This Thursday, which also happens to be Valentine’s Day, there will be a special Product Meetup focusing on avatar customization. Lacie Sansar (who appears to be the acting community manager for Sansar while Linden Lab is searching to fill the position after Eliot left) has posted the following message to the announcements channel on the official Sansar Discord:
I’m *extremely* excited to announce our *Special Edition* of our Product Meetup this upcoming Thursday.
We will focus on discussing the highly requested upcoming features for even **more** Avatar Customization & we want to hear your feedback.
Without further ado…*lets get customizable* this **Thursday, February 14th** at **11AM PST**
We’re already got endless customization of such things as hair, clothing, and accessories, but I am still really happy to see this announcement because I and others have been badgering Linden Lab for months now to address several issues related to customization for the default human avatars:
more face sliders and the addition of body sliders (height, weight, etc.)
customized skins which can be bought and sold on the Sansar Store
So if, like me, you are keenly interested in these sorts of topics, we get an opportunity to tell Linden Lab what we want to see!
Please note that my notes are rough notes only, and may contain errors. Inara Pey was present and recording the meeting, so there will be a full report from her at a later date. But for now, here is what was discussed at the well-attended meeting.
Ebbe, Eliot, Landon, Cara, and Nyx (among several other Linden Lab staff) attended the Product Meeting today, which (at least according to the Sansar Atlas display) seems to have set a record for the number of avatars in a single Sansar experience!
Questions I asked Landon and the other Linden Lab staff are bolded.
Why has Linden Lab decided to make Sansar available on Steam?
Landon: We think we’ll be ready to launch on Steam after the next couple of Sansar client updates. Also, people cannot find us (they expect us to be on Steam). Steam is where the highest density of people who meet our hardware requirements are found (VR users and gamers).
Will Sansar still be available outside of Steam, as it currently is for Oculus Rift users?
Landon: Yes, absolutely.
Why is Linden Lab pushing to release Sansar on Steam before the end of this year, rather than wait another six months to a year to further polish the platform and add new features?
We want to get more people in, to help refine the product and make it better. We want to start building a community on Steam.
Re: dealing with any negative feedback on Steam, Eliot will pass that along to the appropriate people to deal with and respond to.
Besides losing the SandeX, what other major changes to Sansar are going to be required before it launches on Steam?
Landon: No other major changes to the platform.
What steps are you going to take to promote Sansar once it launches on Steam?
Eliot: expect some significant ad spend, expect some original assets. Linden Lab wants to build a community on Steam.
Linden Lab is also working towards launching on the Oculus Store, but they are prioritizing Steam first. (Sansar is already available on VIVEPORT.)
Some notes on the economics (Warning: economics is notmy strength, so I may have some of the finer details wrong):
The buy rate will be set to 100 Sansar dollars to 1 US dollar. The exchange rate back (the sell rate) will be set to 250 to 1. However, the sell rate will be grandfathered for current Sansar users at the “legacy” rate of 143 to 1 until at least the end of next year (2019). The fees for process credit will stay.
Steam will not be part of the process of Sansar dollars, that will be entirely internal to Sansar. Cashouts will be entirely within Linden Lab, not Steam.
Users will be able to buy Sansar dollars on Steam and Steam will make 30% on that transaction. The division is: roughly 30% Steam, 30% Linden Lab, and the rest goes to creators. Note that there will be no 30% cut to Steam if you buy Sansar dollars on your credit card (as you do now).
The plan is to remove the transaction fees on sold items, but keep the transaction fee in gifting (which is a minor part of the economy). Galen said that he thinks that giving up the 15% transaction fee will lubricate the Sansar economy.
Linden Lab told us that they will be building a hub (or hubs) for a better first-time user experience.
Ebbe: Sansar will be listed on Steam as an Early Access game.
There are currently no plans to integrate with Steamworks.
Don’t expect Linux or Mac clients at the time of Steam launch.
Eliot: We want to be an alternative to VRChat. VRChat users are telling us that they are looking for something different.
Expect an influx of Steam users into the Sansar Discord channel. We now have over 1,000 users in Discord (including LL staff).
Oh, and Landon wants more male outfits and hair in the Sansar Store! 😉
And the next client release is anticipated for next Wednesday, November 7th (no promises!).
Also, there was a complaint about a continuing problem with the mouth and teeth of the female avatar. Chic Aeon noted later on Discord:
AND —- I want to put in a pet peeve for the gals again. At the end of the meeting someone asked if the female teeth would be fixed and got brushed off with a “that’s just the smile” comment that seems to be the party line. That did NOT go over well with most of the gals I am thinking. Wondering if that would have been fixed if it was the MALE avatar that is “messed” up. (insert stronger word if you like). I was pretty insulted on many levels. Doubt I was the only one.
Note to Linden Lab: FIX. THE. TEETH. ALREADY. People have been complaining about this for weeks now. Please listen to them.
I had fallen out of the habit of reblogging Inara Pey’s excellent summaries of the weekly Sansar product meetings. In her most recent post, I note with interest:
NEW USER EXPERIENCE UPDATE
Starting with the October release, new users will be taken to an experience on logging-in to Sansar for the first time, and have a default avatar. The experience will be one of those currently populated with other people, the idea being to get new users interaction with other users as quickly as possible.
Which experience a new user is sent to will depend on a number of factors: whether it is public; how many are already in it (to avoid sending new users to an experience nearing its capacity and the possibility they may be re-directed to an empty instance); and those experiences that present a heavy / long load time will also be avoided.
Yesterday, Eliot, the Community Manager for Sansar at Linden Lab, hosted a product meetup at the Zen Garden experience. A total of 35 avatars showed up, and many had questions for the Linden Lab staff who were present, including Linden Lab’s Chief Product Officer, Landon.
I tried and failed to embed the Twitch livestream of the meeting to my blog, so here is a link for you to watch. (If anybody reading this knows how to properly embed a Twitch video into WordPress, please let me know, thank you!)
I did ask Landon whether this meant that Linden Lab was going to increase transaction fees in Sansar, and Landon said that he couldn’t promise that transaction fees and other sources of income for Sansar wouldn’t be increased in the future, but he added that increasing the number of experiences was a stand-alone decision to allow for greater creativity in Sansar. So this is notthe same as the situation in Second Life, where Linden Lab lowered land fees (both mainland and private estates), and raised the Linden dollar purchase fees at the same time to (at least partially) offset the loss of that revenue.
Landon also mentioned, in answer to my question about when a comprehensive licensing/permissions system would be available, that he hoped to be able to make the first part of this work available in the next release of the Sansar platform. This is much sooner than I expected, and very good news to the many content creators who have been long awaiting such a permissions and licensing system to be put into place before starting to sell items on the Sansar Store.
One of the announcements at the meeting was that this week, the Sansar team at Linden Lab had a hackathon to see if they could create cool new features for the platform. Among the things people worked on, Landon reported, was a potential future feature for the Sansar Store where you could rotate an object view in 360 degrees in a Sansar Store listing.
Another thing that caught my ear: Landon said that Linden Lab was having a few internal discussions, to consider releasing at least some of their software as open source! Again, I am surprised that they are considering doing this so early in their product development. One of Sansar’s biggest competitors, High Fidelity, is open-source software.
As usual, I will leave it to Inara Pey (who was present) to report on this meeting in greater detail. When she publishes her blogpost, I will link to it from here. She already covered a few points raised at the meeting in this blogpost.