Sansar just got interesting

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I have to admit, since my first blog post on Sansar, I’ve not made very many return trips. I’ve been struggling to make the connection to this new platform that I’ve had with Second Life for so many years now.

I’ve wondered for a while why this might be. I’ve had a number of thoughts on this, none of which I will bore you with now (a) because that thinking is incomplete and (b) because it might be nothing more complicated than I just haven’t been there enough. It took me a while to get into Second Life too.

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When Strawberry Singh mentioned on her blog the imminent opening in Sansar of 2077 an urban science fiction experience, I decided this was a good opportunity to go back in and give it all another try. I’m a big fan of the Blade Runner movies – a clear visual influence on this experience – and thought this might add to the appeal and keep me there for a little longer.

I wasn’t disappointed. My visit to 2077 is the first time I can say that I’ve felt immersed in Sansar as a desktop user. The stunning visuals combined with the level of detail (there is so much there to explore) and perfectly synchronised sound effects made an hour pass almost invisibly. I was genuinely reluctant to log out.

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The look and feel of 2077 immediately appealed to me as a virtual worlds photographer and made me try harder to get to grips with the camera controls. In Second Life, a big part of virtual photography is determining a good light; in Sansar, the visitor has no control over lighting conditions so photography becomes all about the angle. This requires fluency with the camera controls, which are fiddly and anti-intuitive (at least, to a seasoned SL photographer). There is a help page giving information about controls which you can get to from the main interface, but the keys identified there don’t quite seem to behave the way it’s said they will. An F3 and F4 combination sometimes freed my camera from my avatar but also sometimes stuck me inside my head, giving me an interesting view of my teeth and tongue.

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Luckily, I wasn’t alone in 2077. I made the visit as a virtual field trip with Caitlin Tobias and we were able to share in IM the results of our attempts to get to grips with the various controls. I would strongly recommend this as a way of speeding up your familiarisation with Sansar. Having a friend to explore with makes a big difference. Without a doubt, this also added to the sense of immersion I got.

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If you stick with the camera controls long enough you’ll find your fluency start to improve. By the end of my hour I was flying through the streets and recording video – too shaky to share here, though I’ve converted a few on my static position video clips to animated GIFs for this page (using some of the steps in this post). We still need a lens zoom badly, but the opportunities for SL photographers are definitely there.

Apparently Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg is among the fans of this amazing experience. Whatever your experiences of Sansar experiences are to date, make sure that you give this one a go. I will definitely be returning.

UPDATE: Here’s a short machinima I made in 2077.

 

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