Facebook today announced a new suite of avatar customization options for Spaces, the company’s virtual reality hangout app that lets you chat with friends and partake in group activities in a digital space. Prior to today, Spaces allowed you to customize an avatar using only a small handful of options for features like hair color and style or eye shape, and you couldn’t customize features like body shape at all. Now, there are hundreds of new options. Spaces remains in open beta on the Oculus and HTC Vive platforms, so it can accessed on either the Rift or the Vive headsets.
“Our goal is that everyone can represent themselves in VR in a way that feels natural, so we knew we could do better,” Facebook said in a statement. “In order to have a meaningful social experience in VR, you need an engaging avatar that represents you and helps you relate to other people in the virtual space. It’s a huge part of feeling like you’re ‘really there’ together. That’s why we’ve been continuously working to learn what helps people represent and express themselves while spending time with friends in VR.”
Of course, we’re a far ways off from the avatars of Ready Player One. Facebook Spaces still makes you look like a goofy cartoon, and that creates a somewhat off-putting effect when those avatars move in realistic fashion as the Rift headset tracks your head and hand motions. Facebook says it’s working to make the movements feel even more natural, so perhaps that will change for the better with this update. And the realism it seems will only get better over time.
Facebook says it brought together designers, artists, and engineers and tasked them with employing techniques from across animation, game character design, and even mathematics to “create a whole new, re-vamped version of avatars for Spaces.” The new customization system contains hundreds of options for appearance ranging from new head shapes and facial features to an all-new body shape option.
You can also now adjust facial features down to particular angles and positions of eyebrows, eyes, and mouth, among other features. Facebook says its new avatars will make use of a suggestion algorithm to offer up new looks matched to your style. The new customization options should be available in Spaces this week, the company confirmed.
Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly said Facebook Spaces is available only on the Oculus Rift. That is untrue; Spaces launched on HTC’s Vive late last year.