There’s likely to be few in Second Life of a certain age who do not have, or have not encountered, Meike Heston’s Hug & Kiss animator. I’ve personally been using it for well over a decade – generally with the “mini” version tucked into a corner of my screen.
For those who have not come across it, it’s a HUD that allows you to select an avatar around you and offer them a hug or a kiss – in greeting, in farewell, in comfort or simply just because. If accepted, the system will animate them and your avatar so they will come together in the selected greeting – the vagaries of Second Life animation system allowing.
It’s a HUD that hasn’t been updated in over a decade – in part because Meike herself has been absent from Second Life for a fair amount of time, but also because it has always simply worked. However as Meike has once more been semi-active in Second Life, she’s been working with Chance Strike (ChanceStriker) on a completely new version of Hug & Kiss, and they gave me the opportunity recently to take it for a test drive.
Called Hug & Kiss Animator 3.0 ReAnimated, the most obvious difference between version 3.0 of the HUD and earlier versions is in its appearance, as shown below.
But a new look is only the start. Version 3.0 of Hug & Kiss has:
- 16 completely new animations, twelve of which retain the names of their predecessors from earlier versions or which offer similar styles of animation under a new name, plus four brand new animations unique to version 3.0 of the HUD.
- An improved height matching capability that automatically attempts to more accurately compensate for differences in avatar height of +/- 60 cm for a more realistic hug / kiss / pose (the vagaries of the SL animation system allowing).
- Ability to add your own animations / run your own configuration of animations – details are provided in the *config note card in the HUD itself.
- Automatic update service – the HUD will notify you if / when an update is released, and present you with the option of receiving it.
Given the nature of SL animations, the HUD still requires some basic preparation when wanting to greet someone – most obviously the avatars need to be face-on to one another – but otherwise the operation of the HUD is simple and direct,particularly for those familiar with earlier versions:
- Use < and > to page through the HUD’s animation until the one you wish to use is displayed in the centre black button.
- Click the centre black button to select the animation, and then click on the desired avatar name from the dialogue box in the top right of your screen.
Providing your target accepts the request, the animation will play, bringing both avatars together.
By default, animations will play for a set length of time, but if you would prefer great manual control,the the padlock button on the HUD can be clicked to set it to “locked”. Animations will now only end when the centre black button is clicked a second time.
And that’s pretty much it. As noted above, the configuration notecard within the HUD includes instructions should you wish to add couples animations of your own. I confess to not having tried this, simply because I don’t have any suitable animations, so I’ll lave that to others to explore.
Overall, a nice update with animations potentially suited to a wider set of uses than previous versions (round-and-round might be used by a parent greeting a child, for example). In my testing, the height adjustment seemed to work well, and animations on the version 3.0 of the HUD looked more natural as a result.
At L$750, the HUD isn’t expensive, but it will be interesting to see if those with an earlier version opt to purchase it (no update path is available because both the animations and the control scripts are entirely new). I suspect this will come down to a combination of how often the HUD is used and which animations in particular are used / appeal. And, of course, there are other options available through other creators, some at a lower price – so weighing-up which might be the better comes down to personal taste.
I do wonder if the “transparent” option might cause confusion, given it leaves the HUD on-screen (but “invisible”) so that it might come between a user and something they are trying to click in-world – but this is really more of a passing thought. That said, if making the HUD transparent doesn’t suit your needs, it will allow a certain degree of re-sizing should you wish it to have a smaller on-screen footprint – which is actually what I opted to do with it.
My thanks to Chance and Meike for the opportunity to try out / test the new Hug & Kiss HUD.