Sansar Product Meetings week #33: feedback and Q & A

Who said you can’t dance in Sansar? The June Organic Light Show by Mario2 Helstein

The following notes were taken from my audio recording of the August 15th (week #33) Sansar Product Meeting, which formed a general feedback and Q&A session. Not all topics are covered, notably those that were as case of requests being noted rather than being given a detailed reply, or passed on answering as the subject specialists from the Lab were not in attendance for the meeting.

Note on meeting videos: the Sansar team have resumed posting videos of meetings to You Tube, which allows me to once again embed their recordings in these updates (although at the time of writing, the video for this particular meeting had yet to be uploaded –  I’ll update when the video is available). This means the notes for those meetings I was able to attend between May and August 2019 have now been updated with their video recordings.

Quest Update 3 – August 15th

A third Quest release update was made on August 15th, 2019, which included both quest and profile improvements.

Quest Updates

  • Further Quest panel tweaks – notable a progress bar that records the number of objectives within a quest that have been achieved.
  • Scripts should no longer crash when the Quest Objective Controller script receives an Objective Complete event message that is missing agent data.
  • Users should no longer be blocked on completing locked objectives from quests offered by a quest character.

Profile Updates

Profiles receive an overhaul with this update. The panel has been enlarged and includes two panels:

  • Profile: includes buttons to send a direct message to the user; gift them Sansar Dollars; send a friend request to them (if they are not a friend) or remove them as a friend (button toggles automatically depending on their relationship to you); report and block a user.
  • Creations: lists all of the user’s creations (if they have any). This includes Sansar Store items, published experiences and snapshot uploaded to their Sansar web profile. Clicking on any of these options will display the relevant part of the web profile or take you to the user’s Store page.
  • Bio: a field (editable by the user owning the profile) for writing biographical notes (via Socialise > Edit My Profile then clicking on the bio field in the profile panel). If a web profile has been written by a user, it will be displayed here and any updates made in this panel will also be appear in the web profile).

In addition, the profile picture for the user contains:

  • A mute / unmute button for voice chat.
  • What appears to be an initial pass at an achievement indicator surrounding the profile image.
The new Profile panel for Sansar users – click for full size, if required

Finally, profiles for other users can now be accessed by clicking on the user’s profile image in any the chat or the quest info panels.

Avatar 2.0 – Reminder

Pre-release Creator Programme now in progress.

  • Designed to allow creators who create avatars, avatar wearables, accessories, etc to have their content tested by the Lab ahead of the avatar support being added to the client.
    • The Lab may only initially be reviewing around 2-4 items per creator. Additional items submitted will only be reviewed once all creators making submissions have been seen.
    • Creators are obviously free to test their items in their own 3D editor of choice, if preferred, and wait until the launch of Avatar 2.0 to make any necessary adjustments.
  • The programme will be discontinued once Avatar 2.0 has been released, when creators will be able to test their items directly in the client.

Official Documentation

Avatar 2.0 and Marvelous Designer™ Clothing

  • A set of tools for Marvelous Designer™ will be released with Avatar 2.0.
  • These will allow creators and users to scale, translate and rotate their MD clothing assets to better fit avatar (so a user can take a human jacket and scale it to fit an orc avatar using the Avatar 2.0 skeleton, for example).

XP System

There has been a lot of discussion about the upcoming Experience Points (XP) system via Discord. The feedback tends to reflect what is already under discussion / in development within the Sansar team. As such, while open to making changes based on suggestions and ideas from the community, what is already being developed addresses most of the ideas thus far put forward.

Direct Teleport Links

A frequent request is to have the ability to direct users to a specific point within an experience when teleporting to it, rather than them being directed to a spawn point. With quests and linking experiences, this has taken on greater import (e.g. if you enter a building in a quest by being teleported to another experience representing the building interior, when leaving, you should be returned to the “door” into the building in the originating experience – not to the spawn point).

LL has asked for creators to give specific use-cases via Discord on how this might work. Should it be a spawn point that has to be specifically requested (e.g. via a script)? Is it something that could be specified via an X, Y, Z coordinates heading? Is it something that should be restricted at the experience level so only certain scripted objects can trigger the teleport (imagine a key for a door that the user must obtain)?

Current Development Focus

Mention is often made of a roadmap for Sansar development. As a part of this, some of the high-level items the Sansar team is looking at include:

  • Further updates to the quest system – tools, UI, adding in storylines, NPCs, building new quests, adding the rewards system, etc.
  • The upcoming Avatar 2.0 release and the build-out of that capability.
  • The upcoming XP system.
  • Extending the current LOD system (focused on avatars) to include textures as well to help further reduce the load on client graphics memory.  Eventually, the system will extend outward to include scene content as well.

General Q&A

  • Persistence: the Sansar devs have been discussing the various requests for persistence (e.g. script persistence) that have been received (use cases still welcome) and determining which use cases should work from those which may not work, and are in the midst of determining what capabilities might be provided in a first pass at persistence.
    • It’s noted that any work that may come out of this may not initially address all use cases, but the aim is to define what can be rolled out in a reasonable time frame that addresses as many achievable use cases as possible. This will then be extended as necessary.
  • Valve Index headset support: LL have a couple of the headsets on order and do want to provide support, but time frames for doing so still TBD.
  • Store related:
    • Can a bulk update button be provided for things like discounted item prices to make it easier to update multiple items during sale events organised by Sansar? Currently not on the roadmap, but under consideration as part of the overall drive to provide more Store features and abilities.
    • Is the ability to bundle items of the same type (e.g. multiple colour versions of the same shirt or dress) on the Store coming? Not currently on the roadmap, but is something the Lab wants to provide.
  • Avatar and avatar accessory related:
      • How soon will the ability to deform the full Avatar 2.0 skeleton using sliders be behind the initial release (facial deformation will be possible with the first release)? Potentially a while because a) the deformation system is seen as needing to be hooked into the licensing system; b) skin texturing support (including custom uploads and layering) is seen as being a higher priority, as it has no other dependences.
      • The hope is to have body deformation available within a year – possibly a lot sooner.
      • Lack of fully body deformation is already being seen by some creators as something that could result in users reacting negatively to avatar 2.0 simply because it will be seen to be limited in much the same way as the current avatar.
    • Can the tri count for hair / headgear be increased to allow for more complex hairstyle and hair with hats, etc? Increasing tri count limits for hair and other assets in being considered internally, but no specific details or time frame on what might happen currently available.
    • Will additional default options for things like hair be provided by LL? Yes.
      • In particular, the deployment of Avatar 2.0 will see all hairstyles and rigged accessories supplied by Linden Lab replaced with new items.
      • Some inventory / look Book options will be changing as well – such as how skin selection works, in part in readiness for supporting custom skin uploads from creators.
    • Will things like flexies be supported for hair, etc? No. However, in the future, it is hoped that accessories like hair can use their own skeletons to provide them with flexibility via animations.
  • Will it be possible to host events in experiences other than your own – e.g. in Sansar Studio experiences? That is a longer-term goal. For experiences by other creators, this may involve a mechanism by which the experience can be purchased or rented or borrowed.
    • There are updates that are required to the events system before this can be deployed.
    • As a short-term measure, if someone wants to host an event in a Sansar Studios experience / Lab-created experience, they should contact either Galileo or Lacie Linden to discuss their ideas / requirements.
    • If there are specific venues types that would be useful, suggestions should be made via Discord, and attempts will be made to furnish more experience templates that users can obtain and host events within.
    • This also feeds into a wider discussion on monetising quests and events, something the Lab is also discussing internally.
  • Can individual volume controls for users be better surfaced in the client? This is something the Sansar team want to look into.
  • Can UI scaling be added to the client to address issues of elements being too small to read on 4K monitors? Again, is something the Lab plans to address.
  • As a lot of Sansar seems to depend on building-out the licensing system, why can’t this just be a focus in itself? Because that’s not a practical way to work: projects such as Avatar 2.0 (and others) have their own unique hooks that have to be added into the licensing system, and these can really only be done as a part of their own projects, rather than some form of “licensing project”.
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Sansar Product Meetings week #32: quests and Avatar 2.0

Target shooting in Scurry Waters

The following notes were taken from my recording of the August 8th (week #32) Sansar Product Meeting, which has a focus on questing and avatar 2.0. Note that there were questions that had to be referred back to the Lab for answers, or were related to individual issues encountered by creators, and which are not necessarily included in the notes below. Please refer to the meeting video, also embedded below.

Quest Update 2 – August 7th

A second Quest update was made on August 7th, 2019, which included both quest and non-quest related improvements.

Quest Updates

  • It is now possible to set objectives to address avatars by name, using the new [Player Name] token, which is automatically replaced by the avatar’s name.
    • For example, a quest giver could be set up as “Greetings, [Player Name]! Do you wish to embark on The Magical Mystery Tour?”
    • Then, when Joe Schmoe touches the quest giver, he sees, “Greetings, Joe Schmoe! Do you wish to embark on The Magical Mystery Tour?”
  • The quest panel has been updated to be more informative for users.

Other Updates

  • Sansar Store: it is now possible for creators to add “hidden listings” in the store. These can be used to give items directly to selected people by the creator giving the item URL directly to those they wish to be able to obtain the item. See Hidden Store Listings in the Sansar documentation for more.
  • New “Visibility” simple script:
    • Sansar > Client > ScriptApi > Examples > ScriptLibrary > Scene > ScriptLibrary.json.
    • At the time of writing, this is currently not integrated in the Scene Editor. You will have to import it in Sansar yourself.
  • General improvements: please refer to the release notes.

Avatar 2.0

Official Documentation – Recap

Avatar 2.0 Creator Programme – What Is It? – Recap

  • The Avatar 2.0 creator programme is designed to allow creators who create avatars, avatar wearables, accessories, etc to have their content tested by the Lab ahead of the avatar support being added to the client.
    • The Lab may only initially be reviewing around 2-4 items per creator. Additional items submitted will only be reviewed once all creators making submissions have been seen.
    • Creators are obviously free to test their items in their own 3D editor of choice, if preferred, and wait until the launch of Avatar 2.0 to make any necessary adjustments.
  • The programme will be discontinued once Avatar 2.0 has been released, when creators will be able to test their items directly in the client.

Avatar 2.0 Q&A

  • Creators have started availing themselves of the Avatar 2.0 creator programme, and feedback is being supplied to them.
  • It’s been reported that there are rigging issues in the avatar reference files and these are in the process of being reported to the Lab.
  • The initial release of avatar 2.0 will allow greater customisation of the avatar face.

  • Greater body customisation via deformation will be available in a future update to the release.
  • Concern has been raised that this will effectively lead to two classes of human avatar: one based on the Avatar 2.0 skeleton and the Lab’s own blend shapes / deformation options, and a second for custom avatars, again built using Avatar 2.0 outside of Sansar and which use fully custom blend shapes / deformations that behave differently.
    • Because of this, it has been suggested it would be better to rig more bones on the skeleton (e.g. the breast bones), so it doesn’t matter if the avatar is a system avatar or a fully customised avatar made outside of Sansar: he same set of deformations will work across both.
    • The alternative to this would be for creators to be able to create custom human avatars directly from within Sansar, then save them to inventory and then (if they wish) sell them on the Store. This is already the plan with avatar heads / faces with Avatar 2.0.
  • The Lab is working with Blender 2.8 for Avatar 2.0, and the avatar reference files documentation has been updated to reflect this.
  • Will Avatar 2.0 support users applying skins / eyes, etc., that they’ve bought from the Store? Not in the initial release, but something that is seen as a priority for adding in a subsequent update to Avatar 2.0.

Quest Q&A

  • Can the quest system be have a means to automatically record who threw / fired something within an objective (e.g. if two people are shooting at a set of targets, having a means for the target to record who hit it last)? This currently has to be manually scripted and an automated means of recording would ease the quest authoring / development. The Lab will take this on-board.
  • Can the quest panel be updated to not pop-up and start nagging as soon as a user with in progress quests logs-in? Possibly.
  • If a quest creator revises a quest and removes / changes objectives, it is possible for people who have already started the quest to be unable to complete it. This comes back to the idea of the creator (or the quest system) to provide a means for participants to reset the quest for themselves.
  • Testing / debugging quests needs an ability within the tools to reset individual objectives as well as the entire quest (which is currently provided). This is on the roadmap.

General Q&A

  • The usual four:
    • High heels for avatars: not on the roadmap at present.
    • 3D mouse support: not on the roadmap, will more likely be a general project to support game pads, joysticks, etc., if done.
    • Wiki: the more user-submitted guides that are made to the forum public documentation area, the more weight is given to the case for the Lab creating and offering / managing a wiki.
    • Persistence: the Sansar devs would love documented requirements on where and how persistence might be needed / used, particularly as persistence is under consideration at the moment.
  • Can users be given volume controls for other avatars? Right now if someone has their mic open or too loud or set too low, they have to be asked to close it or turn it down / up. For the latter it would be preferable if users simply had access to individual volume controls for other avatars so they can adjust the volume to suit their own needs. This has been requested numerous times, and will again be taken back to the Lab for consideration.
  • Can push-to-talk be implemented? Microphones can be toggled via the M key (but this needs to be added to the keyboard short cuts documentation)
  • Can the F4 ability to freecam and improved lighting be added to the Look Book / Home Space so that it is possible to test new clothes and footwear, take images for use with Store listings, etc., without having to view them in an experience, thus adding a further step to the development cycle? Will be looked into; lighting is being improved.
  • Will two people ever be able to hold the same object? Not on the roadmap.
  • Can creators have an option to turn off the ability for people to “steal” an object held by someone else by clicking on it (e.g. to prevent people disrupting things like shooting games by simple “click stealing” the guns of other participants in the game)? Will be looked at.
  • Can skirts / dresses / togas conform more naturally to the body position when sitting? Not easily, as this requires real-time cloth deformation, which is performance intensive.

Sansar Product Meetings week #31: Avatar 2.0 – preparing for the change

Channelling my inner Trekkie at the Roddenberry Nexus

The following notes were taken from my recording of the August 1st (week #31) Sansar Product Meeting, which focused on the upcoming deployment of Avatar 2.0 and how creators can start working with the Lab in readiness for the change-over. Also referenced in the meeting was the Quest Update release, made on Tuesday, July 30th. As with these meetings, a lot of general feedback was given to be “taken back to the Lab” for consideration, and as such, aren’t reflected in the notes below. The official video of the meeting is embedded at the end of this article for those wishing to watch the meeting in full.

Quest Update

For details on the July 30th Quest update, please refer to the official release notes.

Avatar 2.0

When Will Avatar 2.0 Be Released?

The current plan is for Avatar 2.0 to be released in late August / early September 2019.

Official Documentation

  • New avatars. New possibilities – published July 9th, updated August 1st: introduces the Avatar 2.0 update.
  • FAQ post – published July 7th, 2019. In particular, this FAQ highlighted the following information:
    • What wearable items will not be usable on Avatar 2.0? Any asset (avatars, rigged hair, rigged clothing) created using the avatar 1.0 avatar skeleton will no longer be usable in the new avatar 2.0 system. These items will be removed from inventories, and deprecated on the Store.
    • Why will these items no longer work? Changes to the base avatar’s skeletal structure had to be made in order to support Avatar 2.0 mean they will no longer work as expected.
    • Will it be possible for creators to update broken content? Yes, providing it has been listed on the Store – see below for more. 
    • Which avatar 1.0 assets should still work after the release of Avatar 2.0? All Marvelous Designer clothing, accessories and emotes created against the 1.0 avatar skeleton will have mechanism in place to help ensure they can still be used with Avatar 2.0, and will still be available via inventory and any listed items will still be accessible from the Store for purchase.
  • Get Started: Avatar 2.0 Creator Programme – published August 1st, 2019. Announcing the August creator programme to allow creators to prepare for the transition to Avatar 2.0. This includes links to:

Avatar 2.0 Creator Programme – What Is It?

  • Avatar 2.0 cannot be tested in the client until support for the new avatar skeleton is actually released.
  • The Avatar 2.0 Creator programme is designed to allow creators who create avatars, avatar wearable, accessories, etc to:
    • Develop their avatar-related content (avatars, rigged wearables (including hair), Marvelous Designer clothing, emotes, accessories) based on the Avatar 2.0 skeleton.
    • Send versions of their content to Linden Lab for testing and feedback (notes, images, even video).
    • Update their items based on that feedback, if required.
  • Note that depending on how many creators avail themselves of the Avatar 2.0 Creator Programme,  the Lab may only initially be reviewing around 2-4 items per creator. Additional items submitted will only be reviewed once all creators making submissions have been seen.
  • It is not a new requirement that all content must be reviewed by the Lab, it is purely to help creators who produce avatars and avatar-related items to prepare for the release of Avatar 2.0.
  • Creators are obviously free to test their items in their own 3D editor of choice, if preferred, and wait until the launch of Avatar 2.0 to make any necessary adjustments.
  • The programme will be discontinued once Avatar 2.0 has been released, when creators will be able to test their items directly in the client.

General Q&A

Quest System Feedback

See also the Quest Q&A from my week #30 summary.

  • It’s been reported that the text displayed at the end of a quest is too small to be comfortably read when see in VR. This is to be looked at.
  • There has been a request to add a “Quest Tester” role to allow someone else to be able to test a quest as it is being developed / updated and reset their progress (right now, the ability to reset quest objectives via the UI is only available to the quest creator, and only applies to them).
    • This is seen as a good idea, but a non-trivial enhancement that will be examined.
    • It might be possible to allow something through scripting so testers can re-set quests via an in-world object, and the scripting API does support this.
  • Will quests be made repeatable (right now, when a user completes a quest, that’s it, they cannot go back and try it again)? Yes, this is on the quest roadmap, however:
    • “Repeatable” quests are seen as a special class of quests that creators may wish to set up (e.g. a quest game then people can come back to and play over and over).
    • There are also quests that creators may not want users to be able to re-do (e.g. because of the nature of the reward(s) associated with them, once rewards have been deployed).
    • Therefore, the Lab will be approach the question of “repeatable” quests with both of these requirements in mind.
  • Can “open-ended” quests be supported (right now quests are designed to have a specific end point. It would be nice to have a capability for a creator to build an on-going quest narrative, adding new objectives, which users could return to and achieve)? Will be looked into.
  • Can users have a “quest journal” where they can look back over the quests they’ve completed? The current quest panel in the client UI is intended to provide similar functionality as it is built out.
  • Can clicking on a quest category trigger animations in an experience? The ability to trigger animations automatically (e.g. walk onto a dance floor and you automatically start dancing, pick up a sword and start wielding it, etc.) has been talked about at the Lab, but not time frame on when the might be delivered or extended into quests.
  • Can avatars be added to “classes” within quests (e.g. serfs, warriors, mages, etc)? Not at present. Would require some form of back-end data persistence, and use cases need to be defined. Where any such system to be introduced, it would likely be fairly generic in order for creators to define what they require to suit their own styles of quests.
  • Will the quest panels be customisable (e.g. to look like pages of a book if the quest is a storyline, for example)? There have been internal discussions on making the UI elements in general customisable, however, it is a complex objective, and so is not currently on the roadmap.

In Brief

  • The usual four:
    • High heels for avatars: not on the roadmap at present.
    • 3D mouse support: not on the roadmap, will more likely be a general project to support game pads, joysticks, etc., if done.
    • Wiki: the more user-submitted guides that are made to the forum public documentation area, the more weight is given to the case for the Lab creating and offering / managing a wiki.
    • Persistence: the Sansar devs would love documented requirements on where and how persistence might be needed / used, particularly as persistence is under consideration at the moment.
  • There has been an uptick in the number crashes users are experiencing since the July 30th update. These are being investigated.
  • Mavelous Designer: there are a range of options in MD that are not supported in Sansar. Will more support for MD capabilities be provided? Discussions with MD are constantly on-going, as is integration. If there are specific features Sansar creators would find useful, these should be raised via feature requests so they can be looked at.
  • Will users be able to rez their own items in an experience? Possibly. However, it is not on the roadmap, and all the possible implications have to be considered before anything is implemented.
  • Will there been single-axis (non-uniform) scaling of objects (e.g. increasing just the height of a door to fit a doorway)? Has been discussed internally, is somewhat more complex than might seem to be the case; not clear to those at the meeting whether or not it is one the roadmap.
  • Try-before-you-buy from the Store (being able to try a demo directly from the Store before any purchase) has been discussed in the past. Still on the roadmap, but no ETA at present.

Sansar Product Meetings week #30: more on quests

The first release of the new quest system was made on Tuesday, July 23rd

The following notes were taken from my recording of the July 25th (week #30) Product Meeting. Once again, this meeting had a focus on the new quest system, with some additional questions. As with these meetings, a lot of general feedback was given to be “taken back to the Lab” for consideration, and as such, aren’t reflected in the notes below – please refer to the meeting video, which is embedded at the end of this article.

Quests

  • The first pass of the quest system was released on Tuesday, July 23rd – see Sansar: user-generated quests release: an overview for more.
  • The Lab is working on some “best practices for quests” documentation, based on their own experience building quests, and on quest games in general.
  • Some time in around 2-4 weeks, there will be a special in-world questing tutorial event.

Quest Authoring Q&A

  • How does it work? Quest creation comprises two parts a) creating the quest data itself, using the authoring tool. This can be created and revised as often as required; b) using objects in scenes (experiences) that are directly linked to the quest and use / present the quest data.
    • The quest can be tested by the creator in the unpublished scene (by building and saving the scene).
    • The quest becomes public when the scene is published as an experience.
  • Quests are linear at present: start, objective A, objective B, etc. Can branches be offered (e.g. do objective A then choose either objective B or C)?
    • Possibly via custom scripting.
    • However, in the future it will be possible to author quest “storylines”, allowing multiple quests to be linked, and to be dependent one upon the last, thus offering a level of “branching”.
  • Will future updates to the quest system break what has been deployed? No. Features and a capabilities will be added, but will not break the established functionality. So, quests can be enhanced as new capabilities are added.
  • Can experiences with quests be made more readily identifiable in the Atlas? Not exactly, but the Lab is considering tools for monitoring how quests are being used (how many people participate, how many complete, etc.), and providing that information to creators.
    • Short-term this may be a manual system with reports curated by LL and made via Discord.
    • Longer term it should be more automated. This might also be built out to include the Atlas to show available quest experiences.

Badge System vs. Experience Points System

Since the week #29 Product Meeting, when the quest tools, rewards and the upcoming experience (XP) system  were announced, a badge system that could be used by individual experience creators, rather than having a global XP system as proposed, as this is seen by some as being more flexible.

  • The Lab views a global XP / level system as being more immediately understandable by users, as they can earn XP points and level up no matter what they are doing or how they participate in Sansar – there is no dependency on visiting specific experiences or having to complete specific tasks.
  • In time the XP system will be expanded beyond quests, but the first pass will be focused on questing.
  • However: the Lab is looking at a badge system, and see it differently to any kind of XP system, as badges can be used to show what a user has specifically done – i.e. a creator can gain various badges to mark their achievements as a creator, while a gamer who is good with shoot-em-ups, etc., can earn badges to reflect what they’ve achieved through that interest, etc.
    • These types of achievements would likely be made available through user profiles.

General Q&A

  • The usual trio:
    • High heels for avatars: not on the roadmap at present.
    • 3D mouse support: not on the roadmap, will more likely be a general project to support game pads, joysticks, etc., if done.
    • Wiki: the more user-submitted guides that are made to the forum public documentation area, the more weight is given to the case for the Lab creating and offering / managing a wiki.
  • Persistence: the Sansar devs would love documented requirements on where and how persistence might be needed / used, particularly as persistence is under consideration at the moment.
  • There is an issue with scripts failing to execute in experience instance with high numbers of avatars. The Lab has already started tweaking scripts within their own event instances, but are requesting more bug reports on where creators are seeing issues.

Streaming Sansar

Apparently, LL are in discussions with a number of streaming service providers about providing Sansar as a streamed (consumer?) option they could be delivered to a range of devices. No time frames on when this might surface (not in 2019), if it goes ahead.

Sansar Product Meetings week #29: UGC quests and the XP system

50 years on: recalling Apollo 11 in Sansar – the Apollo Museum in Sansar

Oops! this was drafted on July 19th, then the weekend came, and I forgot to publish it!

The following notes were taken from my recording of the July 18th (week #29) Product Meeting. This meeting focused on the new quest system.

Quest Authoring

  • Week #30 (commencing Monday, July 22nd) should see a point release of the first version of Sansar’s in-client quest editor, together with a new library of scripts designed to enable linking quest elements within the authoring tool with in-scene objects.
  • The editor will be accessible through the Create button on the left-side menu in the Sansar client. It allows quests to be created, objectives named and set within it (and reordered, if required).
  • Ease-of use will allow quests to be associated with scenes, tested with scenes, and iterated without actually having to continually rebuild the scene(s) in which the quest runs.
  • Quests can be experience specific, or – providing all the experiences are owned by the same account setting-up the quest – span multiple experiences.
  • The system supports placing links within objects that can be used to send users to a specific point in the quest.
  • It is acknowledged that the editor’s UI will be a “little rough” in the first release, but the Sansar team have ideas for improving it, and are also open to feedback from creators for improvements.
  • For the initial release, it will not be possible to fully interconnect quests via prerequisites (e.g. quest A must be completed before a user can progress to quest B). However, creators should still be able to create multiple quests which can have a degree of relationship one to the next (e.g. to open door A and access quest B, the user must find key A).
  • The authoring tool is seen by the Lab as a significant step forward from the internal tools that Sansar team have used up until now to create quests such as those seen in the Social Hub. In particular, it was reported that some of the Lab’s quests took around a month to build; the new editor allows that same amount of work to be completed a just a couple of days.

Rewards System

  • Coming at some point after the initial release of the quest system will be a  rewards system.
    • A tab for the rewards system will appear in the quest authoring tool, but will not be available for the first release(s) of the quest system.
  • When available, the rewards system will:
    • Allow creators to specify (initially) up to three objects (not Sansar Dollar amounts) users participating in a quest can win / obtain.
    • The system will allow for user choices within the three (e.g. a reward might offer a user a choice of A or B as one of the rewards).
    • If it is felt the system needs to be expanded to support more rewards per quest, the Sansar team is open to discussing this down the road.
  • Rewards will be collected by users on completion of a given quest, using the Sansar Store mechanism for delivery.
  • The rewards system is not being released with the first pass of the quest system so that creators can have a chance to test the latter, gain familiarity with it and offer feedback and suggestions for improvement before more complex capabilities are layered on to it.
    • However, once the rewards system may not be turned on from day one, the design of the editor means that once it is available, creators can easily go back over their defined quests and add rewards to them.

Experience Points (XP) System

  • The experience points system is still being developed and will be released at some point after the quest authoring tools.
  • The system will follow “traditional” XP system lines – the more a user participates in activities, the more points they can obtain, and thus “level up”.
  • It will be a global system – users can accumulate points right across Sansar, wherever they participate, rather than individual experiences just offering point applicable within that experience.
  • The first iteration of the XP system will be geared towards users gaining points within existing Sansar quests.
    • Those who have already completed the existing Sansar quests will be grandfathered in to the XP system when it is launched.
    • A future expansion will allow creators to award experience points within their own quests / experiences.
    • The system will also support experience creators specifying the level users must be at in order to access their quests.
  • To achieve the broadest range of applications, Sansar experience points will be split into three different  activity groupings:
    • Exploring – people who like visiting and exploring experiences, playing games within experiences and generally interacting in experiences.
    • Socialising – people who like going to events, spending their time making friends and interacting with friends and participating in activities that require more than one person.
    • Creating – anyone who enjoys creating in Sansar, be it experience, accessories, games, etc.
  • These are very broad activity definitions, but LL believe they encompass the major high-level ways in which people use Sansar, and thus have the opportunity to earn experience points. However, there may be more granularity within each.
  • Exactly what the returns will for those achieving a given level is still TBD – ideas mooted range from profile badges / icons / similar, through to ideas like entire avatar looks.
  • The system will initially have a level cap to limit how many experience points a user can earn. This is in part because the system is still being built-out and in part because the Lab would like to evaluate how people respond to and use the XP system. As more activities are supported by the XP system, the cap will be increased.
  • Also to be associated with the XP system is a “milestone” system – as users achieve certain XP levels, so those levels will unlock new rewards. What the levels and the “special” rewards might be will be discussed at a later date, once LL have finalised how they’d like the milestone system to work.

The overall goal in building the questing system, the rewards element, the XP system is to develop a framework for such capabilities that  is consistent across all experiences, making it easier for creators to leverage, and for users to understand, without having to re-learn the basics each time they visit a new experience.

Q&A

  • Who will provide the Avatar 2.0 file for use with Marvelous Designer – Sansar or Marvelous Designer? If Sansar, will it be possible to include the rigged bones? The Sansar team is working with Marvelous Designer on the files, and it is not clear if rigged bones can be included.
  • Would it be possible for LL to give more warning on themed Store events to give creators more time to work on items? Generally speaking, yes.
  • When will the event ticketing system be available for experience creators? Not on the immediate roadmap, as the Lab would like to polish the system a little more before opening it out.
  • Sitting – is there a plan and will sit points work with move objects? Yes to both, but not going to be available in the short-term.
  • How will the disparity in using items in VR and in Desktop Mode be overcome (e.g. allowing Desktop user to swing bats / clubs in the same way as VR users)? The Sansar team are aware of this, and there are currently internal discussions taking place on how best to bring more parity between the two modes of use.
  • Can experience creators have a pop-up warning appear in active versions of an experience they’ve just updated, so visitors can click on it and teleport to the updated version? Will be looked into.
  • Elements of the client UI are intrusive – like the emote system in Desktop Mode (it pops up over the middles of the screen). Are issues like this going to be addressed? Focus at the moment is getting the core capabilities like the quest, rewards and XP systems out and available. However, there are discussions on the subject of improving the UI, and feedback is appreciated.
  • Is it possible to have a feature to change clothes and attachments in the thumbnail pic after the initial upload? Being worked on, and should be out “soon”.
  • Will Sansar have real-time reflections / mirrors? Unlikely, due to the complexity  / performance hit, unless the platform can be shown to perform well at scale.
  • Keybindings / control options: the eventual goal is to allow Sansar users to define their own keyboard key binding / controller options for movement, etc.
  • When will creators be able to limit the number of people able to access an instance of an experience?
    • Not for a while. Before then, it a likely that there will be some form of “instance browser” that will show how many instances of and experience are running and who is in them, and potentially allow users to select which instance they wish to join and also pull their friends into.
    • Low user density per experience instance increases costs. For example: limiting access to a game to 5 people per instance and having 10,000 people playing the game means running 2,000 servers – so who meets the cost of running those servers? Should there be a business model that passes on the cost to the creator and (ultimately) those playing the game?
  • One of the reasons there were a rapid-fire series of updates following the R34 deployment is that one of the updates accidentally caused a memory leak in the client, and the update intended to fix it contained code that actually made it worse.

Note: there is due to be a general internal meeting at the Lab on Sansar and goals / capabilities, so some of the more frequently-asked question things like sitting in Sansar, the opening of the ticketing system, etc., might be clearer in terms of possible time-frames once this meeting has taken place.

 

Sansar Product Meetings week #28: more on avatar 2.0 + updates

Asteroid Escape – an MSL-class rover

The following notes were taken from my recording of the July 11th (week #28) Product Meeting. Once again, this meeting had a focus on Avatar 2.0 and also on the proposed upgrade path to it for creators.

R34 Release Updates

There have been two further bug fix updates for the R34 A Richer World Release:

(I’m not sure what happened to any Update 4; the numbers jump from 3 to 5).

Official Blog Post on Avatar 2.0

An official blog post outlining the Avatar 2.0 roll-out and its implications was issued on Tuesday, July 9th. This largely repeats what has been indicated in my last few Sansar Product Meeting summaries on Avatar 2.0, and also contains a link to a new Avatar 2.0. FAQ. In particular, this FAQ highlights the following information:

  • What wearable items will not be usable on Avatar 2.0? Any asset (avatars, rigged hair, rigged clothing) created using the avatar 1.0 avatar skeleton will no longer be usable in the new avatar 2.0 system. These items will be removed from inventories, and deprecated on the Store.
  • Why will these items no longer work? Changes to the base avatar’s skeletal structure had to be made in order to support Avatar 2.0 mean they will no longer work as expected.
  • Will it be possible for creators to update broken content? Yes, providing it has been listed on the Store – see below for more. 
  • Which avatar 1.0 assets should still work after the release of Avatar 2.0? All Marvelous Designer clothing, accessories and emotes created against the 1.0 avatar skeleton will have mechanism in place to help ensure they can still be used with Avatar 2.0, and will still be available via inventory and any listed items will still be accessible from the Store for purchase.

Updating Avatar Wearables

Deprecating  Old Content Listings and Updating Them

  • When Avatar 2.0 is deployed. the non-usable wearable defined above that are on the Sansar Store will be deprecated by the Lab, leaving the listings visible, but will not be modifiable.
    • However, items that have been uploaded but never listed will effectively be “hidden”, and will not show up in inventory searches.
  • It will be possible to update deprecated listings by associating them with replacement items in the character editor – but this can only be done once per item. The old item will then be unlisted.
  • Documentation on the update process will be made available around the time of the Avatar 2.0 deployment.

Updating MD Clothing, Accessories, and Emotes

  • Updating these items will follow the same process as deprecated items, except the Store listings are never deprecated.

Single Update Process Explained

  • The reason for the one-time update process on deprecated items is that the licensing system has yet to be properly hooked-up to the avatar system, so this is a temporary solution.
  • The Lab is working in parallel to extend the update system so users can make use of it and not be restricted to the one-time update. It’s not currently clear how long this will take to implement.
  • This  “full” system will also provide the means to update scene content items as well, and items with components from more than one creator, etc. This will likely be rolled out in phases of increasing capability.
  • So the one-time update for Avatar wearables might be considered a stepping stone towards a full update system (although that’s not its primary purpose).

Q&A

The following is a selection of the questions asked in the meeting.

Avatar 2.0 Related

Please also refer to the official blog post (link above), and my previous Sansar Product Meeting summaries for further information on Avatar 2.0, as some of the questions asked during this meeting have been previously covered, and are not repeated here.

  • Will Avatar 2.0 support custom skeletons? Not initially, but longer term, yes.
    • One of the issues in allowing this to happen, is putting in place a mechanism to determine what wearables might be used by different skeletons.
    • Sansar would also like – again, long-term – to support an Animesh-like system where attachments can have their own skeletons that can be used to extend the Avatar 2.0 skeleton (e.g. the hindquarters, body and tail of a centaur that can be added to the Avatar 2.0 skeleton).
  • Will it be possible to create custom avatars using the Avatar 2.0 skeleton? Yes.
  • Will it be possible to create custom heads / faces without having to create complete custom avatars? Yes. face presets should allow this, together with the additional custom texturing capabilities that will follow the initial release of avatar 2.0.
  • When will custom texturing be available? Hopefully, a couple of releases after the initial Avatar 2.0 release. The texturing releases will most likely be:
    • Initial Avatar 2.0 will support skin swapping, using supplied skins.
    • Custom skin texture support (around 2 releases after initial Avatar 2.0 release).
    • At some point thereafter a full texture layering system (make-up, tattoos, etc) for default and custom avatars.
  • Does the phased release of Avatar 2.0 mean there might be further content breakages? No. The breakage caused by the switch from Avatar 1.0 to Avatar 2.0 is a one-time only breakage.
  • Will Avatar 2.0 heavier to render? No, it shouldn’t be: tri count, skinning, etc., should all be about the same, the skeleton has been simplified. If anything, it should be slightly lighter on systems.

General

  • Users working in Sansars Edit Mode are not counted in the currency / user numbers for the platform. Could this be addressed?  Probably something that should be looked at.
  • Can there be a “global” text chat open that allows users in different experiences to chat with one another if they wish, regardless of whether they have friended or not? Being considered, but may not be fully on the roadmap as yet.
  • A.O. Systems: the Lab is looking at providing animators with a means to override the basic Avatar 2.0 animation: walk, run, crouch, idle, etc. This  will not be with the release of Avatar 2.0, but something for the future, as it involves a lot of work.
    • For picking up objects – guns, swords, etc. – the Lab is looking at a means of embedding the required animation in the object rather than having to make them a part of a core AO system.
    • Active feedback from creator on this subject via Discord, etc., is encouraged.
  • When will 3D mouse systems (e.g. SpaceNavigator) be supported? Not on the roadmap. Liable to be more part of any work undertaken to support joysticks and other controllers, rather than focusing purely on 3D mouse systems.
  • When will there be support for vehicles? Still to be developed, but something LL wants with Sansar.
  • Will it be possible to develop simple layouts in Edit Mode with data to allow basic mesh elements to be easily selected and swapped-out for complex (finished) mesh objects as a part of the build process? Recognised use-case, and something the Lab would like to try to address.
  • Could the upload process be de-coupled from the build process, to prevent work being lost on an upload failure? This would require saving builds locally; a better solution would be to make the upload process more robust to overcome losses due to momentary disconnects.
    • LL is already looking at making the client more resilient to prevent crashes should a disconnect occur, so that data on builds isn’t lost should the client disconnect from the server.
  • Would it be possible to preview object materials in Edit mode without having to preview them after each change as the preview option can take time to load and interrupts workflow? Possibly. Request will be relayed to relevant team.