Sansar Avatar Clothing: Are We Going to See a Repeat of What Happened in Second Life, With Designers Having to Create Separate Versions for Multiple Brands of Mesh Avatar Bodies?

This red ballgown by Nicky Ree Designs is all system layer clothing with a flexiprim skirt, worn on a classic, system avatar with a Catwa Bento mesh head and Slink hands. Bakes on Mesh now allows you to wear this outfit on a fully mesh avatar like Maitreya Lara.

In the early, pre-mesh days of Second Life (before 2011), avatar clothing designers had it pretty easy. All clothing for the classic, system avatars was applied on overlapping layers, with extra prims for features like sleeves and collars and flexiprims to simulate flowing clothing like skirts and cloaks. It was simple, everybody knew how to use it, and best of all, it worked with any combination of avatar body sliders: fat, thin, muscular, short, tall…

When mesh clothing started to make an appearance, around 2011, it was still mostly designed for classic, system avatars. With the addition of an alpha which removed the parts of your body covered by the outfit, it still worked well. Clothing creators pretty much adhered to the agreed-upon five “standard sizes” for classic avatars, which meant that if your avatar was one of these five sizes (i.e. adjusted to fit a specific predefined set of body slider numbers), your clothing pretty much fit you perfectly. A more complicated system, but still fairly easy to understand and use.

However, with the advent of mesh avatar bodies, avatar fashion designers faced a much more daunting task. Clothing makers now had to learn how to rig their outfits for an ever-growing, seemingly endless number of mesh bodies. Even worse, clothing rigged for a specific mesh body might not work with a different mesh body!

Strawberry Singh used to run an annual mesh body parts survey, and the results of the 2018 survey showed the most popular options at that time:

Women’s Mesh Bodies

  • Maitreya Lara
  • Belleza Freya, Isis, and Venus
  • Slink Physique and Hourglass
  • Abar eBody Classic and Curvy
  • Tonic Fine and Curvy
  • Altamura
  • Kemono
  • V-Tech for Maitreya
  • Ocacin Standard and Voluptuous

Men’s Mesh Bodies

  • Belleza Jake
  • Singature Gianni and Geralt
  • Slink Physique
  • EXMACHINA Davide
  • Altamura

That’s a whopping 15 options for women and 6 for men! Most avatar fashion designers decided to deal with this situation by restricting the mesh bodies that they would design for.

In most cases, for women’s clothing, this has meant rigging for only six of the most popular mesh bodies:

  • Maitreya Lara
  • Belleza Freya
  • Belleza Isis
  • Belleza Venus
  • Slink Physique
  • Slink Hourglass

(An increasing number of designers are now also creating clothing to fit the new Legacy avatar by The Mesh Project, in come cases dropping one of the “top Six” mesh bodies listed above to incorporate it.)

Obviously, this situation in Second Life is far from ideal, either for creators or consumers. Newer mesh body creators like Altamura must feel like they’re bashing their head against a brick wall trying to get designers to create clothing specifically for their bodies.

Linden Lab wants to avoid this nightmare in Sansar, by eventually releasing a completely adjustable human(oid) avatar on which all Marvelous-Designer-created clothing will fit. However, at a recent in-world Product Meetup, it was revealed that Marvelous Designer clothing is limited in how much it can be adjusted. For example, while it can be easily scaled (resized), it will not be possible to make just the sleeves of shirts or just the legs of pants longer, for example.

At the moment, we are all in an uncomfortable interim situation with human avatars in Sansar, waiting for the full body deformation capabilities that Linden Lab tells us is coming within the next 4-6 months.

In the meantime, we are already beginning to see some Sansar avatar fashion designers start to make multiple versions of clothing for different popular custom avatars (which are non-adjustable/static), like this Harley Quinn outfit from Daisy Winthorpe:

In addition to a version for the new Avatar 2.0 female body, Daisy has released versions for Fabeeo Breen’s Daphne custom avatar and Cora’s line of Alina custom avatars:

Frankly, until Linden Lab releases the final version of its human avatars with full body deformation features, I am reluctant to buy any clothing from the Sansar Store. There is also going to be a trial-and-error period where we figure out what works and what doesn’t with these upcoming avatars. Hopefully, incorporating Marvelous Designer clothing will still prove to be a satisfactory solution for most people.

Linden Lab is working hard to try and save avatar clothing designers from the problems that have occurred in Second Life with multiple competing brands of mesh bodies. However, it might still happen that we will see the same problems happen all over again in Sansar. Only time will tell. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.

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An Early Review of Oculus Link: Play Oculus Rift Apps on Your Oculus Quest VR Headset (And Will It Work with Sansar?)

Nathaniël de Jong (a.k.a. Nathie) is a Dutch YouTuber with half a million subscribers, who often posts review videos of the latest and greatest VR hardware and software on his channel.

Yesterday, he posted the following review of the Oculus Link software which allows Oculus Quest users to play Oculus Rift apps using a cable connected to a gaming-level computer with a good graphics card:

The review is esssentially a rave. The only complaint that Nathie has about the Oculus Quest/Oculus Link setup is that the headset is front-heavy (something which I can also attest to). However, there has been no shortage of headset modding advice posted to places like the Oculus Quest subReddit (for example, attaching a battery pack to the back of the headstrap, which not only redistributes the weight, but also lets you play for several hours longer!).

The Oculus Link software will be available in November 2019, and it will be free. You will need to purchase a USB 3.0 cable; you can buy your own, or you can wait until Oculus sells their own fibre cable for a “best in class” experience, for about US$80/CA$106.

I expect I will be among the first people to test Sansar via the Oculus Quest and Oculus Link, when it becomes available later this year. If it does work, it will truly be a game changer, allowing a potentially much larger audience for apps such as Sansar. And I’m quite sure that Linden Lab will be testing this out too, once Oculus Link is available.

But DON’T buy an Oculus Quest right now, expecting that it will automatically work with Sansar. It’s still too soon to tell; wait for me and others to test it out and report back before you buy. Better to be safe than sorry! Linden Lab is not recommending users purchase the Oculus Quest if they are planning on using it just for Sansar.

Please note that currently, the only VR headsets that Linden Lab officially supports for Sansar are the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive headsets. Some users have reported that they have been able to get Windows Mixed Reality headsets to work with Sansar, but it’s not officially supported (you can get help via the official Sansar Discord). While Linden Lab has reported some work on getting Sansar to work with the Valve Index controllers, it is also not yet officially supported.

Editorial: Some Random Thoughts on the Morning After the Facebook Horizon Announcement

I don’t have a lot of time today, but I wanted to write up a few more thoughts I had about yesterday’s Facebook Horizon announcement.


First: Linden Lab knew something was up. The timing of their splashy revamp of Sansar (the day before the OC6 keynote) was no accident. They wanted to get some media air time before Facebook came in and sucked all the oxygen out of the room! The new promotional video for Sansar is slick, savvy, and obviously designed to entice the curious newcomer:

The big Sansar news on Sept. 24th was the announcement of partnerships with major corporations including Sanrio, Levi’s, and Spinnin’ Records. But there was also a redo of the Sanar logo (switched from red to aqua blue), and some slick new promotional imagery designed to appeal to gamers:

Agent Primus and Agent Forma: Your world is waiting!

Now, many of the features VentureBeat touted about Sansar in their article about the relaunch were not exactly news to long-time Sansarians, or to avid readers of my blog: the new Avatar 2.0 avatars with facial deformation features, the Nexus, etc. But we oldbies are not the target audience here; Linden Lab is now pulling out all the stops to get maximum marketshare and mindshare in a social VR marketplace that suddenly got a lot more competitive. It’s a smart move.

They’ve also got lots of branded events coming up in the next little while to entice people to come visit.

I think it is probably safe to say that many other social VR platforms and virtual worlds were completely caught off guard by yesterday’s detailed announcement of Facebook Horizon, and they will need to take some time to adjust to the new reality, the “new normal”.


Now, back to the main event: Facebook Horizon.

Screen capture from Mark Zuckerberg’s OC6 Keynote Yesterday

You will remember that I left Facebook and Instagram as my New Year’s resolution at the end of 2018, in protest over what I saw as a number of very serious data security and privacy issues with the social network:

I am fed up. I have had enough. And I am fighting back the only way I can: by shutting down my Facebook and Instagram accounts and deleting all of the data that Facebook has gathered on me.

Well, last night I came crawling back to Facebook. But the company did indeed keep its promise: it did not offer to reconnect me with 13 years of data it had on me, which I had asked them to delete. However, Facebook still knows it’s me: many of the initial friend suggestions it made were people who I had been connected to on the previous incarnation of my account. (I politely declined all of them. I am doing things totally differently this time around.)

As it happens, I have used the same email address for both my Oculus hardware account and for my deleted-and-now-reinstated Facebook social network account. I have no idea if Facebook is going to keep those two accounts separate, or try to merge them sometime in the future. In fact, there’s still no concrete evidence to support the thesis that you have to have an account on the Facebook social network in order to use Horizon.

So now I have a shiny new empty Facebook account, but I am approaching this fully forearmed with the knowledge that Facebook will strip mine the hell out of any data I provide, as well as the knowledge that my data can (and in fact, already has been) weaponized by companies such as Cambridge Analytica and used against me.

I am willing to come back, but I am damn wary. And I have essentially locked down everything I can using Facebook’s own security and privacy settings, as well as installing and setting up the excellent F.B. (Fluff Buster) Purity web browser extension. Please note that Facebook does not like F.B. Purity, and will actively block any mention of F.B. Purity on its social network; I only learned about this tool through word of mouth, from other Facebook users. You can read more about it via the link I posted above.

Also, I have registered for the closed beta test of the new Facebook Horizon platform, which starts sometime in early 2020. The application process asked for my Oculus account information I provided when I first purchased and set up my Oculus Rift headset in January 2017, followed by the purchase and set up of my Oculus Quest in May 2019. (I have read on Reddit that Facebook will accept either a Facebook social network account or an Oculus account, but I did not see any option to enter the former, only the latter. Perhaps I missed something.)

All the short registration form asked me for was my gender (male, female, or something custom), what experience I had building content for social VR and virtual worlds (and what tools I used), and whether I lead, moderate, or administer an online community (such as Reddit, Facebook Groups, Discord, Twitch, etc.). I did tell them that I was an influential blogger who writes a blog about social VR, virtual worlds, and the metaverse, which gets anywhere between 600 and 6,000 views per day. (I forgot to tell them that I also have a popular Discord discussion forum associated with my blog. Oh well.)

The worst that can happen is that Facebook decides I am not worthy to enter the closed beta test, in which case I will need to examine my options. Also, Facebook may ask beta testers to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement), which is fairly common in these sorts of cases. For example, even though I was accepted into the Sansar closed alpha/beta testing back in December of 2016, I was not allowed to blog about anything I saw in-world until the open beta launch on July 31, 2019—and I also had to receive explicit permission from Linden Lab to post pictures taken before that date on my blog, as a sort of history of Sansar’s early development. We may face the same situation with Facebook Horizon. We’ll see. It’s still very early days.


It wasn’t until late last night that I realized several unusual things about the veritable flurry of announcements made at OC6.

First: Facebook still does not have a single social VR platform to bring together Oculus Go, Oculus Quest, and Oculus Rift users! Facebook Horizon is only intended for the Oculus Rift and the Oculus Quest. What this means for Oculus Go users is unclear.

Second, Facebook has announced that they will be shutting down both Facebook Spaces and Oculus Rooms on October 25th, 2019, presumably to free up staff who will be deployed to work on Facebook Horizon.

I will not be sorry to see Facebook Spaces go; as I have said before on this blog when making predictions in December 2018:

…we might yet see the launch of a new social VR platform backed by Facebook, after they decide to ditch the lamentable Facebook Spaces once and for all. Maybe it will be based on Oculus Rooms; maybe it will be something completely different. But despite my negative feelings about the social networking side of Facebook, they still have the hardware (Oculus), the money, and the reach to be a game-changer in social VR. (Just not with Facebook Spaces. At this point, they should just kill the project and start over. Any improvements will be like putting lipstick on a pig.)

Yep. Take that mutt out back behind the woodshed and put it out of its misery… I really doubt anybody was using Facebook Spaces anyway, despite courageous efforts by people such as Navah Berg to promote it. And I’m quite sure that the entire episode was instructive to Facebook about what works and doesn’t work in a social VR platform.

And Oculus Rooms was only for Gear VR and the Oculus Go, which means that they will have no Facebook-branded social VR platform at all. This is, of course, an opportunity to other, third-party platforms which support Gear VR and Oculus Go, such as AltspaceVR, Rec Room, Bigscreen, and vTime XR.

Interesting times ahead!

UPDATED! Ample Coverage on Sansar Avatars: “We’re all peacefully witnessing the sansarship”

Jesus H. Christ.

Is there a full moon? That’s the only possible explanation of the levels of craziness I have been witnessing in the past 24 hours on various social VR platforms.

First was the three-ring circus around High Fidelity’s Virtual Co-working Island Cam. And now all holy hell seems to have broken loose in the avatar creation community over on Sansar.

Apparently, a Linden Lab employee has flagged several custom female avatars for sale on the Sansar Store for lacking “ample coverage” (i.e., having enough of their breasts, vagina, and ass covered, as per Linden Lab guidelines banning totally nude avatars. I’ve already written an editorial about this overly-strict policy and what I think about it.

Furthermore, the Linden Lab staff member then issued 24-hour deadlines for the avatars to be fixed, or have them removed. This edict has gone over about as well as it could be expected. One creator who is quite upset about it, Medhue, told me:

Of course, I complained to Ebbe that all the female avatars on the marketplace don’t have enough ample coverage. So, today, all the female avatars or most [were flagged], including Fabeo’s. Fabeo tried to make an announcement about it all, in a funny creative way, and [LL staff member] removed the comment, and banned him from the Discord. In fact, the whole Avatar channel was blocked for any posting for a number of minutes, twice. You could get quotes from Bagnaria and Fabeo about it all, and dealing with [LL staff member]. They are truly a tyrant.

It’s one thing to enforce the rules, but it is another to dictate how much time you have to do it. One day isn’t even remotely reasonable. The craziness in the Discord though, is a whole other level of craziness, by a Lab employee trying to justify their tyranny.

For Bagnaria and I, it is just super demotivating to know [LL staff member] is watching us closely, for any missed step. I only complained to Ebbe to show how they are targeting us alone. All those other bodies were posted a good week before ours. So, [LL staff member] is either targeting us, or they just didn’t do their job for a week, and then chose to hit us first.

(UPDATE: Apparently, Medhue was wrong, and Fabeeo Breen was not banned from Discord. However, “slow mode” was enabled, which meant that you could only post once every five minutes on the #avatar channel. I apologize for my role in reporting untrue information. I should have checked with Fabeeo before posting that, and I didn’t. Also, I screwed up in the use of the proper pronouns in referring to the LL staff member in question. They have all been changed to they/them/their.)

For her part, Bagnaria said:

Let me just say, have never felt less motivated to continue to work on anything in Sansar.

Fabeeo Breen reported on the message he received from Linden Lab:

Hi Fabeeo, Announcing the replacement of the Daphne avatar is fine, but please make sure that your announcement does not contain language that might fall under our Community Standards against Disturbing the Peace.

Medhue retorted:

It is quite funny now that the Lab is using Disturbing the Peace as their reason for removing things posted by their CUSTOMERS. Ebbe, I read the post, and it was entertaining, and creative. Quite enjoyable actually. The only people being disturbed by it was Lab employees. Crap! This could fall under Disturbing the Peace too…

We were the first to get hit by the censor hammer. As Bag pointed out, we were contacted yesterday, and given 24 hours to fix it, as if we are just sitting around doing nothing and actually have the time for this sillyness. If they wanted a specific coverage, then they should have given that to us, instead of being VAGUE. They vagueness created this. I asked them several times at meetings exactly what was required, and instead of taking that question seriously, they laughed it off and said AMPLE COVERAGE. Again, they created this situation, by being vague.

I have complained in the past about the sometimes heavy-handed moderating of the official Sansar Discord. And I have blogged about how we need a return to etiquette, manners and civility in our online forums, too.

Frankly, both sides in this dispute need to take a step back and re-examine how they are approaching this situation. I am not impressed by either side’s behaviour today. Linden Lab needs to stop being so heavy-handed. And, for their part, the content creators need to be a little less thin-skinned.

But all this patent ridiculousness over “ample coverage” could easily be addressed by letting avatars be naked, like Barbie and Ken dolls. Then, custom avatar creators wouldn’t have to guess if the painted-on underwear is too revealing or not. I mean, for God’s sake, the default system avatars and the most popular mesh body avatars in Second Life are sold naked. Why is that such a big deal in Sansar? Is Linden Lab that scared of Sansar being tarred with the brush of X-rated content that they have to police this sort of thing, and go to these ridiculous extremes? Are we going to have an Ample Coverage Police Force?

The only truly funny thing to come out of this godawful mess was Silas Merlin’s comment:

We’re all peacefully witnessing the sansarship…

Perhaps it’s time to re-examine the content guidelines for the Sansar Store again, maybe even loosen them up a little. Either that, or explicitly mandate exactly how much of the avatar needs to be covered.

After all, even children are allowed to play with Barbie and Ken dolls.

May I leave you all with some sage advice from Taylor Swift?

UPDATE, 5:00 p.m.: Well, this blogpost has sparked a wide-ranging discussion on the official Sansar Discord server, and I learned quite a few things that I didn’t know before, such as the fact that the “ample coverage” guidelines Sansar has now are the result of the adjustments they’ve made to accommodate content creators over a period of years, and that the 24-hours rule (while being reviewed, internally, in response to this episode) is also a compromise to the original policy, which was to remove such content immediately without notice.

So, the message I get from Linden Lab is that these rules are not made up arbitrarily or on the spot. Mind you, Linden Lab has historically not been very good at providing the context in which those rules are formulated and updated. And, to be fair, the users and content creators often assume the very worst of intentions on the part of Linden Lab, often leaping to conclusions without evidence. Both sides can improve.

But I do apologize to Linden Lab and their staff the part I played in this. In particular, I jumped the gun and published this blogpost without getting all sides of the story. That was clearly not the best way to handle this situation, and I’m sorry.

SECOND UPDATE, Sept. 18th: I have replaced the original illustration at the top of this blogpost with this wonderful tongue-in-cheek image supplied by Silas Merlin, who told me his own stories of “sansarship”, but requested that I do not repeat them on the blog. Thanks, Silas!