Is Second Life getting too complex?

See: Project Bento and the pose making. Tamara Artis is a Qavimator user. She recognizes the program is not maintained and Bento is likely to kill it, at least for use in Second Life™. She is asking about advice on what to switch to and tips for animating for Bento.

A great complexity pre-collapse

A great complexity pre-collapse

Medhue Simoni, a Second Life animator of some note, provides several answers. So, if you are looking for tips and general information, this would be a good place to start. A notable point Medhue makes is Qavimator is still going to work after Project Bento releases. 

Bento adds bones and mostly leaves the pre-Bento bones alone. The Bento final skeleton and bones are compatible with the classic avatar. So, Qavimator will still work with the old bones. It won’t know about the new bones, so you won’t be able to animate those using Qavimator. However, there is a limit to how many bones you can animate in any single animation. So, running multiple animations is going to be common. You can make different animations for different parts of the avatar body.

Qie Niangao asks what will happen with the pre-Bento facial expressions. If you don’t know, the facial animations we have now are a different type of animation than we use for most of our uploaded animation. This is why we have a limited set of facial expressions. They are a type of animation we call morphs.

What morphs means is the animation is a metamorphosis from one sculpted mesh to another. The classic head is a mesh with an ‘at-rest-position’. The facial expressions are a copy of the same ‘rest’ mesh modified to the desired expression. The SL Viewer system morphs the heads by shifting from 0% of the expression to 100%. It calculates how much to move each vertex in the head during the ‘morph’ as it progresses from 0 to 100%. The only consideration is the two copies of the classic head.

The Bento system adds bones so we avoid having to sculpt new expressions and have them built into the viewer. By animating bones we can store unlimited animations in the SL Assets database and avoid waiting for the Lab to integrate our morph expressions into the viewer, which would also expand the size of the viewer install files. There is an obvious limit to how many we can have.

The older morph expressions will always work with the classic system avatar head. New heads weighted to the new bones can be animated this new to SL way. We will not be able to add morphs for the new heads. At least I don’t see how we could.

Qie points out the complications coming from a duel animating system for facial expressions. Pointing out what it will do to furniture animations. He believes furniture makers will have to include classic and Bento facial expressions in their products. That is going to take time and lots of old stuff will never get updated. So, Qie thinks the new mesh heads will be as lifeless as the current mesh heads.

Personally I will be so happy to lose the sex bed expressions, which seem to be about the only furniture that animates the face. But, Medhue points out what Bento animators are doing now, which is setting a facial expression to loop and run constantly.

Take a look at Medhue’s elephant and Mahadma’s… whatever that is, in the video and notice the trunk and ears (head) are in constant motion as is Mahadma’s tail. I think it is rather funny that Mahadma’s tail takes off pulling Mahadma backward. Expect head and hand makers to do the same. Furniture makers are likely to give up including Bento facial expressions and leave facial expression up to the user or head makers.

Wow… it just occurred to me our avatars will be able to pick their nose… I lost that RL horrible habit when I grew nails. I expect someone to make that animation and nails won’t be a problem. I may have to buy a copy for when I’m being rude to someone I don’t like hitting on me.

Qie makes what I consider a very misguided statement, “I just fear this is turning out to be another case where the Linden developers are listening to the wrong resident creators, leading to the kind of disappointment that we got with Mesh which initially had no attention paid to worn Mesh.”

Medhue comes back with an excellent response. I quote it in full because I think his logic is inescapable.

I take much issue with this statement. We, the creators involved have NO SAY. I was in both the mesh development group, and the Bento group. The said issues had nothing at all to do with us. In the case of Bento, this very issue was brought up, and script commands to do exactly what you suggest were asked for. We were told that it was outside the scope of Bento. Please do not blame any of us for any of Bento’s downsides. If it were up to us, this would have been done.

That said, it’s somewhat insulting to imply we ask for the wrong things, as we have gotten LL to take Bento way farther than any of us could have guessed it would. This is a credit to LL for listening to us to the extent that they did. LL wasn’t even going to give us bone translation. We begged, and made our case and LL listened and saw the possibilities. And, there were many other ground breaking features added because of us.

You know, the meetings have been open to anyone, and if you had concerns then you should have came [sic]. There is another meeting on Thursday, at 1pm SL time. If you want to blame anyone for the downfalls of mesh, then blame all the people that did not participate. Not those of us that did!

We seem to always have the less informed and least involved complaining and misstating events and motivations. Medhue is involved in Project Bento as are about a dozen people. Several of us attending the meetings are more watcher and user than developers. But, occasionally we ask good questions that lead to changes and fixes. Others are programming AvaStar, MayaStar, and a similar 3DMax version.

YouTube - What the heck is this?! Jelly Dolls!

What the heck is this?! Jelly Dolls!

Many of the opinions people form seem to come from their imagination. They have no basis in fact. Remember that guy Chicken Little?


Everything in SL is getting more complex. Before I can buy that hot micro-mini I have to check that it is made for me, my Slink Physique. Not Hourglass, Belleza, Maitreya, or another brand. I’ve learned the Omega Appliers sometimes do not work, so I have double check they work with Slink.

Now I’ll be seeing animations that require a Bento capable viewer and mesh weighted to the new Bento bones. Fortunately, these new Bento things will mostly affect heads, hands, feet, tails, and non-human avatars. But, what about dances that use hand or head animations? Soon I’ll need to be paying close attention which mesh whatever they support.

Want to make clothes? Well, are you planning to make classic clothes? Mesh clothes? Rigged, Fitted, or now Bento? Do you know the difference? You have GIMP. But, what about Blender? What about AvaStar?

I like Second Life. But, it is getting harder for a noobie to get started. The learning curve is growing. I wonder what the Lab is going to do to simplify Sansar? I know 3D world creation has not changed much since Second Life was started. The tools are way better. But, you still have to understand 3D modeling and to optimize you have to understand quite a bit more complexity.

Are we dividing into creatives and consumers? Seems so. Sansar is being structured with that reality in mind. But, how well is that going to work in SL? Fortunately, SL is a free enough market we, the users, can work that out. It will be a mess but, I doubt anything will be forced on us.

The avatar complexity is extending into animations now. Until Bento any human animation worked with any avatar. Now the creator of an animation may use the hind legs as human toes… But, what happens if that animation is played on any quadruped avatar? It won’t be pretty.

I suppose one can still start off simple. But, the more you want to do, the more you will have to know. Second Life is complex and getting more so. But, is it too complex? I suppose that depends on who you are. There is also likely a point where the level of complexity will overwhelm new users and retention will become a larger problem.

2 thoughts on “Is Second Life getting too complex?

  1. Pingback: Second Life: Project Bento Update 2016 w41 | Nalates' Things & StuffNalates’ Things & Stuff

  2. More complicated ? Yes, I just sent a new alt through the LL welcome island . In my years in SL I never had to “jump” to do what I wanted.

    To get OUT of Welcome Island you have to jump over increasing gaps in the floor or redo the route.

    I am on an apple laptop without pg up/down keys and can only use one hand .

    I had to relog with fly override on FS viewer to get off the Island.

    Ebbe , let’s see you jump over the gaps ! And tell me WHY that skill needs to be mastered to enter SL !

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