Blender.org released version 2.65 on December 10th. The release notes are here: Blender 2.65 Release Notes.
In this release the developers say they focused on fixing bugs and improving stability. Over 200 bugs have been fixed.
Fire & Smoke
An improved fire system has been added. The smoke system changed and improved. This does nothing for us in Second Life.
The Cycles rendering system has been improved. But, as yet I don’t see where it can be used to bake textures for SL. So, this too has little value for us.
The bevel tool has been improved to work better and hold the bevel shape more precisely. It also is reported to generate better topology.
A Symmetrize Tool has been added. I have yet to try it out. But, this should help with simplifying models, something we do for our LoD and physics models.
The Decimator has been re-written. This is a modifier that reduces the number of vertices in a model. It simplifies it. Hopefuly it does a beter job than it has in the past. It may be useful to help in simplifying the high LoD models for use as lower LoD models.
A Laplacian Smooth Modifier has been added that can smooth a mesh and still hold edges.
A Triangulate Modifier has been added that should also help us with LoD models and it should work well with models using normal maps, something we will soon be doing in Second Life.
A weight copy feature has been added. It copies weight painting from one mesh to another. I suspect this is Gaia and Dominos Weight Copy addon built into Blender.
A new addon is available that bakes UV textures to vertex color… I don’t know what that is for. As far as I know we cannot transfer vertex color into SL nor does the SL render pipeline use it.
I’ll be trying out the new version over the next few days. If you use the archive/zip file install method, you can have as many versions of Blender installed as you like. I’ve just added this one in until I decide if I’ll move to it as my main version or not.
The best thing about the decimation modifier is that it now preserves the UV map, something it has never done in the past. That alone makes it a great deal more useful! I wouldn’t ever expect this modifier to produce the prettiest results, though. For that, one should probably just retopologize.
I had not yet noticed it was preserving the UVMap. That is great.
I agree, there is point when it is best to retopologize.