UPDATED! Decentraland Avatar Creation: How to Get a Custom Avatar Name for Free

Early this morning, I received an invitation in my email inbox to create my own custom avatar to use in the blockchain-based virtual world Decentraland when it launches. Today marked the official launch of the avatar creation program.

Note that Decentraland (DCL for short) was originally supposed to launch in open beta at the end of June, but that has been pushed back. Instead, DCL is going to invite groups of users in successive waves over the next month in a closed beta test, before opening the doors to the general public. Creating your avatar is the first step to setting foot in-world (once you are invited into the closed beta).

Here’s a brief new promotional video from Decentraland, showing off the different ways you can style and animate your avatars:

You can start the avatar creation process at this page. The avatar creation module is pretty straight-forward, and in no time at all you can customize an avatar to your desire. You have a choice of a male or a female avatar (sorry, no non-human avatars yet):

But there’s a catch. You can style your avatar as you like, but if you want to pick a name for your avatar (other than “Guest”), well, that’s going to cost you:

The fee is 100 MANA, which is the name of Decentraland’s in-world cryptocurrency. According to this cryptocurrency exchange calculator, that works out to US$5.10 at the moment. Not to mention the hassle of actually having to set up a cryptocurrency wallet and buying MANA, which I really don’t want to deal with right now.

However, according to the official blogpost of the announcement:

It usually costs 100 MANA to claim a name, but for the first 1,000 people claiming a name with cryptocurrency wallet, Trust Wallet, it’s completely free. What’s more, Trust Wallet and exchange partner Binance will stump up the gas fee.

Hey, free works for me! So, I downloaded the free Trust Wallet app onto my iPhone and set it up. Only to get hopelessly lost about how to actually connect the mobile-based Trust Wallet to use with the Decentraland avatar creation website on my desktop computer. It turns out that’s not possible (D’oh!).

Finally, I tried using the built-in web browser in the Trust Wallet app on my iPhone, but I only got as far as being able to select a name. The CLAIM NAME button at the bottom of my screen was still greyed out and unresponsive:

So, for a while confusion reigned on the official Decentraland Discord server as various people tried to troubleshoot my problem (thank you to everyone who offered suggestions!). Nobody seemed to know exactly how this promotion with the Trust Wallet works. Shouldn’t DCL have all this figured out before making the official announcement? Just sayin’.

Eventually, however, I was connected with someone from Decentraland who walked me through the process, step-by-step, through claiming my 100 MANA (a step they neglected to tell anyone about!), and then claiming my custom avatar name, all done using the web browser built in to the Trust Wallet app on my iPhone.

And finally, I got an email confirmation:

And checking my account, I now see:

Yay! Success! But it should not be this complicated. If a geek like me is having trouble with something as simple as setting up a username, you can imagine how confused the average Joe consumer is going to be. Hopefully, the team at Decentraland are rewriting their communications on the Trust Wallet offer, and providing STEP-BY-STEP instructions for other clueless cryptocurrency newbies.

Frankly, I think charging cryptocurrency for a custom avatar name is a significant stumbling block for many potential Decentraland users. I can understand needing to charge for land and goods and services, but something like a user name should be free to set up. DCL is setting itself apart from most of the competition in charging for a custom avatar name. I can only think of a few virtual worlds (IMVU, Twinity) that use this model. None of the major social VR platforms and virtual worlds charge you a fee to choose an avatar name. Decentraland might want to carefully re-think this policy.

UPDATE 2:50 p.m.: The following message was posted to the official Decentraland Discord server by toonpunk:

Anybody having issues with Trust wallet not being free please visit this link and it will work – https://claim.decentraland.org/ thanks.

You will need to visit this website in the built-in browser in the Trust Wallet app on your mobile device, then visit the avatar creation page.

UPDATE July 9th, 2019: Wow, that was fast! Toonpunk announced this morning on the official Decentraland Discord server that all 1,000 offers to create a custom avatar name for free are now completely used up. So it will now cost you 100 MANA to create a DCL username. Here’s a list of markets where you can buy MANA.

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UPDATED: Notes from Today’s Avatar Customization Product Meetup in Sansar

I decided to come in-world to report on this week’s important Sansar Product Meetup, which was entirely focused on Linden Lab’s plans for future avatar customization. This is an opportunity for Sansar users to hear LL’s plans and provide feedback on what features they would like to see. Nearly 60 avatars were present at the meeting, an over-capacity crowd which lead to people landing up in separate instances of the experience (something that Linden Lab really needs to address going forward).

People who could not attend today’s meeting can follow one of three livestreams. Two attendees are livestreaming today’s Product Meetup: Daisy Gator at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auVnsfdJ5jw and Ryzo-Rin at https://www.twitch.tv/ryzorin. The official Sansar Twitch stream can be found at https://www.twitch.tv/sansarofficial.

Cara reported that there will be more avatar sliders, first for the face and then the body. The new default human avatars will have maps on the body itself, and you will be able to use your mouse to click and drag to adjust your features. This would be a different way to adjust your face and body than using simple sliders, and it sounds exciting!

Linden Lab is considering adding an avatar height slider, and they are also looking at uniform scaling to make larger and smaller but still proportional avatars (e,g, giants and pixies).

Linden Lab also wants to push for more custom avatars on the marketplace. They are also looking at the ability to dress custom avatars using clothing created in Marvelous Designer within the next couple of releases of the client software, according to Cara. The AABB bounding box on the avatar will be expanded to allow for such things as larger wings, for example.


Cara and Lacie Address Questions from the Audience

They also want to add more avatar attachment points, and they also want to look at improving the accessories so you can adjust the item while wearing it.

High heels: not one of Linden Lab’s priorities at the moment. Many users want to have this ability though, sooner rather than later.

Custom skins: Linden Lab does want to open up the ability to upload and sell custom skins on the market.

The current humanoid skin type will be tintable (as hair and nails are now), but the next-generation avatar will have a skin type which will use subsurface scattering and shaders to look better, and will require a different way to tint it.

Animated attachments: not a current priority.

Hotswapping avatars (between saved looks in the Lookbook) is a feature that Linden Lab would like to set up for us to be able to use (i.e. not having to go into Lookbook to change an outfit but doing it instantly).

It was a very good meeting, short of actual delivery dates, but still giving us a glimpse of where avatar customization is going within Sansar. I think many of the people who attended the meeting were very pleased with the announcements that were made by Cara and Lacie.

UPDATE Feb. 15th: Inara Pey, who does a much better job of summarizing these weekly Product Meetups than I do, corrects a mistake I made:

“Hotswapping avatars (between saved looks in the Lookbook) is a feature that Linden Lab would like to set up for us to be able to use”

As a point of clarification, Cara actually said this is something the Lab is *unable* to support at the moment – and no indication was given that this is being looked at. What she did mention was that the idea of some kind of “personal inventory” of objects “carried” by an avatar is still under discussion at the Lab.

Thanks for the clarification, Inara! You can find her detailed report on the meeting here, including audio excerpts.

Avatar Customization to Be the Theme of a Special Valentine’s Day Sansar Product Meetup This Thursday

This Thursday, which also happens to be Valentine’s Day, there will be a special Product Meetup focusing on avatar customization. Lacie Sansar (who appears to be the acting community manager for Sansar while Linden Lab is searching to fill the position after Eliot left) has posted the following message to the announcements channel on the official Sansar Discord:

I’m *extremely* excited to announce our *Special Edition* of our Product Meetup this upcoming Thursday.

We will focus on discussing the highly requested upcoming features for even **more** Avatar Customization & we want to hear your feedback.

Without further ado…*lets get customizable* this **Thursday, February 14th** at **11AM PST**

See you there, Sansarians. 😉

https://events.sansar.com/events/Lacie-Sansar/product-meetup—special-edition—lets-get-customizable/bf6f3ac0

We’re already got endless customization of such things as hair, clothing, and accessories, but I am still really happy to see this announcement because I and others have been badgering Linden Lab for months now to address several issues related to customization for the default human avatars:

  • more face sliders and the addition of body sliders (height, weight, etc.)
  • customized skins which can be bought and sold on the Sansar Store

So if, like me, you are keenly interested in these sorts of topics, we get an opportunity to tell Linden Lab what we want to see!