Sansar Product Meeting 2017 week #50

Sansar: Winter Wonderland by Beverly Zauberflote

The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meetings held on Friday, December 15th. 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.

Nyx Linden attended the morning session; a former member of the engineering team for Second Life, Nyx is perhaps best known for his appearances in-world as the Tiny Robot, and leading the “old” Content Creation User Group meetings which used to take place in-world on Mondays. Nowadays, Nyx is a member of the Sansar product team, working on the planning / road mapping side of the platform’s development and coordinating the various development teams.

Fashion Release

Again, please refer to my week #49 and week #48 updates for notes on known elements in the upcoming release.

  • The Fashion release should be deployed during the week commencing Monday, December 18th.
  • This initial release will not include cloth physics within the run-time mode (although they may be available in the Avatar App). Instead the baking service will continue to handle clothing as is currently the case.
  • The avatar mesh models will be provided via the Knowledge base when the release is deployed. These will most likely be supplied as .FBX files, rather than a blend file – but this is still TBC.
  • It will be possible to upload hair attachments, but the recommendation appears to be for creators to initially keep to shorter hair styles to avoid hair cutting into the avatar bodies at this point in time
  • On the non-Fashion side, the release will include a number of script updates including keyboard commands for scripts and updates to object APIs.

Modifying Materials on In-World Objects

There is still considerable upset over the decision to allow experience creators to modify / change the materials of in-scene items. This change is due to be deployed with the Fashion update, but does not extend to avatar clothing or attachments and any changes made to an object last only as long as the object is within a scene – they cannot be saved back to inventory when the object is removed.

  • Some creators see this as a reason not to upload their items until such time as the permissions / licensing system is deployed.
  • Some want to see a guarantee from the Lab that the change will not be extending to include accessories / clothing in a future release, ahead of the licensing / permissions system deployment. This is to be escalated to senior management for feedback.

Character Creation Flow

A point to note with the Fashion release is that users logging-in to Sansar the first time after the release has been deployed will have to go through the character creation flow.

  • This is because existing clothing will no longer work with the update.
  • It will mean that any custom work done to the avatar’s face will have to be re-done as well.
  • It should not break existing attachments.
Sansar: The Club by Marcus

In Brief

  • Sansar Store: Product Updates: Nyx indicated that there are still complexities around licensing / pricing which need to be resolved. As such, the Lab is considering possibly going with a basic system to allow for updates through the store, and then enhancing it as other elements of work fall into place.  However, there is no time line as yet on when something might appear, but it is on the road map.
  • Permissions / Licensing System: the Lab is actively working on a permissions / licensing system, however, there is still no time frame as to when it might start to be deployed.
  • Dynamic mirrors and using in-scene cameras to record and project the scenes onto a surface: neither are on the road map as present. Dynamic mirrors can be rendering-heavy, and are not something the Lab is currently looking at.
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Sansar Product meeting 2017 week #49 – with Ebbe Altberg

Sansar Studios 3D Cinema Dome – location for one of the Friday, December 8th, 2017 Product Meetings

The following notes are taken from the 4:00pm PST Sansar Product Meeting held on Friday, December 8th. 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.

The afternoon Product Meeting featured a drop-in by Ebbe Altberg, the Lab’s CEO, and notes on his comments, with audio extracts are included in this update.

Fashion Release

This is still on-course for a deployment  – mostly likely during week #51, commencing Monday, December 18th, 2017. For a summary of some of the items included in the release, please refer to my December 1st Product Meeting notes. The following covers only those items in addition to that breakdown, and which were noted in the December 8th meetings:

  • In addition to clothing, the release will allow the upload and sale of hair attachments, and hair can be removed from an avatar to make it bald. It’s not clear at present if the hair is / can be rigged or not.
  • Avatar attachments will no longer be limited to a 1m x 1m x 1m size, but will be limited by the avatar bounding box – precise dimensions will be in the knowledge base for attachments when the release is deployed.
  • There will be a snow material type for those wanting to make winter scenes.
  • Audio:
    • Materials have been made more distinct and most spatial.
    • Voice fall-off has been revised so it starts fading from 2 metres away from a person speaking, rather than a metre.
  • Some of the UI panels / floaters will be resizable and relocatable within the client, these include:
    • People and chat panels in the run-time mode
    • The inventory, scene object and properties panels can be resized and moved around in Edit mode.
  • The Event calendar will be available on the Client Atlas, although it will look different to the Web Atlas format.

Materials Editing

As previously noted, this release will add the ability for experience creators to edit and change the materials on in-world (not accessories / clothing) on items they have obtained via the Sansar Store. However, any such changes will only be applicable when the object in question is within the scene. As soon as it is returned to inventory, any changes made will be lost.

This change comes ahead of any permissions / licensing capability in Sansar, and has caused some upset.  However, Cara indicated that when a permissions system is introduced, any items held in inventory will effectively be grandfathered – so it will still not be possible to save changes to their materials back to inventory.

Store Update

A Store Update had been planned for between the Friends release (October 2017) and the Friends release (December 2017), but this has apparently been pushed back.

Ebbe’s Thoughts

Ebbe Altberg dropped into the afternoon Product Meeting, part of his plan to spend more time at Sansar meetings and meet-ups – and took time to answer questions and offered thoughts on the platform.

An Important Note from Ebbe

You have to be careful when you listen to me, because I mix what’s actually going to happen with want we wish will happen all the time. So I can’t promise time frames for some of these things.

So when you listen to me, think about it as general ideas of where we want to go. Whether it happens or not, that’s kind-of a different story.

On Sansar’s Engine

“We made some really tough choices up front,” Ebbe said on the choice of building Sansar’s engine, rather than opting to utilise something like Unreal or Unity. “We would have gotten something much faster to market that would have been usable if we had just gone with an existing engine …  But because of the problem we’re solving for, which is user-generated content in massive quantities, going with another engine really becomes problematic over time.”

Essentially, this choice came down to the issues of backwards compatibility within the platform; using a third-party engine in full or in part potentially opens the Lab to content breakage as a result of changes being made to an engine or elements of an engine that are outside their control. This is a lesson they’ve taken to heart with Blocksworld, which is based on Unity, and has had problems over the last five years as a result.

On The Risk of a Large-Scale “Reset” for Sansar

This goal with regards to continued backward compatibility with content available and used within Sansar means the Lab is hoping that they’ll never have to do a large-scale “reset” with Sansar which might result in widespread content breakage. However, this can never be guaranteed; there may be times –  a significant bug, a major technical issue, an implementation (say) of new software the Lab wants to leverage for Sansar – which might result in content breakage. Should anything like this happen, the hope is there will be  advanced communication with creators so they understand the issue, together with time allowed for them to swap over to any “new” way of doing things (where applicable) in order to try to minimise the overall impact.

The Supply Chain  / Licensing

The supply chain / licensing (/permissions) system is one of the more complex aspects of Sansar the Lab is still working through.

For those unfamiliar with the idea, in essence, if someone creates an experience intended for re-sale which utilises content made by other creators, and then packages the experience for sale, the supply chain system will ensure the other creators will automatically get paid to some degree as well for their creations with each sale of the experience. On a smaller scale, it would mean a building designer could furnish their buildings from a range of furnishing and décor suppliers, rather than having to make everything, and again, the supply chain means those designers receive an amount from each sale of the building.

Obviously, this involves considerable added complexity in terms of permissions, licensing, tracking, payment, etc., – so until things are ready, there is not detailed talk on time frames for introduction – but it is the goal Linden Lab is hoping to achieve.

Avatar Animations for Non-VR Users

When using Sansar in Desktop Mode, the avatars are – in a word – wooden. Changing this is a “high priority” for the Lab. However, how this is to be achieved is still the subject of debate within the Lab. Some want extremely smooth, human-like avatar movement, with blended transitions between animations to give a more fluid movement (such as getting up from a chair being a fluid transition from seated to standing, or a turn to face to the left being a sequence, fluid body move).   Other prefer a “snappier” transition – as is the case of turning left or right in Desktop Mode at present, or the avatar “jump” from seated to standing seen in Second Life.

Allowing user-created animations and animation systems (e.g. SL-like animation override systems) is currently much further down the road than trying to provide a more basic animations within the Sansar locomotion graph.

Sansar Studios 3D Cinema Dome

A Broad Look At The Future

The focus thus far has been building-out the platform, getting the software and infrastructure needed to support it all brought together, with more recent work centred on creator tools and needs and initial avatar development and accessories support – all of which will be continuing. However, Ebbe expects some of the focus in 2018 to start shifting towards more general use of Sansar – including user engagement and user retention, hopefully growing the user base for those who find Sansar usable at this stage of its development.

This does mean that the focus will entirely shift away from creator tools and capabilities. Rather it will see more of a blending of things: some work will be focused on the user aspects of the platform – socialising, interactions, etc., other will remain focused on creator tools, and on things like adding more interactive capabilities which can be used within experiences to broaden their appeal.

And his wish for Sansar’s Creator Beats one year anniversary (July 31st, 2018)? That there are more people using Sansar, that the default experience for someone coming to the platform is that there is life within it, there are people, there’s vibrancy within experiences with events and activities to be enjoyed. It is acknowledged that currently, visits to experiences can be lonely, and the Lab will be looking at ways and means to reduce this alongside increasing new user interest / engagement.

Continue reading “Sansar Product meeting 2017 week #49 – with Ebbe Altberg”

Sansar Product Meeting 2017 week #48: user events + Fashion release

Anu by AnuAmun

The following notes are taken from the 4:00pm PST Sansar Product Meeting held on Friday, December 1st. 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.

Events Calendar: Submitting YOUR Events

As I’ve previously reported, the last Sansar updated included the basic framework for an events calendar in the Web Atlas. Initially, this only highlighted events organised by the Lab, but the ability for Sansar users to submit their own events for inclusion was promised, together with further updates to the calendar itself (e.g. including it in the Client Atlas).

On Friday, December 1st, Linden Lab provided details on how Sansar users can submit their events for possible inclusion in the events calendar, with the caveat that all submitted events are subject to the event team’s approval at this time, and no guarantee is given that all events will be added to the calendar.

Event Calendar Submission Process

  • You should allow at least one week for your event to pass through the submissions process.
  • Send an email to events@sansar.com requesting to add your event into the events calendar. This e-mail must include the following information:
    • A title / name for the event.
    • The URL for the experience which will host the event.
    • The time of the event (PST).
    • A short, concise description of the event (which may be edited by the events team).
  • Note that no other URLs / links can be given, other than the host experience URL.
  • You receive an email confirming your submission, indicating it is being reviewed by the Sansar events team.
  • You may be contacted and asked to provide further information (e.g a revised description for use in the event calendar).
  • If the event is accepted by the team, it will be added to the events calendar and remains active until the time of the event has passed.
  • Note that due to the current limited display space for events, and depending on the number and dates of events in the calendar, your event may not appear in the Atlas until any immediate events have passed.

Fashion Release

Still on target for a mid-December deployment, the Fashion release remains focused on clothing and fashion, but will also include other updates as well. Both fashion and non-fashion updates in the release are bullet-pointed below.

Fashion Related Updates

Not that this is only an initial fashion release. Capabilities will be enhanced.

  • Will allow clothing uploads and sales through the Sansar Store.
  • Clothing uploads will be handled in the same manner as accessories, via the avatar customisation editor.
  • This initial release will not include cloth physics. Instead the baking service will continue to handle clothing as is currently the case, until such time as some optimisation updates for experiences have been implemented, as cloth physics can be resource intensive.
    • It will still be possible to use the character models within the customisation editor, clothing physics just won’t at this time be baked with the clothing  / avatar within an experience.
  • Subject to further confirmation, this update will probably not include avatar shape sliders.
  • The avatar mesh models will be provided via the Knowledge base.
    • These will most likely be supplied as .FBX files, rather than a blend file – but this is still TBC.
  • As has been previously stated, the character models will have pre-baked underwear as a part of the avatar skin (and so cannot be removed).
    • The Lab is still working on this, and how much of the avatar the pre-baked underwear will cover.
    • The idea is that those wishing to make their own underwear or items such as swimming outfits, will be able to mask the pre-baked underwear.

Some concerns have been raised by designers familiar with Second Life over the complexities of rigging in Sansar, and whether additional tools might be required (e.g. to ease the workflow in Second Life, Blender uses can employ Avastar and Maya users MayaStar to ease the rigging process and obtain an “SL-ready” Collada file). The hope is that the .FBX files supplied by Linden Lab should be sufficient to handle rigging in either Blender or Maya using their native capabilities, rather than being reliant on third-party plug-ins, although sets of weightings might be useful.

Product Meeting, Friday, December 1st, 2017, Anu by AnuAmun

Non-Fashion Updates in the Release

  • Improvements to uploading assets to experiences in Edit mode: the button for uploading items currently in the Inventory panel is to be moved to the  tool bar in the upper left corner of the Edit screen.
  • Ability to upload custom height maps
  • Addition of the event calendar to the Client Atlas:  this is being planned, but at the time of writing, still TBC as being in the release.
  • Experience access controls: a first pass at experience access control, allowing experience creators to set their scenes for either public access, or limiting access to only the people on their Friends list.
    • Access controls will be expanded in future releases to include whitelists, ban lists, etc., and give more granular control to experience creators.
    • If an experience is set to Friends only (or controlled by a whitelist, once available), it will not appear in the Atlas listings for anyone who cannot access it.
  • Media Previewing: the December release will include the ability for experience designers to preview audio and video streams when building their scenes in Edit mode (they’ll no longer need to publish and switch to Runtime mode to  hear / see media).
  • The Materials Editor will be able to modify objects post-upload:
    • This applies only to in-scene objects (both a creator’s own items and those purchased from the store).
    • Changes cannot be saved back to inventory, and only persist as long as the object is in the scene / experience.
    • This capability does not apply to clothing / accessories.
    • Concern has been raised about implementing this before a suitable permissions system has been implemented to allow creators to control whether or not their items can be modified. While a permissions system most definitely is required, given this update will not allow user changes to objects to be saved back to inventory, the concerns raised did come across as a little over-wrought; however, the feedback is being taken back to the Lab.
  • Audio improvements:
    • Audio materials for terrain.
    • Voice quality improvements, including gating to reduce the amount of background noise being capture when people are speaking or leave their microphones open (people leaving their microphones constantly open is perhaps the biggest irritation with Sansar, particularly when they are off furiously hammering their keyboard for minutes at a time, or sitting and filling their faces with food. A polite application or OS toggling of their microphone would be appreciated).
    • Audio normalisation has been disabled, to help ensure that audio uploads retain their intended levels / quality.
    • Users in experiences will be able to adjust the sound levels within an experience.
  • Scripting improvements: still TBC, but should include better memory management, and updates to reflective handling.

Other Items

  • Avatar attachment size increase: the Lab is still investigating what to do with the current 1m x 1m x 1m avatar attachment size limit. It’s currently not clear if this will be changed with the Fashion release or not.
  • Ability to update Store items and distribute to customers: this is mow being targeted for an end of Q1 2018 release.
  • Custom terrain textures: will not be in the next release or “any time soon”,  due to unspecified issues. So more likely to be later in 2018 than sooner.
  • Inventory updates: not in the next release, but being development, and may include a folder capability or similar hierarchy capability.
  • Water Editor: there are no plans at present to release a water editor.
  • Wish lists: as the audiences between the community meet-ups, the Product Meetings and the Sansar forums are somewhat different, Jenn has started to occasionally write-up unofficial “top ten” wish lists of things people at the community meet-ups would like to see, which can then be checked again feature requests on the forums and topics raised at the Product Meetings, and feed into the Lab’s general thinking.

 

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.

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”