Sansar, the new virtual world from Linden Lab, opened it’s beta period to the public yesterday. Last night, after reading Ciaran, Inara and Daniel’s alerts and advice about getting started, I created a Sansar account – ten years and ten days after creating my Second Life account.
But the symmetry ended there as I waited until this morning to log in. First, I had to dust off the headset I finally bought last year after logging into High Fidelity for the first time and discovering that if I ever did figure out how to move or go anywhere, I was going to need a headset to communicate. I haven’t felt the urge to go back to High Fidelity since I bought the headset but now that I’ve used it to login to Sansar, that return visit to HiFi is likely to happen soon.
I’m talking about an audio headset by the way, I don’t have – nor do I ever expect to have – a VR headset. No thanks. And since it took me nine years of virtual life to buy an audio headset – the same kind of device I used in my real life work everyday for thirty-five years – you can take my word on that. I use a PC.
My first “experience” in Sansar was the Golden Gate Bridge. I figured something simple would be a good start.
The bridge must have been closed as there was no traffic which was good because all I could do was walk down the highway, listening to the sounds of waves and seagulls and foghorns.
I used the arrow keys to move around. I did not find a way to look around without turning nor a way to look up or down. By turning backward I could get my avatar to (sort of) face the camera.
Okay, so there seemed to be nothing to do here except stand around in the fog and watch other people arrive and leave after coming to the same conclusion. But that doesn’t stop a virtual world explorer! No, I had to walk all the way to the end to see what happens!
Nothing. You get to edge of the sim and you fall off the end of the world. And you’re stuck for a moment and then you are returned to the arrival point for that experience, the middle of the bridge in this case. And yes, I started walking toward the other end. At least I think it was the other end, there was no map or anything to confirm this but I noticed the shadows from my avatar’s body and the bridge structure itself were on my right instead of my left as on my first walk. I did question shadows in this much fog but I decided to accept it rather than lose the immersion. I got about halfway to the other end and got too bored with the slow walk to continue. The only interesting thing about walking to the edge is that, as slow as it is to walk around in Sansar, it’s nowhere near as slow as doing the same in Blue Mars. Thank the virtual gods for that!
I used the controls on my screen and jumped to another experience. Now, I use the word “jumped” loosely here. I recall the hysteria in OpenSim when Kitely came on the scene and people complained that a world/region/sim had to boot up first before they could visit. Although it was usually as fast as a Second Life teleport, sometimes it took a whole minute. In Sansar, you can forget about the sometimes, all three of the experiences/worlds/regions/sims/places/thingies I visited, took at least a minute to load.
I forget the name of this place…
It was reminiscent of places in Myst and its sequels. There was a rocky staircase that led to a door. I climbed the stairs but nothing happened when I got to the door. Later, I saw this same door on the Sansar website in another experience. Since I don’t have enough experience(s) in Sansar, I can’t shed any light on that.
The first two places I visited were created by Sansar Studios, so for my last experience on my first visit, I chose a user’s creation, Maxwell Graf to be exact. It seemed fitting as, when I started in SL ten years ago, I spent my first two weeks exploring in my default avatar look and would end nearly every day at a beautiful pub in Max’ region.
This experience is called Rune and, as with any place by Maxwell Graf, it is gorgeous. You arrive on an old sailing ship. Disembarking took me two takes. I walked around, followed what looked like it might be a path but I later found I’d gone the wrong way. I followed that path up and over a snow-covered mountain, down the other side…to the edge of the experience. (That’s a cool phrase!) I fell off the edge of the world and into the abyss for a moment, then was back aboard the ship.
I ventured out again and followed the green markers along the right path. At the third or fourth marker there seemed to be nowhere to go. Once, I bumped into the edge, I guess, because I re-rezzed on the ship again. I followed the green markers again and came to the same spot…and could not find anywhere else to go, so I logged out.
What did I think? I dunno. If this was my very first virtual world experience, I think I’d be jazzed and would probably still be logged in now. But since I’m already experienced in virtual worlds, it’s left me with the same feeling I’ve had after looking inside at a new restaurant and checking the menu: Okay, looks nice. Maybe I’ll come back sometime.