Sansar: R36 – Avatar 2.0 the Nexus, the Codex and more

Levelling up: the R36 Sansar release with the Nexus and Prime Portal (background) and the new Avatar 2.0 (I went Trek for this shot). Also to be seen is Agent Primus (to the right) the “guide” to the Nexus and some of the associated quests, and a Core Portal (on the left), where Sansar events can be viewed / attended

Introduction

On Tuesday, September 3rd, Linden Lab released a major update to Sansar, which has seen the introduction of a number of new features and updated capabilities. It represents potentially the biggest single update to Sansar since the public opening of the beta two years ago. The chief updates comprise:

The all-new avatar 2.0, which comprises:

  • An entirely new avatar skeleton, designed to be more “unisex” between male and female, to allow easier swapping of clothes
  • A new range of default avatars.
  • New means of styling / customising the avatar, including new facial deformation capabilities (full body deformation to follow), and a set of modifiable facial “presets”.

The Nexus: a new landing point that all users will / can go to when logging-in to Sansar, and which includes:

  • Agent Primus.
  • New user tutorials.
  • Portals for exploring Sansar.
  • Social Spaces.

The Codex: a new UI element to allow users record and manage and quickly return to places they have previously visited while in Sansar.

Table of Contents

 

Experience points (XP): which include titles and levels, and which are gained through participating in Sansar, and depending on how they engage within the platform.

Such is the size of the release, I’ve split this article into a series of parts, all of which can be reached via the table of contents, above right. These sections are not intended as complete tutorials / guides, but rather to provide a general introduction and overview, particularly for those who may wish to try Sansar as a result of the R36 update.

R36 Official Documentation

For detailed information on the various aspects of R36, it is recommended you also refer to the official documentation, comprising:

Avatar 2.0

Introduction

Avatar 2.0 is the new all-singing, all dancing avatar for Sansar. In particular, it provides a new set of deformation tools and updated sliders designed to make customising an avatar’s face more intuitive, as well as offering a series of “preset” looks which can be used as a baseline facial shapes and edited and saved.

Also provided within the Look Book is a Transform tool, designed to help adjust Marvelous Designer clothing developed for Avatar 1.0 fit Avatar 2.0.

Note: this is not an in-depth look at editing avatar 2.0 or carrying out Marvelous Designer clothing adjustments. These are documented in detail on the Sansar website. The following is only intended as a general overview.

Avatar Picker

The Sansar avatar picker is displayed the first time a user logs-in to Sansar (or the first time an existing user logs-in following the R36 update)

New users logging-in for the first time (or existing users logging-in for the first time since this release was deployed) will immediately be presented with the new avatar picker. This broadly comprises two options:

  • Selecting one of ten default avatar styles. These attempt to offer a range of ethic looks, with two leaning towards science-fiction / fantasy (with the de rigueur pointy ears and pale eyes).
    • Some are of somewhat androgynous facial looks, so the clothing colours indicate gender: green = female; purple = male.
    • Scroll arrows enable  moving back and forth between the options, and a selection is made by clicking on the desired portrait and then on the Continue button.
    • This will load the avatar and drop the user directly into the Nexus – see The Nexus for more details on this.
  • Clicking on the Create New button. This will randomly select one of the default avatars and load the character editor.
The ten default avatars

The Avatars

LL have stated that they have sought a more “stylised” avatar form between male and female in order to make some clothing elements more “unisex” in nature. This sound fine – until you see the default female avatars. “Androgynous” might be the kindest way to describe them, “elongated” might be another.

On the surface, the body proportions are around right: her height is 8 “heads” (the distance from top of head to chin) and most women are around 7-8 heads tall; her shoulder width is roughly 2.5 heads (measured from ear to ear), and the average woman’s shoulder width is around 2-2.5 “heads”. Similarly, the male avatar is in the proportions you might expect: an average 7.5 “heads” tall and 2.5 “heads” across the shoulder.

The problem is that of height. According to average height, women’s heights average between 4ft 10in and 5ft 6 in globally. By comparison, men average between 5ft 4in and 6ft – with a bias around the 5ft 7in-5ft 9in range. However, given there is little differentiation in the overall height of the male and female avatars, the result is a female look is painfully thin, hipless, and which sits uneasy on the eye.

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

Of course, this can potentially be solved over time – providing full body deformation, allowing custom avatars into the starter picker, and so on. But it’s possible that for some coming into Sansar from other virtual environments, the female avatar is going to appear less than attractive. Or as I’ve heard it referred to already in the Nexus, “bleah!”

Editing and Styling Tools

R36 brings an updated set of avatar editing and styling tools / options. These can either be accessed when selecting an avatar for the first time (see above), or via the familiar Create button > Style My Avatar > Customise option.

The basic Look Book  / Editor still layout comprises 4 parts:

  • Worn items panel: the clothing and attachments currently worn. If the clothing has been created using Marvelous Designer, buttons for adjusting and transforming the clothing will also be displayed.
  • The avatar on a pose stand: which can be rotated with and right-click drag (desktop mode). Remember the free rotation button is available in the bottom left corner of the inventory panel. Note this view can change when editing an avatar, such as zooming on the head during facial editing.
  • The inventory panel: for accessing hair, clothing, accessories, etc for wearing / editing.
  • Buttons along the bottom of the screen for undoing / redoing changes, discarding / saving changes going back to your last location (Home Space or world spawn point.
The basic avatar editor window. Note the buttons for adjusting Marvelous Designer clothing (highlighted) on the left.

Those who have used the right-side inventory panel will be familiar with the tabs displayed (from top to bottom):

  • Avatar: pick the gender of the avatar.
  • Hair (comb tab): select the hairstyle.
  • Face (head icon): customise the facial features.
  • Clothing (coat hanger icon): select clothing to wear – note that any rigged clothing existing users may have had is no longer listed as it is incompatible with Avatar 2.0 (creators have a means to provide an update when / if available), so only Marevelous Designer items remain.
  • Accessories: (visor icon) available accessories – again, note that accessories specifically rigged for avatar 1.0 will have been removed from existing user’s inventory.
  • Animations (running icon): set-up emotes.
Hair
The six new female hairstyles. The male styles are pretty bland as well.

Provides twelve default hairstyles (6 female, 6 male), with colouring / tinting options, and buttons to obtain additional hair through the Sansar Store or to import your own custom hair.

The Lab were said to be “excited” by the new default hair options. I have to be honest, the most enthusiasm I could sum-up for them was “meh”.

Face and Facial Deformation

The facial deformation capabilities are perhaps the most extensive “visible” changes with the new avatar, outside of the overall shapes. These, and options to colour skin and eyes, are found on the Face tab, which contains a number of sections, some of them new or extended, as outlined below.

The facial customisation options – see notes below

The most obvious aspects of the facial editing options are the two colour pickers to select skin and eye colour – just click to apply the required tone / colour. The remaining options are:

  1. Presets: six slots for different head shapes / facial features. Defaults are supplied for each, and clicking on any of them will apply them to the avatar in edit mode. The presets can be modified, or the user can work from the original base avatar to make changes to the face, which can then be saved back to any one of the slots.
  2. Sliders: an extended set of sliders for modifying facial features: cheeks, chin, ears, eyes, jaw, mouth and nose.  These are designed for more subtle fine-tuning of features, rather than significant changes.
  3. Head deformation buttons: four options that allow the head / facial features to be modified directly. These are intended for major changes to the head / face / features and comprise (from left to right):
    • Head: allows the entire head to be modified.
    • Major Sections: allows large parts of the head / face to be selected and modified (e.g. forehead, forehead and top of head, lower cheeks and jaw, cheeks, nose and jaw, etc).
    • Feature: allows specific features – nose, , mouth, cheeks, chin, etc – to be adjusted.
    • Part: allows fine-tuning and adjustment of specific parts of facial features  – the corners of lips or eyes, the flair of nostrils, the shape of nose or ear tips, etc – to be modified.
  4. The adjustment tools: a set of the tools that work with each of the head deformation buttons, comprising:
    • Translate: allows the selected area to be moved up, down, front, back, left and right. Also enabled by tapping W on the keyboard.
    • Rotate: allows the selected area to be rotated, if appropriate. Also enabled by tapping E on the keyboard.
    • Scale: allows the selected area to be resized. Also enabled by tapping R on the keyboard.

When an area of the face / head is selected, it will be highlighted in white. Once the required tool has been enabled, a left click (in desktop mode) will allow you to modify the selected and highlighted area.

These options are intended for significant changes to the head / face. They can be used in concert with the sliders, which as noted above are intended more for fine-tuning changes. The gif to the right, courtesy of Linden Lab, demonstrates the use of the deformation buttons and tools.

For those used to working purely with sliders, this approach is liable to come across as complicated, and it does take time and practice to actually work out how to balance things and achieve a satisfactory result. However, there is no denying the system is potentially very powerful, offering almost infinite opportunities to develop a unique look.

Accessories

The default set of avatar accessories retains the sunglasses and Christmas / festive “deer antler” headgear strung with lights (popular among early adopters at holiday time, so a nod to the past). To these have been added a set of sci fi-ish hair clips and pieces.

Adjusting Clothing

One of the major concerns with Avatar 2.0 was that of clothing and fitting. All rigged clothing had to go by way of the dinosaur, but the Lab indicated that a set of transform tools would be included for Marvelous Designer (MD) clothing that would help them to fit Avatar 2.0, and be available to users for making necessary adjustments. These tools have been delivered, and they are both impressive and slightly frustrating.

The tools comprise two elements: and auto-adjust option and a set of manual transform tools.

Auto-Adjustment

This does exactly what the name implies: it automatically adjusts an item of MD clothing to fit an avatar as best as possible. It is accessed in one of two ways:

  • Via inventory:
    • Click and wear the item of clothing to be adjusted.
    • The cloth simulator will start.
    • Right-click on the thumbnail for the item in inventory.
    • Select Adjust from the drop-down menu.
  • Via the Worn Items panel:
    • Click and wear the item of clothing to be adjusted.
    • The cloth simulator will start.
    • Click the large Adjust button at the bottom of the Worn Items panel.

In both cases note:

  • It can take a while for the clothing to fully adjust – give the tool time to work.
  • It’s not always 100% accurate – clippings and gaps may need manual adjustment.
  • When it is clear no further adjustments are being made, click the Done Adjusting button below the avatar to make sure the updates are dully applied. You can then use the manual tools to make further adjustments, if required.
  • If you are happy with the results, make sure you save the updated appearance to a look in order to preserve the updates.
Manual Adjustments

Manual adjustments can be achieved using the Adjust and Transform tools in the Worn Items panel.

  • The Adjust tool can be used to make fine adjustments to MD clothing – adding natural folds, creases, etc. It can also be used to overcome issues of clipping – the avatar or underlying clothing showing through.
  • The Transform tools reside in a separate panel and offer options to move, rotate and resize clothing. These can be used individually using three buttons on the panel, or combined into a single gizmo-type tool (the “all” button).
The manual adjustment tools for MD clothing

Depending on the garment, manual adjustment can be relatively simple or annoying frustrating and time-consuming. I personally recommend using auto-adjustment first and then, wherever possible, the Adjust tool. Particular frustrationsI found include:

  • What you see when making adjustments doesn’t always match how the garment will look when updates are finished – it’s best to periodically click the Done Adjusting button and then free rotating the avatar to check results, than in trying to do everything in a single pass.
  • The Transform tools only work on the cardinal points relative to the avatar – up, down, left, right. There are no diagonal handles on the resize option, which can made a simple job of adjustment into something far more complicated.
  • Time really is needed to get things right.
Manually adjusting can take time. Top: as the sweater should look. Bottom: when first worn (l); after auto-adjust (c) mid-way through manual adjustments (r) with neck line still to sort.

As with the auto-adjust option, it is important finished work is saved to a look in order to be retained.

Continue to the Nexus, Codex and XP System

 

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Sansar: user-generated quests release: an overview

Scurry Waters in Sansar shows what can already be done with the quest system, using it to present games and unlock activities

On Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019, Linden Lab issued a Sansar point release containing the first cut of the user-generated quest authoring tool.

Also within the release are a couple of performance improvements:

  • Avatar movement and camera rotation are faster in keyboard turn mode.
  • Panels now retain their positions in the avatar editor.

Quests – Key Points

Quests are seen as a means of generating user engagement within experiences. A basic system – available only to the lab – has been used to provide a flavour of quests / hunts in places like the Sansar Social Hub, but which offer Sansar Dollar rewards.

The new quest system provides an new quest authoring tool directly to experience creators, however there are some key points to note about this first release:

  • Quests can only be linked to experiences owned by the quest creator (so creator X cannot develop a quest for use in creator Y’s experience(s).
  • Quests can be set for an individual experience or across multiple experience – again, providing all the experiences at are owned by the creator making the quest.
  • While it includes a tab for establishing rewards within a quest, this is not active with this initial release.
  • Once the rewards capability has been added by the Lab in a future update, quests will initially be limited to offering up to three objects as rewards, which will be presented to users completing a quest through the Sansar Store.

How quests might be used is down to individual creators. Ideas include:

  • Guided tours of experiences.
  • Simple introductions to a game.
  • Games.
  • Hunts. / actual quests.
  • Leaning experiences.
  • etc.

Obviously, some of these will be more likely to be attractive to users once the rewards system has been added – and may well require more that 3 rewards in order to maintain focus / interest  – and this is something the Lab have indicated they would be willing to review in the future. But even without a reward system, the deployment of the quest system offers creators the opportunity to play with the tools and gain familiarity with them.

Quest creation comprises two parts:

  • Creating the quest data itself, using the authoring tool.
  • Using objects in scenes (experiences) that are directly linked to the quest and use / present the quest data.

The quest can be tested by the creator in the unpublished scene (by building and saving the scene), and it becomes public when the scene is published as an experience.

The Tools

The initial quest system comprises:

Quest Building Basics

There is Lab-supplied documentation on making quests and assigning objectives. the following is a simple overview of the basics.

There are three parts to creating a quest:

  • Define the quest – via the quest authoring tool.
  • Define the objectives for the quest – via the quest authoring tool

Defining a new Quest

Create button > Create Quests > Quest Creator > New Quest.

  • Every quest requires a name (up to 100 characters) and a description (up to 250 characters).
  • Quests can optionally have:
    • A thumbnail image, displayed when a user viewer the quest, and captured using the For A Quest drop-down in the snapshot tool to generate any required image.
    • A completion message up to 250 characters in length, displayed when users complete the quest.
Creating a new quest from within the client. Note that the quests definition fields are show on the right for convenience, but will actually appear in the “middle” Quest Creator panel in the image.

Save the quest when done.

Editing a Quest

The Quest Creators records all quests you have created. To edit a specific quest (e.g. to add / change objectives):

  • Create button > Create Quests > Quest Creator.
  • The list of all your quests will be displayed.
  • Click on the name of the quest you want to edit.
  • The Quest Creator will display the quest and all defined objectives.
  • Edit and save as required.

Defining Objectives for a Quest

Note that when you create a new quest, you will automatically be presented with the option to add objectives to the quest – and you can have as many objectives in a quest as you require.

Select the required quest (if not already selected) > make sure Objectives is selected (default) > Click New to display the objective fields.

  • All objectives require a name (up to 200 characters), and should be set to Active or locked:
    • Set to Active if there is no dependency on the objective (i.e. it can only be completed if pre-requisites are met.
    • Set to Locked if it is dependent on completing certain objectives.
    • Prerequisites can be other objectives, scripted activities etc.
  • An optional  description, up to 250 characters.
Setting an objective in a quest. panel images shown side-by-side for clarity

Save the objective when done.

Adding Objects as Givers and Objectives in an Experience

Notes:

  • All quests require a Giver – the item that sets users on the quest, generally through direct interaction.
  • A quest can have as many objectives as required.
  • A quest should have a completion element.

Basic steps: edit the experience scene in which the quest will appear > add and place an object as the quest giver. Then:

  • Right-click the object and rename the object, if required.
  • Right-click the object > Add > Script.
  • In Object Structure right click on the new script (general “Script1”) > Properties. Then:
    • Set Script to Quest Script Library
    • Set the script type to one of the available scripts (QuestGiver, QuestGiverInteraction, etc).
    • Use the Quest drop-down to select the quest with which the object is to be associated.
    • If setting a quest objective, also set the quest objective with which the object is to be associated (below, right).
Setting an object as a quest giver (left), and as a quest objective (right)

Testing a Quest

To test a quest in a scene:

  • Build and save the scene.
  • Visit the scene.
  • Click the quest giver – the quest should launch > test the objectives.
  • To reset the quest at any time (incl. testing): Create button > Create Quests > select quest > Edit > Reset Quest.

Feedback

A simple, easy-to-understand system (easy enough for me to understand!) with some built-in complexity (see the associated scripting documentation) and with a lot of potential for expansion. As always, check the official documentation for full details on the capability.

Sansar R33 Give More Get More release overview

Courtesy of Linden Lab

On Thursday, May 30th, Linden Lab updated the Sansar Give More, Get More (R33) release. An official summary of the update is available, and please refer to that document for details of bug fixes. Highlights of the release key features reviewed here are:

  • Client Atlas updates.

Initial Notes

As with the majority of Sansar deployments, this update requires the automatic download and installation of a client update.

Client Atlas Face-Lift

R33 bring with it an overhaul of the in-client Atlas. The new format comprises three broad categories: What’s Happing In Sansar; Popular Now and Featured.

The new in-client Atlas Discovery panel

This appears to in preparation for changes to the Atlas outlined by the Lab in recent Sansar Product Meetings that will see the Atlas display three selections of experiences that have been previously defined as:

  • Three featured experiences reserved for the Lab’s content partners.
  • Three featured experiences that align with other internal goals the Lab has which “may or may not be obvious”. These might, for example, focus on live music concerts.
  • Three  featured experiences open to Sansar creators, and will be changed on a weekly basis, and selected through a new criteria mechanism (details TBA).

The Experiences category will switch to the familiar listing of Sansar experiences, complete with the sub-selection options (All, Friends, Favourites), search bar and ordering options drop-down menu.

The new in-client Atlas experiences layout

The final category option is Events, offering the familiar listing of upcoming events with the sub-categories for listing past events, those you are hosting, and your calendar of all events you’ve bookmarked, and which are rounded out by the button for setting-up new events you wish to host.

The updated Atlas Events category

Other Updates with R33

  • Gifting: transaction fees for gifting Sansar dollars are to be removed, so the full amount of Sansar dollars will be passed to the recipient.
  • Event creation  / experience caps: as per my Sansar week #20 Product Meeting notes, with R33, event versions of experiences will no longer count towards the total number of experiences a creator can have published. Creators will for now be able to create / host as many events as they wish without hitting the ceiling on the total number of experiences they are allowed to have published within their subscription banding.
    • This is seen as a “temporary” change, pending further revisions to the events system, including finding a means to link events back to the originating experience.
  • New Item inventory icon: new items purchased  / obtained via the Store will be tagged with a “new” icon in their inventory thumbnail image.
The “new” icon for new i(and previously unworn / used) items in your inventory
  • New progress bar scripting API: this enables creators to add a progress bar or countdown timer when an action is triggered in an Experience. Descriptive text may also be included with the progress bar.
  • Foot IK improvement: an avatar’s feet turn when it changes direction in desktop, just like in VR
  • New right click capability: this enables users to cut, copy and paste text on various text fields.

Improvements List

This list taken directly from the release notes:

  • Avatar related:
    • Upgrading an avatar caused the Marvelous Designer clothing to fit over whatever the avatar had on during the upgrade process.
    • Marvelous Designer clothing can now be adjusted with two hands in VR.
    • The Customise option no longer exists after upgrading an avatar that has been deleted from the user’s inventory.
    • Make an empty fist in VR without worrying about other controller actions from working.
    • The scale values now apply properly on avatars using avatar animations that were uploaded using a partial skeleton.
  • Decimated crashes triggered from the avatar editor and scene editor.
  • New fix for exposure metering on Nvidia RTX GPUs to correct the problem that varied the experience brightness from one video card to another.
  • Making changes to a group of similar script attributes no longer changes the wrong attribute of some of the selected scripts.
  • Assets that contained unlicensed information no longer prevent the gizmos from appearing when selecting object structure components such as containers, static meshes, or volume components.

Sansar: R32 Movement update

Desktop mode throw indicator (shown in 1st person view here). One of the R32 additions to Sansar. Credit: Linden Lab

On Tuesday, April 30th, Linden Lab updated the Sansar Movement release. An official summary of the update is available, and please refer to that document for details of bug fixes. Highlights of the release key features reviewed here are:

  • Avatar customisation, movement and gameplay updates.
  • Client Store updates.
  • Scripting updates.
  • Edit mode improvements.

Initial Notes

As with the majority of Sansar deployments, this update requires the automatic download and installation of a client update, particularly as it involves changes affecting the Sansar avatar system.

Avatar Updates

Uniform Scaling

Until this release, all avatars in Sansar have been of the same male / female height. With R32, users can now individually scale their avatars from 0.5 to 1.25 the scale of the default avatar size.

The scaling option will scale both avatar and current outfit and accessories. As it is part of the overall avatar customisation process, scaling can be applied to both existing looks  – or now looks can be created and scaled for specific purposes, if preferred (so you could have a small and tall avatar in the same outfit for visiting different experiences, just by changing your look, rather than adjusting the scale of the one avatar).

To change an avatar’s scale:

  • Click the Create button and then Style My Avatar to go to Look Book.
  • From the Look Book panel, select the avatar you’d like to re-scale (if you have more than one).
  • Click customise (lower right corner of our Home Space  / Look Book display,
  • Click the avatar icon (arrowed below) in the Avatar style panel to display the avatar customisation options.
  • Click the slider button at the top of the panel (arrowed below, right).
  • Use the Scale slider to uniformly re-scale your current avatar.
  • Save the look.
Sansar avatar uniform scaling, accessed through the Look Book and Avatar customisation panel (right), and the two extremes of height compared with the default female avatar height (note the sofa behind the avatars for reference).

Points of note with avatar scaling:

  • Scaling will work on custom avatars.
  • Scaling does not affect the avatar locomotion graph, so small avatars will appear to move faster than their taller cousins. Similarly, very tall avatars will seem to move more lugubriously than their smaller cousins.
  • In VR mode, the world view is scaled accordingly to avatar height.
  • Scaling can cause some clothing glitches to become more apparent.

Avatar Crouching

Avatars can now crouch and move. In Desktop mode, make sure the mouse isn’t in the Chat panel and tap C to crouch  /  stand up, and move as usual. In VR move, users must physical adopt a crouched pose.

Avatar crouching. Credit: Linden Lab

Points of note with crouching:

  • The avatar’s motion will be correspondingly slower when crouched – just as we tend to move slower when crouched in the physical world.
  • The collider / bounding box for the avatar will also automatically adjust to match the avatar’s height as well, making it possible for tunnels, etc., to be made through which avatars must move when crouched.
  • The collider / bounding box in VR will collapse in accordance to how low the user crouched.

Desktop Movement Updates

Two new options have been adding to the Settings panel (More Options > Settings, then scroll down).

  • Keyboard Turn: if set to On, your avatar turns left and right when pressing A or D ( / Left or Right arrow) respectively. If set to Off, your avatar sidesteps to the left or right (without turning) instead.
  • Face Forward: if set to On, your avatar attempts to face the direction your camera is looking while you are moving. If set to Off, your avatar faces the direction your are moving.

Remember to click the Save button to preserve your preferred settings.

The new Desktop avatar movement Settings options (left – see notes above) and the new Desktop mode throw indicators (right – see below)

Avatar Gameplay Updates

With R32, Desktop mode now also has a new desktop throw indicator. To use it:

  • Pick up an object (left-click on the object).
  • Click and hold the left mouse button. A dotted line arc will appear showing the flight of the object when the mouse button is released.
  • A blue circle at the end of the dotted line arc will show the likely destination of the object when thrown – use the mouse wheel to adjust this back and forth.
  • When ready, release the left mouse button as usual to throw.

Note that depending on your Desktop movement settings, you might be able to adjust the left/right aspect of your throw by moving to the left or right (this can be easier in 1st person (F3) mode).

Additional Avatar Options

  • New simple skeleton: a simplified avatar skeleton reference file (70 bones, and refered to as a “low resolution” skeleton in the reference documents) to make it easier to hook up animations. See Avatar reference files in the Sansar knowledge base.
  • Mixamo animation support: use the simplified skeleton on Mixamo and take advantage of their library of animations. See Using the animation skeleton to create custom animations in the Sansar knowledge base.

Continue reading “Sansar: R32 Movement update”

Sansar: Questing and Jumping update

The quest portal at the Social Hub in Sansar, which features two quest Agents

On Thursday, March 28th, Linden Lab released the Questing release, described “one of our biggest and best releases yet”. The full release notes are available, and highlights of the release key features might be summarised as:

  • Initial introduction of quests.
  • The ability for avatars to jump.
  • Avatar selection, editing, skin and clothing updates.
  • Content creation updates.
  • Teleporting improvements.

Initial Notes

As with the majority of Sansar deployments, this update requires the automatic download and installation of a client update, particularly as it involves changes affecting the Sansar avatar system.

Quests

The new Quest pop-up

Quests are a part of Sansar’s emerging game building / game play capabilities. Quests are seen as being both a means to help on-board new users to Sansar, by giving them things to do, and as a means of providing a capability that can allow greater gaming and questing in Sansar experiences as a whole, using common root functionality, thus helping to give a feeling of continuity between experiences.

For this initial pass of the system, quests can only be created by Linden Lab. However, over time, the capability will be opened up to experience creators.

The quest system is immediately obvious on logging-in to Sansar, with a Quest pop-up displayed as you arrive in your Home Space. Further, two initial quests are provided at the Social Hub.

The two Social Hub quests are fairly basic. Each offers a modest reward of S$10 for exploring the Social Hub area and either walking over, or touching (left-click in Desktop mode) objects located at various points. Each quest is triggered by touching one of two glowing stands (Agent Animus and Agent Forma) in the centre of the arrival area of the Hub.

Doing so triggers a pop-up describing the quest, which includes options to start the quest or defer it (Maybe Later) – shown below left. Starting the quest then switches the pop-up to display the required objectives and how to complete the “mission” (below right).

A Social Hub Quest – the initial description pop-up (l) and objective pop-up (r)

As objectives are achieved, thy are briefly highlighted, and the grey-out tick mark alongside them is illuminated. Neither of the quests is procedural (so you don’t have to complete the objectives in the listed order), and at walking pace they take about 3-5 minutes to complete.

With all objectives completed, returning to the initiating Agent and touching it will update the quest status and deliver your S$10 reward, together with a link to open the Sansar Store, should you want to buy something.

Currently, there is no limit to how many times you can take each quest, and one user I was with while trying things out claimed to have already gone through both a total of 10 times apiece.

Avatar Related Updates

The Quest and Jump release provides a number of avatar related updates and changes.

  • Jumping: Sansar avatars can now jump. I’ve no idea how this is triggered in VR mode because – at the time of writing this overview – the release notes started with the words “Questing. Jumping. Styling for your custom avatars”, then never actually mentioned how to jump. For those in Desktop mode, it’s a matter of pressing the keyboard space bar. The jump animation is basic, but it works.
  • Custom Avatar dressing: it is now possible to dress custom avatars from the Look Book – providing they have been built with this in mind.
  • Custom Avatars as starter avatars: new users can now opt to use one of a number of custom avatars (as well as the Sansar default avatars) when starting out.
  • Marvelous Designer library clothing: the Look Book inventory now includes a rang of Marvelous Designer clothing options – look for the yellow “M” tag.
The clothing library now includes adjustable MD clothing options (indicated by a yellow “M” tag). Use the VR controllers or CTRL-left- click and drag for Desktop mode to adjust when the clothing item is selected.
  • Skin colours / tones: more options to colour the skin’s base tone.
  • New functions to enable you to edit your avatar better:
    • Improved save options without being kicked out of the editor.
    • Better reset options to allow you to re-start adjustments from scratch.
    • Easier way of returning to the world and return to your previous position in world before you edited your character. (Saving user position in runtime).

Event Creation Changes

From this release, every event created will be tied to its own experience, based on a scene template, rather than being tied to an existing experience. This means:

  • Events can no longer be joined by finding an experience, it must be done via the event calendar, with the event itself a special copy (not an instance)  of the experience.
  • Active events are listed on a new Featured tab – Client Atlas only.
  • Event creators can change the scene tied to an event, customise the scene like any experience, and delete the experience if it’s no longer needed.

Teleporting Updates

  • When you choose to teleport to your friend, you will now spawn near them, unless the experience creator has opted to disable direct teleport and force you at the arrival point.
You can now create a portal from the Client Atlas entry for an experience without having to copy the URL; just click the button
  • You can now create Portals more easily with the new “Create Portal” button on the Atlas details page – Client Atlas only.

Creation Updates

  • Object parenting in the scene editor: objects can now have other objects as children. This means:
    • No more folders.  Existing folders are converted into parent objects.
    • Moving/Scaling a parent object will move/scale children along with it.
  • New functions to enable you to create your world better: scaling is no longer restricted to a slider between 0.1x to 10x. You can now use the Properties panel to:
    • Move/rotate/scale a selection of multiple objects at once.
    • Move/rotate a Light component.
  • List<> support in script parameters: allows passing multiple values to a script as a single parameter. This means that creators can now assign multiple values such as a sound, object, a position point to one parameter, eliminating the old behaviour that forces the creator to utilise a parameter per value.
  • Interaction behaviour on a per user basis: creators can now set interactions to update and change behaviour on a per-user basis. This enables creators to disable content once a user interacts with it. For example, a glowing chest in a treasure hunt could stop glowing once the user interacts with it.

Feedback

It will be interesting to see how the quest toolset progresses. They are basic, but functional and were drawing a lot of attention following the release deployment.

The addition of the MD clothing to the library is a welcome update, but while the button for spawning teleport portals is a step forward, Sansar would benefit from a means for users to be able to add experiences to some form of client “favourites” then can quickly access without having to pull up the Atlas, search it, click on an experience description then click on the button to spawn the portal. This is, frankly, as clunky as having to do the same and then click the Copy URL button and paste the URL into chat.

For the list of known issues, please refer to the release notes. For scripting API updates, please refer to the API documentation.

 

Sansar: February release and Product Meeting week #9 w/audio

Schwefelstein Pass

On Thursday, February 28th, Linden Lab released the C’mon Get Happy release. This is rather a small update compared to previous releases. The full release notes are available, and highlights of the release key features might be summarised as:

  • Save and sell a collection: creators can now pull a group of objects from a scene and save it back in their inventories as a single object.
    • All script relationships and relative positioning for the objects will be stored in that single object, making it easy to drag and drop a collection of items in a scene or sell it in the store.
    • Note the objects will not be linked: when placed back into a scene, they will remain a group of individual objects. This will be coming in a future release.
  • Smoother gifting: there is a new notification to let receivers know that they received Sansar Dollars from another user.
  • Draw distance limit: creators can now define an object’s draw distance limit from the properties panel. The draw distance defines the distance at which an object starts to render in the scene.
    • For example, if an object’s draw distance limit is set to 10 metres, the object will no longer be visible when a user in an experience is beyond 10 metres from the object.
    • This is currently set to infinite by default, so creators are asked to implement it when building their scenes.
  • Extended limits on uploaded Avatar items: the proximity limits on clothing, accessories, and hair are expanded, with the Axis Aligned Bounding Box (AABB) area increased by .1m left/right and .3m front/back.
    • This means that the AABB area is now min(-0.9m, -0.9m, -0.05cm) max(0.9m, 0.9m, 2.2m).
    • This change does not affect emotes nor custom avatars.
  • New avatar reference files: the avatar reference files are now noted as being updated and can now be found here.
  • Emojis have been added to chat.
    • The font used is Segoe UI Emoji, which is not supported by Windows 7. Users on that operating system will see an X in a box whenever an emoji is used.
The Emojis panel can be pulled up using the smiley icon to the right of the text entry field. Users on Windows 7 will see this as a panel of “empty” boxes (as shown in the inset, top left)
  • Two key bug fixes for the release are:
    • Servers should spin-up faster when trying to access an experience which has no-one in it.
    • Chat should no longer scroll to the top when opening the chat panel.

Again, for the full list of updates, please refer to the release notes.

Product Meeting

Sansar as a World

This is something that has been mentioned in recent product meetings – the shifting to emphasise Sansar as a “World” rather than as a collection of discrete experiences. Commenting on this at the product meeting, Landon  McDowell, the Lab’s CPO, explained the reasoning behind this thus:

We asked ourselves what was really missing from Sansar and what we wanted to add to it, and one of the things that kept coming up consistently is … one of the magical things in Second Life is it feels like a world. It feels like place … and when we designed Sansar, we didn’t really implement that; it was a design decision. we wanted the individual worlds to stand alone, and be disconnected and independent … [Now] we feel that lack of place … is something that we’re personally missing and something we want to add into Sansar.

– Landon McDowell, Linden Lab CPO

Questing and Gameplay

The focus of the February 28th Product Meeting was on the updating Quest / rewards / achievements system that has been the subject of recent Product Meetings. This is seen as being both a means to help on-board new users to Sansar and – linked to the above – as a means of providing a capability that can allow grater gaming  and questing with common roots across experiences, thus helping to give a feeling of continuity between them.

Part of this is what the Lab is calling Directed Play, which is liable to start appearing over the next couple of releases (March / April), as outlined by Stanley, the Director of Product for Sansar and Aleks Altberg:

  • The first pass at a quest system. This will initially be a basic approach of complete a task / achieve an objective, and receive a reward.
  • This will initially feature quests formulated by the lab, so will be player focused, but over time will be opened out to allow creators to build using the tools.
  • For the initial release, as it will feature game play from the Lab, the rewards will be small Sansar dollar amounts, as these are the easiest thing for the Lab to offer.
    • The system will be broadened such that when Creators are able to use it, they will be able to offer items as rewards  – accessories, clothing, custom avatars, etc.
  • The ability for creators to use the system and offer rewards will hopefully be made available in the spring / late spring of 2019.
  • Longer-term, the Lab is also thinking about progression systems, e.g. experience points / levelling system or achievements.
    • These are again being considered in terms of both how the Lab might use them and how creators can incorporate them into their experiences.
    • This work might start to be surfaced in the summer of 2019.
  • The first quest that will be deployed in the March release is the previously mentioned “tutorial quest”, specifically aimed at new users. This will take them through the basics of walking, talking, running, interacting with objects, etc.
    • Ultimately, it will push new arrivals into the Social Hub, which will include a new area focused on quests, and tentatively referred to as the Quest Giver.
  • The Quest Giver will have a couple of further quest provided by the Lab:
    • A scavenger hunt spread over some of the experiences provided by Sansar Studios, where player have to locate various Easter Eggs and return them to the Quest Giver.
    • A guided tour approach to various Sansar Studio experiences, with landmarks participants must visit.
    • Both formats will include rewards on completion.
  • One thing the Lab does not want to get into, outside of some “premium” content they will produce, is building quest style content over and over. The focus is very much on producing a set of tools that can be leveraged by content creators whilst providing users with a consistency of use across different types of quest.

Q&A Session On The Quest System
  • Will creators be able to assign and store data against players (experience points (XP), etc)?:
    • The plan is to have a global XP system that works across all of Sansar, but this has not been fully defined. However, the idea is to allow content creators to contribute towards it.
    • This does not prevent creators using their own system if they so wished.
    • One issue is that anyone can be a creator and anyone can be a player, therefore the system has to be robust enough to avoid being gamed, and this is one of the reasons the Lab is approaching the XP system carefully.
  • Will creators be able to gift questors with rewards automatically?: Yes, but creators are asked not to think of it as “gifting”, and don’t want users to have the expectation of a reward dropping into their laps on completion of every task.  Rather the idea is to make these games an overall quest that results in a rewards being given (i.e. a product the creator might otherwise sell in their store).
    • More broadly, the gift capability will remain separate to the quest system and the concept of rewards.
  • Will it be possible to build experiences that only user reaching certain XP levels can enter? Possibly, but the Lab has not got to the point of considering this type of specific requirement as yet.
  • Will it be possible to assign animated characters (NPCs) as quest givers? Eventually, yes.
  • Will it be possible to branch quests (e.g. complete task A, then either go on to B or C, rather than having to complete B then C)?
    • Initially, where quests are related, there will be a linear progression: if you want to do quest B, you must complete quest A.
    • Longer term, branching might be possible, as the Lab is still putting ideas together (hence requesting feedback through this PM).
    • Where quests are not related, it is possible to participate in more than one (so if quests X, Y and Z stand independently to one another and have no requirements one to the next), a user can be involved in all three simultaneously.
  • Will creators be able to set-up and run multiple instances of popular quests they create and track usage, etc? Not initially; but if it becomes necessary, the Lab will consider it.
  • Will it be possible to have objects that can only be obtained / used by players reaching a certain level? Once the levelling system is introduced, mostly likely yes, but objects like that would require explicit scripting on the part of the creator.
  • Will players be able to pick up items and add them to a local inventory (“backpack” or similar) to carry around and use as required, rather than being limited to just carrying things by hand? Potentially, by means of scripted support.
  • Will there be a “quest list” or “log” for users to track what quests they participated in, and their current progress within quests? Yes, and this will be part of the initial release.
  • Will quests be limited to individual experiences or run across multiple experiences? Initially, the system will be focused on quests within individual experiences. However, it will be expanded to support quests across multiple experiences.
  • Why should creators build games outside of the quest system if the Lab is going to be building and promoting its own games?
    • The intent for the Lab (as noted in the audio above) is not for the Lab to be in the market of making content and games. Their involvement is more to test the tools (e.g. the native UI elements), ensure they work and can do what is expected of them before passing them over to creators to start using them.
    • The quests built by the Lab can also function as a means to introduce incoming users to the quest system and how it works, so they will be familiar with the basics before they enter quests built by creators.
  • Will the system allow creators to set a limit on the number of players in a quest, e.g. set their quest so only one or two or just a small group can participate at any one time? Not something currently on the roadmap, but as the idea has been a common request, something to allow this might be added in the future.
  • Can creators / users still do their own thing if they don’t want to use this system? Yes. It’s just another set of tools creators can use if they so wish.
    • Similarly, users do not have to participate automatically. All quests will be opt in.
    • Those opting-in to a quest will gain access to the native UI elements the lab is building for quest players (and which will be available to creators to use when the system is opened out).
  • Will the system include a heath system? Not in the initial releases.

Other Items

  • Why isn’t Sansar built on Unity? Because it was a conscious decision to build a dedicated engine the Lab could manage and extend without being dependent upon a third-party supplied engine that is geared towards trying to support multiple markets.
    • That said there is no reason why user-generated content cannot be used on either platform, and the Lab has been considering a Unity import mechanism (see my previous PM summary notes).
  • Will avatar locomotion include climbing as well as jumping and crouching? No plans for climbing, sliding or things like it at present. Jumping and crouching are the current focus for locomotion additions.
  • Can a slider be added for transparencies to allow opaqueness to be adjusted on objects? Not directly, but can be achieved by setting the materials and using an alpha on the object / face.
  • Will experience concurrency be increased? This is being worked upon, and the goal is to raise the ceiling on avatars in an individual instance of an experience to 100, hopefully be mid-2019.
  • Will Sansar have a particle system? A popular request, but currently on being worked on, although it is a goal for the future.
  • Will there be a “Universal” inventory system usable across all experiences? Again, a goal, but not for the immediate future.
  • Will Sansar allow adult content? There are currently no plans to allow adult content.
  • Custom animations for sit points: still at least a couple of releases away.
  • Private grouping (e.g. allowing private voice calls or text chat between 2 or more users): something the Lab wants to provide, but currently a question of resources and priorities.
  • Object parenting: might be out in the next release for the Edit mode, but this will not include run-time parenting of objects in run time.
  • Windows Mixed Reality support: still no plans to officially support WMR headsets.
  • Ticketing system: the ticketing system has been used for a number of LL organised Sansar events. A new, more robust ticketing system is currently being built, and it is hoped to make that available to experience creators so they can use it with their events.
  • Site-to-site teleporting:  the next release should include the ability to set-up teleports that deliver users to a specific point within an experience