Project Sansar: World or Platform?

The seventh in Canary’s list of Second Life™ anxieties is about whether or not Sansar be a world or a number of small independent island like worlds? For the list jump here. This is a good question and I haven’t completely decided where I am on the answer. So, while I see this as mostly a fear of the unknown, it isn’t necessarily a false expectation.

Neva River VII

Neva River VII

One of Ebbe’s recent interviews revealed that the World Map is not a paradigm we are likely to see in Project Sansar®. That indicates the Lab is thinking more platform than world. But, this is sort of what the Lab originally thought for Second Life™. So, we have to consider how much weight we want to give this point. After all, there are those arguing whether SL is a game or development platform. 

The Lab is up front about saying their primary demographic is those interested in building VR and virtual experiences. That too suggests they are thinking platform over world. So, it is probably fair to say the Lab sees Sansar as a platform.

Developers can use a platform to develop whatever they imagine. Since the Sansar platform is going to provide all that SL can and more, this is not a matter of EITHER one integrated world containing all experiences or small independent worlds of one experience each. The reality likely to be a mix of large, small, integrated, and independent experiences.

We have little information about how the Lab is looking at the social side of experiences for Sansar. A forum and wiki are likely, but that isn’t where SL communities thrive. In world groups are where I see it happening.

We know that SL Group Chat has been a pain. In the last couple of years the Lab spent a lot of time figuring out what we do with group chat and how it needs to work. While we have seen improvements in SL, I think we will see significant improvements in Sansar. (I hope) But, how will chat work with experiences? Can developers limit who we can chat with in their experience? I would think so, but does seem to push us to the small independent worlds model. But, again it is a developer choice, so we likely will see different developers handling this differently.

Think about the gateway idea being tested in SL now. It definitely carries over to Sansar. Gateways are to allow experience developers the ability to make their project available and accessible via basic web search, Bing, Google, and Yahoo. Sansar is being designed to be available to search engines, meaning they plan to have some way to give search engines access to index the inner Sansar worlds.

Whether all these access points to Sansar connect together in-world depends on the experience developer. My current impression is Sansar is going to be more like SL ‘islands’. I think of an island as a region or regions that are off by their self. No walking in. Teleport or nothing.

In Sansar it appears now that the experience developer can choose to allow people to TP in or out. We have some measure of that kind of control in SL. Sansar is to have more control.

This means to me that whether an experience is part of a world or independent island or self contained world is up to the developers. When I think about it based on what I know now, I expect some to design experiences that are independent stand alone worlds/islands/games. Those developers will believe their experience can attract its own users. I personally thinking that is a hard and risky way to go.

Others will feel that their experience needs to be or benefits from being part of some larger social community. Think shoe store or dress shop. Where do the customers come from if not from a larger world?

A marketplace is handy. But, my shopping is a mix of using the SL marketplace, groups notices with trips to in-world stores, and actual shopping trips where I wonder through in-world stores. I am never that happy with the marketplace. It is a place where I can use search to find something I need now. I enjoy shopping trips and browsing in stores.

I can’t make an estimate of any reasonable accuracy as to how my shopping breaks down. I think it is about 40% group inspired visits, 40% mall shopping, and 20% SL Marketplace.

We know networks are of more use as they get bigger. So, I believe there will be pressure to cooperate and build large social experiences. Will a developer build a replica of the Las Vegas Strip? Rent shops and night clubs? Or let people build their own in an area set aside for clubs?

We can’t know how this is going to shake down any more than Rosedale and company did in the early days of SL. All we know is that both types of experiences are possible as well as whatever developers can imagine.

Think about MadPea’s hunting games. We TP’d from place to place and searched for clues. It was a well coordinated cooperative effort by a number of developers/merchants. Will it be any different in Sansar? Probably not. I think we will have everything we see in SL and some new things and ways of doing things.

No one is pointing us at any large social network in Sansar. One doesn’t exist. But, that doesn’t mean it can’t. The lack of a network to point to puts this fear in the Unknown Realm that is so scary to humans.

All I can tell anyone in regard to the anxiety is it looks like there are lots of possibilities. We will have to wait and see what developers do with Sansar.

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