The Making of One Item for Sansar – Part 1

CONCEPT

Today I was working in Blender and wanted to create a hand puppet. Yes, I was inspired by Draxtor who can be seen in Sansar with his hand puppet. So I made one for myself and I thought I should put it out on the Sansar Store for others to enjoy.Green Susanne on White 400x400

For those of you who are 3D artists with years of experience, you might look at this entire post and mutter something like: “That was too easy.” And then you might go on to say to yourselves: “All he did was take someone elses mesh model of Susanne in Blender and give it a material with a solid color, export it, import it, and take a photo of it for the Sansar Store. There  was no creativity there. No, there wasn’t. All of what you are about to read here is about the the nuts and bolts, the mechanics if you will, of what it takes to imports and market an attachment for your avatar in Sansar.

 

The Long Road After Creation

Yes, for those of you who have made attachments for an avatar to be used in Sansar and also to be sold on the Sansar Store, you all know there are many steps to getting your model ready as an attachment. I am writing this blog page for myself and you. It is a reminder of the long road we must travel again and again.

 

From the Point That My Model Was Ready

Susanne was finished in terms of modeling when I brought her into Blender. I didn’t really change anything about her other than to give her a specific size. I most often do sizing in Object Mode. From hearing other creators talk about using Blender, I think I do more work in Object Mode than most creators. And you may do your sizing in Edit Mode if you are more comfortable working that way.

Susanne needed to have a simple material that was nothing but a green color. This material does not even have a texture attached to it. Just a colored material. To prepare Susanne to receive the material, the entire mesh object had to be unwrapped. This creates the UV map. Then I had to create and apply the material. I am far enough along now to save the Blender file with a simple name like Susanne. But I am about to make another model from this one, so this Blender file will be named “Susanne for Photos” because in Sansar we need two photos of this attachment. One photo is for the Sansar Store, and the second photo is for the thumbnail that you will see in Lookbook. They can be the same photo, but you might want the thumbnail to be cropped tighter than the photo you use for the store. For Susanne the hand puppet, I used only one photo in both places.

 

Two Models of the puppet? Why?

To take photos in Sansar of the model, it is most often easier to import the model as the plain ordinary objects that is large enough to photograph. And the object must be imported into our inventory, not into the Lookbook. So, I save the file as it is now and then export it as an FBX that will be imported to my inventory in Sansar. This model is just to take photos.

 

Preparing the Attachment for Your Hand

While working in Blender, you must make the attachment the correct size to correspond to your avatar. This is because scaling this attachment in Sansar will change its size and that will change the position of the attachment in relation to your avatar’s hand. All control over the attachment’s  location on your avatar is accomplished in Blender, not in Sansar.

I have never made clothing for an avatar so my attachments have no rigging. I have only made simply static objects that I attach to my hand, or place on my head. When I created my architects scale, that was an easy project because I made it exactly 12-3/4″ long. 12″ for the measuring scale and 3/8″ on each end extra, because that is how they are made in real life. But to make a hand puppet, you just make it look about the right size for your avatar and it must cover your entire hand. I don’t have a hand puppet in real life to measure. So, I just used my eye to tell me it looked about right. All this is done in Blender.

Susanne on my hand

Next, I had to place the puppet over the hand of my sample avatar that I imported into Blender. I rotated it to look right and then moved the origin of the puppet to the center of the building grid. This is done so that the puppet’s origin matches the avatars origin when it gets imported into Sansar. I checked that the puppet was large enough to cover all of my avatar’s fingers. I set the rotation to 0,0,0. I set the scale to 1. In Blender those steps are called “Apply Rotation and Scale.”

Now I am ready to export this puppet from Blender as an FBX file. The export goes pretty smoothly now that I have learned what settings are required.

And next I go into Sansar to import these two models. Remember that one model is the object that must be photographed for the store listing and thumbnail. And one model is the attachment that is uploaded into the Lookbook.

 

Why Photography First?

The first model is created as an import into your inventory for photography. The photo that you use for the thumbnail must be ready before you bring the attachment into the Lookbook because there is no second chance to add the thumbnail or change the thumbnail later.


Stay Tuned for Part 2

In Part 2 of this series, we will take the photos, and store them for future use on your hard drive. Then we will import the attachment to your Lookbook and list it on the Sansar Store.

 

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Looking Forward — The Rear View Mirror

We all know that Linden Lab will choose their own path for Sansar development in 2018, but here is one way of reading the pulse of the current creators who are a part of the Sansar Open Creator Beta.
To summarize the responses from this question: “What missing feature might influence you to consider leaving Sansar if it never gets implemented?”  Here is a look at what will be the deciding factors to make people leave Sansar. These answers may be a way to see into the hearts of those who will come into Sansar in the near future and what may stand as obstacles to visitor and creator retention.

5 — Animations

4 — Avatar Customization

2 — Desktop Mode Improvements

1 — Larger Fonts — (I am not sure if this was desktop Mode or VR mode)

1 — Escape key during Loading or Lookbook

1 — Payments through PayPal

1 — Lack of further improvements to API

1 — Adult Content

2— None or Blank



Below is what was written in the survey response field.

  • Avatar Manager
  • Full avatar customization. By this, I mean actually being able to swap out the human mesh and replace it with a different one of any stature or size (within reason). I should be be able to be a short penguin, or a very tall dragon. Other platforms like High Fidelity or VRChat already make this possible, but not Sansar! This is an essential feature to letting people identify how they wish in their virtual world.
  • Scaleable Avatar size
  • not having total control over your avatar appearance

 

  • Better desktop mode features
  • …DESKTOP INTERACTIVITY… for traditional roleplaying

 

  • While loading times you can’t do anything. Feels like I am waiting a lot. And I can’t stop process if I decide I wanna quit. Not in lookbook nor while loading an experience, there should be a function to quit without shut down.

 

  • Bigger font / readable UI.

 

  • Animations
  • Animation
  • Animation, and the ability to sit. It is direly needed.
  • Animation
  • Animation

 

  • Adult content

 

  • Payment through PayPal

 

  • none

 

  • API does not get any more features.

Describe the one feature that you feel must be in place before Sansar leaves Beta and releases to the public.

This is not a scientific way to really determine the vital features that creators feel must be in place for a public opening. But it is a way to give creators a voice that might be heard. With 19 creators responding to the Feature Survey, here is what was written as answers to the question: “Describe the one feature that you feel must be in place before Sansar leaves Beta and releases to the public.”

At this time, all respondents identified themselves as creators.

The responses are grouped in  a way to be able to see similar responses together

  • a set of basic animations (sitting etc)
  • avatar animations such as sit, stand, dancing etc.
  • Improved avatar customization of face and body
  • Custom avatars
  • Skeletal Animation

 

  • replace Zendesk with a more functional and attractive solution for user forums. bug reports, and blogs.

 

  • LODs. We need to be able to set our own custom LODs for our meshes. I want to create massive worlds that will blow user’s minds yet I can’t!! Because there’s no way to optimize large distances without LODs. LODs are a basic feature that have existed in game engines for decades, they are not optional. We’re gonna need them in Sansar at some point.

 

  • Inventory management in Lookbook and for objects (Basic Inventory organization)
  • Organization….Folder Structure, Search Tools, Better inventory management

 

  • Correct smooth working VR, grabbing. moving , throwing.

 

  • Atlas that identifies how many people are in an experience.
  • The ability to find people in the world, a central hub perhaps. Right now its hard to find where people are at so it feels extremely empty.
  • Social Features
  • Communication between desktop and vr users

 

  •  Store
  • Create Complex Objects for Sale in the Store (models with scripts and lights embedded.
  • The way we can pay in and to Sansar. Paypal is very important. I would like to be able to buy S$ that way. Also payment in-world. To be able to buy from an inworld store and pay other residents.

 

  • A sense of progression or a clear goal. I feel that would bring more players into the game, and make them feel invested enough to stay.

 

  • improved terrain and water

A Visual Axis for Creators in Sansar

XYZ RGB Axis 2018 in Blender

A custom made axis to be used as an aid to Sansar Creators

There are those creators who stand on a virtual platform in Sansar and just start creating. They are the true artists of the virtual world. This is of course after they have created mesh in any one of a variety of 3D software. Once created and textured with materials, the mesh is then exported as an FBX file to their computer’s hard drive for temporary storage. Switching over to Sansar, they then import the mesh models into their inventory within Sansar and then they place the object onto the platform that I mentioned at the beginning.

Items that are organic in nature such as trees and rocks and water and grass can easily be arranged by pushing and dragging them wherever the artist thinks they look best. Setting an exact location or size of mesh models is not often critical when making a scene that looks like nature.

For those creators who make buildings and furniture and things we sometimes think of as the “built environment”, it often becomes a bit more critical to place things on a grid of sorts. We may never see the grid, but it is hidden in the exact placement as coordinates. It can even include the height above or below the platform we started with. This sort of creating is what I call building. And those who build things wish to know where those objects are in a more precise way than the organic artists that I mentioned earlier. The builders of virtual buildings arrange things is a precise way according to concepts learned from their Real World experiences. And for them I made the 3 axis arrows to help them see where they are going in a graphic way.

Still missing for these builders in Sansar is the ability to snap things to edges or vertices of adjacent objects. It would also be helpful to have a visible ruler that would allow us to snap things to precise coordinates without needing to calculate where we wish things to be placed and then entering those coordinates into the edit window using a numeric keypad.

For anyone who is interested in voting for features like this, please log into the Sansar forum and vote for  this feature request “Snap”. It was first posted on September 10, 2016 and at that time Widely Linden replied: “Yep. It’s on its way. In the mean time try toggling the “Surface Snap” option. It’s pretty handy!” Well, the “Surface Snap” only works when we first introduce a new object from our inventory into the scene. After that it does not function. and there is still no ruler.

Here we are 16 months after “Snap” was first requested and the focus of Linden Lab for 2018 will turn from creator tools toward user engagement and retention. All creators must join the chorus and gently remind the product team of the creator tools that are long overdue such as rulers and “Snap”.  Linden Lab has not said that all development of creator tools will stop, but we need to remind them of our expectations.

https://store.sansar.com/listings/cbd7c76b-5ae4-4aa1-aeec-add8fe0e1c38/xyz-axis-1-meter-rgb-2018

First Results on the Feature Survey

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Creators in Sansar Have a Wide View

After receiving 18 responses, and comparing this with recent comments from Linden Lab about the 2018 focus that Sansar will be taking, I think I can make one observation.  Creators in Sansar have a wide view of the big picture. They are not narrowly focused on just creating or just selling product in the Sansar Store. This also indicates that the Creators who are part of the Creator’s Open Beta share an understanding with Linden Lab about the many elements that it will take to be ready for a full opening to the public.

I will write more as additional responses comes in. I would also be interested in what questions Linden Lab might take the most interest in. Analyzing this data will be subject to my own bias and lack of training in developing surveys, but I will do my best to make these surveys a value to both those who responded and Linden Lab who is creating the Sansar platform.

For those of you who have not yet taken the survey, it is still open for additional responses.

NOTE: This survey is not affiliated with nor sponsored by Linden Lab. See the survey for more information.

This survey has 6 questions and may take you about 5 or 6 minutes.

Thank you for your participation.

Feature Survey

https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/355751318935175169/402899184572825600/be1072d041d9abf7ef89ebb86c079ba6.pngHere is a link to the first survey of Feature Requests for Sansar creators. In this survey I will begin by gathering information about the various categories that should be separate. This survey on the topic of Sansar Feature Requests is the individual effort of Ethos Erlanger.

NOTE: This survey is not affiliated with nor sponsored by Linden Lab. See the survey for more information.

This survey has 6 questions and may take you about 5 or 6 minutes.

Thank you for your participation.

Ethos Erlanger

Sansar Feature Requests

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665 Feature Requests on the Sansar website.

I will admit that I have not read all of the Sansar Feature Requests. The Sansar website is challenging to use and the way the Feature Requests are managed makes me wonder how the staff at Linden Lab make use of that information.

Highest Votes for one request is 14

There is a way to vote for your feature requests and add your voice to the conversation. An upvote adds one and a downvote subtracts one from the vote count. You can also add your comments to the conversation. The highest number of votes received by one request is 14, and it is for one of the oldest requests from Ryan Schultz. In January of 2017, Ryan posted this request: Indicate how many avatars are in a particular experience on the Atlas page It would naturally fall under the category related to the Atlas and visitor experience. It is still valid today, and it should get your vote. And it makes us all wonder when if ever Linden Lab with get around to it. They do not have a road map for us to see, so some of the creators have grown weary waiting.

Here is one of the major issues with the Sansar Webpage where you can view the requests. The Feature Requests are not categorized. You can sort them by date, number of votes, and number of comments. But with 665 Feature Request posts there needs to be a way to see the posts that relate to a particular broad category. Those requests related to Content Creation for Sansar need to be separated from the requests related to visitor experience. There are a few other major categories I can think of such as the Atlas, Social and Community features, and the Sansar Store.

I will be looking at the 665 Feature Requests and trying to make some sense of them. I will be reporting on those requests, but I may also post a few polls here to gather feedback from my readers. Please comment if you have something to say on this subject.