UPDATED: What Can You Do When Sansar Experiences Take a Long Time to Load?

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Photo by Sonja Langford on Unsplash

One of the most common complaints I hear about Sansar is that the experiences sometimes take too long to load. I cross-posted my recent blogpost about the new Star Trek exhibit to Reddit, and I got the following comments back (which I anonymized):

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Unfortunately, some Sansar experiences do take significant time to load, especially the first time you visit. Some popular experiences that have a lot of content, like 114 Harvest and the above-mentioned Ready Player One experience, seem to take forever to load. And right now, there’s not a lot you can do about it.

The single biggest factor affecting experience load times is internet bandwidth, which you can check using Speedtest or numerous similar websites. According to the Recommended System Specs page for Sansar, a 10 Mbps connection is recommended, with 5 Mbps a minimum. Ping time is also important (but see the update, below).

(The CPU, GPU and amount of RAM on your computer are lesser factors in Sansar experience load times. If you have a high-end gaming machine, but a lousy internet connection, you’ll still be waiting a long time.)

The good news is that once an experience has loaded, the Sansar client caches it so it loads much more quickly on second and subsequent visits.

Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab, said on the official Sansar Discord server:

There is a lot we can and will do to improve scene loading times/experience. Progressive texture loading, CDN, load in background, stream, LoD, magic, better tools for creators to diagnose and optimize their content. Some of these are sooner and others are much later. I’m hoping for one of them to make noticeable improvement very soon.

Linden Lab’s Chief Product Officer, Landon, added:

Scene load time at least the first time a scene is loaded is almost entirely a function [of] bandwidth.

Not really anything in settings to improve them. (I want to make the experience great for everyone out of the box!)

The settings that Landon refers to are a relatively recent addition to the Sansar client, and they are intended more to adjust the graphics display settings to accommodate lower-end computers.  If you are running Sansar on a lower-end computer such as a laptop, you could turn off Shadowed Atmospherics and Ambient Occlusion and lower the Render Quality from High to Medium or Low to get better performance (however, with the setting on Low metal textures will turn black).

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But unfortunately, none of these settings affect experience load times. We’re all going to have to wait (some more) for Linden Lab to figure out ways to optimize experience loading. Ebbe sums up what content creators and experience builders can do in the meantime:

Textures. Textures. Textures. Smaller. Re-use. Re-use in clever ways still gets you variety. Smaller. Re-use. Fewer. Smaller. More re-use. Sounds. Smaller. Fewer. Always. Keep pushing. We will do stuff to make it easier to do it better over time. We will do stuff to make it faster over time. But a megabyte is megabyte, can’t change that. There’s always a line for you to cross. And careful with the triangles. Decimate. Cheers!

UPDATE Aug. 13th: In response to a discussion on the official Sansar Discord server about the impact of longer ping times (the reaction time of your connection, i.e. how fast you get a response after you’ve sent out a request), Ebbe Altgerg said:

Those [longer] ping times are not a problem. We will soon use a CDN where you will all download content from a place near to you. We’re also fixing our implementation of how we download assets to be more efficient. These changes will come soon. Hang in there and don’t worry about ping times.

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Sansar User Concurrency Statistics: A Second Set of Data, with a Look at Maximum User Concurrency Figures

Not too long ago, I shared recent Sansar user concurrency statistics from Gindipple. Gindipple’s figures have sparked a bit of controversy and debate, about what they actually portray. Some have taken away the “fact” that there are never more than 20 people in Sansar at any one time, which is an incorrect interpretation of the data.

Today, I want to share with you another set of user statistics, this one compiled by Galen, who scraped data automatically from the Sansar Atlas in much the same way as Gindipple does. (Galen may be sampling the data more or less often than Gindipple; I didn’t ask either of them how often they sampled the data in the Atlas.)

Galen’s first chart shows minimum (blue line), average (red line) and maximum (yellow line) user concurrency over the past three months (please click on this image to see it in its full size):

Galen says:

…Average concurrency is not what most people care about. They typically care about peak concurrency. And average peak concurrency.

The maximum concurrency values from day to day are more like 20 – 30, even if my calculation of average concurrency hovers around 10. That number is useful but confusing.

And then from week to week, here’s what we see:

Once again, please click on the image below to see it in full size:

Galen adds:

See how the peaks are averaging 30 – 40? That literally means that during each week, there are 30 – 50 people in all experiences at one time for at least one snapshot of time I took during that week. The averages are very interesting, but harder for most people to make sense of.

It actually makes more sense (to me at least) to discuss maximum (or peak) user concurrency figures, rather than average user concurrency figures. Thanks for sharing your statistics, Galen!

Sansar Pick of the Day: Visit the Star Trek Memorabilia Exhibit at the Roddenberry Nexus

Roddenberry Nexus is a brand-new Star Trek exhibit in Sansar created by Roddenberry Entertainment, which is also hosting the official Star Trek 2018 convention running from August 1st to 5th in Las Vegas, Nevada:

 On September 8th 1966, Gene Roddenberry launched a television phenomenon that would forever change the face of science fiction. Star Trek: The Original Series followed the 23rd-century, interstellar adventures of Captain James T. Kirk and his crew of the Federation Starship, Enterprise. 21 years after its first airing of The Original Series, Gene Roddenberry amazed audiences by re-launching the franchise with its most successful series to date: Star Trek: The Next Generation. Fifty years after its initial airing, the Star Trek franchise includes five live-action television shows, one animated series and thirteen feature-length films.

Linden Lab has a booth at the Star Trek convention, and they are giving people demos of this Sansar experience. In this picture, my avatar is standing in front of the Gene Roddenberry Action Figure Prototype display:

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Roddenberry Nexus

There are many displays featuring items, such as communications devices and weapons, which you can pick up and inspect:

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There is a comprehensive timeline display of Star Trek insignia, emblems, symbols, and seals, by Brad Wilder, creator of the Star Trek Design Project website:

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When I first visited, the elevator wasn’t working (I’m sure it will be fixed soon). There are a second floor and a third floor with displays of costumes and storyboards from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. (I took these pictures by using the fly-cam mode; please click on each image to see it in a larger size):

 

There are more details in this VR Focus article: Learn Star Trek’s 52-Year History At The Roddenberry Nexus:

Star Trek fans might be enjoying some gameplay sessions on Star Trek: Bridge Crew The Next Generation DLC at the moment, but those interested in learning about its history can do so in a new immersive way today. Sansar and Roddenberry Entertainment have collaborated on the Roddenberry Nexus, a portal into the Star Trek universe where fans can see the best of Roddenberry’s science fiction properties.

The Roddenberry Nexus houses a treasure trove of Star Trek memorabilia, including never-before-seen art and artifacts from Star Trek’s fifty-two-year history and new stories such as the short film Instant.

Looking to further involve fans in the history and lore of the TV shows and films fans now have virtual access to its archives, from anywhere in the world whilst providing a hangout space that will serve as a venue for future Roddenberry events and fan meet-ups.

“Roddenberry Entertainment always strives to be on the forefront of innovation, going where no one has gone before,” said Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry, CEO of Roddenberry Entertainment in a statement. “Sansar Studios is a leader in VR development and we are proud to partner with them on this new initiative, combining the history and legacy of Roddenberry with their groundbreaking technology.”

If you’re a die-hard Trekkie, this exhibition is a must-see!

NOTE: You can install the Sansar software client, if you don’t already have it, at https://www.sansar.com/download. And then you can visit and explore this experience by searching for “Roddenberry Nexus” in the Sansar Atlas, or just by clicking this link: Roddenberry Nexus.

Six Months of Average Sansar User Concurrency Statistics

Gindipple has recently released a snapshot of average user concurrency statistics for Sansar over the past six months or so, automatically scraped from the figures of how many avatars are in what experiences from the Sansar Atlas listing. Please click on the image to load it in a larger size:

The upper part of the diagram shows daily average concurrent Sansar users over the past year. There are a lot of peaks and valleys in the data, but what’s disappointing is that the figure never rises above 20 average concurrent users. Now, I have been to events in Sansar that have had up to 35 avatars present (such as the popular Product Meetups), but you have to keep in mind that these are daily averages, so they would be lower.

The smoother data on the bottom of the diagram is monthly average concurrent Sansar users. Notice that there was a slight dip over June, then it rises again.

What’s clear is that the average number of Sansar users is not rising over time; it’s staying flat. So how can Linden Lab attract more people to Sansar, and keep them coming back?

Well, I would argue that adding new features such as custom avatars is a big step toward providing the kind of platform that attracts content creators, who in turn will attract consumers. Bumping up the number of free experiences you can create from 3 to 20 was also a good step in fostering creativity. Finally, I know that a permissions/licensing system for content creators (which Landon told us would be coming sooner rather than later) will also attract new investment in the platform.

What do you think Linden Lab needs to do to attract and keep new users? Should they list Sansar on Steam and the Oculus store? Sound off in the comments, thanks!