Pick of the Day: Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland is an experience created by Beverly Zauberflote, a pretty little village on a midwinter’s night.

Winter Wonderland 1 12 Dec 2017.png

A helpful neon sign directs you to a jet-powered Santa sleigh that whisks you off on a wild ride through the night sky!

Winter Wonderland 2 12 Dec 2017.png

It’s all very cheerful and festive!

Winter Wonderland 3 12 Dec 2017

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Pick of the Day: The Club

As interest in Sansar picks up, it will be important to have places where avatars can gather, relax, and chat. Places like this experience created by Marcus, and simply called The Club. This cosy spot is located in a city highrise, with oversize beanbag chairs, barrels for tables, a well-stocked bar, and even a disco dancefloor with a DJ spinning records!

Pick of the Day: Pictures from the Grand Opening of the Star Wars Production Art Exhibition at the Hollywood Art Museum

I was able to get into the Hollywood Art Museum experience a little bit early, and I have some exclusive first photos of this stunning new Star Wars production art exhibition! In my opinion, this is one of the very best experiences built in Sansar to date, and if you’ve never been to Sansar before, it’s absolutely worth setting up an account, going in-world, and seeing all the items on display in this wonderful museum experience up close! Best of all, if you have a VR headset and hand controllers, you can actually pick up many items to get a better look at them! (I bet you can’t do that in a real-world museum!)

HAM 1 9 Dec 2017
Entrance to the Exhibition
HAM 2 9 Dec 2017
The First Section of the Exhibition
HAM 3 9 Dec 2017
Creating A World Section of the Exhibition
HAM 5 9 Dec 2017
Beyond The Theater Section of the Exhibition
HAM 6 9 Dec 2017
Another View of the Creating A World Section
HAM 7 9 Dec 2017
SIN dressed as Darth Vader

Many items on display have an audio track that you can invoke to get a bit of an explanation of what you’re seeing (nobody else can hear it, just you!). If you’re clumsy and drop one of the collection items on the floor, you can hit a reset button on the pedestal to put it back in its proper place.

Just drop whatever you’re doing and come see this exhibition! Even if you’re not a Star Wars fan, it’s a wonderfully designed and executed experience, an excellent demonstration of Sansar’s potential for virtual museums, and absolutely worth your time.

Pick of the Day: Enrico’s Christmas Market

A tradition that started in Germany, the Christkindlmarkt or Weihnachtsmarkt is an outdoor Christmas market held during the four weeks of Advent. Enrico Sands has decided to bring that tradition into Sansar with his experience called Enrico’s Christmas Market.

Enrico's Christmasmarket 1 7 Dec 2017

This being the same Enrico who created Enrico’s Dummy World, there’s no shortage of figures! There’s a band of men dressed up as Santa, and shoppers greeting each other and hurrying from booth to booth. (Although some are not exactly dressed appropriately for the winter weather!)

Enrico's Christmasmarket 2 7 Dec 2017.png

Surprisingly, there are not a lot of Christmas/winter experiences in Sansar yet (perhaps creators are waiting until it is closer to Christmas). I had expected Linden Lab to have a Christmas contest of some sort, but I assume that all their staff are busy working on the next release of the software, still scheduled for mid-December. In the meantime, pop over to Enrico’s Christmas Market for some virtual Lebkuchen and Glühwein

Pick of the Day: Digitize Sequoia Park

Digitize Sequoia Park is a new experience created by Dextresis Dejavu. As its name suggests, you are surrounded by towering sequoia trees, with the sun peeking through:

Sequoia Park 1 30 Nov 2017

I’ve never seen a giant sequoia tree in real life (I’ve never been to California where they grow.) These trees are HUGE.

Sequoia Park 2 30 Nov 2017

Pick of the Day: Christmas Night

As of today, it’s less than a month until Christmas Day! Seasonal events are in full swing over at Second Life, so I thought I’d check the Sansar Atlas to see what Christmas experiences were there. One of them is Christmas Night, by Aude Adored, owner of the Poisoned Diamond store in SL. She writes in her description:

Christmas is here. No one should have to spend the christmas night alone, so this is the place for everyone who wants to celebrate and make new friends.

This is a warm and inviting experience, dimly lit with Christmas lights and a collection of white pillar candles in the fireplace. Stockings are hung on the mantle.

Christmas Night 26 Nov 2017

This is a lovingly-created space, and I hope that it will be used as Aude intended: for people to gather and enjoy each other’s company over the holidays, which can be a lonely time for many people.

Pick of the Day: Creator Academy: The Hall of Materials

Like Learn to Create Materials, an experience I highlighted back on Sept. 13th, the new Creator Academy: The Hall of Materials experience by Sansar Studios seeks to educate rather than entertain (although the following promotional video tries to do both!):

The Creator Academy is a place for you to learn about rendering materials, and audio and physics materials. There are examples of all these types of materials, and interactive exhibits where you can press buttons to try out different combinations of materials and see what they look like.

Creator Academy 1 25 Nov 2017.jpg

The Hall is well-designed, although I did find that the shiny, metallic finish of the grey metal plaques describing each display made reading the white lettering a little difficult at times (see picture below for an example). A higher-contrast text display (simple black lettering on a white panel) would make things easier for people with visual difficulties to read everything easily. I understand why they wanted to make it look “cool” and metallic, but I think this was a poor design choice. Many people who use and advocate virtual worlds have some sort of real-life disability. From the very beginning, Sansar needs to incorporate well-thought-out design features for people with accessibility issues.

Creator Academy 2 25 Nov 2017

Another problem I had with this experience, when I visited it a second time using a less-powerful desktop computer in desktop (non-VR) mode, is that the video displays demonstrating media surfaces would not play. I have noticed that Agustine had posted a bug report to the Sansar community forums about this particular issue, and I wonder how many other people cannot get video to play properly on media surfaces in Sansar. (As far as I know, Agustine is still having this problem, and it has not yet been fixed.)

The interactive displays, such as this one which demonstrates the effect of different values of PBR metalness and roughness values, have buttons which you are supposed to press in order to see what they look like on the mesh object.

Creator Acadmey 3 25 Nov 2017.jpg

I found that I could not get the buttons to work at all in desktop mode. When I was in a VR headset, most of the time I could not select the buttons either. Even worse, when I moved too close to the panel, it automatically selected a button from the bottom row! Based on my experiences and frustrations with these panels over several different visits to this experience over several days, this feature definitely needs work. Or perhaps some better visual instructions. (I was able to get the different buttons to work on my very first visit in a VR headset, but no matter what I did, I have been unable to repeat that success on subsequent visits.)

At the rear of the hall is a circular room with floor panels that demonstrate the effects of various physical audio materials in Sansar, which affects sounds like footsteps and reverb. The panels are for sand, ceramic, glass, carpet, dirt, brick, concrete, plaster, rock, gravel, grass, metal, water, wood, and snow (just in time for the Christmas experiences!).

Creator Academy 4 25 Nov 2017.jpg

I particularly like the glowing “dust motes” that circulate over the panels. It’s obvious that a lot of design thought and work went into this experience. However, the bugs and issues I encountered can make it a very frustrating exercise. Linden Lab needs to work on this one a bit more, in my opinion.