See Copyright and Usage Notice
Installing and Immigrating into
What do I need to visit Active
To visit AlphaWorld and other Active Worlds,
you must have a PC running Microsoft Windows 95 or NT. As shown
in the minimum machine table at the beginning of this chapter,
you need a 486 66 MHz PC running Windows 95 and a direct connection
to the Internet. Your PC should have at least 16MB of memory.
A Pentium machine with plenty of memory (24MB of RAM or more)
will run this world much faster, but is not required.
Using Active Worlds through AOL,
CompuServe, and other on-line services
You canít use Active Worlds through
on-line services unless they support direct Internet access. For
example, you can use Active Worlds through America Online, the
Microsoft Network, and CompuServe 3.0 as they do provide this
service. To do this, you must be able to configure your on-line
service to access the Internet through Winsock (the tool Windows
uses to communicate with the Internet) and then run Active Worlds.
See the section, ìSetting up your on-line service to connect
directly with the Internet,î in Appendix D. If you have
problems doing this, contact your on-line service for help.
If you can connect directly to the Internet
by a dial-up SLIP or PPP connection of at least 14.4 kbps, then
you should be ready to run Active Worlds. If you are at work or
a place where you have a PC on the Internet full time (such as
a university or college), you can also use Active Worlds. Connecting
from work might require you to check on your firewall and proxy
server restrictions. See the section on ìQuestions and
Answers About Connectingî in the FAQ found on the book companion
website at: http://www.digitalspace.com/avatars.
Getting Started and a Few Disclaimers
The Active Worlds Browser is the software
you need to enter AlphaWorld and other Active Worlds. The Active
Worlds Browser is easy to install and easy to use. You will be
installing Active Worlds Browser either from the CD in this book
or by downloading it from the Internet. Getting Active Worlds
Browser installed is easier than you might think and soon you
will be building your own Metaverse. Metaverse is the name
for the virtual world described in Neal Stephensonís 1992
classic novel Snow Crash. I highly recommend that you beg,
borrow, or steal this novel and compare the Metaverse with your
experience in AlphaWorld. Snow Crash is listed in the bibliography.
Active Worlds Browser is experimental shareware
software. As long as Circle of Fire supports it, it will be free
to use (you have to accept the terms of your free license during
installation). You are not charged for the time you spend exploring,
chatting, and building in AlphaWorld and other Active Worlds,
but you could be charged for the hours you use from your Internet
service provider (ISP). Check with your ISP for its monthly free
hours and rates.
Active Worlds is constantly changing
Active Worlds Browser is constantly evolving,
and will likely have changed since this chapter was written. I
placed the very latest version of Active Worlds Browser on your
book CD, and it may be somewhat different from what is described
here. In fact, when you log on, you will likely be asked to upgrade
to a new version. Upgrading is easy and is described in a section
below called ìActive Worlds is asking me if I want to upgradeî.
The differences from your running version of Active Worlds Browser
and what is described here will not be major and this chapter
will still be a great guide to Active Worlds. If you see new features
or changes, you should check for information under the Help menu
in the Active Worlds Browser.
Active Worlds is
now owned by its users!
At the time this chapter was
finished, Worlds Incorporated (the original company that developed
Active Worlds) had just sold Active Worlds (including AlphaWorld)
to a group of users working with Circle of Fire Studios. This
is exciting to me as it means that Active Worlds will continue
to evolve and grow, driven by the people who love it most, its
users! The new home for Active Worlds is at: http://www.activeworlds.com.
Please see your Avatars
book home page at http://www.digitalspace.com/avatars
for the latest news on Active
[start Set Aside, with helper Web site icon]
Keep up-to-date with your favorite
worlds; visit your Avatars! Web site.
As a special service for readers of Avatars!, I have a special home page on the World Wide Web devoted to keeping you up-to-date on your favorite worlds. Find news about software updates, social events held within these virtual worlds, and brand new worlds you might want to visit at http://www.digitalspace.com/avatars. Bookmark it!
[end Set Aside]
If you have questions or problems
If you have questions or problems installing
Active Worlds Browser or running any Active World, you should
consult the ìAlphaWorld and Active Worlds FAQ,î later
in this chapter. If this does not help you, check the Active Worlds.
home page at http://www.activeworlds.com,
and the Active Worlds Support
page at http://www.activeworlds.com/support.html.
To contact the Active Worlds team at Circle
of Fire Studios directly with your suggestions, bug reports, or
comments, email them through their homepage at http://www.activeworlds.com.
Another good source of information on how
to use Active Worlds is the on-line Windows Help file. Just press
F1 while using Active Worlds and use the table of contents or
index to find your topic of interest.
We appreciate your feedback on Avatars!
but we donít have the resources to provide technical support.
The Active Worlds Team and I are happy to hear about your experiences
with AlphaWorld and other Active Worlds. Contact us through the
Avatars! book Web site at http://www.digitalspace.com/avatars.
Macintosh, UNIX, and OS/2 versions
and running under Windows NT
At this writing, there are no native versions
of the Active Worlds Browser for the Macintosh, UNIX, or OS/2.
Check the Active Worlds and Avatars! book Web pages for
updates on new versions which might support these platforms. You
may also be able to run the Active Worlds Browser using a Windows
emulation system on non-Windows platforms. Active Worlds may run
under Windows NT, but the Active Worlds team reports that you
may also experience problems. Check the Active Worlds Web site
for assistance with operation under Windows NT.
Bear with me through the following step-by-step
instructions and soon you will be experiencing life as an avatar
in digital space!
Do you have a previous version of
the Active Worlds Browser installed?
If you have previously installed the Active
Worlds Browser, it may be wise to delete it before installing
your version from the CD. If your version of the Active Worlds
Browser is more recent than the one on the CD, you may want to
stick with it.
In Windows 95, you can remove a program this
way: Open the Control Panel, double-click on the Add/Remove Programs
icon, scroll down to Active Worlds, highlight it, and click on
the Add/Remove button to delete it from the system. You can also
do this by deleting the folder in which the Active Worlds Browser
the Active Worlds Browser from the
If you have a CD-ROM
drive on your PC, you can install the Active Worlds Browser directly
from there. If you donít have a CD-ROM drive, skip to the
section, ìInstalling or upgrading the Active Worlds Browser
from the Internet.î In Chapter
16 we provide a step by step example of installing from the CD-ROM.
I suggest you refer to this chapter and follow the same steps
for the Active
Worlds Browser. Once the installation
program on your CD-ROM has started, you can return to this chapter
to the section: ìRunning the Installation.î
Installing or upgrading the Active
Worlds Browser from the Internet
If you want the very latest version of Active Worlds, or were informed that you had to upgrade the version found on your Avatars! CD, then you must download it from the Internet. If you havenít done this before, donít panic, it is easier than you might think!
Figure 7.2: awi1.gif
Find the file you downloaded.
Running the Installation
Whether you are running the installation from
the CD using your Web browser, from the CD file you directly copied,
or from the file you downloaded from the Internet, use this section
to guide you through the installation. Note that if you downloaded
Active Worlds from the Internet, the installation process may
have changed. If this has happened, refer to instructions
on the Active Worlds Web site.
Clean up after installation
If you copied the Active Worlds Browser installation
file onto your desktop, into a folder, or you downloaded it from
the Internet, you can delete it after the installation is complete.
It should have a name like awb152.exe. You can keep the original
installer around just in case you have to reinstall it. Of course,
you will have your CD with the original installers, so you do
not need to take up valuable hard disk space (1.2MB just for the
Active Worlds installer).
The help files
There will be files called Help placed in
your Start menu folder. If you open this file, you will find general
information about this release of the Active Worlds Browser.
Traveling the Alphaverse with the
Active Worlds Browser
AlphaWorld is just one of many virtual worlds
available under the Active Worlds Browser. The Active Worlds Browser
is the software provided on your Avatars! book CD. With
the Active Worlds Browser you can explore many different virtual
worlds. AlphaWorld was the original, and still is the largest,
of these worlds. Once in AlphaWorld, you can visit other worlds
in the Active Worlds Browser universe. This chapter will focus
on AlphaWorld and give you a look at other Active Worlds Browser
Starting the Active Worlds Browser
Before starting up the Active Worlds Browser,
you must re-establish your connection to the Internet. Once you
are connected (test your connection by seeing if your Web browser
works), double-click on the Active Worlds Browser icon to start
up the browser. In Windows 95, you can find the Active Worlds
Browser on your desktop, under the Start menu at Programs (arrow)
Active Worlds. You can also look in the folder called Active Worlds
where you can find the Active Worlds Browser program directly.
Active Worlds is asking me if
I want to upgrade
As soon as you start Active Worlds Browser
you may see a message like that shown in the preceding figure.
This message may read ìthere is a newer version of Active
Worlds available. Your version may work but may not have all the
latest features. Press OK to automatically upgrade or Skip to
use your current version..î I recommend you press OK and
receive the upgrade. This will not take long and will ensure you
are using the latest version. After Active Worlds downloads its
upgrade (usually 100 or 200KB) it will upgrade itself and then
The version of Active Worlds Browser installed
from the CD will require upgrading in this way. You may be asked
to upgrade in several steps, depending on how old your version
of Active Worlds is. In the event that you are told that you must
download a whole new version of the Active Worlds Browser, return
to the previous section, ìInstalling or upgrading Active
Worlds Browser from the Internet.î
What! You donít have your
When you enter the Active Worlds universe
you must enter either as a tourist or become a citizen through
a process called immigration. When you enter for the first
time, these choices are presented to you in a dialogue box like
the one shown in the preceding figure. Entering as a tourist allows
you to communicate and explore but not to build. I recommend immigrating
right away. If you donít choose to immigrate right away
you can change your status from tourist to citizen by selecting
Change to from the Citizen menu in Active Worlds Browser and immigrating.
If you do enter as a tourist, you must select a nickname by which
you will be known. If you want to immigrate, follow these three
Immigration Step 1: Supply your
nickname, e-mail address, and password
If you choose to immigrate right away or opt
to immigrate after you have visited Active Worlds as a tourist,
the procedure is the same: you have to fill out a form
(nothing changes even in the virtual worlds!).
Donít panic, immigration into this
virtual world is much easier than crossing national boundaries!
As the preceding dialogue shows, all you have to do is enter your
nickname (some fanciful name you would like to be known by in
the world), your e-mail address, and password (enter it twice
for verification). In the example above, I entered my customary
nickname DigiGardener, an email address email@example.com,
and a password I wonít forget. When you type in the password,
you will not be able to see it, just ì*î symbols.
This is done to hide the password. Be careful when you type it
in. I use the old hunt-and-peck method, pressing each key with
one finger and watching the keyboard thus giving me fewer chances
to make a mistake. When you enter Active Worlds in the future,
you will not have to enter this password again, but it is good
to record it somewhere in case you need it.
Note that all of this information (except
your password) is stored in file called aworld.ini which
can be found in your Active Worlds folder. You can save this file
as a safe backup for your identity. For more about the aworld.in
file, see the section, ìQuestions and Answers related to
Your Identityî in the FAQ for Active Worlds on our companion
book Web site. Lastly, if you forget your password, there is an
option in the Change To option under the Citizen menu which will
request the Active Worlds server to send you your password by
You are not anonymous in this world
Note that by supplying your e-mail address,
you are not anonymous in any Active World you visit. The
Active Worlds team made the decision to require this immigration
process so that they could count how many people join AlphaWorld,
keep in touch with citizens about upgrades and changes, and encourage
people to be responsible. If your identity is known, you are less
likely to do or say anything offensive in the greater community.
Immigration Step 2: Verifying that
your nickname is available
As soon as you press OK in the preceding dialogue,
the Active Worlds citizen server goes into action, checking to
see if the nickname you entered is available. It is important
to have your name be unique in every active world, as this is
the only way to reach you. You might receive the message: ìSorry,
the name ëDigiGardenerí is already in use by another
citizen. Please try another name (tip: try something really creative!)î
which means that your nickname is already taken. With almost 200,000
registered users, you can bet that every name of a fantasy character
from books like Tolkien or science fiction or names of rock stars
are already taken. You can keep trying to enter new nicknames
(like sting99 or sting999?) until one is accepted.
If the Active Worlds server is down (which is rare), you may be given the message ìActive Worlds Immigration Office Closed Until...î. In this case your best option is to come back later and try again.
You can actually run Active Worlds without
being connected to the Internet. You will be given the option
to enter in ìstand-alone modeî. In this mode you
will be able to travel around in a world alone and visit places
you have previously visited (as they have already been downloaded
onto your hard disk). I often use stand-alone mode to show people
Active Worlds and our town: Sherwood Forest on my laptop computer.
I donít have to go scurrying around for a phone jack.
Immigration Step 3: Arriving in
After a few seconds, the Active Worlds entry
dialogue should say ìStarting...î and then disappear
to be replaced by a new window, the Active Worlds client window.
You will then land at the Ground Zero point of one of the
Active Worlds known as The Gate. A Ground Zero point is the universal
place of entry for everyone in a virtual world. There are ways
to come into different points in Active Worlds, called teleports,
which we shall explore later in this chapter.
It may be hard to tell when you are at Ground
Zero because not much of the world may be visible for a few seconds.
The Active Worlds server, to which you are connected, is busily
sending you a whole set of little pictures. These pictures will
be put together by the Active Worlds Browser to show you the world
and the people in it. After a minute or so, you should start seeing
the area around Ground Zero. When you enter new Active Worlds
areas you have not visited before, all you will see for a few
seconds is a sea of little black triangles. These black triangles
are anchor points where the picture objects will be placed.
If a triangle moves, it might indicate that an avatar is associated
with that point.
These little pictures are called Renderware
or RWX objects. These are the basic building blocks of AlphaWorld
and all the other Active Worlds. If you want to get into the details
of Renderware objects, you should view the help documents in the
Active Worlds Browser or on the Active Worlds web site. As these
objects arrive over the Internet, they are stored on your hard
disk. This is called caching. Once you have many objects cached,
you will not be waiting so long for scenes in the world to download.
Active Worlds just grow and grow
The more you travel in AlphaWorld and the
other Active Worlds, and the more objects you get in your cache,
the faster travel becomes. As you travel, you will also pick up
more city data; all those anchor triangles to which the objects
are attached. All this means is that the more journeys you take,
the more disk space is taken up for AlphaWorld and other Active
Worlds. You can easily consume 40MB or more. In the Settings dialogue
found under the Options menu, you can set the Disk Usage to limit
how many and how long objects are stored on your hard disk.
Now that we are finally ìin the worldî
lets move on to start exploring the Active Worlds universe!