Muggmaker is a profile avatar creator, with newspaper-quality animated caricature styles that users can use to create images of themselves. While the app is tiny, with only a couple thousand monthly active users, it’s worth a closer look.
Created as a side project by Jon Keegan, a long-time print illustrator for clients such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, US News & World Report, and HarperCollins, Muggmaker is a 2D avatar creator for Facebook containing a level of detail reminiscent of mainstream games’ avatar creators such as City of Heroes or Elder Scrolls. Okay, before people get all in a huff, no, it is not anywhere near as complex as the said examples, but for a flat Flash creation, on Facebook, it is quite impressive and those are the titles that come to mind.
Limited to only a bust, users are able to modify a great deal of facial features such as eyes, ears, nose, and upper body. Each feature has a fairly large list of feature types ranging from pointy to bulbous noses, for example, and these are then further customizable with rows of slider bars that adjust height, width, rotation and so on. Moreover, you can even click on the feature to move it, manually, around the face, so unlike the mainstream examples, you could make something with a bit more of a Picasso-feel to it. Unfortunately, you can’t move features around enough to make a true Picasso, but it is fun to try.
Of course, colors and clothing can also be changed, and users are even able to grant their new avatar with some equally adjustable animations. Again, it is 2D, so they are a bit simplistic but are still fairly amusing. Top this off with a collection of backgrounds and your Muggmaker avatar is ready for profile publication. It’s a very unique and stylized addition to your Facebook page, as long as millions of other Facebook users don’t start using it.
Though Muggmaker may not be a mainstream game’s level of customization, it would be difficult to deny that it has taken, at least, a step in that direction. With the level of detail available to users on such a small and simplified scale, imagine the possibilities when adapted to a larger Facebook game for a company with significantly more resources. With current avatar customization for most games consisting of merely pre-set clothing and faces, this level of user expression could do wonders for the social space – a space in which user expression and uniqueness is one of the most sought after commodities.