On Tuesday, October 9th, Linden Lab issues the October release for Sansar (R26). Called the thumbs-up release, it includes some significant updates and additions, not all of which I can review in-depth, simply because they are VR-oriented. However, the VR such is not perhaps the most significant element within the release – although it is impressive.
This article is designed to provide an illustrative summary of the release, but do note the lack of an VR headset and controller on my part means that any features described in detail here are looked at from the Desktop Mode.
This is perhaps the most anticipated element within the release. With it, content creators can now set permissions against their goods, allowing them to be sold and re-sold via the Sansar Store.
Resale Price and Buyer’s Permissions
Sansar’s permissions system is built around the concept of the supply chain: creators can sell complete items “as is”, or they can create items – such as components as well as complete objects like a house or a suite of furniture, etc.,), expressly for other creators to use in their own creations which can also be sold on to consumers, with both the maker of the object and the creator of the original item receive payment.
This means, for example, a creator might make the engine and gearbox for use in cars and place them for sale / resale in the store for use in vehicle products built by others. When one of those vehicles is subsequently sold, the creator of the engine / gearbox receives a commission from the sale. To achieve this, the permissions / licensing system has two key elements:
The Resale Price: set by the original creator, it defines the price at which the item must be resold and is their commission on any re-sales of that item / any objects in which it is used. So using the car engine / gearbox example, if the resale price for these is set at S$400, then anyone building a car using them must factor this amount into their car price, as the engine / gearbox creator will receive S$400 from the sale of each car using the engine / gearbox.
The Buyers Permissions: set by the creator of an object sold via the Store, these define what purchasers can change with the object when they have bought it.
There are some important concepts around resale prices and buyer’s permissions, so please read the official documents linked to above – particularly the small print.
Additional Notes On Permissions
Save to Inventory: Objects with edited properties or with additional components can now be saved from a scene in Edit mode back to inventory.
With this release, it is still not possible to join two objects together.
Note: Legacy items created by other store sellers cannot be saved back to the inventory.
Licensing: Any item uploaded to Sansar or saved back to inventory will not contain a basic license with information of the avatar uploading / saving it. This is part of the mechanism to allow items to be resold and commissions paid.
Disable materials editing: it is no longer possible to change the materials of legacy items purchased prior to this release. For new items, materials editing can be enabled by giving full editing permissions or limit it by setting it to property changes only.
With the September 2018 R25 release, Linden Lab took the first step towards integrating the Sansar Store into the client. At that time, users could browse the store from within the client, but when wishing to purchase an item would be transferred to the web version of the Store in their browser to complete their purchase.
With this release, purchases can now be completed within the client.
On Monday, September 10th, Linden Lab issued Sansar release 25 (R25), entitled the Shop, Gift, & Spend Release. As the name suggests, the focus is on shopping and gifting Sansar dollars – although there is more to this release than commerce activities.
I provided an overview of some the new features on August 30th, 2018, based on information provided at a Sansar Product Meeting. This article looks at some of these features in more detail, as well as the other elements in the release. Note that as I do not own a VR headset, these reviews primarily focus on using Sansar in Desktop Mode.
The first noticeable change with the release is with Look Book – which users will be delivered to the first time they log-in to Sansar following the update. A new background image has been added to the Look Book, replacing the blue screen (as shown in this article’s banner image). The background places your avatar into a living room style space, offering a cosier setting when adjusting your look.
In addition, VR users will no longer have to revert to Desktop mode in order to adjust their avatar in Look Book, bu can now do so whilst in VR, including making adjustments to clothing made using Marvelous Designer, as shown in the video below, courtesy of the Sansar team at Linden Lab.
Additional Avatar Updates
Comfort Zone Changes:
The comfort zone now applies in first person desktop mode as well as to VR.
The Comfort Zone is now disabled by default to all incoming new users starting from this release. However, all pre-existing comfort zone settings will still persist.
Comfort zone options for Friends and non-Friends can be found by scrolling to the bottom of the Settings panel (More Options … > Settings).
Teleport sound: A sound can be heard by everyone when someone teleports nearby.
New dance animations: type /dance3 or /dance4 for new dances.
The R25 updates sees two enhancements to the Sansar Store:
The ability to browse the Store from within the client.
A new shopping cart.
Browsing the Store in the Client
Accessed via the new shopping bag icon in the top right icon set of the client (show below, right), the store functions almost as it does within a web browser.
In desktop mode, once open, it is possible to scroll through item thumbnails, select categories via the drop-down, sort listings via drop-down (both of which are shown open in the image below), while clicking on an item will open the full listing in a pop-up panel (again shown below).
However, as it is not currently possible to make purchases via the client version of the store, clicking on the Buy button will take you to the Sansar Store web listing for the item, where a purchase can be made. The ability to make purchases through the client version of the store will hopefully be part of a future update.
The Sansar Store shopping cart appears in the web version of the Store only at present, and is located in the top right corner of the browser tab. When empty, it is displayed as a plain white cart icon. However a small running total of items is displayed as items are added, as seen below, top right.
Items are added by viewing them and then clicking the Add To Cart button, which will change to Added To Cart when the item has been added (along with the item count icon in the shopping cart incrementing).
When items are in the cart, click it will display a drop-down list (again shown in the image below), allowing individual items to be removed or the entire cart emptied or for all items to be purchased and delivered to your inventory (assuming there are sufficient account funds on hand).
When using the shopping cart, note that at present item quantities in the cart cannot be adjusted.
Thursday, July 16th saw the release of the Sansar Script, Snapshot and Share update. After the extensive updates in the July release, this is a more modest update, with a focus on what the Lab refers to a “quality of life” improvements – focusing on user-related capabilities, notably for creators.
This article highlights some of the more visible new features and updates with the release. As always, full details of the updates in the new release are available in the release notes. In addition, these notes also include comments from the August 16th, 2018 Product Meeting, which preceded the release. Boden was attending the meeting, together with Aleks and Zaius. Their voices, along with that of Community Manager Eliot, can be heard in the audio extracts included below.
To jump directly to information on the upcoming Edit Server changes click here.
This release follows in the footsteps of the web Events on the Sansar website, allowing you to add your events to your local Sansar calendar, which also has its own tab within the Events panel.
To make use of it:
Within the client, either while displaying the Atlas or within an experience, click on the Events calendar icon in the top right set of icons. This will open the Events panel (note: you can also get to the Events panel via the open Atlas and clicking Featured > View All Events).
The Events panel, which now comprises just two tabs: All Events and My Calendar (which replaces the My Events tab). To add an event to your Sansar calendar, click on the Add To Calendar button.
You Can then view all your recorded events (including those in the recent past) in the My Calendar tab. This actually lists:
Events you have created and are hosting, if you have created any.
Upcoming events you’ve added to your calendar (if any).
Those events you’ve recorded / attended in the past.
Listed upcoming / past events include a Remove From Calendar button, allowing your list to be managed.
Events added to your Sansar calendar will also appear on the web version of the your calendar and vice-versa (a refresh of either will be required if both are open at the same time when adding / removing events from one or the other).
There is currently no ability to add events from the client to external calendars (Google, Apple, Outlook, Yahoo) as you can via the Sansar web site. This will hopefully be in a future update.
Snapshots to Profiles Update
It is now possible to save snapshots taken with the client to your Sansar web profile via a new button – Share. When you’ve positioned the camera and sized the capture area to your requirements, clicking the Share button will:
Save the image.
Upload it to your profile on the web.
Open a tab in your default web browser and display the snapshot.
In the snapshot web page, it is possible to:
View all of your snapshots.
View all snapshots of the Experience featured in a given picture.
View the latest snapshots uploaded by anyone.
Delete the snapshot you are displaying (your own snapshots only).
Report a snapshot (only available when viewing snapshots uploaded by others).
The options are listed above an image when viewing them in your browser, and are arrowed in the image above. You can also obviously share the image URL if you wish.
You can view other people’s snapshots directly from their web profile. So, if you click on the name of an experience creator, or on the name of a friend in your Friends list, for example, you can view their snapshots alongside of their published experiences and current store listings (if they have any of either of the latter). Clicking on a snapshot will display it in its own page, with the options described above.
Side Notes on Snapshots to Profiles
Snapshots to profiles can currently only be viewed on the web, they cannot be seen when viewing profiles from within the client.
There is no ability to caption a snapshot with a description. This is intentional on part of the Lab, although it may be reconsidered in the future.
In the future, snapshots will be appended to the web pages for experiences as well, whether uploaded by the experience creator or anyone else (however, the experience creator will be able to moderate which snapshots remain displayed on their experience page.
This is why the ability to include descriptions in uploaded snapshots has been excluded; it is felt that there is too much risk of people leaving inappropriate descriptions with images, giving experience creators a moderation headache.
This option is ready to go, but will be turned on once the necessary moderation tools are in place for experience creators to manage snapshots shared to their experiences.
However, a future update to the capability will include the ability to tag snapshots, making them searchable.
Other snapshot items raised at the Product Meeting:
This update doesn’t change anything else within the snapshot app. However there have been requests put forward the Lab is considering:
Adding date and time to snapshots when captured.
Auto-generating sequential file names for snapshots taken in sequence, rather than each one having to be manually named.
Possible offering a broader range of saved file formats (e.g. TGA, JPG, etc).
One thing that is being considered is the option to take a series of snapshots and have them “held” during a session, allowing the user to then go through them and select which ones they want to actually upload to their profile and discard the rest.
Edit Mode Improvements
Scene Report Generation
It is now possible to export a .CSV breakdown (comma-separated values file that may be opened in a spreadsheet or text editor.) of every object in your scene. These reports comprise:
Size estimate for download.
Number of textures.
Number of triangles.
Reports are generated via Scene Toolbar > About This Scene > Generate Report > Set the destination location on your computer > Save.
Import Lighting from .FBX
This release allows creators to create point lighting (e.g. colour, intensity, animation) in their preferred editing tool and then import them directly into the scenes as .FBX files. Once in Sansar, the properties for these lights can still be edited when the .FBX file is within a scene.
Additional Edit Mode Enhancements
Locking persistence: objects locked within a scene when editing will now remain locked between Edit mode sessions.
Scene objects panel enhancements: these comprise:
Rename a scene object’s name: the name fields for various scene objects have been removed from the properties panel, with the Rename option moved to the scene objects panel.
New object icons: there are new object icons attached to scene objects to help guide you in distinguishing items
Toggle selectability per object: the ability to select an object within a scene can now be disabled or enabled. This allows for easier selection of objects which may be layered behind others, etc (e.g. lighting within an object).
Trigger Volume filter: it is now possible to now filter by trigger volumes.
New Simple Scripts
Simple scripts were introduced in the August release with the aim of offering non-scripters the ability to achieve basic functions within their scenes (such as opening / closing doors, etc.), in an easy-to-understand and simple manner. The August release builds on this with three further simple scripts:
SimpleDispenser to rez objects.
Currently this does not include any form of parameter to allow spawned objects to decay, but does include the ability to remove the last or all spawned objects.
It includes the ability to cap how many items can be spawned in a given time.
Objects are spawned as the are imported into the script. So a dynamic object imported into the script will spawn as a dynamic object, for example.
SimpleMedia to change the streaming media – the Greenwall VR experience utilises the SimpleMedia script on their media board.
SimpleObjectReset to reset an object’s position.
Additionally, the SimpleCollision script has been revamped to better handle Trigger Volumes.
New Base Script Class: ObjectScript.
In anticipation of rezzable scripts (not yet enabled), this base class only has access to ScenePublic and a maximum of 10 parameters. SceneObjectScript scripts will not run on rezzed content; ObjectScript scripts can run on scene content or rezzable content.
Other Scripting Updates
Parameters limit for scene objects increased from 10 to 20 parameters.
ObjectPrivate.AddInteraction: an Interaction to an object dynamically. Used to add Interactions to rezzed objects or when it isn’t desired that the Interaction prompt be a script parameter.
Improved syntax for [DefaultValue] on vectors, quaternions and colours. These no longer need to be specially formatted strings, simply list 2 to 4 values: [DefaultValue(1.2, 3.4, 5.6)]
SimpleScript base class deprecated. Not to be confused with the new Simple Scripts. Scripts that use this base class will still compile with a warning. Support for new compiles will be disabled in a future release.
It is now possible to browse the Sansar Store using the two new top-level categories of Avatar Looks and Scene Creation, with the sub-categories defined accordingly.
New Edit Server
Due to appear in a point release between the August (R24) and September (R25) updates is the Edit Server release. This moves scene editing from within the Sansar Client (and local) to being server-based. It means that when editing a scene for the first time, there will be a delay in accessing Edit mode and the scene being edited as the Edit Server instance is spun-up.
The reason for this change is to pave the way for a range of new capabilities in Sansar, most notably in relation to the platform’s upcoming licensing / permissions / supply chain system.
Moving the Edit capabilities server-side allow the Lab to incorporate the ability to check the licenses associated with all of the objects within a scene and verify what can / cannot be done with them (e.g. is an object / script modifiable? Can it be incorporated into objects intended for sale? etc).
The initial benefit of this is that it will allow creators to build complex objects in a scene and then export them as a single object back to inventory (so a car is complete with its wheels, engine, seats, etc.), rather than these all being individual objects), allowing the composite object to be sold.
Additionally, this will enable the licensing / permissions / supply chain system of Sansar’s economy, so that duly licensed objects by other creators can be used within an individual’s own creations, which can then be saved to inventory and sold through the Sansar Store. The first elements of the licensing / permissions / supply chain system is due to start deployment in upcoming releases following the switch to using the Edit Server. Beyond this, the move may in the future allow for things like creators being able to work collaboratively within the same scene.
Wednesday, July 18th saw the release of the the Sansar Express Yourself update. As per my preview, this brings a lot of new capabilities to Sansar, including the ability for creators to upload custom (and pre-dressed) avatars, user interface improvements, script updates, and more.
This article highlights some of the more visible new features and updates with the release. As always, full details of the updates in the new release are available in the release notes.
As with the majority of Sansar deployments, this update requires the automatic download and installation of a client update.
Updates in this release mean that on logging-in for the first time following the update, users will be placed in the Look Book (Avatar App).
Sansar now permits the uploading of custom avatars, although there are some caveats / things to note:
Custom avatars have a maximum tri limit of 40K (compared to 16K for the default avatars).
It will not be possible to clothe custom avatars or add attachments, etc., via the Look Book – they must be outfitted prior to upload, hence the higher tri limit compared to the default avatars.
The option to change outfits on custom avatars through Look Book might be added in the future.
The base tri count limit is seen by the Lab as being for testing purposes, and a balance between allowed custom avatars to be pre-dressed and potentially allow for future outfitting of avatars through Look Book without have to adjust the tri count downwards in order to do so.
Custom avatars must use the .FBX file format and be developed using the male or female skeleton provided by Sansar, available via the Sansar skeleton and skinning details knowledge base article
All new avatars must comply with the Sansar Avatar Guidelines, which include no nude avatars and no use of avatars / characters that infringe on the Intellectual Property rights of others.
Uploading custom avatars is handled through Sansar’s Look Book, as shown below.
Once imported to Look Book, custom avatars can be worn from the avatar panel and / or listed in the Sansar Store (right-click the thumbnail for the avatar and select List).
Custom Avatar Competition
To mark the launch of custom avatars, Linden Lab is running a Sansar Custom Avatar contest with a first prize of US $50 (approx. S$5,000). See the competition page for more.
New Avatar Looks
A series of new outfits / looks have been added to Sansar with this release:
Lolita outfit: clothing, hair and shoes.
Punk outfit: clothing and shoes (shown on the right, with Lolita hair and wearing system sandals rather than outfit footwear).
Goth outfit: clothing and shoes.
Adventurer outfit: clothing and shoes. (shown on the right).
These are available directly from the avatar panel’s outfit and hair tabs in Look Book.
Improved Avatar IK – VR Mode
Ikenema has been improved to improve avatar movement in VR. These updates include improved handling of forearm twist bones, better clavicle motion and less droopiness in clavicles, and better constraint handling in shoulders.
The Express Yourself release has two core sets of scripting updates: HTTP support, Simple Scripts and .FBX animation support. All of these options are covered in-depth in the Script API updates notes available in the Sansar knowledge base, and which include links to detailed HTTP documentation in the case of the HTTP API.
The HTTP API allows objects within experiences to communicate with external services. This is a two-way communications capability – meaning data from experiences can be exported a stored externally (as might be the case for game / adventure progress); and data from the physical world can be used to drive what happens within a scene (so an experience can reflect the weather in a physical world location, for example).
The addition of the API means that certain personal data can be exported from Sansar (just as it can from Second Life):
Avatar name and the user’s unique avatar identifier.
When an avatar enters or leaves an experience.
Where within experience avatar exists whilst visiting.
Public chat of avatars whilst in the experience.
This is a set of 14 basic scripts intended to make it easier for non-scripters to add functionality to their scenes and experiences. They have been automatically added to the Exit Mode inventory.
Some examples of how these scripts might be used include:
SimpleInteraction: allows direct interaction with any object in a scene, can be used with buttons, switches, etc., so turn lights on/off, etc.
SimpleMover: moving objects from point-to-point, changing their specified position and/or orientation, such as moving platforms, opening / closing doors, etc.
SimpleSound: trigger a sound effect heard with other interactions.
The scripts can be “stacked” together for more complex interactions, so SimpleInteraction might be used for a button to call an elevator that is moved by SimpleMover, and SimpleSound pays a sound as the elevator arrives.
.FBX Animation Support
.FBX files containing multiple animation clips can be imported and then manipulated via scripts.
Friday, June 1st saw the deployment of the Sansar Know Thy Neighbour release, which brings user profiles to Sansar, adds object interactions through scripts and something the Lab call Access to Controls.
This article highlights some of the new features – and some deployed in May 2018. As always, full details of the updates in the new release are available in the release notes.
As with the majority of Sansar deployments, this update requires the automatic download and installation of a client update.
Updates in this release mean that on logging-in for the first time following the update, users will be placed in the LookBook (Avatar App).
Second Life users are more than familiar with the idea of user profiles and their usefulness. They are something that has been raised on numerous occasions as one of the missing elements within Sansar – and with this release, they’ve started to arrive.
A Sansar profile can be used to display basic information about a user: their avatar name / ID, a photograph, and a short biography. In addition, viewing other people’s profiles allows users to request / remove friendship, see a summary of any store listings they have or experiences they have published, each of which are interactive.
Every Sansar user has a profile by default, which can be edited and updated as required, although they must be updated from within the Sansar client. Profiles can, however, be viewed both within the client and on the web.
Editing Your Profile
To edit your profile, launch the Sansar client and then click on More Options > Edit Profile. This will open the Profile Editor, which has two user-definable fields: the profile image and biography.
Profile images are automatically generated by Sansar, based on the looks you have saved in the LookBook (See Customising your avatar). To select / change your profile image click on the edit icon at the four o’clock position on the photo display (1 in the image below, right). A list of your available images will be displayed. Click on the one you wish to use with your profile.
To update your biography, click on the Bio section (2 in the image below right) and enter your text.
When you’ve completed your updates, click Save to apply them.
Viewing a Profile
Profiles can be viewed in a number of ways:
From within an experience, through the client’s People App.
Via the Atlas, either within the client or on the web.
Via a store listing on the web.
Via the People App
When in an experience, you can display someone’s profile by opening the Chat App then clicking on the People App button.
To view the profile of someone on your Friends list, click on their name to display the interaction options and click Profile.
To view the profile of some on your Friends list, use the Search option, then click on their name to display the interaction options and click Profile.
Both of these options will open the user’s profile. This comprises a number of sections:
The user’s profile picture with a microphone icon at the four o’clock position. This is the mute / unmute option. Green indicates the person is not voice muted, red indicates they have been voice muted.
Three central options to direct message them; to friend / unfriend them or abuse report them.
The bottom section of a profile may – or may not – display one or other – or both – of two further options: Store Items and Experiences.
Store Items: if the user has a Sansar Store, the total number of items they have listed will be displayed, with a See All option. Clicking the latter will display their store in your web browser. This option will be absent if the user does not have any items in the store.
if the user has published one or more experiences, the total number of their published experiences is displayed, with thumbnails of each of them.
Clicking on a thumbnail should open the experience
A button (V or ^) is displayed in this section – if the user has more than one experience, this will switch the thumbnail view between a single experience thumbnail and a tiled display of thumbnails.
This option will be absent if the user has not published any experiences.
To close a displayed profile, click the Back button at the top left of the profile display.
Note that when viewing a profile, you can also accept Friend requests sent by that person, as well as send your own.
Monday, May 7th saw the arrival of the May 2018 Sansar release, entitled the VR Chat release. As the name implies, this release includes the long-awaited option for those in VR mode to see text chat from those around them. Alongside of this is Twitch integration, a further avatar sit option, and other nips, tucks and updates.
As always, full details are available in the release notes, this overview just highlights some of the key features / items in the release. In addition, a small update was issued on Tuesday, May 8th, 2018.
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.
VR Mode Updates
Read Text Chat in VR Mode
A major limitation with Sansar up until now has been that those in VR mode have been unable to see text chat (either local chat or direct messages) in their headsets – which can lead to those using text as their preferred means of communications being ignored.
Chat in VR rectifies this by providing the means for headset users to view the chat app in their field of view. I don’t actually have full-time access to a headset, so can’t vouch for how it works. However, from the Sansar documentation:
The Chat app in VR mode allows you to view messages from nearby people in your current experience in the Nearby tab and private messages in the Messages tab.
It is not currently possible to send messages while in VR mode.
You can move the Chat app by grabbing it with your Oculus Touch or Vive Wand and dragging it to a new location.
When you move or turn your head, the Chat app moves with you.
Pointer-based VR interaction
This update replaces the “move your head to select objects” approach with the more intuitive use of hand controllers. Simply point and hover over objects with the controller to select or pick up. Note that head movement is still required to use the Avatar tool when hovering over an avatar, however.
This release brings with it the ability to create a Sansar account via Twitch, and then log-in to Sansar using your Twitch credentials.
However, note that this is only for those creating a Sansar account via Twitch: it is not, at the time of writing, possible to link an existing Sansar account to a Twitch account and use the Twitch credentials to log-in to Sansar.
The VR Chat update brings with it three updates related to clothing:
The Worn Clothing panel in LookBook > Customise option allows you to easily review, remove or adjust clothing on your avatar.
The Sansar astronaut and highlands outfits have been added to the default clothing inventory.
Adjustments for multiple Marvelous Designer clothing items can be made at the same time by clicking the “Adjust Clothing” button, or adjust each worn clothing individually by pressing on the “Play” button in the Worn clothing panel.
New Sit Option
A basic ground sit came to Sansar in the April release (see here for more). However, as I remarked at the time, for a female avatar wearing a dress, the sit pose wasn’t the most elegant. This has now been addressed, to a point, with a new “/sit 2” pose, which set an avatar kneeling – see the animation at the top of this article. The hands-through-the-skirt aspect is still a little distracting, but “/sit 2” is a big improvement, as well as adding a bit of variety to a group sitting on the ground together.
The VR Chat offers a number of scripting updates:
API for object animation playback – play, pause, stop, rewind, slow down/speed up object animations via script.
API to override the media URL in a scene – update the streaming media at runtime via script.
Colours are now a supported type for script parameters.
Visibility added on container properties for local position and rotation in the property editor.
The release notes also reference Avatar broadcasting the ability for one avatar to the precedence when speaking over others – useful for presentations, music events, etc. It’s not currently available for end-user use, but the Lab indicate it will be used in some Sansar events.
An interesting update, but one that I have to admit, hardly excites. Frankly, I’m still of the opinion that if LL really want to encourage new users into Second Life, they really need to tackle the Sansar website – notably getting rid of ZenDesk (and Discord, which just doesn’t strike me as either scalable when it comes to supporting the hoped-for user base with Sansar, and which doesn’t have any real integration with Sansar) and establishing a properly integrated and informative web platform, with decently provided blog updates, a proper forum, etc., and which can help engage new users and make information a lot easier to see and to surface.