

The November release will, as previously noted, focus on the Sansar Store. It will include a redesign of the Store’s main page.

The Sansar design team is working on the mean for designers to update store listings and to be able to distribute updates to customers, determining the likely workflow, etc. However, it will still be a while before this appears, and it won’t be part of the Store Release

Fashion Release

This is still on course from a planned December release. Invites to the “alpha test group” are due to start going out to designers. This release should also hopefully include non-fashion elements as well, such as the events information being added to the client Atlas – see my notes from week #45 for more.

Experience Access Control and General Security

Upcoming capabilities for Sansar will include the ability to control access to an experience. Initially this will be restricting it to Friends only, but further control abilities will be added, and the Lab is seeking feedback from users on what they would like to see. ideas thus far include:

  • Blacklist and whitelist access (i.e. those on a blacklist are permanently blocked from accessing an experience; or access can be contained to a whitelist of people, regardless of whether or not they are on the experience owner’s Friends list).
  • Ability to appoint “experience officers” (similar in notation to Second Life estate managers), with the authority to keep an eye on an experience and those visiting it.
  • The use of a maturity ratings system similar again to SL, which could be used within experiences and in the Sansar store to both help indicate what might be seen within an experience, and also what is permitted to be worn within an experience (e.g. anyone with an Adult rated attachment would be barred from accessing a General rated experience until the attachment is removed).
    • How straightforward this would be to implement is unclear.
    • It’s worth noting that Ebbe Altberg has in the past suggested that experience owners may eventually be able to define entry by avatar type / dress mode defined by the experience owner (so for, example, a merfolk-centric experience would require all visitors to be a merman or mermaid).
  • Abilities to deal with griefers, again, like SL, not jut ejection / banning, but ability to freeze them, indicating their actions have been observed and could result in a ban.
  • Overall account security is something the Lab is looking at, particularly given the means by which accounts can be hacked / abused within Second Life.

In Brief

  • The events section of the Web Atlas: when active, has been updated to present information a little more clearly.
  • Community Meetings: Sansar Community meetings are now being varied, visiting different experiences on different days, rather than the one experience being used for a whole week of meetings. Venues will continue to be announced via the web Atlas Events section and the Community Meet-up page.
  • Creator Academy: Hall of Materials: the first of Sansar’s experience-led learning facilities, the Hall of Materials opened on November 14th, 2017. You can read my review here. Apparently, the audio section of the experience utilises incorrect sounds, and will be updated soon, as well as capabilities being added (e.g. as noted in my review, better Desktop mode interaction).
  • Building and Design Collaboration: the groundwork for collaborative design within Edit mode is being laid, with particular emphasis on how the capability will work with Sansar’s upcoming permissions system. A suggestion put forward by Jenn is to see if edit spaces can simply be shared – so that if someone is working on a scene, they can invited a friend in to Edit mode with them so they can chat, etc.
  • Identifying Lab Staff in Sansar: in Second Life, Linden Lab staff are easily recognised by the use of the “Linden” last name, and the use of blue in name tags, text chat, etc. A means to similarly recognise Lab staff in Sansar is being considered. This may not involve the use of the “Linden” last name, but could be something like their names showing up in blue when highlighted by the mouse / controller. It might also include the means for Lab staff to turn it off if they wish.
  • Next Product Meeting: due to the US Thanksgiving holiday, the next Sansar Product Meet-up will be on Friday, December 1st, 2017.
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Sansar Product Meeting 2017 week #45

People gather on stage for the Product Meeting, Friday, November 10th, including Brett Linden (far left), Cara Linden (far right), Jenn (centre right, next to Tyler), and Boden Linden (in the sunglasses behind and slightly to the right of Jenn)

The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meetings held on Friday, November 10th. These meetings are usually held every Friday at 9:30am PST and 4:00pm PST, and are open to all. There is currently no set agenda, and the meetings are a mix of voice and text. The official meeting notes are published in the week following each pair of meetings, while venues change each week, and are listed in the Meet-up Announcements. and the Sansar Atlas events section.

Events Section on the Web Atlas

The new events section on the web Atlas has launched  – see here for more. It is currently limited to three events at a time, but will be expanded. There will also be an e-mail address to which details of user-organised events can be sent for inclusion in the listing. once the submission process / requirements and e-mail addressed have been finalised, the events section will be officially documented by the Lab.

Store Release

The November end-of-month Sansar release will be focused on the Sansar Store, although it will include other elements as well. Details of specific improvements / updates will be made available closer to the release date, but it is likely to include things like further store branding improvements, improvements to featuring items in the store.

Week #45 Update

In the meantime, there has been a mini update to the store, allowing creators to see who has bought their items, etc. This information can be manually copy / pasted into a spreadsheet for analysis, although more automated tools will be forthcoming in the future.

Fashion Update

The Fashion update scheduled for mid-December is generating the most interest. Again, specific details will be made available closer to the release date, however the following aspects of the release have been mentioned:

  • It should include updated avatar shapes. These shouldn’t affect how attachments currently work, but may impact the precise placement of attachments.
  • The character mesh models to help with clothing design will be made available around the same time as the Fashion release is made.
  • Clothing design will initially be gender-specific: clothing designed using the female model will only work on female avatars, and clothing designed using the male avatar will only work on male avatars. It’s not clear if a more “unisex” approach will be added in the future.
  • It has been previously indicated by Bjørn Laurin that this initial fashion release will not include full layering (so, for example, a shirt and jacket must be worn together, rather than as individual layers), although it may split clothing by “top” and “bottom” layers.

As well as directly addressing Fashion aspects of Sansar, this release may also see updates in the following areas:

  • Audio:
    • Additional audio controls on the Settings panel to allow users to toggle voice chat and background music in experiences.
    • Audio materials for terrain. There will be an initial limit of only audio sample per terrain; the Lab is still determining how it will work for blended terrains /materials.
  • A possible push of the events listing to the client Atlas.
  • Possible inclusion of terrain height map imports.

Inventory / Scene Objects List Management

  • The Lab is looking at improvements to inventory / scene objects management. These include: searching, sorting and filtering items, and making multiple selections of items.
  • Implementing folders within inventory is under discussion, along with potentially “better” ways of handling inventory organisation also being considered.
  • The ability to see a representative icon for inventory items when hovering the mouse over them is being discussed (e.g. a generic sound icon for an audio item). However, this is not part of the current inventory roadmap.

Issues Update

Attachments Rotation / Breakage Issue

As noted in my week #44 update, a change in the Friends release means that some attachments using workarounds to handle rotation no longer appear in the correct location when worn, requiring them to be manually fixed and re-uploaded. However, as some of the items exceed the recently introduce size limitation for attachments (1m x 1m x 1m), uploading them is no longer possible.

Rather than re-visiting the currently enforced limitations with a view to possibly relaxing them at some point to allow these fixed items to be re-uploaded, SIN has suggested an alternative approach: add an option along with those for listing items on the store, etc., to allow rotation to be adjusted (which would also be useful for anything accidentally uploaded with the wrong rotation). The idea is being taken back to the Lab for further investigation.

Scene Editor Object Count Crash

Some creators have found that the client can crash while in Edit mode on reaching 4096 objects (or 2048 dynamic objects) within a scene. It is currently not clear if this is a bug within the Sansar engine, or whether it is related to something else (it has also been reported that the scene object list has issues scrolling through very long lists of items, and this may be related). This is an issue the Lab didn’t previously appear to be aware of, and it appears a formal bug report has yet to be raised on the issue.

In Brief

  • Textures Related:
    • System terrain textures: requests have been made for the current system terrain textures to be made available in some way (e.g. samples on the wiki, an option to use them in the uploader, etc.), so that creators can blend their own items (e.g. paths, riverbanks, etc.) with the ground textures they have selected with their scene. These requests have been taken back to the Lab.
    • Custom terrain textures: the ability for creators to upload their own terrain textures is still on the roadmap, but may not be rolled out in the short-term, as the Lab wants to focus on making some updates to the terrain editor before rolling out new features related to it.
  • Retaining cached experiences: request has been made for users to be able to select and retain cached experiences (e.g. their own) they frequently visit, rather than losing them when they go Atlas hopping, etc. The is under discussion at the Lab, but how it might be implemented has yet to be determined.
  • Experience access control/ monetisation:
    • Initial access control for experiences is coming (e.g. restricting an experience to Friends only).
    • Broader access control (/ eventual monetisation of experience access) is being looked at by the Lab, with some form of ticketing system currently being the most likely approach. However, the fine details of how this will work  still have to be determined. As such, it is not currently on the roadmap for implementation.
  • UI Improvements: as noted in week #43, he Lab is working on the tools to support UI changes (Runtime and Edit modes). Once this work is completed, it will hopefully pave the way to making UI improvements easier (e.g. resizeable windows, etc).
    • Improvements to the Chat and People apps are being considered for 2018.
    • A means of providing a non-obtrusive means of indicating who is talking on voice at any given time is still being investigated.
    • Stale messages / notifications: the issue of stale messages / notifications appearing in the Chat and People apps is being investigated.
  • PayPal payment option: still on the roadmap, but focus at the moment is on updates to the SandeX and fixing issues around the purchase of Sansar Dollars.
  • 2018 Feature release roadmap: a point to remember is that the 2018 features roadmap is being revisited. As such, when updates / features listed above might appear in the roadmap, and how other capabilities previously discussed at Product Meetings (e.g. the supply chain capability) slot into time frames for 2018 is still to be settled.

Sansar Product Meeting 2017 week #44

People arrive on foot, by bus, by … flying saucer … to attend the Friday November 3rd Product Meeting

The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meetings held on Friday, November 3rd. These meetings are usually held every Friday at 9:30am PDT and 4:00pm PDT, and are open to all. There is currently no set agenda, and the meetings are a mix of voice and text. The official meeting notes are published in the week following each pair of meetings, while venues change on a weekly basis, and are announced in the Meet-up Announcements.

The October 26th meetings took place at The Diner by C3rb3rus. Product team members Cara and Boden spoke at the morning and afternoon sessions respectively. Jenn, as usual, led proceedings.

Friends Release

The Friends release arrived on Tuesday, October 31st – see my overview for more, and a patch for the release was issued on November 2nd, fixing a number of issues – see the release notes for more on this.

Desktop Mode: Identifying Avatars

The ability to hover the mouse over an avatar to see the name and ID (then left-click for Friend / mute / Remove as friend options) when in Desktop mode was a major element in the release. However some have reported that this doesn’t always work, and it has been reported as an issue.

One way to resolve the issue is to go to the My Looks app (top right of the client window) and then straight back to the experience.

  • Additional options have been requested for the avatar mouse over options, such as being able to open an IM in both Desktop and VR modes. These have been forwarded to  the developers.
  • Some have requested this be made a toggle feature via More Options > Settings in the UI.

Attachments Rotation / Breakage Issue

A change in the Friends release resulted in rotation / breakage on some attachments made using workarounds to handle rotation (so an affected item no longer appears in the correct location when worn), requiring them to be manually fixed and re-uploaded. However, as some of the items exceed the recently introduce size limitation for attachments (1m x 1m x 1m), uploading them is no longer possible. This has given further consideration to re-visiting the currently enforced limitations with a view to possibly relaxing them at some point.

Store Release and General Store Discussion

While the focus has been on the Friends release and the mid-December Fashion release (see here and here for more), there is still the November end-of-month release still to come. This will be the Store release, which as the name implies, focuses primarily on the Sansar Store. This release is still being finalised, and details will be made available nearer to the planned release date.

  • Updating items: the content breakage issue mentioned above has helped push the ability for designers to offer updates to their items further up the priorities list.
  • Licensing models: numerous ideas on potential licensing / pricing models for goods in Sansar were discussed. For example: operating a multiple-price system for items based on intended  / licensed use – so a version of a item intended for “single instance / non-public / non-Atlas listed” use would have a one (lower) price point; while the same object intended for “commercial (re-sale?) / public” use has a higher price point. Such ideas bring with them numerous issues:
    • As an experience is a URL which can be used anywhere, how do you determine “non-public” over “public” use, as the Atlas is not the sole means of surfacing an experience?
    • Such an approach also seems to run contrary to the supply chain ecosystem wherein designers receive payment based on the onward sale of their goods in other creations, rather than a single “up front” large payment for use of their item.
  • Ability to run flash sales / better linkage between goods and stores: both of these points are being looked at by the Lab, with the emphasis currently on the latter: making the identification on items, designers and store more direct.
    • This also spills over into the improving listing updates and automating the listing process. For example, that when creating a listing for a ring, the system recognises it is intended  for the “hand” attachment and lists it as such.
  • Demos: A concern among those familiar with the SL Marketplace is that Sansar avoids the need to have individual listings for demos of items.
    • A suggestion for handling attachments and clothing would be to include an ability to have the avatar wear the item in the Character app (My Looks), either in the client (which has a risk of exposing the .FBX file of the item) or implementing part of the Character app so it can be used within the Sansar Store for previewing items.
    • It is likely more than one means of handling demos will be required, depending on the item, and Boden acknowledged this is something the Lab is aware of and considering.

Events Update

A new events feature was due to be part of the Friends release, but late breaking issues pushed it into a separate update due to arrive soon. Key points with this feature are:

  • Ability to send an e-mail to the Lab promoting an event. Once available, e-mails should be sent at least a week in advance of an event so as to be curated and added in time, as this will initially be a manual process.
  • The inclusion of the times and locations of daily community meet-ups and the weekly Product Meetings, as other Lab-led events.
  • It is intended to help people find out what is going on in Sansar.
  • It will initially be a part of the web Atlas to start with, and then grown from there.

Fashion Focus Group

Alongside of the Fashion release there will be a special focus / “alpha” group, which will comprise designers specifically invited to join it to help give input / feedback on the fashion tools / capabilities, and which will likely be subject to NDA, due to the proprietary nature of some of the software.

Sansar Learning Curve and Tutorials

Some are already finding Sansar difficult to get to grips with, and requests have been made for things like tool tips in the various UI apps, some form overview of controls and options built-in to the client, etc. An on-boarding process has been discussed at the Lab, but this appears to have been pushed back as other features – such as a fashion – have been prioritised.

One suggestion to help with on-boarding, seen as short-term, would be to have YouTube / Vimeo videos explaining aspects of Sansar (the return of Torley’s TuTORials?!). There are already videos being added to the Knowledge Base, and this is likely to be expanded.

Creator Academy and Hall of Materials

One learning resource that the Sansar team is working on is a showcase Creator Academy within Sansar itself. This will feature, for example, an upcoming Sansar Studios experience called Hall of Materials, displaying objects with different settings in action on different materials so that creators can see and experience, rather than just read about, how the materials editor works inside Sansar.

Avatar Sitting and Avatar Animations

Avatar Sitting

Adding the ability for avatars in Sansar to sit is more difficult than might be appreciated, as per Bjørn’s comments from a previous Product Meeting, which commence around the 2:10 mark in the audio below. However, it is on the roadmap for implementation, possibly in 2018. Pending this, Galen has put forward a request for attaching standing avatars to objects, to prevent them from falling off (say, if the vehicle is inverted), and to free-up the WASD / arrow keys for vehicle movement, etc.

Animating Avatars

VR adds complexity to animating avatars in other ways. Take dancing for example: should this purely be a matter of running a set of pre-defined animations (scripted via an object, or played directly against the avatar) in a manner akin to Second Life, or should it also allow for IK control through the VR controllers? Would people even want to use VR for things like dancing, or be more content with allowing pre-defined animation sets move their avatar (again, as per SL)?

If using a combination, how is it determined what is controlled just by animations, what is purely controlled by the VR controllers, etc. How do these then relate to the Sansar animation engine, so that facial expressions, lip and mouth movements when using voice, etc., are still accurately played without possible conflicts?

These are all questions the Lab is considering, together with how to allow avatars to be more expressively emotive through facial expressions. Should this be done through some kind of HUD system (if enabled in Sansar) or via the selection of a happy / smiley / frowny face via My Looks (clunky, but workable), or some other means?

A refreshing point here is that the Lab is not looking at VR to solve these issues (e.g. reliance on facial tracking to reflect facial movements / expressions), but is looking at options which encompass users with or without VR systems at their disposal. There is also a recognition that many people derive satisfaction from simply watching their avatar engage in something like dancing without necessarily having to directly manipulate it while it is doings so.

Continue reading “Sansar Product Meeting 2017 week #44”

Sansar Product Meeting 2017 week #43

Darkwood Forest – C3rb3rus

The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meetings held on Thursday, October 26th, a day early to allow for the 1st Sansar Halloween Blitz Dodge Cannon Ball Tournament, which is being held on Friday, October 27th, 2017 – see here for more. 

Product meetings are usually held every Friday at 9:30am PDT and 4:00pm PDT, and are open to all. There is currently no set agenda, and the meetings are a mix of voice and text. The official meeting notes are published in the week following each pair of meetings, while venues change on a weekly basis, and are announced in the Meet-up Announcements.

The October 26th meetings took place at Darkwood Forest by C3rb3rus. Product team members Cara and Carolyn attended the morning and afternoon sessions respectively, together with Torley and Brett, respectively. Jenn, as usual, led proceedings. I did miss a portion of the morning session, as everyone ran away while I had to go AFK (meanies! 😀 ), so the official write-up may cover topics not mentioned here.

Darkwood Forest – people arrive for the meeting

Friends Release

The next release, currently targeted for Tuesday, October 31st, starting at around 11:00am SLT. This means that Sansar will be down for around 90 minutes. An outline of some of the features to be included in the release were previewed at the start of October, and further information is given below.

Social Updates

  • Connecting with people:  it will be possible to search for people by name via the client’s People App and send them Friend requests to add them to your Friends list. However, because Avatar Names are not unique, and can only be verified via Avatar ID, searches must be via Avatar ID.
  • Desktop mode avatar identification: it will be possible to identify people round you in Desktop mode, by clicking on them to display their Avatar Name / Avatar ID. This will also allow you to Friend / audio mute an avatar.
  • Sort client Atlas entries:  the sort options recently added to the web version of the Atlas (e.g. those under the All, Sansar Studios, and creator tabs) will be available in the client Atlas. sorting as a whole is also improved.

Scripting Updates

  • Trigger collision events on non-dynamic objects: it will be possible to trigger events on non-physical and static objects. This also mean that scripts triggering events can be attached to animated objects.
  • New scripting APIs: details, however, still TBC.

Other updates

  • Publish work flow: the experience publish work flow includes additional contextual dialogue designed to make the process more intuitive.
  • Documentation: Links within the UI (presumably leaning towards the UI’s Edit Mode) to Knowledge Base articles.
  • Website calendar: to advertise events such as the daily meet-ups and the weekly Product Meetings, with links to the host experience. This will eventually be expanded to the client, and to include creator / community events.

Events Feature

A new feature in the works is for promoting events. This was intended to be part of the Friends release, but at the time of the October 26th Product Meetings, it looked as if it will slip to a separate update, following “soon after” the Friends release. This will:

  • Initially be a “little section” on the Web Atlas which can be expanded to see more events.
  • Be expanded in future iterations – although exactly what form it will take (Events tab in the Atlas? A calendar?) is still under discussion at the Lab.
  • Include a means (most likely an e-mail address) through which event organisers can submit their events for inclusion in the listing.
Darkwood Forest – Torley (l), Jenn (centre left), and Cara (r) from the Lab at the morning Product meeting, with Tyler Scarborough in the spacesuit (centre r)

Fashion Release

  • The initial Fashion release is currently on-track for around mid-December 2017.
  • The Lab will be extending invitations to creators to join a beta testing group for the fashion capabilities. This will be a selected group, and subject to NDA due to some proprietary aspects of the fashion capabilities.

Other Items

Audio Discussions and Torley’s Tips

Sounds approaching white noise (e.g. background “swooshing” style noises) can be broken up through camera issues. This is a known issue, and should improve when the Lab has full audio stream integration in the future, which is currently waiting on some third-party fixes.

While it has not been confirmed as something the Lab will implement, there has been discussion around possibly adding controllable fall-off curves for sounds in Sansar in the future. In addition, Torley has been experimenting with how reverb can be used (e.g. for enhancing echoes, etc). Galen has also put forward a suggestion for handling reverb.

Torley also offered some sound design tips:

  • If using a relatively constant background noise (e.g. a engine rumble), rather than using a single large emitter, or several very large overlapping emitters using the same sound, try using multiple emitters using variations of the sound. This prevents it becoming too homogeneous and can introduce subtle variations that add depth.
  • Use large audio blocks as a means to initially map the background sounds in a scene, then refine by differentiating the sounds into smaller areas, duplicating and varying as required, then add more focused sounds to build the layering.
  • Only use point emitters for sounds in very localised situations (e.g. a sound emanating from a specific point). For fall-off, spherical emitters are better than square emitters.
  • See Torley’s Sansar Audio Tips’n’Tricks blog post for more.

Resource Opacity and Colour Coding in Edit Mode

Resources such as audio volumes.etc., have a level of opacity assigned to them, defined by the physics engine. Requests have been made to offer greater variance in the level of opacity / transparent in various resource types, and this is something the Lab is examining, particularly as the layering of resources in a scene is liable to become more complex. Similarly, consideration is being given to changing the colour coding used in the Edit mode, as this can cause issues for people with colour vision issues.

Store Related

  • Listing / product updates: adding the ability to offer product updates remains a “high priority” for the Lab, although it is seen as having a complex series of interactions (e.g. with licensing / permissions and the proposed supply chain economy), such that implementation isn’t as straightforward as it might appear. However, the increasing need to update “standalone” products and present them to customers (e.g. so that products can keep pace with things like scripting improvements) has been recognised and is also being discussed at the Lab.
  • Product ratings: one outcome of the recent Store focus groups was a preference to so product ratings removed from listings. Currently, there’s no time frame on if / when this might be done.

In Brief

  • Web search bar: the placement / visibility of the search bar on Sansar web pages was improved with an update on Wednesday, October 25th.
  • Collision (?) Crashes: there is a potential client / experience crash which may be related to collisions with physical objects (e.g. get hit by a ball thrown by someone once or a number of times, and the experience may crash). It doesn’t happen with every collision with physical objects, nor is it necessarily related to the volume of collisions occurring within an experience.  Galen has identified the crashes may be linked to an experience having a large number of complex surfaces, the speed at which items may be moving – the faster the physical object(s) is/are travelling, the more they might be prone to crashing the experience.
  • VR Friend Request Issues: some have noticed issues trying to accept / give Friend requests in VR mode. These appear to be related to the accuracy of the gaze pointer and the HTC Vive controllers perhaps more than Oculus Touch controllers. The Lab is aware of the problem and investigating it.
  • More granular control over animated objects: the Lab is planning to provide better control over animated objects via scripts (start, stop, point from which they animate, point at which they stop animating, etc), in time.
  • Resource metrics: Galen has requested the addition of a new tab to the Debug dashboard which would allow creators check their resource utilisation (e.g. server CPU and memory use), FPS, etc., in order to better optimise their work (particularly where scripts are concerned) . This has been taken aboard by the Lab as a means to help creators in optimising their experiences.
  • Revise dynamic object highlighting in Desktop mode for better control: currently, any dynamic object is highlighted in blue in Desktop mode, whether or not it is intended to be held by an avatar. This can lead to people trying to pick up scripted dynamic objects that are not intended to be held, risking them being repositioned or even crashing the experience. SIN has requested that the blue highlighting is updated so it can be toggled on / off by creators according to whether or not an objects can be held, to remove user confusion (as well as requesting the crash issue itself be looked at).
  • Bug Fix Release: each Sansar release includes bug fixes, as do updates. However, the Lab is considering focusing an early 2018 release on the list of bugs / issues which don’t make it into a release or update as they are not necessarily seen as urgent.
  • Adult Content in Sansar: allowing adult in Sansar is currently not on the roadmap.