Roblox wants to make its avatars look less blocky and more realistic, and it has announced a couple of visual updates meant to achieve that goal during its annual developers conference. One of those changes is layered clothing, which it's been working on since at least 2020. It allows any type of character model to be outfitted with layered clothing items. TechCrunch explains that the feature ensures clothing items will fit avatars and will drape around them naturally, whether they're human- or dinosaur-shaped. At the moment, players can only access the feature in the beta version of Roblox Studio's avatar editor, and it's unclear when it'll be more widely available.
Roblox CEO David Baszucki said during the keynote:
"Self-identity is a crucial pillar of the metaverse, and the ability to precisely customize your clothing to your unique avatar is paramount in personal expression"
Roblox has also announced a feature called Dynamic Heads that can provide facial animations for avatars. The animations could link with facial tracking, so the character's mouth can move in time with its words. TechCrunch says the feature was made possible by the company's acquisition of digital avatar startup Loom.ai last year.
It'll be a long time before facial animations become an official part of the game, though — Roblox has only given developers access to it right now, so they can play around with it and test it out. "These releases represent important stepping stones in a long line of innovations to improve the expressiveness and combinatorics in the metaverse," Daniel Sturman, Chief Technology Officer for Roblox, wrote in his recap for the event.
Roblox has thousands of ways to express yourself. Dynamic Heads is a first step towards reactive facial expressions that make conversations feel as real inside the #metaverse as they do outside it.— Roblox (@Roblox) October 14, 2021
▶ https://t.co/3X0nJZfnu2#RDC2021 pic.twitter.com/g5JMTKNDMy
In addition to the experimental avatar features, Roblox has announced that it's giving creators a new way to earn money, as well. Creators will be able to put up items they designed for sale for a limited time, turning them into collectibles with higher value than the other goods they're selling in-game.