See Copyright and Usage Notice

Getting Started and Learning the Interface

Figure 6.2: pam1a.jpg
The Palace startup screen.

After double-clicking on The Palace client alias, shortcut, or file, you will see The Palace startup screen like the one in the previous figure (in this case, the Macintosh version). The next step you must take is to make sure your connection to the Internet is active and then select Connect from the Palace client File menu.

Figure 6.3: pam4b.jpg
Connect by using the Palace connection dialogue.

The Connection dialogue specifies your name (Guest, as you are not a paid, registered user), the Hostname (which you can change later if you want to go directly to Palace servers other than the Mansion, where everyone starts), and other settings like port (leave unchanged). Press Connect, and at the very bottom of the Palace client application window, you will see several messages appear. Hopefully, you will eventually see the message, Connected via TCP (if you are connecting through the Internet)…If an error message such as, Connection Refused appears, chances are the server is down, and you'll just have to try again later.

If The Palace repeatedly fails to connect, please check to see that your Internet connection is actually working. If you can visit Web sites with your Web browser (running independently of your on-line service), then you should be connected to the Internet. If you still cannot connect, see the FAQ at the end of this chapter, or the technical support section on the Palace home page at

A Palace primer

The Palace is a large network of individual Palace sites running on individual computers, local area networks, and on the Internet. Each Palace site has its own themes, design, artwork, and music. The theme may determine the clientele and kinds of conversations you will have there. Each site can have dozens of rooms for you to explore. As The Palace is a two-dimensional world seen from above, all rooms consist of a background image with two-dimensional avatars sliding about. You could make the same thing by cutting out a magazine photograph and then placing small clippings of people and other things on top of that picture. Moving around in this digital version of Flatland (Flatland is the name of a 2D imaginary world described over 100 years ago in a book by a writer named Abbott), is as easy as pointing and clicking. As you can move your avatar, so you can click through doors and visit new rooms, or whole new Palace sites.

Getting to know your sweet interface

Figure 6.4: pam1b.jpg
The Palace client shows elements of its interface.

When you first get connected to The Palace, the first scene you will see is The Palace's front gate. The great building in the background is called The Mansion, and it is your first stop in The Palace chat cosmos. There are a lot of avatars outside the front gate. They are not locked out or protestingóthis is simply a popular gathering place and a drop zone for newbies like me. Often the world will greet you as you arrive at the gate, saying something like, ìDigiGardener has arrived!î to make you feel welcome. But before we rush into the Mansion or converse with these avatars, letís have a quick interface lesson. We are green newbies, but the rest of The Palace society does not have to know it right away!

The preceding figure shows The Palace client software interface in all its grandeur. Letís go through the interface, step-by-step.

The view screen

The interface is dominated by a large, rectangular area known as the view screen. This is where all graphic action takes place. As you move from room to room within a Palace site, the view screen is filled with a picture representing the background of that room. All avatars and props in the room appear on top of this background.

The input box: The long, thin box beneath the view screen is known as the input box. This is where you type in what you want to say, press Enter, and it will magically appear above your avatarís head in a cartoon bubble. Registered members can enter IptScrae commands from this box as well (more on this later). To activate the input box, simply click anywhere in it; the box lights up and a cursor bar appears, awaiting your input. You can toggle the program's focus back and forth between the input box and the view screen by pressing Tab.

Find yourself in the crowd

When I first entered The Palace, I could not see which avatar was me, so I just typed in some text saying, ìhey guys…,î and I could see the text appear in the cartoon bubble above my avatar. When I first started, I was given a yellow smiley face (known in The Palace as a round head) and a name badge reading, Guest 543. I became a registered user after deciding I liked The Palace, and so I got to choose my own name, and came in with a red round head. After that, I could change my avatar. (More later on about how to become a registered user and change your avatar.) For now, you will start life in The Palace as a yellow round head.

Figure 6.5: pa2f.jpg
I got lost in the crowd…there I am!

You can see from this figure that I am lost in the crowd, but proud of good old DigiGardener, who is able to hold his own in any world in the virtual cosmos!

The status bar

The area just between the input box and the viewing area is known as the status bar. On the status bar you can see displayed:

The Special Feature icons

To the right of the input box are four icons which allow you to access many of The Palace's special features. I will now describe them, right to left:

The Face icon

This icon is obscured in the preceding figure because I have clicked on it to open the face picker, which allows you to change your facial expression and color.

The Satchel icon

Clicking on this icon opens the prop picker, which gives you access to the current collection of props. Props are special pieces of art that allow you to decorate your environment, your avatar, or give as gifts. This window allows you to add props to your avatar and remove props from your collection. Registered members can also use this window to edit existing props, or create entirely new ones.

The Paint Palette icon

Clicking on this icon opens the Painting window, which gives you access to a number of special tools used for painting on The Palace screen. With the painting tools, you can draw right on top of the artwork in a Palace room, and everyone else there can see what you are doing. It is like a shared digital canvas. This drawing does not have a permanent effect on the room art itself. When you come back in later, it will be gone. Note that this function is turned off in some Palace rooms. Note also that unregistered guests are able to look at the tools in the Painting window, but are unable to use them. Such are the benefits of membership!

The Trash Can icon: This Icon functions much like the traditional Macintosh or Windows 95 trash can; dragging a prop here gets rid of it. Clicking on the Trash Can icon does nothing.

The menu interface

The File menu

This contains commands for entering and leaving The Palace. In addition, it contains file-oriented commands, such as logging your conversations and commands.

The Edit menu

The Edit menu contains the standard editing commands as well as the Preferences command.

Figure 6.6: pam4d.jpg
The Preferences dialog box (Mac version).


This brings up a dialogue box allowing you to set the following options:

The Options menu

The Options menu contains various commands for controlling the behavior of the software, as well as several means of transportation throughout Palace sites. The Options menus offered to Macintosh and Windows users are significantly different, so they are presented separately here:

Macintosh Version

Figure 6.7: pam4e.jpg
The user list.

Windows Version

Figure 6.8: pa7b.jpg
The room list.

Figure 6.9: pa7c.jpg
The log window.

The Wizard menu

The Wizard menu provides access to a set of advanced functions, beyond the needs and rights of mere registered members. Wizards and gods are the managers and proprietors of the various sites in the Palace network. Anyone with the server software and an IP address can open a Palace site and become its god, and can give the site's wizard password out to trusted individuals. Effectively, each Palace site has its own god, and many sites possess wizards as well.

The commands in this menu provide wizards (or gods) with various superpowers in the form of special commands and authorial control over their Palace sites. Since proper utilization of these commands requires an in-depth understanding of the server software, this topic is not treated here. For information on wizard commands and the Wizard menu, see, ìThe Palace Server Software Manual,î at

The Help menu

The Palace client's Help menu consists of a number of links which, when clicked, will take you to the appropriate page at The Palace Inc.'s Web site ( The topics covered include:

If these links fail to work correctly, try again while Netscape is running in the background.

© Copyright Bruce Damer, 1997, All rights reserved.