Editorial: Can We Sit Down?


Photo by Sean Pollock on Unsplash

One of my longest-running complaints about Sansar, for all its wonderful features and capabilities, is that you can’t sit down! Standing avatars only. Drives me crazy. We can sit down in just about every other virtual world on the market (Second Life, High Fidelity, Sinespace, etc.), but not Sansar.

Draxtor Despres has told me that he wants to launch a regular talk show in Sansar, but he is holding back because our avatars can’t sit down yet. (I’m not sure if he was kidding or serious.) And if you think about it, having a talk show where everyone is just standing around is kind of silly.

Jason Gholston, head of the creative team at Linden Lab for Sansar, danced around the question when Saffia Widdershins asked about it in her TV show Designing Worlds this week, refusing to be pinned down as to when we can sit, and joking about our tendency to want to put chairs down in our Sansar experiences that we can’t yet use.

I can’t embed the video here, but here’s a link to the broadcast:


(Skip to the 26:10 mark in this video to hear Jason talking about sitting down.)

We have been told that Linden Lab is still working out technical details to provide us with an elegant solution, where you don’t have to author custom animations to have a chair work. We currently have no idea where avatar sitting “sits” on Linden Lab’s roadmap for future software development, or when we can expect to see it happen.

When he joined us for last weekend’s Atlas Hopping, Ebbe Altberg remarked that, going forward, any features which promote user retention and engagement will be ranked higher on the Sansar development roadmap. I would argue that the ability to sit down would go a long way towards user engagement and satisfaction in Sansar.

Frankly, I would be happy if Linden Lab just implemented a quick-and-dirty sit animation that we could use while they put everything in place for the new-and-improved, more elegant, sit solution they keep promising us. Is that too much to ask?

UPDATE 12:51 p.m.: Galen the scripter responded to my cross-posting of this blogpost on Facebook, so I asked him if I could quote him and he said yes. He said:

Sounds so simple, eh? But here’s my understanding of why this isn’t a thing yet.

First, in SL, sitting is accomplished by two basic tactics: 1.) attachment; 2.) avatar animation. When you sit on an object, your avatar gets treated like yet another prim getting attached to that object. That’s why if a couch gets made “physical”, your av goes flying with it. It’s comical to watch, but illustrates this key concept. For now, Sansar has no attachment mechanism, so it couldn’t implement sitting in the SL way.

Second, sitting requires avatar animations. The main reason we don’t have those, LL has said, is that they are creating a new avatar body model set. Including, presumably, a new skeleton. That skeleton is what gets animated, so it would have been premature to introduce skeletal animations for a short-lived skeleton. This fashion release, if it does include the “final” model for the avatar skeleton, will be one prerequisite down for sitting. Next would be allowing us to upload animations based on it. Sitting would be an obvious example.

This annoying limitation makes sense when you see the temporary hurdles facing LL. I have a feeling that when we go live with this next update, we will get a few minor surprises and announcements related to this.

By the way, I suspect LL may opt for a shortcut, bypassing the attachment concept for now. That is, I think they may make it so we can sit on stationary objects before they make it so we can sit on moving ones.

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One thought on “Editorial: Can We Sit Down?”

  1. Ryan,
    You have said a lot here, but you have not said enough. I am concerned that the economic drive to promote user retention and engagement will be a barrier to solid investment in physically accurate avatar locomotion. That is my rather verbose way of saying “accurate walking and running speeds”.

    I am among the many visitors/users/creators who wish to sit… on a chair. I would even appreciate a ground sit if we do not yet have a chair sit. But I have spent 11+ years in Second Life lobbying for an accurate walking speed that can be used inside a building. I call it the “Museum Walk”. The control over physical velocity of an avatar is critical to casual settings such as “a walk on the beach” or a “stroll in the park”.

    In terms of a priority, a chair sit definitely gets my vote. But there are places we would all like to explore that will never happen if Ebbe Altberg only prioritizes user retention and engagement and eschews physically accurate virtual movement. Imagine an underwater experience where the speed with which a scuba diver can swim cannot be realized.

    Another place that movement should be different than walking on earth is walking on the moon. An avatar should be able to bounce off the moon’s surface in a way that is reminiscent of Neil Armstrong’s famous first walk in 1969. My fear is that NASA will send a man back to the moon before Ebbe Altberg sees any need for this in his virtual world. I will be the first to speculate that NASA will put men on Mars before the virtual worlds have controllable and physically accurate walking, running, swimming, and floating speeds on earth, in water, and in outer space.

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