See Copyright and Usage Notice

Fine-tuning Your World

There many options to fine-tune VP, allowing you to configure your community server, general settings, and the places where VP gets all its resources. It is possible to host your own Virtual Places community but this is beyond the scope of this book. I suggest you visit the virtual places home page at: to find out more.

Configuring Virtual Places community servers

Figure 10.28 Vp7a.jpg
The Virtual Places Community Server dialogue.

A community server provides its community with co-presence capabilities for the entire World Wide Web. For example, using such a server on AOL, AOL members can meet on any Web page in the world, chat, and go on guided tours of the Web together. People may belong to multiple communities, depending on their interests. You can configure a community server for each community of which you are a member.

How the community server works

If Virtual Places can attach to an appropriate Web browser, the following steps occur:

  1. The Communications Manager is automatically tiled with the Web browser and the People Manager.
  2. You are automatically connected to the default community server. (You can change communities and set a different default community at any time during the session.)
  3. Your Web browser navigates to the default place, as defined in the Preferences dialogue box found in the Tools menu.
  4. The Virtual Places indicator is then displayed in the top right-hand corner of the browser window, which means you are live on the web with Virtual Places.

As the preceding figure shows, you can use the Community Server dialogue to select from a set of servers or modify their settings. Community server management is beyond the scope of this book. Please see the VP home page about this topic and about hosting your own VP community.

Setting Virtual Places preferences

Figure 10.29 Vp9u.jpg
The Preferences dialogue showing the General settings

The Preferences dialogue box (found under the Tools menu) contains startup and general settings for Virtual Places. There are two parts to this dialogue box: General and Directories. The settings are described here.

General preferences

Enter room automatically when I launch Virtual Places or navigate: When selected (default), this enters your presence into the room automatically as you navigate from room to room. If deselected, your presence will be as an observer; when you navigate to a new room, and you must explicitly enter each room to participate. Note that if you are a passenger on a tour, you will enter the room even if this option is not selected. This prevents you from getting left behind on a tour.

Display IMs when they first appear in the Chat Pane: When selected, Instant Messages, once answered by the recipient, are displayed in the Chat Pane, rather than in a stand-alone window.

Load Virtual Places graphics automatically: When selected (default), the avatars of people in the room are automatically loaded. If deselected, the avatars are not loaded from the Virtual Places server, and you must select Retrieve Picture from the shortcut menu on someone else's presence.

Play gesture sounds: This determines whether you want to hear accompanying sounds for gestures. Sound is not available for default gestures.

Enable sending and accepting of files: This allows you to send and accept avatars, gestures, and other files.

Duration of balloon text: This determines how long the display of chat text is displayed in the Web browser window. The options are: short, medium, and long, where short is four seconds, medium is six seconds, and long is eight seconds.

Show me nnn observers in the People List: This determines the number of observers displayed in the People Pane, where nnn is the number of observers. The maximum number of observers allowed is 200.

Ignore all IMs: Select this to ignore all Instant Messages and send the response message defined in the Response Message field.

Response Message: A message sent in response to an IM received when Virtual Places is set to ignore all IMs. The default message is: Not accepting IM at this time.

Default Community Server: The name of your default community server (for example, When you open Virtual Places, it automatically connects to this community server.

Default Place: The initial URL displayed by the Web browser when Virtual Places is launched, and when selecting Home from the Go menu.

Directories Preferences

Directories preferences determine where Virtual Places gets it resources.

Stock Avatar Gallery: The directory containing the Virtual Places supplied graphics for your avatar. The graphics in this directory are displayed in the avatar gallery when you select stock when changing your avatar picture. The default is C:\vplaces\exts\gallery.

Personal Avatar Gallery: The directory containing graphics for your avatar which you have added. The graphics in this directory are displayed in the Avatar Gallery when you select personal when changing your avatar picture. The default is C:\vplaces\exts\gallery.

Tour Vehicle Gallery: The directory containing the graphics for your tour. The graphics in this directory are displayed in the Tour Garage when you change a tour graphic. The default is C:\vplaces\exts\tours. Feel free to add GIFs of your own to this directory.

Gesture Gallery: The directory containing your animated gesture files.

Community File Pathname: This is your Virtual Places community list file name. This file contains the information you enter when you configure your community servers in the Community Servers dialog box.

License File Pathname: This is your Virtual Places license file name. There should be no need for you to change the location of your license file.

Favorite Places List File: This is your Virtual Places list file name. This file contains a list of your favorite Virtual Places as defined in the Places Directory dialogue box.

Hot Sites in VP Land

Figure 10.30 vp3f.jpg
Boy, these tourguides can sure take you to strange Web pages!

Because VP can use the whole World Wide Web as its chat space, there are many, many places you can go with VP. The following are some of the hottest spots in the VP Web cosmos.

Official VP Pages

Virtual Places Home Page at

VP Events page at homepage at

Ubique Home Page: the company that created Virtual Places at

Talk! at Excite, a VP Powered chat site at

The Amazing VP Everything Page at

VP apartments and towns

Webtown@VP where you can get your own Web page apartment for VP can be found at

Webtown News is at

CyberSurfer Studios offering the VP apartments in Webtown at Restaurant City & Web Towers at

Avatar galleries and builders

VP maintains a listing of galleries at

Anime Avatars is a great collection at

Toriís Virtual Places Hut has quite an avatar selection at

Heinekenís Homebrewed Avatars is another great gallery at

Spaceport VP transporter includes avatars at

At nFX, Virtual Places users can use the nFX Cartoon-O-Maticô to create a personalized avatar at

VP Spaces

The following Web sites are beautiful backdrops just set up for a special event in VP.

Tru Realities VP Wedding Chapel is at

Moonlit scene for romantic avatars is at

Stuís Tent City has a great links page and plenty of VP chat room backdrops at

Anjel and Inkees Front Porch is a great scene and can be found at

100-Acre Chat Room is a great setting at

díAngelouís Opera house is at

Auto Garage, the latest in automotive technology can be found at

Wiz Raven's Realm at:

General VP pages with avatars, gestures, tours, and more

The Virtual Hangout and VPlace is a fantastic source of information and resources about VP; locate it at

A note from Santress V (Joanne Ascunsion), creator of Vplace:

The Virtual Hangout was first started in 1995 as an idea inspired by some very kewl VeePsters. It started out as a need for a place to hang outówell, an alternative place to the dreaded start page for VP anyway. The AV gallery idea was inspired by Shari who wore the wonderful Gen13 Sarah Rainmaker avatar.

(Thank you, Shari, it was you who started it all!)

I dedicate this page to all my wonderful VP friends whom I met over the years, especially the old VP crew. I remember the time when there was just a handful of us (yes! you can count ëem). May all your dreams come true, wherever you are.

Predawnia Gallery is a super VP resource at

Spellsingerís Place is at, and is a great help facility for VP and links to just about everything concerning VP, and avatar galleries.

Stormsingers Virtual Place also has avatars, gestures, tours, and awards and can be found at

Links pages to other VP sites

Stuís VP Links (in Webtown) is pretty complete, and it is at

Digiís Diary: For you Adults, Virtual Theaters for our Comic Relief

Figure 10.31 Vp9j.jpg
Front row seats in the Auditorium.

Just like in your America Online chat rooms, Virtual Places is bringing the concept of a chat auditorium to you. When I was writing this chapter, this feature was just about to be launched. I stumbled into an empty auditorium with a few avatars sitting around in the plush seats of the front row saying, ìso what are we going to see?î I being the extrovert that I sometimes am, jumped onto the stage to play Johnny Carson (boy, am I showing my age) in a kind of avatar Tonight Show. A few jokers jumped onto the stage with me, the cool baby (see the following figure) and we improvised. Hey, isnít that what virtual theater is all about, anyway? Vaudeville probably started with a few jokers playing around in an empty music hall.

Put on a show, play around, go wild, express yourself, fall over a few times, do a little shtick, get tragic, let it all hang out! Dr. Seuss, author of childrenís books, described adults as ìobsolete children.î Maybe we adults (or overly serious kids…I know, I was one) can loosen up a bit in these virtual worlds. If we canít play, we canít be creative or enjoy life. Avatar living may be one of the only places you can really escape to play.

I picture thousands of white collar employees in their cubicles sneaking into their favorite virtual world when the boss isnít around. Maybe one day youíll meet Dilbert in a virtual world. Dilbert as an avatar, what a concept! Dilbert is a popular comic strip from the U.S. who seems to embody late 1990s corporate life. In fact, the content of Dilbert strips and all of the characters (the consultant Dogbert, Ratbert, the bumbling boss, the evil human resources manager Catbert) are a kind of theater of the absurd for the modern office worker. Thousands of e-mails pour into Scott Adamsí mailbox (Dilbertís creator) from white collar workers everywhere. Scott then fishes out the best humor and story ideas and puts them into strips. In a sense, Dilbert is a true avatar virtual world. The comic strip lives of Dilbert and all the other characters are driven through e-mail by the real lives of thousands of office workers.

So, go back to that cubicle armed with the knowledge that life itself is a theater of the absurd. The next time you jack in to a virtual world, this is a great way to approach it. After all, most of the citizens of these worlds are kids who know how to be absurd, and who keep saying ìget a life.î

A course in crazy

Forgot how to get crazy? Pick up a copy of Scoop Niskerís Crazy Wisdom, and learn the wisdom of the fool. (Nisker, Wes ìScoop,î Crazy Wisdom (Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 1990). ISBN: 0-89815-350-6
). Yes, Scoop is Wesí nickname!

Nisker can answer your question: ìhow do I behave in avatar cyberspace?î with some pretty crazy wisdom. It is, after all, a crazy place, somewhere between a dream and a hallucination. Good advice from Nisker might be to not take yourself so seriously during your digital and personal brief allotment time on this planet.

© Copyright Bruce Damer, 1997, All rights reserved.