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Bring Your Dynamic Self to The Metaverse with Layered Clothing

October 21, 2021

by Bjorn Book-Larsson, VP, Product Avatar

Product & Tech

Following an incredibly exciting Roblox Developers Conference (“RDC”) last week, we are happy to announce the launch of the Layered Clothing Studio Beta, now available to all Roblox Studio users. To enable it in your own experience, simply open Roblox Studio, click File > Beta Features, then tick the box labeled “3D Layered Clothing.” 

For nearly two years, we’ve been working hard to create an innovative system that gives everyone on Roblox complete freedom over what clothing they wear on their avatar. To understand how we arrived at this point, let’s look at some of the technologies released along the way and preview where we are heading in the near future.

The Journey to Layered Clothing

Last November we launched Skinned Meshes—and as we mentioned at the time, skinning technology set the stage for creating new advanced features like Layered Clothing. 

In April we launched the Cage Mesh Deformer technology, also known as the “wrap deformer.” This technology shrink-wraps geometries on top of each other in real-time, on both high-end and low-end devices. The magic of shrink-wrapping is that users can create new looks just by “wrapping” 3D items (clothing, hair, jackets, etc.) in real-time on top of other items or avatars.

This brings us to today’s launch of the Layered Clothing Studio Beta. Layered Clothing mimics the way clothing drapes and forms on a body. Individual items like shirts, hats, outerwear, and shoes can be layered in any order, and when fully launched platform-wide, future avatars will be able to wear up to seven layers of clothing in addition to accessories.

Prior to today’s launch, and dating back to the early days of Roblox, there were only two ways to change a characters’ look: either change the paint scheme of a body part, in the form of our classic “pants, shirts, and t-shirts” (which are actually 2D paint-schemes), or swap out an entire body part. This interchangeable parts-and-paint-based approach served us well and allowed for a lot of unique customizations.

However, Layered Clothing takes the combinatorial possibilities to a whole new level. You can still paint, color, and part-swap the underlying components, but now you can also layer entirely new 3D items on top of any body, and the system will intelligently fit the layered items not only to the existing body components, but also to any previously layered items on the avatar.

The Future of Self-Expression

Going forward, the technology behind skinned meshes is not only key to Layered Clothing, but also our recently announced Dynamic Heads system, since skinning, caging, and shrink-wrapping will all work in concert to drive our future “emotional” avatars.

The Dynamic Heads system, which was first unveiled at RDC last week and is now available as a developer beta release, has a fair amount of work remaining before it is production-ready, but we are truly excited to see what the community will create using these early versions of amazing technologies. 

After Layered Clothing and Dynamic Heads, the next future area of work and exploration for the Avatar Team is the concept of “dynamic bodies.” Building on the Dynamic Head technology in development, dynamic bodies will let users and developers change body geometry the way one works with clay, giving the community an infinite amount of creative customizations for both existing and new characters.

Unlocking Our Community’s Creativity

Layered Clothing is a big next step in the evolution of the Roblox avatar. Self-identity is a crucial pillar of the metaverse, and the ability to precisely customize your clothing to your unique tastes is key to personal expression. Ensuring layered clothing works with all existing avatars enables everyone to express themselves without losing their current character underneath. The goal is to let Roblox users swap clothes just like one would every day in the real world. 

In addition, the added depth of customization creates all sorts of new opportunities for creators to explore and create new designs inside Roblox. As we roll out Layered Clothing over the next several months, Roblox developers and UGC creators will be able to incorporate their own layered items into their experiences and eventually across the Roblox metaverse.

We cannot wait to see the creativity our community will conjure up using these new technologies.