For the latest Team Xbox Q&A, I chatted with Randy from the Xbox Avatars Team. I’ve partnered with Randy on several projects related to Xbox Avatars over the last few months and was excited for this opportunity to catch up. Here’s what he had to say:
Hi, Randy! Thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule to chat with me. Mind letting our Xbox Insiders know what you currently do for Team Xbox?
Hello Savannah! Super excited to chat, especially for our Xbox Insiders! I’m currently the Senior Program Manager for the Xbox Avatars program for Xbox One and Windows 10.
And how long have you been with the company? Any other cool projects you helped with prior to the new Xbox Avatar Editor?
I’ve been with the company since 2004, so over 14 years now! I’ve been working on gaming technology for almost the same amount of time. Over the last 13 years I’ve worked on a bunch of features for console and PC, for core tech and games. For Xbox, I worked on technology including the Blades, Kinect, New Xbox Experience, and New Xbox One Experience. Aside from both generations of Avatars, I also worked on Bing Search for Xbox 360. I particularly liked Bing Search’s ability to find which video streaming service currently had a particular movie. I also worked on a few of the online features that went into Gears of War 2, Lips, Banjo-Kazooie Nuts & Bolts, and our Gaming SDKs (Software Development Kits).
How did the Xbox 360 Avatar system guide you and your team’s work with the new Xbox Avatar Editor? Was there any particular feedback you took from that era and used to guide your efforts?
We agreed very early that we wanted to bring the best parts of the Xbox Original Avatar, add to that expressive goodness, and make it better. Almost all of our changes were based on feedback collected over the last ten years. For example, we knew we wanted to get rid of gender specific clothing to give people more freedom to customize. We also wanted to add more skin color options for Avatars, and now we offer blue, green, and other creative hues. Other common requests included more inclusive body choices, different body shapes, more categories to customize, and more content in the Closet and Store. We took all that feedback to heart when we started working on the new Xbox Avatar character and Editor.
Our Xbox Insiders were some of the first community members to get their hands on the Avatar Editor. As a program, we were super excited to share such a cool feature early, but how has previewing the app since summer helped improve the overall product?
It’s helped us tremendously! Not only did we get feedback on the overall Avatar Editor (we really appreciate all the issues submitted from Report a problem!), but all the suggestions from the Xbox Insider community have been invaluable. For example, when we launched in the Xbox Insider Program, we just had a subset of the full collection of hair, tops, and bottoms available. However, we didn’t expect that hair and facial hair would be deemed the most important assets by Xbox Insiders. Because of this, we asked our content creation team to prioritize creating more hair and facial hair assets in response. Feedback like this has evolved the Avatar Editor and our character to a level we wouldn’t have been able to achieve without input from Xbox Insiders.
Everyone loves customizing their Avatar, including me – in fact, I was over the moon when I saw that overalls were an apparel option. As the PM of the new Xbox Avatar Editor, what’s your favorite Avatar accessory?
My favorite so far is a combination of the Frustrated Mood with the Soccer Ball Prop; seeing someone one so frustrated while still gleefully juggling a soccer ball makes me crack up every time. The Superhero Mood and the limited-edition Xbox Insider shirt are a very, very close second and…one other asset I can’t talk about yet!
Moving away from Avatars, are there any games you’re playing and really enjoying right now?
Since going digital I find that I swap between games often. I pick up a game or two at a time in Forza Horizon, Fortnite, Overwatch, Rocket League, all the Halos, and Rock Band with a back compat ION drumkit. I also love Overcooked but I’m awful at it, most games end with a frazzled rage quit, but I keep coming back!
One question we try to ask every member of Team Xbox is whether they’re particularly proud of any one achievement. So what about you, Randy, got any cool achievement stories to share?
Every single rare ‘chievo I got from Frozen Free Fall. To be fair, I think my favorite achievement was one I never got a chance to get: the Anonymous Red-Shirt Award from Star Trek: Legacy, awarded for the first player killed in a multiplayer game. I could never die quickly enough to grab it!
You’ve been, and remain, active on the Xbox Insider subreddit throughout the 1810 preview window. Is there anywhere else our audience can look out for you?
I’ll still be active on the Xbox Insider subreddit as RandyNoArms for a while. I can also be found on the Xbox and Xbox Reddit servers on Discord, as well as Xbox Live, using my Gamertag: Randy.
Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Randy, and for the awesome new Xbox Avatars!