Sansar: Slip, Slide and Sit release (April 2018)

Ground sits come to Sansar

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018 saw the arrival of the Sansar Slip, Slide and Sit release. As the name implies, this update includes the first iteration of the ability to sit avatars in experiences. Yes, it’s a simple ground sit, but it’s a start. The release also sees further avatar gestures (aka “emotes”), script API updates and a reminder aimed at creators on the removal of the Terrain Editor.

As always, full details are available in the release notes, this overview just highlights some of the key features / items in the release.

Initial Notes

  • As with the majority of Sansar deployments, this update requires the automatic download and installation of a client update.
  • Changes to the avatar inventory support means that on logging-in for the first time following the update, users will be placed in the LookBook (Avatar App).

Terrain Editor Reminder

Starting with the mid-March release, the Lab has been discontinuing the use of the Terrain Editor. This is as a result of recent investigation in Sansar’s performance revealing the height maps created using the tool could adversely affect performance in both the Run-time and Edit modes.For creators who have used the Terrain Editor, this means:

  • All existing terrain created using the Terrain Editor or through uploaded heightmaps should be replaced by the end of April. After this date, all terrain items that are still in scenes will be replaced by a place-holder asset.
  • All terrain items in the Store that have been created using a terrain heightmap should also be removed from the Store as soon as possible.

There is at this time no indication as to if / when the Terrain Editor will be re-introduced.

Ground Sit and Avatar Gestures (/”Emotes”)

Sitting in Sansar

The ability to sit is Sansar has long been a request along those engaged in the platform. It’s been seen by the Lab as one of the more problematic issues to solve for, particularly for a number of factors.

Firstly, there is the question of where should avatars be able to sit? In the physical world, we can sit almost anywhere that’s sensible (and a few that are not!): on chairs, on stairs, on counter tops, on logs and rocks, up in the branches of trees, on the edge of a cliff, the railings of a bridge, in (and on) vehicles, and so on; and the Lab would like to have the ability in Sansar, and preferably without the need for custom scripting within the more “static” objects – railings, tree branches, rocks, etc., to make it possible.

Then there is the “realism” factor. It’s been expressed that rather than having people point-and-click to have a script and animation effectively “grab” an avatar and seat it, a-la Second Life, it would be preferable to have an avatar be able to “walk up and sit down” as we do in the physical world. But – how should that be handled? By a more subtle form of scripting that “goes through the motions” for the avatar? But how would that work for people in VR? Would it be disorienting to find their avatar under “external” control, however briefly, as an animation takes over movement? What about the physical confusion for VR users… standing and controlling their avatar, then seeing it sit, and perhaps instinctively trying to sit as well – regardless of whether a chair is behind them or not?

While having the ability to sit is nice, the use of a cross-legged pose for female avatars in skirts or dresses isn’t perhaps the best given the amount of potential knickers exposure and perhaps other problems

The one place we all can reasonably safely sit is on the ground – hence the first iteration of sitting in Sansar allows just that, with a simple “/sit” command. This activates a basic animation to sit your avatar cross-legged on the ground with arms resting on legs. To stand, simply hit a movement key, and your avatar will stand (and perhaps turn, depending on the key pressed).

In Desktop mode, the animation works well  – if you are wearing jeans, shorts, leggings, trousers, etc; if you’re in a skirt or dress, then it might not be so good and result in a case of knickers exposure and possibly other odd results if cloth physics aren’t employed in the skirt / dress.  I’ve also no idea how it works in VR mode (I assume a controller command) as the release notes make no mention, and I am sans a headsets to test it myself.

Cross-legged like this isn’t necessarily the most feminine of sits, so hopefully we’ll see some differentiation introduced – how about the more attractive leg tuck position for female avatars, LL?

New Gestures

Thee new gestures are added with this release. They are all self-explanatory:

  • /wave – a reasonable wave, although a little more emotion on the avatar’s face would not go amiss, given it is intended to be a Friendly GreetingTM.
  • /cheer – a two-armed cheer, which again given the lack of facial emotion seems (to me) to leave it devoid of any real feeling.
  • /lol – something of a belly laugh of the kind we’re used to in Second Life, just without the over-the-top doubling over. And it actually has (a bit of) a facial emote to go with it!
/wave, /cheer and /lol gestures / emotes

I confess these gestures / emotes provoke a mixed reaction in me. On the one hand, they add a degree of life to an avatar, on the other, the sheer lack of reflective facial emotion – a smile when giving a thumbs up or a wave, for example – tends to emphasise the mannequin-like artificiality of Sansar avatars, particularly for those coming to the platform from expressive environments like Second Life. Hopefully, this will improve in time, particularly if some means of providing a more comprehensive animation / animation override capability is made available.

It would also be handy if the commands themselves could be “hidden” from display in the local chat window. Seeing lots of “/thumbsup”, “/clap”, “/cheer” gesture commands littering the chat window is a) distracting, b) can result in a lot of frustrating scrolling back up the window when trying to read something someone wrote.

Other Updates

  • VR mode arm IK improvements: a set of updates to improve arm ikenema in VR mode. Again, lacking a VR headset, I’m unable to test these, nor have I seen anyone with a headset since the release in order to see if the improvements are visible.
  • Marvelous Designer clothing updates: it is now possible to pin sleeves and scarves up in cloth simulation mode, and to pull zippers up or down.
  • Lighting updates: all properties on lights can now be changed by scripts.
  • Physics updates: a number of physics updates including new APIs to adjust nearly every physical property of objects at runtime; the ability to define motion types of models on import, and friction and bounce settings on static objects. The Sansar Script API documentation provides more information.

Feedback

Another compact release focusing on building out capabilities rather than adding a lot of new features. Like the March release, it’s unlikely to get those outside of Sansar feeling a “wow!” factor – but that’s not the intention. My own thoughts on things are given above, so I won’t repeat them here.

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Sansar mid-March release overview

/point and /raisehand emotes

On Tuesday, March 20th, Linden Lab deployed the mid-March Sansar update. This release builds on some capabilities added in recent Sansar updates, but also sees the removal of some functionality.

The release notes provide full information on the new features, updates, documentation changes and resolved / known issues within the release. The following is a general overview of the update’s key changes.

Initial Notes

  • As with Sansar deployments, this update requires the automatic download and installation of a client update.
  • One launching the client the first time, following update, the log-in splash screen’s Remember Me option will be unchecked, and needed to be re-checked for log-in information to be correctly retained by the client.
  • Changes to the avatar inventory support means that on logging-in for the first time following the update, users will be placed in the LookBook (Avatar App).

New Client Events Option and Events Creation

The new Events icon (on the Atlas display

Recently, the Lab added a new Events page to the Web version of the Sansar Atlas. With the mid-March release, a similar option has been added to the Sansar client, as well as the ability for Sansar experience owners to create and list their own experiences.

Displaying and creating events are both accessed through a new Client UI icon – the Calendar icon. On the Atlas display, this appears directly under the LookBook icon (see right), while within an experience it is located below the Atlas icon.

Clicking the icon will open the Events app.  This can display events in one of three ways:

  • Featured events: the default view – as curated by the Sansar team.
  • All events – all upcoming events.
  • My events – the events you have created.

Both Featured and All events are listed in date / time order.

The client events display with Featured events (default) selected

Creating An Event

Events are created by clicking on the Create An Event option in the Events app. This opens the Create Event panel. This is fairly self-explanatory, and all sections should be completed. Those needing detailed instructions should refer to Adding your events to the calendar in the Sansar documentation. However, there are some points that should be noted:

  • Currently, you can only create events that you are hosting within your own experiences.
  • There is a known issue: if you delete the experience associated with one of your upcoming events, the event listing disappears but the time slot remains in use, preventing you from creating another event at that time. Those encountering this problem should submit a request to Sansar customer support, making sure to include a new URL for a valid Sansar experience.

See also: Sansar Event Guidelines.

The Create Experience panel

Terrain Editor Removal

Starting with the mid-March release, Linden Lab is removing the terrain editor tool from Sansar. This is as a result of recent investigation in Sansar’s performance revealed the height maps created using the tool could adversely affect performance in both the Run-time and Edit modes. This means that as of this release, the terrain editor has been disabled, and:

  • It will no longer be possible to upload new height maps.
  • It will no longer be possible to list new height maps on the Store, either uploaded or those already in inventory.
  • It will no longer be possible to pull terrain sculpts from inventory for use in a scene.
  • It will no longer be possible to paint, sculpt, reposition, rotate, etc., terrain in scene.
  • Terrain elements will still work as expected in published experiences, but again, they will not be editable within the experience’s scene.

Creators who have used the terrain editor  / height maps in their experiences are encouraged to remove / replace them between now and the end of April. From the end of April all such items will be replaced with a place-holder asset.

The Lab is offering to work with creators to ease the transition, and offer  notes on working with terrain using alternatives through third-party tools – Maya, World Machine, Terragen 4 and ZBrush 4R8.

Ability to Update Scripts

The mid-March release adds the ability for scripters to offer script updates through the Sansar Store. Full instructions are provided in the Selling Items in the Sansar Store knowledge base article – but again, take note that at this point in time, updating items only applies to scripts (the article implies any item can be updated).

Avatar Related Updates

The mid-March updates bring a number of avatar related updates.

Further Avatar Gestures / Emotes and Triggers

Two further avatar emotes (aka gestures have been added to Sansar:

  • /raisehand.
  • /point.

Both are fairly self-explanatory. In addition. upper / lower body gestures can now be combined, so avatar can now dance and clap (enter /dance in local chat and then enter /clap). Such combinations can be done when running or walking as well.

Avatar Inventory improvements

  • Visible item names: clothing and accessory names are now being surfaced in the avatar customisation inventory.
  • Right-click menu:  the small green triangle at the corner of clothing and accessories item has been removed. Right-click on accessories and clothing items to discover action items that apply to that item.

Diagnostic Tool updates

The diagnostic tools added in the February release have been updated:

Triangle Density is now split into two modes:

  • Triangle Density mode – Screen space – This Triangle density mode calculates triangle density per pixel.
  • Triangle Density mode – World space – This Triangle density mode calculates triangle density relative to the size of the world.

In addition two new options have been added:

  • Wireframe – Outlines all visible triangles in a scene to help you identify geometry that can be simplified in order to reduce primitive count and triangle density.
  • Lighting Complexity – Provides information regarding the number of lights illuminating the same area in the scene.

Other Items

  • C# script files can now be up to 1MB.
  • Voices will travel much further from the avatar in the direction the avatar faces. On the flip side, voice will travel less from behind an avatar.
  • Performance optimisation,  including texture compression upon scene loading.

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

Sansar Product Meetings #11/1: mid-March release news

Pierre (centre, in sunglasses) and Cara (to his left, with wings) discussing the upcoming mid-March Sansar release on Tuesday, March 13th at Skye Naturae Virtualis

The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meeting held on Tuesday, March 13th. These weekly Product Meetings are open to anyone to attend, are a mix of voice (primarily) and text chat. Dates and times are currently floating, so check the Meet-up Announcements and the Sansar Atlas events sections each week. Official notes, when published can be found here.

Originally, the subject for the meeting had been listed as being the Sansar avatar. However, this was updated to a discussion about the upcoming “mid month” Sansar release.

Overview

March 2018 will see a “mid-month” release for Sansar – the exact date is still TBA, and it is being made because  a number of features are available earlier than the Lab had anticipated, and which Linden Lab is keen to get in front of users.

The following is a high-level overview of what to expect. Obviously, I’ll have more information on this when the release is deployed, and the release notes are available.

Performance Improvements

The Lab convened a “strike team” to address a number of performance issues, and the upcoming release should be marked by a umber of performance improvements.

Terrain Editor and Performance

One of the findings from the performance investigations is that the terrain editor used to sculpt height maps from within Sansar, and the terrains edited using it, can have a significant performance impact in both Edit and Run-time modes. There is no quick fix for this at present, as the terrain editor requires a significant amount of work, and the resources aren’t available at the moment. Because of this:

  • The terrain editor will be disabled with the next release.
  • There’s no date as to when a replace terrain editing system will be implemented.
  • Between now and the end of April, creators who have extensively used the terrain editor and height maps to produce terrain in their scenes / experiences, will be asked to remove / delete their existing terrain sculpts with tiles made via alternative means (e.g. custom made externally and uploaded for “as-is” use).

Pierre outlines the terrain editor issue

This means that with the mid-March update:

  • It will no longer be possible to upload new height maps.
  • It will no longer be possible to list new height maps on the Store, either uploaded or those already in inventory.
  • Creators who have placed height maps on the Store will be asked if they could unlist them to prevent people for purchasing them and using them in their scenes.
  • It will no longer be possible to paint, sculpt, reposition, rotate, etc., terrain in  scene.
  • It will no longer be possible to pull terrain sculpts from inventory for use in a scene.
  • Terrain elements will still work as expected in published experiences, but again, they will not be editable within the experience’s scene.

Then, between the mid-March update and the end of April:

  • Creators will be encouraged to remove / delete custom terrain sculpts as noted above, and replace them.
  • Terrain maps not removed by the end of April will be replaced by a place-holder item.
  • To help people get to grips with creating and uploading terrain elements, the Lab will be providing a new Sansar knowledge base article.

Feedback from those at the meeting:

  • A request has been made that the Lab allow higher resolution textures to be used with uploaded terrain tiles, particularly where larger experiences are concerned.
  • Another request was made for the Lab to make at least some of the scene template elements (e.g. the rocks and cliffs) available through the Store so that experience creators would have some “pre-built” terrain elements they could use.

Both ideas are being taken back to the Lab for consideration.

Events Creation

As reported in my week #10 update, with this upcoming release it will be possible for Sansar experience owners to create their own event listings.

  • The option to create an event – a meet-up, game, tour, and so on will only be in the client (it will not be possible to create events from the web).
  • Using the client, it will be possible to set the location, date, time and duration of an event (presumably with some form of description, although this wasn’t specified in the meeting).
  • Once created, all events will be displayed in both the client Atlas events section and on the Sansar Events page.

Scripting Improvements

Script Update Capability

With the upcoming release, scripters will be able to offer updates to their scripts listed on the  Sansar Store. The basic process will be:

  • Update the script and upload it to inventory.
  • In the client, locate the revised script, right-click on it and select the “Replace Item on Store” option.
  • This will take the script creator through a workflow to replace an existing script associated with a Store listing with the updated script.
    • If required, the listing can also be updated to include release notes or details of changes made to the script.
  • Those who then wish to update their versions of the script can then go to the store and download the update (which will be added to their inventory without deleting / replacing the original version) or, if they prefer, just keep using the original.

This functionality has been implemented and is being deployed to help with situations where changes to Sansar’s evolving script APIs can result in scripts being broken following updates. other options for updating goods on the Store will come in the future.

C# File Size Increase

With the upcoming release the file size for C# script files is increased to 1 MB.

LookBook Update

When using the LookBook to view your own  avatar accessories for listing purposes, etc, the green corner button will be replaced by a right-click option, which should also display the item name.

Continue reading “Sansar Product Meetings #11/1: mid-March release news”

Sansar Bust A Move (Feb 2018) release

Female dancing in Sansar Desktop mode – part of the Bust a Move release

The Sansar release for February 2018, called “Bust  A Move” was deployed on Thursday March 1st. This release builds on some capabilities added in recent Sansar releases, as well as adding some new capabilities. to the mix, notably for experience creators, but also to help improve with user-user engagement.

The release notes provide full information on the new features, updates, documentation changes and resolved / known issues within the release. The following is a general overview of the update’s key changes.

Initial Notes

  • As with Sansar deployments, this update requires the automatic download and installation of a client update.
  • One launching the client the first time, following update, the log-in splash screen’s Remember Me option will be unchecked, and needed to be re-checked for log-in information to be correctly retained by the client.
  • Changes to the avatar system (e.g. avatar emotes) means that on logging-in for the first time following the update, users will be placed in the LookBook (Avatar App).

Experience Access Controls

The new means of controlling who can access an experience have been introduced with the Bust a Move release:

  • Only Me: only the creator can access the experience.
  • Guest List: only those defined on an access list will be able to see the experience in their Atlas, and access it, regardless of whether or not they are on your Friends list.
  • Ban List: maintain a list of individuals specifically banned from accessing an experience (they will not see it listed in their Atlas).

These options work alongside the existing options of making an experience open to anyone, or limiting access to only those people on your Friends list, and are set when publishing an experience.

The default published status for an experience is to have to open to everyone, and with only the ban list active (if used). To change this:

  • Either edit the experience and select the Publish option or from the My Experiences list, click on the Publishing Options buttons for the experience you with to update.
  • Make sure the Publishing Options > Who Can Visit tab is open (if not already selected).
  • Use the top drop down (Everyone, Only the Following, Only Me) to set the initial level of access to the experience.
  • Selecting Only the Following allows you to limit access to an experience to friends and / or a guest list (both can be set together).
The updated experience access controls mean you can now define access to an experience by both your friends list and / or a guest list, according to your preference of using one / the other / both in combination.
  • Note that any experience you have set to access by friends only and / or a guest list will appear in your Atlas with a yellow icon in the top right corner of their Atlas image.

Creating either a Guest List or a Ban List comprises the same basic steps:

  • Click on the required Edit List button. This opens the list, which will display the names of anyone already added.
  • Click the Add button to add further avatar names / avatar IDs (no “@” required for the latter) and click Search.
  • Click the correct name in the list box (if more than one) to highlight it, and then click Add Selected to add them to your list.
  • Repeat for each new name; click Done when finished, to return to your updated list.
  • Click Save to save the list.
Adding people to a guest or ban list both follow the same basic steps

Names can be removed at any time by clicking on any name in a list to highlight it, then clicking the Remove button – note that no confirmation is required.

Bookmark Favourite Experiences

Users can now bookmark experiences for display in a Favourites tab within both the Client and web Atlas. To add an experience to your list of favourites:

  • Display the information page for the experience in either the Client or web Atlas.
  • Click on the heart icon to add the experience to your list of favourites. The icon will turn a solid white, indicating you have added it to your favourites, and the Favourite count for the experience will increment by one.
  • To remove an experience from your Favourites, display the information page for the experience and click the heart icon again. It will no longer appear solid white, indicating the experience has been removed from your favourites, and the Favourite count for the experience will decrease by one by one.
You can add any visible experience in the Atlas to your list of favourites by clicking the heart icon in the experience description page (arrowed). This will also increment the number of favourites for the experience (circled, lower left corner)

Avatar Emotes

Using the “/clap” animation / gesture / emote. Courtesy of Linden Lab.

A rudimentary set of “avatar emotes” (that’s basic animations to you and me) have been added for Desktop mode with this release.

Triggered by nearby chat commands, three basic animations are provided:

  • /clap – Causes your avatar to clap its hands for a few seconds.
  • /dance – Causes your avatar to perform a short dance.
  • /thumbsup – Causes your avatar to give a “thumbs up” gesture.

The dance animation perhaps leaves the most to be desired, bringing to mind as it does visions of the hoary old “dad dancing at a wedding” visual gags. The clapping is (for me) the most effective, and the thumbs-up sitting between the two.

The Lab has indicated that more sophisticated means of animating avatars will be coming down the pipe, so regard these options as just a first step along the way towards more expressive avatars.

Chat Improvements

It is now possible to access the chat app from experience load screens and the Atlas, allowing conversations to continue more broadly across Sansar.

Continue reading “Sansar Bust A Move (Feb 2018) release”

2018 Sansar Product Meetings week #6: Find and Connect 2

Eternity by C3rb3rus

The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meeting held at 9:30am PST on Friday, February 9th, 2018 – unfortunately, I was unable to attend the afternoon meeting, so have not notes from that.

These Product Meetings are open to anyone to attend, are a mix of voice (primarily) and text chat, and there is currently no set agenda. The official meeting notes are published in the week following each pair of meetings, while venues change each week, and are listed in the Meet-up Announcements and the Sansar Atlas events sections.

Product Meeting Changes

The “new format” for the Product Meetings, featuring specific subject matter experts from the Lab making themselves available to answer questions from users will now likely start in the week commencing Monday, February 12th.

  • The meetings are liable to be held on different days of the week relative to one another, rather than both on a Friday.
  • Dates and topics will be announced via the usual channels (Sansar Discord channel, meeting announcements, Atlas Events).

Find And Connect Update

The Find and Connect release (see my previous Product Meeting report) was updated on Wednesday, February 7th, 2018, comprising fixes for some known issues.  A list of changes / remaining known issues is available in the release notes. The following provide a little more context on the update.

Character Editor

A couple of avatar issues have been fixed, forcing users logging-on for the first time after the update to go to the LookBook (avatar app). These are:

  • The avatar’s head only having limited movement (particularly noticeable in VR).
  • Switching between avatar genders could merge female and male avatars together.

Experience Loading  and Progress Indicators

This was noted in my previous meeting notes, the progress bar seen on an experience splash screen is still in its first iteration, and can appear to “hang” while loading content for uncached scenes.

  • It’s been suggested a count of assets loaded (e.g. 23 out of 96 or something) could help prevent feelings that the load process has hung.
  • It’s been noticed that on occasion, an experience can hang on loading, then quiting and restarting the client / reloading the experience can cause it to load and start OK.
    • This was noted before the progress bar was added, and has been more noticed since the addition of the progress bar, which might be indicative of a load problem / connection issue upsetting the load process.

Experience Concurrency Indicator

The experience concurrency indicator (green icon in the top left of the experience Atlas thumbnail / description image) is reporting avatars as being present in experiences when no-one is in fact visiting.

  • This is a known issue, caused in part by a degree of latency which can occur between people entering and leaving an experience, and the Atlas being updated, and the Lab is looking to improve this.
  • If the Atlas has been left open for an extended period, refreshing it (e.g. reloading the page in the case of the web Atlas) might force an update of the concurrency indicators for experiences that have seen a change in the number of people visiting.
  • Note that this indicator only applies to visitors in a published experience, it doesn’t count people actively editing the scene associated with the experience.

General Feedback

Outside of the points raised above, general feedback for the Find and Connect update is:

  • Load times have (in general) improved.
  • Performance has improved within experiences, probably as a result of the update optimisations included in the release.
  • LookBook is a lot more responsive and gives a smoother experience.
  • Issues of names not showing in Desktop Mode when hovering the mouse over an avatar seem to have increased, and dropping into / out of LookBook and re-spawning in an experience no longer consistently fixes the issue. This is a known to the Lab and is being investigated.

Voice and Text

Voice Indicators

The debate on how to more easily identify who is speaking continues both at the Lab and among users. Ideas put forward include:

  • A over-the-head indicator of some kind (a-la Second Life) – perhaps a an illuminated dot only seen when speaking. There is some resistance at the Lab to this approach as it “breaks immersion”
  • A voice indicator in Sansar’s people floater. Potential problems here:
    • It requires people to always have the people floater open, which could be intrusive and “immersion breaking” for some (possibly more so than a dot that only illuminates when someone is speaking).
    • It currently wouldn’t work for people in VR, who cannot see the chat / people floaters.
  • An auto-rezzing “speaker’s stick” indicator that automatically rezzes in front of the avatar of someone speaking, and vanishes when they are silent.
  • An avatar animation (again a-la Second Life “speaking” animation gestures); but again, this might be a problem for users in VR using hand controllers.

Currently, this issue s not on the immediate road map to be addressed.

Text Chat  / People Floater in VR Mode

  • This is still being considered at the Lab and not currently on the implementation road map.
  • It is possible that the first iteration will allow VR to see text chat, but not necessarily have the means to type text.
    • Users may have the option to toggle this on or off.
    • Some form of indicator that messages have been left in text chat, even if the text panel isn’t visible is also seen as advantageous.
  • The ability for VR users to respond in text is seen as a longer-term issue to resolve.

Voice vs. Text Debate

There is an ongoing debate about preferred communications in Sansar.

  • The platform is a lot more geared towards voice use; so there is a concern that encouraging text chat (as with making text visible to VR users) could shift the bias away from voice to text.
  • There are situations where text chat is the better means of communication, e.g:
    • As a means of saving a transcript of a business discussion / arrangement.
    • To assist with character role-play (e.g. no issues of a voice failing to match a character  – orc, dragon, elephant, etc), or a male user having a female character or vice versa, etc.

Discord has been pointed to as a “solution” to group chat, etc., with Sansar. However, while there are advantages to this (e.g. Linden Lab do not have to develop a Discord-like environment within Sansar) there are also disadvantages (e.g. Discord is not particularly intuitive for a new user; it actually means time in Discord is time potentially away from Sansar; it means placing data and information in the hands of yet another third-party, etc.).

  • There is potentially a bias towards Discord at present, as it does only have a very small community of Sansar users involved within it. There are questions as to how well it scale should Sansar reach tens of thousands of active users trying to engage in group conversations, locate groups, etc.
  • Conversely, can Linden Lab realistically encompass everything users need directly within Sansar without overwhelming the ease-of-use aspects the platform is supposed to have, and are approaches used in Second Life (e.g. full group integration) the most optimal solution?

The Voice / chat debate and options for text chat and voice indicators may form a part of one of the new focused Product Meetings in the future.

2018 Sansar Product Meetings week #5: Find and Connect

David Hall’s Dwarven Fortress – setting for the Friday afternoon Product Meeting

The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meetings held at 9:30am and 4:00pm PST on Friday, February 2nd, 2018. These Product Meetings are open to anyone to attend, are a mix of voice (primarily) and text chat, and there is currently no set agenda. The official meeting notes are published in the week following each pair of meetings, while venues change each week, and are listed in the Meet-up Announcements and the Sansar Atlas events sections.

Meeting Changes

Up until now, the Product Meetings have been free-form, general Q&A sessions, largely guided by whoever from the Lab’s Sansar team has been able to join each meeting. In the future, there is liable to be more of a roadmap to meetings, with advanced notice being given on specific subject matter experts from the Lab who will be attending each meeting, to allow for more focused discussions on topics, with Q&A on the specific subjects being covered. These changes may start with week #6 (commencing Monday, February 5th, 2018), or shortly thereafter.

Free Creator Subscription Period Ends

On Thursday, February 1st, 2018, the “Free Creator Preview” period closed for Sansar users. The announcement was made via e-mail, and means those not on a subscription plan have been downgraded to the Free account status, and limited to just three experiences.

Those who have created more experiences under the Preview period are able to save the scenes for all there experiences, allowing them to swap between published experiences, but can only have three published for public access at any one time. Specific issues with changes required by the ending of the Preview period should be raised with support. Details on Sansar subscription packages for those wanting to have more than three active experiences can be found here.

Find and Connect Release

The January 2018 Sansar release, previously referred to as”Release 17″, now called Find and Connect, was deployed on Friday, February 2nd, 2018. The release notes are available on the Sansar website – please refer to these for a complete breakdown of the release contents, particularly fixes and known issues. The following is a summary of the major updates and initial feeback.

Atlas

The Client Atlas now includes a popularity search option and a concurrency indicator for experiences.

  • When selected from the sort drop-down menu (see below), the Popularity option orders the listed experiences in a tab by current real-time use, so those with avatars actually visiting them will be listed first.
  • Experiences with avatars in them have a concurrency indicator in the top left corner of their thumbnail image. This is a near real-time indicator that the experience is in use at the time it is seen in the Atlas.
Client Atlas: popularity in sort drop-down (circled, right), and the concurrency indicators (highlighted in the top three thumbnails) available for all experiences with avatars in them on all tabs

Note: while listed in the Find and Connect release notes, these two updates were actually released on January 22nd, 2018.

Event times in the Atlas (client and web) are now displayed in local time, and no longer only in PST. So if you are on the East Coast, the time will be displayed in EST / EDT; in the UK the time will display in BST or GMT, etc.

Experience Loading Progress Indicators

Indirectly linked to the Atlas, and in response to numerous requests, the splash screens for experiences now display a progress bar and status notices on the condition of the loading process (e.g.  “loading scene resources”, “loading avatar”, etc.).

This is a first pass at offering a progress bar, and the hope is it can be further refined to be more informative, particularly as the load process can seem to pause whilst loading an uncached experience. Ideas being considered are a percentage count, a count of assets loaded (e.g. 23 out of 96 or something), but no decisions at this time, as any count – percent, assets, etc., can still be subject to pauses which can give the appearance that the load has stalled.

Experience splash screen with progress bar and status notices

Audio

  • Live Streaming: live video streaming from Twitch and YouTube.
  • Multiple sound streams: multiple sound streams can be attached to a scene with easy changing between channels, and labels can be assigned to each.
  • Multiple audio emitters: sound streams or a media stream’s sound can be played across multiple emitters in your scene.
  • Play media stream sounds in the background: audio output of media streams can be channelled to play globally in an experience.

Avatar And Clothing

  • The avatar rest pose in Desktop Mode has been revised, as the “looking over each shoulder” action recently introduced didn’t find favour. Instead, the avatar moves in a more subtle and natural manner.
  • The underwear skinning for the female avatar has been revised to reduce the areas covered by the bra and (hopefully) make it easier for clothing creators to produce designs such as backless gowns, etc. This should not affect already uploaded clothing.
  • The knowledge base documentation previously stated that hair should not be more than 5,000 triangles. This should have been 8,000 triangles and has now been amended.
  • The Lookbook has received a lot of optimisation and intelligent caching to reduce load times.
  • Marvelous Design updates:
    • Marvelous Designer creator resources updated, and creators are encouraged to update to the latest skeleton to ensure all new clothing will upload to Sansar. This should not affect existing clothing in Sansar / the Sansar Store.
    • Cloth simulation is a lot smoother in the Lookbook.
    • The latest MD update allows users to use UV maps on the UV guide and fixes issues with exporting clothing to .SAMD. See here for more.
  • Known Issue: following the update, all “ear” attachments vanished from Lookbook (avatar app). This is being looked into.
  • Known issue: avatar head movement in VR mode is constrained (e.g. the head will turn more in one direction than the other). There is a fix for this that didn’t make the cut for this release.

Continue reading “2018 Sansar Product Meetings week #5: Find and Connect”