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What in the World is There to
do? Popular Activities in AlphaWorld and other Active Worlds
Getting bored just chatting and exploring?
Well, AlphaWorld citizens are continually inventing new ways to
have fun. We will go along with several citizens on activities
from photo shoots to the equivalent of the virtual bungee jump!
Virtual road trips to that virtual
There are no maps or roadside assistance in
AlphaWorld yet, but this should not stop you and your family from
getting in the virtual minivan and heading out for excellent adventures.
Best of all, there is no gas to buy, and the bathroom is always
handy! Many families have hooked up two or more computers to separate
accounts through multiple telephone lines (that teen phone is
useful for something) and toured as a group.
You can call on the homes of friends (rarely
is anyone there, but sometimes you may be surprised), or prowl
undetected through a virtual Beverly Hills. There are no security
services and guard dog bots in AlphaWorld yet, but you canít
take anything anyway!
Circle of Fire Studios (find them at http://www.channel1.com/users/fire/)
made a wonderful virtual version of Yellowstone National Park,
which is in Wyoming in the U.S. It comes complete with a faithful
geyser, a lodge with a fireplace, and grizzlies fishing in streams.
As the following figure shows, you can do things in the virtual
world that you would not dare attempt in real life. We have fallen
into the geyser and are now traveling inside magma chambers in
the bowels of the Earth.
We were warned, as you get close to old faithful,
a park rangerís voice calls out to you: ìdonít
go near the geyser, its dangerous!î.
Hit the Slopes!
Avatars slalom down the slopes in Titan Guildís
Winter Wonderland, an Active World dedicated to fun in the white
fluffy stuff. Complete with chair lifts, runs from bunny to diamond
level, and some pretty good jumps and moguls.
When will we see the AlphaWorld skiing world
cup? Winter Wonderland also has a lodge with crackling fireplace
and a skating rink with plenty of Santa Claus avatars and cheesy
skating rink radio shows piped in through RealAudio a player (if
you have RealAudio installed).
Group photos and photojournalism
Writing this book made me into an avatar photojournalist.
You too can document your adventures in virtual worlds. Hundreds
of citizens have created Web sites showing their travelogs (or
avalogs). Will the avalog replace those very interesting home
movies or fascinating slide shows we all love?
Like the scene in Stanley Kubrickís
2001, a Space Odyssey, in which the astronauts line up
in front of that monolith on the moon, you can engage in the clumsy
but cute exercise of avatar group photographs. The figures above
show just how confusing it is to get everyone facing the same
direction. And when it is all ready, say cheese! To take a picture,
just press the Print Screen or PrtScr key on your PC keyboard
and then paste the resulting image into a paint program or word
Some AlphaWorld citizens have become fanatical
photojournalists, shooting hundreds of pictures of just about
every spot in the world and every social gathering. See, ìA
Day in the Life of AlphaWorld,î later in this chapter for
shots of an actual wedding held within AlphaWorld.
Shared building is a very common and very
rewarding activity in AlphaWorld. Whole communities have been
constructed this way (see the section, ìWhat hath they
wrought?î). Due to permission restrictions, citizens engage
in shared building, with many people using the same avatar. To
do this, you must share the aworld.ini file found in your
Active Worlds directory folder. This is described in, ìUsing
aworld.ini for Collaborative Building,î within the section
ìQuestions and Answers related to Your Identityî
in this chapterís FAQ.
Did you see that...avatar move?!
If you havenít already noticed, avatars
in AlphaWorld and other Active Worlds move. Avatar articulation
sequences are a form of entertainment in themselves. My photojournalistic
shutter was quick enough to catch these frames of sensei KaiOhShin
in the digital dojo.
Boogie down at the avatar dance
A very popular activity in AlphaWorld is DJ-ing
(disk jockeying). A host will attach music to objects (MIDI or
WAV files) so that everyone in the area can hear it. People ìsingî
along and dance, moving their avatars back and forth in variations
of the Avatar Slam, Bit Boogie, Virtualese Waltz, and Raster Rasta.
The preceding figure shows a scene from one late Friday night
party at Ground Zero. Protagonist, Active Worlds co-creator Ron
Britvich in real life, sings and dances along to a favorite: Pixels
in the Wind. Another old saw is, We are the AlphaWorld,
a virtual variant of We are the World.
If you have music, avatars, boogying dance,
and scintillating conversation, then you have a party! I was involved
with a group of AlphaWorld citizens in throwing a big summer bash
on July 13, 1996 at Laurelís Herb Farm in Sherwood Forest
Towne, a collective building area. As Laurel had created such
a beautiful garden, we decided to throw a party there. On top
of that, we built a virtual redwood tree grove next door and held
a poetry reading there with poets in-avatar from my hometown of
Boulder Creek, California. And on top of all that, we held a big
physical get together at the beautiful hilltop home of my friends
and neighbors here in town.
In AlphaWorld, hundreds of avatars showed
up by jumping through the sign (shown in the preceding figure),
which was actually a teleport directly to Sherwood. A scene from
the garden party is also shown here. We had a DJ for music, professional
party hosts, poets, and even the AlphaWorld Police Department
there in case of trouble (which we had). We held simultaneous
parties in both the Palace and Black Sun Interactiveís
Cybergate. Lots of people, wine, song, poetry mixed with computers,
and partygoer avatars joined us virtually and made themselves
heard. This mixing of physical and virtual parties was a lot of
fun, and I expect to see more of this in the years ahead. Why
donít you try it? You can find out how we did it at http://www.ccon.org/events/mixup1.html.
Dive bombing is one of the strangest and most
thrilling activities in AlphaWorld. AlphaWorld citizens pick a
favorite spot and then, usually with a partner cybernaut, rocket
to high altitude using a combination of Ctrl and Keypad Plus.
It is more fun to do this out of body in the god view. To do this,
press End before you start your ascent.
You will see your avatar shoot up and you
will track right along behind it. When you finally let your fingers
off the thruster controls (Ctrl + Keypad Plus), you will be at
a dizzying height. Go back into your avatarís body by pressing
Home and then look around. You may or may not see your partner,
but you will see the horizon and realize how high you are. Use
Page Down to tilt your viewpoint straight down and you will see
a tiny area below. That is the section of city you just left,
an isolated island within its display horizon. There is actually
much more city below but the Active Worlds software is just not
Next you can begin your powered descent. Looking
straight down, press Ctrl+Keypad Minus and watch how the city
comes up underneath you. Finish your descent by just holding down
Keypad Minus. Be careful not to approach ground too fast or you
will blow beneath the world. If you do this, you can look up and
see the underside of the city. You will have to come back up by
pushing Shift+Keypad Plus. Finally, use Page Up to tilt your head
up. Congratulations on a fine landing!
The figures below will give you a preview
of this thrill-of-a-virtual-lifetime experience!
Dive bombing sequence over Necropolis
Figure 7.52: awdive9a.jpg
The 50K rocket scooter up!
Figure 7.53: awdive2a.jpg
Looking down, oh!
Figure 7.54: awdive3a.jpg
Necropolis is dead ahead!
Figure 7.55: awdive4a.jpg
Pick a landing spot.
Figure 7.56: awdive5a.jpg
Pull up! Pull up!
Figure 7.57: awdive7.jpg
Houston, Tranquillity Base here, we have a safe landing in Necropolis!
Hide and seek
It may seem silly, but good old hide and seek
can be a fun form of virtual paper chase. As avatars can be seen
through buildings and at long distances, the finding is easy,
but the catching is not. The chase is on, and may the fastest
In any medium where people interact, romance
can bloom. This author has met many new and fascinating people
through interactions inside AlphaWorld. When I have taken the
trouble to telephone or visit these people, they have almost always
surprised me...they are not what I expected from their virtual
personae! People have met in AlphaWorld and fallen in love in
real life. In ìA Day in the Life of AlphaWorld,î
I cover a full-scale (and real-life) wedding, complete with bridesmaid,
best man, and minister.