OK, I admit I wasn’t expect this until next week, but on Wednesday, September 14th, the Lab announced that Project Bento is now officially available as a release candidate viewer – version 184.108.40.2069688 – which can be obtained through the Alternate Viewers wiki page.
And just in case anyone has missed all the Project Bento news, the best way is to catch-up through the official video. In short, Bento adds a wealth of new bones to the basic avatar skeleton (30+ to heads / faces and to hands alone!), making a wealth of new avatars (humans and non-human) and mesh wearables possible.
The reason I wasn’t expecting the viewer to get promoted just year is that the Lab also has a proof-of-concept viewer being tested, so I assumed any push to RC would come after a decision had been made on incorporating those changes (if they are to be adopted). So, not for the first time, I’m been wrong 🙂 .
The move to release candidate status doesn’t mean the project is at an end. There is still further work to be done as remaining bugs are fixed, etc (so updates such as the slider locking in the proof-of-concept might yet arrive in the viewer). What it does do is three things:
- Makes the viewer available to a wider audience through the Lab’s RC distribution mechanism, thus allowing any unforeseen issues in merging the Bento code into the current release viewer code (and which may be outside of direct Bento testing) to be identified and fixed
- Potentially makes the viewer more widely available to content creators who may not have so far tried the viewer
- Means that TPVs can now officially start incorporating the Bento code into their viewers (in fact, Cool VL Viewer has had Bento in its Experimental branch from some time, and Firestorm have also been working to merge the Bento code as well – but this shouldn’t be taken to mean there will be a new release of the latter in the near future).
In keeping with the status of the Bento code, the Lab do ask people – particularly avatar content creators – to give the viewer a go, and to file a JIRA against any issues found.
As noted above, Bento offers a range of opportunities for mesh wearable and avatar creators – you can see a couple of video exploring the AK and Catwa preview Bento mesh heads in my SL project update. Also, back in August, Vista Animations produced a video illustrating the potential of finger animations:
Then, of course, there is a huge range of non-human avatars: centaurs, “rideables”, winged creatures – all of which can be achieved a lot more efficiently through Bento than has previously been the case.
So – get ready for the Bento Revolution!