Sansar competitions launched: US $10K and Oculus bundle prizes

(courtesy of Linden Lab)

On Friday, September 1st, Linden Lab launched two new Sansar contests with Oculus Rift prize bundles and – for one of them – US $10,000 as part of the grand prize.

Sansar’s Scariest Experiences

Creators are asked to create a scary / Halloween immersive (VR) experience and list it in the Sansar Atlas no later than 17:00 PDT Sunday, October 15th, 2017. This can either be a brand new experience or an existing experience updated to fit the scary / Halloween theme.  In addition, entrants should also e-mail creatorchallenge@sansar.com with:

  • “Creator Contest – Scary Experience” as the subject line.
  • A link to the experience.
  • Their Sansar user name.

A panel of judges comprising Sansar staff and “special guests” will award the grand prize on the basis of the environment that they regard as the best, most frightening, and fun to explore. The grand prize itself comprises:

  • US $10,000 (USD)
  • An Oculus Rift + Touch bundle
  • A one year Sansar Super Creator Subscription.

Time allowing, the grand prize winner will also be the venue for a special Sansar meet-up between Lab staff and Sansar users.

There will also be three Honourable Mentions in this competition, who will each receive a one year Sansar Creator Subscription.. The full rules for the contest can be found at: Sansar Build Challenge – Sansar’s Scariest.

Asylum (Darkness Edition)

Sansar’s Top Avatar Props

The second contest is linked to the upcoming Sansar release (now planned for Wednesday, September 6th), which will see creators able to sell avatar props (attachments) in the Sansar store.

To enter, creators are invited develop avatar props in the following four categories:

  • Most Innovative.
  • Best Halloween Costume.
  • Funniest.
  • Most Fashionable.

Entries must be listed on the Sansar Store with a price of not more than 500 Sansar Dollars no later than 17:00 PDT on Sunday, October 1st. In addition, entrants should also e-mail creatorchallenge@sansar.com with:

  • “Creator Contest – Avatar Prop” as the subject line.
  • A link to the Item.
  • The Entry Category/ies the item has been submit for.
  • Their Sansar user name.

A panel of judges comprising Sansar staff and “special guests” will select one winner from each category. Each will receive:

  • An Oculus Rift + Touch bundle.
  • A one year Sansar Super Creator Subscription.

The full rules for this contest can be found at: Sansar Build Challenge – Sansar’s Top Avatar Props.

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Sansar co-sponsors avatar 3D design contest

Pinshape competition banner via @sansarofficial

Linden Lab, by way of Sansar, is one of the sponsors of a 3D printing competition organised by Pinshape. Running through until the end of the August, 2017, inviting people to Design Your Avatar. Hosted on Pinstripe, the competition offers three prize packages, the first of which includes a 1 year Creator Level subscription to Sansar, worth US $9.99 a month.

The competition website gives the best description of the requirements:

Imagine a future in which Virtual Reality is just as commonplace as cellphones and social media are today. In this future, everyone is represented in virtual space by an avatar of their own creation. What would you look like? What would you be wearing? Would you be human? Animal? Something new altogether?

Let your imagination run free … Design an original character that represents your personality and spirit. Feel free to design an avatar in your own image, or take this as an opportunity to design a character that you aspire to be.

Entrants are required to upload their finished design to Pinshape, where a panel of judges will judge all entries, and award points based on design creativity and uniqueness (40 points); technical excellence and ease of 3D printing (30 points); presentation – image quality, print settings, assembly instructions if required (20 points); and background story and design documentation (10 points).

The prize packages comprise:

First Prize
Second Prize
Third Prize
  • Formlab Form2 3D Printer package worth $3,499
  • ZBrush 4R8 license worth $795
  • Mold 3D 3D Character Creation for video games with J Hill worth $699
  • Oculus Rift headset and hand controllers worth $499
  • 1 year Creator Level subscription to Sansar worth $120
  • Mold 3D 3D Creating Appealing Heads with B. Jefcoat worth $699
  • ZBrush core license worth $149
  • 1 year subscription to 3D Artist magazine
  • 3D printing for ZBrush artists worth $200
  • 1 year subscription to 3D Artist magazine

There is also a bonus prize opportunity for entrants to win a free SLA print of their design from Formlabs by posting a link to their design on social media with the tags @pinshape @mold3D.

Full entries rules can be found here, and current entries can also be reviewed on the website.

Whilst primarily aimed at 3D printing, the competition is an interesting way for Sansar to potentially extend its reach into the 3D modelling / VR world, particularly with the obvious synergy between the first prize Oculus Rift headset and Sansar (“you have your shiny headset and somewhere to go with it!”), although obviously, the chance to win a 3D printer is liable to have the far greater appeal among designers and entrants.  It’ll certainly be interesting to see if any of the avatars that are created for the competition eventually find their way into Sansar by way of .FBX and rigging, once the Sansar avatar skeleton is more opened out to developers. It’ll also be interesting to see how else Linden Lab seek to raise Sansar brand awareness through endeavours like this – or through running competitions of their own, similar to the Creator Challenge I wrote about recently.

Linden Lab announces Sansar Public Creator Beta

The Sansar Apollo Museum, by LOOT Interactive

On Monday, July 31st, Linden Lab announced the opening of the Public Creator Beta for Sansar, their new platform for creating and publishing social VR experiences. In announcing the launch, Linden Lab issued a press release which states in part:

SAN FRANCISCO – July 31, 2017SansarTM, the world’s leading social VR platform, today opened its creator beta to the public. Sansar empowers individuals, communities, schools, studios, corporations, brands and others to easily create, share, and ultimately sell immersive 3D social experiences for consumers to enjoy on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows PCs. Developed by Linden Lab®, the company behind the groundbreaking virtual world Second Life®, Sansar is a brand new platform built from the ground up to enable everyone to become a creator.

At opening, Sansar’s Atlas directory already features hundreds of engaging virtual experiences, including multiplayer games, recreations of historic sites and landmarks, art installations, movie theaters, museums, narrative experiences, jungle temples, 360º video domes, sci-fi themed hangouts, and much more. Creators invited to the platform during a limited-access preview have published thousands of amazing public and private experiences, and with the opening of beta today, the world is now invited to join them.

Monkey Temple by Unit 9

The press release goes on to highlight some of the capabilities associated with Sansar, including:

  • Simplified Creation & Cross-Device Distribution: Intuitive drag-and-drop editing makes it easy to create a scene with assets imported from common 3D modelling tools or purchased from the Sansar Store.
  • Use of tools from the likes of Speech Graphics for accurate avatar lip-syncing and facial animations (via audio with or without a headset) and IKinema for accurate mirroring of user’s hand / arm movements when using HMD controllers
  • A relationship with TurboSquid to provide creators with access to hundreds of additional high-quality 3D models in the Store today, with thousands more being added in the coming months. This will be extended with integration with TurboSquid’s StemCell initiative to make it easy for TurboSquid’s community of 3D modellers to immediately upload and sell their creations in the Sansar Store, further augmenting the assets readily available to Sansar creators.
Sansar Dwarven City by David Hall

Sansar System Specification

Accompanying the press release were the recommended system specifications for running Sansar:

Sansar Pricing

Basic Sansar access is provided free to users, with subscription options available to those who need them.

Things to Note – Particularly from a Second Life Perspective

I’ll have more to say on using Sansar in separate upcoming articles. However, in the briefest of terms:

  • The Sansar Public Beta is not the “fully fledged” Sansar platform; rather it is another step in the platform’s development
  • This means that much of what is taken for granted in Second Life cannot at present be done in Sansar – do not expect to jump in and find loads of vehicles to drive / fly / sail or to start flying around yourself. These kinds of capabilities will come in time
  • The Sansar avatar is still being developed; therefore what you see on joining Sansar is not “all there is” to the avatar. Expect enhancements and greater customisation to come in time
  • Sansar does not offer “in-world” design / building capabilities in the same way as Second Life. It utilises a separate editing environment and a “published” run-time environment.
  • Do not expect to see tags over avatars heads – this can make the identification of other difficult, but has been done with a purpose (floating tags don’t work particularly well in VR without breaking immersion)
  • Sansar has both voice and text chat, the ability to IM people and to create Friends lists. Chat and IM work in a similar manner to chat and IMs in SL: open text chat and voice are restricted to the the current instance of the experience you are occupying; text IMs will go to friends wherever they are in Sansar relative to you.
  • Most moving between different experiences is achieved via the Atlas – Sansar’s equivalent of the Destination Guide. Teleporting is also possible, where provided
  • Adult content is currently not permitted in Sansar. This is because the platform currently lacks a maturity rating system of the kind we see in Second Life.

 

 

 

 

Sansar: new Creator Profile video as preview invites ramp-up

(courtesy of Linden Lab)

On Thursday, July 6th, Linden Lab released a further Sansar preview video focusing on the work of a content creator – Ria, which I’ve embedded at the end of this article

Given we’re now not that far away from the doors to Sansar opening to a wider audience in the “creator beta” (or whatever the Lab finally calls it), the video can be seen as a further ratcheting of things  – alongside recent media articles – ready for the opening. At the same time, the past week has seen a further batch of invited into the Creator Preview find their way to those who have applied to access Sansar.

Further invites to join Sansar have been issued in the last week by the Lab

At 99 seconds in length, the video is an engaging enough piece, Ria’s experience from both within and without, which takes the form of an immersive story involving a little girl and her toys, utilising three locations linked by teleports. Kudos to Drax for presenting a means of suggesting the potential of VR immersion by overlaying images from within the game with shots of Ria looking around her creation while using a HMD. It may not be as immersive as “the real thing”, but it’s a lot better that intercut views of heads with HMDs strapped to them bobbing and weaving in front of computer screens we’ve seen in the past.

Those looking for details on Sansar are going to be disappointed however – this is a promotional video after all. That said, there are some interesting shots of the edit environment and what appears to be the fully realised run-time space. Again, given it is a promo video, reading too much into what “is” or “isn’t” said would be a mistake.

Some have found a couple of statements in the video objectionable. The first is the idea that “there is nothing even remotely like Sansar out there” – and I admit to finding it questionable myself.While it may not be as deeply immersive as a “true” VR experience, the fact remains that SL offers pretty much everything Sansar promises, and has done for a good while now. And just because it doesn’t support headsets doesn’t change that. And in terms of VR, there is High Fidelity to consider as well…

The second is that Sansar will achieve “broad appeal” when launched. This has been pooh-poohed on the basis that VR itself has yet to achieve a significant market share. However, “broad appeal” needn’t necessarily mean “mass market” – and the two seem to be getting conflated.

Inside Ria’s Sansar Experience

I personally don’t think VR (and by extension Sansar) will be “mass market”. However, as I’ve oft said, there are markets were VR could have a significant role, and Sansar could be ideally positioned to leverage them. Design, architecture, training, simulation, education, healthcare, for example; plus, as friend and content creator Dassni pointed out to me in a lengthy conversation, it might even appeal to indie game / game modding enthusiasts.  Taken together, these could facilitate the kind of “broad appeal” for Sansar to generate a comfortable level of revenue for the Lab – in time.

How much time? Well, therein lies the rub. Sansar itself is going to need a lot more development work once the gates open to a wider audience, and even among the markets already looking at VR, the preference might be to wait until headsets have improved in capability and looks and come down in price – something which could be around 2-3 years away.