The AvatarWrapper component wraps everything to do with Avatars into one easy to use component. Before, you had to go through all of this just to render a single avatar: MSDN sample.ms-help://MS.VSCC.v90/MS.VSIPCC.v90/MS.XNAGS31.1033/XNA/Avatar_StandardMethod.htm
That would very quickly get out of hand in a real game, where you have multiple Avatars running around. Something had to be done! :-)
The AvatarWrapper class has an easy to use API, and boils down Avatar usage to the bare essentials. But, it doesn't sacrifice flexibility; it exposes everything running underneath it to give you as little or as much complexity as you like. Loading, updating and drawing an Avatar just became this easy:
//called once at program start
//create an Avatar player
Avatar player1 = new Avatar(AvatarDescription.CreateRandom());
But we don't stop there: have you ever wanted to see how your Avatar looks on the PC? As you may know, Avatars cannot be rendered on the PC - if you try, it will draw nothing. That meant that you would normally have to deploy to your Xbox every time you want to test your game, which isn't very practical. That's why the AvatarWrapper automatically detects if you're on the PC or Xbox, and on the PC draws a wireframe representation of the Avatar!
Last but certainly not least, it provides easy to use animation, both custom and built in. For built in animations, you can use any of the default 31 Avatar animations, plus GenderNeutralAnimations. Most of the built in animations have a male and female animation. This is to prevent clipping since the Avatars have different proportions. By specifying an AvatarGenderNeutralAnimationPreset, you don't have to worry about that as the AvatarWrapper automatically picks the correct gender for you.
Custom animation is greatly simplified, with support for skinned FBX models and Collada animations. Included are three skeleton rigs of the Avatars, in Maya, 3DS Max, and Blender format, so you can use your preferred modeling program to create new Avatar animations!
The only caveat is that thus far, we have not been able to get Blender animations working properly. Fortunately, the XNA Team has just released an XSI Mod Tool skeleton, so you can use that for animations (the Pro version is free if you're a Creator's Club Premium Member).
Download the AvatarWrapper today and get started making great Avatar games in no time! If you do something cool with it, I'd love to hear about it - send me an email!