Linden Lab Announce They Are Inviting Selected People To Test Project Sansar

Project Sansar Concept Art

Linden Lab have published a press release regarding Project Sansar; Linden Lab Invites First Virtual Experience Creators to Project Sansar Testing. I’m not going to publish the press release in full, but I will quote parts of it, starting with :

SAN FRANCISCO – August 18, 2015 – Linden Lab®, the creators of Second Life®, today announced that a small number of creators have been exclusively invited to be the first to help test its new platform for virtual experiences, codenamed Project Sansar.

Slated for general availability in 2016, Project Sansar will democratize virtual reality as a creative medium. It will empower people to easily create, share, and monetize their own multi-user, interactive virtual experiences, without requiring engineering resources. The platform will enable professional-level quality and performance with exceptional visual fidelity, 3D audio, and physics simulation. Experiences created with Project Sansar will be optimized for VR headsets like the Oculus Rift, but also accessible via PCs and (at consumer launch) mobile devices. Users can explore and socialize within Project Sansar experiences through advanced expressive avatars, using text and voice chat.

This isn’t surprising news. Linden Lab have stated for some time that a small number of hand picked creators would be invited to test Project Sansar. The early users are expected to be people who can create architecture and have access to Autodesk Maya, as that’s the software Linden Lab seem to have been using inhouse.

The use of Maya as a tool in Project Sansar was discussed by Ebbe Altberg recently in a video interview with UploadVR :

UploadVR: What does that workflow look like for Sansar?

Ebbe Altberg: For starters, it will be quite technical, you will register, you will log-in, you’ll install this application which includes some add-ons for Maya, and you’ll use Maya to create the content. You’ll create a full scene, very large scenes, and you just publish that and we host that on our servers, and then that experience you can send links out to, and people follow the links and walk into that experience.

UploadVR: Just like that, straight from Maya?

Ebbe Altberg: Straight from Maya, push a button, and then you have a virtual environment that you can share.

People should not get too concerned about this. Project Sansar is in the very early Alpha stage, things can and probably will, change quite dramatically before it’s in beta, or even open Alpha if they have one. At the moment Linden Lab are going with what they know works, which at this stage is Maya.

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Visit Forgotten City In Second Life Before The Clocks Stop

Forgotten City

Mandy Marseille, owner of clockpunkish region Forgotten City, has posted the sad news over at SLUniverse that Forgotten City is going offline Sept. 2015. The reasons for the closure are outlined in the post. There’s also some interesting history in Mandy’s post regarding the region and how they tried to make this city thrive.

Toy Soldiers?

Forgotten City, for those who have never been there is described as :

A once great city where the prosperous residents were served by the miraculous mechanical automatons. The people have long since disappeared, but the automatons remained and still take care of the crumbling stone walls, abandoned halls and rusty fences.

The automations generally did not quite come to life, but they still look great and the region is wonderfully atmospheric.

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High Fidelity Announce Stem VR Challenge Recipients

Back in July High Fidelity lanuched its Stem VR Challenge. The challenge was :

High Fidelity will be awarding up to three $5,000 grants to teams or individuals who, using the High Fidelity platform, can create a unit that is:

  • HMD (e.g. Oculus™) featured
  • High school age appropriate
  • STEM focused
  • Social (can be experienced by >3 people together)

In addition to the dollar amount awarded, grantees will have access to technical support directly from High Fidelity and the option to have their content hosted.

Yesterday High Fidelity announced who the recipients would be, they have chosen two projects to receive the grants. They are T.C.a.R.S: Teaching Coding – a Racing Simulation and FTL Labs PlanetDrop-VR. Both projects look very interesting.

TCars is a combination of code and fun and is described as :

An awesome racing game where you get to interact with JavaScript to customize your car’s handling, create unique power ups and optimize performance through editing the programme code with the use of the Blockly API.

The idea behind TCaRS is explained as one that wants people to learn coding by having fun :

The idea for TCaRS is based on the thought that learning coding can be boring but playing games is fun: “I want to learn to code… but….the road from typing, ‘print my name’ to making ‘Grand Theft Auto’ seems huge and demotivating”

Schools around the world have been using tools like the Raspberry Pi to teach kids coding and it’s an essential part of most High School curriculums these days, but the output from tools like this is often pretty basic-looking.

With High Fidelity, we have the chance to change this by creating the first gaming platform where users get to see and interact directly with elements of the code in order to gain
advantage – so the more you learn, the better you do. And with the benefit of VR to create a genuinely immersive experience.

The people behind TCaRS are High Fidelity Alpha users Thijs Wenker (Thoys in High Fidelity) Programmer / Web Developer (JavaScript, PHP, C#, C++) and Dan Grundy (Judas in High Fidelity) Lecturer in 3D modelling using Blender. There’s a lot more detail in the link.

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Second Life Residents Start To Pay Their Respects To Lumiere Noir

Tributes To Lumiere Noir

At the entrance to The Ivory Tower Library of Primitives in Second Life the board conveys some very sad news :

Lumiere Noir, creator of this Library, passed away unexpectedly Monday August 10. He was a genuine spirit and friend to all.

If you wish to send a token object of your condolences, please send it to Avi Arrow and she will place it for you. Thank you.

There are already a few token objects of condolences, including a striking and quite beautiful candle from Jopsy Pendragon, who is part of the Ivory Tower group and also the creator of the wonderful Particle Laboratory.

Information

The Ivory Tower Library of Primitives is held very dear by many Second Life residents, especially the older ones as it’s a place that many of us found tutorials on tricks and techniques to be used in building with prims. The notecard that is available near the entrance informs us why Lumiere create the Tower :

I made this tower in the hopes that it would give you a substantial head start on your arrival here. It contains a lot of tips and tricks of the building system that have taken a good while to develop and collect.

Lumiere was known for his Spy vs Spy style avatar and was the partner of Toshi Tyan.

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The Drax Files World Makers Episode 31 With Tom Boellstorff Ponders “What Is Real?”

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The Drax Files: World Makers Episode 31 (sponsored by Linden Lab) features an interview with Professor Tom Boellstorff (pronounced “bell-storf”; the first “o” is silent). Tom is an anthropologist based at the University of California, Irvine. The episode is introduced by Tom saying :

If you’re trying to learn about a culture, the challenge is time and that’s something that applied to the work I’ve done with gay and lesbian Indonesians and it applies just as much when you’re studying something like virtual worlds, you have to live inside the community that you’re studying.

Already I’m interested in what is going to transpire in this interview, time is something I’m always battling with myself and the fact that Tom appreciates that you have to be among a community to study one suggests he’s not forming an opinion based on a few screenshots and a far away view. We also learn that Tom is not new to Second Life, when he first entered Second Life there were only around 2,500 users, this guy is an oldbie.

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As an example of how much Second Life has grown since the early days, Tom explains how he decided to fly over all of Second Life in the early days, it took him about a week, at two hours a day. How long would it take these days? I have no idea but the grid is much larger than it would have been when Tom initially joined.

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Tom says that in Second Life he is a digital ethnographer. Tom explains that an ethnographer studies how people live and think and that this involves hanging out with people. To this end he used to host weekly chats with anyone who wanted to teleport in. This sounds like the old Linden Office Hours but was quite probably more civil. I wonder if Tom did go to any Linden Office Hours, I’m sure that would tell a digital ethnographer a thing or two about digital communities too, even when they got heated.

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