As one of Second Life’s (very minor league) commentators, I feel I should be throwing my four penneth into the ring and saying something about the launch of Sansar on Monday 31st July. I’m not sure what exactly I should be saying, though.
(Actually, the first thing I should probably saying is that this wasn’t a launch, or, at least, it wasn’t a launch of a finished product: rather, this was the opening of the beta to the public.)
Hmmm. It’s quite pretty to look at: that can certainly be said. Light and shadows in particular feel an integral part of the visual experience where they have always felt ever-so-slightly ‘added on’ in SL – more of a clever trick than something that is just there. So that’s good.
I haven’t yet had a look at the building environment, but the ‘experiences’ available (you can create three of these for free from what I can make out; more than that need to be paid for: this is the way in which ‘land’ is free in Sansar) are detailed and well constructed.
The sound is pretty impressive also. I haven’t yet interacted with anyone in voice, but hearing people around me as I move my avatar, I’m struck by how their voices and the various sounds of the environment move from left to right in my headset and fade away as I put distance between myself and them. As with light and shadows, this just seems to be a much more solidly implemented element than its equivalent in SL.
Movement, however: now that’s another issue…
Before I list any grumbles, however, I should take a step back and remind myself once again that this is a product in beta. Were any of us to go back in time to the public beta of SL we would recognise very little of it and many of the features we take for granted today would not be present. For example, teleporting at will from one place to another was not a feature back then; teleporting could only be done at dedicated hubs dotted around the continents – and my understanding is you had to pay to use them.
I say, “my understanding is” because I wasn’t there. Those days were before even the time when I’d developed a healthy sneer at the very mention of this thing called ‘Second Life’ and would scoff, “What’s wrong with your first life?” thinking myself witty and clever (please note, this would only actually happen during conversations in my head).
I do sometimes wish I had been present earlier on in the life of SL. Those sound like heady, pioneering times. By the time I entered the metaverse in 2006 the discourse was all about the entry of business and virtual jobs. Even so, I still look back on those days with slightly misted-over eyes: the terrible casinos, the godawful camping spots, the abysmal flexi-prim outfits: good times, my friends; good times.
Noobs these days? They don’t know that they’re born.
So we should probably take it easy on Sansar’s shortcomings. Yes, the movement is fiddly and jerky. No, you can’t fly. Yes, the camera controls are extremely limited (I almost wept at the absence of lens zoom, I’ll admit it). Interaction with objects boils pretty much down to seeing what happens when you bump into them (although this is another thing done way better than it was ever managed in SL), so you can’t right click a chair, for example, and sit on it. It’s difficult to see what someone’s name is (though there is always that tried and tested method of ‘asking them’ to fall back on). And the clothing available is both limited and rather shockingly expensive (many of the items I looked at in the store were about ten times what their equivalents would be in SL). Once the market establishes itself, however, I suspect both of those issues will be corrected.
I’m not going to bleat on about these things, because I know that Sansar will grow and evolve beyond what it is today, just as SL had grown and evolved even by the time I entered it. Now is not the time to wish for things that aren’t in this new world; now is the time to sit back and relish learning about and being part of something brand new.
So stop reading this and go be part of it*.
*If, that is, you have a PC with the rather high spec required.
Since you’re here…
Why not take a look at my novels? Many of them are set in and around Second Life® or a similar virtual world, and most are free to read if you choose the Issuu option. If you would like to buy an e-copy of one of my novels, however, the Kindle and ePub versions are priced very low. In fact, my first SL novel, AFK, can be downloaded in Kindle, ePub and PDF format for free (see the link at the top-right of this page). Enjoy!