So my avatar in Sansar is ONE this week.. i think…
It was around this time last year that the Sansar Team allowed Custom Avatars to be uploaded so i was finally able to import a version of my SL avatar rather than use one of the clones, all be it on a robot. What resulted has been a rather exciting year of exploring social VR bootcamped in a Mac.
I use Sansar exclusively in VR mode rather than traditional Desktop mode. I currently have an HTC Vive which i hope to upgrade to the index by end of the year as i’m pretty enthusiastic about VR and Sansar was originally built with VR in mind. I’ve used desktop mode when crafting an experience but I don’t think i have ever once used Sansar in desktop mode when socialising because that aspect of Sansar still pales in comparison to Second Life. Sure the graphics are much nicer but the sheer amount and speed of things you can do in Second Life makes it still the most accomplished desktop virtual world and i can see why people might just cast Sansar aside when checking it out.
As an immersive VR Social Platform Sansar rocks.
With regards to my avatar in Second life i’ve hit the ceiling of what’s possible, VR and Sansar has raised that and i’m fully exploring, pushing what it is to BE your avatar, from how i react to the presence of other users to how i react to the way users talk to me or more specifically to my avatar. In the beginning we could only choose a standard default sized avatar, and it felt awkward, it just didn’t feel right. But when Sansar allowed Custom avatars i quickly found a way to import my Second Life avatar and since then i’ve been slowly upgrading and pushing what’s possible with the identity I’m most comfortable with.
Slowly over the year the Sansar Team added new features such as avatar Scaling, semi-full body room scale tracking using Vive Trackers and support for the Valve Controllers with finger gestures which have brought my avatar more and more to life, or should i say more and more expressive of myself. The importance of all this i guess is that the more of myself that shines through my avatars actions and gestures, the more human i appear to my friends, the more synchronised with my avatar i begin to feel.
During the past few months the Sansar team has enabled me to physically dance with a crowd during an official Monstercat gig (during which i surpassed my fitbit goal 3 times over), i met the creative director of the hit new amazon show ‘The Boys’ at Comic Con, and just last weekend stood in front of actors i grew up watching on Star Trek as they talk about their experiences during the Vegas Star Trek Con. These are experiences that made me feel connected to events happening on the other side of the planet. Conversely Second Life feels like it’s own space, we go to second life and what ever happens there is rarely grounded to the real world, but during the Las Vegas Star Trek con it some how felt like i was visiting Vegas, as if just beyond the wall was the big hall where people were putting on head sets and joining us in the virtual nexus lobby.
I remember the days of Linden lab attempting to repackage Second Life in a box for ‘Enterprise’, i guess as a way for business to do group conferences across the world together in virtual space. It’s something that other social VR platforms seem to be pivoting towards because of VR struggling to hit expectations, yet Sansar is experimenting with the similar idea, but instead of business meetings they have organised convention meet ups with special guests which i have found really brilliant and hope they continue with.
At this point i guess i should admit i may be bias towards Sansar, since all my VR friends are there and i meet up with them every saturday for a 2 hour exploration of virtual spaces. However that does not stop me from expressing things that annoy me on the platform. For instance as the user base becomes predominantly Desktop Users and the media express feelings that VR is already dead, it is starting t feel like the progress with VR is being effected. For instance the Valve Knuckles dev kits were out for months, VRchat has them fully supported but Sansar only has partial support. The Full body tracking while great in it’s initial release is again surpassed by VRchats full body tracking and i don’t think Sansar yet supports the Valve Index Headset. VR Users also can’t take snapshots yet. Perhaps im just impatient and i’m happy to wait for these things to be upgraded but really….. I WANT IT ALL NOW!.
What’s to come in Year two?
Well to put it bluntly everything i made is gonna break lol. There is a new Avatar system coming to Sansar which will allow users to customise the face shape and it might even be possible for me to create something similar to the custom avatar i created over the past year just by using the new Sansar Avatar Base. We’ll have to wait and see, but what i do know is because of this all the work i did on my avatar in Year one will break and need re-rigging and re-importing. But the silver lining is that many of my friends should be able to create the kind of avatars they want without having to learn Blender 2.8. It is a little frustrating that this new avatar system wasn’t in Sansar from the start, they could now be working on new ideas in the realms of SocialVR rather than implementing ideas that was being speculated upon in the run up to Sansars Alpha release.
The Sansar team are also hard at work on a huge questing system built into Sansar to allow the easy creation of quests. Part of me is like ‘Arrgggg another excuse for not implementing cool new VR stuff’ but the other part of me is like ‘oooh…. i could make quests!’.
Other than my avatar having to be re-rigged, i hope to finally build that tree house ive been thinking about. What ever i decide to build, it will focus on the experience of being in VR, sorry Desktop users but i already built tonnes of stuff for you guys in Second Life :-p speaking of which Second Life still takes creative priority until i finish Escapades Island, or until Sansar Team ads support for the 3DSpaceNavigator.
Sansar still isn’t Second Life 2.0.
It seems that VR hardware isn’t achieving the traction the VR Industry was hoping, on top of that the coolest facebook owned VR Headset out there can’t run high end VR experiences. (if you comment about streaming desktops to Oculus Quest i will ignore you). Could this be effecting the Sansar teams choices on what to focus on. At it’s core Sansar is a completely different thing competing against real competition Second Life never really had, in a greater picture of VR at a time where Hype and Reality around immersive VR is starting to collide and form. The VR side of things is very dependant on the success of hardware which is going through lots of changes right now so i shouldn’t be surprised if Sansar starts focusing more on non-VR centric features, it’s the smart thing to do.
Me and My Shadow
Profound moments can be the most simplest of things in VR. Often i just move from one crazy experience to another shouting louder and louder to be heard over the others in the group (Draxtor). Occasionally though i catch my shadow on the ground mimicking my every move. I lift my hand and i see the shadow change. I spread my finger tips and the shadow responds in kind. I think wow, …that is me.