2016 SL project updates 33 (2): server, viewer, Bento update 23

West of the Rain; Inara Pey, August 2016, on Flickr West Of The Rainblog post

My apologies for the latest of this update. Working on my recent Sansar Summary pushed this update completely out of my mind!

Server Deployments – Recap

There were no deployments to the Main (SLS) channel or the RC channels this week. It is currently “doubtful” there will be an RC deployment next week – although this may change. A contributing reason for the slowdown is that the Lab is currently focused on server-side operating system upgrades.

SL Viewer

The Visual Outfits Browser RC viewer updated on August 17th. Version sees the viewer merged to the current release viewer code, and the following additional updates:

  • A fix for Outfit Gallery failing to use local files Select Photo Picker
  • A fix for Snapshot preview being corrupted
  • A fix for a crash in the viewer when using the snapshot preview.

All other official viewers remain as per my Current Viewer Release List.

Project Bento

The following notes were taken from the weekly Bento User Group meeting, held on Thursday, August 18th at 13:00 SLT at the the Hippotropolis Campfire Circle. For details on the meeting agenda, please refer to the Bento User Group wiki page. No audio is supplied, as the meeting was fairly short and sharp, without a major amount of discussion.

SLM Files

SLM files are produced alongside of the Mesh .DAE files. They can be a problem as by default, the official viewer is set to check for any existing SLM file when uploading a mesh model, and this can lead to confusion when trying to fix issues by overwriting the original .DAE, only to have the viewer reference the existing SLM file, either causing problems on upload or giving the impression the issues in the model haven’t actually been fixed.

Firestorm has always avoided this by having the debug setting MeshImportUseSLM set to FALSE by default, and the suggestion going forward is for the official viewer to do them same.

Mesh Distortions with Altitude

The issue of facial distortions with altitude when software skinning is used continues to prove difficult to resolve. The general recommendation is to use hardware skinning (my Bento Update #19). The root cause of the problem appears to be a floating point error which can affect any mesh. The Lab is still looking at it, but given there is a workaround by using hardware skinning, the problem is not seen as a major blocker.

The issue of facial distortions at altitude when using software skinning in Bento has yet to be fully resolved (images courtesy of Cathy Foil)
The issue of facial distortions at altitude when using software skinning in Bento has yet to be fully resolved (images courtesy of Cathy Foil)

Proposals for NOT Having Mesh Influenced by Sliders

There have been requests to not have the avatar bones influenced by the shape sliders (i.e. by a creator optionally locking both the scale and position of a joint). The Lab is looking at this, but if any work is done, it will not be prior to the Bento viewer reaching release candidate status. Whether anything may be done was the RC version of the viewer progresses towards release (the work is not seen as a huge amount of effort), or whether it is a piece of “post-Bento” work is still to be decided.

Avatar Test Files

Cathy foil has now updated the Maya male and female avatar models on the Bento Test wiki page so they match the latest Bento skeleton updates (as of August 17th, 2016). Then both utilise the same (female) skeleton, the male version have a male mesh / morphs applied. Cathy has used the Avatar Bento angel weights and apply them to the models, so the faces and fingers are all fully rigged, although both are sans wings and tails.

Cathy will be making a set of .FBX files of the models, which will also be placed on the Bento Test page when available, for those who are not using tools such as 3D Studio Max for their work.

Elizabeth Jarvinen (polysail) is also working on a tool for 3D Studio. Max which is intended to provide a second means of producing animations / meshes etc that isn’t reliant upon Blender / Avastar. However, this requires a considerable amount of work, not least in providing slider support, and Elizabeth has received offers of assistance from Vir and Cathy, who will also see about having the AvaStar team lend assistance.

Rigs Modifying Collision Volumes

As noted in my Bento update #22, recent reports of people encountering problems with Bento rigs which modify collision volumes (see here for details). As noted in that  update, this was not something that the Lab planned on supporting, particularly as it did not come up during the initial Bento development meetings with creators.

However, and as further indicated in my update #22 (with thanks to Whirly Fizzle), an update will be included in the next project viewer release for Bento which should hopefully fix the issues being encountered.

Release Progress

There has been a lot of questioning over the Bento release time frames recently, both within the Bento user group meetings and elsewhere (e.g. at TPVD meetings). Currently the plan is to get a further project viewer released in the near-term (possibly before the end of August), and then progress to release candidate status from there.

However, time frames beyond that become nebulous, because the Bento viewer, as a release candidate, will be vying for release alongside other RC viewers, some of which may have a higher priority, some of which may need to be issued in sequence, or have other pressures, and so predicting a date when Bento will be the de facto release viewer is difficult to predict.

This is further exacerbated by the fact the recent changes and requirements have required extensive updates to  AvaStar, much of which is still work-in-progress (see my Bento updates #22 and #21 for more). Once completed, this work will require further testing in order to confirm any problems within AvaStar are resolved, and any remaining issues (if uncovered) are viewer related, rather than external tools related. Then over and above this, there is the list of existing Bento issues which needs to be worked through, depending on the severity of the problems reported.

That said, it would appear the overall hope is to get Bento formally released before the end of 2016.