Enabling Expression is a fundamental goal of VRChat. Allowing users to create, upload, and share their avatars with others is a key part of that. There have been some minor updates to the Avatar system since we launched on Steam back in February of 2017. Some of these updates have enabled a ton of creativity and expression, but almost all of it was not with a system design from the ground up to allow that expression, or to allow more expansion of the avatars system into the future.
In addition to what we’ve got implemented for Avatars 3.0 right now, we’ve got a lot more other big things on the way that we’ll discuss soon(™), all building off Avatars 3.0.
When we sat down to look at revamping the Avatars SDK and related systems, it quickly became obvious that we needed a fluid UI that would compliment the vast possibilities the new underlying systems were going to allow. Having only eight emotes and some gesture animation overrides accessible through our current menu system were going to be far too limiting. We needed a menu that was full of “actions” and widgets that allowed you to quickly access all that new depth and creativity. We wanted to give people the ability to quickly perform those actions one handed and in a less obvious manner to those around you than the current Quick Menu > Emotes > Backflip system currently in place.
We wanted to make this system fun, fluid and editable. We also wanted to keep it simple to use so that anyone could enjoy it-- but powerful enough to enable far more expression than ever before. We had the additional goal of allowing it to work well with existing avatar expressions systems like the gesture animation override feature. Finally, we also wanted SDK2 avatars to work with it.
Quite a lot of thought, VRChat team and Closed Alpha tester feedback went into the design. It went through several very different versions before we found the right one. It’s built to:
- Be quick and easy to access.
- Allow some muscle memory.
- Be one-handed or two-handed as needed.
- Allow physical “puppeteering” of avatar functionality.
- Give people more information about the avatar they are inhabiting instead of having to try out gestures or guess what animations that avatar has.
- House a great many more animations and features for an avatar.
- Allow combinations of actions that weren’t possible before, especially using two hands.
- Be simple to understand yet allow lots of depth.
- Be somewhat customizable even in how it functions and appears depending on a user’s preferences and use-case context.
- Overall help enable more creativity and avatar expression in VRChat!
At the end of the day, though, what matters most is what you-- the creators and users of VRChat-- think. We’d like people to take a look and try it out. Kick the tires! Give us your feedback! It’s probably best to get a quick hands-on look by grabbing an example avatar from here, open the Action Menu by clicking on your joystick (or hold down your Menu button) and seeing how each avatar is using it to control that avatar. Once you’re ready, check out #av3-info on our Discord to find the current build and the latest SDK. When you’ve got some feedback to provide, please go here to post your thoughts.
Note: Something we’d like you to keep in mind is that the Action Menu and Avatars 3.0 SDK is powerful but new. It’s true power will become more apparent as more creators build more avatars with it. This is the hope for the Open Beta. To get more people using the system and making things with it. The examples we’ve shipped with are very fundamental. Almost like shipping with Nikei as a first example avatar compared to the incredible creations people have made for VRChat over time.
We hope you enjoy helping us test this out and giving us feedback as much as we have had building this new system for you.
The VRChat Dev Team
Updated about a year ago