Introducing Avatars 3.0
This is the next step in the evolution of our avatar creation system. We believe it will bring an explosion of creativity and expression to everyone in the VRChat community.
Avatars 3.0 is a brand new system for creators to make more expressive avatars. The new Action Menu allows you to control them more precisely than ever before. Avatars 3.0 (or AV3) features are focused on improving expression, enabling performances, and augmenting the abilities of avatars in VRChat.
We’ve spent years observing users find ways to do amazing things with Avatars 2.0 (or AV2). However, the methods used to do those things are often “hacky” and hard to support. A goal of AV3 was to give you the power to do the things you want, access them more easily, and use them in a system that is officially supported.
Creating a basic AV3 avatar can be as simple as importing your rigged avatar, setting up some settings, and clicking upload. It can also be as deep as creating your own locomotion animations, implementing complex behaviors based on the state of your avatar, and customizing your avatar on the fly by changing your appearance. In addition, it all syncs across the network! No more having to reload your avatar because someone joined late and wants to see your creation!
Another great advantage of AV3 is that if you’re unhappy with a particular default animation or behavior, you can change it. Don’t like how your avatar looks when you crawl? You can change it. Don’t want a falling animation? You can remove it. Want to make it so you float instead of walk? You can enable that. Have full-body tracking and want to “mime” your walking instead of animating? You can do that.
In short, you have full creative control of how your avatar behaves in many situations. We even added a way for you to detect if you’ve got your headset off (or in Desktop, press the End key) — so you can play a special “AFK” animation while you’re away. Of course, you can swap out this animation, change how it behaves, change how you animate into or out of it… anything you can think up.
Avatars 3.0 utilizes Unity Animators to drive the behavior of your avatar. If you’re familiar with animators, you’ve already got all the knowledge you need to get started with AV3. For all the rest about Avatars 3.0, you can check our documentation. If you’re more of a walk-through or tutorial kind of learner, we’ve got a walk-through series available on our forums that we’ll continue to expand and update over time.
Of course, something as powerful and customizable as AV3 needs an equally powerful method of control. For this, we’ve created the Action Menu.
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 that AV3 would allow. Having only eight emotes and some gesture animation overrides was far too limiting. We needed a menu that was full of customizable actions and widgets that permitted you to quickly access the full depth of these new AV3 creations.
In addition, we wanted to give you the ability to quickly perform those actions one-handed, and in a less obvious manner to those around you. If you’ve played VRChat for any amount of time, it is fairly obvious when someone’s about to click “Backflip” — so let’s make it less obvious.
We wanted to make this menu fun, fluid, and customizable. It should be simple to use so anyone could enjoy it — but powerful enough to enable far more expression than ever before. The Action Menu also informs anyone who wears any AV3 avatar precisely what your avatar is capable of. No more fumbling through gestures to figure out what your avatar does (but you can still use gestures to trigger things, if you like)!
In short, we built the Action Menu to:
- Be fun to use and easy to access!
- Allow development of muscle memory for fast, fluid expression.
- Work in both one-handed or two-handed modes.
- Be usable in Desktop mode.
- Allow physical “puppeteering” of avatar functionality.
- Provide people with more information about the avatar they’re wearing, instead of trying out things to discover its capabilities.
- Permit access to a great many more animations and features in an avatar.
- Allow combinations of actions that weren’t possible before, especially while using two hands.
- Be simple to understand, but allow a lot of depth.
- Let creators build their own UI for their avatars using the SDK.
- Enable more creativity and expression via avatars.
- Have custom configurations for controls, size, positioning, and opacity to suit your personal preferences.
- Not be necessary to enjoy VRChat.
How do I use the Action Menu?
To use the Action Menu, press down or “click in” the joystick on either controller. If you don’t have a joystick, hold down your Quick Menu button on either controller for a moment. In Desktop mode, press R.
By default, use your joysticks to move the cursor. You don’t need to pull the trigger to select. This is called “Flick Select”. You can enable or disable Flick Select in the Config section of the Action Menu. When it is disabled, you have to pull your Trigger button to confirm your choice.
As an aside, if you’re having problems with your bindings while using SteamVR, you may need to reset to the default bindings for VRChat.
The Config section has a bunch of settings to play around with. You can:
- Adjust the Action Menu’s size, opacity, and positioning.
- Enable/Disable Flick Select. This allows fast selection of items. If disabled, you must select your choice using your Trigger.
- Enable/Disable AFK — This doesn’t turn AFK on or off, but enables or disables it from working when you take your headset off (or press End on Desktop).
- Enable/Disable the Debug menu — Pops up a window monitoring all parameters and layers on your AV3 avatar. Very useful for debugging avatars!
You can also access a few other sections in the Action Menu.
Expressions is the section you get to customize with Avatars 3.0. This is where you’ll access widgets like Buttons, Toggles, Puppet Menus, Submenus, and more.
Legacy AV2 avatars have access to the Action Menu. Their emotes are automatically mapped to the Expression Menu.
Emojis are where you access VRChat emojis to fire off. Having these on quick access makes using them a lot easier to do! They’re still available in the Quick Menu.
Gestures enables or disables the Gesture Toggle — now available for all controller types, including Desktop mode!
How do I try out Avatars 3.0 and the Action Menu?
Pretty easily! VRChat 2020.3.2 has just released, and with it comes the release of Avatars 3.0 and the Action Menu. You can try out a handful of avatars our testers created by joining our Avatars 3.0 Beta Hub. There’s also a portal in the VRChat Home you can use, off to the right past the mirror.
How do I get started making AV3 Avatars?
To create AV3 avatars, you just need to grab our newest SDK — available on our site, as always.
With the release of Avatars 3.0, we have also split the VRChat SDK3 package. There is now a separate SDK3 for Worlds and for Avatars. Make sure you download the correct one! For Avatars 3.0, you’ll need the Avatar version. You can use both of these SDK3 packages in the same project, but we don’t recommend doing so.
If you’re getting started with Avatars 3.0, create a new project. We don’t support upgrading a SDK2 project to SDK3, and you will run into problems if you try to do so!
If you’ve already got an Avatars 3.0 project you’ve been working with, you’ll need to follow some instructions to properly upgrade your project without losing data. Find these instructions in the changelog.
FYI: We’re not removing or changing your current avatars. They work perfectly fine alongside Avatars 3.0. Our previous avatar system, Avatars 2 (or AV2), is still in VRChat and will remain for the foreseeable future.
A Few More Features
There’s a few more cool features that we’ve added for avatars in general for this release. You can learn more in our changelogs, but to sum them up:
- New Full-Body Tracking calibration system
- Improved viewpoint replication in Full-Body Tracking
- Improved Full-Body Tracking behavior
- Improved eye movement simulation
- Updated supporting systems for things like lipsync
- Added avatar download size to performance stats, doesn’t affect rank yet
- Added a new Performance Option to block avatars that are too large from downloading (default 200mb). Access through the Safety > Performance Options button!
- Local Avatar Testing — Test your avatar without uploading! Available for AV3. Check the documentation for more info.
Some Last Bits
Avatars 3.0 is a brand-new framework — which means that we can build new features into it much more easily than before. Although we don’t have a timeframe for release of any of these, here’s some of the ideas we’ve been iterating on internally (and yes, they’re intentionally vague):
- Avatar-to-avatar “signals”
- World-to-avatar and avatar-to-world signals
- Avatar-to-PC signals (send/receive MIDI, OSC between avatar and PC)
- Dedicated self-collision system
- Avatar-to-avatar collisions
Keep an eye out for more details on these future developments as they progress!
Finally, we want to offer a heartfelt thank you to our Closed and Open Beta testers. We worked extremely closely with our testers in design and implementation, and the result was greatly improved thanks to their efforts. The feedback of the Closed and Open testers is exceedingly valuable, and helped drive a lot of our changes and improvements. To all of you that provided feedback, thank you! Your efforts helped make Avatars 3.0 even better.
We’re very glad to finally get Avatars 3.0 and the Action Menu out for everyone to try out. We’ve already seen some pretty amazing things people have made with the new system, and fully expect tons more to come. Avatars 3.0 is just the first step in the new VRChat avatar system. We’re excited to show you where it is going.