Sansar Pick of the Day: Hopswater Swallet

Hopswater Swallet was the talented content creator Nya Alchemi’s entry in the recently completed Sansar Labyrinth contest, and although it did not win a prize, it is still an outstanding achievement. You arrive at the mouth of a cave lit by glowing crystals:

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Attached to the cave entrance is a parchment which reads:

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Your goal is to make it all the way through to the end of the maze, avoiding traps along the way like rolling barrels. This particular maze was great fun to navigate!

Nya put a lot of hard work into designing this experience, and it really shows. Here’s a picture of the brewery, tucked away deep within the cave:

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Pay a visit to Hopswater Swallet and see if you can make it all the way to the very end!

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Jason Gholston Speaks About Sansar at the Augmented World Expo

Jason Gholston, the Product Director for Sansar at Linden Lab, gave a presentation at the recent Augmented World Expo held in Santa Clara, California from May 30th to June 1st, 2018.

One of the very surprising facts that came out of Jason’s talk was that Sansar users have already created over 16,000 experiences to date! That’s much higher than I expected. If you check the Sansar Atlas, there are only about 1,000 published experiences. This means that only 1 out of every 16 Sansar experiences are published and accessible via the Atlas! A lot of people must have created test experiences which they did not wish to share with the public.

He said that Linden Lab was really excited about esports applications of Sansar, and then he stumbled and said “High Fidelity” when he meant to say “high quality” (Freudian slip?).

When asked if he was surprised by anything that the Sansar community has created so far, he mentioned the very popular Atlas Hopping series hosted by Draxtor Despres and Strawberry Singh (now up to Episode 46!). I agree that a really strong community has developed among the Atlas Hoppers!

Jason talked about how there is no “magic bullet” for dealing with trolls and griefers in virtual worlds. He said that Linden Lab is still building out the moderation toolset in Sansar, but that this work is a high priority.

When asked if he has any favourite memories or stories about Sansar, he mentioned people who met through the platform and even got married (congratulations to Ria and Loz!).

When asked what people could do to help promote social VR, he suggested people inviting their friends into Sansar and other social VR platforms:

Use it like you would use a hangout or a video chat or a phone call. Next time you want to play a game, go exploring place to place, invite friends.

Sansar Atlas Hopping, Episode 46!

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Today’s theme was creepy places to visit. Ebbe Altberg (CEO of Linden Lab, the makers of Sansar) joined us again. The Atlas Hoppers visited the following five Sansar experiences:

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Ebbe (striped shirt) and the rest of the Atlas Hoppers at Ivo’s Call

Here’s Drax’s livestream of the event (Strawberry is still on vacation):

Editorial: Are People Using Alts to Avoid Paying for a Sansar Subscription?

There’s been quite a bit of discussion and debate over on the official Sansar Discord channels about whether or not people have been creating alts (alternative avatars) in order to avoid paying Linden Lab for a Sansar subscription.

You see, every avatar counts as one Sansar account. And every account is allowed to build up to three Sansar experiences for free. If you want more than that, then you’re supposed to pony up for a paid subscription (here’s a chart of the levels):

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Some people who do have paid subscriptions have rightfully pointed out that there’s nothing stopping someone from creating multiple alts and using them to make as many free experiences as they want, without ever paying for a subscription.

I come to Sansar from Second Life, where, as I have written about before, I have created (and deleted) dozens of alts for various purposes. So, for me, it was natural to want to create an alt (Vanity Fair) for the modeling of female fashion for this blog. It’s not because I wanted to create more experiences for free (Vanity is using zero), but because I wanted to keep a separate female inventory of clothes. What Sansar really needs to implement sooner rather than later is proper inventory folders. Having to scroll and scroll and scroll through my clothing folder in the Lookbook is getting ridiculous.

Another reason people create alt accounts is to work on projects together. For example, when Tyler Scarborough created the set for the Metaverse Newscast, he asked me to create an account that he could use to build the experience, which I did (this was back in August 2017, which I believe was even before Linden Lab had set up their subscription levels plan). Sharing an account was, and still is, a necessity for most collaborative work right now. Until Linden Lab gives us the proper tools, it’s the only option we have to work together on projects, and they know that.

As my academic research project at work, I am creating a user-navigable, three-dimensional version of the Mathematical Atlas website (a guide to the mathematics literature for undergraduate and graduate students originally created by Dr. David Rusin), using Sansar as a software platform. For this research project, I created a separate account, for two reasons:

  1. I wanted the name “Virtual Library” in the URL for the published experience, rather than “Ryan Schultz”.
  2. I wanted a professional account, totally separate from my personal account, so that, when/if it came time to subscribe, it would be easier to arrange for the billing through my employer and my research expense account.

At the moment, the only experience I have for my research account is an unpublished empty flat plane. I have no plans to publish an experience for my research project for at least a year, and probably longer (my research time and money are both limited).

So in total, I have four Sansar accounts and only two published Sansar experiences: Ryan’s Garden and the Metaverse Newscast studio. That’s not likely to change in the near future. If at any point I go over the 3 experience limit, then I will pay Linden Lab for a subscription. I think that’s only fair.

So, you see, there are some good reasons for people to create alts. But that still leaves a potential loophole for unscrupulous people to exploit, and a potential revenue problem for Linden Lab. How to fix it? Here are five suggestions:

  • Give us inventory folders and subfolders (which removes the necessity of using alts as “folders” to organize our increasingly messy inventories, like I do with Vanity Fair)
  • Give us tools to allow us to work collaboratively on projects, thus making it unnecessary to share accounts and make “project” accounts
  • Allow us more flexibility in the URL names for our published experiences. Give us the option to not have our usernames as part of the URL.
  • Find a way to get rid of the one-to-one avatar/account setup. Replace it with a more flexible system where you can create more than one avatar per account.
  • Set up an accounting system (maybe using the computer IP address or some other identifier?) to find and target the people who are abusing account creation in order to get around the subscription plans. If someone has multiple alt accounts, each with 3 free experiences set up, that should be pretty easy for Linden Lab to spot. You can’t hide anything on the internet!