Sansar: Sans detail

It’s the middle of the summer, which means that Linden Labs’ promise that we’d see a Sansar open beta in the early summer is starting to look a little bit optimistic.

I can’t say I’m at all surprised: The way in which software is developed today means that dates come and go with predictable regularity, and having spent the last couple of years at the sharp end of project implementation, I’d say from experience that it’s a brave, foolish or uninformed person who would be willing to put a firm date on deploying any user-ready application.

Personally, I think LL have made an error of judgement in that regard, far better to be vague about plans and be criticised for taking too long, than to commit to dates and Then fail to deliver, especially when you have a highly critical and cynical userbase like SL residents just waiting to haul you over the coals.

However, that’s not the most damaging aspect of LL’s communications about Sansar. Although I’ll be the first to admit that their PR and comms policies appear to have improved dramatically since Ebbe Altberg took the helm, both the lack of any concrete information and the unwillingness of the Lab to engage with potential users about what they consider to be essential information about the new platform has left everyone in something of a vacuum – one that is not particularly helpful in terms of building confidence in this fledgling virtual world.

That’s the trouble with allowing snippets of information into the public domain, whilst withholding anything that would serve to provide context or aid end user understanding of the product.

Here, it may be useful to summarise what we do know about Sansar so far:

  •  It’s not going to replace SL
  •  It will have its own currency and market place
  •  You probably won’t be able to take any SL assets with you to Sansar, except perhaps  your name
  •  Creators will need 3D modelling skills and software
  •  Scripting will not use LSL – it will utilise C#
  •  There will be both free and subscription access
  •  The graphics are apparently awesome
  •  No penises or pussies, (and I assuming, no nipples)
  •  Its primary focus is on a 3D VR interface
  •  It won’t be a contiguous world, it will have unconnected virtual spaces
  •  It will have a shard based architecture

What we don’t know, but most people would like to know:

  •  What do the avatars look like?
  •  How well will it work without 3D goggles and other VR kit?
  •  Can we use Linden dollars there?
  •  Will I be able to take anything at all from SL with me?
  •  How will I be able to socialise with friends or participate in events if everyone might  potentially log in to different shards?
  •  What spec machine will I need to run Sansar?
  •  How much will it cost?
  •  What model of land management will it offer?
  •  Why do the Lab keep churning out the same old screenshots time after time?

Even without the unanswered questions, the information that the Lab has made available raises even more additional questions than it answers. A most unfortunate position, and one that – even without trying – has succeeded in alienating quite a few potential recruits to the new virtual world already.

There is, of course, a fine line to be drawn between commercial sensitivity and appropriate sharing of information in the public domain, but I can’t help feeling that Linden Lab still haven’t managed to get it right and haven’t yet learned from past mistakes, and for Sansar, that’s a great shame. With Sansar, Linden Lab had a massive opportunity to send out a hugely positive message that would have gained publicity for all the right reasons, as well as support from existing SL users. What they have instead achieved is to cause speculation and conjecture – much of which may be wrong, and even harmful to the product – and to send out a message to potential users that says ‘it’s none of your business’ – hardly the best way to engage with the people who might otherwise be prepared to take a punt on the new platform, but are now having second thoughts.

From the outset, the Lab have made it clear that they haven’t necessarily had SL users in mind as the target demographic for Sansar, which in my view is shortsighted and stupid, since a large number of current SL users would have relished the chance of trying out a new, improved and altogether better virtual world which might not be SL, but certainly could be appreciated by SL devotees. Instead, the Lab has turned a blind eye to them and largely shied away from any opportunity to engage with them… And, if interest in Sansar fails to meet the Lab’s expectations, a lack of support and buy in from the existing SL user base could spell disaster.

I’m not a doom-monger – never have been – but when it comes to Sansar, I don’t think that Linden Lab have done themselves any favours by taking the approach they have; and that could turn out to be a costly mistake in the long run.

s. x

I don’t know what’s going on here
I don’t know how it’s supposed to be
I, I don’t have the vaguest notion
Whose it is or what it’s all for
The Byrds – What’s Happening?

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This entry was posted in 2.0, Linden Love, Philosophicalisticality, Rants, SL. Bookmark the permalink.

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