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).

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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”

Sansar: R26 – the thumbs-up release

The new avatar VR gesture and ability to hold objects correctly – parts of the R26 Thumbs Up release. Credit: Linden Lab

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.

The full release notes for R26 are available here.

Permissions / Licensing System

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.
Creators can now set permissions on the elements in their objects purchasers can change, or they can opt to offer then with full permissions. Credit: Linden Lab.

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.

Store Integration

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.

With R26, it is possible to browse the Sansar Store within the Sansar client and complete purchases from within it as well

Continue reading “Sansar: R26 – the thumbs-up release”

Sansar: September R25 release

The new look Look Book, a small part of the Sansar September R25 release

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 full release notes for R25 are available here.

Look Book / Avatar Updates

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.

Adjusting Marvelous Designer clothing in Look Book using VR. Footage courtesy of 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.

Store Updates

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.

Accessing the store through the client and viewing items (click on the thumbnail, as per the web version, to display a pop-up item listing). Purchases must be made through the web Store for now via an automatic transfer when clicking the Buy button

Shopping Cart

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).

The shopping cart (icon top right). Items are added by clicking the Add to Cart button in a listing, which then changes to Added to Cart. Individual items can be removed using the X option alongside them. The Buy button will complete the purchase / delivery of all items, providing you have sufficient S$ on account

When using the shopping cart, note that at present item quantities in the cart cannot be adjusted.

Continue reading “Sansar: September R25 release”