I’m one of those people that love creation. My favourite part of any RPGs, sports games and the occasional FPS is character creation – I just really enjoy making characters. That’s why I’ve always felt a little connection to my Xbox 360 and Xbox One Avatar. My little guy has been with me from the beginning, with a face that has never changed. Sure, he may have had a few different haircuts, and he has changed outfits more times than Lady Gaga, but, in essence, he has been the same little guy over the past eight years. That’s why I was over the moon when my little Avatar was transferred to the Xbox One, because he had somewhat become a part of my online identity. I was disappointed, however, that there were no new creation or editing options for my Avatar… there wasn’t even a marketplace for us to buy the old outfits and accessories for the little guys. But, that could be for good reason.
Whilst researching the rumours about Microsoft advertising a job for a Software Engineer to work on a ‘beloved strategy game franchise’ – most likely Age of Empires – I stumbled upon another job advert for a different Software Engineer. This one reads:
“At Xbox, we’re looking for an experienced graphics engineer that will work with us to grow the avatar platform across all of our platforms, leveraging the power of Xbox One, the far reach of Windows, and the intimacy of touch on mobile devices. You will make significant contributions to the rendering tech for the Avatar engine, working to ensure Avatars are not only gorgeous, but highly performant across a wide scale of devices.”
From that short section of the advert, it’s quite obvious that Microsoft are planning on updating the Xbox Avatars, and not just on the consoles. Still, the most exciting part of the job description for me is this little sentence, from the role description:
“Work with designers, animators, artists, and other content creators on the implementation of new features”
New features! What could they be? It would make sense for Microsoft to bring in some new features for their Avatars. The fact that they’ve not bothered to bring in any of the old marketplace features to the Xbox One suggests to me that these new, planned, features could be quite substantial. What they could be, however, is just pure speculation. Going on the fact that, towards the last few years of the Xbox 360 before the introduction of the Xbox One, Microsoft started bringing out quite a few games that features the ability to play as your avatar, I wonder whether Microsoft could be developing on this. Perhaps they will be bringing in more games to be played with your Avatars, like A Kingdom for Kefflings, for example. Or, perhaps they will be introducing some sort of social area to be experienced through your Avatars, more along the lines of the poker games available on the console, or the Game Room, where gamers were able to build their own arcade to be visited by friend’s Avatars.
Of course, all of this is just guess work. Going by the fact that the advert was only put out in the December of last year, and that the advert is still running, suggests that these changes might take a while to be implemented. Hopefully, by this time next year we will be experiencing the new, upgraded Avatar system. You can check out the job advert, here, just in case you were thinking of applying. If you do, and you get the job, feel free to drop me a few hints about what you’re actually doing to my beloved Avatar… I’ve grown kind of attached to him, over the years.