Project Bento live in Second Life

Bento: extending the avatar skeleton - now officially live on the grid!
Bento: extending the avatar skeleton – now officially live on the grid!

On Monday, December 5th, Linden Lab announced that Project Bento is now “live” on the main grid following the promotion of the Bento Release Candidate viewer to de facto release status.

Project Bento is – as I’m sure everyone is only too aware – the project to enhance the avatar skeleton for use in mesh models, human and non-human (please note the new bones cannot be used with the system avatar).

It’s a project I’ve covered extensively in this blog, having been a part of both the closed and open beta phases of the work. However, just in case you have missed it. Bento adds a range of new bones the Second Life avatar skeleton, all of which can be rigged and weighted in mesh avatar models, and many can be used for a wide variety of purposes: limbs, wings, ears, tails and more. In particular, Bento adds over 30 bones to the avatar’s hands and avatar’s face, allowing mesh creators to design hands with movable fingers and faces which can be far more expressive. The Lab’s promotional video released as Bento entered a main grid beta phase is embedded below.

As many of the bones are tied to the Second Life appearance sliders, it also means that – subject to caveats from individual creators – avatar meshes can be customised easier by users. So, for example, avatar heads can be tweaked to give a more personal look when compared to the “off-the-shelf” version of the same head.

For non-human avatars, Bento brings a host of new possibilities and easier ways of doing things. Animal and humanoid avatars can be made which are more life-like, make better use of resources and offer fascinating new opportunities for wearable avatars, pets and more.

A GIF of Medhue Simoni's elephant avatar enjoying a little bit of the Bee Gees. Medue is one of the creators / animators who has been at the forefront of Bento development - check his video for more on the elephant and his You Tube channel for Bento information in general
A GIF of Medhue Simoni’s elephant avatar enjoying a little bit of the Bee Gees via Staying’ Alive. Medue is one of the creators / animators who has been at the forefront of Bento development – check his video for more on the elephant and his You Tube channel for Bento information in general. Credit: Medhue Simoni, via Linden Lab.

To aid in Bento content creation, the project has heavily engaged the talents of Cathy Foil and the Machninimatix team to ensure that MayaStar, Cathy’s SL plug-in for Maya, and Avastar, the Blender add-on from Gaia and Matrice are fully Bento compliant – and all three have been instrumental in moving Bento forward.

There are a couple of additional options which are included in the viewer called Reset Skeleton and Reset Skeleton And Animations, and can be found on the right-click avatar context menu. They have been included because sometimes, when changing between one mesh avatar and another, the basic SL avatar can become deformed, resulting in it looking squished, stretched, caught between two looks, or something else.

The problem is generally the result of race conditions when the avatar’s appearance is being updated, and both of these buttons are intended to correct the problem  – the option to reset animations as well is intended to fix deformations which may be due to animations also kicking-in incorrectly / at the wrong time.

The reset skeleton options (right-click context menu in the official viewer) should "fix other avatars which appear distorted in your view after changing their form (left menu) or your own avatar if the same happens to you (right menu) - note both options only affect your view of the avatar in question
The reset skeleton options (right-click context menu in the official viewer) should “fix other avatars which appear distorted in your view after changing their form (left menu) or your own avatar if the same happens to you (right menu) – note both options only affect your view of the avatar in question. Obviously, the location of these options may vary as TPV release Bento ready viewers

An important thing to not with both these option is they only fix the avatar in question (your own or someone else in your view. They do not affect how other people are seeing the same avatar.

As stated above, content creators have been engaged in the project, and so some Bento content is already available in-world and via the SL Marketplace – and doubtless more will be appearing in time. However, you do need a Bento capable viewer to render Bento content correctly. Hopefully, it will not be long before TPVs also release Bento capable updates as well (some already have Bento updates available as experimental versions, or undergoing closed user group testing).

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a list of additional Bento and related resources and information.

Additional Bento Links

2016 SL project updates 48/2: TPVD meeting; SVC-7532 roll-back for guns

Rosemoor, Jadeite; Inara Pey, December 2016, on Flickr Rosemoor, Jadeiteblog post

The majority of the notes in this update are taken from the abbreviated TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, December 2nd. The video of that meeting is embedded at the end of this update. My thanks as always to North for recording and providing it.

Server Deployments – Recap

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread for any updates.

  • There was no deployment of a server maintenance package to the Main (SLS) channel on Tuesday, November 29th, leaving it running on the same build as week #47 – 16#16.11.02.321369. However, the channel did undergo a rolling restart in order to update all private regions on it to the new land impact allowances – see my expanded report for more.
  • On Wednesday, November 30th, all three RC channels received a new server maintenance package, comprising internal simulator changes. This deployment also saw all private regions on the three RC channels updated with the new land impact allowances.

No Change Window

[01:51] The Christmas and New Year 2016/17 No Change window has been confirmed as running from Friday, December 16th 2016 through to Monday, January 2nd, 2017. There will be no planned server deployments or major viewer releases during this time frame.

SL Viewer

Project Bento RC

[00:23] On Thursday, December 1st, the Bento RC viewer updated to version 5.0.0.321958, which primarily includes a further fix for a rendering bug related to bad skin weights in some mesh avatars, which hadn’t been entirely fixed with the last update.

Unless something completely unexpected crops up in the next few days, and providing the RC performs well, this viewer could be promoted to release status early in week #49 (week commencing Monday, December 5th). Should this happen, it is likely that Firestorm will issue their own Bento update roughly a week later.

Maintenance RC

[09:46] A new Maintenance RC arrived in the release channel on Tuesday, November 30th. Version 4.1.3.321792 includes some 42 fixes and improvements including the following:

Abuse Reporting:

  • When you’re trying to file an abuse report and you crash – the floater will stay open and all information we were able to save will persist.
  • There is a new toolbar button: “Report Abuse”

Appearance:

  • Appearance floater will now remember your last selected tab across logins. You like your Outfit Gallery? Enjoy! You don’t like it? Enjoy something you prefer …

Pay floater:

  • You can now add an optional payment message when you send money, and it accepts UTF8 (via Ansariel Hiller).

360 Snapshot Project Viewer

[29:07] Issues have emerged with the latest version of the 360 snapshot project viewer (4.1.3.321712, dated November 23rd) and the back-end web viewer, with people reporting:

  • Images captured using the latest version of the viewer will not load into older versions of the web viewer (pages remain suck on the gear cogs).
  • Images captured using any version of the viewer will not load into the latest version of the web viewer (which also uses a different folder hierarchy for the location of ZIP files).
  • The Lab indicates that some of these issues can be corrected by adjusting the image resolution in the snapshot floater to take pictures at a lower resolution.

[13:27] Right now, effort is being directed towards the 64-bit viewer’s media handling, it is therefore unlikely further work will be carried out on the snapshots viewer until 2017.

64-bit Viewer

[10:35] The Lab has successfully built 64-bit versions of the viewer that launch, but is “wrestling” with assorted issues in the new build pipeline. Discussions on the build process are largely taking place on the open-source development e-mail list, but the related wiki information will be updated to reflect the updates, and the use of a new configuration repository for setting all the correct build switches, etc., once the Lab is more confident with the build process. The target for a project viewer remains Real Soon NowTM.

[12:50] The 64-bit viewer will also include the changes to the viewer update process and how the process is managed. These will appear in the 64-bit version after the initial release has been made.

Viewer Release Notes

[10:09] A relatively new feature introduced to the official viewer, and which is now finding its way into version 4.x TPVs is that when opening a newly installed version of the viewer for the first time, the release notes are displayed in a  pop-up, to help encourage users read about what has changed.

Voice Updates

[12:40] There are still bugs to be addressed in the next set of SL Voice updates, and the Lab wants to have these addressed before the updates are released at a project viewer.

SVC-7532 Roll-Back

[14:03] After all the investigations into the recent llTakeControl issues, include the “Horizons gun issue“, which was recently fixed, the Lab has looked more closely at the overall issue of weapons breakage in general, which was introduced as a result of SVC-7532. The conclusion drawn is that the “fix” for the issue should not have been implemented, and the issue as reported in that JIRA should have been marked as “expected behaviour”.

As a result, the Lab will be reverting the change. This means that TPVs should not need to offer a menu / preference toggle to allow users to switch between behaviour modes when using weapons depending upon how the weapon  has been scripted.  However, this does mean that touching things in Mouselook may not work if you are under the control of an attachment using llTakeControl.

The change to revert SVC-7532 will most likely go into an update yo the new Maintenance RC viewer.

Other Items

Proprietary Licensing

[18:30] There is an issue with proprietary licensing, apparently related to music and MP3 decoding and issues around it successor, AAC, and possible patent infringement. The discussion has been going on elsewhere, and I’m currently not au fait with the problems.

Community Gateways

[22:34] The updated registration API for new users, which features the latest avatars, etc., was made available to those in the Community Gateway programme in August / September (London City was one of the first in the programme to implement the updated API). Firestorm is dealing with some issues in updating their own landing pages to point to the new API.

Last 2016 TPV Developer Meeting

This was apparently the last TPV Developer meeting for 2016 – although one has been appearing on the calendar for December 16th.

2016 SL project updates 48: server, viewer

The Mill, Pale Moonlight; Inara Pey, November 2016, on Flickr The Mill, Pale Moonlightblog post

Server Deployments  – Week 48

As usual, please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest information and updates.

  • There was no deployment of a server maintenance package to the Main (SLS) channel on Tuesday, November 29th, leaving it running on the same build as week #47 – 16#16.11.02.321369. However, the channel did undergo a rolling restart in order to update all private regions on it to the new land impact allowances – see my expanded report for more.
  • On Wednesday, November 30th, all three RC channels should receive a new server maintenance package, comprising internal simulator changes. This deployment should also see all private regions on the three RC channels also updated with the new land impact allowances.

SL Viewer

On November 23rd, the Project Bento (avatar skeleton extensions) RC viewer updated to version 5.0.0.321760. This primarily comprised a fix for SL-534, a continuously growing bone error (aka “the Viagra bug”), and to bring the viewer to parity with the current release version.

Also on November 23rd, the 360-degree snapshot viewer updated to version 4.1.3.321712, maintaining parity with the current release viewer.

Grid Status Changes

The new Grid Status page is now in operation, complete with new RSS feeds and subscription options – see my expanded report for more.

2016 SL project updates 47: No Change windows and misc items

WeeVille, Oyster Bay; Inara Pey, November 2016, on Flickr WeeVille, Oyster Bayblog post

Server Deployment No  Change Window

As this is Thanksgiving week in the United States, there are no deployments for week #47. The next deployment should be on Wednesday, November 30th, with a new server maintenance package to be deployed to the RC channels. While the full details of what it will comprise aren’t available, it will apparently include a fix for a data server crash which, although rare, can affect multiple regions when it happens.

SL Viewer

There have been no changes to the current viewer pipeline this week.Viewer release updates are generally a part of the no change window, however, in recent times a couple of RC / project viewers have slipped out unexpectedly. Currently, there are updates anticipated to the Bento RC viewer, but whether or not this might slip through and appear before the Lab closes for an extended Thanksgiving weekend is debatable. A new Maintenance RC is also anticipated in the near future as well.

At the moment, the pipeline is as follows:

  • Current Release version: 4.1.2.321518, dated November 10th, promoted November 15th – formerly the Maintenance RC viewer
  • Project Bento  RC (avatar skeleton extensions), version 5.0.0.321598, dated November 15th – bug fixes
  • 360-degree snapshot viewer, version 4.1.2.321431, dated November 9th – ability to take 360-degree panoramic images – hands-on review
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, dated May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Other Items

Duplicated No Copy Items

Concern is growing about people who are using region crash exploits to duplicate No copy objects (particularly those from Gatchas) and then putting them up for sale on the Marketplace. The problem isn’t necessarily new, but is spreading. Various ideas have been put forward on how the situation might be dealt with, while the Lab is also aware of the problem and investigating what might be done. However, the caution at this point is that there is unlikely to be a simple fix for the issue.

Bento Meeting

A reminder that there is no Bento meeting either this week – Thursday November 24th – due to Thanksgiving or next week – Thursday, December 1st. This means the next Bento User Group meeting will now be on  Thursday, December 8th, at the usual time of 13:00 SLT at the Hippotropolis Camp Fire Circle.

2016 SL project updates 46/2: TPVD meeting; Grid Status changes

Winter Trace; Inara Pey, November 2016, on Flickr Winter Traceblog post

The majority of the notes in this update are taken from the abbreviated TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, November 18th. The video of that meeting is embedded at the end of this update. My thanks as always to North for recording and providing it.

Server Deployments – Recap

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread for any updates.

  • On Tuesday, November 15th, the Main (SLS) channel received the same server maintenance package as previously deployed to the three RC channels in week #45. This includes:
    •  llGetEnv() will support “region_max_prims” (feature request BUG-40825).
    • llGetObjectDetails() will have a new OBJECT_GROUP_TAG function  (feature request BUG-20064) – when pointed at avatars it returns the group tag you see floating above them; and also OBJECT_TEMP_ATTACHED – to tell you if something is a temp attachment (feature request BUG-5195).
  • There is was planned RC deployment for Wednesday, November 16th.

No Change Window

A No Change window is in force in week #47 (week commencing Monday 21st November) in the run-up to Thanksgiving in the United States. This means that all four server channels should now remain on the same release through until November 30th, when a new RC deployment is anticipated.

SL Viewer

[00:05] As noted in part 1 of this week’s report, the Maintenance RC viewer version 4.1.2.321518 was promoted to de facto release status on Tuesday, November 15th. Also, and as reported in my Bento update #34, the Bento RC viewer was updated to version 5.0.0.321598. This contains three significant bug fixes, but there will be a further RC release to correct the so-called “Viagra Bug” which causes an “ever-growing groin bone”.

[02:14] Further updates are anticipated on the 360 Snapshot project viewer. The Lab is still trying to work around conflicts with the Interest List, but at the moment it still appears the best solution is to slowly pan around the area you want to photography before attempting a capture to ZIP file, although this doesn’t always take care of things.

64-bit Viewers

[02:58] The 64-bit viewer builds, when they appear, will at some point include revisions to how the viewer goes about checking for updates and how the update process is managed. The aim is to make the update process more robust, and separate out the update checks from the rest of the code. There will be further discussions on this in December, which might be taken to indicate when the first 64-bit versions of the viewer might be appearing.

New Maintenance RC

[03:46] The next Maintenance viewer, containing further fixes and improvements is with QA, but should be appearing soon.

Intel HD2000 – HD4000 Graphics Issue

[58:57] As noted in my week #42 TPVD update, the Lab is going to resolve the Windows version detection issue with Intel HD2000 – HD4000 graphics on 32-bit systems by having the 32-bit version of their Windows viewer not opting into the Win 10 features, allowing 32-bit systems remain compatible with the chipsets; however, the 64-bit version will still opt-in. In addition, as the new viewer update process comes into force, the Lab is going to try to automatically  update users into the correct channels, so they are no longer impacted by these issues.

Grid Status Page and Feed Changes

[04:22] The Lab is making further changes to how grid status information is displayed / delivered. This involves a move to a new status page provider, in part to provide more information over what was previously possible and to improve updates and management of grid status reports and  updates.

The new grid status pages will be delivered via https://secondlife-status.statuspage.io/. Note that this isn’t actually live as yet, and any information displayed on the page is currently for testing purposes only.

The cut-over date for the new service is currently planned for Monday, November 28th, at which point a redirect will be put in place to steering people to the new status page when following dashboard links, etc. There may also be a redirect on the RSS feed URL as well. However, those wishing to use the new RSS feeds may need to manually update to one of the following URLs:

The changes are intended to allow Lab Operations to update grid status information directly from their internal chat system, rather than go through multiple steps to get the status pages updated, which is hoped will make the status information reflect updates and situations in a more timely manner, as well as the page itself having far more information available to users through the drop-down sections. There may also be a SMS feature so that those wishing to can subscribe to the service and receive grid status updates on the smartphone.

llTakeControl Issue

[10:18-36:22] Recent changes to the llTakeControl function, which among other things, manages interactions when in Mouselook have resulted in some users running TPVs being unable to complete Quest 3 of the new Horizons Experience as the guns for that section of the game will not function.

I’ve provided a separate report on the issue as it relates to TPVs and the Horizons Experience. However, the problem is symptomatic of wider issues with llTakeControl which also for a part of this discussion, and I refer readers the video to hear the entire conversation.

Voice Updates

[43:58]  The current voice updates are progressing through LL’s QA, but has been delayed due  voice attenuation with distance and direction issues occurring on Mac systems such that anyone on the left of a listening person attenuate rapidly with distance so that at a distance of less than 10 metres, they can no longer be heard. This requires further work from Vivox to correct. Once received – which shouldn’t be too long – then the updates will be released in a project or RC viewer.

Meanwhile, the server-side Voice updates have been held pending the completion of other server-side work which is deemed to have a higher priority.

[42:36] While a fix for SL Voice crashing when plugging / unplugging a USB device was broadly fixed some time again, there are some USB devices which can still result in a Voice crash when plugged in / unplugged from a computer. These seem to be devices which aren’t correctly recognised at the time they are connected (e.g. a headset being identified as a keyboard or camera, a camera as a headset, etc.). Vivox apparently now has a fix for this issue as well which will be coming shortly.

Project Bento User Group update 34 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, November 17th at 13:00 SLT at the the Hippotropolis Campfire Circle. and chaired by Vir Linden. For details on the meeting agenda, please refer to the Bento User Group wiki page.

Bento Viewer

The new Reset Skeleton and Animations option
The new Reset Skeleton and Animations option

The Bento viewer RC updated on Tuesday, November 15th to version 5.0.0.321598. This build has fixes for the following (non-public) JIRA issues:

  • SL-524 – Reset Skeleton does not restore collision volume joint positions
  • MAINT-6913 – Problem with alpha on some Nvidia Mac systems when shadows are enabled
  • MAINT-6915 – Reset Skeleton is not enough to remove all traces of a previous Bento avatar.

To handle the last point, the Lab has added a Reset Skeleton And Animations option to the right-click menu (shown on the right).

However, as the problem can occur intermittently, it is still not guaranteed the additional option will handle those situations where an avatar isn’t fully reset using Reset Skeleton. Wider testing will hopefully uncover any remaining corner cases where this is the case – Firestorm hope to have a build available for testing with these updates fairly soon.

The “Viagra Bug” and Further Viewer RC Updates / Viewer Release

It is likely there will be one further RC update before the viewer is promoted to the de facto release viewer, courtesy of a new bug which has cropped up recently which results in a *cough* “ever-growing groin bone”, aka the Viagra Bug”. This is related to the addition of the groin slider,

Providing nothing else of significance is found, it is hoped that the next RC will be the version of the viewer which will be the one that will get duly promoted to release status. Given week #47 is Thanksgiving, it would seem likely this won’t be before week #48 (week commencing Monday, November 28th). The only other caveat to this would be an unexpected and particularly nasty bug showing up.

Best Practices and “How To” Guidance

Bento is going to bring with it a lot of questions from both creators and consumers. To help advise / educate people, The Lab is considering putting together a series of video and / or a set of “best practices” pages on the wiki – with a lean more likely towards the latter.

The general idea would be to showcase the work of individual creators, including their own guidance and advice (e.g. advice they have perhaps previously supplied, and now buried in, the 130+ pages of the Bento forum thread), and links to any videos, advisory web pages, etc., they have created (such as this series on Bento horse avatars, by Teager), so that creators and consumers can be better informed of Bento’s capabilities and opportunities. These best practices pages could include a biography of the creator providing their time / ideas / tutorials, while official videos – if the Lab go that route – could also showcase their work, discuss Bento with them etc.

Bento creators interested in helping the Lab in developing ideas and information along these lines are asked to contract Troy Linden directly (troy-at-lindenlab.com).

Other Items

Future Considerations

Its been suggested that having a “reset all skeletons” option might be an option for the future, rather than having to right-click individually on avatars which may be deformed and then correct them in your view – particularly as the Reset Skeleton options might be buried in the pie menu for those still using it.

Such an option would “fix” multiple deformed avatars (which might be the case when teleporting into an area with a lot of avatars), but it also might cause avatars which were not deformed in a person’s view to deform, possibly with no means to fix without a relog on the part of the person seeing them deformed. However, it is an idea the Lab is willing to consider for the future, if submitted as a feature request.

Similarly, the option to have unweighted (but referenced) bones be removed from the max bone count in a mesh (e.g so volume bones no longer count towards the available allocation) is being looked at as a possible follow-on update to the project.

Next Bento Meeting

Due to Thanksgiving in the United States, followed by a possible internal meeting at the Lab the week after, the next Bento meeting – subject to confirmation on dates in the user group wiki page – may not be until Thursday, December 8th.

Post Release Bento User Group

Thought is being given to continuing the user group meetings once the viewer has reached release status, initially as Bento meetings, where people can come and seek information, and then possibly but broadening into a (avatar focused?) content creators’ meeting, if there is a demand.

Additional Bento Links