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Entering the OZ Universe

Once you have finished downloading and installing OZ Virtual, ActiveX, and DirectX (optional), you should be ready to start up the OZ Virtual client software. First, make sure you are connected to the Internet. If you can run your browser and surf Web pages, you are surely connected. Double-click on the shortcut on your desktop. If you cannot find an icon for OZ Virtual on your desktop, search for it in the folder \program files\oz interactive\oz virtual\program (it should be called ozvirtual.exe).

Figure: 13.4 Oz1h.jpg
Connecting to Multi-user server.

The OZ Virtual program will then start and attempt to connect to an OZ server. You should see a message in the lower right-hand corner of the OZ Virtual window, like the one shown in the preceding figure. This could take some time (a minute or two). OZ Virtual may come back and inform you that the server is unavailable, in which case I recommend that you again later. You may also receive a message that OZ Virtual needs an update. OZ Virtual can update itself over the Internet. I recommend that you opt to receive the update.

Figure: 13.5 Oz1d.jpg
Fly into the OZONE.

Figure: 13.6 Oz1i.jpg
Inside the OZONE.

If all goes well, OZ Virtual will connect to the server and download the information for its VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) entry world. Before long, you should begin to see scenes like the ones above, as you are taken on a journey into the first of OZ's exciting worlds . You can see our spacecraft approaching the OZONE space station and then landing inside.

Docking at the Dark Star

Figure: 13.7 Oz1j.jpg
Me and my avatar are in the OZONE.

The preceding figure shows my avatar inside the OZONE. I like the little green man (what better choice in these alien worlds?). I am also walking around in an out-of-body view. I'll talk more about selecting your own avatar and entering the out-of-body view later in this chapter.

To give yourself a good lay of the land, I recommend selecting OZ Destinations from the Destinations menu. This will give you a Web page map of the OZONE areas. In the following figures, you can see these maps shown inside the OZ Virtual client software. If you have Internet Explorer 3.0 installed, then Web pages will appear inside your OZ Virtual program window (as an ActiveX control). If you use another Web browser, then OZ Virtual will launch that browser to show these special Web-based maps.

Figure: 13.8 Oz1c.jpg
A Web-based map of the OZONE.

Figure: 13.9 Oz1e.jpg
An OZONE transporter.

You can click on these maps (on the text labels which lead to areas on the maps), and you will go directly to that part of the OZONE. I tried Soundroom, and my avatar traveled to a room where I could hear high-quality music. OZ is known for both quality of the sound and the body animation of its avatars. In fact, two of the founders of OZ were nightclub owners and promoters in Iceland when they conceived of the company. As a result, OZ worlds have the feel of a club environment. OZ Interactive often demonstrates its worlds at live events such as trade shows, where a performer in a full body suit is ëwired up' to the avatar in the virtual world. Every move the performer makes is mirrored by the avatar. This is called motion capture, and it gives avatars very lifelike moves. Many of the avatar movements in OZ worlds were made by capturing the motion of a live performance artist.

Sailing through OZ space

Now that we are on board the OZ space station, let's learn how to move around. OZ has a variety of ways to move, either by keyboard or mouse.

Mouse navigation

You can start by holding down your left mouse button and moving the mouse. OZ worlds have a kind of motion physics whereby the more you push forward the faster you go, up to a kind of terminal velocity (maximum speed). You can hold down the right mouse button to decelerate, or both buttons at once to stop. If you move the mouse with the right button held down, you will slow down and eventually move backwards. Holding down Shift while moving with the mouse will rocket you along at twice the normal terminal velocity. Dragging your mouse around to the right or left will steer you around. Holding down Control or Alt will move your avatar to either side in a sliding motion called translation. The physics of OZ worlds also gives you friction, so you will eventually stop moving if you stop using the mouse. The mouse movement options are listed in the following table.

Mouse navigation controls
Mouse button and keyboard combinations Action
Left button Accelerate
Right button Decelerate
Both buttons Stop
Drag right/left Turn right/left (Yaw)
Drag forward/backward Lean forward/backward (Pitch)
Ctrl+Drag right/left Lean sideways (Roll)
Alt+Drag right/left Translation left/right
Alt+Drag up/down Translation up/down

Table 13.1

Keyboard navigation

Keyboard navigation, often more convenient to use than the mouse, is a mirror of the mouse navigation. The Up arrow key accelerates you forward while the Down arrow key slows you down and moves you backward. Holding down the up and down arrow keys at the same time will stop you in your tracks while pressing the arrow keys and Shift at the same time will move you at twice the normal maximum or terminal velocity. If you hold Alt and Control held down at the same time as the arrow keys, this will give you various tilting, rolling, or translation (sliding) motions. The keyboard movement options are listed in the following table.

Keyboard navigation controls
Keyboard key Action
Up arrowAccelerate
Down arrowDecelerate
Up/Down simultaneously Stop
Shift+Up or Down arrows Double terminal velocity
Ctrl+Up or Down arrows Lean forward or backward (Pitch)
Ctrl+Right or Left arrows Lean sideways (Roll)
Ctrl+Up or Down arrows Tilt up or down
Ctrl+Right or Left arrows Roll clockwise or counterclockwise
Alt+Right or Left arrows Translation left or right
Alt+Up or Down arrows Translation up or down

Table 13.2

Flying versus walking

The walking mode automatically takes effect when you are affected by gravity. You can turn off gravity and enter a flying mode. In the walking mode you are "stuck" to the floor and therefore unable to move up or down.

Figure: 13.10 Oz4o.jpg
Use the navigation pop-up menu to turn gravity and collision detection on or off.

Turn off gravity by selecting the area marked Navigation from the dashboard of controls at the bottom of the OZ Virtual window. The pop-up menu (shown in the previous figure) will appear, and you can turn automatic gravity on or off. To fly off the ground, turn automatic gravity off and then hold down Ctrl while pressing Up arrow. You will tilt up. You can then fly up above the ground.

With automatic gravity on, you would automatically snap back to the floor (as though you were wearing gravity boots) after you reached a certain height. With no gravity, you would just sail up and out of the room. If collision detection is on, you will hit the ceiling (or wall or floor) and travel no further. If it is off, you will pass through any surface and continue on into the OZ cosmos. It is quite easy to get lost if you have collision detection off.

Driving through OZ with the dashboard

Figure: 13.11 Oz4m.jpg
The OZ Virtual dashboard.

The dashboard, shown in the preceding figure, has other features to aid you in navigation. One of the most important is found just below the Navigation pop-up menu. It is a set of viewpoints, kind of like fixed camera positions in the world. In the previous figure, entry view is listed. Clicking on this control allows you to pop back to your starting place (called the entry view). This is very handy if you get lost by turning off collision detection and then flying out of the world!

Other parts of the dashboard allow you to control how fast you can travel. By selecting the control just below the viewpoints (entry view as shown in the preceding figure), you can switch your travel speed from normal to slow or fast. Also on the dashboard are four circular indicators. The large central one is a kind of rolling marble called the trackball. Clicking on the trackball with your left mouse button allows you to roll the world around. Clicking on it with the right button will put you outside of your avatar's body. The little green light to the lower right of the trackball indicates when you are ëout of body' or back in ëfirst person' point of view. The figure earlier in this chapter showing my ëlittle green man' was an example of an out-of-body view. I prefer traveling in OZ out of body as it allows me to see my avatar's gestures (see more on this later). Note that if you press the letters Z or X while in out-of-body mode, you will move closer in or farther out of your avatar. To return inside the body of your avatar, just right-click on the trackball or select the small green light on the lower right side of the trackball.

The little light to the upper left of the trackball allows you to turn a headlight on or off. This headlight feature is useful to brighten up dark areas you may enter. The larger round indicator below the headlight control is a kind of progress indicator. When it is rolling around, something is being loaded.

Elsewhere on the dashboard are areas where messages are displayed (to the right of the trackball) as well as pop-up menus for Audio, Display and Multi-user options. The remaining dashboard options are described in a later section of this chapter entitled, ìFine-tuning Your World.î

© Copyright Bruce Damer, 1997, All rights reserved.