Loki Avatar 3.0 – Part 5: Expressing my happiness

Avastar has progressed to RC12 and I’m in the middle of creating facial expressions to convey the mood of my Bento Avatar.

When upgrading Avastar i somehow ran into an issue that caused my Rig to export animations that flipped the facial bones upside down. I sent a bug report and we spent hours trying to work out why this happen and how to fix it.

I still don’t know how the rig became corrupted but with guidance from the avastar team i was able to create a new rig and re-bind my Mesh Body without having to loose all the weight mapping and settings. This new found ability to rebind mesh to new rigs is great news but does have some important steps needed to prevent screwing things up, such as setting appearance control to ‘no sliders’ before unbinding.

 

Setting the Mood

Reaching the 100th iteration of my mesh body i finally moved onto scripting the menu system built into the avatar. These options will allow the user to Select masking presets or custom masking. There is also an updated wet mode i first introduced in the first loki mesh avatar. But with this being a Bento Avatar i’m also adding some new features.

Moods is a new option with which you can select your avatars mood such as being happy, sad, grumpy or frightened. These aim to animate your avatars face in response to what ever occasion you might find yourself in at a party or during a role-play game.

 

Learning to smile.

It’s a universal world wide view that to draw a smile you simply draw an upward curve, but in reality a smile does not really do that, its a lot more complex and it has taken me a while to learn how best to animate a smile with Bento. Trying to avoid upward curves and ending with a scary grinning face turned out harder than i expected especially when results vary between blender and second life.

I even looked at Medhues examples of using movement/translations to create a more natural smile, but realised that doing such a thing has side effects that would need extensive workarounds to use. Though i did learn how to animate the tongue to stick out.

When it comes to face expressions i’m finding subtlety is best because expressions seem to work best when glanced briefly. The combination of movement between body and face can really bring the avatar to life in a way that has been lacking in Second Life for 14 years.

 

With these Bento Hands

So i think I’m on the final stretch with regards to my personal Bento Avatar. I’m basically scripting the options and testing our various moods to see what works best. I’ve also been experimenting with adding Bento enabled animations to objects that animate you to grip them as well as add little bit of casual flare.

Next week i hope to start on the consumer version which will replace the head with a default avatars head in the hope users can reproduce their classic avatar faces. How well this will work… will have to just wait and see :-p

Farpoint – PSVR Review

Sony have shifted quite a lot of PSVRs during its first year on sale and I’ve so far had a great verity of experiences with it. Last month i decided to try out a first person shooter called Farpoint that came with tacky tracky gun stick thingy.. the Aim Controller….

I’m not a fan of first person shooters. Perhaps I’m just to nice and delicate in the mind to enjoy the escapism of shooting other people, or maybe i just incredibly suck at shooty games. So why did i even consider buying a special PSVR Gun Stick?

Not what i expected

The game Farpoint is surprisingly more than i originally thought. At first i assumed it was a game about shooting bugs and Starship Troopers sprung to mind. I soon discovered there was a rather nice story of survivors that you uncover as you make your way across the planet fending off attacks from the local wildlife.

The route you take through the rocky planetscape is a set path in a direction that you mostly are facing, but you are given enough freedom to move about to give a perception of free exploration.

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For a shooty game with lots of “WOOO YEAH COME GET SOME!” antics, the story moments were surprisingly touching and emotional thanks in part to the developers attention to characters facial expressions and acting. I also found myself enjoying the twists the story takes which led to the game not being just about shooting bugs.

 

Talking of bugs.

The AIM controller is really fun. Holding it in front of you and seeing it as the weapon in game is a gimmick i haven’t got bored of yet. I’d really hope other game devs expand it’s uses beyond just a gun though.

The AIM Controller really pushes the PSVRs limited tracking abilities and it would appear the AIM can sometimes loose track of itself. I often found myself aiming the weapon only to watch it slowly tilt to the left on its own accord. A quick shake of the gun would correct it but during an intense battle it quickly became annoying. I took it as part of the game difficulty but i know others wouldn’t.

 

Coming out of the god dam walls!

I really enjoyed Farpoint mainly for its sci-fi story element that really adds an extra layer to the simple PEW PEW DIE BUGS! The scuttling Spider aliens coming out of the walls made me jump quite a few times and there are plenty of occasions where i quickly found myself overwhelmed.

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Once again the physical effects of VR left me sweating buckets and my Headset steamed up during intense battles leading me to take breaks after about an hour of gameplay. Like with Resident Evil having moments of anxiety as you carefully proceed then a burst of adrenalin as you deal with a  wave of monsters seems to take an extreme toll on me in VR. It’s one of the reasons i love VR so much!

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Farpoint turned out to be better than i expected and was another quite unique experience in PSVR.