UPDATED! Sansar Product Meetup, August 22nd: the Nexus, the Codex, the Prime Portal, and Avatar 2.0

Sansar Product Meetup, August 22, 2019

I popped into this week’s Sansar Product Meetup as I was curious about several of the new features in the next release of the Sansar client software. According to the Atlas listing for this event, there were 57 avatars at the meetup!

A blogpost yesterday by Linden Lab raised a lot of questions about the next release, code-named Welcome to the Nexus. They plan to update Sansar next week, unless something unforeseen happens.

One new feature is called the Nexus, a central hub for Sansar, where people can log into and find other users, plus a series of quests with a story arc. The current Sansar Atlas will be replaced by the Nexus.

There will be a brand new tutorial for newcomers to Sansar, which leads into a series of story quests, to provide a framework for directed play. Linden Lab will require all users (even those of us who have been around for years now!) to go through that new user tutorial at least one (in order to collect their Codex, which is discussed below). In response to a question about users being forced to do quests they don’t want, Nyx Linden replied on the Sansar Discord:

Getting through the first time user experience, if you are an experienced user, will take maybe 30 seconds, and we’re going to enable ways to dismiss quests you’re not interested in, so people who don’t want to do the story lines we make totally can skip them.

Users will spawn in the Nexus as opposed to their home space (where they can access their Lookbook), but the home space will not go away. The Nexus will replace the Sansar Social Hub, but the Sansar Social Hub will not be shut down; it will be repurposed with additional quests.

There will be a new XP (experience) system which will be tied to the quest system. If you have already completed some quests, you will be awarded some XP points.

The Prime Portal is the place in the Nexus where all worlds are available to visit and explore. There are also a series of permanent portals to help user explore experiences. For example, there will an Events portal. Another portal will be for creators. These portals will evolve and change over time, based on user feedback. There will be a permanent Monstercat portal. You will have to go to the Nexus to use the Prime Portal, which will be the primary way to find new worlds.

A brand new feature called the Codex lists all places you have already been to before. You have your own personal Codex that you bring with you, and it records all worlds and experiences you have been to. You can curate this list of worlds, removing those you don’t want to visit again. You will also be able to access the Codex of your friends and other creators.

While the Nexus is a place, the Codex will be something you carry around with you from place to place.

Events will be treated slightly differently from before. You will be able to see all upcoming events in your Codex. You can also access events from the Prime Portal. This will be a dedicated section just for events, in both the Codex and the Prime Portal.

And, in a significant piece of news, the different places you can visit in Sansar will now be referred to as worlds instead of experiences. (This is going to be a big problem from us Sansar oldbies, who have gotten used to referring to them as experiences! It’s going to hard to change a habit.)

Cara Linden gave a very brief update on Avatar 2.0, which should come out next week. More information is available here. There will also be a new feature to allow more adjustment of Marvelous Designer clothing so they work better with the new avatars. Also, you will be able to re-position accessories and other avatar attachments.

In response to a question about whether it is too soon to release Avatar 2.0, Cara said Linden Lab wanted to push out the new face deformation features as quickly as possible, followed by body deformation support later on. The sooner this change to avatars is implemented, the less broken content on the Sansar Store that needs to be updated.

It sounds as if this next release is going to be a major one! I’m very much looking forward to it.

UPDATE 4:04 p.m.: There was a lot of information conveyed in that one-hour meeting, so I have reached out to Linden Lab to ask them to read this blogpost and tell me if I made any mistakes in reporting.

Also, having had a chance to let things percolate in my brain for a while, I am not convinced that having users spawn in the Nexus (as opposed to their private home space/Lookbook) is such a good idea. Jessica Outlaw has written at length about women feeling unsafe in social VR (which I have written about here and here on my blog), and she advocates for having a safe space for people to retreat to.

I sure the hell hope that Linden Lab did some usability testing on all this. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that we are the ones who are going to be doing the usability testing for them, and that Linden Lab will only roll features back if there is a disastrous response, unexpected serious bugs, or an overabundance of trolling, griefing and harassment at the new Nexus. I guess we’ll see what happens.

UPDATED! High Fidelity: What’s Going On?

Some of you have approached me to ask me if I could find out what’s going on with High Fidelity, and I am curious too, so I posted this message to their official community forums:

I’ve been asked by a few of my blog readers to ask the company for some sort of official statement as to how things have been going since their pivot towards enterprise use of HiFi for remote teams in April 2019.

Since this is pretty much the only official way I have to contact the company, after High Fidelity stopped having weekly General Assembly meetings, I wanted to know if somebody could bring us up-to-date on what’s going on. For example, do you have the names of any clients you would be willing to share with us?

All I have seen from High Fidelity so far are numerous tweets about the joys and benefits of remote working. We would like to know a little bit more about what’s going on behind the scenes, please.

I’ll let you know if and when the company releases a statement.

(I’m also curious to see how long it takes before someone from the company responds to this post on their community forums. My last experience was not so great.)

UPDATE 4:01 p.m.: And we have a quick response from Emily, the community manager at High Fidelity:

We’re still testing the use of High Fidelity for remote teams. We’re actively using it internally and have select companies in trial. Development is ongoing, though we have nothing formal to announce at present. When we do, you’ll see updates on our blog – https://www.highfidelity.com/blog. Media can also reach out to our PR team – https://www.highfidelity.com/presskit.

Rest assured, we’re working hard to bring about the Metaverse and of course our open source VR platform is still very much available for general use, for free.

Thanks, Emily!

Lindsey Stirling to Perform in Wave Monday, August 26th

Wave Logo

While I was busy blogging about other platforms, the music performance social VR platform TheWaveVR has renamed itself to, simply, Wave. (I will retag all my blogposts about TheWaveVR to date with the new tag Wave so they will still be easy to find.)

In the past, innovative musical artists such as Imogen Heap have performed in concerts on the social VR platform:

This coming Monday, August 26th, electronic violinist Lindsey Stirling will be performing live in her first virtual concert on Wave:

Electronic violinist Lindsey Stirling is putting on a new kind of interactive virtual concert, performing live to fans in avatar form. The concert, put on in collaboration with streaming platform Wave, will take place at 3 p.m. (EST) on Monday 26 August.

Stirling will perform through her avatar, powered by art body motion and face capture technology. Fans will also be able created their own avatars and attend the virtual show by downloading the Wave virtual reality (VR) app, supported by HTC Vive and Oculus Rift…

The show, streamed live from Wave’s Los Angeles studios, will be available to watch live via the artist’s YouTube channel and Facebook page, or Wave’s Twitch channel. Fans that miss the live performance can watch it back for 24 hours after premiere time.

Lindsey excitedly tweeted about her upcoming performance, sharing a video (which I can’t embed here on this blogpost, please use the link I posted to see the video on Twitter):

VRScout adds a few more details:

In a video posted to Stirling’s official Twitter account, the musician can be seen wearing what appears to be an XSens 3D motion capture suit and Manus VR Gloves. This device captures Stirling’s movements and translates them into VR in real-time, allowing her to perform complex dance routines just as she would in real-life. While Stirling will be performing the entirety of the show, she’ll be doing so as her character “Artemis,” goddess of the moon and the protagonist of her latest album. 

Wave is available both on the Oculus Store for the Oculus Rift and on Steam for the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index, and Windows Mixed Reality VR headsets. You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook, or join their Discord server.