Sometimes Twitter can be a bad place and amplify some of the worst opinions and people on the internet. But some days, the platform can remind us that there are still decent people out there doing a good job making the world a better, less bad place.
Long ago, an Xbox user who goes through Noukon on Twitter bought a Pac-Man ghost avatar for a dollar. Over the years, as the Xbox UI went through changes and iterations, Noukon’s avatar kept shrinking until it was just a little blue square lost in the endless gray sea of the Xbox avatar display. Discouraged but defiant, Noukon shared his problem on Twitter, but expressed his determination to keep the cherished avatar.
“I bought this gamerpic for 80 Xbox points in 2006,” Noukon tweeted. “And I’ll be fucked if it doesn’t remain the best dollar I’ve ever spent.”
Coincidentally, Eden Marie, an Xbox engineer, saw Noukon’s lament and… promised to help.
“Listen, I can’t promise anything, but I’m going to make it my personal mission to fix this,” Eden replied.
For starters, Eden bought the Pac-Man avatar, now $2.38 instead of a dollar, which is interestingly a dollar above standard inflation. (Hey, Xbox needs to get its cut too, right?) After that, Eden penned her process of trying to recover this ancient relic of a gamer avatar from 15 years ago.
Eden first fixed an inconsistency between what an avatar looks like when you view your own profile and what it looks like when you view someone else’s. On your own profile, Xbox 360 gamer photos look like huge gray circles with the tiny avatar in the middle. On other people’s profiles, that same avatar looks much better. It’s still very small, but the background becomes an enlarged version of the small avatar, making for a cleaner look.
After fixing that problem, Eden’s next task was to figure out how to make the avatar look better on the Xbox profile login screen. Apparently there are many ways Xbox displays your avatar which makes Eden’s project a bit cumbersome.
“If I asked you how many ways we display gamerpics on console and your answer wasn’t something like ‘all’, you’d be wrong,” she tweeted.
After some trial and error, Eden seemed to find a solution. She took advantage of the The Xbox UI’s affinity for transparent graphics.
“Did you know that if you upload a PNG with transparency as a custom gamer image, the Dashboard and Guide will respect that transparency in most places?” Ed wrote. “Some of the built-in gamerpics have built-in transparency. Maybe we can take advantage of that here.”
To get around the Xbox by cutting off the edges of a square gamer image, Eden decided to place the square image in a circle and make the circle transparent. It worked, and it now looks great.
It’s a lot of fun, and sometimes you even learn something new, like… apparently 360 gamerpics supported transparency all along?
— Eden Marie (@neonepiphany) August 27, 2021
Eden attributed her ability to update Noukon’s avatar to Xbox’s policy of giving the engineers free time to tinker with whatever they want within the platform.
“I love that we’re doing it, and this week I absolutely chose to use it to save ghosts,” she said.
A noble goal indeed.