2.9 Desktop Release Notes

August 28th, 2023



Our 2.9 release contains exciting new features, first and foremost, our new avatar system! Virbela’s new avatar system offers users enhanced customization options, providing greater representation and inclusivity for all users.

In addition, we are improving the accessibility of Virbela by introducing Speech-to-Text, an experimental new feature that allows captioning and translations.

Finally, we have introduced two new languages, custom user statuses, a new configuration for the workspace scene, and more! 

Firewall updates

There are no firewall updates for the patch itself. However, Speech-to-Text does have its own firewall rules to enable. Check out the speech-to-text FAQ for more details.

New avatar system

Virbela’s new avatar system offers users enhanced customization options, providing greater representation and inclusivity for all users.

One of the significant benefits of the new avatar system is the ability for users to choose from a broader range of options, including additional skin tones and body types. The new system allows users to represent themselves better in the virtual environment without restrictions and assumptions based on gender.

But this is more than just a facelift for Virbela. The new avatar system completely overhauls how avatars operate within the platform. This means faster development of new functionality and improved management of system performance. Virbela is now better equipped to continue refining and improving the platform for its users.

One of the fundamental principles guiding the design of the new avatar system was a commitment to conscientious choices that reflect Virbela’s values. For example, the avatars remain cartoonish rather than trying to create a lifelike representation of humans. This is because technology is not yet advanced enough to create truly human-like avatars without triggering a sense of discomfort or revulsion in users.

Virbela also limits fantastical options for avatars, ensuring they resemble the professional world rather than taking on a creature-like appearance. Avatars are designed to find the right balance between individuality and a sense of community, with intentional limits on some options to prevent users from becoming too tall or muscular.

The new avatar system is not interoperable with other virtual worlds and platforms but instead focuses on providing optimized experiences and a coherent visual identity for enterprise customers. The goal is to further social community engagement by creating a shared social community where users can access a range of individual customizations while still being a part of the same community experience.

Users must re-create their avatars from scratch once their campus migrates to the new system. However, Virbela is happy to work with customers on the timing to ensure a smooth transition. Virbela plans to deprecate the old avatars by the summer of 2023.

The new avatar system does not impact how users interact with the world, and there is no change to how users log in and use the Virbela dashboard. The animations remain mostly the same, with continual improvements planned for the future.

Overall, the new avatar system is a significant step forward for Virbela and its users, providing enhanced customization options and improved system performance. The commitment to conscientious design choices reflects Virbela’s values and creates a more inclusive virtual environment for all users.

For more information please refer to the following articles:

Setting Up or Changing Your Avatar

New Avatar System Frequently Asked Questions

After the release, all users will spawn into the closet scene to create a new avatar. No data from the previous avatar will transfer over to the new avatar.


With the new system, the camera does not automatically zoom into the section of the avatar that is being customized. To zoom in/out, click the magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner.


Jackets are automatically paired with a shirt underneath. If a user selects a jacket, they will not be able to change the shirt that is underneath it.


Our new avatars are complex and require a lot of data, and it takes a second or two for all that data to come together. Instead of having users wait, Virbela spawns them as a gray avatar. The gray avatars should disappear almost immediately.


In this release, holiday-themed clothing/accessories are not included.


Badges do not display in the closet scene but will still display in-world.



Introducing Speech-to-Text: A new experimental service from Virbela that transcribes speech, provides captions on the screen and offers translation services.

Campus administrators can decide which rooms they want to enable speech-to-text, and users can also choose if they will allow speech-to-text in these rooms. The transcription will appear just above the chat window, and more text will appear as users continue to speak.

The speech-to-text service can translate into any language already supported by Virbela. Still, the speaker must speak in their chosen language, and the user must select their preferred language for the output.

Please refer to our FAQ for more information:

Speech-to-text frequently asked questions

Badges do not display in the closet scene but will still display in-world.


If a user enters a room when a speaker is speaking, the text of what the speaker said before the user joined may appear. The history will contain only a short snapshot of the most recent discussion. While rare, this could cause problems when speaking about sensitive matters.


If a user enters a room when a speaker is speaking, the text of what the speaker said before the user joined may appear. The history will contain only a short snapshot of the most recent discussion. While rare, this could cause problems when speaking about sensitive matters.


The spoken language is not auto-detected; the speaker must speak the same language as their system preferences for speech-to-text to transcribe correctly.


While individual users can turn off the transcription for themselves, they cannot opt-out of having their speech transcribed for other users.


We are working to improve the UI of the system. The speech-to-text transcription may appear over web boards and presentations in this release.


Group Client

Group Client allows Virbela customers to combine multiple campuses into a single build/launcher, making accessing their campuses easier for their users. In other words, customers no longer have to provide separate installation links to their users; instead, they will give just one link.

In addition, Group Client makes it easy to add additional worlds to the client. Customers can now spin up other worlds to support significant events without going through a lengthy build process.

Group Client Frequently Asked Questions

Customers can now create their custom away statuses

Customers can now create different away statuses in addition to the default away status Virbela already offers.

Creating a custom away message

Campus owners can create custom away messages using the world screen in the Virbela dashboard.

Campus administrators do not have access to this functionality.


By default, campuses have custom statuses disabled. This means the away status will work as it had in the past. Users will see one option: set status as away.

To enable custom statuses, click the checkbox. Owners can now add as many statuses as they like by clicking add status. Owners can write statuses in any Virbela-supported language.

The away status will appear as the only option when a campus first enables custom statuses. Administrators are welcome to edit or delete this status, and it will not affect the functionality if the customer decides to disable custom statuses in the future.


Owners can also hide statuses from the GO TO menu by unchecking Active or deleting the status.

Owners must click save for the changes to take effect.

The system will not allow multiple statuses with the same name.


Owners can disable custom statuses anytime, meaning users can no longer use the custom statuses and instead will see only the away status. However, Virbela will save all the custom statuses so that when Owners re-enable, they do not have to reenter the statuses again. 

How users can interact with custom away messages

When a campus enables custom statuses, users will see a new option called set status that replaces the set as away button. Here users can select their status:

Once a user selects their status, the status will appear under their nameplate for all users to see. In addition, the user will see a prompt indicating they set their status, which will not appear to other users.

Statuses will force-mute the user when they set it, and Virbela will make this configurable in future releases.


Customers cannot change the icon above the name or the text of the prompt that appears, and Virbela will make this configurable in future releases.


Limitations with localization

While customers can enter custom statuses in any Virbela-supported language, the text itself is not localized. This means the status will appear in the original language and will not respond when users have a different language set in user preferences.

Here are a few examples:

Support for new languages

This patch includes two newly supported languages:

  • Thai (TH)
  • Malay (MS)

Some areas of the new campus scene were not localized, which Virbela has resolved in this release. Most of these updates are centered around the fast travel map.

For reference, Virbela already supports the following languages:

  • Chinese - Simplified (ZH-HANS)
  • Chinese - Traditional (ZH-HANT)
  • English (EN)
  • French (FR)
  • French Canadian (FR-CA)
  • Hindi (HI)
  • Italian (IT)
  • German (DE)
  • Japanese (JA)
  • Korean (KO)
  • Polish (PL)
  • Portuguese - Brazil (PT-BR)
  • European Portuguese (PT-PT)
  • Spanish - Mexico (ES-MX)
  • Spanish - Spain (ES-ES) 

Customers can now add laptops to their desks

Users can now have monitors on their desks in the workspace layout!

The laptops have web boards that operate just like the web boards on the wall. Choose office configuration #3 if you want these for your office.

Customers can enable these laptops by going to the configuration tab in the Virbela dashboard. The configuration name is Team Office Single Desk Screen.

Toggleable Private Volumes in Support Center and Workspace sub-boardrooms

Users can now add private volumes to the sub-boardrooms in the Support Center and Workspace/Teamsuite scenes. Private volumes are available in layouts 2 and 3, and can be toggled on/off.

Bug fixes and minor stories

  • The large boardroom layout controls (switching table types) were tied to the Room Common Area permission instead of the Room Meeting Config permission type 
    • All other boardroom table switching controls were tied to Room Meeting Config

      By Default, Normal rights users will be able to change the table layout now

  • Stage Effects (Balloon & Confetti drop) now use the Stage permission type instead of the Color Control permission type

    Default access for Stage Effects changes from Moderator to Leader

  • Option to remove all waitlists in the support center 
  • Mountain Top teleport location moved to resolve users getting stuck in the air if a group teleported there together
  • Tutorial on the basketball court is available when the Basketball Private Volumes configuration is enabled 
  • Improved logging for file uploading
  • Reduced the likelihood of failed patches 
  • Door mapping now provides more feedback to administrators who had access to a room but lost access due to a permission change 
  • Turning on private volumes in the BoardroomLgPro seen no longer sends some avatars back to the welcome area and instead keeps them in the private volume → fixed in 2.8.20
  • Ensure force seating always works → fixed in 2.8.23
  • Users can spawn outside the doors on the second and third floor of the Main Hall when these doors are mapped to a door in another scene
  • Removed clutter from player logs


Customers can now ask Virbela IT to prevent users from spawning outside doors. Instead, they can spawn in the default spawn point of that scene

Known issues

There are still a few bugs that we could not resolve in time for this release. Other known issues are mentioned elsewhere in this document.