See Copyright and Usage Notice

AlphaWorld and Active Worlds FAQ

Guide to the AlphaWorld and Active Worlds FAQ

Questions and Answers about Downloading

Questions and Answers Surrounding Immigration

Questions and Answers About Connecting

Questions and Answers Surrounding Building

Questions and Answers Related to Running Active Worlds

Questions and Answers related to Performance

Questions and Answers related to Your Identity

Questions and Answers about Linking Active Worlds to web pages

Questions and Answers about Action Commands

Questions and Answers about Downloading

How long does it take to download Active Worlds Explorer?

It is a 1,200K file that takes approximately 15 minutes to download using a 28.8 kbps modem.

If you can't download Active Worlds Explorer using your browser, then what?

If you are unable to download Active Worlds Explorer using a browser, try our direct ftp site at If you receive a message reading, Cannot open passive connection, log in once more using "anonymous" as the user name and your e-mail address for the password.

I'm trying to download, but transmission stops before the download is complete.

1. Confirm that your Internet connection is working properly by successfully contacting another site.

2. Try to reach the Worlds home page at If you are able to do so, then the Web connections are fine.

3. Try downloading AlphaWorld again.

I just downloaded the program and cannot find the AlphaWorld icon.

A: Use the Windows Search tool to find the aworld.exe file. If you like, make a new icon that will be easier to find in the future and attach it to aworld.exe.

What’s the connection between WIN32s and AlphaWorld?

AlphaWorld is a 32-bit application. This means that in order to run it, you must either have Windows 95, or Windows 3.1 with WIN32s (version 1.3) installed.

If you are running Windows 3.1 and do not have WIN32s installed, you will need to download and install WIN32s (free from many ftp sites, including Microsoft's) in order to continue using AlphaWorld. If you already have WIN32s installed, you need to make sure that you are running the latest version, 1.3. If you are running a version earlier than 1.3, you will get DLL errors when you try to run AlphaWorld. If this happens, download and install the 1.3 upgrade from Microsoft's Web site.

What hardware do I need for optimal performance?

The first requirement for achieving good performance with AlphaWorld software is having good hardware. You really need at least 16MB of RAM and a 486/100 to get decent performance. A computer with a Pentium chip helps a lot. This is not because the AlphaWorld software is slow or inefficient; it's the rendering engine used by the software that is resource-hungry. This is true of any 3D rendering software, and especially if it runs under Windows.

Questions and Answers Surrounding Immigration

I entered my e-mail address, but didn't receive an immigration number back in an email

If you entered your e-mail address correctly, it will take a few minutes for your immigration number to arrive. Check to make sure that your Internet connection did not fail on your first attempt. If there is a problem with your connection, or if you have waited for a long period of time, try entering your e-mail address again.

What is the message, User name is already taken?

Another AlphaWorld citizen is already using the user name you have chosen. Please choose a different user name. Keep in mind that more than 125,000 people have already immigrated to AlphaWorld, so you might want to try more obscure user names to increase your chances of success. If you're trying to reimmigrate with the same name you were using before, you must use the same e-mail address and citizen identification number with which you originally immigrated.

I have a new e-mail account and cannot successfully reimmigrate using my old user name and password. How do I get my old citizen identification back in AlphaWorld?

Reimmigrating is not necessary if you have a new e-mail address. If you are required to reimmigrate, you will need to know the following: your old e-mail address and the immigration number assigned to that e-mail address; and your old user name and password. It is important to document the e-mail address used during immigration and the immigration number sent to that e-mail address. The best way to do this is to save and document the contents of the aworld.ini file in the aworld folder.

Will I lose my property rights if I reimmigrate?

If you always reimmigrate with the same e-mail address, you will not lose your property rights. You are in danger of losing access to your property if your e-mail address changes. However, you can prevent this from happening. It is important to document the e-mail address used during immigration and the immigration number sent to that e-mail address. The best way to do this is to save and document the contents of the aworld.ini file in the aworld folder.

I just reformatted my hard drive. Can I use the same user name and password?

If your e-mail address is unchanged, simply reimmigrate. When reimmigrating, enter the e-mail address used during your initial immigration session. Then enter the immigration number sent to you and your old user name and password.

I just reinstalled AlphaWorld from the Web site and it's asking me to submit my e-mail and get a new immigration number. Why?

Sometimes a new install will ask you to reimmigrate because you've overwritten the aworld.ini file as part of the install. Here's what you can do: the best way around the problem is for you to save a copy of aworld.ini somewhere else, and then write your saved version over the newly installed aworld.ini.

Another good reason to make a backup copy of aworld.ini: As long as you resend the immigration number request with the same e-mail address you used last time, you'll get the same immigration number back via e-mail. Then enter the same user name and password you used before. Your citizenship will then be restored and you'll still "own" the same land and objects in AlphaWorld. If you don't remember your old password or user name, don't try to enter new ones with the old immigration number! That number will already be taken. Similarly, you won't be able to reassume your user name and password (and your property ownership) unless you're using the same immigration number you used originally.

Questions and Answers About Connecting

Should I Run Active Worlds Through Explorer in Windows 95?

What happens if I launch Active Worlds by double-clicking on aworld.exe using the Explorer in Windows 95?

For Windows 95 users, make sure to launch the program from the Windows Start button instead of the Windows Explorer. Using the Explorer sometimes has unpredictable results.

Will AlphaWorld run through a firewall?

Talk to your ISP or system administrator about this; you need to be able to send (TCP) on ports 5670 and 7777, and receive (UDP) on port 3000. At this time, our product is not designed to run behind a firewall. Please watch the Avatars! book Web site for information regarding product updates.

What is the message, Cannot connect to host?

There are several reasons you could be getting this message:

Why does AlphaWorld come up in stand-alone mode?

Stand-alone mode (as opposed to multi-user mode) means that AlphaWorld is running only on your system, and is not communicating with the host. In order to communicate and build in AlphaWorld, you will need to access AlphaWorld in multi-user mode. If you're in multi-user mode, the ..Is Stand-alone message will not appear in the window title.

What is an auto upgrade?

When logging onto AlphaWorld, you may see the message, You are using version (earlier version) of Active Worlds Explorer. Your version will work, but may not have all the latest features. Press OK to automatically upgrade or cancel to use your current version.

Choosing Yes will run a program to automatically update the Active Worlds Explorer files. The update sequence will launch the new version of Active Worlds Explorer and you will be on your way. Choosing No will stop the automatic upgrade program, and you will have a chance to click the Yes button the next time you log on. You may receive the message, You are using version (earlier version) of Active Worlds Explorer. Your version is out of date and needs to be upgraded. Press OK to automatically upgrade or cancel to use your current version. You will need to upgrade when you receive that message. If the upgrade fails for some reason, you're probably best off reloading all of Active Worlds Explorer again.

I can see the buildings in AlphaWorld, but I can't see what users are saying, and they are unable to see what I'm saying.

If you have installed WING (graphics subsystem for Windows 3.1) and can see your own speech, but not the speech and/or avatars of others, or if they can't see you, you may have a problem with a firewall. Talk to your ISP or system administrator about this. You need to be able to send (TCP) on ports 5670 and 7777, and receive (UDP) on port 3000.

What is the message, Citizen identification number is not valid?

You have probably changed the information in the AlphaWorld Identity dialogue box. Verify that the ID number you got in your immigration mail is filled out correctly and try again.

If you’re missing the identification number, but your password, user name, and e-mail are fine, submit another request for an immigration number and use the same e-mail address. The same number you initially got will be mailed back to you.

I can connect to AlphaWorld but cannot see buildings.

You're not getting local cache, that is, the file on your hard disk that registers the whereabouts of things in AlphaWorld is not getting updated. If you see, Waiting for server on the title bar of the AlphaWorld window, then wait for a few moments. This message appears when traffic on the Internet is heavy or your Internet connection is being interrupted. You might want to establish a new Internet connection and launch AlphaWorld again, or if this persists for some time, try re-entering AlphaWorld later.

Questions and Answers Surrounding Building in Active Worlds

Can other people change my property?

No. Anything you build is uniquely stamped with your AlphaWorld identification. Should anyone else try to change or move your object, they will get the same messages you get if you try to change someone else's object. The message reads: You are only allowed to change your own property , or You are only allowed to demolish your own property.

What makes up an Active World?

There are several components which make up any Active World. The objects you manipulate to build with are primarily the renderware objects, sound and the city cell data. Active Worlds components include:

What is the message, Only registered objects can be used for construction?

Registered objects are the object types that the server recognizes, which includes all the files in your \Models directory. (There also might be other valid objects that you haven't encountered yet. These won't appear in your Models directory until you dynamically download them as you first see them.) You will get this error message if you somehow misspelled something while trying to change the Object field. Check your spelling in the Object field against the spelling in the Models directory and try changing that object again.

What is the message, Your construction request could not be processed?

You are trying to change an object that has not yet been processed. Wait for a few seconds and try again. Make sure the processing request message doesn't appear on the window bar.

I keep getting encroachment errors even though there is nothing at the site I'm trying to build on.

Make sure to look above and below you: the encroachment boundaries also extend vertically. Then make sure that the ground isn't an object that someone has already built. Click on the ground and see if you've grabbed something. There are grass-like objects that look pretty similar to the regular ground in AlphaWorld, which people use as placeholders to reserve property for future use.

I’m having a hard time finding a place to build. What should I do?

If you are using AlphaWorld for the first time, take the scenic tour. You will see the creations of other AlphaWorld citizens and get an idea of what building objects are available. To find a building space, you will need to venture away from Ground Zero. The fastest way to move around AlphaWorld is to use the Ctrl + Alt + Up arrow keys, or teleport to likely coordinates. You can use the teleporters to take you to frontier areas of AlphaWorld. The New World Times often features articles that show you where vacant land can be found.

If you see the message, Waiting for server on the title bar of the AlphaWorld window, then wait for a few moments. You probably haven't received the objects in that area yet. This message appears when traffic on the Internet is heavy or your Internet connection is being interrupted. You might want to establish a new Internet connection and launch AlphaWorld again, or if this persists for some time, try re-entering AlphaWorld later.

How do I prevent vandalism of my property?

Vandalism is an ongoing problem in AlphaWorld. By vandalism, I mean leaving objects in what others believe to be their territory. As I see it, there are two main types of vandalism: someone comes along and doesn't know any better, copies an object to see if they can, and leaves it there. Then there are destructive people who get their kicks from messing up what others have done.

Remember, in AlphaWorld the definition of ìyour property" is objects that you have built, and the space above and below them. And nobody can build above or below your objects except you. It has been suggested that Worlds Inc. hire a full-time janitor who can delete trash left on peoples’ property, but this would be pointless. First, there are approximately 125,000 citizens and 2 million objects in AlphaWorld to date. (As of 02-15-1996 Can that be updated???) It would be impossible for one person to police such a large area and so many objects for so many citizens. Second, by definition in AlphaWorld, any object built by anyone makes the area in which the object is built their property.

The Solution

There is a very simple solution to this problem. Before you build anything, reserve the area you need and some extra space around it by laying WALK6 objects??? end to end across the entire area. If you would rather have the AlphaWorld bare ground grass under your construction, just put the WALK6 underground (make sure it's at least a few meters under so that it doesnít bleed through the ground in third-person view.) Now, this area is all reserved for you, and nobody but you can build on it.

Please take the extra time to properly prepare before you build. Once you have claimed a plot, it is yours. Then you won't have to worry about your labor being ruined in AlphaWorld, either intentionally or unintentionally. When in doubt, just spread out into even more space than you think you'll need. You can always delete some of your WALK6 objects later, or keep them there and have a big yard.

Questions and Answers Related to Running Active Worlds

I'm using the new Teleport/Coordinates option but it doesn't seem to work correctly.

The proper syntax for teleport coordinates is:

#####N (or S)

#####E (or W)



These should all go on one line separated by spaces. For example: 4000N 500W 20A skew???180 would take you to 4000 North 500 West at 20 altitude, facing south.

My Active Worlds are taking up a lot of disk space; what is happening and what can I do?

The more you travel in AlphaWorld, the more objects you get in your cache, and the faster travel becomes. As you travel, you will also pick up more city data, all those anchor triangles to which the objects attach. This means that the more journeys you take, the more disk space is taken up for AlphaWorld and other Active Worlds—40MB or more can be consumed. If this is a problem, the best solution is to remove AlphaWorld and reinstall the Active Worlds Explorer.

Questions and Answers related to Performance

How do I Optimizing Rendering Performance?

Assuming you have the hardware to run AlphaWorld properly, there are still things you can do to make it work better:

Bypass Collision Detection

You can use Shift to bypass AlphaWorldís collision detection, at least until such time as this feature is discontinued (it may be). Not only will this enable you to walk through walls, it may speed up movement since the software doesn't have to check for collisions. Be careful! You may go underground if you hold down Shift while descending with the gray Minus key.

Optimizing Windows’ Performance

The stickiest thing about optimizing AlphaWorld's performance is optimizing Windows' performance in general. If you are not absolutely sure of what you're doing, don't change your Windows configuration. If you are sure of what you're doing, be sure to make a backup before changing anything anyway! Here are some hints for optimizing Windows' performance:

Windows 3.1 and Windows for Workgroups uses a permanent swap file. Windows just loves to swap to disk. With a permanent swap file, this is usually faster. Windows 95 wants to manage the swap file itself so it can eat your whole disk, but under 3.xx??? a permanent swap file is highly recommended.

Windows 95: Make a fixed-size swap file.

Windows 95 suggests that you leave everything to the program as far as the swap file goes...but you can allocate a rather large swap size as both the minimum and maximum size, which will stop it from going through long pauses while it frees up the disk space used in swapping. This is the equivalent of a permanent swap file in Windows 3.xx.???

Windows 3.xx:??? use SMARTDRV to cache your disk. Windows 95 has its own caching, which may or may not be as fast as SMARTDRV...but if you are using Windows 3.xx??? and have 16MB of memory or more, you should be using SMARTDRV to optimize disk access. Stick it up in high memory??? with MEMMAKER and set it up to use expanded or extended memory for the cache.

Experiment with buffers in config.sys

Buffer size in config.sys can really make a difference in your system's performance. If you're using SMARTDRV, try setting your buffers to 8 or less (8 is decent for floppy drive access; less may slow down floppy access but may marginally increase hard disk access speed.)

Max out your DOS memory

Strange as it may seem, the size of DOS memory before you start Windows makes a big difference in the speed that Windows applications run. With Windows 3.xx??? you can use the DOS MEMMAKER program to optimize high memory...again, make sure you know what you're doing before you play with this, and backups are very important before altering your system in any way.

If you're using Windows 95, make sure that you have gotten rid of such memory hogs as CD drivers and network drivers, which load in autoexec.bat or config.sys. Use Windows' built-in drivers for these if at all possible.

Questions and Answers related to Your Identity

Aworld.ini: your identity in AlphaWorld

Your password, e-mail address, and name, are all stored in a file called aworld.ini in your AlphaWorld folder. If you have to remove AlphaWorld, and this file is lost, you could lose your identity. I recommend you keep a backup of the aworld.ini file.

Using aworld.ini for collaborative building

Do not share your aworld.ini file unless you plan to allow one or more trusted friends to build collaboratively. If you want to do this, you can send the aworld.ini file to your friends by attaching it to an e-mail. They must retrieve this file and place it into the directory where their Active Worlds Explorer is installed (normally C:\aworld or in the Active Worlds folder in Windows 95). Note that they should save their old aworld.ini files, otherwise they will lose their own identities. If you use this shared aworld.ini file, all objects you place down will have the same ownership. Everyone will be able to build and modify objects in the same area.

A look inside aworld. ini

A sample aworld.ini file is shown below. I’ve highlighted the entries most important for you: your e-mail address, original immigration number (as opposed to your citizen number, found under the Help menu in the Active Worlds Explorer), your given world name, and your password. Chances are you will never have to look inside your aworld.ini file, but knowing about it can be important.


















Figure 7.114: Sample aworld.ini file


If you need to immigrate again (for instance to change your password and/or AlphaWorld name), follow the same procedure...but if your name and password are now working, the immigration dialogue won't stay on the screen long enough to fill it out. If you want to change your password, just use the notepad or a similar text editor (not a word processor!) to find the following lines in the aworld.ini file in your AlphaWorld directory:



Put a semicolon in front of these lines to make them "remarks," that is, lines that will be ignored (Should you forget something, you'll always be able to go back and find it). These lines should look something like this:



Now start up Active Worlds Explorer. Because it can't find your name and password, the client will stop at the immigration dialogue again. If you're just changing your password and/or AlphaWorld name, and you have your old immigration number, you can start at the previous step; if not just do both steps.

Questions and Answers about Linking Active Worlds to web pages

How do I link Active Worlds to web pages so that when I click on a link designed as a "web teleport" into Active Worlds, it is launched and I am dropped into the right place in the world?

Configuring Netscape to use AlphaWorld as a helper application

  1. Open Netscape. From the Options menu, select General Preferences.
  2. A dialogue box appears. Click on the Helpers tab near the top of the dialogue box.
  3. Click the Create New Type button.
  4. In the Configure New MIME Type dialogue box, enter "application" in the MIME type field. Enter "x-alphaworld" in the MIME Subtype field, and click OK. The configure box will close.
  5. Select the Launch the Application radio button near the bottom of the dialogue box.
  6. Either click the Browse button to find your aworld.exe program (it should be in the \aworld directory), and click Open; or enter the exact path in the very bottom text box.
  7. The AlphaWorld globe icon should now appear next to the text box. Press the OK button on the lower left-hand side of the dialogue box to save your changes.

Configuring Internet Explorer to use AlphaWorld as a helper application

  1. Open Internet Explorer. Select Options from the View menu.
  2. Click on the File Types tab.
  3. Click the New File Type button. The Add New File Type dialogue box appears.
  4. In the Description of Type field, type “Alphaworld."
  5. In the Content Type (MIME) field, type "application/x-alphaworld."
  6. In the Default Extension field, type "aw, AW." Deselect the Confirm Open After Download checkbox.
  7. Click the New button on the bottom left-hand side of the current dialogue box. The New Action dialogue box appears.
  8. In the Action field, type "run" (or "open"). In the Application field, browse for or enter the path for aworld.exe. Then click the top OK button.
  9. Click on Close, then click on the second Close button, to save your changes.

The next time you click on a teleport link, Netscape will know to launch AlphaWorld as a helper application. AlphaWorld in turn receives a parameter that will automatically parachute you into a desired location instead of Ground Zero.

If you get the message, Started to download a file of type application/x-alphaworld, here is what to do:

  • 1. Launch AlphaWorld.
  • 2. Once you have connected to AlphaWorld, click on your desired destination. If you receive a dialogue box saying you have started to download a file of type application/x-alphaworld, do the following:
  • 1. Choose Pick App from the dialogue box.
  • 2. Click the Browse button, and locate aworld.exe (C:\aworld\aworld.exe if you installed to the default directory).
  • 3. Click OK.
  • 4. You will receive a prompt asking, OK to teleport to location xxx.
  • 5. Click Yes.
  • 6. You will now be able to click on Web page links to teleport around AlphaWorld.
  • Creating a Web Teleport Link

    You can write a link in any HTML page that will let you launch AlphaWorld via Netscape, and this link will teleport you to a desired location even if you are already in AlphaWorld. You must have your browser configured to use AlphaWorld as a helper application in order to use a teleport link. The link uses standard HTML formatting and points to a CGI processing site on the Avatar book??? Web page. This CGI program sends a message back to your aworld.exe program, and then AlphaWorld teleports you to the right spot.

    Here is an example of a teleport link:Link

    title here

    The whole first part of this string tells your browser what location to open, and the rest is input for the CGI script located on our??? Web pages. You must have the question mark after the word "teleport," and all the parameters have to be separated by underscores.

    Questions and Answers about Action Commands

    Q: What are Active World actions?

    A: The Action field of an object allows you to attach behaviors to your objects. For example, you can play a sound, link an object to a hypertext page, or make objects appear or disappear in certain ways. An object can even have more than one action. The text you enter in the Action field is much like writing a very brief program or command line. It has the following three distinct parts:

    Action Message
    Example action BUMP VISIBLEOFF
    Syntax type (Trigger) (Command)(Argument)

    Table 7.5

    The previous table shows how an action will take place when your object collides with another object. First, it makes the object visible (the default) and then modifies the VISIBLE command to make the object invisible, instead.

    You can enter either upper- or lower-case letters in the Action fields; actions are not case sensitive. You can also include more than one action in a single Action field.


    Whatever you want your object to do, the action needs to be set off by some event—for instance, when other people left-click on your object. The trigger you choose determines what needs to happen in order for your object to execute the rest of the action. There are three types of triggers:


    The command is listed here in ALL CAPS. Arguments that are required for the command to work are listed . Arguments that are optional are listed [inside square brackets]. Again, actions are not case sensitive; the all-caps convention is used here for clarity only. Each command has one or more types of arguments that make sense for that type of command. For instance, the command SOUND expects to see an argument of what sound file it is supposed to play. If you try to give some other kind of argument (like typing OFF), nothing happens.

    The following is a list of all the current commands:

    The NAME command

    The NAME command lets you place a trigger in one object that will affect the behavior of another object. Once you give an object a name, another object you create can refer to the first object. Then you can give the second object an action that declares the first named object as the ultimate target of that action. For example, you could first establish one object's name like this: CREATE NAME thing1.

    Then you could enter an action for a second object so that if someone's avatar bumped into the second object, it would hide the first object that you just named "thing1."


    Setting thing1 to VISIBLE OFF would make it disappear until the next time that area is redrawn. The important thing to remember when referring to named objects is that the trigger applies to the object in which you write the action, but the command will be applied to the object named as an argument for the command.

    The following list contains several commands that deal specifically with animations.

    Animation Commands

    A full description of how to work with animations can be found in the Animations topic???. Or you can click on the headings below to get more specific information on how to use that command. For the best results, use the supplied animation screens Anim4x2.rwx, Animate8.rwx, etc. These will display only the animation on one side???. For more information on animations click here.