Linden Lab invites users in-world for exclusive 1-day message!

Linden Lab Town Hall Island - focus for a special message (image: Linden Lab)
Linden Lab Town Hall Island – focus for a special message (image: Linden Lab)

The start of the month is always a good time to make important announcements, so it should come as no surprise that on Friday, April 1st, the Lab are making am exclusive announcement. You may have already heard about it, but I thought I’m help spread the word, just in case 😉 .

Because of the nature of the announcement, which features a special message featuring guest announcer Rick Astley, it is only available in-world, so the Lab have opened the 4-region Town Hall Island to ensure as many people as possible can get to hear it.

The blog post announcing the news reads in part:

You may have heard that in addition to continued work to improve Second Life, Linden Lab is developing a new platform for user-created virtual experiences, code-named Project Sansar. (If you’d like to learn more about it, check out some of the recent press in our media archive.)

Project Sansar is not a sequel to nor a replacement for Second Life, and that the two will run in parallel. Although different from Second Life in a number of respects, Project Sansar has understandably aroused the interest and curiosity of many Second Life Residents. We’re very grateful for that enthusiasm! While it’s still very early for Project Sansar, today we have a special message to share in-world –  exclusively with Second Life Residents.

When visiting the regions, do make sure you have media enabled, in order to hear Mr. Astley and the message. And remember, as the official blog post states – this message is only available for today, April 1st, 2016.

Addendum: as some appear to be having issues with the message, it is also available here.

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Project Bento User Group update 10 with audio

Project Bento – extending the SL avatar skeleton
Project Bento – extending the SL avatar skeleton

The following notes and audio were taken from the weekly Bento User Group meeting, held on Thursday, March 31st at 13:00 SLT on Aditi. For details on each meeting and the location, please refer to the Bento User Group wiki page.

Note that this update is not intended to offer a full transcript of the meeting, nor does it present the discussion points in chronological order. Rather, it represents the core points of discussion to Project Bento, grouped together by subject matter were relevant / possible.

Viewer Status

A new version of the Bento project viewer was released on Tuesday, March 29th. Version 5.0.0.313150 includes the latest updates to the Bento skeleton and the work that has been undertaken to hook-up some of the Bento bones to respond to the appearance sliders in the viewer. The skeleton changes are:

  • Some renaming and position tweaks for the face joints
  • New face joints to allow better slider support, including teeth, eye corners
  • The EyeAlt bones are no longer children of mFaceRoot
  • 4th joint added to the hind limbs.

The slider updates mean that many of the face sliders will now work for suitably rigged mesh heads.

The focus now is very much on finalising the skeleton, and subject to possible show stoppers turning up as more work is done on hooking bones into the appearance sliders, the hope is that the skeleton will not now undergo further significant change.  This should allow for in-depth testing of the skeleton without risk of further updates breaking content.

In particular, the Lab is looking to get feedback on any problems encountered with the skeleton, and whether some of the new additional bones are actually useful in achieving what has been hoped in requesting them – such as the additional joints requested for hexapods, etc.

Should it turn out that these joints are not useful, then the Lab needs to know sooner rather than later so that they can be tweaked, if possible. Also, if the joints are seen as not useful at all, than the Lab would also like to know, so that some might be removed to help reduce the overall complexity of the skeleton.

The areas the Lab are keen to see feedback on comprise:

  • The new “hind” limbs
  • The four additional spine joints
  • The additional branch in the wings to allow for wing folding
  • Testing the face sliders with animations – there is a concern that animations may conflict with slider settings used to reposition the facial bones.

There are also new .dae models which work with the new skeleton available on the Bento test page on the wiki.

Next Steps: Viewer and Sliders

From the Lab’s perspective, the immediate next steps in the projects are:

  • Have a final skeleton and slider configuration by the end of week #14 (week commencing Monday April 4th (allowing a few more days for the Avastar team to complete work on linking facial bones, etc., to the appearance sliders
  • Issue an updated project viewer ASAP after next week, which will include the finalised skeleton and sliders, together with available bug fixes (see below)
  • Once the updated project viewer is out, the Lab will be focused on the remaining bug fixes and collecting feedback based on creators’ experiences in using the new skeleton, testing the sliders with and without animations, etc.
  • To help people with this, the Lab encourage anyone working on content exercising elements of the new skeleton they are comfortable in sharing to the common pool of work on the wiki (link above)
  • There are also some additional attachment points to be added to allow for things like the “hind” limbs. However as noted in my week #8 report, there are a number of limiting factors in adding attachment points, one of which is presenting them through the viewer UI, which has certain limitations. Another issue is that there is a hard limit to the total number of attachment points, which makes it difficult to accommodate every which might logically require attachment points associated with it.

Slider Work

It should be made clear that no new appearance sliders are being added to the viewer’s appearance controls for Bento. Rather, as noted in my week #9 update, a  slider parameter has been identified which allows some of the existing sliders to work with bone rotations / translations (for Bento) as well as with the morphs used to animate the default avatar skeleton.

There are some sliders in the head which don’t currently seem to work, although this may be due to further work waiting to be carried out in hooking things up. A suggestion has been made to add a new chin joint to make the chin more mobile and allow for versatile jaw shapes, but it’s not clear if further joints will be added at this point in time due to the growing complexity of the skeleton.

Teager shows a WIP set of bird wings designed to utilises the Bento skeleton extensions
Teager shows a WIP set of bird wings designed to utilises the Bento skeleton extensions

In addition to the facial slider support means that things like increasing height should allow wings to increase proportionally. However, documentation on what has been hooked-up to the sliders has yet to be written, mainly because the work is still ongoing, so currently the only way to get the information is via the avatar.lad XML file.

A couple of discussion points on bones and sliders revolve around the wings and “hind” leg bones. On the one hand, there are instances where having these hooked into sliders makes sense – such as having the “hind” leg bones for quadruped avatars, so that if the avatar’s height is increased, the hind legs adjust as well.

However, as things like the “hind” leg bones and the wing bones are designed to be re-tasked, there are potential use cases where this linking could be undesirable, and tends to steer various bones to only be used for certain types of content, rather than leaving things more open for content creators to determine how to just the bones. One potential work-around for things like the “hind” bones would be to provide an additional set of sliders specifically for them; however, due to the amount of work involved in developing and implementing the necessary viewer updates, including the UI changes that would be required, this is currently out-of-scope for Bento.

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