I am currently in-world reporting on Bjorn Laurin’s talk about Sansar to the Nonprofit Commons in Second Life (Facebook link, Google+ link). Bjorn is Vice President of Product for both Second Life and Sansar at Linden Lab (LinkedIn, Twitter).
(Notice that I am pimping my blog in-world! I am truly shameless.)
Bjorn says that the goal of Sansar is for users to create, own and share their own social virtual world experiences. He added that Linden Lab is working very hard to provide the same features for both desktop (non-VR) and VR users. For example, currently desktop users cannot pick up objects, but Bjorn says that that is coming.
Yes, Linden Lab will do a Mac Sansar client. Mac in an HMD (i.e. a virtual reality headset) will not work until hardware manufacturers support it, but it is coming. It is on the roadmap for some time within the next year or so.
Animations for objects (e.g. vehicles) will be available within two weeks. You will be able to right-click on something and sit down (Double Yay!) Bjorn already has them working on his machine. One of the most exciting things Bjorn is working on is the opening up of a fashion market. (Yay!)
Why you cannot run or fly in Sansar? Linden Lab is working on two platforms simultaneously (desktop and VR headset). Flying in a VR headset is not a pleasant experience, Bjorn describes it like being on a rollercoaster at full speed. Yes, Linden Lab will definitely have flying in Sansar, when it works for both desktop and VR headsets. Same thing with running. Sansar had running, but Bjorn asked to have it taken out of the client because it was very confusing for people in a VR headset. Running will come within one or two months.
They plan to have a feature where you can charge people to get into a Sansar experience (like an admission charge).
More on the avatar fashion market: Obviously, that is something they want to bring to Sansar, and they want to do it right. They do intend to have full body sliders for avatars, and they also want to have tattoos etc. They are working with teams both internally and externally to create clothing. They will be using tools that everybody is familiar with. He promises that we will not be disappointed with avatar fashion when they launch that feature!
Text chat: there is currently no text chat for people in a VR headset. Bjorn says that they are working hard on community social features and Linden Lab will add features like forming groups, setting up bigger meetings, adding people as friends, and meeting people, just like in SL. This is very high up on their list.
How does Sanssar co-exist with Second Life? Bjorn said that Linden Lab sees them as two separate platforms living side-by-side, “for a very, very long time”. Linden Lab is not going to de-prioritize Second Life at the expense of Sansar. Nothing has slowed down on product development for Second Life.
Every Sansar user can create three experiences (up to 4 km by 4 km) for free.
There’s no World Map in Sansar, but there is an Atlas. There are no plans to implement a World Map feature in Sansar.
One of Bjorn’s goals in the next six months is to be able to have up to 100 avatars in a single experience in Sansar (which would be a vast improvement over Second Life).
Bjorn says that not a single line of software code is shared between Second Life and Sansar. They are not using an external game engine like Unreal or Unity, they are building their own game engine. This is to avoid having to fix things which break when external game engines update, things that Linden Lab has little control over. Bjorn says that Linden Lab’s Sansar engine will be on par with external game engines “soon”. (That seems a little ambitious to me.)
Sansar avatars are being designed to be one of the world’s most advanced virtual world avatars. The face of the avatar alone is over 125 bones!
They will add accessibility features in Sansar, they want to support as many people to use the platform as possible. It’s definitely on the roadmap! They want to add voice command features. He wants to hear feedback to see what people want first. Bjorn asserts that Linden Lab does listen and respond to both positive and negative feedback.
Collaborative creation is something that they are definitely going to have in Sansar. Linden Lab is working on a supply-chain economy for Sansar. For example, if you buy the parts of the car from different creators to make a car and then place it for sale on the Sansar Store, the creator of the tires will get a cut of the sale when that car is sold. As to when people can create experiences together, Bjorn reports that they are working on that now. He cannot say when it will be available (hopefully, within 6-12 months). He says that it will definitely happen sooner rather than later.
Hopefully, in the next release, Linden Lab will add in Shoutcast support for streaming audio.
The Sansar client software is updated on a monthly release basis. Each release has an extensive list of new features posted to the Sansar web site. Bjorn encourages users to post to the user forums on the Sansar web site.
Bjorn invites users to contact him with questions and concerns. He can be reached both in SL (Bjorn Linden) and in Sansar (Bjorn Laurin).
Whew! My fingers are tired from all this transcribing of what Bjorn is saying! Now I am going back to pore over the official SL chat transcript in-world to see what I might have missed…
Sansar is not only for HMDs like Oculus. It also runs well on PCs and they will be making it so features will be in both. Linden Lab sees a bright future for both platforms living next to each other. Bjorn is running it on a 4 year old Mac running Windows [emulation software]. Of course, if you want the higher visual experience, then a higher system and using something like an Oculus [Rift] will add to that experience. But you do not need the most powerful PCs [to run Sansar].
Bjorn has about 500 to 1,000 tentative features [in a] list and has to sort which ones to tackle first.
Sansar knowledge base and forums are here: https://help.sansar.com/hc/en-us
Sansar forums & documentation are here: https://help.sansar.com/hc/en-us/community/topics
It was a great talk! Glad I could be in-world to bring it to you 🙂