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Teleporting into Toon Town

Starting up Comic Chat

Before you start Comic Chat you should connect to the Internet (dial-up with your modem or make sure your Internet connection is active). If you can get to web pages with your web browser, you are probably on-line. Once you are on-line, you can start Comic Chat by double clicking on a shortcut or by selecting it from your Start menu under Programs and Microsoft Comic Chat.

Figure 1: Use the Connect Dialogue to open a new connection to Comic Chat

When Comic Chat first starts up, it presents you with the Connect dialogue box (see Figure above). The first time in, you should leave everything as Microsoft has set it. For your reference, these are what the options mean:

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Connecting to other IRC Chat rooms

If you want to connect to another IRC chat server somewhere on the Internet, just enter the server address, port number, and channel name into the Connect dialog box. Microsoft's basic Comic Chat IRC channel is: Comicsrv1.Microsoft.Com, 6667, #Comic_Chat. Microsoft is supporting the following channels for their server. Comic Chat can be used to put a really expressive face on dusty old IRC! For a definition of the terms server address, port number and channel name, please see our extensive Glossary section.
Server AddressPort Number Channel NameWhat Goes On? #Comic_ChatBasic Comic Chat town square #Comic_HelpFor help on Comic Chat #NewbiesDiscussions for new users #Pet_ChatTalk about your pet! #Sports_ChatSports addicts! #Family_ChatFamily matters #Internet_ChatAbout the net #Politics_ChatPundits on the political scene #Singles_ChatSingles mixer

Table 1: the Microsoft Comic Chat basic chat areas

[??? Verify Port numbers with Microsoft closer to final manuscript ???]

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You are In!

You can tell that Comic Chat is trying to connect by watching for the messages at the bottom of the application window. If the server is unavailable or too busy, you will be told so and given the option to try again. I can get on most of the time, but sometimes have to come back later when the Internet (and Comic Chat) is not so busy. If Comic Chat tells you "Now chatting in room #…" with the name of the room you selected… you are in!

Practicing on your own

If you would like to practice on your own or if you are not able to connect yet, you can try Comic Chat in Single User Mode, where you are the only character around. Practicing in single user mode is also fun and will give you a chance to learn how to express yourself through text chat and emotional body moves. To run in single user mode, just start Comic Chat without your Internet connection being active and Comic Chat will let you play all by yourself.

Figure 2: The Playbill helps you to see who will be in your comic drama

Curtains Up on the Show

Get set for the show! In the upper left corner of the preceding figure, you can see the cast of characters or "playbill", of which you are one player. Comic Chat has chosen the name "Rancid Love" for this session (meaning that it will it be a tragic-comic drama?). What is happening is that you have joined an ongoing conversation. Each of the people in this conversation have chosen their avatar, called a character in Comic Chat. This is a rotating cast, the next time you are in, chances are there will be a completely different set of people playing a different set of characters. Sometimes there are regulars who visit Comic Chat all the time, and may informally become hosts. Each player has their own nickname, chosen when they first entered Comic Chat, followed by the name of their character (in UPPERCASE). You are automatically given a default character (sometimes called a dummy or dummytar), which you can easily change later. Go to the following section called Fine Tuning Your World to learn how to change your character.

The Cast Members

Running down the list, the other characters include a player called studmuffn (with a name like that, perhaps one to watch out for) who has chosen the ARMANDO avatar. There are two other people (with nicknames saxix and Kepler) playing TIKIs, speed playing a fairly neutral looking DAN and, possibly a humorous type named eggman playing as a JORDAN.

I am playing as an ANNA, using my virtual world name DigiGrdr... short for Digital Gardener, ever the digital naturalist, turning over the fertilizer in the virtual worlds social scene. Many people choose different names and personas in each world, which hopefully would not give them a multiple personality disorder! I choose to remain consistent, as DigiGardener, in all the virtual worlds. This helps people recognize me and I establish more of a distinguished presence.

The Stage is Set

Remember, this is real life, well, bits of life. The drama that unfolds is never predictable, there is no plot and rarely any conclusion. You might think: how boring! But wait… you must keep the play going, as the audience can be just your cartoon compatriots or one of the characters of the plot may grow to become your long awaited soul mate, either virtually or actually. The digital drama is yours to deliver!

The member list, cast of characters, in this room is listed on the upper right of the preceding figure. You can choose a character from this list to find out about that person. You can also use the member list to talk directly to or ignore someone (more about this later). Below the member list is your character, in its current body and emotional posture. Below this you will find the Emotion Wheel a delightful feature of Comic Chat.

Figure 3: Using the Emotion Wheel: don't worry, be happy!

© Copyright Bruce Damer, 1996, All rights reserved.