WorldsAway Newsletters

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Official newsletters from the WorldsAway team can be found here.

1996

August

The Dreamscape Team Newsletter - Vol. 1, Issue 2-- August 1996

The Dreamscape Team Newsletter
Vol. 1, Issue 2-- August 1996

In this issue:

New Name for our New Newsletter
Whats Up with the Server?
Art Department Works Overtime
Member survey: Guaranteed e-mail!
The Wish Box
Dream Jobs

* New Name for our New Newsletter!
Many thanks for your responses to our premiere issue of this newsletter. In addition to your comments and suggestions for later editions, we received over thirty entries to the Newsletter Naming Contest. A few of the many creative entries we received:

The Speech Balloon..............The Oracle......................Sacred Sends

The Temple Tabloid..............Morpheus Messenger..............Dreamscape Visions

Head_Lines......................DreamNews.......................NewsDream

(these last two were submitted by different people, one right after the other! Great minds think alike...)

Choosing from all of these entries was tough, but eventually one singular entry won out. The winner of the Newsletter Naming Contest, and the new name for this publication, is:

***The Resource Update***

The winning name was submitted by Huck. Huck will receive a Pencil head, a fabulous virtual certificate, and the undying admiration of the Dreamscape Team. Congratulations, Huck, and thanks to all contest participants.

* What's Up with the Server?

During the first week of August we made some changes to the main server that supports the Dreamscape in an attempt to provide you with a faster and more stable service. In response to the increased usage of the Dreamscape, we switched to a faster server and a new version of Solaris, the Sun Operating System (OS) that we use to run the world. The new server is indeed faster, as you may have noticed as you walk through Kymer, but an increase in server speed often results in new timing bugs. Throw in a new OS and there is a very good chance for problems. In addition to these internal problems, the week after our server switch was punctuated by a few crashes due to problems on CompuServes side of our connection, and a power outage that hit the entire West Coast of the US and made international headlines. Not the best way to debut our new setup.

While we could not have predicted the external circumstances that caused many of this weeks crashes, we have to expect internal problems to arise when we are using a cutting-edge operating system and new hardware. Sun is constantly fixing bugs in its code, and this always seems to translate into new bugs in our application code. Stability is only achieved through constant testing and solving the problems as they appear. Our engineers have spent a sleepless week doing just that: creating solutions to the problems that kept our new server from running as it should. On Wednesday the fourteenth, the server was switched yet again, this time to a more stable version of the system. The day after, another bug in Solaris caused a server crash, forcing the much-anticipated Ode-to-Your-Head poetry contest to be rescheduled. This problem was resolved, and we will continue to search for and correct these bugs as we find them. In the meantime, we thank you for your continuing patience during this time of transition. We continue to work toward to a crash-free future in which we will all be able to enjoy the fruits of our new system!

* Art Department Works Overtime

This dispatch arrived at the Resource Update Newsdesk from the dark, toy-filled cave we call Art:

So what has the Art Department been up to? Well, the word plenty comes to mind, but that may be grossly understated. Weve been involved in a million things over the last 6-10 months. To help deal with our tremendous load of projects, weve hired two new employees to our staff.
We in the art department continue to try and find ways to improve on the art itself and make it more visually appealing. We have many new heads and accessories on the way that we think will surely become classics, and we are constantly working to add more. Accessories are something that we are working on producing and improving. We have a lot of accessories ready now that will be implemented into the world soon.

Another project we are currently working on is finishing Meditation Park. That, right now, is the main focus of the department. I believe that when the new park artwork debuts, it will be a hit right away, not just because its new, but because the style and variety of the art will be very pleasing to the eye. Also, our lead animator is working on a couple of new avatars; when they make their debut, we think theyll literally knock your socks off!

That is just a little bit of what were trying to accomplish here. See you in the Dreamscape!

* Dreaming of *You*

In addition to the many suggestions we receive from you, there are many issues on which we'd like your feedback. Every month, the Dreamscape Team asks you a question in "Dreaming of You. The following month we post information on the answers received.

Last month we asked if you would be interested in subscribing to a mailing list and automatically receiving this newsletter every month. Here is one response we received in our dream@worldsaway.com mailbox, this one from JeanJean:

It would be great to receive this newsletter by e-mail. I dont regularly check the forum library so receiving it would be helpful.

Well, JeanJean, we hear you! We are working on setting up a mailing list to which we will e-mail this newsletter every month. W will include more information and instructions for getting your name on the list in next months Update.

This month's question:

When our server crashes, we try to make sure that a member of the WorldsAway Community Forum staff is in the forum, giving members updates in the Help Desk and posting update messages as new information becomes available. Are there other ways that we can keep you posted during a server crash? Send your suggestions to: dream@worldsaway.com.

* The Wish Box

Each time you dream of or wish for something in the WorldsAway Dreamscape, we'd like to hear about it. The Dreamscape and WorldsAway staff are committed to continuous improvement and we need your feedback to make that possible. Please help us serve you better by sending us your suggestions of how we can better support you with the technology we currently have. We've created a read-only mailing list to which you can post your suggestions: dream@worldsaway.com. This mailbox will forward your suggestions to the Dreamscape Production Team and archive a copy for others to read. Though we cannot assure you that all of your suggestions will be implemented, we will strive to take your concerns into consideration for future Dreamscape plans.

In order to make your postings to dream@worldsaway.com more effective, please make your subject line as intuitive to the content as possible. For example:

Service Improvements Dreamscape (or Kymer, inWorld, etc.);
Service Improvements Community Forum (Waking World, Forum);
Service Improvements Web (or Web Page Suggestion)
Dreamscape Newsletter Discussion or Dreamscape Newsletter Topics
You can also send messages to our CompuServe WATEAM account (76710,162). These suggestions will be forwarded to the Dream mailing list, so the most comprehensive listing of your messages will be in the Dream mailings.Messages sent to dream@worldsaway.com will not receive a direct response.

* Dream Jobs

Come work with us! The FSC Human Resources site has listings of available positions for Fujitsu Software Corporation of San Jose, CA, the owners and operators of WorldsAway services. Visit the site at:

www.fsc.fujitsu.com/fsc/fschr/employmt.htm

* How to Reach Us

Once again, we consider your participation and suggestions vital to the growth of the Dreamscape. The strength of the Dreamscape lies in its community of members, and we need your input to produce a world that best facilitates and enhances that community. The purpose of this newsletter is to serve as another connecting point between us, the Dreamscape team, and you, the members. You can respond to this newsletter or offer your suggestions to us by:

--Sending messages to our read-only message archive, dream@worldsaway.com; --Posting messages in the WorldsAway Community Forum (GO AWAYFORUM); --or Sending messages to our WATEAM account (76710,162)

We hope you like the ideas and information contained in this newsletter, and that you'll find it a useful place to connect with us. Thanks for your continued contributions to the Dreamscape community, and we'll see you inWorld!

September

The Resource Update - The Official Dreamscape Team Newsletter - Vol. 1, Issue 3-- September 1996

The Resource Update
The Official Dreamscape Team Newsletter
Vol. 1, Issue 3-- September 1996

In this issue:

Meditation Park: Four Seasons in the 'Scape
Exclusive Interview with Oracle Uni
New World Debuts on CompuServe
Member response: More fun now!
The Wish Box
Dream Jobs

Meditation Park explodes into four seasons.

Like Persephone returning from the Underworld to bring the Spring, the engineers and artists here at WorldsAway have emerged from their cubes, ready to bring two new seasons to Meditation Park. The expansion will include over 20 new locales, including Fall and Summer locales. In addition, "new art, heads and knickknacks" are promised throughout the Park.These new locales have been in the works for many months, so their appearance inworld is highly anticipated here at FSC. We hope to see you at the grand opening of the new Meditation Park, coming this Fall!

Meet Oracle Uni: On Building the Virtual Community

This month, the "Meet the Oracles" series continues with the the Sept. 26th appearance of Oracle Uni. Last month's "Meet Oracle Teresias" event at the Starway Stage was attended by over 40 people, and Teresias answered questions ranging from FSC's plans f or the Dreamscape to his own childhood and path to Oracle-dom. While Uni's appearance will probably follow the same format, the content of the event promises to be as individual as each Oracle's role in and vision of the Dreamscape community. Recently, Uni took a few minutes from her amazingly hectic schedule to talk with the Resource Update:

The Resource Update: Why did the Oracles decide to do the "Meet the Oracles" series?

Oracle Uni:The Dreamscape is a customer driven service. This requires us to listen carefully to customer concerns and place primary consideration on customer needs, in our development and management of the World. It requires us to make ourselves available in a number of ways. We have established various lines of communication with customers, both in-world and out: surveys, WA Team e-mail, forum threads and chats, news flashes, trained Acolytes, in-world meetings, etc. Our customers appreciate such access and our work benefits greatly from it. Recently, Tony Christopher was "kidnapped by extraterrestials" and held a question/answer session in-world. It was very successful and we implemented our "Meet the Oracles" series to follow through on that. We Oracles joke about our magnetic personalities, anyway, because within moments of arriving in a Dreamscape locale, we are surrounded by avatars and ghosts who are anxious to communicate. A more formal "Meet the Oracles" event allows a greater number of customers easy access and gives us Oracles the attention we so crave.

RU:What do you want to talk about at the meeting? What do you hope people will ask?

Oracle Uni:The Dreamscape is a community and any questions of community interest are likely to be asked. I want to talk about anything that further empowers community members to participate in positive ways in the development of their community. For example, rather than focusing on why I don't get rid of thieves, I would prefer to focus on what community members might do to curtail thievery, protect themselves and each other from becoming victims, and integrate the thief into the community, rather than establishing excluded social classes. I see my job as a resource manager and community advisor, not a dictator responsible for fixing the world. The Dreamscape is not a game. It is a real world.

RU: Your new class at Kymer International University, "Engaging in the Virtual Process," covers a lot of ground. You talk about multiculturalism inworld, building virtual communities, and issues of self/identity in the virtual/waking world. Why did you decide to do the class? How was the first session? Do you have any specific goals for the course, or are you more interested in the process?

Oracle Uni: The Dreamscape is a pioneering project, both technologically and socially, and as such it is imperative that we live it and develop it consciously. As an Oracle, my primary concern is to help build community and foster interaction among our international online clientele. I do so consciously and carefully, documenting as I go along. My background as an academic crosscultural psychologist, specializing in cognition and consciousness, causes me to focus on particular aspects of this pioneering virtual community building and interactive process. My ethics as a researcher requires me to share what I learn with both the FSC and the Dreamscape community. My course, "Engaging in Virtual Process", is motivated by these concerns. It attempts to build a foundational consensus about the phenomenology of virtual process and to encourage class discussion on pertinent issues raised. I have been amply rewarded for my efforts by the lively interest and contributions to class discussion in the past sessions. Students attended from Germany, Australia, Great Britain, and the USA. Crosscultural comparisons were fascinating and all participants were both teachers and students in this endeavor. I look forward to continuing this sharing of virtual experience.

See you all at "Meet Oracle Uni"! September 26th, from 7 to 9 pm, on the StarWay Stage

Stand-alone world debuts on CompuServe

After many months of planning on expanding the WorldsAway galaxy of worlds, the first stand-alone world created with WorldsAway/Interverse technology is about to be released on CompuServe. Along with other FSC people, some members of the Dreamscape team have been working with the folks at Pride!, CompuServe's gay and lesbian on-line service, to create a new world called Pride! Universe. To members of the Dreamscape, Pride! Universe will look pretty familiar, but its space-age look and theme set it apart. Unlike the Dreamscape, or our planned WebWorld, Pride! Universe will be run and supported by people from Pride!. We will provide some consultation, and have given them ample guidance on how to run a virtual community, but the world is theirs to run as they choose. As we watch this bird fly out of the nest, we wish the Pride! people all the best as they begin to build their community on the virtual frontier. From anywhere in CompuServe, GO:PRIDE for more information.

Dreaming of You

It looks like our read-only Team mailbox, "dream@worldsaway.com ", has really matured into a working center for your feedback, suggestions, rants, etc. We got some very thought-provoking requests and questions this month. For instance, Stefan Koletzko wrote to suggest a series of new hidden-object games, and asked when we would be opening up some new locales. Well, Stefan, check out the article above about Meditation Park for more information on when our newest locales will be open. Our artists and engineers are constantly working on new locales and artwork for the Dreamscape, so if you have any ideas, don't forget to send them on. We'll let you know when the next projects are due to be unveiled....

That brings us to this month's Resource Update question: You have been great about giving us realistic, well-thought-out suggestions for new additions to the Dreamscape. Many times, these additions are already in the works, or your suggestion sparks a new round of discussions about what we'd like to work on for the future. But just for a moment, imagine that you could add anything at all to the Dreamscape, unfettered by technical or time constraints. What is your fantasy addition to the Dreamscape? Let your imagination run wild, and we'll post the results here next month.

As for this month's submissions to Dream: Thanks to all who put in their two cents' worth, and keep the good stuff coming! And to the rest of you: we at the Dreamscape team can't create the best world for you unless we know what you think! Just send mail to dream@worldsaway.com . Thanks.

The Wish Box

Each time you dream of or wish for something in the WorldsAway Dreamscape, we'd like to hear about it. The Dreamscape and WorldsAway staff are committed to continuous improvement and we need your feedback to make that possible. Please help us serve you better by sending us your suggestions of how we can better support you with the technology we currently have. We've created a read-only mailing list to which you can post your suggestions: dream@worldsaway.com . This mailbox will forward your suggestions to the Dreamscape Production Team and archive a copy for others to read. Though we cannot assure you that all of your suggestions will be implemented, we will strive to take your concerns into consideration for future Dreamscape plans.

In order to make your postings to dream@worldsaway.com more effective, please make your subject line as intuitive to the content as possible. For example:

Service Improvements Dreamscape (or Kymer, inWorld, etc.);
Service Improvements Community Forum (Waking World, Forum);
Service Improvements Web (or Web Page Suggestion)
Dreamscape Newsletter Discussion or Dreamscape Newsletter Topics

You can also send messages to our CompuServe WATEAM account (76710,162). These suggestions will be forwarded to the Dream mailing list, so the most comprehensive listing of your messages will be in the Dream mailings.Messages sent to dream@worldsaway.com will not receive a direct response.

Dream Jobs

Come work with us! The FSC Human Resources site has listings of available positions for Fujitsu Software Corporation of San Jose, CA, the owners and operators of WorldsAway services. Visit the site at:

www.fsc.fujitsu.com/fsc/fschr/employmt.htm

How to Reach Us

Once again, we consider your participation and suggestions vital to the growth of the Dreamscape. The strength of the Dreamscape lies in its community of members, and we need your input to produce a world that best facilitates and enhances that community. The purpose of this newsletter is to serve as another connecting point between us, the Dreamscape team, and you, the members. You can respond to this newsletter or offer your suggestions to us by:

--Clicking here to send messages to our read-only message archive, dream@worldsaway.com ;

--Posting messages in the WorldsAway Community Forum (GO AWAYFORUM);

--or Sending messages to our WATEAM account (76710,162)

We hope you like the ideas and information contained in this newsletter, and that you'll find it a useful place to connect with us. Thanks for your continued contributions to the Dreamscape community, and we'll see you inWorld!

November

The Dreamscape Team Newsletter - Vol. 1, Issue 4-- November, 1996

The Dreamscape Team Newsletter
Vol. 1, Issue 4-- November, 1996

We apologize to our fans for not producing a newsletter for the month of October. Consider this lengthier edition as a make up for last months absent copy.

In this issue:

Server Stability?
Dreaming of You Responses
It's New Years Soon in the Dreamscape
Meet Oracle Vaserius
A Hit! Meditation Park Grand Opening
The Get/Put Controversy

Server Stability?

FCSs current move to a more stable server setup fared well for the final week of October. We apologize for the server troubles for the month of October. Perhaps there where too many ghouls and goblins -- more like pesky gremlins!

The WA Team will continue to work on providing our members with the best service we can. Thanks for your patience through the month of October while we worked with our server technicians to find the best solution.

Dreaming of *You*

Thanks to you, we continue to receive great comments and suggestions at dream@worldsaway.com, our internet mailbox.

In September we asked: just for a moment, imagine that you could add anything at all to the Dreamscape, unfettered by technical or time constraints in other words, what is your fantasy addition to the Dreamscape?

Here are some of the suggestions you sent us:

"A new type of voluntary position in WA. Create the position of Event Prize Stocker. Call the title what you like, but the basic role would be to only supply event hosts with prizes. There are a lot of events inworld that are not supplied with Acolyte Vendo Prizes... I would like to perform more events inworld... I would be more than willing to "Bug" an official prize stocker. <g> I understand that the Acolytes are very busy with their online duties, and do not wish to bother them. I believe that with this new position, you will see more quality, original idea events coming out into the world. My whole role in WA is to provide entertainment, and participate in events... If the Acolyte Vendo did not exist at all for Hosts, then I would not be part of WA as no events would take place, thus creating another chat line"

"*More days and games like 'Fern Day' *Lowering the cost of turfs *Paintable Teddies *LOTS more rare items that are given away to avatars *More Acolytes in Worlds Away (SunRays are always a good choice! :) *NEW GROUP OF ORACLE MADE PEOPLE (like Acolytes), with good names so there would be Acolytes and --------- to help Worlds Awayians. They maybe specialize in robberies, etc. Or just helper people like Acolytes."

"I think that there should be more games and interactive things to do. I also would like interactive items that would be available in Vending machines. More games would make the dreamscape better."

"*Furniture" for our turf like sofa's beds *sitting, laying down, shaking hands!"

"WA is indeed a great place and internet access I believe will make it more available to people everywhere. In any case, thanks for what you have already given us."

"I am here to suggest the inclusion of SHELVES in the upcoming vendos. I suggest shelves to put in the vedos on the walls just like the mantle on the fireplace. It looks really messy to just leave items on the floor and the shelves will be a great decoration."

"Personally, I feel it would be easier if you followed the rest of the world and adopted the Greenwich Mean (Coordinated Universal) Time Standard. This would result in a timekeeping system that is not subject to the seasonal time changes. Also, this would make it easier for your subscribers in Europe and in the Eastern US. Last but not least, using GMT would put you into aggreement with the rest of the computer industry, transportation industry, and other segments of the business world."

"Yo-Yo's! We need yo-yo's! I think a simple animation to have a yo-yo you could play with would be a fun addition to what the avatars can do."

"Putting it bluntly, the prices are too expensive. For people who can not get much time on Worlds Away, can't afford the Tokens that is needed for many on the items, especially the Turfs. Also items like chests and heads are too expensive, people have to pay lots of Tokens just to hold many items on there person (Chests etc)"

"My idea: Hold a contest (multiple contests) to win a free time flag for Kymer. And if you can't do that, have it be a free time flag for the forum. I know its possible...other forums do it. Hope you consider it!"

Please continue to send your suggestions to: dream@worldsaway.com. Thanks!

Its New Years Soon in the Dreamscape!!

You can join friends in the Dreamscape for New Year's in November, because Friday, November 15 will mark the one-year anniversary of the Dreamscape's official opening---it's hard to believe it's already been a year since we released version 1.0 of the WorldsAway software! Festivities will include a carnival at 12:00 noon PST (3:00 p.m. EST) with various games hosted by members of the inworld community. At 3:00 p.m. PST (6:00 p.m. EST) there will be a parade and prizegiving. At a bit before 5:00 p.m. PST (8:00 p.m. EST), the countdown begins. After the Dreamscape New Year hits at the stroke of 5:00PM, it's virtual party 'til you drop!

Meet Oracle Vaserius

This month, the "Meet the Oracles" series continues with another opportunity to consult with an Oracle in the Dreamscape.

Oracle Vaserius, one of three Dreamscape caretakers inworld, will appear live in the Dreamscape to meet with the community. It will be held on Thursday, 21 November at 7:00PM WAT at the Starway Stage. He will address the community's thoughts and concerns about the current state of the Dreamscape, and answer questions about issues important to our members.

Watch for a special Newsflash and CompuServe "What's New" for more information.

A Hit! Meditation Park Grand Opening!

On November 1, 1996, the expansion of Meditation Park included over 20 new locales, including Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer locales. In addition, new art, heads, accessories, and knickknacks were introduced throughout the Park. These new locales have been in the works for many months. The WorldsAway Art Department is continuing to dazzle all of us on the team! The opening of Meditation Park saw the second highest simultaneous login of avatars, second only to the opening of turfs back in April of this year.

The Get/Put Controversy

Recently, the Dreamscape team in accordance with server security, implemented a fix of the WorldsAway server which in process disabled what was known as the "Get/Put Patch." A good number of members had found this "patch" (actually a hack of the WorldsAway software) useful and have argued strongly that it was a nice embellishment that they would like to see implemented as a regular feature. The Dreamcape Oracles, also concerned with the situation and customer desires, posted this message in the WA Forum to address the issues:

Open letter to the WorldsAway Community (posted November 8, 1996) from Oracles Teresias and Vaserius

Dear Community Members of Phantasus and the Dreamscape,

The WorldsAway development team has met and discussed the implications of the get/put patch, security issues, and the needs of the Dreamscape community. Customers have enumerated many of the benefits of the get/put patch. However, the get/put patch was able to be implemented by our customers be cause of a hole in the security of the WorldsAway client. Because it is a security issue, and a secure environment is essential to WorldsAway, this bug cannot be placed back into the WorldsAway client or server.

Taking into consideration customer feedback, client stability, and security, the following plan has been put in place. FSC will be implementing the following features:

1] Get from containers in pockets This will allow users to place objects into containers in their pocket, as well as retrieve objects from containers in their pockets. This will allow our customers to rearrange and sort objects without having to place chests on the ground.

2] Turf Velcro/Turf Glue

This will allow users to place objects anywhere in their turfs, including walls. It restores the features of the get/put patch to turf owners and then some. It will also allow customers to "glue" objects to the floor so that other avatars cannot remove them.

3] Rotate Object Facing

This will allow users to rotate the facing of any object just like an avatar. The user will have to walk to the object to do so. We are currently investigating telekinetic rotation in turfs.

These items have been placed at the top of the Dreamscape priority list and are currently being coded. As they proceed through the development process, we will keep the community up to date through forum posts and spreading the word in the Dreamscape.

At this time, telekinesis will not be implemented beyond the functionality of Turf Velcro/Glue. We are currently investigating the possibility of telekinesis in the future.

It is important to understand that the FSC development cycle is not linear. That is, while some developers are working on the server, others are working on objects. As development is working on their tasks, the World Development Team is working on new art and new areas. These tasks are not mutually exclusive--the fact that a new area is opened or new object is released does not mean that these priorities have changed, or that FSC is not working to implement customer feedback. In this case, other objects have already been through the development process and are going through the QA process. This means that new objects will likely be released before the above features are implemented. Again, this does not mean that we have reduced their priority.

We thank you for your feedback and suggestions, and appreciate your continued patience as we work to develop and implement this plan. If you have further questions or comments, please address them to dreamorldsaway.com.

Sincerely on behalf of FSC, Oracle Teresias and Oracle Vaserius

The Wish Box

Each time you dream of or wish for something in the WorldsAway Dreamscape, we'd like to hear about it. The Dreamscape and WorldsAway staff are committed to continuous improvement and we need your feedback to make that possible. Please help us serve you better by sending us your suggestions of how we can better support you with the technology we currently have. We've created a mailing list to which you can post your suggestions: dreamorldsaway.com. This mail list will forward your suggestions to the Dreamscape Producer and archive a copy for others to read. Though we cannot assure you that all of your suggestions will be implemented, we will strive to take your concerns into consideration for future Dreamscape plans. In order to make your postings to dream@worldsaway.com more effective, please make your subject line as intuitive to the content as possible.

For example:

Improvements for Dreamscape (or Kymer, inworld, etc.);
Improvements for Community Forum (Waking World, Forum);
Improvements for the Web Dreamscape Newsletter

Dream Jobs

Come work with us! The FSC Human Resources site has listings of available positions for Fujitsu Software Corporation of San Jose, CA, the owners and operators of WorldsAway services. Visit our site at: http://www.fsc.fujitsu.com/fsc/fschr/employmt.htm.

We hope you like the ideas and information contained in this newsletter, and that you'll find it a useful place to connect with us. Thanks for your continued contributions to the Dreamscape community, and we'll see you inWorld!

How to Reach Us

Once again, we consider your participation and suggestions vital to the growth of the Dreamscape. The strength of the Dreamscape lies in its community of members, and we need your input to produce a world that best facilitates and enhances that community. The purpose of this newsletter is to serve as another connecting point between us, the Dreamscape team, and you, the members. You can respond to this newsletter or offer your suggestions to us by: Sending messages to our read-only message archive, dream@worldsaway.com or posting messages to SYSOP in the WorldsAway Community Forum (GO AWAYFORUM).

1997

February

The Resource Update - The Official Dreamscape Team Newsletter - Volume 1, Issue 5 --February 1997

The Resource Update
The Official Dreamscape Team Newsletter
Volume 1, Issue 5 --February 1997

In this issue:

February: Month of Romance
WA Gatherings Away
Contest - "What WorldsAway Means to Me"
To Patch or not to patch?
An update on the get/put patch
FSC Conferences
Grey screen?
WorldsAway 2.0 Closed Beta Testing
Feedback at dream@worldsaway.com

FEBRUARY: MONTH OF ROMANCE

February in the Dreamscape has been deemed "The Month of Romance" to continue the festivities from last February. For those who have noticed the flourishing couplehood these past few weeks, the timing couldn't be better. Those who have joined together in Kymer include: Acolyte Sabertooth and Michele, Render and SunRay Fantasia, Andi & Indianna, Paul (London Lad) and Tami, Lord and Lady Iron Paw, Egyptian Goddess and NightMoves (with apologies to those I've missed).
Many of these couples have also met each other in the waking world, some for the very first time in the past few days. In a very special visit, Tami from Seattle will be flying to London to see Paul (London Lad) on Valentine's Day!

As Lord and Lady Iron Paw told members of the forum,

"But when two people are in love such as ourselves, we WILL make this dream come true!!! ...we would like to wish all couples of Kymer the same luck and love we have found in the RW. Remember: When you have TRUE LOVE, anything is possible!"

Although there was a premature notice in the CompuServe "What's New" about the "Club Caribe" locales opening, there will be many romance related events going on in Kymer.

Look for the "Valentines Big Bash" on Sunday, February 9th with Xella and friends in turf "CUPID'S DEN." They have raised tokens to go towards prizes for a drawing -- the profits will go towards setting up newbie programs with the Golden Knights and Judges. The drawing and bingo prizes will include Valentines items for your special someone.

Another special event held especially for the Month of Romance is the Second Duckolyte Date Auction, to be held Saturday, February 15 at 11:00 AM WAT in the turf "Duck Hunt." You can even offer a date with yourself at the Date Auction, with special prizes for the most romantic date! (Proceeds from the auction will be split between the avatar offering the date and the Duckolyte Newbie Gras fund.) For more information, contact Askani, Wing Commander.

WA GATHERINGS AWAY

Coming soon, two WorldsAway member-sponsored real world gatherings are being planned for the coming weeks. These have been great opportunities for members to meet the friends they've made in the Dreamscape throughout the year.

The first one is February 7-9, 1997 in Dallas, Texas (Dallas Marriott Quorum). This event is organized and hosted by Worlds Away Avatars, Mr. & Mrs. Wert P. Gumby, Sunray Texas Snowflake, and Guinevere. Many special events are planned, such as a buffet style Texas Barbecue with all the fixin's! They are expecting members from as far away as New Jersey and California (one is even rumored to be coming from Germany).

Then comes Pennsylvania II - "The Gathering Returns." This is the second annual gathering held in Pennsylvania, to be held April 25-27, 1997 at the Harrisburg Holiday Inn, New Cumberland. This event will be sponsored by SunRay Ann, who will be making all the arrangements, on behalf of the community of avatars.

This gala event will feature a keynote address as well as a banquet dinner and a whole weekend of meeting old friends and making new ones! There will be games and other events as well; Email SunRay Ann for more information.

Details for both gatherings are available in the Gatherings Away library in the WorldsAway forum. Also, at the time of this writing, SunRay Knight Oliver had just posted the dates for the Second West Coast Gathering of the Avatars, to be held the weekend of September 12-14, 1997.

CONTEST! "WHAT WORLDSAWAY MEANS TO ME"

How has WorldsAway changed your life? Tell us your stories, and you could win fame, glory and cash, cash cash!!! We are looking for the stories of how you got involved in WorldsAway, what it's meant to you, or single experiences that enriched your life. Starting in February, we'll feature one essay a month on our website; the lucky author will win an American Express Gift Certificate! In addition, any html-ized artwork that you submit, either to go with your essay or for the contest in general, will earn special recognition on the site. We can't wait to put your voices on the web. Here's how to enter:

E-mail your essays to dream@worldsaway.com. All essays will be read and judged by members of the WorldsAway team, and winners will be selected for their originality, style and emotional impact. You don't have to be a professional writer to win, just a WorldsAway member with a story to tell. Because we'll be posting essays on a monthly basis, essays that relate to the seasons or to a particular month will have a better chance of being selected at the appropriate time. In order to publish your essays, we'll need either your picture and name, your avatar and inworld name, or both. Any essays that you submit become the property of FSC (sorry, legal reasons), and they may be edited for length or clarity.

To get you in the writing mood, we'll be posting our very first essay in a few days. Look for it at our website: http://www.worldsaway.com. Good luck!

TO PATCH OR NOT TO PATCH?

That seems to be the question on everyone's mind these days. Patches are unauthorized modifications of the software and by using them you forfeit your right to technical support if a problem occurs on your system. We simply do not have the resources to support software which we did not modify. Distribution of our modified software, in part or whole, is a serious violation of both the Licensing Agreement, U.S. and international, Copyright law. At this time, we have not exercised enforcement of either, but we retain the right to do so at FSC's sole discretion.

Although we do not recommend the use of patches, we know some of you will choose to use them anyway. We recommend the following if you choose to use a patch. Please take the responsibility for your actions and make a back-up of your MAG directory. If your client ceases to function properly and you don't have a back-up, we recommend changing to clean .DAT files and seeing if the problem clears up. After that, you should reinstall your WorldsAway software and then go though all necessary updates.

There are several known problems directly caused by the use of patches. Reports of loss of function of the client including inability to unghost or change locales has been directly attributed to using a hacked client file (patch). Reports of Body Machine charging (1000 tokens) for change to same body type are also attributed to a hacked client file (patch) and no reimbursement is possible. If you have patches installed, you must completely remove them before you can receive technical support.

We are currently investigating, cataloging and prioritizing any software modifications which exploit security holes in our software in order to prevent the server from accepting commands it is not intended to accept, such as forcing other avatars to move.

UPDATE ON THE GET/PUT PATCH

Many of you can recall the use of a "get/put" patch towards the latter part of last year, the one that allowed avatars to get or put objects remotely instead of using "walk to" a specific place first to manipulate the object. In November, use of the patch was disabled because it risked the security of the WorldsAway client software. However, the WA Team recognized that use of the patch was very useful to members in many ways. For example, here is a letter we received from a member:

"It is very difficult to place your cursor on the exact pixel to put an item facing forward anymore.. and you have to first "walk to here" then "turn left/right" before you can even try to put something facing forward. My suggestion is to add a submenu to the "put" command with the commands "forward, backward, right, left" so we can easily place items any which way we like without having to try to guess or click on the exact pixel depending on your body form.. I know it is possible for you to do this.

"I also hear you are working on a way for avatars to glue their items to the ground so no one can steal them.. I think that is a great idea! I hope it also applies to placing items outside your turf should anyone want to put something down temporarily.. it would also be nice if the "glue" was automatic when an item is put down, but has the ability to be "unglued" if desired. Thanks.. Jim"

Taking into consideration customer feedback like Jim's, client stability, and security, FSC is working on the following features:

1] Get from containers in pockets

This will allow users to place objects into containers in their pocket, as well as retrieve objects from containers in their pockets. This will allow our customers to rearrange and sort objects without having to place chests on the ground.

2] Turf Velcro/Turf Glue

This will allow users to place objects anywhere in their turfs, including walls. It restores the features of the get/put patch to turf owners and then some. It will also allow customers to "glue" objects to the floor so that other avatars cannot remove them.

3] Rotate Object Facing

This will allow users to rotate the facing of any object just like an avatar. The user will have to walk to the object to do so. We are also currently investigating telekinetic rotation in turfs.

All of these are still in the development stage and have not made it to the point of QA testing yet.

FSC CONFERENCES

In January, FSC hosted two enhanced conferences (graphics included). The first one held was with Sheryl Knowles, WorldsAway Art Director. Sheryl discussed many aspects of the art you see in the Dreamscape, such as the 600+ frames of animations you see in final form as your avatar, how each frame is created, and how the Dreamscape art compares to classic cel animation, such what you would see on Saturday morning cartoons. See the full version of the transcript, including six never before released JPEG graphics of the art that Sheryl discusses, in the "WA Official" library (CON1_97.TXT) in the WorldsAway Community Forum.

The second conference, "Produce Your Online Virtual World," was with FSC Online Producer Greg Oberfield. Greg is part of the WorldsAway team that created both Pride!Universe and Dreamscape. Greg talked about producing interactive entertainment using WorldsAway's technology, as well as the making of Pride!Universe, and answered questions from the audience. Despite some technical difficulties near the end, the floor was opened for conversation among the attendees to discuss new virtual world concepts. See the transcript of Greg's conference in the "WA Official" library as well.

Look for third conference with WorldsAway Producer Reid Hoffman to be announced later this month.

GREY SCREEN?

If you have been experiencing connection problems when you try to enter the Dreamscape, it may be because TCP/IP connections have been unstable over the past few months.

This is due in part to a bug related to the remote update process; each time a member cancels their remote update before fully downloading the new resources to their computer, it halts a server "process" and backs up other members trying to enter the Dreamscape. Here are the steps to what happens:

1) The server receives a cancelled remote update message

2) The server process gets confused and the process "threads" have problems

3) Members get a grey screen when they try to enter the Dreamscape.

The server technicians have been working on a solution or a way to circumvent this problem for weeks, and they have recently installed a patch to help fix the problem. For help with what to do in the meantime, see the WorldsAway forum's Newsflash or Help Desk message section. The WA Team apologizes for the inconvenience this causes, especially those using CompuServe 3.X who must use a TCP/IP connection.

WORLDSAWAY 2.0 CLOSED BETA TESTING

FSC is currently conducting a beta test for WorldsAway version 2.0 -- software that will enable connections to online communities such as the Dreamscape directly from the world wide web. This beta for 2.0 is completely independent from normal Community Forum Operations. The internet email address for all questions and problems with WorldsAway 2.0 Technology or 2.0 Beta Testing is beta@worldsaway.com.

FEEDBACK AT dream@worldsaway.com

The purpose of this newsletter is to serve as another connecting point between us, the Dreamscape team, and you, the members. You can send responses to this newsletter to our dream@worldsaway.com email address, as well as your thoughts, suggestions, and comments about the Dreamscape and related topics. Although we aren't able to respond directly to messages we receive, they are read and forwarded to various team leaders at FSC to help stay in touch with what our members need and desire. To help consolidate these efforts, the WA TEAM CompuServe address has been discontinued. For a direct response from a WorldsAway Team representative, visit our WorldsAway Community Forum (GO AWAYFORUM) and leave a message for one of our helpful SysOps.

1998

June

WorldsAway Newsletter from David Andrews

David Andrews - June 30, 1998

Dear WorldsAway customers:

This is the first of our monthly "heads-up" bulletins, designed to help maintain a meaningful communication between the world members and the WorldsAway team.  We will try to give you the inside news, good and bad if necessary.

Providing these bulletins should help to keep members informed, and to reduce concerns that were expressed recently in responses to our web questionnaire.

Here it is.  I hope you find it informative.

David Andrews VP, WorldsAway Products and Services

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Greetings, WorldsAway members!

June has been an eventful month.

We launched Club Connect: the new world where relationships and personal growth are key. Club Connect has been in the planning and development stage for some months, and we are delighted to see the large number of new members who signed on in just the first few days.

Club Connect is our first "commercial" world, where members can visit areas that are dedicated to partners.  These "partnered" locations inworld offer special events and new people from different backgrounds to chat with. Our first partners are NetNoir, PlanetOut, Xoom and CRIPmedia. {Editor's note: The URL's are all educated guesses.} New partners are signing every day, so watch for new locations inworld.

ClubConnect will also feature a number of new ideas that we have been considering for some time. Check out the reviews!

Bridge of Dreams:  http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/pbaker2/cc6.htm
Au Fait Today:  http://www.marvl.com/80620mr.htm
The Kymer Clarion:  http://www.kymer.net/clarion/ccpics/ccpics.htm

The WorldsAway Team also added two new people to the team this month; a sign that things are on the move!

Soon, visitors to the Tripod web site, our partners' sites, and other well-known sites will start to see a large number of advertising banners, designed to attract new members to all three WorldsAway worlds: Dreamscape, ClubConnect and Hotel Silicon. You'll also see information about WorldsAway in industry and consumer publications.

The recent survey that many members completed showed us that you are very involved in the future of WorldsAway worlds.  We are currently evaluating ways to respond to your requests, and you'll see the results over the next few months.

Thanks for your involvement, speak to you next month.

David Andrews.

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A note about lag when connected to a WorldsAway world:

After a thorough diagnostic check, our network was given an "A" for its current expediency. Trace routes { Editor's Note: Also see Packet Tracing } from sites on both MCI and Sprint's backbones in both cases produced round trip times (RTTs) of around 40ms, which is quite good. Of course, users who are not directly on the backbone will experience higher RTTs (and hence a bit more lag).

Currently, Verio is the primary internet provider for WorldsAway. In the near future we will be changing routing to provide additional service via Digex. When this happens, members will route via the provider that is closest to them (Digex or Verio), which will increase connectivity and response times, although they are quite good now. This means that users will automatically get the fastest of the two routes possible, and if one goes down, the other will serve as a backup.