2020 Sansar Product Meetings week #3: looking at 2020

The Nexus, January 2020

The following notes were taken from the Twitch stream recording of the January 16th (week #53) Sansar Product Meeting.

Upcoming R39 Release and Beyond

The upcoming R39 release will include.

Updated Emote (Gestures/ Animations) System

  • A new emote system that will initially allow users to:
    • Find an emote on the Store and immediately use it without having to go to the character editor to assign it.
    • Allow emotes to be assigned to short cut keys in Desktop mode, so they do not have to be selected as played via the emotes wheel.
  • For VR use, the system will present a new panel for emote selection, but will not allow specific emotes to be tied to controller buttons.
    • When assigning an emote, it will automatically switch to 3rd person view allowing the user to check to see what the emote actually does to their avatar.
    • Thereafter, the emote can be toggled on / off via the panel.
  • Subsequent releases will expose the system to manipulation via script for use by creators to assign animations to users engaged in their worlds / games / quests.
    • As it is driven by the server, it will mean they may be some delay in emoted running which might impact certain types of animation playback (e.g. sword swings and the like).
    • However it should allow for actions such as pulling levers, opening doors, synchronising dancing among a group of avatars, etc.

Instance Picker

  • Where more than one instance of a world / event is running, will:
    • Make it easy for users to see the instances and join them
    • Give the ability to share the instance URL with friends who can use it to access the instance.
  • Will be updated in subsequent releases to allow:
    • Users to see how many are active within each instance of a world / event.
    • Possibly see which instance of a world their friends are in and more easily access that instance (subject to capacity) to join them.

Other Items Planned for R39

  • Updated Starter Avatar Carousel: intended to offer new users better define an avatar and build a look using free (I assume) items from the Store.
  • New Twitch integration specifically aimed at events and streaming events by users.
  • A further round of bugs fixes.

Beyond R39

The following updates are planned for after R39, but potentially within a 2020 Q1 release time frame:

  • Scene-based Backpack improvements: extending the Backpack functionality to provide creators with an API that allows them to add / remove items from the backpack of users visiting their worlds, and which can be used at specific points in a scene. For example:
    • In a quest, a user finds a sword, and the sword is added to their backpack and is available for use when they need it.
    • In a game, a user finds a “power pack” then can use once, after which it is removed.
    • At an event, a DJ hits a button and all attendees receive an object they can wear  / use within the event, or have the items in their backpack change to match whatever music is being played.
  • Moderation Tools:
    • These will initially be enhanced for the Lab, then offered to world creators and will likely include: easier means of muting people, removing them from a world, etc.
    • They will also likely be matched by in-client improvements to managing whitelists, etc., and for raising tickets.
  • In-world social activity improvements:
    • Making it easier to find / add friends and communicate with them.
    • Introducing the notion of group travel and group chat.

UI Re-design

As per the last Product Meeting of 2019, a “comprehensive” client UI redesign is in the works for 2020 to make accessing capabilities in the client easier and provide more intuitive controls over some functions (e.g. adjusting the volume at which you hear other individuals talking), etc.

Some of this work, such as individual voice volume controls for other avatars, may be surfaced in 2020 Q2 (April-June).

Q&A Session Summary

Why is Collaborative World Building Hard to Implement?

Collaborative world building – people working together to build a world together – has been a constant request, and one promised as “coming”. However, it is proving hard to implement.

  • Edit Mode was original client-side, and thus hard to implement on a collaborative basis.
  • It was moved to being server-side with the intent to make offering collaborative editing in a single server space possible.
  • However, the Edit Server system also has to handle aspects of licensing and edit process validation, and managing this when when several people are working on a single scene has proven difficult to achieve.

General Questions

  • Will it be possible to see the total number of people in Sansar, including those in Edit Mode and / or in non-public worlds, at any given time?
    • Has been discussed at LL, but has not seen any move to implement.
    • Will be added back to the list for further internal discussion.
  • Will it be possible for creators to limit the number of people accessing an individual instance of a world (e.g. a team game / quest that is best played by a defined number of users without risk of other wandering around spoiling things, or to simply to maintain a good level of performance within a complex environment)?
    • No plans at present to limit the number of people accessing worlds below that set by LL.
    • There are issues in doing so. For example: instances incurs cost. If a game is limited to 10 players but is very popular among users, resulting in dozens (or more) instances at any given time, who meets the cost of AWS provisioning and running all those instances?
  • When will a) custom skin texture uploads and b) full body avatar deformation be made available?
    • a) Custom skin textures may appear before the end of 2020 Q1, but may not be immediately made available to creators at that time.
    • b) Full body sliders are still considered to be “further out, for sure”, with no defined time frame.
  • What is the official stance on the invisible avatars available in the Store being used to eavesdrop on others, particularly as they are hard to detect?
    • No official policy at present, and currently down to individual world creators to determine how to respond to the use of such avatars.
    • LL have encountered them being used for griefing / trolling in worlds, and have moderated (banned?) on this basis.
    • The Nearby panel can be used to see who is nearby in a scene, and in VR there is is the “person person who” for a list of people in the world with you.
  • Financial / revenue:
    • Will the percentages taken by Linden Lab on cashing-out from Sansar be reduced in 2020? No plans to do so.
    • Will tipping be possible in Sansar? This is being explored, but no firm decisions as to how it might work or when it might be introduced. If / when such a capability is introduced, it will likely include the option for users to cash-out what they have earned, although a fee may apply.
  • Will it be possible for VR users to remain in VR when their avatar is seated? Eventually, yes.
    • However there are issues to be resolved (e.g. what happens to the avatar when you physically turn in your chair?).
    • Hopefully, whatever is implemented will also take into consideration full body tracking as well, and deal with current issues of VR hand placement.
  • Will it ever be possible for creators to develop their own websites where visitors can sign-up / access Sansar directly, without having to go via Sansar.com? This is not something on the roadmap at this time.
  • What is the status of Try Before You Buy?
    • Still being discussed, and unlikely to appear until much later in 2020.
    • Ideally, LL would like to have this available in both Edit Mode and the Look Book:
      • In Edit Mode it would allow a creator to build a scene using items from the store they can place out and test in their scene, then prior to publishing, be presented with a breakdown of the third-party items and their cost, together with an option to buy them, which must them be accepted in order to the scene to be published with all of the items included (which are added to the creator’s inventory).
      • In the Look Book, it would allow a user to outfit their avatar with clothing and accessories from the Store and then being presented with a breakdown of the items and their cost, and an option to buy them when saving the avatar.
  • “Joint” system: mentioned in 2019, this would allow avatars to be linked to objects (e.g. a vehicle), objects to avatars, object to other objects etc. It is not currently being worked on, but is something the Sansar team would like to get back to in 2020, possibly in Q2.
  • Facial expressions: something the Lab would like to implement, possibly akin to the emotes system and using user-generated emotes alongside some basic options, but still discussing best approach (should expressions be selectable from a panel, a-la the current emotes system? Should emotes trigger an expression (e.g. give a thumbs-up and the avatar smiles)? Should they be triggered via a text chat keyword in a similar manner to SL gestures?, etc).
  • What about the ability to just recompile scripts in Edit Mode without having to re-bake an entire scene? Has been requested numerous times and is something the Sansar Studios team would like as well, but no indication on when it might be provided.
    • One idea being considered is to have a “test” option of some description that allows a “limited” bake of a scene for repaid testing / iteration when building a scene.
  • Will clothing layering be added to Sansar?
    • Marvelous Designer® supports this, and a mechanism to make the ability visible / usable in Sansar needs to be added.
      • For now in MD, items overlaying others can be achieved using the clothing simulation option (e.g. wear a shirt and then a jacket, and use the simulation tools to select the jacket and shape it so it properly lays over the shirt).
    • For rigged clothing the issue is harder to solve.

Sansar Product Meetings week #51

Bryn Oh, Handblog post

The following notes were taken from the Twitch stream recording of the December 19th (week #51) Sansar Product Meeting.

Point Releases for R38

There have been three point releases for the R38 “Rediscover the Party” since December10th, none of which have had release notes posted to the Sansar website.  The core element of these point releases was bug fixes and performance improvements.

Linden Lab and IP

There has apparently been a lot of discussion about (and confusion over) the Lab’s approach to IP protection on Sansar. As a result, Lacie Linden has published A Word About IP on the Sansar blog. This specifically references Linden Lab’s

Both of which can be found on the Lab’s corporate website, and which apply equally to all of the Lab’s platforms.

Plans for 2020

Emotes

  • Updated emote (gestures/ animations) system coming “soon”. This will include the ability to obtain an emote from the Sansar Store and immediately use it and assign a keyboard short-cut to it.
  • Emotes will also be per account in the future, not per avatar – a move intended to remove the need to re-apply emotes to each avatar a user creates.
  • A downside of this is that when first introduced, the new emote system will mean script will no longer be able to access the number keys without triggering an emote.
    • However, a means for users to re-bind keys to whatever they want will be provided, so scripts will not longer be pointing at a specific key, but rather an identifier, which can have any key assigned to it.

Animations

  • Synchronised dancing for music events – probably built into the dance floor, which they set avatars dancing, rather than using emotes.
    • API will allow for both full body and upper body looping and / or single play. This won’t interfere with people wanting to use their own dances.
    • This system will also support other uses with animations.
  • The default idle animation is to be improved.

Backpack

The Backpack is to be extended so that individual scenes (worlds) can define what the Backpack contains. This will include a scripting API to define the state / content of the Backpack at different points in a world (e.g. reach a point in a quest where you have obtained an item, and it is unlocked in the Backpack and available for use).

New User Experience / First 10 Minutes in Sansar

This is to be entirely re-thought, with changes to the initial on-boarding quest experience. This is to align the on-boarding experience more with music and live events – the current focus for Sansar development and audience acquisition.

Moderation Tools

These are to be enhanced, initially for Lab staff but then for world creators – e.g. muting people more easily, removing them from a world, etc. Together with in-client improvements to managing whitelists, etc., and for raising tickets.

Avatar

  • The ability to upload and use custom skins will hopefully be one of the first early avatar updates for 2020.
  • A lot of work has been completed on the full body deformation capability, but it is not clear where the work sits in the work order for 2020.

UI Re-design

There will likely be a “comprehensive” client UI redesign in 2020, aimed at things like reducing the number of clicks required to get to certain capabilities, improving the information available in certain panels (e.g. local chat), with options to use this information to access other panels (e.g. access a user’s Profile from local chat and then adjust the volume at which you hear their voice chat).

This work is forming the “tail end” of a lot of “other, bigger changes”.

Q&A Session Summary

  • There have been reports of issues with the Look Book – items not updating what changing an avatar; saving updates taking a long time. There has been some work going on with the look Book, and this may have caused a few bugs, which are being / have been addressed by the Sansar team.
  • Nexus sounds: the background sounds (referred to as the “old sounds” are interfering with the music, etc.. These are to be removed.
  • The bug by which a blocked individual can continue to harass in local text chat is being investigated.
  • The Sansar team is looking at a lot of the pain points within the content creation process in order to try to smooth the process end-to-end and make it easier for content to be brought into Sansar and used to create scenes and worlds. This work may encompass things like UI improvements and allowing creators to version their worlds.
  • Will there be an AFK indicator when people are absent their computer? Being considered, but not clear if this will be SL-like or something like returning an avatar to their Home Space after a certain amount of time inactive has passed.
  • Tipping: is also being looked at, but may be driven from tipping “official” performers rather than a generic person-to-person exchange of Sansar Dollars.
  • A Sansar mobile client is still on the road map, but no significant updates at the moment other than it is being worked on.
  • Why is is still necessary to run events in a copy of a world, rather than the original? This actually goes back to the way in which the ticketing system works – and this is frustrating for the Lab and world creators, as it is still inward-facing (creators cannot as yet make use of it for generating revenue off of their own events).

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 allow users 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

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.

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