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Fine-tuning Your World

There are many options which allow you to adjust how your OZ worlds work.

Setting up your avatar's cybercards

Figure: 13.23 oz4w.jpg
Set up a personal cybercard for your avatar.

To find your cybercard, select User Card from the Communication menu. You will be presented with a dialogue box like the one shown in the previous figure. You can enter your real name, location, change your nickname, reveal your e-mail address, and then choose to reveal this card to others. You can exchange these cards by clicking on someone's avatar nickname in the chat manager window.

Other dashboard options

The dashboard (the area at the bottom of the OZ Virtual screen) has some other controls that I did not discuss earlier in the chapter. The Audio pop-up has controls to turn sound on or off and adjust its volume. The following chart shows several Display pop-up options.

Display pop-up options
Option Action
Light intensity Adjust light intensity (most people prefer it set to maximum)
Smooth shading Smooth shading on/off
Lit textures If on, light intensity affects texture maps
Display while loading If set, the world is displayed while it is loaded
Double faces Double face rendering on/off

Table 13.4

In general, if the Display options are all off, your worlds will display faster. The multi-user pop-up lets you define your nickname in the world. The multi-user pop-up menu on the dashboard allows you to set up some key multi-user options.

Multi-user pop-up options
Option Action
Multi-user enabled Turns multi-user on or off. If off , OZ Virtual will not attempt to connect to a server when it loads a world.
Auto answer chat If you turn this option off, it will simply present a dialogue box asking you whether you want to respond. If this is on, your chat and other users' chat is automatically mixed in the chat area.
NicknameYour nickname in the multi-user world

Table 13.5

Hot OZ worlds

Figure: 13.24 and 13.25 oz5d.jpg and oz5e.jpg
Scenes from hot clubs and the streets of the OZiverse.

Along with OZONE (the world you enter when you start OZ Virtual), there are other OZ worlds.

Listing of hot OZ worlds
Name and description of world URL to enter into OZ Virtual Open Location
OZ Kids Exterior
OZ Kids Interior
OZ Records
Space Chat
The Street, the original OZ world
The Nightclub
Nightclub Light

Table 13.6

Opening a world

OZ Virtual supports VRML 1.0 and 2.0 files as input. You can either use the Open File dialogue to load scenes from a local disk, or Open Location to load from servers on the Internet. Find these choices under the File menu. For the worlds listed above, you must use Open Location and enter the URL. The client uses the the HTTP (Web protocol) to locate files over the network. The world files can be either in pure ASCII form or compressed using GNU gzip or UNIX compression. The ASCII files have the standard extension .wrl, but the compressed ones have either a .gz or .wrz extension.

More about OZ worlds

When connected to an OZ server, each OZ Virtual client registers a world name with the server for the 3D world being loaded. If the VRML file contains a world name node specifying the name of the 3D world, the world name is used to identify the world. This is true for most of the OZ worlds. If no world name node is present in the VRML file, the URL is used to identify the world. When a world has been loaded from a local disk, its URL is comprised of file+drive+path+filename.

All OZ Virtual clients having the same 3D world identity registered with an OZ Server are in the same world. You can only see other avatars located in the same world, as you are. For example, if there is no node name in the VRML file square.wrz, then two OZ Virtual clients are in the same world if they both loaded it from their local disk as C:\worlds\square.wrz, or if they both loaded it using HTTP from

Digi's Diary: The Magical Combination of the Physical with the Virtual

Over the past year, as an observer and sometime participant in many virtual worlds, I have often had the most fun when someone rigged a setup where you could really mix together the experience of virtual worlds with the real physical world. After all, how much fun can this be if it is just you sitting there avataring alone for hours on end?

It all started innocently enough. I was presenting at a conference in Nice, France. It was the end of May 1995, and a group of us (including the translators from the conference) were kicking around trying to find something stimulating to do. I asked if there was any sort of cybercafÈ in the city. I know what you are thinking: here they are, on the French Riviera in one of the most beautiful cities on Earth and they are pining to spend just a few more hours in front of a cathode ray tube. Well, you have to know that my compatriots were all from Nice (or at least France,) and cyberthings counted as welcome relief from too much high culture. They said, ìbut of course, La Douche a l'etageî (translated: the bathroom (or shower?) on the second floor…what a name for a joint!). La Douche turned out to be the first cybercafÈ on the Cote d'Azure, and only the second in all of France.

So off we trucked through the winding labyrinth of the old city and found the place in a marketplace by the Mediterranean. After a few quick words with the harried-looking owner, he allowed us upstairs where there were a few PCs embedded in definitively French aluminum sculptured cases. Jacked into the Internet, I decided to do something avant garde. I downloaded Worlds Chat, then just over 30 days old, and installed it on three machines.

My compatriots immediately started using this strange new world, sailing around the space station together, and trying to find other French speakers. It turned out they found quite a few, including someone in Australia whose grandmother, 100 years old, lived in Nice. I proceeded to install Worlds Chat on the one remaining PC downstairs by the bar, and then retired to have a much deserved aperitif.

While engrossed in the subtleties of French liqueur, I didn't notice a whole cohort of French teenagers who had occupied the area around the downstairs PC. A roar of laughter erupted from the group crowded around the PC, and I thought, ìno one could find the Web that funny,î and took myself and my drink over to them. It turned out that these teenagers had wandered in asking, ìwe want to talk to people on the Internet,î to which the owner just pointed to the PC. They had started Worlds Chat by random chance, chosen the sexiest avatar in the gallery, and had started chatting up a set of French speakers aboard the station. It turned out that those French speakers were my male compatriots upstairs who thought they had a really hot avatar affair going. When one of them came downstairs for a drink, the ruse was exposed, much to the embarrassment of the upstairs crowd and the humor of the teenagers.

What I realized that night was that the mixture of people in a shared social place, reaching out through this new realm of digital space to interact with other people, was a really magical mix. If you could also allow people in their avatar world to take a glimpse into the world of the physical gathering, this would complete the loop.

For the next couple of years, projects within and outside my organization (the Contact Consortium) sought to experiment with this physical and virtual mixing of people and avatar-people. The Sherwood Forest Towne construction days in AlphaWorld (starting in March 1996) were always done with a group having a big all-day party, and crowding around two or three PCs, taking shifts hosting and building on the site.

Next, we experimented with large screen projection of avatar worlds during a kind of Space Bridge in Florence Italy, in June of 1996. Avatars hanging (3 feet tall) above a glass virtual university campus were projected on large screens with simultaneous live video between the Lower Fortress in Florence, Italy and the American University at Sophia-Antipolis in Nice, France. Avatars spoke in French, English, and Italian and came into the event from all over the world. Even though they could not see the audience (we assured them they would be seen by 300 Italian press and digital media professionals) they took us on faith and exclaimed ìCiao, Italia!î See a glimpse of the Florence experience at

We continued the experiment with the Digital Mixer, our first avatar teleport, on July 13, 1996. For this we held a large (50+ people) physical party at the beautiful hilltop home of friends here in Boulder Creek California. We packed in a half dozen computers and, working with (a very successful Web-based matchmaking service), we hosted a singles party simultaneously in three virtual worlds: The Palace, PointWorld, and AlphaWorld. Hundreds of avatars crowded into the spaces, trampling on the flower garden in AlphaWorld, and forcing at least one eviction. The Palace party turned into a hat-giving competition. A famous Boulder Creek poet read a new poem, ìI saw the strangest thing today,î into a virtual redwood grove in Sherwood Towne, attracting crowds of poetry spouting avatars. The Digital Mixer can be seen at

The Digital Mixer was quite an event, and we learned a lot about doing a physical/virtual event. We learned that a certain magical transfer of excitement and energy can flow between a physical gathering and gatherings in virtual spaces. One set of Sherwood builders were hard at work for over 11 hours on a Saturday. Try Web surfing for 11 hours!

At the Earth to Avatars conference in October 1996, we featured the Voce, a live exercise blending the collective voice of a group in song (a musical rendition of the seven Chakras of the body from eastern mysticism) into a single avatar in OnLive! Traveler's Utopia world. Other avatars in the space (appropriately, a Stonehenge world) joined in with their songs from all over the world. See photos of the Voce exercise at

In January 1997, at the 9th Digital Be-In, a huge party and digital cultural venue organized annually to coincide with MacWorld in San Francisco, Be-In originator Michael Gosney invited us to include an avatar teleport. We set up an area full of computers where people could sit down and connect with others in avatar worlds. In a large dance floor several hundred people participated in a huge Voce experience with the avatars projected on 60 foot walls around the crowd. I wound through the crowd explaining to people that the 15-foot-high lip synching avatar head on the wall was us (or at least our collective voice) and they were amazed! See the Be-In avatar teleport at

Figure: 13.26 and 13.27 oz5a.jpg and oz5f.jpg
Icelandic pop diva Moa in a motion capture suit running dance partner Punk Avatar.
Click Here for larver image

OZ Virtual brings the mixture of physical and virtual to a new level. The OZ company crew will often connect a performer in a body suit to one of their avatars and present dance and performance art in their world, all while other avatars watch and join in online. OZ has an in-house band, and produces its own music (including live performances) for the world. OZ hosts large parties and live demos at trade shows that draw big crowds who wonder what are all those shapes on the screen.

All of this is very exciting and suggests to me that the true power of the virtual world medium is simply that it provides people with a new way to be together.

© Copyright Bruce Damer, 1997, All rights reserved.