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.

 

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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

Sansar R29, The Places You’ll Go release overview

R29 – Portals! Credit: Linden Lab

On Tuesday, February 5th, Linden Lab issued the latest release for Sansar: The Places You’ll Go  (aka R29). 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. For additional details on the release, please refer to the R29 release notes.

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.

Client Save Account Credentials

The Remember Me function has changed, and might be inconvenient for people using more than one account to log-in to Sansar (so perhaps disable it?)

With R29, the Remember Me account credentials option has been revised.

  • When checked, your current account credentials are automatically saved so that if you close the client via the top-right X, the next time you launch the client, you will be automatically logged-in to your Home Space or to an experience directly, bypassing the client log-in screen.
  • To display the client log-in screen with Remember Me enabled, you must log out via the More Options > log out function.
  • Uncheck Remember Me if you use more than one account to access Sansar, and wish to avoid having your last-used log-in credentials automatically re-applied to log you in to Sansar.

Custom Animations Re-Assignment

Due to bug introduced in a previous avatar upgrade, a custom animation may have overridden a non-emote animation. So for this release, users must re-assign custom animations to their desired emotes to see the desired results (one time update only).

Group Teleport

You can now generate your own teleport portals to other experiences using the “/portal” command and a valid experience URL. Hovering the mouse over the portal will display the owner’s name. Clicking on it will ask whether or not you wish to teleport to the selected experience.

R29 introduces a new teleport portal capability that can be used when exploring / showing Sansar with / to friends.

Simply type “/portal” (minus the quotes) followed by an experience URL, and a short-lived portal will appear in front of you, and will remain in place until it times-out after about 2 minutes. During that time, anyone touching the portal will be asked if they wish to teleport to the selected experience. If they select Yes, they will be teleported. Simples.

Notes:

  • You can only have one active teleport portal at a time. Calling another will immediately delete the one currently visible.
  • Teleporting between experiences is still via the experience load screen (as with the Atlas and static portals).
  • Remember, you can obtain the URL for an experience via the in-client Atlas (GO > Find Places to Go (Atlas)), by clicking the Copy URL button in the pop-up for the desired experience.
You can obtain the URL for an experience via the in-client Atlas (GO > Find Places to Go (Atlas)), by clicking the Copy URL button in the pop-up for the desired experience

In-Client Atlas Auto-Select

The in-client Atlas search now has an auto-select function that will  attempt to list experiences based on what you’re typing in.

Note that this select experiences on various criteria (e.g. experience and creator name and more), so depending on the combination of characters used, you might get some unexpected results.

The in-client Atlas auto-select will offer experience suggestions based on entered text. However, selections can be based on experience name (l) creator name (c) and … something else entirely (metadata?) – note while “Roman” in purpose, the experience on the right does not feature “rome” in the experience or creator names. Click for full size

VR Updates

The R29 release sees:

  • An updated VR IK system: hand movements should not lag so much against actual hand movements.
  • A new height calibration UI: this includes options to calibrate your height automatically, manually input your height, and remember your height (pull in the last available setting).
  • Shop via VR: VR users can now access the Sansar store and shop.
R29: shop via VR. Credit: Linden Lab

Scripting Updates

  • Script performance in events improved.
  • Simple Scripts have been moved to Scene Script Libraries.
  • New scripts added to the script libraries.
  • New Object Script Library.
  • Added a Store Listing script to users’ inventory.
  • Added three new APIs:
    • Haptic Pulse API – lets a script fire a haptic vibration, so that a controller holding a gun, for example, would vibrate once you pulled the trigger.
    • Sit Event API – notifies other scripts when an avatar sits or stands. Meaning: if you wanted to make a whoopee cushion noise each time a person sits in a specific chair, you absolutely could.
    • Media Action API – Allows media actions to be performed on media surfaces. More specifically, it enables interaction with Twitch’s Mature Stream “Start Watching” button.
  • Please check the scripting API documentation for full information on scripting updates.

Avatar Save Performance Improvement

A new hidden surface algorithm should offer much improved performance when saving an avatar after making appearance changes in the Character Editor.

Feedback

A more modest update in terms of user-visible changes, when compared to recent releases. However, a long list of known issues resolved within it (see the release notes for details). Some nice updates for VR users, but it is the in-world teleport capability for groups that is liable to be particularly welcome.

The new functionality for Remember Me, while handy if you are a sole user of Sansar, feels clunky if you use more than one account with the platform. If you have it enabled, you must remember to perform a “hard” log-out via More Options in order to get back to the client’s log-in screen.

In this respect, it does question why not simply have Remember Me set to record the last-used credentials in the log-in / password fields? Sure, this requires an extra click on the log-in button to access Sansar (and so is perhaps less “seamless”). But conversely, it is both how most clients tend to work and potentially a lot more convenient for those who switch between accounts (although you now have to re-enter your account password).

Looking at Sansar’s Social Hub

Sansar Social Hub

On January 10th, 2019, Linden Lab released Sansar update R28.3. no detailed release notes are currently available (if they are needed), but the core of the update appears to be the new Social Hub.

Available from the Atlas or via a user’s Home Space, the Social Hub is intended to be an experience where Sansar users can conveniently explore, relax, play games, and  – hopefully – meet other users. It can also (obviously) be used as a convenient meeting place when joining friends in Sansar.

Social Hub teleport portal

The easiest way for users to reach the Hub when logging-in is via their Home Space, which how includes a small teleport alcove to one side (previously marked as “under construction”). Walking into the teleport device within the portal will load the Social Hub experience and deliver you to it – no need to touch anything.

The Hub comprises five areas at present: the welcome area / arrival point; a games area;, a social area (the tree house); a kinetic sculpture (take parts and throw them to form an object) and a teleport area, all connected by a network of footpaths, with space to allow for further expansion (in fact, one area was marked as “under construction” at the time of my visit).

  • The games area offers a series of simple games that can be played in VR mode as well as (with some fiddling to get used to things) Desktop mode. I confess the 10-pin bowling to be fun – in that the bowling lane would appear to exist in its own local gravity field – when the pins are hit, the ten to fly up into the sky and then remain there until reset.
  • The teleport area has (at the time of my visit) had three touch teleport portals, each of which appears to rotate through popular experiences on what appears to be a timed basis. Hovering the mouse over a portal will display the current destination for a portal.
  • The tree house offers seating for chat, etc, with more seating at the arrival  / welcome area.

Note that when visiting the Social Hub, and as with the Home Space, the free cam capability in Desktop mode (F4) is disabled.

Given the ease of access from people’s Home Spaces, there is a potential for the Social Hub to become popular as a place to mingle and meet. Certainly during my own tour, there were around seven Greys (brand new avatars) who passed through – and interestingly, the ratio of VR to non-VR arrivals was biased towards VR (4 to 3).

Sansar Social Hub: tree house

However, the more I see Greys, the more I find myself wondering how they might dissuade people from sticking around in Sansar unless the find someone who can help them with their appearance (not exactly easy, given avatars vanish into Look Book); again, in y visit, I had two Grey approach me: one confused as to whether my avatar was “real” or an NPC, the other repeatedly asking “how do I look like you?”

Sit point indicator

A further recent addition – I’m not sure which update it came with (R28.1, R28.2 or the current R28.3), is the Home Space seating now has sit point indicators for the chair (as does the Social Hub).

These inverted triangles (or arrowheads) are displayed when the mouse is hovered over any object that has a sit point associated with it (see my R28 release overview for more on sit points), and the object itself is outlined in purple. Left-clicking on the object will cause your avatar to sit on it.

I assume these sit point indicators will become the norm as the sit point scripts are employed in all experiences – to be honest, I haven’t been in Sansar frequently enough since the R28 release to see how sit points are being used.

Feedback

The Social Hub is something that has been promised for a while, and it is good to see it delivered. Together with the log-in Home Space, it serves to make Sansar a friendlier place. Hopefully, it is a place new users will find comfortable and engaging – although a lot will perhaps depend on people being there and willing to  help out.

 

Sansar R28, the Ready, Aim, Fire! Release

Sitting in my Home Space – one of the new elements in Sansar

On Tuesday, December 11th, Linden Lab issued the Ready, Aim, Fire! (aka R28) update for Sansar, the last planned release for 2018.

Interaction is very much a theme for this release, as is helping new users feel more at home, as well as providing a point of entry when logging-in to Sansar at the start of a session. The release also includes a very long list of scripting updates, some of which are to support the new interactivity functions.

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.

At the time of writing, there were no release notes available, only a release blog post. Whether this actually constitutes the release notes or not, I’m not sure – so a check on the Sansar Help page might be in order to see of any release notes appear. Similarly, in checking the scripting API documentation, it appeared this documentation was also awaiting update. so again, a check should be made for the addition of information on the new API elements and script updates.

Initial 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 their Home Space after selecting their updated avatar.

Home Space

I’ll start with Home Space, a new “home location” so to speak. All users are dropped into Home Space, which resembles an open-plan skybox like apartment with three “rooms”, either when logging-in to Sansar for the first time or at the start of a new session (so in the latter regard it both appears as the back-drop image when logging-in to Sansar and replaces being dropped into the Atlas at the end of the log-in process).

As a physical environment, you can walk around your Home Space, sit on the chairs (albeit it using the teleport > /sit “cheat” and – for new users in particular – offers a starting point for the new UI tutorial (see below for more on this).

Images of the new Home Space taken in Sansar’s new “mouse look” view, showing the various areas. Note the “under construction” teleport portal, also shown enlarged in the last image, that will link Home Spaces to an upcoming new social hub experience. click on any image to view slide show

Note that Home Space is only accessible (for the time being?) when logging-in to Sansar at the start of a session; there’s no option to go back to it once you’re entered an experience, unless you re-log. Should you edit your avatar’s appearance (Create > Style My Avatar) from within an experience, you will still go to look Book and then back to the spawn point for the experience at the spawn point, as per previous Look Book behaviour.

Within The Home Space there is a hint of things to come: on one wall, and marked as “under construction” is the entranceway to the upcoming “Social Hub”. Reached via automatic teleport, this will be a new experience people can jump to and mingle, again with the intent to make it easier for newcomers to meet others. Some of the objects in the Home Space can also be grabbed, allowing basic interactivity to be tried – although the random nature of the tutorial pop-ups perhaps makes this a little hit-and-miss.

UI Tutorial

The new UI Tutorial is designed to help new users start to understand the Sansar Client UI (although it will also display for existing users logging-in to R28 for the first time). The tutorial comprises a selection of pop-up displays to controls and yellow hover tips that are displayed within the client. These can be displayed in both the Home Space and within initial experiences a new user visits.

Some of the UI tutorial pop-up (left) and tool tips displayed for new users. The pop-ups appear at the bottom centre of the UI window

The tutorial – while a good idea – seemed to be somewhat random. It’s wasn’t until my fourth log-in, for example, that I saw the pop-up for grabbing items. While not vital, given there are objects in the Home Space that can be grabbed, making this a little more predictable (coming up with the Walk and Teleport pop-ups, perhaps?) would perhaps be more useful.

Emote Menu and Emotes

New to both Desktop and VR modes for Sansar is the Avatar Emote menu. Access via the Socialise button (or CTRL-E in Desktop Mode), this displays a “dial” pop-up, with the available emotes (aka gestures or animations) on the right, and any emotes you may have already used in your current log-in session displayed on the left (if you have not used any emotes, this area will display an alarm clock like icon).

The new Emotes Menu. Note that Recent Emotes (on the left), are only displayed if you have used one or more emotes in the current session

Emotes are selected from the right of the menu, by scrolling up / down through them and clicking on the desired option. Recent emotes (if displayed) are accessed the same way. For VR users, an added bonus is that moving your head or arms will no longer cancel a playing emote (just walk forward, as per Desktop mode).

Note that the chat commands (“/sit”, etc.) are still fully supported, as is the ability to assign custom emotes to replace the default options.

Continue reading “Sansar R28, the Ready, Aim, Fire! Release”

Sansar: November 2018 Look at Me release

Legend of Wysterra (WIP)

On Tuesday, November 7th, Linden Lab issued the Look At Me release for Sansar. It is perhaps one of the most radical changes to the platform’s client since the public beta opened in 2017, incorporating both an overhauled user interface and revised controls for both VR and Desktop mode.

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.

The full release notes for the update are available here.

Initial Notes

  • As is generally the case with 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).

Client UI Updates

As a part of getting ready for the release of Sansar on Steam (see here for more), as well as to make the UI easier to understand in general, this release sees a complete redesign of the client UI controls, which is perhaps the most immediately visible part of the update.

Log-in Options Revised

The first noticeable change on launching the updated UI is the revised log-in display. This is now more compact and presents a more clear-cut set of options:

  • Log-in using your Sansar credentials.
  • Log-in using your Twitch credentials (if you are a Twitch user registered with Sansar).
  • Create a Sansar account.

It’s a small change, but it does make the client look cleaner on start-up.

New UI Buttons and Layout

The next obvious change to the UI seen after logging in is with the UI buttons. These have been both moved to the left side of the client window and revised to group options together more logically, provide better ease of access to options and tools, and generally be more intuitive without intruding too much into a scene.

Excluding the microphone toggle button, there are five function buttons. A neutral grey when not in use, they will turn blue when the mouse pointer is moved close to them or hovered over them. Hover over a specific button, and it will display a label: Go; Socialize; Create; Shop; and More options. Click on a label, and it will display a menu of options.

For those familiar with Sansar, it’s worth studying these menus, as they do see some options renamed and / or moved. For example:

  • The Atlas is now more generically referred to as Find Experiences (Atlas) under Go.
  • Go also includes the Events option (previously a separate button)
  • The Create button brings together the Look Book option (previously a separate button),  and adds the options to create an experience or an event, rather than restricting these to buttons in the Atlas and Event panels.
  • The Snapshot option is relocated from the old More Options drop-down to the new Socialise button.
The new UI buttons and their sub-menus (click for full size, if required)

In addition, there are some new options, such as Favourite Places under the Go button, which opens the Favourites tab in the Atlas; or the Learn to Build option under the Create button, which opens the knowledge base table of contents page  Creating in Sansar, in a web browser tab.

The new buttons are also visible in VR mode, but are now displayed on a menu over the left wrist.

The new UI buttons as they appear in Sansar’s VR mode. Credit: Linden Lab

Revised Keyboard and Controller Options / Buttons

The Look at Me release sees a number of revisions to keyboard and controller commands.

  • The updated help / reporting options (via F1)

    Desktop Controls

    • Hold Left Shift to Sprint (was double tap WASD) – configure in Settings to choose between “Hold Left Shift” or “Toggle Left Shift“ for Sprint.
    • Hold Spacebar to bring up teleport GUI, and release to teleport to target location (was Hold Shift) – mouse wheel button is still assigned to quick teleport.
    • Press F1 to bring up the new help & reporting window.
  • Oculus Touch Controls (VR)
    • Teleport moved to the A and X buttons (was Left and Right Trigger)
    • Pressing Y will still open the VR menu, but it now appears on your left wrist (see above).
    • “Toggle Sprint” is now an option in settings.
  • Vive Controllers (VR)
    • “Toggle Sprint” is now an option in settings.
  • Camera Controls
    • Hold “Left Shift + WASD” to temporarily increase camera movement speed while held.
    • Hold “Left Ctrl + WASD” to temporarily decrease camera movement speed while held.
    • Tap “+” to increase camera movement speed. (In addition to Numpad +)
    • Tap “-” to decrease camera movement speed. (In addition to Numpad -)
  • Edit Mode Controls
    • Press Backspace to delete an object (in addition to Delete)
  • Improved 3rd person camera
    • Over-the-shoulder camera now has object avoidance. The camera will not go through walls in desktop or in VR.
    • Scrolling the mouse wheel in desktop mode will allow the user to zoom in/out, even to the point of going into first person and back out to third person again.

Continue reading “Sansar: November 2018 Look at Me release”