Thursday, January 8, 2009

Xbox Avatars on your desktop

So last November Microsoft introduced the New Xbox Experience (NXE) and along with it, the addition of Avatars. Now we can have little digital versions of ourselves on our 360's. Additionally a few websites have made use of them as well (for example displays your avatar on your Xbox's blog page).

I wanted to be able to check out the avatar's of some of my friends on XBL, and I thought it would be cool to have them on my desktop. From this, a Perl script for doing so was born.

For example, right now my desktop on my netbook looks like:

As you can see, the avatar's (and gamercards!) for 4 of my friends are drawn on my wallpaper. This script which started off so simple, has now become quite complex (as most programming projects do), and is quite versatile. You can now:

  • Specify the number of columns of gamers (in the above screenshot this is set to 1, but you could have 2 or 3 or as many columns of avatar's and gamercards as you want)
  • Set the opacity (transparency) of the avatar's so that you could have your background image partially show through.
  • Have as many or as few gamers as you wish
  • Change the card look by specifying a different base URL from
  • Output the image in 8 bit, 24 bit, or 32 bit colour depth
  • Output the image as a PNG file or Windows BMP
  • Only generate an image consisting of Avatars & gamercards or have them drawn on a suppplied background image (in GIF, JPEG or PNG format)
  • Specify the width & height of avatar's and/or gamercards
  • And much more
The script itself is written in Perl, and runs fine with v5.10.x of ActivePerl for Windows (if using older versions, you'll need to install the GD library as well). It is command-line driven and intended for relatively "advanced" users. For help:

perl -?

will show all the options. And lastly the script itself can be found at:

And it is released under the conditions of the GNU Public License (GPL), so is free to use and modify as you see fit. Enjoy!

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