Atlas Hopping, Episode Sixteen!

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Ebbe (the man in the beanie, jeans and grey Sansar T-shirt) talks with Drax and the other Atlas Hoppers at 114 Harvest

We had a special guest join today’s episode of Atlas Hopping! Linden Lab’s CEO, Ebbe Altberg, came along with us. Today we visited four experiences:

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Nic’s Freebie World

Ebbe told us he expects to be hanging out in-world and at meetups a lot more often in future, which is good to hear!

Here’s Drax’s livestream of today’s event:

 

Pick of the Day: M2D City

M2D City by Mario2 Helstein is an imaginative futuristic cityscape, complete with flying cars.

M2D City 1

There’s even a subspace garage, where a door opens to release a flying car.

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Lots of night-time neon in this experience! It’s fun to wander around and gawk at the fantastically-shaped skyscrapers and the traffic flying around at all levels of the sky.

Creator Controversy Over a Planned Sansar Feature: Should Consumers Be Able to Edit Materials on Purchased Items?

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Well, there has been quite the lively discussion over on the official Sansar Discord channels! Busiest I’ve ever seen it on there. Galen explains the reason for the kerfuffle in this post on the General Discussion forums on the Sansar website:

During this morning’s product meetup, there was some discussion of a forthcoming feature allowing users to edit the materials on items they’ve purchased in the Store. This will be limited to items placed in a scene and not include avatar attachments. Moreover, creators still can’t take items they have modified in a scene back into their inventory for reuse. So it’s limited.

Nevertheless, several people were concerned about the idea of their products being altered without their permission.

I honestly don’t see a problem, but I wanted to bring the debate up here in hopes that those who have misgivings about this new feature would explain their concerns.

I guess my first thought is that it’s not illegal to add stickers to a new laptop or paint your dining table some other color. So why not expect customers to modify things they’ve bought in Sansar? Is that somehow different from the basic fair-use concept that we’re used to with most products we buy?

I think the most obvious objection is one of representation. Someone does a shabby job modifying something they bought from you and now that shabby version of your product represents your brand and could reflect badly.

Some creators are upset about this planned functionality in the next Sansar release (still slated for mid-December). Debi Baskerville weighs in:

First, this should be a right controlled by the creator and not given away by Linden Lab to whoever buys an item.

Second, if a creator wants to grant that permission then a UV map should be provided to the purchaser for which a higher price could and rightfully be charged by the creator for the UV map.

I hear arguments against allowing for personal volume controls .. not allowing people to fly and so forth because it takes away the rights of the creator of an experience. How is this different? The creator of any mesh model should have the right to set the permissions of the items they sell. Period! And until that mechanism is in place doing this is much too premature. We don’t need the cart before the horse!

From a customer viewpoint, I know I regularly tint objects I buy in SL; however, I nearly never retexture anything mesh because there’s much too much work involved. The only reason tinting works in SL is because you can select faces and tint those face independently of other faces on the object. That won’t work in Sansar. So tinting in Sansar is rather useless.

I see no value in being able to retexture or retint any objects in Sansar unless the objects are made specifically with that in mind, such as the building sets that have basic shapes and sizes for component building.

So, what do you think? Sound off, either in the posted link to Galen’s thread (see above), or in the comments to this blogpost!

Commerce Comes to High Fidelity

Up until now, one of the major differences between the two VR-capable virtual worlds of Sansar and High Fidelity was that the former allowed the sale of objects, while the latter had only a “free” online store. Well, that has now changed with the beta release of shopping in High Fidelity.

There has been a lot of media attention to this development, as High Fidelity has decided to implement a form of blockchain to prove valid ownership and combat content theft.

Commerce in High Fidelity is currently limited to avatar accessories (not stand-alone objects) and it is currently restricted to just one domain, Avatar Island, where there are four separate stores for you to go shopping.

One thing I noticed immediately is that HiFi has put a lot of care and work into the design of Avatar Island. It looks really good and visually appealing, with helpful signs and maps to help the new user get oriented. Here’s a picture I took in-world of a Japanese-themed store called Usagi:

High Fidelity Usagi Avatar Island 5 Dec 2017

Another nice thing is that there are actual mirrors in the stores so you can get a good look at yourself! We need mirrors in Sansar. (Actually, I first encountered working mirrors several years ago in a little-known virtual world called Twinity.)

Here’s a snapshot of my HiFi avatar (a standard-issue photo-realistic model from the “free” store), wearing a wizard hat and looking at himself in the mirror. I must admit that the ability to adjust what you are wearing just by tugging on it is a very nice feature to have. (I still can’t figure out how to resize avatar attachments if they’re too big, though.)

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You can walk out of the store wearing something you haven’t paid for yet, but if you teleport away from Avatar Island, the unpaid-for item automatically detaches itself from your avatar.

HiFi’s currency is called High Fidelity Coin (HFC for short), and anyone can request a free grant of 10,000 HFC as part of the beta test, simply by emailing  info@highfidelity.com and giving HiFi your username and associated email address. I understand this takes about three days to process, so I am still impatiently waiting for some currency so I can finally buy things! (You cannot yet buy HFC using your credit card, as you can with Sansar dollars.)

Another interesting thing about this new endeavour is that it is an in-world shopping model, unlike Sansar’s Web-based Sansar Store. There are even little green “recycle” bins in the stores, where you can deposit items you decided you don’t want to buy after all. The High Fidelity shopping experience goes so far as to include check-out stands in each store, where you “scan” items that you wish to purchase, just like you can do at the self-check-out kiosks at many real-world stores and supermarkets!

I did notice that you have to type in your passphrase on the user tablet which pops up when you use the check-out stands, which is still a real pain in the ass when you are in a VR headset. I’m still not sure how I feel about the whole tablet metaphor in High Fidelity. Sometimes I find it useful, other times I just find it irritating. At least you can reposition it so it doesn’t block your view.

Here’s a YouTube promotional video of the whole in-world shopping experience:

Frankly, I wish we had the option to do in-world shopping in Sansar much as we do in Second Life, but I certainly understand why Linden Lab started off with web-based shopping only (it’s easier to implement). Having well-stocked in-world stores where the creator can arrange the wares to his or her taste has a certain charm and convenience, and I think it adds a lot to the overall shopping experience. In fact, there are already a few Sansar experiences which are essentially in-world showcases for a particular creator’s products, like Alfy’s oYo Showroom. We can expect to see more of these types of experiences as Sansar grows.

Shopping is a popular pastime in most virtual worlds, and people often put a lot of time and care into how their avatars look, and how they decorate their personal spaces. It will be interesting to watch how the retail landscape evolves in both Sansar and High Fidelity.