Sansar Product Meetings week #46: feedback session

The Nexus – changing coming

The following notes were taken from the Twitch stream recording of the November 14th (week #46) Sansar Product Meeting. This meeting provided the opportunity for general feedback following the recent R37 release.

Note: As always, the Q&A session included questions on very specific issues individual creators have encountered and which may not be common across Sansar, and for which a clear-cut answer could not be given at the meeting. Such questions do not form a part of this summary, and interested parties are referred to the Twitch video.

General Items of Discussion

Individual Volume Controls

A long standing request for Sansar has been to provide users with a means to adjust the volume at which they hear other individual users on voice. It’s a request that LL have said they will address at some point without giving a firm commitment as to when. Because of this, users have taken to carrying signs spelling out the request.

Volume control placards – somewhat mindful of early SL protests by users

So to start the meeting, the Sansar team indicated they are now working on such an individual avatar voice control slider, and sought feedback in terms of:

  • Where should the control appear? Should it be a slider in the avatar tag that’s displayed when mousing over / pointing to another user? Should it be a UI control embedded in a panel? If the latter, then where – the People panel or the avatar Profile panel, or both?, etc.
  • Once set, should it persist between sessions / worlds?

The general feedback would be to have the control as easily accessible as possible, and to not have it persist between sessions.

Pilot Programme: Event Hosting

With the focus for Sansar now on events, LL is looking to try to offer incentives for world creators to host events of their own. As a part of this, they are looking to run what they are calling a “modular” events programme, starting with an initial pilot that they hope to launch soon.

  • Details on this are sketchy, and appear to be more in a realm of discussions with individual world creators at present, rather than a more formal, open discussion.
  • Most of what LL appear to be looking for at the moment is feedback on what they can do to help world creators to host events, and what incentives creators would like to see on offer for doing so.
  • It is anticipated that “open recruitment” for the pilot programme will commence some time in the next month, with more details provided ahead of time.

Sansar Discord Contest Channel

There is a new Contests channel on the Sansar Discord server, and world creators are welcome to use that to announce any contests they are running.

Nexus Reversal?

Since the introduction of the Nexus and Codex, users have had to visit the Nexus and the the Prime Portal in order to visit worlds than have not previously visited. Linden Lab now appear to be preparing to revise this at some point and re-introduce Atlas-style accessibility to all public worlds.

When is a good question, but we are moving in the direction of – if you remember what the Atlas was  – more like that. Basically, everything that’s [publicly] available in Sansar will be immediately at your finger tips through what is now the Codex, rather than requiring you to go to the Prime Portal at the Nexus to find new stuff.

… Basically, anything that you can access through the Prime Portal now will just be natively available through your Codex in the very near future.

– Zaius Linden (video 41:50-42-50)

Spawning from Inventory In-world

Ability for world creators to spawn items from their inventory directly into a world.

  • The first part of this will be the ability to spawn a series of toys that LL provide.
  • The follow-up will be for creators to define a list of objects that can be spawned within their world.
  • Both will include a scripted means for such objects to be removed from the world when no longer required.

R37 Point Release

Note: at the time of writing, there were no release notes for this point release.

There was a point release for R37 (“release update 1”) on Wednesday, November 13th. This included:

  • A new scripted ability that has been implemented in readiness for an upcoming feature. It allows (say) store creators to create a “dressing room door” portal that takes users directly to their Look Book where they can try purchased items (and use the Return to World button to go back to the store if they wish).
  • A “pre-release” for data persistence capabilities – utilises an HTTP API to allow key value persistence for things like checkpoints in quests, etc. Regarded as a “pre-release”, as currently no supporting documentation is available for it, and it is recognised this and some simple scripting support is required.
    • Those interested in learning more are invited to attend the Scripting Office Hours on Friday, November 22nd, when it is hoped more information will be available.

Q&A Session

  • Avatar texture LOD system: as well as being defined by a memory cap, the avatar texture LOD (level of detail) is also defined by distance from the camera. There has been a request to set this parameter higher or to allow the user some control over it, as currently, simply trying to get a full-body snapshot of an avatar can lead to a degree of LOD degradation.
  • Will the camera scripts be further enhanced be LL providing camera simple scripts? Not currently – however, contributed scripts on the subject are welcome via github.
  • Can there be an “upcoming events” information board in the Nexus? Yes – LL is working on refinements to the Nexus that include more portals (including to community built worlds), event boards, etc. No time frame on delivery was given, but the changes were described as making it more like a “Times Square” in terms of available information.
  • What is the strategy to get more than just LL staff and “Sansar regulars” attending events, and to bring new users into the platform?
    • “Long term” approach, with part of the focus on running events that keep the current users engaged in the platform and encourage other creators to run their own events, further adding to retention.
    • Partnerships are seen as both raising Sansar’s visibility among audiences and helping partners to raise their visibility with potentially new audiences.
      • An example of this is Monstercat being able to use Sansar to extend their reach into streaming content providers like Twitch.
    • Partnerships also raise product / platform awareness among the respective parties own audiences.
    • Events hep produce promotional material Linden Lab can use to both promote the platform to the media, etc., and use to encourage other potential corporate partners (and potential clients?) into trying the platform.
    • The longer term goal is to generate a lot more general interest among people involved in various forms of activity and entertainment that can be translated into Sansar events, and encourage them both to attend and to further explore Sansar (by participating in quests, attending community events, etc.), so that they might convert from visitors to engaged users.
  • Will it be possible to change the UI size for those on bigger / very high resolution monitors? This is a known issue the Lab intends to address – but no time frame on when.
  • Will there be a local clear cache option in the client? No on the immediate road map. Ideally, LL would like a system where the cache could be cleared without user intervention (e.g. when installing a client update) or to make the cache location selectable by the user (so they can place it on a much larger drive partition, for example).
  • Will it be possible to link and avatar to a keyframed or dynamic object? Something LL want to get to. Currently experimenting with “jointing” – “sticking” to arbitrary things together (e.g. and object linked to an avatar’s arm that allows the avatar to sit on a roller coaster). No time frame on if / when this might be surfaced as a feature / capability.
    • LL would also like to get to a point were animations in objects will drive the avatar (e.g. so when using a baseball bat, the bat will automatically drive the avatar’s swinging motion / body animation when using it to strike a ball).

Sansar Product Meetings week #44: release R37

The First Portal

The following notes were taken from the Twitch stream recording of the November 1st (week #44) Sansar Product Meeting. This meeting focused on two aspects of Sansar:

  • The upcoming R37 release, covered in detail in these notes.
  • The shift in Sansar development focus, which will emphasize “live” events in Sansar for the foreseeable future. This is summarised below and looked at in more detail in a companion piece, Sansar changes emphasis: of live events and audience.

New faces

The Friday meeting featured some new (to the meeting) faces:

  • Coho – the Sansar release Manager.
  • Binah – user interface / user experience design.
  • Skylar – Manager of Engineering.
  • Julia Munck – VP of Product (Sansar).
  • Sheri Bryant – VP of Business Development and Marketing for Linden Lab and now the General Manager for Sansar (as CowboyNinja in-world).
  • Hari Raghavan – Director of Marketing (formerly the Senior Manager, Marketing Communications.

Product Team Changes

In addition to the meeting attendee notes above, there have been some changes to the Sansar team:

  • Lacie Linden is taking over more direct management of Sansar support.
  • Harley Linden has transitioned from Sansar to working back on Second Life.

Overall, the change in focus for the platform means the Sansar team is smaller. This has led to the suggestion that some members may have departed the Lab (although LL does not officially comment on those leaving the company). Names have been mentioned in this regard, although at this point in time I’ve been unable to corroborate such claims, and one of the three of the names I’ve seen mentioned has the appearance of still being at LL, at this point in time.

“Live” Events Focus

The decision has been taken to prioritise Sansar as a platform for hosting “live” virtual events.

  • This has in part been sparked by the rise in popularity of “live” virtual events in a number of platforms (most notably the Fortnite / Marshmello event and the 11 million attendees it garnered) and the more modest successes Sansar has had in hosting electronic dance music (EDM) events in Sansar.
  • The intention is to make Sansar the “best possible” destination for virtual events. However, the Lab see this as a two-pronged approach:
    • Enabling more partnership-style events such as those seen with the likes of Monstercat and Spinnin’ Records, and in have other “branded” events (if not outright partnerships)
    • Promoting more in the way of user-created events, hence the changes being made to the events system with R37 (see below) to help encourage creators to run events of their own.
  • It will mean a lot of attention will be placed on the Sansar events system going forward.
    • However, it does not mean work on other features  / capabilities is being abandoned, although some will be re-prioritised and may be pushed back in terms of possible deployment time frames.
    • The work will be carried out alongside an expansion of Sansar’s socialisation and communication capabilities to help encourage greater user/user interactions.
    • Attempts will be made to “integrate” user-developed events with major marquee events, so that audiences attending the latter will be made more aware of the former, and encouraged to explore more of Sansar beyond the current event they are attending.
  • The new user experience will be further looked at / enhanced so that it can be a more “unforgettable” experience in order to encourage visitors to return and become active within the platform.

I have more on this in a companion article / opinion piece, Sansar changes emphasis: of live events and audience.

Sansar’s development is to be more focused on making the platform as a venue for “live” virtual events, such as those hosted by Monstercat at their Call of the Wild event space

R37 Release

The next Sansar release – R37 – is due to be deployed during the week commencing Monday, November 4th, and should include the following features / updates.

World and Editing Updates

  • Desktop aiming improvements (shooting, throwing, etc). Essentially a new grab point on objects – “aim at cursor” on objects to make the avatar use IK to aim at the target as pointed to with the cursor.
  • Pre-morph skeleton support.
  • Camera updates:
    • Freecam capability when editing an avatar through the Look Book.
    • Scripted camera positioning (so, for example, when a user enters a world, they can be taken on a video / cinematic flight through the world).
  • New Edit Mode capabilities:
    • Support for setting scripted spawn points within a world users can be delivered to when moving between worlds, rather than having to go via the main spawn point
    • Scene building snap to grid (move, rotation and planar), to allow better alignment of items in a scene, with the threshold defined by the creator.
  • Edit Mode Texture handling improvements:
    • Improved texture tracking capabilities in the object stats.
    • Ability to move the colour picker.
    • JPEG file import support and the removal of texture dimensions limitations.
    • Avatar texture log:
      • Essentially establishes a rendering budget for every avatar in a scene (possibly 100Mb).
      • When textures on an avatar exceed this budget, the system will switch to rendering them at lower MIP levels.
      • People’s own avatars are not exempt from this limit when in their own worlds.
      • The idea is to help raise the avatar limit for scenes / worlds, and to assist those trying to access Sansar on lower-specification systems.
      • The Sansar team will be looking for feedback on this budget threshold from world builders, and will be iterating on the approach in the future.
    • Scripting: a new simple script will be added to the library to support accessing a creator’s store in the client UI by clicking an in-world object.
  • Questing: the ability for users to abandon in-progress quests (so, if you start a quest, decide you don’t want to complete it, you can abandon it and have it removed from your Quest Journal, rather than seeing it hanging there every time the Journal is opened).

UI / UX Updates

  • The in-client store is being updated to:
    • Be a moveable / resizeable panel (similar to the Codex).
    • Provide improved search filtering.
    • Support creator stores searches / filtering.
  • Chat improved to support the sharing of links to stores and items in the Sansar Store.

Events Changes

  • Event creation updates:
    • With the next release, evens are created by selecting a published world (not a scene template).
    • This means that when someone attends an event, the link to the originating world is added to their Codex.
    • However, these links cannot be changed (so if a creator sets-up an event using a copy of their World A, and then decides they would actually like to run the event using their World B, the link is not updated – so users attending the event will still get World A added to their Codex, not World B).
    • It also means that while a copy of the world will be used to host the event, the original world will gain the “credit” of the traffic generated by the event.
  • Event notifications will be sent to the client to notify users when they can access an event they’ve marked as being interested in attending.
  • Events will support the new scripted spawn point capability mentioned above, so those arriving at an event can be delivered directly to the event area, rather than the world’s main spawn point, if required.

Persistent Storage

  • New scripted APIs to allow data to be saved from experiences. The data is defined as “anything you like” – so visitor stats, avatar progress through a world or a quest, etc.
    • Creators will have the ability to share “tables” of data between one another, to assist with collaborative projects.
    • Details were a little vague and offered with the promise that the documentation around this will explain things in full.

General Q&A

  • When will flying be added to avatar movement? Not actively being worked on.
    • However, LL are looking at making certain capabilities specific to events / event tickets (e.g. having a ticket price that including having your avatar’s gravity to be adjusted at the event so you can be set to float around, etc.)
  • How can people contact other Sansar users when they are not friends, e.g. to enquire after a product, report an issue with a product, etc, given people don’t like accepted random Friend requests? This is known to be an issue, and the only way to circumvent it at present is to try via Discord.
  • When will individual volume controls be introduced for avatars? Has been discussed numerous times and has bounced around the priorities list, but currently is not on the feature roadmap.
  • What is being done to improve world discovery?
    • As per the notes on live events, LL is looking at ways to broaden the awareness of those attending major live events that there is an entire platform of worlds to be explored.
    • Feedback is still being gathered on the effectiveness of the Nexus in encourage new users to explore Sansar.
  • Will Sansar offer an Animation Override capability of a similar nature to Second Life? No plans at present – but the animation system may be expanded.
  • What about the ability to sync animations between avatars (e.g. have everyone synced to the same dance)?
    • While it has been done, no plans as yet to make it a user-driven feature.
    • However, capabilities like this are compelling within the events environment (e.g. a group of avatars attending an event being able to sync-up for a dance), so the idea is not completely out of the question.
  • Does the shift in focus mean that avatar improvements are now on the back-burner?
    • The current avatar system is seen as “relatively robust” and suitable for things like attending events.
    • While the focus will be on the development of features around events / events management, avatars will remain central to Sansar’s development – they just won’t be a subject of focus in the immediate future.
    • Nothing is being taken away from the plans for future avatar development.
    • This does mean that full body deformation, that had been viewed as possibly being a Q4 2019 (October-December) release has been pushed back to a 2020 release, but no clear indication of when.
  • When will it be possible to update items without having to re-list them in the store? Currently, not on the roadmap.
  • Will “drivable” vehicles be available any time soon? With the change in focus to events, probably not any time soon.
  • When will creators have inventory folders? Not on the revised roadmap – keep asking for it.

Sansar Product Meetings week #41: recent updates

Monstercat Call of the Wild

The following notes were taken from my audio recording of the October 10th (week #41) Sansar Product Meeting, which examined upcoming avatar updates and nakedness in Sansar. The official video is available on Twitch.

Recent Updates

The latest is a series of updates to Sansar following the R36 Release (Nexus, Codex and Avatar 2.0) was made on October 4th (Planar Handles) and October 10th. These are summarised below.

World load screens have been updated to include an image of the destination, as requested by users

Planar Handles

  • New planar handles have been added to the translate gizmo in the scene editor. The new planar handles allow for quick movement constrained to a plane as defined by the orientation of the selection, as opposed to the single-axis translation provided by the other handles.
  • This is the first of a series of updates coming to the gizmo (which will include things like snap to grid, snap to rotation, etc.).

New Settings Options

  • Starting World: define where you commence your time in Sansar after logging in: the Nexus, your home space or go directly to your Look Book.
  • Avatar info on select – choose whether or not names and action buttons appear when hovering over a user. This is useful for film-makers.
The new settings drop-down for setting your preferred start location when logging in to Sansar (The Nexus, your home space or Look Book) – arrowed; and the option for disabling / enabling avatar name + options when the pointer is hovering over an avatar (on by default) – circled.

Portal Options

  • Avatars can now walk to portals to bring up the world details panel, from which a destination can be selected.
  • If preferred, you can still click on portals to open the world details page.

User Created Quest Rewards

Creators can now opt to present users with rewards in their quests. For full details, please refer to the Rewards section of the Quest documentation, but in brief:

  • There are two types of reward that can be offered:
    • Mandatory – given to the player upon quest completion.
    • “Choosable” – player is presented with two rewards and they must choose which one to receive.
  • Up to three rewards can be offered per quest.
    • All rewards can be mandatory, or one can be “choosable” (so a quest can have three mandatory or 2 mandatory, 1 “choosable”, or just two rewards, either both mandatory or 1 mandatory and 1 “choosable”, etc.).
  • Rewards can be an accessory, custom avatar, or item of clothing added to the user’s avatar inventory upon quest completion.
    • Scene objects (at the time of writing) cannot be offered as rewards.
  • The creator offering the rewards must own the proper license to distribute them.
    • As a rule of thumb, if the creator originated the item and uploaded it, they own the license to it.
    • Rewards do not have to be listed in the Sansar Store, but must be in the creator’s avatar inventory.
  • Refer to the documentation linked to above for adding rewards to a quest.
The Look Book now includes a 3-page tutorial (facial manipulation (shown), Marvelous Designer clothing manipulation and accessory adjustment), available from the “?” option, lower left of the screen

New Script APIs for Rigid Body Collisions and Avatar Speed

  • New rigid body collision behaviours determine how in-world objects react to avatar collisions. For example: a building might have a force field around it, denying access except for those able to input the correct code.
    • Behaviours will apply to anything associated with the avatar – teleporting, raycasting, camera, etc.
    • Operates at the per avatar level.
  • Speed multipliers can now be applied on a per avatar basis. For example: a power-up on a race track could provide a speed boost to an avatar passing over it.
    • Similar multipliers will be made available in the future for jump height / strength.
  • Details on how to use these are summarised in the release notes and documented in the Sansar scripting API documentation.

In-World Stores and Halloween Themes

  • Some creators are beginning to offer in-world stores.
  • The Sansar team would like to help support them where possible / appropriate.
  • As a part of this, and giving the month, the will be promotion of Halloween themed items through the Sansar Store.
  • Similarly, worlds built around Halloween themes are likely to be promoted via the Nexus, and may have some S$ incentives as well.
Portals to user-created locations are being made available at the Nexus, (based on theme), and these include the walk-in capability described towards the top of this summary

Q&A – In Brief

Please refer to the video for the full Q&A (some of which dealt with specific bugs individuals are experiencing, etc., or which had no clear answer at this point in time); the session begins around 16 minutes into the meet. The following is a short list of the questions that are likely of interest to a wider audience.

  • Custom skin textures for the system avatars:
    • Anticipated for delivery some time in the next month.
    • Access to the skeleton for testing custom skins should come sooner, possibly in the next week or two.
  • Skin layering for custom avatars: if the custom avatar uses the same UV mapping at the system avatar, should be possible. If the UV mapping is unique, then not supported, and unlikely to be supported near-term.
  • Vehicles in Sansar: vehicle have multiple layers of complexity, however, initial capabilities, such as remote control of vehicles, might start appearing around the 2nd quarter of 2020.
  • Vive Cosmos support and Valve Index VR support:
    • No official support for the Cosmos as yet, although some have managed to get these working with Sansar.
    • Valve Index is being working on by the Lab. Those who have it, try pressing F9 after Sansar is running & headset is on to get Sansar to appear in the headset.
  • Individual volume controls for avatars on voice: often requested, and the Sansar team have worked out how they’d like to implement it, but currently not prioritised in terms of when it will be addressed and implemented.
  • The emote system is to be updated so all emotes, including custom emotes will be available in run-time mode, allowing them to all be swapped and played, rather than having to bake custom emotes into the avatar through the character editor in order to have them available in the emote selection menu.
    • When available this would also means that emotes purchased from the store can be immediately available for use while still in run-time as well.
    • No time frame on when this will be deployed.
  • Scene-based animations: a capability to allow creator-defined animations to be triggered within a scene (e.g. when an avatar picks up a rifle, they hold the rife at the ready to use position, or if an avatar starts pushing a shopping cart, the hands “grip” the handle of the cart and the avatar adopts a gait as if pushing it, etc). This is being worked on, and is being aimed at a possible mid-2020 release.

Sansar Product Meetings week #40: avatar updates + nudity in Sansar

The Nexus

The following notes were taken from my audio recording of the October 3rd (week #40) Sansar Product Meeting, which examined upcoming avatar updates and nakedness in Sansar. The official video is available on YouTube (and Twitch if you prefer) and is also embedded at the end of this summary.

Notes:

  • I was not present within Sansar for the meeting, but watching one of the streams, therefore the image captured from the demo video appear to be at odd angles due the positioning of the in-world camera used to relay the video.
  • Timestamps below will open the video of the meeting at the relevant point of discussion and in a separate tab. However, the topic summaries also include answers to questions raised in the Q&A session at the end of the meeting; therefore these will not be reflected in the video link.

Sansar Avatar

Pre-Morph Skeleton

[Video: 5:22-9:30]

  • The Avatar team is aiming for this to be available in the next major Sansar release, currently being scheduled for early November – but this is not a guarantee.
  • Gives custom avatars the ability to create differently sized and shaped avatars without being constrained to the Sansar base avatar.
    • Allows custom avatar creators to adjust bone translation (positioning) but not the bone rotation.
    • Providing they are correctly rigged, these differently sized and shaped avatars to correctly use Sansar emotes (“gestures” in SL parlance) and speech animations.
Pre-Morphing Skeleton – coming soon
  • Bone movement is being restricted to translations, and this works better with the automated animation re-targeting.
  • Part of this work also involves extending the Axis Aligned Bounding Box (AABB).
    • This is described as “not being a huge extension”, but is intended to offer a little more freedom in creating avatars and clothing.
    • It is likely to be constrained in terms of a (still TBD) minimum AABB and a maximum AABB.
  • Questions on the pre-morph skeleton from the Q&A session:
    • How far can bones be translated? As far as the minimum / maximum AABB limited allow.
    • If there is no bone rotation, will finger bones have to be in the same pose as the default avatar? Yes, although further testing may be carried out to see if this can be relaxed.

Additional Avatar Related Work

[Video: 9:34-20:00]

  • Camera movement in the avatar editor:
    • Work is in progress to involve the camera movement capabilities to address reported issues.
    • This is likely to include a more freecam style of camera movement to allow a better degree of panning and zooming when making very fine adjustments.
  • Avatar Skins:
    • Work is about to start on allowing custom skin uploads for the Sansar default avatar.
    • Creators will not initially be able to sell skins through the Sansar Store, but this will be added as the necessary licensing updates are made.
    • The system skins are being improved.
    • (From the Q&A session): will skin colour tinting be added? No. Tinting will be handled by swapping skin textures.
    • (From the Q&A session) will uploaded skins work with custom avatars? Initially, no; however, the option is being considered for a future update.
  • Full Body deformation:
    • Due to the feedback (particularly) concerning the avatar 2.0 base female shape, the avatar team is working to release full body deformation as soon as possible.
    • The plan is to have this working in a very similar manner to the face deformation.
    • Rigged clothing should adjust with the skeleton, and most of the deformation will be changing the size / shape of the skeleton.
    • Marvelous Designer™ clothing will use the clothing transform tools in the avatar editor.
      • Scaling / translating MD clothing is a challenge as it isn’t specifically rigged to the skeleton nor does it use skeletal bones.
      • LL and MD have been in conversation to see if MD could provide more information within MD files to allow for certain types of non-uniform scaling, and MD has indicated this is not possible on their end.
    • Part of this project may include the Sansar avatar team producing a wider range of base / starter avatars
      • For example: shapes and sizes that might be regarded as “standard” and worked for when creating custom avatars and also to help with producing clothing for different avatar “types”.
      • This feeds into attempts to limit market fragmentation (below).
  • Market fragmentation / Avatar Inventory:
    • There is already a degree of fragmentation in the store (avatar 1.0 clothing re-rigged for avatar 2.0; MD clothing, items for custom avatars, etc).
    • The Sansar team is looking to refine the Store and avatar inventory to make it easier to denote / see the types of avatar that items of clothing and accessories are designed to work with.
    • (From the Q&A session): for avatar inventory, this will likely include the ability to filter inventory contents.
    • (From the Q&A session): it is also hoped that the inventory improvements will include swapping (so if you are wearing a shirt and select another, the two will be swapped on your avatar, rather than both being worn).
  • Avatar editor lighting and background: LL are iterating on the lighting and improving the shadowing.
  • Facial Presets are being adjusted to give better starting points.

Contests

[Video: 20:35-23:00]

  • The idea has been floated that perhaps LL could run a contest for skin designers, with the winning skins being featured in the default inventory so users can view / use them and (via a right-click) see who made it.
  • If creators are interested in participating in this kind of contest, it could perhaps be extended to include avatars, etc.
  • Such competition would also include money or other practical prizes to rewards the creator’s time and effort.

Nudity in Sansar

[Video: 23:06-35:25]

  • New content guidelines will be available “shortly” in an attempt to clarify the rules around nudity.
  • In short:
    • Nudity is not permitted in Sansar.
    • Nudity is defined as something where there are visible genitalia, buttocks or breasts, especially with regards to humanoid avatars.
    • As a general rule, humanoid custom avatars should have underwear covering these body parts
      • This underwear should conform closely to the underwear seen on Sansar base avatars.
      • Changing the colour of the underwear is permitted, so long as the colour isn’t designed to blend with the skin to give the appearance of nakedness.
    • Certain humanoid forms that do not emphasise a sense of nakedness or that are not intentionally sexualised (such as the character show on the right by Sansar user Polygon) may be permitted.
    • Anthropomorphic avatars (animals, fruit, etc.) and nudity:
      • Such avatars do not necessarily have to have underwear, providing they are not being intentionality sexualised / showing genitalia, etc., in an attempt to bypass the guidelines.
      • Fur or feather coats on humanoid type avatars is OK, again providing they are not otherwise being intentionally sexualised.
  • The nudity guidelines will also extend to custom skins, once the capability to upload them is added to the platform.
  • Clothing that is also intentionally designed to show genitalia, etc. will be seen in violation of the nudity guidelines.
  • A point to remember with the nudity guidelines is that that are not something Linden Lab has arbitrarily set – rather, they are:
    • Intended to meet the expectations of content partners (.e.g. Sanrio, Levis®, etc.).
    • Allow Sansar to be offered to the widest audience of potential users without necessarily gating access to worlds, etc, and be a “family friendly” platform.
  • Avatars / content that is deemed to be in violation of the guidelines will be taken down.

Continue reading “Sansar Product Meetings week #40: avatar updates + nudity in Sansar”

Sansar Product Meetings week #37: feedback and Q&A

The following notes were taken from my audio recording of the September 12th (week #37) Sansar Product Meeting, which took the form of a Q&A  / feedback session. As always, key points are summarised, but please also refer to the official video. Note that streaming may have been curtailed prior to the end of the meeting; as I was watching the stream, I have no idea if questions continued to be addressed after streaming ceased.

“Major” Launch and Challenges

  • Sansar is preparing for a “major” launch with one or more partners on September 24th.
  • This will apparently see several more Core Portals at the Nexus come in to use (according to the Nexus maps, one was already reserved the Monstercat, LL’s music event partner).
  • In the run-up to this, there are two Sansar challenges:
    • Future Fashion: design an outfit that can be featured on the main Sansar Store page and which fits with the theme of the upcoming launch. This runs until September 23rd.
    • Attack of the Clones: a series of running (I believe) challenges for users to create avatar likeness of famous people using Sansar’s facial morphing capabilities (not made outside of Sansar and then uploaded). The first selection of faces runs through until Monday September 16th, and features the faces of Ripley (aka Signourey Weaver) from the Alien franchise, Lando Calrissian (aka Billy Dee Williams, not Donald Glover) from the Star Wars films or someone called Pow3r (no, I’ve no idea who this is either). I gather entries are to be posted to Flickr.
Clone one of these three in a Sansar contest. Don’t ask me if it’s just for fun or if there is a prize, as the info is apparently conveniently buried in a Sansar Discord channel.

I’m unable to give further context to these challenges, as the details are buried somewhere in Sansar’s Discord pages (where contests and competitions apparently don’t even have their own channel).

User-Created Guides

A new section has been created in the  forums for specifically for user-created guides, tutorials and tips.

Q&A

Avatar Related

  • Can a texture wheel be added for selecting textures for skins, nails, eyes, etc? No, but texture layering will be in a future release.
  • When will it be possible to change custom skins on an avatar, rather than having to change the entire avatar look? Soon, but dependent on the Sansar licensing system being extended to cover the avatar. This also goes for selling facial presets.
  • Will the baked shadowing issues for under the arms, under the nose, etc., be fixed? There is an upcoming point release to fix the underarm shadows, and may address under the nose, etc.
  • Marvelous Designer related:
    • Will Sansar all the import of more than one materials face from Marvelous Designer? It should, so this may be a bug and will be investigated.
    • Better pining for clothing when editing MD clothing  is being investigated.
  • Body morphing and shape:
    • Full body morphing, when deployed will only be for the system avatar and avatars built off of it. An update system will be supplied to transition all such avatars over to body morph support.
    • Body morphing will not be available for fully custom-built avatars; what will be provided in the future is the ability to transform bones prior to upload.
    • The female avatar will remain “as is” (oddly elongated) for reasons previously indicated (to give a better baseline for body deformation for both male and female avatars, and to allow gender-neutral clothing).
    • It is hoped full body morphing will help alleviate this by allowing users the freedom to alter their body shapes, and allow LL to provide a greater range of starter avatar shapes for incoming users.
Avatar proportions: both male and female body proportions are roughly in keeping with the “norms” – but the female appears to have been vertically stretched (head and body) in order to match the male avatar, resulting in an odd, thin and hipless look

Nexus / Codex Portal Related

  • There is a degree of negativity from some creators towards the Nexus. Given it is less than a month old, it is difficult to tell if this is simply personal discomfiture over such a clear change from the past for those with long-term experience in using the Atlas or whether it is genuinely leading to a bottleneck in discovery / exploration by incoming users.
    • The Lab is monitoring traffic flow through the Nexus, but no changes are being considered at the moment.
    • Changes will be made if the metrics tend to show the Nexus is bottlenecking discovery.
    • improving discoverability within the Prime Portal is being considered, such as adding more searchable categories to the Portal (presumably things like “Science Fiction”, “Games”, etc), and better surfacing of particularly popular worlds.
  • A more elegant means of toggling between logging in to the Nexus or a user’s Home Space is being considered.
  • New loading screens for worlds are to be deployed fairly soon. They will come in two phases: improvements to the loading screen space, followed by UI improvements.
    • These will be tied to the Sansar “backstory”
    • A request has been made for load screen to contain more information, such as the descriptions, creator name(s), etc., from the Atlas / Codex / Prime Portal entry. This will be considered.
  • Can portals be made more interactive (e.g. walk through to move between worlds)? Could an image of the destination world be displayed within and active portal? Both ideas are already being considered.
  • An upcoming change to the Codex will mean that the master instance of any world that is used to create an event space host an event will be added to the Codex of all users attending the event, always direct “re-visits” to that world.
  • The current cap of 20 avatars per Nexus instance will be raised in the near future.
  • The Nexus might be considered as the venue for seasonal events organised by Linden Lab.

General Questions

  • Valve Index support:
    • The headset has been tested and appears to work, but not clear if some client-side changes will be required.
    • No plans as yet to implement the Valve Index finger tracking.
  • Chat / messaging related:
    • Will direct person-to-person Voice calls be enabled? Not really been discussed.
    • Will capabilities such as spell check be added to text chat? No plans, but perhaps in the future.
    • Can an audible notification be added for incoming messages? Will be added to the list of things under consideration; if implemented, will include an option for be disabled for those who don’t like it.
    • Work on chat / messaging features and improvements have been somewhat pushed aside due to the work going into the Nexus, etc., and Avatar 2.0, the questing system and the XP system – but they are something LL plan to get back to.
  • Camera related:
    • Freecamming from sit points: can the F4 (Desktop mode) freecam capability be made available to users when using sit points (in chairs, etc). Under consideration.
    • Will it be possible to focus on in-scene objects and then zoom into them, a-la Second Life? This is on the Lab’s wish list for the Edit mode, but is not a priority.
    • Better zooming at the avatar’s lower body in look book when dressing / adjusting clothing has been requested.
  • Will the ability to upload / edit terrain heightmaps be returning to Sansar? No current plans to do so.
  • Will an Abandon button be made available for users to remove unwanted and incomplete quests from their quest log? Yes, likely to appear in the next-but-one release.
  • Will it be possible to have “neighbourhoods” in Sansar – experiences with individual plots where users can place their own “pod” to live? Unlikely.
    • Landon McDowell, the Lab’s Chief Product Officer indicated that while it is not officially part of the development roadmap for Sansar, ways in which to “stitch” worlds together are still being thought about at the Lab – something Ebbe Altberg alluded to possibly happening back before Sansar made its initial closed Alpha début.
    • The main mechanism that exists – and will continue – in Sansar for “linking” worlds is for creators to drop portals to one another’s worlds (a-la region-to-region teleports in SL).
  • Feature requests and feedback: there are multiple channels through which feature requests and feedback for Sansar can be put to LL (e.g. the feature request form thread, product meetings, Discord, general forum discussion, etc.). LL is looking to try to rationalised this and formalise a process for gather feedback / requests and reviewing / vetting / prioritising against current plans etc.
    • It had been indicated (2017/18) that LL would look to move away from ZenDesk for their bug / feature / documentation / community / blog tool. However, it now appears they are somewhat hoist by their own petard, and unwilling to pivot away from it due to the investment in building a knowledge base.

Sansar Product Meetings week #36: R36 feedback and Q&A

Back in the Nexus: Lt. Pey on shore leave! A shame LL did away with free camming here…

The following notes were taken from my audio recording of the September 5th (week #36) Sansar Product Meeting, which took the form of a Q&A  / feedback session on the recent R36 release. As always, key points are summaries, but please also refer to the official video.

R36 Update 1

Friday, September 6th saw Linden Lab issue the first e36 update, including a number of bug / issue fixes, including:

  • Fixes for several crash issues caused by:
    • Equipping a custom avatar, then heading to an experience.
    • The Zen Garden world, which had issues tied to scripted sounds.
  • Some Nexus quest objectives could not be completed without reloading the Nexus multiple times. This should allow users to complete the quest without having to reload the world.

Please refer to the release notes for the full list of fixes.

Avatar 2.0

General

  • Will the default avatars be changed prior to the arrival of body morphing? There will be no major changes to the avatar skeleton. However:
    • When fully body deformation is introduced, there will be a new range of default avatars offer different shapes, builds, etc.
    • There may be a few minor tweaks to the base avatar.
    • Body morphing will use the same system as in place for the face.
  • The collision capsule doe the avatar has changed with Avatar 2.0, and this has caused some issues with levels in building, doorways, etc., seeming to be too low for the avatar to move under.
  • Avatar 2.0 introduced different movement speeds according to height. This was done as an experiment, and the Lab is looking for feedback on it.
    • This has already caused some issues in games involving running / running – smaller avatars can no longer easily participate as they are unable to jump far enough / high enough.
    • A suggestion has been to keep the feature, but make it optional or controllable at the world level.
  • Will there be a way to give hints on the morph bones auto-rigging system? The system is still being fleshed-out, and discussion like this will be held through Discord.
  • When importing an avatar with skin, will Sansar accept the weights applied by the creator, or will parts of it always be auto-weighted?
    • Animated skin weights will always be used as is specified by the creator.
    • The auto-skinning to the morphs is actually to a completely different skeleton not currently available to creators and comprising 300+ bones with 8 influences per vertex. LL are just trying to have the system take care of all interactions with it, so that creators don’t have to worry about the complexity of trying to skin to it.
    • However, the Lab is looking for a way to allow creators to indicate which elements they wish to pay attention to / ignore – hence why ear control points are currently masked to assist with hair.
  • Will the shadow lighting used in the Look Book be improved? Yes, this is being worked on.

Face and Deformation

  • Some feedback is that the deformation options are not as nuanced as anticipated (e.g. limited scope to change the shape of the head; greater variety of eye shaping options, etc.)
    • Some tools for managing facial deformation didn’t make it into this release, including some pre-made shapes for eyes, nose, etc.  These will be added. Other suggestions, such as changing the shape of the back of the head independently of the forehead, will be noted for consideration.
  • Texture uploads (skins):
    • This is being worked on, but release time is currently not clear. As per previous meeting notes, providing the ability is dependent upon updating the licensing system to incorporate the avatar, so that creators can sell their skins, head presets, etc.
    • More default skins could be provided, but the Lab would prefer to offer the upload ability, mentioned above for users to upload their own skins.
  • Will it be possible to create and sell face morphs for those who are not comfortable in using all of the deformation tools? Yes. That’s why there are the preset slots within the face tools. The same will be true for full bodies created using the Sansar base avatar, once full body deformations have been introduced and everything has been hooked into the licensing system.
  • All of the ear control points in the auto skinning are masked off (except for the root) in order for hair to work. This will be iterated on to improve it, but for now it means that ears on uploaded mesh heads do not respond to ear morphs in the facial deformation tools.
  • Can sliders be provided to adjust how much of a facial area / feature is selected in order to help fine-tune changes when using the deformation tools / to make is easier to select smaller areas? This would require a vertex-based editor rather than a control point based editor. So, no.

Clothing

  • Will rigged items (hair, etc), be resizeable:
    • No plans outside of resizing as part of the avatar uniform scaling, as seen as problematic due to overall impact on other avatar elements – animations, etc.
    • Clothing rigged to the Avatar 2.0 skeleton should morph with the body (when deformations is available) and head.
  • Can the MD adjustment tools be modified to allow non-uniform stretching / scaling? Unfortunately, MD does not support this.
  • Will there be some form on icon in the Store / avatar inventory to denote MD clothing made specifically for Avatar 2.0 (and that should fit without adjustment / transformation?). Yes, this is being considered, together with tags.

Nexus

  • What are the goals LL hope to achieve with socialisation in the Nexus?
    • What’s been deployed is just the start – social spaces, quests etc., more to come.
    • Example: Lab is looking at ways groups of people can meet in the Nexus and then travel together.
    • It’s also recognised that not everyone will wish to be dropped into the Nexus when logging-in, so the Home Space will likely be re-visited in the future for people to get to it more directly.
  • Are behaviours at the Nexus being monitored? Will changes be made based on people’s behaviour? Yes.
    • Use of the Nexus is being monitored from end to end – how people behave, socialise, react to the portals, respond to the quests, etc. These observations will inform development and enhanced of the Nexus.
    • Direct feedback from individuals is welcome, but the observation of behaviours and actions of users actually active within the Nexus.
    • The Nexus, Prime Portal and Codex will remain – but changes will be made on the basis of behaviour and feedback.
  • To make group travel easier, would it be possible to allow a users to drop a personal portal for a destination they’ve selected from the Prime Portal, so they and their friend to jump to a world not in their Codex, without everyone having to select the destination from the Prime Portal individually? – Will be looked into.
  • Logging-in to the Nexus means that if someone has to shut down the client while editing their appearance in Look Book, there is a risk that they will be logged into the Nexus naked. Can this be prevented? For now, don’t shut down the client leaving your avatar naked in the Look Book!
    • Also remember you can avoid the Nexus when logging in, by clicking the cancel button alongside the load progress bar and going directly to your Home Space.
  • Spawn point issues:
    • A number of people have “fallen through” the Nexus when logging-in, prompting a re-spawn. This has been noted by the Lab and is being looked into.
    • Multiple people arriving at the spawn point appear inside one another until they move. There is supposed to be logic at the spawn point to prevent this, and it will be looked at.
  • The current avatar cap per Nexus instance is 20 – this will be raised in accordance with the performance status LL gather from users.

XP System

  • XP system in its infancy right now.
  • As new storyline quests are release, the cap on levels will be increased.
  • And achievement system is also under consideration – as a user achieves various milestones, they be able to gain identity / vanity related items associated with their profile.
  • At some point the global XP system will be opened to creators to use and offer XPs to users. There are no plans to provide a means for creators to build their own XP systems using the Lab’s framework (i.e. create an XP system specific to their own worlds).

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.
    • Valve Index support: something the Lab wants, but no time frame, other than when the Lab get to work on it, it is estimated to be around 2-3 weeks of work.
    • 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: yes, news! The Lab has entered into a design phase for persistence. No delivery date as yet, nor specifics, but it is firmly on the roadmap.
  • Can a means be provided for a creator to ban troublemakers from all of their worlds, rather than having to do so individually? This is a part of the on-going moderation tools / abilities discussions the Lab is having internally.
  • The ability for creators to offer rewards to users completing their quests is being worked on and will be arriving “fairly” soon.