See Copyright and Usage Notice
Creating Your Own Avatar and
As I was writing this book,
it was possible to create your own avatar in Worlds Chat, and
it was not easy. But hey, it is possible! Some Worlds Chat citizens
make custom avatars, or use big avatar clearinghouses where people
can choose a new avatar. Some of these avatars are copies of well-known
personalities or cartoon characters (otherwise known as trademark
violations), so if you are moon-walking
around as Michael Jackson, and some blue-suited lawyer avatars
start chasing you, you can't say you weren't warned. But seriously
folks, picking out a personal original avatar is fun. I recommend
that you start by paying a visit to Stingís Place (a Web
site listed in the section, Hot Spots: Web Sites by Worlds
Chat Users) where you can follow all the steps to get your
own av. There are several other Web sites with custom avs and
instructions on how to make them, also later in this chapter.
Join a Worlds Chat citizen group
One thing to do in Worlds
Chat is to join one of the many unofficial citizen groups. The
OPUS is an informal group of all-penguin avatars in Worlds Chat.
Look for penguins and ask if they belong to OPUS. They have big,
all black-tie affairs in the Rave Room.
Step on a crack and step off the
If you manage to hit door
hinges by the entrances to escalators "just right,"
you can get off the station. Floating in space, you can see people
walking around in the hallways (and asking how you did it). They
will see you as a tiny avatar in the distance, sometimes showing
through walls. You can come back in by passing through the walls,
although you still might be perceived as small. There are a number
of places around the station where you can jump (I saw some people
earlier who were trying to jump off an outside platform). Ask
someone, and they might be able to tell you how to do it.
Hot Spots: Web Sites by Worlds Chat
Note that some of these Web
page links may have changed, or the Web pages may have been discontinued.
Consult your Avatars! book home page at http://www.digitalspace.com/avatars
for a more up-to-date list of links.
The Worlds, Inc. home page
is at http://www.worlds.net.
Custom avatars: get em
while they're hot!
Sting's Place is a pioneering
Worlds Chat Web site full of custom avatars and instructions on
how to integrate them into Worlds Chat. Sting hosts forums and
gives oodles of helpful tips, especially for avatars who don't
see eye to eye. Sting and his avatar clearinghouse hails from
the Netherlands at http://sting.yrams.nl.
Eric Schuler's avatars are
pretty wild; find them at http://www.preferred.com/~eschuler/wc.htm.
avatars are as creative as they get; find them at http://people.tais.com/~y7alanzo/.
Beach Girl's avatars show
a feminine touch at http://www.primenet.com/~roessler/Beach/av_01.htm.
From the Worlds Chat citizen community
WC Community Headquarters
is at http://members.tripod.com/~wcc/.
Predawnia Universe, a cornucopia
of resources for Worlds Chat, is at http://www.predawnia.com/.
The World Wide Chatter's Guild
is at http://www.geocities.com/TimesSquare/1809/.
From Sweden, check out the
European Worlds Chat Guild at http://www.op.se/hall/silke/ewcg/.
Odinís, The WC Avatar
Grade Book is at http://www.ptw.com/~chuckr/worlds/intro.htm.
Beach Girl's Worlds Chat Links,
and an excellent links page to the WC citizen universe can be
found at http://www.primenet.com/~roessler/Beach/WChat.htm.
Avatar's World Chat Pics,
or see the "end of the world," which happened when the
old Worlds Chat was destroyed to make way for a new version. Also
see party coverage at http://www.geocities.com/TheTropics/2467/.
The Doctor, Worlds Chat Hall
of Shame at http://www.ozemail.com.au/~willp/.
Worlds Chat gossip lines
The WC Tribe 2 supports a
Powwow conference about Worlds Chat. You can register at http://www.predawnia.com/tribe2/index.html.
Katt's Litter Box, a little
Worlds Chat scandal sheet, contains interviews with famous WC
citizens like Sting, CRUZIN BIKER, and Jefe. "Katt's Chats"
is at http://www.geocities.com/~katt.
Tilly Tells All: Goldgossip's
Home Page is a place where you can get all the latest gab on Worlds
Chat citizenry at http://www.geocities.com/TimesSquare/1974/.
A Brief History of Worlds
Worlds Chat was the very first
three-dimensional avatar world to become widely available on the
Internet, starting in April 1995. It worked so well that it inspired
a whole generation of worlds, many of which appear in this book.
I was using Worlds Chat and so did some investigation on how it
was put together.
Worlds Chat Team
A super team put together
Worlds Chat, including Dave Leahy, Andrea Gallagher, Wolf Schmidt,
Judy Challinger, Syed Asif Hassan, Farshid Meshgali, Kurt Kokko,
John Navitsky, Naggi Asmar, David Tolley and many others. Jeff
Robinson (a.k.a. Scamper, the Combat Wombat) working with Helen
Cho was World Chat's first artist, and is responsible for much
of the "better-lit alien" look of the space station.
Jeff's strange fascination with penguins and love of clever lighting
illusions have left their permanent mark on Worlds Chat. Visit
Jeff's home page at: http://www.scamper.com/
and see his great Worlds Chat Tour at: http://www.scamper.com/art/wc/wctour01.html.
Worlds Chat history as told
by Wolf Schmidt
Wolf Schmidt, a member of
the team, kindly offered us the following history and stories
from the world's first 3D avatar virtual world.
What I can tell you
is that Worlds Chat was meant as a demonstration of our multi-user
technology, and as an active laboratory of what our servers could
do. We had done corporate demos before April 1995, but they had
never been widely distributed enough to get hundreds of people
logged into the server at once. Dave Gobel (Worlds founder) was
interested in the social computing aspects of the technology,
and it was jointly decided that a good application of the technology
would be to provide a 3D graphical parallel to the IRC and other
chat popular on the Internet as of January 1995. The first WC
came out in April 1995, and went through several versions on the
client side, and meanwhile we occasionally changed the server
and protocol in the background. The user base went from hundreds
to thousands-plus, though our record for simultaneous
users is still just
under 1,000 real users at once. As a sort of plug here, no other
multi-user servers to our knowledge can scale that well or carry
that much load. Tests with bots (automated avatars) have run even
more users at once."
Wolf continutes, talking
about unusual things that have happened in Worlds Chat, including
the saga of Tokie-D-Bear
"And a couple of stories
I got: about eight months ago, there was this guy who called himself
Tokie-D-Bear. He modified the cutesy "Blue Bear" avatar
such that it was, from alternate angles, holding a large bong
and a "phat" reefer, with a perpetual cloud of purple
haze obscuring the head region. He put together a page called
the Worlds Chat Tabloids, wherein he doctored Worlds Chat-related
screen shots under headlines such as, "Vampire Moths seen
attacking HubCenter," (with a screen shot of a boy avatar
being decapitated by a menacing butterfly av), "Penguin Gangs
on the Prowl," (with a screen shot of a penguin av holding
an incriminating spray can near fresh graffiti in hub corridor),
and "Tokie's Secret Crop Busted," (with a screen shot
of plentiful marijuana fields pasted near old "infinite plain
castle" in Chat version
08. Each article ran about eight paragraphs and featured amusing
bogus quotes from, "Worlds Security Personnel." It ran
for maybe three Web issues, and every time one came out, Dave
L. and I would check it out and be rolling all over the floor.
Scott Benson (our
this page too, and remembers that Tokie had an access log to his
pages. Tokieís log could be accessed by clicking the link,
"See who the last 20 people to get high with Tokie were.
So of course Benson clicks the log and there's my name, Leahy's
name, all "getting high with Tokie" with our e-mail
addresses, and the worlds.net domain. And now Benson's name too!
Oops! Well, we promise we didn't inhale."
And next.. Wolf gives us Cure95 the
tale from Worlds Chat: last August (1995),
this robot avatar occasionally floated off the old ideas platform
in version 07. This was before all the fly off the platform
tricks you've seen in version 1.0, so we couldn't figure out how
it got there. What's more, it would spew these outrageous quotes
at random intervals, stuff like:
Bot: There are plenty of idiots in Congress.
Bot: But of course, I repeat myself.
It would come out in
this format, and all in the same update, so we knew it had to
be some sort of bot that someone had programmed, and we thought
it was our guys in Seattle. No one had software to code an alternate
client or knew enough about our protocol to duplicate one in a
UNIX shell. Or so we thought. Later on, the bot developed Eliza-like
(Eliza was a famous computer program of the 1960's that acted
like a psychotherapists and actually tricked some people) reply
capabilities to respond to certain words said or whispered to
it. It was fun watching other users gradually figure out that
there was no one behind the curtain.
Another bot soon appeared
that was literally a pipe to an IRC client: somewhere out there,
the bot's owner had created an IRC channel on an outside IRC server,
and had devised a way that anyone who talked to the bot in Worlds
Chat would be heard on IRC, and the bot would chat in Chat to
say anything that was heard through IRC,
with secondary attributions to avoid confusion, which appeared
in Chat something like this:
IRC: Benny_4-> Hey, am
I really talking to people in WC?
A nifty bit of programming.
These things hung around in Chat for a little over two weeks,
and we eventually discovered that both bots were the property
of a UNIX coder in Chicago who called himself Cure95. In a very
short time, he had hacked nearly the entire chat UNIX multi-user
protocol by checking his inbound and outbound packets and comparing
how the packets changed when he performed certain actions. By
hacking the teleport redirect coordinates,
he could place his bot outside the platform railing, and by hacking
the message subprotocol, he could parse strings and send multiple
messages much faster than anyone could type. Whatís amazing
about this is that during this whole time he crashed our server
only once, and perhaps not at all. It was an excellent de facto
test of the robustness of our server protocol. In retrospect,
we should have hired the guy. Since then, we've put in checks
of message origin to prevent this sort of fooling around, but
I was impressed with his inventiveness and the speed at which
he could figure out new aspects of the protocol, and what to do
[Jackie.. this is all new]
Digi's Diary: The rise of
the Homo Cyborgiens
Wolf Schmidt's stories of
Worlds Chat hackers Tokie-D-Bear and Cure95 just relayed to us
tell us something that the Cyberpunks have known for years: there
is a new species of human being on the loose: Homo Cyborgiens.
What is Cyborgiens? He or she is a hybrid between the highest
form of hacker, an ambidextrous communicator, and an impersonator
and artistic impresario par excellence. And Cyborgiens' mutation
occurs in the mind as the cortex purrs with bit pulses and its
folds reach through limits of space and time to stroke the great
dark sinewy body of the net. In the coming Century and Millennium
beyond, Cyborgiens will step further beyond what the rest of us
know as ënormalí consciousness. Cyborgiens will affect
our lives and the future of humanity and the Earth's Biosphere
more than we can now know. You cannot go into space and see the
Earth from orbit or the moon and remain unchanged. Astronauts
have taken us to that place through their photographs and words
and changed the daily reality of millions of people who will never
see the sun rise or set in the same light again. Cybernauts entering
digital space in the spacecraft of their own minds may bring us
to frontiers of abstract and complex worlds which will so change
us that we just might be able to survive in the truly abstract
and complex universe.