Sansar Meetups Are A Valuable Experience

Sansar Meetup Group Pic Pro

Inara Pey has an excellent blog post regarding a couple of meetings between Bjorn Linden (Bjorn Laurin, Linden Lab’s Vice President of Product), Widely Linden (head of Product for Sansar), Pete Linden (aka Peter Gray, aka Gray of the Lab from San Fan Francisco, Linden Lab’s Director of Global Communications),  Xiola Linden (Second Life Community Team Manager) and users of Second Life and Sansar.

The post is really important in terms of where Sansar is at this point in its development, where it’s going, why it’s called creator beta at the moment, why Linden Lab built their own engine and much more, it’s a really good read.

Meanwhile I’ve been attending meetups in Sansar, taking no notes, but making observations and I’ve found these meetups very beneficial in terms of enjoying Sansar and getting an idea about what I might like to do with Sansar.

Sansar Jenn Speaks

The meetups are largely voice based but conversations do take place in text too. This helps people find the text chat module and interact with each other, add friends, look at the features available and share knowledge of the platform.

I’ve recently reported how impressed I was with the mouth movements inside Sansar when avatars talk due to the integration of Speech Graphics technology within Sansar. Inara’s post touches upon this in a couple of important areas, firstly in terms of how detailed the Sansar avatar is :

The Sansar avatars are actually extremely, extremely advanced. I would actually go so far [as to say] they are among the most advanced avatars there is today, on any platform. Just the female avatar in Sansar has over 125 bones in the face, to make it work as we want it, to make it look realistic. That’s more than actually humans have.

I want you to build your own avatars. for now that technology we put in is so new, no-one else is using it, we’ll be able to use it for a long time, to make it look realistic, and that’s part of it. When they talk normally it’s going to look better as well, it’s going to look better, in any language, it doesn’t matter. It may Chinese, could be English, could be Swedish, could be Portuguese, Spanish. It’s going to look good. We’ve spent a lot of time on that, and I’m super excited about these small things that make it immersive, that make us want to spend more time in there.

I certainly agree on the point regarding this being a small point that makes Sansar immersive because I found this small detail to be extremely engaging but there’s an added side of this too when it comes not just to people using avatars, but also in terms of NPC’s, inclusiveness :

So you can imagine scenarios whereby you have an NPC [non-player character] that has a whole dialogue embedded within it that the user’s interacting with, and you’re not only getting a reasonably synthesised voice, but you also have the facial animations that go with it automatically – and they look convincing. So you have facial animation that’s at a quality that a lip reader probably could get information from it. And that’s something that we have right now in Sansar that is not available in other platforms; not just yet, anyhow.

The reason that this came to my attention though was because I was at a meetup in Sansar and noticed this technology at work due to interactions with other avatars.

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Getting Social In Sansar With The Aid Of Speech Graphics

Ryan Schultz in VR

Last night I attended a Sansar meetup and a few things caught my attention. Obviously you can do social in Sansar, you don’t need a VR headset to get involved in a conversation, indeed with the text chat app you don’t need a headset of any sort, although the conversation was largely in voice and a voice headset definitely helps.

Some of the avatars moved, their arms would move when they spoke and I know at least one such avatar was wearing a VR headset but what took me more by surprise was the mouth movements and facial expressions of some of the avatars. At first I thought this was a feature of a VR headset but then one of the avatars mentioned that she was looking forward to getting a VR headset, but didn’t yet have one.

Now the facial expressions and mouth movement of this avatar had most caught my attention because at one time I’d convinced myself I could lip read her words.

A tweet later from Stanford VR explained to me what was likely to have been happening, Speech Graphics voice driven facial animations are apparently at work in Sansar, and if that’s true, they work bloody well.

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Sansar – A Set Of Different Virtual Experiences

Journey To Earth

Linden Lab’s Sansar entered creator beta this week and has been met with a mixed reception, which is to be perfectly honest what I’d expect.

Over at Forbes, Charlie Fink has published an article, Sansar Ignites VR Content Boom :

I got an early peek at Sansar from Bjorn Laurin, VP of Sansar, and Jason Gholston, Product Director, on June 20 and was amazed by what I saw. The photo realism, the avatars and creation tools, the spectacular landscapes, the Sansar store, aren’t totally new to VR, but they are brought together in a simple, intuitive way to create a seamless continuous experience. What’s new is now a writer with limited technology skills can make a world in Sansar and open it to the public, even charge a fee.

I think it’s fair to say Charlie is impressed by what he sees and the potential for the platform going forward.

Rocket

Second Life and virtual world explorers have been a bit more critical, although it should be pointed out that some well known Second Life content creators are very much embracing Sansar.

Virtual World explorer, writer and retired time traveller, Danko Whitfield sums up very well some of the different perceptions and why they may be happening :

What did I think? I dunno. If this was my very first virtual world experience, I think I’d be jazzed and would probably still be logged in now. But since I’m already experienced in virtual worlds, it’s left me with the same feeling I’ve had after looking inside at a new restaurant and checking the menu: Okay, looks nice. Maybe I’ll come back sometime.

I’ve been in other virtual world environments in their early days, Cloud Party and High Fidelity spring to mind and there’s a definite difference in the early days  between creators wanting to get something to work and people who visit but are looking for exploration and socialising.

Sansar is still labelled as being in Creator Beta, but people’s expectations have been raised by the beta going public and there being no restrictions on whether people are creators or not, some people will be disappointed, some people will be delighted. I’m enjoying my exploration, I haven’t even dabbled with creation yet, although I almost certainly will.

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Sansar and The TurboSquid Relationship

Sansar Conference

Linden Lab’s Sansar went into public beta yesterday, which I’m sure many of you have noticed. What may not have been noticed  (although there were hints if we’d paid closer attention), is that Sansar has a relationship with TurboSquid.

I noticed the relationship yesterday when reading an article about the Sansar launch by Dean Takahashi over at VentureBeat – Linden Lab launches open beta for social VR platform Sansar :

A relationship with TurboSquid provides creators with access to hundreds of additional high-quality 3D models in the Store today, with thousands more being added in the coming months. Planned integration with TurboSquid’s StemCell initiative will make it easy for TurboSquid’s community of 3D modelers to immediately upload and sell their creations in the Sansar Store, further augmenting the assets readily available to Sansar creators.

I’m only seeing around 15 items from TurboSquid in the Sansar Store but maybe TurboSquid creators have their items listed under their own name or maybe the link is a work in progress, but it’s an interesting development because TurboSquid have a very different attitude when it comes to Second Life.

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Getting Started In Sansar

Linden Lab’s Sansar is now in public beta, so if you have a PC that meets the system requirements you can create an account and explore right now.

In terms of getting started the process is relatively straight forward, you will need to register with your real details, the account creation page states :

During the course of your account or transaction history you may be required to submit to an information request to verify your identity. Please use accurate, current, and verifiable information.

So you will be faced with a screen like this :

An Image Should Be Here

These details are for your account, but once the account is created and you create your profile you will be able to choose an avatar name and avatar ID the first time you login and your avatar name will be the one that appears inworld.

Once your account has been created you will be all set to download the Sansar client. When you first login to the client, that is when you will be asked to create your avatar name and avatar ID. The link here is very important because it explains some important information about your avatar name and avatar ID, most notably than an avatar name is not unique  :

Avatar Names are not unique and it is possible for multiple users to share the same Avatar Name. For example, there can be multiple users named “John Smith” in Sansar. However, while multiple users can have the same Avatar Name, they cannot have the same Avatar ID.

On the other hand, an Avatar ID is unique :

Your Avatar ID is a permanent ID that serves as a unique identifier for each user. This unique ID is linked solely with your account; no two users can have the same Avatar ID. For example, once a user uses “@johnsmith” as a Avatar ID, no one else can use “@johnsmith” as an ID and will have to choose a different one (For example, @johnsmith123).

At the moment, you cannot change your Avatar Name, but that may change, however an Avatar ID is permanent, therefore this is a very important step in the creation of your account and I really urge people to read the Avatar Name and Avatar ID page before creating their account.

Once you have created your avatar name you are then presented with the avatar creation screen, which has an number of default avatars, although it should be pointed out at this stage that none of them involve Dwarves or Elves!

An image should be here.

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