The long-awaited update to the Second Life avatar skeleton, nicknamed Project Bento, has been in beta for over a year now. On the 5th of December this year, the project was finally pushed to the live version of the Second Life viewer.
Project Bento offers additional bones to the regular skeleton for attachments such as wings, ears, tails, trunks or antennae. With each of these comes an attachment point as well, giving mesh creators much more freedom in how they create their avatars. You’re no longer limited to humanoid avatars and you won’t need any workarounds to make non-humanoid ones, it all works right out of the box.
The new bones also offer a lot more versatility. No longer do you need to animate all fingers as one or stick to the old system of having only one hand expression for an entire animation. You get 30 bones for the hands alone. Another 30 were added to the face, for much more realistic and versatile expressions. 6 new bones were added for a tail. You also get 2 new bones to operate ears or antennae. On top of this, you also get 11 new bones you can place just about anywhere, to use as extra limbs, wings, trunks or whatever you need.
The project was scheduled for release a year ago, but due to feedback from testers, Linden Lab decided to put an entire extra year onto the development to make it as good as it can be.
Well, I say that, but in reality, it has been available this whole year, if you used the experimental Project Bento Release Candidate Viewer instead of the regular or any third party viewer. With this final release though, you can use the standard viewer or some of the third party viewers to use the new rigging.
As with most things Linden Labs does, the rig is completely backwards compatible with the old rig and the rigging process is very similar, so the change in methods won’t be too big for content creators and users will probably not notice much difference other than the 13 new attachment points to choose from.