I missed this Product Meetup due to various virtual work meetings today, so I am just now watching the livestream on Twitch in order to get caught up.
Daisy Gator also livestreamed today’s meeting (thanks, Daisy!):
One of the big pieces of news is that Sansar is actually planning to work on support for mobile devices (both Android and iOS): “I think that the intent is to be a steaming service, so you’ll be streaming Sansar to your phone rather than rendering directly on your phone.” (In response to a question, Sansar is not working on support for the Oculus Quest VR headset.)
Another piece of news is that Sansar’s popular community manager, Galileo, found another job during the hiatus (with the company making the game War Dragons), and this week is his last. Lacie will be the new Sansar community manager.
Galileo left us the following thank you video:
As I expected, body sliders on the avatars is not a priority. The focus will continue to be on events: “Our plan is to get these huge events going with tons, thousands of people, hopefully, in here.”
Sansar will remain PG13; there are no plans to allow adult content.
As far as the team knows, the existing collaboration with Marvelous Designer will continue.
With respect to Sansar’s availability via Steam (which I think has been a disaster), they are currently looking at the situation. So there are no details yet on whether or not Sansar will stay on Steam.
I understand that Inara Pey was at this Product Meetup, and I look forward to seeing her usual detailed notes. When she posts them on her blog, I will link to them here.
Here are a few of my notes from yesterday’s Sansar Product Meetup, regarding plans for the platform for 2020. Galileo, the Community Manager for Sansar, led the meeting, and Boden, SeanT, Lacie, Cinno, and a few other Linden Lab staff were also present (I didn’t catch everybody’s name). The audio on the Twitch stream at times was very uneven, and the sound cut out completely at one point, so I may have missed a few items in this report.
Any editorial comments in these notes are in italics.
Among the new features planned for the next few releases of the Sansar client:
New emotes system. You will not have to go into the character editor to select emotes. You can use hotkeys to play emotes instead of selecting them from a menu.
New starter avatar looks in the carousel, with more variety possible for first-time users.
Twitch extensions (a new feature for streamers; I have no idea what this means).
Scene-based animations (e.g. animations that are enacted when you enter a scene or world)
Having items in your backpack change according to certain events and triggers.
Improvements to moderation tools (internal use first, then eventually passing them on to end users).
Group travel and group chat (by the end of next quarter).
Improvements to the instance picker.
User Interface improvements (Binah is working on this).
After announcements, Galileo opened the floor for questions from the audience in attendance at the Product Meetup. Items and issues that came up during this question and answer session included:
Individual avatar volume controls are likely to come in the second quarter of 2020, as part of the roll-out of the UI redesign.
Skin textures and body sliders: Linden Lab is looking at skin textures in the first quarter of 2020, and they hope to have this feature released sometime over the next couple of client updates. “The body sliders are further out, for sure, but skin textures are closer.” (Editorial note: I’ll believe it when I see it. My understanding from various sources is that most of the Sansar avatar team was laid off in October, which will significantly impact further avatar customization plans.)
No planned changes to any income splits between creators and Linden Lab. (Editorial note: Again, no big surprises here. Some content creators are obviously still feeling cranky about the percentage LL takes when selling items on the Sansar Store, and cashing out profits.)
Various people reported problems with the avatar files in Blender, which Linden Lab has not yet had an opportunity to look at.
There are no plans for extending shader capabilites (and yes, there is still someone left on the shader team, despite rumours to the contrary). Linden Lab may bring him out to a future Product Meetup to answer questions.
Those are pretty much the highlights of the meeting, from what I can see. I’m glad that Linden Lab is still having regular Product Meetups, even though I still don’t expect to see any major new features showing up in any future releases in 2020. (The planned updates to the emote system are certainly very welcome, though.)
So you can get the scoop straight from the people directly involved.
While I think the reasoning for this decision is very sound, the unfortunate fact remains that since Linden Lab is a smaller company with limited resources, feature development will tend to lag behind off-the-shelf engines like Unity and Unreal, which have bigger development teams and lots of users. However, as mentioned in Inara’s notes, backwards compatibility of user-generated content (UGC) is a key issue that needs to be addressed in any successful virtual world. I still think that Sansar is on the right track.
I decided to come in-world to report on this week’s important Sansar Product Meetup, which was entirely focused on Linden Lab’s plans for future avatar customization. This is an opportunity for Sansar users to hear LL’s plans and provide feedback on what features they would like to see. Nearly 60 avatars were present at the meeting, an over-capacity crowd which lead to people landing up in separate instances of the experience (something that Linden Lab really needs to address going forward).
Cara reported that there will be more avatar sliders, first for the face and then the body. The new default human avatars will have maps on the body itself, and you will be able to use your mouse to click and drag to adjust your features. This would be a different way to adjust your face and body than using simple sliders, and it sounds exciting!
Linden Lab is considering adding an avatar height slider, and they are also looking at uniform scaling to make larger and smaller but still proportional avatars (e,g, giants and pixies).
Linden Lab also wants to push for more custom avatars on the marketplace. They are also looking at the ability to dress custom avatars using clothing created in Marvelous Designer within the next couple of releases of the client software, according to Cara. The AABB bounding box on the avatar will be expanded to allow for such things as larger wings, for example.
They also want to add more avatar attachment points, and they also want to look at improving the accessories so you can adjust the item while wearing it.
High heels: not one of Linden Lab’s priorities at the moment. Many users want to have this ability though, sooner rather than later.
Custom skins: Linden Lab does want to open up the ability to upload and sell custom skins on the market.
The current humanoid skin type will be tintable (as hair and nails are now), but the next-generation avatar will have a skin type which will use subsurface scattering and shaders to look better, and will require a different way to tint it.
Animated attachments: not a current priority.
Hotswapping avatars (between saved looks in the Lookbook) is a feature that Linden Lab would like to set up for us to be able to use (i.e. not having to go into Lookbook to change an outfit but doing it instantly).
It was a very good meeting, short of actual delivery dates, but still giving us a glimpse of where avatar customization is going within Sansar. I think many of the people who attended the meeting were very pleased with the announcements that were made by Cara and Lacie.
UPDATE Feb. 15th: Inara Pey, who does a much better job of summarizing these weekly Product Meetups than I do, corrects a mistake I made:
“Hotswapping avatars (between saved looks in the Lookbook) is a feature that Linden Lab would like to set up for us to be able to use”
As a point of clarification, Cara actually said this is something the Lab is *unable* to support at the moment – and no indication was given that this is being looked at. What she did mention was that the idea of some kind of “personal inventory” of objects “carried” by an avatar is still under discussion at the Lab.