UPDATED! Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: A Free Bakes-on-Mesh Compatible, Bento Mesh Head for Female Avatars from the Genus Project

I just learned today from the Free*Style blog that the Genus Project, a major Bento head retailer in Second Life, is giving away a free version of their Strong Face model of female avatar head, which is Bento (fully adjustable) and supports Bakes on Mesh:

The Free*Style blogger, Helena Stringer, reports:

You can try to fight the horde that are grabbing Skin Fair Heads, or you can join the in-world group, which is free to join, and grab the head out of the notices: secondlife:///app/group/b153906f-38dd-0dd6-d327-345bef9f446e/about

They have also reduced their heads by 40% until an undisclosed time. 

Thanks, Helena! I would also very strongly advise you avoid the doubtlessly jam-packed sim where the Genus Project store is located. It will be an exercise in frustration.

Instead, join the GenusProject group for free (just copy and paste the above link into local chat in your SL client, and it will generate a group join link), and pick up the free Strong Face head from the group notices. The title of the notice you are looking for is: Support from the Genus Project team, and the head will be an attachment to that notice that you can click and download into your inventory. Group notices expire after two weeks, though, so please don’t wait too long!

The package includes:

  • the Genus Strong Face head itself and a head alpha;
  • a modifiable default shape (which should be your starting point);
  • Genus “jaws” (I assume that this is the teeth for inside the head);
  • a Genus neck fix;
  • Genus eyes and an eye alpha;
  • a Universal Setting HUD in two sizes (big and small);
  • a Basic Animation HUD in two sizes (big and small), and a variety of animations;
  • a Genus skin applier in three skin tones: Honey, Toffee, and Brownie, and four eyebrow colours: Blonde, Ginger, Brown, and Black (a nice bonus!);
  • an Information notecard explaining how to wear the head;
  • a Frequently-Asked Questions notecard.

As you can see, the included skin applier gives a beautiful result (I am also wearing the included Genus mesh eyes, and I have not changed any of the sliders from the included default shape):

The included Genus skin applier HUD (showing Honey skin, Brown eyebrows)

There are tons of options in the Universal HUD! These are just two of the three tabs:

And the animation HUD has plenty of eomtional moods and facial expressions! Here’s I selected the sleepy/yawning mood:

And this is the angry/annoyed expression:

In short, this is one of the nicest, most fully-featured freebie Bento mesh heads I have ever encountered in my many years of freebie shopping. So go and get this for your female avatar! You won’t regret it. Here’s my final look (I paired this head with the Atenea mesh body by LUCYBODY, which I wrote about here):

P.S. I will add this news to my ever-expanding, ever-popular blogpost on free and inexpensive mesh heads and bodies for female Second Life avatars.

P.P.S. SL vlogger Naria Panthar has just released a half-hour YouTube video demonstration of the various features of the Strong Face head and its HUDs:

UPDATE April 4th, 2020: I forgot to mention that this free Strong Face head is also Omega compatible! You will have to purchase and install an Omega System kit for it, though. You can purchase the Omega System kit for Genus Project heads for only L$99 from the Omega Solutions in-world store (at this exact SLURL).

So I paired the Genus Strong Face head with the Altamura Juliet body (which I picked up at Valentine’s Day 2019 as a free group gift), and applied the free Elvira Omega skin applier in snow (which was an Advent calendar gift from 7 Deadly Skins last Christmas). I was quite pleased with the results! This is the makeup-free face, since fairies don’t wear makeup 😉

Absolutely stunning!

This avatar is wearing:

  • Mesh Head: Strong Face by Genus Project (free group gift; group is free to join)
  • Mesh Body: Juliet by Altamura (former free group gift; the Altamura group costs L$100 to join)
  • Omega Skin Applier: Elvira in snow by 7 Deadly S[k]ins (a free group gift from last Christmas; I joined the group when it had a free group join period)
  • Mesh Eyes: Genus mesh eyes (comes in the package with the Strong Face head)
  • Hair: Aria by D!va Hair (a free group gift; the group is free to join)
  • Jewelry: Daphne choker and earrings by from Beloved Jewelry (free; a hunt gift from a couple of years ago)
  • Gown: Luminessence gown in white by Oi Bae! (free group gift; group is free to join; I’m not sure if this store is still on the grid or not, but they are on the SL Marketplace)
  • Shoes (not shown): white flats by Garbaggio (part of a free sample pack of Slink-compatible shoes from Garbaggio, available on the SL Marketplace; Altamura mesh bodies have Slink-compatible feet)
  • Iridescent Wings: these were a freebie I picked up many years ago and I forget where I got them
  • Magic Wand: like the wings, I forget exactly where I picked up this freebie.
  • Animation Override: Chubby Girl AO by [ImpEle] (free from the SL Marketplace). This is a nice, simple, calm, free AO with no crazy movements. I added a free, separate Bento hand animator from the Altamura Juliet package.

TOTAL COST FOR THIS ENTIRE AVATAR: Only L$298! (L$100 to join the Altamura group, L$99 for the Genus Omega system kit, and L$99 for the Altamura Omega system kit.)

I’m all set for my next fantasy roleplay experience in Second Life!

Happy freebie shopping!

The Project Athena Fork of High Fidelity Now Has a New Name: Vircadia

The company’s new logo

Project Athena (which I first wrote about here) is one of at least three forks of the open-source High Fidelity software code that have sprung up since Philip Rosedale’s company essentially pulled the plug on January 15th, 2020.* (The other two forks are Tivoli Cloud and an as-yet-unnamed project by Kitely.)

In a blogpost published today to announce the first alpha release of Vircadia, developer Kalila L. wrote:

The team has been hard at work to produce the first release of Vircadia, codename “Project Athena”. It’s a bit rough around the edges but it serves a great many functions effectively to fulfill various needs. We provide both desktop and VR, knowing full well that desktop is the gateway drug to VR.

What is Vircadia?

In short, Vircadia is a social metaverse platform and engine. It is completely open source and decentralized while still maintaining its always connected functionality. Think VRChat or Second Life except with far less restriction on your ownership and control. As a result, your creativity in the worlds have no bounds.

Because of the high efficiency and of the platform servers, the cost to run your own instance is very low. A basic world can run on a $10/mo server from DigitalOcean, which you can scale up as needed for events or to support more of your friends in the virtual world.

Vircadia is the only open source full-featured desktop and VR solution available which enables enterprise customization and security while simultaneously paving a way for every day social use.

What you do with it is up to you.

I spent some time this morning interviewing Kalila L. via text chat in Discord, and here is an edited version of that interview:


Ryan: So, why the rebranding?

Kalila: So, there were concerns about competing against say Intel’s Project Athena, and since Google is tougher on new entries it would take forever to climb past [Intel’s project], we figured it would be:

  1. Easier to pick a name completely unique to us; and
  2. Get one that’s short and sweet, so when you say it… it refers to us, no matter what.

Ryan: How big is your development team? How many people are working on this project and how many are former HiFi staff?

Kalila: The core team is six people, the wider development group is over 20 people. The core team has two former HiFi staff, the wider group has active (still working there!) and former staff. We are all volunteers, as always.

Ryan: How do you plan to differentiate Vircadia from the other two known forks of the open-source HiFi codebase?

Kalila: So the main selling point is: FOSS (Free and Open Source), an Apache 2.0 license means that we’re the only one that businesses can use if they want to protect their investments while keeping the door open for returning contributions, if they desire.

Vircadia scales, so we can support any business, large or small. Even just one or two people who want a co-working space for their little startup, or maybe your IRL work group needs a place to meet and share presentations. We currently have multiple small business/professional people looking into implementing the platform as we speak.

Secondly, we have a huge focus on open-ended ecosystems, so every vital component is open source and deployed, even the in-development launcher. It’s all there, so you have a secured social future.

Thirdly, our focus is UX and working towards making it a usable experience for enterprise and social in these troubling times.

This is alpha! So there will be bugs (and I’m sure you remember that HiFi left us with their own bugs…), but! No one who is FOSS (Apache 2.0) is as feature complete as us. So Vircadia is the best option if you need a deployable social platform.

Ryan: So could you share what you hope your roadmap/timeline will be for the rest of this year for Vircadia? You said it was alpha.

Kalila: I mentioned a lot about the open source and its licensing in the blog post so that can help explain that. So, our timeline is currently where we want to shorten the release cycle, so our next release will have less neat stuff, but we still want to get the same amount of updates/features/fixes out in the same amount of time.

Shortening the release schedule just means we get those interim points of progress out to everyone faster! We want to merge in many new features but I’ll give you more on that later, we’re still ironing out which features we want to add in and which we want to wait on. But I can say it’s pretty awesome what we’ve got in store on a technical level which will result in better, more vibrant worlds for all.

Our plans are to really grow the platform by focusing on groups and people who would like to use it for their various purposes such as holding meetings or get-togethers. But as always, all are welcome and our true goal is fully decentralized, social living metaverse.


If you want more information about Vircadia, you can

I have added the tag “Vircadia” to all my previous blogposts about Project Athena, and moved the link to the project from the P’s to the V’s on my alphabetical, comprehensive listing of social VR platforms and virtual worlds. Thanks for Kalila L. for answering all my pesky interview questions! 😉


Vircadia’s new icon

* I did also ask today in the Vircadia Discord channel if I could still use my original High Fidelity user account to connect to Vircadia, and I was told that existing HiFi accounts can still access the original platform. However, I learned today that this relies heavily on High Fidelity’s infrastructure remaining active, and that it might be shut down at any time without warning (although the company actually did promise to keep it up until the last registered place/domain name expires, which will be closer to the end of this year). Kalila L. tells me that Vircadia has a new user account system under development.