Second Life: NEW BONES, New AvaStar 2.0

This is a big deal. I’ll get into what it means and what some of the possibilities are.

For years Second Life™ users have been asking for more bones. That would let users make avatars with tails that are easily animated. Or with more than 4 arm-leg appendages. We will be able to have a centaur with 4 legs, two arms, and a tail, something that is way complicated now and pretty lame. Or a spider with 8 legs. 

What is being added is:

  • 11 extra limb bones for wings, additional arms, or extra legs.
  • 6 tail bones
  • 30 bones in the hands (all 10 fingers!)
  • 30 bones for facial expressions
  • 2 other new bones in the head for animating ears or antennae
  • 13 new attachment points associated with the new bones

We can soon animate fingers and toes.

Facial expressions… 30 bones. The limited set of facial expressions possible now will become unlimited . I’m not sure how these will work. The classic avatar uses a technique called morphing based on just a few bones. This post doesn’t mention morphing. So, I am expecting morphing is not something being opened up.

Since they say they have been working with ‘developers of the most popular tools’ I assumed that meant Machinimatrix has been involved. Going to the Blender-AvaStar group in-world I was thinking that might not be the case. But, soon I found that AvaStar 2.0 Beta is out! So, yes they have been.

WARNING: Currently there is a problem with AvaStar 2.0 Beta on Windows 7, Blender 2.76.

The Lab indicates this project is part of a larger longer plan.

  • April 2011 – Avatar Physics
  • July 2011 – Mesh
  • June 2012 – Server Side Appearance
  • February 2014 – Fitted Mesh
  • March 2015 – Hover Control
  • December 2015 – Bento

It may be more accurate to say they are pacing releases. Whether a plan with staged releases or not, it is going to be debated. Many think the Lab was pushed into Avatar Physics and Fitted Mesh. Some of those people have voiced the thought it was third party developers that moved the Lab to implement Avatar Physics (boobie bounce if you didn’t make the connection). I can’t say they are wrong and I tend to agree.

But, we don’t get information about the Lab’s long range plans. The Lab’s 10, 5, 3, 1 year plans are confidential. Now and then we get some information about what they are planning. Just remember, the Lab has repeatedly told us they only announce plans once they have gone far enough along a path to be sure they can do what they want. So, it is possible Bento is a culmination of a long range plan. Don’t ask me to put money on that. But, I’ll concede it is possible.

As it is now, we are in the beta stage of this new project. The Lab is still in the position of taking feedback. So, it you are interested in making avatars and/or animations get involved. See Project Bento Testing.

This testing will be possible on ADITI, the Preview Grid. If you haven’t logged into ADITI since your last password change, you may have problems getting in. Try your previous password. The ADITI login server has apparently been failing to properly update password changes. Elsewhere in the forum Calab Linden posted that the Lab is currently working to solve that problem.

You must get the Project Bento Viewer and test it on ADITI. For now it won’t be able to upload new animations or meshes rigged to new bones to the AGNI (main) grid.

Not all ADITI regions will handle the new viewer. But, most regions will. It depends on what is being tested by the Lab on which region. The regions that are specifically for testing Bento are:

  • Mesh Sandbox 1
  • Mesh Sandbox 2
  • Mesh Sandbox 3
  • Mesh Sandbox 4

There are some new restrictions to what can be done in animations. The restrictions are to simplify testing. We have been discussing the practice of rigging to attachment points and changing the position of those points with animations. That creates a set of problems the Lab would prefer to eliminate. But, they recently reversed their position and allowed rigging/animating attachments points to continue. But, that is changing with Bento. So, read the Wiki for what you can and cannot do.

This test is to help determine if rigging to attachment points can be eliminated. So, if you rig or animate to attachment points, get busy testing and provide your feedback to the Lab.

There is a thread in the forum for discussing Bento. See: Project Bento Feedback Thread.

To do any testing one needs a copy of the new skeleton/armature. Where do we get that? I couldn’t find a premade skeleton until about 5PM SLT. The sample files or Test Content, as the Lindens label them, is here: http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Project_Bento_Testing#Test_Content .

I have a early copy of the AvaStar skeleton from my AvaStar 2.0. Eleannora Newell says it is OK to hand out the blend file. You can find it here: http://blog.nalates.net/avastar2-0/. This file has all the AvaStar stuff meant to be used with AvaStar. I expect Gaia to make a stripped down version of this file with just the needed components for those not using AvaStar.

A full avatar is here: http://blog.nalates.net/avastar2-0a/

These files are not easy to use as is. But they will save you having to build your own skeleton.

Now I have to go play.

9 thoughts on “Second Life: NEW BONES, New AvaStar 2.0

  1. Just as a note, Avastar 2.0 does not have a problem with Windows 7 and Blender 2.76, but it DOES have a problem with upgrading from Avastar 1.x. It gave me an error when I tried just disabling/removing the old one and installing the new. And then I had further problems when trying to reinstall the old one.

    I did a clean install of Blender and suddenly Avastar 2.0 installed just fine.

    Might not be ideal, especially if you have a lot of custom plugins and settings, but it works, at least.

    • Several people have run into the problem. Gaia made some changes and reloaded those as version 2.0… no version change. If you download after 5PM SLT/PST 12/16, you’ll have the newer version. I haven’t checked in today. So, there may be more news.

      I changed to 2.76b and with it I had to restart Blender a couple of times to get the plugin working. Sparkles did install (after I had AvaStar 2.0 working) and seems to work.

  2. I was excited about this at first, but as I’ve learned from someone familiar with OpenGL, this project may wind up getting dumbed down.

    The problem is that graphics cards only support a limited number of “vertex uniforms” (don’t ask me what that means, I’m not the OpenGL expert), and that the new skeleton requires 1320 of them: more than what many graphics cards support.

    This means that, unless Linden Lab compromises on their design, the new skeleton will not work on any systems using Intel HD graphics, ATI/AMD graphics cards, or any nVidia cards older than the GeForce 8xxx series.

    • You could be right. We’ll have to see if the Lab drops support for older limited hardware or has some means of nerfing the avatar for older systems. I suspect they will drop older hardware and their Intel HD support is already limited. But, I see Bento has a major competitive move to keep up with Sansar.

      • I did more reading, and it seems that 1024 is the limit on vertex uniforms in most GPUs. AMD/ATI cards indicate a limit of 4096, but that is due to how they are doing their math, and so that number is 4x greater than what the cards actually support.

  3. So , anyone else notice on the bento_angle.blend there appears to be a small bone in the groin area? or am i just seeing things.

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