Rare: We Made Xbox Avatars Before Nintendo's Miis

"The planets just aligned a little bit," said Rare artist Lee Musgrave regarding the timing of Microsoft's Avatars, a customizable-character feature coming in this fall's Xbox 360 dashboard update often characterized as a response to Nintendo's similar Mii characters.

"It was an idea that we had before Miis were a part of the gaming scene," Musgrave told Eurogamer TV. The show visited the Microsoft-owned studio to seek out the root of the Avatars program and found that, rather than being a knee-jerk reaction to Miis, Rare had already been working on customizable characters to somehow be implemented into the Xbox 360 console.

According to Musgrave, during the making of the new Xbox 360 dashboard--which is a complete overhaul of the system software--Microsoft used its user interface expertise to design the new system, but entrusted "the creative side" to Rare.

Then, as the new interface was unveiled, the long-under-wraps Avatars found a home. In a bit of Rare's trademark British humor, Musgrave attempted to put the issue to rest with a one-liner: "Microsoft did not turn up in a speeding car one day and say, 'They've got Miis! Do something!'"