Friday, October 29, 2010

How we design ProtoSphere's avatars

One question that I'm sometimes asked by our customers is, how do you come up with the designs and names for ProtoSphere's default avatars? It's a great question. Here's how our avatars are born. Usually, one of our artists from the creative team is assigned with coming up with the "look" of the pre-defined set of selectable avatars, based upon the various body parts and selections that our other character artists have created and added to the build.

They typically follow a business casual approach when setting up the wardrobe options and will joke that they try to make them look as "J.Crew" as possible.

As for naming, it's not uncommon to see a baby name book laying around, used to come up with names for the various ethnicities. We try to be as diverse as we can, of course.

We offer these default avatars to give users quick access to a variety of pre-defined choices. It's a time saver. But ultimately, the fun is most had when users design their own character with the different heads, hair styles, shirts, and pants we offer. There are hundreds of possible combinations.

ProtoSphere's avatar customization dashboard. It's you -- only virtual.
In our next ProtoSphere release, we've worked to improve the system and quality of art. For example, instead of a particular male avatar head being able to support three or four different hair styles that fit that particular mesh, you'll be able to select any one of up to 20 hair styles to use on any male avatar head.

This greatly increases the customization of the system, giving users more flexibility to make their avatars look as they wish, all within the "business appropriate" confines that we've established in the platform.

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