A First Impressions Video of Sansar

A couple of days ago, I was curious and I did a search for “Sansar” in YouTube and (aside from all the videos from and about India), I came across this interesting and well-produced review of Sansar (warning: some NSFW language).

Published on Dec. 16th, 2017, and already pulling in over 17,000 views, this YouTube video does get a few key facts wrong (for one thing, it makes it sound like IBM still has a large number of SL sims operating, which is wrong by about six years). The speaker also said that there were 20,000 experiences, which is way off from the current count of about 830.

The video creator, Rogue Shadow VR, found Sansar to be a lonely place; he only encountered one other avatar in all the experiences he visited (and from all the scenes he edited into this video, he visited quite a few). He had a common complaint: the inability to see how many avatars were currently in the experiences on the Sansar Atlas.

Overall, though, he had some good things to say about Sansar. He did think the platform needed more work, but it had some good potential. I found it an interesting video to watch, a relative “outsider’s” perspective on Sansar compared to all the viewpoints of those of us who breathe, eat, and sleep Sansar ūüėČ .

UPDATE Jan. 6th: Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab, has said this on the official Sansar Discord channel:

Indicating what experiences have people in them and sorting the Atlas by most to least populated is coming real soon. Remember, we‚Äôve been in creator beta, [we’re] just now starting to focus on things that will build audience, first retention and engagement and then acquisition.

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Sansar Creators Tips Wiki Launched

There’s a lot of useful information and tips that are being exchanged by creators (builders, scripters, animators, avatar fashion designers, etc.) in the official Sansar Discord channels. Sometimes, it can be difficult to find something that somebody said a few days or a few weeks ago on Discord. Valuable information can be lost.

In order to address that difficulty, and make it easier for Sansar creators to help each other, Idrid has built a wiki on a website called Fandom, called the Sansar Creators Tips Wiki. A wiki is, quite simply, a website that allows collaborative editing of its content and structure by its users. (The best-known and most famous example of a wiki is, of course, Wikipedia, the phenomenally successful and increasingly authoritative Internet encyclopedia, with over 5.5 million articles in English alone, not to mention countless other languages!)

Idrid explains the purpose of the newly-created Sansar Creators Tips Wiki as follows:

The team behind Sansar have provided us with some great ways to share tips and hints for content creation, the aim of this Wiki is to get it all into one place so we can search it and find things we need much easier.

Discord channels and our In-World communications are revealing a wealth of information on how best to build and create in Sansar. This is an attempt to get it all in one searchable location.

This wiki is not officially authorized by or affiliated with Sansar nor the company Linden Labs. All image and post copyright remains with the content creator. Posters are requested to give credit and ensure permission has been obtained for all material not owned by the page author posted on this wiki.

Sansar Creators Tips Wiki 5 Jan 2017

(I’m not sure, but I seem to remember Jenn, Sansar’s Community Manager for Linden Lab, mention that LL was thinking about setting up a wiki as well. So we may have both an official and an unofficial wiki, just as we currently do for Discord!)

I think this is a great idea, and I support it wholeheartedly. So, let’s start transferring some of our accumulated knowledge‚ÄĒfrom both the official and unofficial Sansar Discord channels‚ÄĒinto this new wiki!

How to Report Bugs in Sansar

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

There seems to be some confusion in the official Sansar Discord channel about the best way to report software bugs to Linden Lab. Here is the recommended procedure, which I had outlined in a blogpost back in August:

First, the best way to report a bug is to create a new post in the Bug Reports section of the community forums. In order to do this, you need to have a user account on the Sansar web site, and you need to be logged in to your user account.  If you do not have a user account yet, you will need to create your account here at this URL: https://login.sansar.com/register.

If you do not have (or do not wish) to create a Sansar user account, there is a second way to report a bug.  Jenn told me you can also just send an email to help@sansar.com. She said that it’s much better to submit a bug report to the forums, because that way, other users can join in and up-vote an item if they are experiencing the same issue as you. How do you up-vote an item?  Simple.  See the little up arrow next to an existing bug report?  (You have to click on the individual title of each bug report to see this.  Here’s an example of what an individual bug report looks like.)

See the little up arrow

If you click that little up arrow, you can ‚Äúvote up‚ÄĚ that bug report (in other words, say ‚Äúme too!‚ÄĚ). ¬†It also works for¬†Feature Requests. ¬†It‚Äôs¬†much¬†easier to share that information around internally with Sansar team members who aren‚Äôt in the support system, Torley says.

Torley also says:

And though it seems obvious, you may want to include that (1) solid reproductions (steps to make it happen) of a bug are super valuable and (2) whenever possible, post videos and screenshots. A lot gets lost in words.

A New Milestone for the Sansar Newsblog: A Thousand Views in One Day!

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Well, I blew past all previous view/visitor records for the Sansar Newsblog yesterday; most of that traffic was due to my cross-posting a couple of blogposts to these three subreddits on Reddit.com:

Here are my stats from WordPress. I hit a milestone that I honestly thought I wouldn’t hit until much, much later this year:

Sansar Newsblog Stats for 4 Jan 2018

Over 1,000 views, and over 700 visitors! I’m actually kinda flabbergasted at the level of response I got. Thank you to all my readers, whether you’re a regular or a newcomer!

Virtual Reality Vs. Real Reality: An Update

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Picture: Face in the Forest, by Torley Linden (Taken in Second Life)

Well, my January 2nd blogpost Virtual Reality Vs. Real Reality seems to have struck a chord (or maybe it was just the compelling image I used). Less than 48 hours later, it is my most popular blogpost on the Sansar Newsblog, ever. That’s amazing.

Stats for all time 4 Jan 2018

I did cross-post this particular blogpost to various social media. In one case, I got back a comment that broke my heart. I’m not going to say where I found it, to help preserve the anonymity of the poster, but he/she said:

This article hits home for me. I have been living inside Second Life for the better part of 11 years. I have no friends in the physical world. No social life to speak of at all other than through the Firestorm viewer. I truly do live in a virtual world. That is the only place I feel I matter. Everywhere else I just take up space.

I just wanted to say, as someone who was addicted to Second Life for several years before I successfully pulled myself out of it, reconnected with people in the real world, and got a bit more balance back into my life, that you can reach out, you can get help. Don’t give up.

I decided to share my experience because I thought it would help other people realize that they are not alone. None of us really are. We are all part of an intricate, messy, crazy, interconnected world, both online and offline. What we say, what we do, creates ripples, affects other people.

We all go through tough times. You can feel better. It’s OK to ask for help.

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Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash

A Few (Second) Thoughts About the Sudden Popularity of VRChat

VRChat Panorama Picture
VRChat’s central fireplace (this panoramic photo was taken using VRChat’s in-world camera tool on Feb. 14, 2017)
As Wagner James Au has posted in his long-running virtual worlds blog New World Notes, VRChat is getting a huge spike in users due to livestreamers of the social VR platform on YouTube and Twitch:

What happened with VRChat over the holidays? Some dramatic blockchain-related announce[ment], like High Fidelity recently did? Or maybe some official Star Wars-related event, as Sansar did?

Nah, nothing as high-minded or brand-friendly as that. It was more like avatar cosplay and troll-ish jackassery, heavily embraced by live streamers on Twitch and YouTube…

I first posted about this back on Dec. 26th. Since then, I’ve watched a few more VRChat livestreams and I have some more thoughts on this I wanted to add.

First, VRChat is getting publicity, all right (this particular NSFW YouTube video has racked up 269,042 views since it was posted on Jan. 1st), but I’m not so sure that it’s the kind of publicity that the company may want. The word I’m looking for here is “notoriety”. I cringe as I see crude, sexually-related comments and content in such close proximity to children’s characters like Winnie-The-Pooh and Piglet, and child-like-looking anime avatars.

Second, there is massive IP infringement going on with VRChat’s avatars. I’m quite sure that the lawyers over at Disney are taking notice (and if they’re not, they should be).

Third, VRChat seems to be overrun with children and teenagers who are borrowing Mommy and Daddy’s VR headset. The place is pandemonium, a zoo, a freakshow.

Also, I think that VRChat is probably starting to buckle under the sudden popularity onslaught. I tried to get into VRChat for their New Year’s Eve festivities and found myself in a nausea-inducing, stuttering, shaky VR experience where one of my hand controllers refused to work, even after multiple attempts (and it wasn’t my PC; it ran flawlessly in Sansar immediately after I gave up on VRChat, so it wasn’t the fault of my computer equipment). In fact, on one login attempt, my left hand was actually mapped to my right hand! I have no idea how that happened.

So, the lesson here is: be careful what you wish for. VRChat executives probably wanted to become the most popular social VR world, and for now, they might have that prize. But as they are going to learn, there are prices to pay for that sudden success. Linden Lab learned their lesson well when they had several scandals in the past, during their media heyday, that shone a somewhat unflattering light on the company flagship product, Second Life. They banned the “banks” and the casino gambling, implemented a strict ageplay ban, and set up more stringent restrictions on the ability to access adult content. But they had to scramble a bit to play catch-up, in the full and unrelenting glare of the media spotlight. As far as I am aware, none of the SL policies I linked to above was in place beforehand; they were all implemented after something happened.

And I suspect that much the same thing is going to happen with VRChat. I predict that there’s going to be one or more scandals that force the company to put proper policy and procedures in place. And they’re going to have to scramble.

Top Ten Countries Visiting the Sansar Newsblog

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Photo by Vladislav Klapin on Unsplash

One of the great things about hosting a blog on WordPress is the detailed statistics on user visits that you get. Here are the Top Ten countries that visit the Sansar Newsblog:

  1. United States
  2. Germany
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Canada
  5. Netherlands
  6. Switzerland
  7. Australia (hello, Down Under!)
  8. Spain
  9. Italy
  10. Sweden

I get a lot of German traffic through Echt Virtuell¬†and SLinfo.de, and Swedish traffic through Apmel’s¬†blog.