Linden Lab, the creator of online virtual world, Second Life, has been teasing a new platform for virtual reality creation for the last two years and today, announced an open beta for Sansar beginning this Spring. Compatible with VR headsets like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, Sansar offers up a space for anyone to build virtual social environments and share them with the world.
Sansar has been in closed beta since last April, allowing only a handful of creators access to the building tools and, recently, the online store. What we know so far is that Sansar will work something like Second Life with virtual space provided by Linden Lab for creators to upload original content or for users to purchase content made by other creators in the online store to build their virtual worlds. The creator tools provided by Linden Lab to build and upload virtual spaces look similar to game engines like Unreal, allowing users to load 3D assets, arrange them, and light them. Linden Lab also allows for “easy scripting” to add more reality to your virtual space with features like environmental sound. Spaces are published to Linden Lab’s cloud-based platform allowing you to share your world with whomever you choose.
Sansar will provide a way for users to monetize their creations either by charging “admission” to their virtual space or selling their virtual goods through the online store. Second Life pioneered this practice with their Marketplace, allowing users to sell everything from pre-fabricated virtual homes to avatar clothing and accessories. In 2015, Second Life boasted a GDP of $500 million, higher than some small countries.
The main difference between the way Sansar will function versus how Second Life operates will be in how Sansar makes its money. In Second Life, the price of a sim (simulator space users rent in-world to house their creations) tends to be far too pricey, running users more than $100 per month for a full-sized sim space, while sales on the Marketplace and in-world see very little tax. With Sansar, Linden Lab plans to flip this model – allowing users to acquire space at a more reasonable price and taking more of a cut for user sales (specific pricing not yet available).
Linden Lab CEO, Ebbe Altberg, has described Sansar as a bit like WordPress for virtual reality with the goal to make creation easy and for spaces to gain followings of their own. Platforms like Sansar are trending towards the future of VR – where virtual reality isn’t just for game-play, but for social interaction and experiences. Companies like Oculus Rift and their parent company, Facebook, are banking on this future. The possibilities are truly endless with social VR experiences and Linden Lab points to everything from public events and education to recreations of historical sites. Of course, we can count on dating as a big part of that future as well.
So, whether you’re an amateur 3D artist, a professional game designer, or just looking to make something fun for you and your friends in VR, Sansar could be the perfect tool to get you started. We’ll be sure to keep you posted when a firm date is announced. Check out the teaser trailer below and start planning your virtual world!