Editorial: Twelve Things I Want to See BEFORE a “Consumer Launch” of Sansar

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What does Sansar need to attract consumers with cash? Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab, has gone on record that he wants to have a consumer launch of Sansar sometime in the first half of this year, 2018. By “consumer launch”, he means a serious advertising push, a media-savvy, well-funded promotion of the platform to end users, shoppers as opposed to creators. People with cold, hard cash, the people who pay the bills of Linden Lab and its employees and keep their lights on. People who visit experiences, socialize, play games, shop for their virtual homesteads, and dress up their avatars. People who don’t know one end of Blender from the other.

My fear is that, if Sansar has a consumer launch too early, people are going to come, kick the tires, declare themselves unsatisfied, and leave, never to return. (We’ve already had this to some extent when the “open creator beta” launched last July 31st, 2017. I’m quite sure that a troop of eager Second Life folks signed up, visited once, shrugged, and never came back. Of course, only Linden Lab has the actual statistics on those one-time visits.)

I have some things that I really, really want to see in Sansar before a major push to consumers is attempted.

What would I like to see BEFORE a consumer launch of Sansar? Twelve things.

  1. Better avatar customization features. Having lots of clothing options is nice, but it’s not really enough. How about some body sliders so we can adjust our height, weight, etc.? How about allowing people to design and sell their own avatar skins?
  2. More and better avatar animations: everything from being able to sit down, to having more options for dancing than just one measly dance for men and one for women. There’s just too few animations in Sansar right now, and we need to fix that. And none of the /command animations works in a VR headset.
  3. Particle effects: Fire. Water. Fog. Smoke. You already have WindLight for Second Life; how hard would it be to port it over to Sansar?
  4. More interactive content: HoverDerby, the Accuracy Training Module, and Gindipple’s Bowling Alley are wonderful starts, but we need more than that to attract and retain people. A lot more. Adding more scripting abilities is a good start.
  5. One or more community hubs: A few gathering places where you can pretty much expect to run into other avatars are important to establish a community feel. Create a hub or two. All the other virtual worlds have them, and frankly they’re a good idea, especially for a virtual world that is just starting out of the gate.
  6. Greeters: Other virtual worlds like Sinespace and High Fidelity have paid greeters whose job it is to welcome guests, answer their questions, and make them feel comfortable. It’s a business cost. You can’t just rely on volunteers. Hire people. Put them in your community hubs. Pay them (in Sansar dollars, if you prefer).
  7. The ability to pay an avatar directly: For tipping of performers, awarding of prizes in games like HoverDerby, etc. High Fidelity launched this feature and it’s fantastic.
  8. Paypal support: Many people still do not have, or refuse to use, credit cards. Second Life already supports Paypal; what’s the holdup with Sansar?
  9. More functional and attractive user forums and blogs: Seriously, ditch Zendesk. It makes you look bad. The Sansar blog is especially unattractive and boring as hell. Again, you already have a great solution in place for Second Life, why not use that for Sansar too?
  10. Better communication and collaboration with livestreamers and other potential promoters like bloggers and vloggers: These are the people who can make or break your product; you need to attract more of them and make it easy for them to cover your product.
  11. More contests: the contests that Linden Lab has already had in Sansar have been great, and have resulted in innovative products for sale in the Store and fun places to visit. But there’s been nothing since Hallowe’en. Why not have more contests, including some for consumers as opposed to creators?
  12. More regular events: We’ve got some events, but we need more! Fashion shows, game shows, theatre, etc. The Events calendar still looks pretty bare sometimes. AltspaceVR and VRChat are just killing it with regular and one-off events.

There are other things I want to see, like a complete, coherent, fully functional permissions system for items sold on the Sansar Store (which is why several potential creators have said that they are holding back from releasing content for sale). But I am focusing on the consumer-oriented things in this particular list.

I reserve the right to update or change this list as other ideas come to me or are suggested to me by others. Ebbe has often said that he wants to focus on building those features in Sansar that increase user attraction, engagement, and retention. Do you have any ideas of what you’d like to see in Sansar before a big consumer rollout? If you have thoughts about what Sansar features would improve consumer attraction, engagement, and retention, then please feel free to leave a comment on this blogpost, thanks!

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UPDATED: Second Life Steals and Deals — Altamura Jenny Bento Mesh Head For Only L$700 At the Expo Fair

I recently blogged about the fantastic deal that Altamura had at the recent Second Life Skin Fair, a complete Bento mesh avatar body and head package for only L$300. Well, if you missed that, there’s another Altamura deal coming up starting today!

If you’re in the market for a Bento mesh avatar head for your female Second Life avatar, and you don’t want to pay L$5,000 for a Catwa, Lelutka or LAQ head, head over to the Expo Fair, where you pick up the Jenny Bento mesh head by Altamura for only L$700! (You do have to become a member of the Altamura group to get the discount; the group join fee is L$50.)

Jenny at the Expo Fair 10 Apr 2018.png

The Expo Fair just opened today at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time/SL Time, and I don’t know how long it runs for, so hurry down! Here’s a SLURL that should take you directly to the Altamura booth at the fair. (It’s not a large fair; there’s only 18 booths in a skybox.)

Neck ProblemI did come across one serious bug with this head. I bought it and set it up to wear with the Altamura Valentina body I had bought earlier at the Skin Fair. The neck seam on the Jenny head was noticeably wider than the neck on the Valentina body (see image, right). In order to fix it, you have to click the “OTHER” button on the included Jenny head HUD, and then CLICK AROUND IN AN ATTEMPT TO FIND THE INVISIBLE BUTTON that removes this neck seam, located somewhere above the ear removal button on the bottom!

I’ve already told the Altamura customer support people just how stupid this design decision is. Here’s an actual transcript of my conversation with their rep:

Me: I don’t understand.

Customer Service Rep: In that area are hidden buttons horizontally. Click in that area and watch the neck.

Me: I can’t find the hidden button. Wait, OK, I finally got it. That is a TERRIBLE PROBLEM with the HUD.

CSR: Well, we hid them because too many people were actually messing their necks up, and less people had issues, so…

Me: That’s wrong.

CSR: Since the new HUDs on the way, it’s a moot point…LOL

Me: That’s too confusing. And you are going to get a lot of people buying this head that have the same problem.

CSR: This way I have to assist 20 people. The other way was 200.

So, buyer beware! Perhaps Altamura will issue an updated HUD with a fix for this incredibly stupid issue. Invisible buttons?!?? I am not very impressed with this answer at all. Overall, I do find the Altamura HUDs and supporting documentation to be confusing already, compared to the HUDs and documentation for other mesh avatar bodies and heads. Maybe in some cases, you do get what you pay for.

However, if you want a good deal on a beautiful, fully customizable Bento mesh head, despite some problems and frustrations with its HUDs, I can recommend the Altamura Jenny head. At less than one-fifth the cost of the upscale models, it’s still a real deal.

Here’s a picture of one of my alts, wearing the Altamura Jenny head and Altamura Valentina body:

Altamura Jenny 10 Apr 2018.png

She is wearing:

  • Head and Lipstick: Altamura Jenny Bento mesh head, just purchased from the Expo Fair (L$700)
  • Body and Nails: Altamura Valentina Bento mesh body from the recent Skin Fair (L$300; no longer available at that price)
  • Hair: Chikai hair in black by Argrace (free gift)
  • Eyes: Look Into My eyes in brown by Exodi (no longer available for sale)
  • Earrings: Casual Pearls earrings by Miriel (no longer available for sale)
  • Clothing: Temis shirt and skirt by Scandalize (free group gift)
  • Shoes (not seen): Marquesse classic pumps in black (free; from the excellent freebie store at Ajuda SL Brasil)
  • AO: Tuty’s Lucky Girl Bento AO by Tuty (free; with additional Bento stand animations added from the dollarbie SEmotion Newbie Girl AO HUD available on the Marketplace; you do NOT need to spend thousands of Lindens on a Bento AO!)

Total cost of this complete Bento mesh avatar: L$1,001.

UPDATE April 11th: I’ve been told by someone in the official Second Life user forums that the HUD for the demo version of the Jenny head does have the buttons visible to adjust the neck, so here is a comparison to show you exactly what I am complaining about. Here’s a picture of the HUD for the demo version:

Demo HUD 11 Apr 2018.png

Now compare that with the same page of the HUD for the full version:

Full HUD 11 Apr 2018.png

See what I mean about invisible buttons? Stupid, stupid, STUPID, stupid, stupid…

UPDATE April 12th: I have heard back from Altamura on the official Second Life forums, and they say that they have corrected the problem with the HUD:

Hello, Vanity Fair :)

What you show is the neck size, it is not a seam. However the HUD is fixed on the sold version and not on the demo. We named this part “Neck size” and Now you can turn off the neck .So you can widely spread this news on your blog :). Neck size  exists to connect the mesh head with the second life body. It is not necessary on bodymesh, if the creator of the body has respected the canons of sl. Even if the body mesh creator has not respected it, the body will be provided with a fitting neck, you can use that.

Here’s an image of the updated HUD that apparently is now being offered with the sold version (I can’t verify this unless I actually purchase the Jenny head again, but I’m certainly willing to take their word for it.)

Altamura HUD 12 Apr 2018.png

More Livestreamers Are Starting to Visit Sansar

A key factor in the sudden popularity of VRChat was its coverage by livestreamers on Twitch and YouTube. Vassay told me about the following recent YouTube livestream by Nathie, a YouTube user who covers a variety of VR experiences:

Nathie is a Dutch VR enthusiast who has over 353,000 subscribers and over 99 million views on his YouTube channel, so he would probably be the first livestreamer with a sizeable following to cover Sansar. He says about himself:

You are an admirer of Virtual Reality? Same here! I want to show everyone the magic of VR by preaching it on YouTube. On my channel you can find Playstation VR, Oculus Rift, Touch and HTC Vive reviews and gameplay. So if you are interested and wanna see kick-ass VR stuff I would definitely take a look at my channel.

Nathie actually posted his first video about Sansar a month ago (this video has gotten 35,000 views so far):

 

Another YouTube livestreamer who is visiting Sansar is wanderlvst, who has posted a couple of videos:

 

And here’s one more by a guy named SleevedBiker:

 

Back in January, I posted about another well-done YouTube video by Rogue Shadow, who visited and reviewed Sansar. It’s good to see Sansar getting some more attention now!