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Fine-tuning Your World
There are many options which allow you to
adjust how your OZ worlds work.
Setting up your avatar's cybercards
Figure: 13.23 oz4w.jpg
Set up a personal cybercard for your avatar.
To find your cybercard, select User Card from
the Communication menu. You will be presented with a dialogue
box like the one shown in the previous figure. You can enter
your real name, location, change your nickname, reveal your e-mail
address, and then choose to reveal this card to others. You can
exchange these cards by clicking on someone's avatar nickname
in the chat manager window.
Other dashboard options
The dashboard (the area at the bottom of the
OZ Virtual screen) has some other controls that I did not discuss
earlier in the chapter. The Audio pop-up has controls to turn
sound on or off and adjust its volume. The following chart shows
several Display pop-up options.
Display pop-up options
|Light intensity||Adjust light intensity (most people prefer it set to maximum)|
|Smooth shading||Smooth shading on/off|
|Lit textures||If on, light intensity affects texture maps|
|Display while loading||If set, the world is displayed while it is loaded|
|Double faces||Double face rendering on/off|
In general, if the Display options are all
off, your worlds will display faster. The multi-user pop-up lets
you define your nickname in the world. The multi-user pop-up menu
on the dashboard allows you to set up some key multi-user options.
Multi-user pop-up options
|Multi-user enabled||Turns multi-user on or off. If off , OZ Virtual will not attempt to connect to a server when it loads a world.|
|Auto answer chat||If you turn this option off, it will simply present a dialogue box asking you whether you want to respond. If this is on, your chat and other users' chat is automatically mixed in the chat area.|
|Nickname||Your nickname in the multi-user world|
Hot OZ worlds
Figure: 13.24 and 13.25 oz5d.jpg and oz5e.jpg
Scenes from hot clubs and the streets of the OZiverse.
Along with OZONE (the world you enter when
you start OZ Virtual), there are other OZ worlds.
Listing of hot OZ worlds
|Name and description of world||URL to enter into OZ Virtual Open Location|
|OZ Kids Exterior||http://www.oz.com/VRML/ozkids/exterior.wrz|
|OZ Kids Interior||http://www.oz.com/VRML/ozkids/interior.wrz|
|The Street, the original OZ world||http://www.oz.com/VRML/street/street.wrz|
Opening a world
OZ Virtual supports VRML 1.0 and 2.0 files
as input. You can either use the Open File dialogue to load scenes
from a local disk, or Open Location to load from servers on the
Internet. Find these choices under the File menu. For the worlds
listed above, you must use Open Location and enter the URL. The
client uses the the HTTP (Web protocol) to locate files over the
network. The world files can be either in pure ASCII form or compressed
using GNU gzip or UNIX compression. The ASCII files have the standard
extension .wrl, but the compressed ones have either a .gz or .wrz
More about OZ worlds
When connected to an OZ server, each OZ Virtual
client registers a world name with the server for the 3D world
being loaded. If the VRML file contains a world name node specifying
the name of the 3D world, the world name is used to identify the
world. This is true for most of the OZ worlds. If no world name
node is present in the VRML file, the URL is used to identify
the world. When a world has been loaded from a local disk, its
URL is comprised of file+drive+path+filename.
All OZ Virtual clients having the same 3D
world identity registered with an OZ Server are in the same world.
You can only see other avatars located in the same world, as you
are. For example, if there is no node name in the VRML file square.wrz,
then two OZ Virtual clients are in the same world if they both
loaded it from their local disk as C:\worlds\square.wrz, or if
they both loaded it using HTTP from http://www.oz.com/VRML/square/square.wrz.
Digi's Diary: The Magical
Combination of the Physical with the Virtual
Over the past year, as an observer and sometime
participant in many virtual worlds, I have often had the most
fun when someone rigged a setup where you could really mix together
the experience of virtual worlds with the real physical world.
After all, how much fun can this be if it is just you sitting
there avataring alone for hours on end?
It all started innocently enough. I was presenting
at a conference in Nice, France. It was the end of May 1995, and
a group of us (including the translators from the conference)
were kicking around trying to find something stimulating to do.
I asked if there was any sort of cybercafÈ in the city.
I know what you are thinking: here they are, on the French Riviera
in one of the most beautiful cities on Earth and they are pining
to spend just a few more hours in front of a cathode ray tube.
Well, you have to know that my compatriots were all from
Nice (or at least France,) and cyberthings counted as welcome
relief from too much high culture. They said, ìbut of course,
La Douche a l'etageî (translated: the bathroom (or
shower?) on the second floor
what a name for a joint!). La
Douche turned out to be the first cybercafÈ on the Cote
d'Azure, and only the second in all of France.
So off we trucked through the winding labyrinth
of the old city and found the place in a marketplace by the Mediterranean.
After a few quick words with the harried-looking owner, he allowed
us upstairs where there were a few PCs embedded in definitively
French aluminum sculptured cases. Jacked into the Internet, I
decided to do something avant garde. I downloaded Worlds Chat,
then just over 30 days old, and installed it on three machines.
My compatriots immediately started using this
strange new world, sailing around the space station together,
and trying to find other French speakers. It turned out they found
quite a few, including someone in Australia whose grandmother,
100 years old, lived in Nice. I proceeded to install Worlds Chat
on the one remaining PC downstairs by the bar, and then retired
to have a much deserved aperitif.
While engrossed in the subtleties of French
liqueur, I didn't notice a whole cohort of French teenagers
who had occupied the area around the downstairs PC. A roar of
laughter erupted from the group crowded around the PC, and I thought,
ìno one could find the Web that funny,î and took
myself and my drink over to them. It turned out that these teenagers
had wandered in asking, ìwe want to talk to people on the
Internet,î to which the owner just pointed to the PC. They
had started Worlds Chat by random chance, chosen the sexiest
avatar in the gallery, and had started chatting up a set of French
speakers aboard the station. It turned out that those French speakers
were my male compatriots upstairs who thought they had a really
hot avatar affair going. When one of them came downstairs for
a drink, the ruse was exposed, much to the embarrassment of the
upstairs crowd and the humor of the teenagers.
What I realized that night was that the mixture
of people in a shared social place, reaching out through this
new realm of digital space to interact with other people, was
a really magical mix. If you could also allow people in their
avatar world to take a glimpse into the world of the physical
gathering, this would complete the loop.
For the next couple of years, projects within
and outside my organization (the Contact Consortium) sought to
experiment with this physical and virtual mixing of people and
avatar-people. The Sherwood Forest Towne construction days in
AlphaWorld (starting in March 1996) were always done with a group
having a big all-day party, and crowding around two or three PCs,
taking shifts hosting and building on the site.
Next, we experimented with large screen projection
of avatar worlds during a kind of Space Bridge in Florence Italy,
in June of 1996. Avatars hanging (3 feet tall) above a glass virtual
university campus were projected on large screens with simultaneous
live video between the Lower Fortress in Florence, Italy and the
American University at Sophia-Antipolis in Nice, France. Avatars
spoke in French, English, and Italian and came into the event
from all over the world. Even though they could not see the audience
(we assured them they would be seen by 300 Italian press and digital
media professionals) they took us on faith and exclaimed ìCiao,
Italia!î See a glimpse of the Florence experience at http://www.ccon.org/theU/protos.html.
We continued the experiment with the Digital
Mixer, our first avatar teleport, on July 13, 1996. For this we
held a large (50+ people) physical party at the beautiful hilltop
home of friends here in Boulder Creek California. We packed in
a half dozen computers and, working with Match.com (a very successful
Web-based matchmaking service), we hosted a singles party simultaneously
in three virtual worlds: The Palace, PointWorld, and AlphaWorld.
Hundreds of avatars crowded into the spaces, trampling on the
flower garden in AlphaWorld, and forcing at least one eviction.
The Palace party turned into a hat-giving competition. A famous
Boulder Creek poet read a new poem, ìI saw the strangest
thing today,î into a virtual redwood grove in Sherwood Towne,
attracting crowds of poetry spouting avatars. The Digital Mixer
can be seen athttp://www.ccon.org/events/mixup1.html.
The Digital Mixer was quite an event, and
we learned a lot about doing a physical/virtual event. We learned
that a certain magical transfer of excitement and energy can flow
between a physical gathering and gatherings in virtual spaces.
One set of Sherwood builders were hard at work for over 11 hours
on a Saturday. Try Web surfing for 11 hours!
At the Earth to Avatars conference in October
1996, we featured the Voce, a live exercise blending the collective
voice of a group in song (a musical rendition of the seven Chakras
of the body from eastern mysticism) into a single avatar in OnLive!
Traveler's Utopia world. Other avatars in the space (appropriately,
a Stonehenge world) joined in with their songs from all over the
world. See photos of the Voce exercise at http://www.ccon.org/conf96r/gallery.html.
In January 1997, at the 9th Digital
Be-In, a huge party and digital cultural venue organized annually
to coincide with MacWorld in San Francisco, Be-In originator Michael
Gosney invited us to include an avatar teleport. We set up an
area full of computers where people could sit down and connect
with others in avatar worlds. In a large dance floor several hundred
people participated in a huge Voce experience with the avatars
projected on 60 foot walls around the crowd. I wound through the
crowd explaining to people that the 15-foot-high lip synching
avatar head on the wall was us (or at least our collective
voice) and they were amazed! See the Be-In avatar teleport at
OZ Virtual brings the mixture of physical
and virtual to a new level. The OZ company crew will often connect
a performer in a body suit to one of their avatars and present
dance and performance art in their world, all while other avatars
watch and join in online. OZ has an in-house band, and produces
its own music (including live performances) for the world. OZ
hosts large parties and live demos at trade shows that draw big
crowds who wonder what are all those shapes on the screen.
All of this is very exciting and suggests
to me that the true power of the virtual world medium is simply
that it provides people with a new way to be together.