Ebbe Linden spoke at VWBPE (Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education) yesterday, sadly too late for me to be present myself.
I think the audience was a little smaller than last year so I guess it was too late for quite a few other people as well.
Luckily I found an excellent video by the splendid Mal Burns here on youtube;
Here are some of the things that stood out to me;
- Linden Lab has been playing with a lot of the new VR hardware and trying to integrate it with Project Sansar.
- SL performance has improved this year and more improvements are in the pipeline.
- Registration and setting up will become easier.
- Lots of work done on compliance, redeeming Linden Dollars, fraud control, etc.
- Today you need Maya to work in Sansar, this will change in June, when they open up Beta access to a broader set of creators.
They are very focused on creators for the rest of the year, people with lots of experiences in building experiences.
Somewhere in May or June they will start accepting applications from people who want to get involved in beta testing Sansar via an online signup page.
Depending on your skills and project you have in mind, they’ll let you in.
People who just want to snoop around is not what they are looking for.
They want creators who are willing to give feedback and help test Sansar.
FIY Linden Lab, building 1920s Berlin is a pretty advanced demonstration of experience building tools… subtle hint…
- Sansar will be opened to the public at the end of the year.
- Sansar will be no where near as feature rich as SL is now, many of the things you depend on in SL, will not be available at the beginning.
You can create prettier and faster things in Sansar that work better with VR tech, there will be features that you do not have in SL, like lightning, physics, avatar movements etc.
But creating a highly functional educational scenario might not work yet.
It will take time before you can do in Sansar what you can now do in SL.
- There is no plan to migrate everyone to Sansar and for years and years to come Sansar and SL will remain different products.
- The Community Gateway program is progressing well, there is no final ‘Ship date’ for it and they are signing people up for it.
- Ebbe explains that if LL knows your RL identity and have the relevant documentation, your credit processing is more likely to go faster.
The announced changes are planned for early April.
- LL is now working on integrating te HTV Vive VR headset with Sansar, the headset also used for Steam VR and Ebbe expects it to work next week.
Ebbe does not know how and if this will work with Steam VR.
- No skill based gaming in Sansar at first and it has not been determined yet if LL even wants to allo this at all because it is very costly and requires a lot of oversight because of the many laws.
For now LL will concentrate on making Skill Based Gaming work better in SL before they decide if they want to bring it into Sansar.
- Sansar is aiming for an age range of 13+ but there will be content ratings.
- LL may create some SL community gateways themselves, for instance one for Educational sims.
- Ebbe thinks that when Sansar goes public many people will leave Second Life but only to have a look around and when they realise they can not (yet) do the things they do in SL in Sansar, that they’ll return to SL.
I personally can see that happen as well, for instance what are many of SL’s communities to do without something as basic as a rental system?
I can perhaps build 1920s Berlin in Sansar, but what if we can’t have shops yet, something as basic as doors that open or… schnaps?!
Berlin probably won’t move permanently till we can do in Sansar what we do in SL today, or at least most of it.
Nevertheless, as soon as I can build in Sansar, there will be a 1920s Berlin outpost or embassy say there.
- Right now Sansar is being build for PC, Windows specifically, Oculus and Vive HMD.
They are preparing for Android and IOS.
One employee is working fulltime on getting Sansar to work on mobile devices.
- There is a streaming solution for Sansar like we’ve seen in the past being offered by third parties.
Using Cloud GPU’s we can stream all of Sansar to an iPhone, Ebbe sees that demonstrated every day.
This is very exciting.
When SL Go came to an end I felt and wrote that LL should take its place and offer high quality streaming of SL to its users.
This did not happen but I’m happy to see that they are now doing this for Sansar.
This could mean that everyone will be able to experience Sansar at the highest graphics settings, although of course this will come at a price.
Personally I hope that they will have premium accounts in Sansar that will offer you, amongst other things, this streaming service.
- A Mac viewer is described as going to be looked at somewhere further along the line.
Which is bad news.
I’m not sure how many SL users are on a Mac, but I am one of them, even though I do plan to get a new gaming PC later this year.
- Contrary to earlier information, Ebbe announces that the Linden Dollar will probably NOT be used in Sansar.
So there will be an exchange system that allows you to transfer Linden Dollars to whatever the Sansar currency will be.
This is because of the hugely different business model Sansar has.
- There will be lots of different building tools in Sansar but LL will strongly support 3rd party tools and thus a common file format.
So you’ll be able to build in all kinds of programs like Blender, Maya, etc and import it.
But there will also be tools inside Sansar such as terrain and layout tools, but also basic object manipulation tools so you can take assets and arrange a scene.
Over time they will work on creation tools that will allow you to build within Sansar.
This is good news, I personally think that many people do not want to use that 3rd party software as they can be rather complicated or intimidating.
Easy inworld tools are one of the things that made SL great and leaving those out would damage Sansar I feel.
I hope they won’t wait too long with this.
- Ebbe experienced 360° video in Sansar.
- Ebbe used handcontrollers to rearrange objects in Sansar.
- Sansar uses a sort of ‘baking’ progress, so in stead of building something ‘live’ and seeing it work right away, like we do in SL, you have to ‘publish’ what you’ve build.
This allows the system to optimise the scene for lighting, spacial audio, performance, etc.
This is needed to make the world work at the high specs it promises.
It may be the end of watching someone build, which is a shame.
- Ebbe talks about the recent banning of several creators in SL.
He says that it is something that happened because Lindens now and then just ‘dip in’ and see what people are doing and then notice something that calls for a warning or a ban.
But sometimes they make mistakes.
He also explains that outsiders who sometimes support those being banned often don’t know what it exactly is what rule was being broken and what it exactly was these banned people did.
He suggests that when some people say they were not given a reason for being banned, they may not strictly be telling the truth but Linden Lab can’t speak publicly about what it exactly was that got them banned in the first place.
He asks people to trust him, they do not take banning people lightly and have good reasons to do so.
There is no sudden ‘crusade’, just following the ToS they’ve always had but sometimes a certain kind of rule breaking flies under their radar long enough and when they act on it, people think something unusual is happening.
To see his answer, go to 47:50 in the video.
- Ebbe is too busy to make his own avatar or bears.
Which I can appreciate but I still think that making your own avatar is such an essential part of being in SL and understanding its users, that I feel he has to spend some time to do that anyway.
Without any help!
- Ebbe ends his talk with reminding us that Second Life is the best virtual world on the planet and it will take a long time for anything to surpass that, including Sansar.