This morning about 11:30 AM The Lindens announced Project Bento is now live. The main Linden viewer has updated to include Bento. Firestorm has talked about releasing their Bento capable viewer next Monday the 12th. I suspect if things go well for them they will release an update. But, FS is picky about quality, so there could be delays. Still I’ll bet on next Monday.
The Firestorm viewer is used by half to three-quarters of SL users. The Linden viewer is used by a quarter to a third of SL users. So, until Firestorm adopts something many developers and merchants consider too few people as being able to use the feature to justify releasing products using the feature.
Because we have no solid data about how many are using ALM, we see many developers that avoid using materials. Materials adoption has been slow due to a lack of confidence in how large an audience is available. It is the same thing with Bento. Until Firestorm supports it, too few can use the feature to motivate merchants.
Once the Firestorm viewer supports Bento we can expect an explosion of Bento capable products. For human avatars the big changes will be in hands and heads.
Some merchants may upgrade hands for free. But, I doubt any will update heads for free. Bento capable heads will have to be purchased. I doubt they will be cheap. But, some may give a discount if you already have one or more of their mesh heads.
While mesh heads respond to shape sliders, just as the classic heads do, the Mesh Body Addicts has written about how that is not as flexible as one might hope. It seems there are some limits to how much you can tweak Bento Mesh Heads with shape sliders. So, demos are going to be very important to assure you are getting what you want.
MayaStar is pretty much ready for use. So, if you use Maya, you can use MayaStar to animate and build Bento capable items.
AvaStar, the Blender addon, is a bit behind… sort of… They have AvaStar 2.0 working, but as a beta. They are building a lot into AvaStar. One feature is the ability to load in Slink, Maitreya, Belleza and other mesh body avatars. Plus they are working on easy ways to update your older products to work with Bento. They are also shaping the workflow for Bento.
The AvaStar2.0-23 (Oct 2016) is available for those that have purchased an AvaStar 2 update plan. Version 2.0-24 is in the works and likely to soon be out. BUT… it won’t be ready for day to day use for PRE-BENTO stuff… if I understand correctly. For most pre-Bento work stick with AvaStar 1.7. But, Gaia needs testers so this 2.0-24 beta is coming soon.
I haven’t gotten to spend as much time with AvaStar 2 as I would like. But, I am excited.