As you likely have seen, the new Avatar Builder is live in Spot! It is a very exciting feature that has been in development for over 3 months now. I wanted to say a few things about the avatar builder, how we got here, and where it will go.
Shockingly enough, our old avatars were not the first avatars to appear in Spot, there were other tests. We found ourselves in a Goldilocks situation... Some were more realistic than others, some were larger, some were smaller...you get the picture. While we didn’t love everything about the chosen avatar, there were some things we did like. Being the perfectionists we are, a lot of time was spent looking for inspiration, finding references of things we liked, looking at what other companies were doing, and just plain tinkering with what we had already.
After lots of coffee and discussion, what we came away with was that we liked the general direction our avatars were going in, particularly the simplicity. This is a benefit for performance reasons but they also felt fun, accessible, and easy to look at. There was no uncanny valley there. Also, the larger heads compared to the body really work for the default view in Spot, allowing your hair, face, accessories, etc. to read better at a glance. This makes it quicker to recognize your co-workers, friends, event attendees, etc.
The obvious downside to the avatars was the level of customization. For example, you could pick one full outfit that was decided ahead of time. This was not ideal for content creation or for the user experience. But this was never meant to be our long-term plan. The new Avatar Builder is a big step forward for us. Without going into too much detail, there were a lot of tests done with the new avatars. What we ended up with is a lot of options you can play around with to make an avatar that looks more like you without getting to the point where there are so many things to change that not only does content creation take a prohibitively long time but you, the user, doesn’t get bogged down with overwhelming amounts of options.
Let’s look at some of these decisions and see some pictures already!
The idea of adding a nose, mouth, ears was one that took a lot of iteration. There is always a desire to add more, more, more! Once you start it’s hard to stop. Here is a sample of some of the tests we ran. A lot of these even made it to the final product. We were looking for what to add or take away to find that sweet spot (pun absolutely intended).
Your feet and hands
Another area of interest for us was the hands and feet. Again, we wanted to add more options without going overboard.
Now I’m no sneakerhead, but I do have a large collection of shoes at home, so adding feet to Spot was very exciting for me!
With our hands, we added fingers! Well, we added some fingers, anyway. This one goes to the performance of Spot. We still want experiences in Spot to accommodate lots of people, so we decided to go with a snow mitten approach. This doesn’t bog down your computer animating every digit, but you can still give good thumbs up!
Options and Accessories
Our biggest goal is to have a lot of variety. We want everyone to find something that they feel will represent them in Spot. When making all the parts of the avatars I really started to see my friends and family in these combinations so I knew it was heading the right direction. And this is just the beginning. There is a lot more to choose from now and more will be coming on an ongoing basis. I can’t wait to see how people use the new builder and look forward to hearing suggestions from you as well to make it even better.
If you made it this far, I’d like to share a couple quick tips for your avatar building experience.
1) Here’s a tip about lip color. It’s not there just for makeup. You can start with the same color as your base skin color and then tweak it ever so slightly by adding some red to it or making it a little darker. It can make for a more natural look.
2) The same thing goes for your 5 o’clock shadow. It might look a bit much if you just pick a hair color for your stubble. So I like to start from matching my skin color and then darkening it and making it a little less saturated with the fine tuning selection.
3) Make sure you're HAVING FUN WITH IT!! Try the randomize button to see what you can come up with!