We are now on Avastar RC10 and apparently close to official release. Since my last blog post in this series i’ve actually made a break through and managed to import a fully working Bento kid avatar….
My frustrations with Avastar are slowly dissipating as i get feedback from the Avastar team and work out my own workflow. I now have a checklist i go through with the project saved as stages so i can go back to a previous stage if things go bork. Some of the issues i had are still in Avastar, i simply changed what i wanted to do.
I’m not normal because i’m male, i’ve always been male. I am of course talking about Second Life and you might be surprised to know that almost every boy child avatar you bump into in Second life is actually a girl. The reason for this is the female avatar skeleton was designed to be small and slim so when users started to relive their childhoods they found they got better child shape results by using the female avatar even for boys.
When i first arrived in Second Life i chose the male skeleton to be my avatar base shape and have been that way since while all my best friends are female. It’s one reason why my avatar seems to look so unique compared to other kid avatars, the male avatar face shape can not be recreated on the female avatar shape because they are a different base mesh. So if i changed my avatar to be female i would loose what people recognise as Loki’s good looks.
But why is being female so important you might ask? well it is because of shoulders. Simply put, female shoulders in Second Life look better when settings are set to really small compared to the male avatars which are designed to look wide and muscular.
Over the years I’ve tried joint rigging and other attempts at making the shoulders look good on a shrunken male shape, all because i needed to preserve my face. I began the Bento avatar project still wanting to use the male avatar skeleton and became frustrated when Avastar appeared to not want to allow the ‘use bind pose’ feature with the male armature. After a long winded workaround i finally got a male skeletal based Bento avatar into Second Life and the shoulders looked crap. It was at that point i did a face palm realising that i didn’t have to use the male skeleton any longer. My entire head was a brand new mesh head so i could finally join my friends and be female.
This revelation has made the Avastar workflow a lot quicker and the results much better looking.
Exploring the Bento
Now that i have a working workflow i’m able to start proper experimenting with Bento and other Avastar features. For instance i discovered that i don’t have to apply physics to the butt or breasts, i can actually apply them to rigged mesh hair allowing for gentle bouncing and swaying giving a little extra detail.
Thanks to Avastars ability to attach the avatar to Second Life customisation sliders I’m able to warp my face and other parts of the body. How this will be supported with my next line of clothes I’m not yet sure.
While not very relevant to my personal avatar, this will be important for the consumer version
Creating animations is the next step. I’m having trouble with the .ANIM file format from Avastar and I’m discovering weird issues that can arise from it. But it’s so great to see my new mesh face blinking and smiling, the potential is there to bring so much life to my avatar than ever before.
I got stuck in this expression
One thing i’m disappointed with is after adding 106 new bones not one of them are for toes, there are multiple bones for wings a tail, and even the groin, but the feet are flatter than a pancake. Perhaps i can take bones from somewhere else and make them into toe bones?
The Consumer version of Loki Bento Avatar
So the hardest part is complete and i hope the rest should be easy, adding animation presets, built in masking, wet mode, designing new clothes. Once my avatar is complete and I’m happy with how it works, i plan to make a consumer version with a head shape based on the default classic avatar. My hope is users will be able to recreate their current head shapes as close as possible to how they are now. I could then offer specially designed head shapes to choose from in future.