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Orbital Rendezvous: Stepping
Aboard Worlds Chat
Figure 5.14: wcs1.gif
The startup screen for Worlds Chat.
Docking in the Worlds Chat Space
Cybernauts to deep space Worlds
Chat: we are coming into the docking port!
Worlds Chat control to incoming
cybernauts: You have to choose your avatar first, so stop in at
the avatar gallery and take a look around.
Figure 5.15: wcs3.gif
Stop into the gallery to choose your avatar.
You should be seeing the avatar
gallery on your screen. Once you choose an avatar, you can enter
the Worlds Chat Space Station
Whoa, the floor is moving!
When Worlds Chat lands you
into the gallery, you will soon find that when you slide your
mouse forward and back, you move smoothly through the space.
Your mouse is tied to motion. If you move it left or right, you
will turn. Repeatedly lifting the mouse up, setting it back down,
and pushing it away from you will move you forward, this is called
ìmousing or pucking itî (like pushing a hockey puck
around). You can move backward with the opposite motion.
You may be surprised at how
smoothly the scene changes around you. Unless you have played
games like Doom or Descent, this kind of experience
can be truly breathtaking for the first-time visitor. Before the
power of PCs and the speed of computer games combined to make
virtual worlds possible, you would have had to know someone with
a very expensive virtual reality computer to try this.
Figure 5.16: wcs2.gif
Look out at the space station.
So, letís get back
to the fun! Turn to your immediate left and travel along the wall
of portraits toward the corner window. Looking through the window,
you will see a multipod space station (as the preceding figure
shows). That is the Worlds Chat station out there on the Internet.
There may be up to 1,000 people on board at the same time. Getting
excited? I sure was the first time I visited here. Letís
choose an avatar and get connected!
Figure 5.17: wc4n.gif
The green walking man symbol.
Click your mouse. You should
see a green walking man symbol appear at the bottom right-hand
corner of the view window. This indicates that your mouse is no
longer tied to your motion. You can use the mouse to select an
avatar or menu items. Just click on the green man to start moving
again with your mouse. Relax, youíll get the hang of it.
If you move the mouse too fast or far, it can go outside of the
Worlds Chat window and you will stop moving, so be careful to
take small steps.
Keys and how they move you
|Forward arrow||Move forward|
|Backward arrow||Move backward|
|Left arrow||Turn to your left|
|Right arrow||Turn to your right|
Pucking along with the mouse
can get tiring, and it is not a very precise way to move (joystick
support would be good). A good alternate way to move is using
the arrow keys on your keyboard. If your arrow keys are only on
your number pad (they also have numbers on them), make sure your
Num Lock key is off (a light may go off when you press it) so
that your arrows can control direction. Many keyboards have separate
arrow keys, and it is better to use these. The preceding table
shows the keys and how they move you. You will find after awhile
(unless you are already an avid gamer) that you can roll your
fingers from one arrow key to another and even hold two down at
once (say, forward and right) to make smooth turns. You certainly
donít have to just move forward then left in separate steps.
Good computer games have given us this turbo control to fly through
Click on the green man and
switch to the keyboard to try this out. While you are at it, take
a look at the portraits on the walls of the gallery. This is not
just some digital museum; you are looking at avatar body styles.
Stop, click your mouse to get it back, and then you can click
on any of these avatar choices.
Personally, I prefer the penguin.
Maybe it is just that I have always wanted to own a tuxedo! When
you pick an avatar, it comes out of the portrait and spins before
you. If you like the look of it, you can opt to be embodied by
it, or go back to the gallery to look for another. Donít
worry, avatars wonít be offended if you donít choose
them. You can enter Worlds Chat as a different avatar every time
you go in, if you like. When you re-enter Worlds Chat, you will
still have your last avatar choice. You can always return to the
gallery and change your selection.
Figure 5.18: wcs4.gif
Get ready to board the station.
Once you have chosen your avatar, you are on the verge of going aboard the space station. As the preceding figure shows, you can enter as a guest or as registered user. I will tell you more about the benefits of being a registered user in the section, ìGoing Gold: The Good Life as a Registered User.î So, we will enter as a guest; just press Enter Worlds Chat. You should see messages in the window as your Worlds Chat client software tries to connect to the server at Worlds Inc. If you cannot connect, it could be because of the following reasons:
alone and lost in space!
If you cannot connect to the
Worlds Chat server, you will be given the option of going into
the station in single-user mode. If you click on Y for yes, you
can enter and explore the station on your own. You can use single-user
mode to practice your navigation skills and explore the station,
although you will see no other users there. If you do not want
to go into the station in single-user mode, click on N and try
Sound and music in Worlds Chat
[Jackie: clarified here]
Under the Options menu, you
can turn sound and music on or off. If your computer does not
have a 16-bit sound card capable of playing WAV files (such as
the SoundBlaster 16), you should turn sound and music off. Do
this by checking the Sound and Music items off on the Options
menu. You can also press F2 and F3 to turn sound and music on
Note that if you have no sound
cards, Worlds Chat may crash if you attempt to log on with sound
or music set to On. The avatar gallery has no sound or music,
so you have a chance to adjust these settings before entering
Your time in paradise is limited
Worlds chat demo users (the
version on the CD in this book) have a time limit for each session.
You will hear beeps, see text warnings, and the Worlds Chat screen
will start to go white when you are close to being timed out.
Just log back in to start the timer again. Becoming a registered
user (see the section, ìGoing Gold: The Good Life as a
Registered Userî earlier in this chapter) will allow you
to stay on as long as you want.
Your Worlds Chat demo version
may have an expiration date. Check the readme.txt file that you
should find in the \worlds\chatdemo directory for the exact date.
Expired Worlds Chat demo users will not be able to log into Worlds
Chatís server and will be shown a message that they must
download a new version of Worlds Chat from the Internet. If this
happens to you, see the section, ìInstalling or upgrading
Worlds Chat from the Internet,î for instructions
on getting a new version of Worlds Chat.
Beam me in, Scotty!
Figure 5.19: wc1a.gif
Here we are!
We are in! The transporter
has teleported us right into the hub, in the heart of the Worlds
Chat Space Station. The penguin standing right there is what I
look like to other avatars. In Worlds Chat, you are in first
person view, that is, you see the world through your own eyes.
There is no way to see yourself except through the mirror on board
the station. You can have someone take a screen capture picture
of you and send it, which is done quite often.
The following figure shows
the teleport Ground Zero. Ground Zero is the point at which
everyone enters a virtual world. It is a good idea to move off
the Ground Zero point right after you come in to avoid being landed
on by the next personís avatar. Watching the Ground Zero
in Worlds Chat, you can see people materializing as they teleport
into the hub. The blue flash announces the arrival or departure
of an avatar. If you have sound activated (and have a 16-bit sound
card and speakers), sounds accompany the blue flash, making for
a dramatic and fun effect.
Figure 5.20: wc3a.gif
New avatars materialize in the hub.
The new guest (number 500)
who has just teleported in is dressed as a crash dummy avatar.
This is the default avatar, meaning that Worlds Chat has not yet
been told by the server what this person really chose for an avatar.
If you wait a few seconds, Guest 500 may change from the dummy
avatar into their real choice. If you see a lot of dummy avatars
running around who donít change, this means they are using
an avatar which your version of Worlds Chat cannot show. This
may also mean that they are registered users with special avatars,
or are using avatars from a third-party source.
Figure 5.21: wc3b.gif
Wow! Who is that?
A registered user is showing off!
Hey, you want to buy an avatar?
[Jackie: clarified here]
There is an active market
in custom-designed avatars. The most popular avatar repository
can be found at Stingís place on the Web at http://sting.yrams.nl/.
This site contains instructions on how to create a custom
avatar or how to download a pre-built custom avatar and include
it in your Worlds Chat.
We will not cover this topic in this chapter as it is not a feature
built into Worlds Chat but something figured out by users on their
own. If you are really interested in your own avatar, there are
more juicy details in the section ìCreating Your Own Avatar
and Other Activitiesî later on in this chapter.
It is a kick just to watch
people arriving in their costumes at the digital masquerade. Some
users come in the fancy avatars available only to registered users.
More on the Worlds Chat
Take a look back at your Worlds
Chat software. You will notice in the lower right-hand corner
a three-dimensional map of the space station. The glowing section
in the center is the hub, which glows because you are there. You
can move your mouse (click to get it back and to get the green
walking man) over to this map and click on any part of the station
you want to visit, and this will teleport you to that spot in
a flash. Letís not go there yet, as we will try to find
someone to take us on a walking tour. You see a lot more by touring
around on foot.
On the lower-right is a chat
area. At the very bottom of this area is a chat entry field. If
you type in your message and then press Enter, you will send your
words (next to your avatar badge name) into the general chat.
You will see your words appear in the chat box above the entry
area, with your given
name labeling your chat. Other people will be chatting this way.
You can see all the chat from people within a distinct area of
the station, such as the hub. Note that you will see the chat
from only the six nearest people. If you want to have a private
conversation with someone, you can move away from other avatars
or use the whisper feature (described later in this chapter).
A last point: Worlds Chat seems to be a bit slow at picking up
the text you type and you can sometimes make spelling mistakes.
If it is a lot of trouble to correct a small mistake, donít
worry; spelling does not have to be perfect!
It is best to try and get
in front of someoneís avatar before you start trying to
chat with them. Use their name to get their attention (they should
see you, unless they are not at their computer). You could say
something like, ìHey Guest222, I like your funky Ken Doll
Social etiquette in digital space:
it isnít any different there!
Be careful to check the chat
box to see if this person is not already deep in conversation
with someone else. Rules of social etiquette and politeness apply
here as they do in the real world. Remember, treat others as you
would have them treat you. You must be extra careful not to offend
because you know even less about the people you are talking to,
their opinions, culture, or even language.
English is not the only language
If you encounter someone using
a language other than English, respect them. If you know that
language, or even just a few words, it would be polite to use
their language. Do not assume automatically that they know English.
Nine out of ten people on the planet do not speak English as their
first language. English is the lingua franca in computers and
on the Internet, but why not let virtual worlds be enriched by
many cultures and languages of humanity? I have encountered Koreans
chatting by keying in versions of Korean characters using the
western alphabet. This was tedious, but seemed to serve them (they
could not use their own Chinese-style pictographic characters).
Instead they used made up English words that sounded like Korean
is completely indecipherable
except to experts in the technique, so I just left them in peace.
I have yet to see Navajo spoken in there, but any day nowÖ?
As previously mentioned, when
moving around, you can pass through doors, but not walls. You
will bump into walls and slide along them. However, you will
pass through other avatars. This was a practical design decision
made by the builders of Worlds Chat, but it poses some interesting
social challenges. One obvious rule of avatar body language is,
donít block someone elseís view if they are trying
to have a conversation. The following figure shows a problem
I had in trying to talk to my friend, Blue Bear. A general rule
of thumb says that it is OK to pass through someoneís avatar,
if you do it by accident (and apologize), or do it quickly and
donít linger in anotherís space. In other virtual
worlds, avatar bodies make contact and bump each other some distance,
which provides for some interesting social dynamics. Note also
that if you get very close to another avatar, it turns toward
you. This is an automatic reaction of the Worlds Chat software,
the person running the avatar did not actually turn.
Figure 5.22: wc1c.gif
Hey! Please donít block my conversation!
Come closer: you can whisper to another
person or group
Figure 5.23: wc4l.gif
Use the Whisper menu to speak quickly and privately.
There are a few more options for chatting. You can chat with one specific person by whispering. This can be done in the following ways:
Figure 5.24: wc4a.gif
Right-click on an avatar to get the member options pop-up menu.
Muting someone: when you just cannot
stand it anymore
If you have just lost patience
with someone, you can click on their avatar and select Mute. This
means that you will not see any text they enter. Use Mute only
in extreme cases, as ignoring someone in this way is a form of
rudeness in the real world. The muted person will still be able
to see what you say, unless they choose to mute you in return.
A muted person will not know that they have been muted, however.
In Worlds Chat you are anonymous,
that is, no-one knows who you really are or knows your e-mail
address. Anonymity can make obnoxious users less responsible or
shy users more outgoing. This is a big issue for people who make
and use virtual worlds.
Big type and good chatiquette
Figure 5.25: wc4d.gif
Use the Options menu to select a bigger font.
If you are having trouble
reading the chat or are using a demo of Worlds Chat, you might
want to select Options and Font to change to bigger characters.
If you are really studying the chat, you will notice that it is
not just all gibberish, but has its own
conventions and structure. I will go into greater detail about
this later in the chapter.
Figure 5.26: wc3c.gif
Maximize the chat window with the big font.
The things people say!
You can also get the big picture by pressing the small button at the upper right-hand corner of the chat box. This will maximize the chat area so you can read more chat at one time. You can scroll down this window to read the last few minutes of chat. Press the Maximize Chat icon to minimize the chat window again. As you can see in the prededing figure, the chat contains some interesting features, some of which illustrate good and bad chat etiquette (chatiquette):
Who is out there to talk to?
Figure 5.27: wc4e.gif
Use the People menu to find out about people in Worlds Chat.
If you are in an area and
wonder about all the other people, just select the People menu
and pick the Who List (for a sample Who list, see the following
Figure 5.28: wc4k.gif
A Who list under the People menu; who is here?
The People menu will also
show you who is in your whisper group and who you have muted out.
Just who am I talking to?
Figure 5.29: wc1d.gif
Wow, Bear, are you his twin?
You might have noticed that
avatars are walking around with big signs over their heads. These
are called badges, and let you distinguish between avatars.
There are only a limited number of avatar choices, so badges are
essential. Ever been to a conference of identical twins? There
would certainly be name tags there! In some of the following screen
shots, I was named Guest 400. My registered user name is, as always,
DigiGardener, the digital gardener, sowing seeds in cyberspace.
To have your own choice of name, you must become a registered
user and purchase the gold edition CD of Worlds Chat from Worlds
Inc. See the company Web page at http://www.worlds.net
Got a question? Ask a local
Often, the best way to learn
about a world like Worlds Chat (other than buying this book!)
is to ask someone in the world for help. This is the first time
in history that software has been inhabited by people, and it
is your opportunity to really become a pro. Sometimes there are
people who have used a virtual world (and the same avatar or badge
name) for a very long time. These users are often called veterans
or ancients. Someone who has used Worlds Chat for a few hours
a week over a month could easily become known as an ancient. If
ours is an accelerated culture, then virtual worlds are the most
turbo-charged environments on
the planet Earth! The
shapes of rooms, choices of avatars, and mix of people can change
overnight (or over a few minutes). In revisiting a world you looked
at a few months before, you might be amazed at the changes.
Stepping out: how to get out of this
Getting out of Worlds Chat
is easy, just select File and Exit. Donít forget to disconnect
from the Internet; you donít want to run up bills if you
are paying for connection services by the hour.