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Letís Chat: The Good Life as a Guest

There are several levels of citizenship in the Palace; that of guest, registered user, and the highest level, wizard. In this section, I will cover features that are available to guests (and everyone else). See the section, ìHow do I become a Registered User of The Palace?î in the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) at the end of this chapter.

Well, even if you are only a guest, you can still do what most people come to The Palace to do: chat, chat, chat. The Palace software provides you with a number of ways to express yourself. To chat, you just click on the input box, an area at the bottom of the Palace client window, and then start typing. Your words will appear in the input box. You can also press Tab instead of clicking on the input box to be able to start typing again. When you push Enter (sometimes called Return), your text in the input box will appear in a cartoon-balloon near your avatarís head.

You can control the length of time text stays up on your screen by setting the balloon delay (which can be found under Preferences on the Edit menu). Mac users can also control the font and font size used in the cartoon-balloons.

Using special balloons

You can change the way your words appear on the screen by typing the following special characters in front of your text:

Balloon shapes help to express your thoughts
Prefix characterWhat it does
: my messageThis gives you a thought balloon, instead of the normal talking balloon.
! my messageThis gives you an excited-looking spiky balloon.
^ my messageThis gives you a rectangular sign balloon, which stays up until you move or say something else. Sign balloons are useful for saying things like BRB (Be Right Back) or On the phone.
@x,y my messageThis allows you to place your cartoon-balloon wherever you want on the screen. X and Y are the numeric coordinates of the location from which you wish the balloon to emanate. The view screen is 512 pixels wide (X) by 384 pixels high (Y). This feature can be used for spoofing (putting words in peoples' mouths); however, anyone who looks at the log window would be able to see who the real speaker was. This feature doesn't work for guests.
; my messageThis results in your message appearing only in the log window.

Table 6.1

Whispering sweet nothings

By clicking directly on another person's avatar, you enter Whisper mode. In this mode, all other avatars on the screen become slightly darker, and the phrase, Talking to: appears in the status bar above your input box. At this point, the person you have clicked on has no idea that they have been selected. To whisper to this person, simply type your message into the input box, as usual. Both you and the other party will see your message appear on the screen in italics, but no one else will see the message. Subsequent messages continue to be private until you de-select the person by clicking on the status bar (the area just above the input box) or select another person.

Figure 6.13: pam4e.jpg
The user window opens through Options
È Find User.

If you are a registered user, you can also whisper to people in distant rooms. This is called telepathy. To send a telepathic message, simply open the user window by selecting Options È Find User. Next, click once on the name of the person you wish to speak to. Regardless of their location, they will see your message in italics (and no one else will). Note that your message cannot enter a locked room. Sounds and special balloons do not work in Telepathy mode.

Shortcut Keys for Chat

The following keys provide useful shortcuts:

Shortcut keys
KeyWhat it does
TabToggles focus between the input box and the viewing area
Up ArrowPages back through your previously typed statements
Down ArrowPages forward through your previously typed statements
EscClears the input box

Table 6.2

Sounds like Chat

Want to express yourself a little more brashly? The Palace has a built-in set of audio files which everyone can use. These files happen to be located in your Sounds folder (which is within the Palace folder), and they are recorded in 22 KHz, 8-bit mono WAV format. All you really need to know is:

To make a sound, type a right parenthesis followed by the name of the sound, like so:


You can even follow a sound with spoken text, like so:

)applause He shoots! He scores!

The current list of available sounds includes: amen, applause, belch, boom, crunch, debut, fazein (for faze in), guffaw, kiss, no, ow, pop, teehee, wet1 (I donít know what this means, try it and see!), wind, and yes. Try 'em all!

Your avatar and you

As a guest, you come into The Palace wearing the default avatar, which is a spherical yellow smiley face, also affectionately known as a Roundhead or a Yellowhead. Although you cannot make your own avatar (or change the color of your head) until you become a registered member, there are still a number of things you can do to personalize yourself for better communications.

The face window

The Face icon at the bottom of your screen brings up a pop-up window which can be used to change your facial expression and color (if you are registered). This window may be kept open while you are maneuvering around in The Palace, so that you can change your appearance almost instantly. A rapid sequence of facial expression changes can be a hilarious way of communicating with your avatar buddies. If you have an extended keyboard (with a separate numeric keypad on one side), you can use your number keys to rapidly change your expression as well.

These expressions serve much the same function as emoticons in e-mail messages. They are a convenient means of displaying emotion in a medium which cannot convey all the subtleties of human communication. In fact, some of the expressions can be triggered by typing various emoticons straight into the input box, as shown in the following table:

Use emoticons for avatar expressions
When you typeThe Expression You Get
:) or ) Smile
:( or ( Frown
:| or | Normal
;) or ; Wink
:[ or [ Angry

Table 6.3

© Copyright Bruce Damer, 1996, All rights reserved.