Cartoonist Ted Goff tried out the Cartoon Bar graphical chat environment the first day it was up and running. Here's what he had to say about it.
I tried Pete Oakley's new Palace site, The Cartoon Bar, last night. It's simply amazing. If everyone would download and install the Palace software (free, or you can pay $25 for special features) we could have meetings over there.
First, here's the link for the Palace, where you can download the software:
Download the free software
The software is available for Mac and PC platforms. Once you've installed it, go online, and instead of opening netscape or IE, open the Palace just as you would a browser. You'll see a menu bar at the top: select File, then select Connect. (These directions are for the PC version. I imagine they are about the same for the Mac version.) A window will appear and ask you for "Palace Server Address." To go to Pete's Cartoon Bar, type in cartoonsforum.com and 9994 in the field beside it. Then click okay.
Then the Palace will connect to Pete's site. The first thing you'll see is a cartoon drawing of the Cartoon Bar, and a sidewalk along the front. You might also see a chicken somewhere on the screen with the name, "Tooner." That's Pete. He might be available to chat, or he might be away. If he's away, you'll see a message over the chicken's head, something like "sssh... I'm sleeping." You'll also see a yellow ball with a happy face on it, and a title like "guest 22." That's you. Whatever you type in the dialog field below will appear as a speech balloon over your character (or avatar, as they're called.)
The Cartoon Bar has a variety of different rooms. Pete was kind enough to give me a guided tour. The way to find the "doorways" to the next rooms is to move the cursor around the screen. Wherever it turns into a pointing hand is a doorway. Click there, and your avatar will move to the next room. It takes a while (at 14.4) for the backgrounds to load, but once they've loaded they stay on your computer's hard drive and load quickly when you return.
If you register the program, you can create your own avatar. It can be anything -- a cartoon drawing, a photograph, or one of the standard Palace Avatars that you've customized. Pete says he'll make it possible for visitors to design their own rooms in the future. So, conceivably, we could have an NCS meeting hall, or an artist's studio, or whatever there. And if you register, you can have your own name on your avatar, instead of "guest 22" or "guest 39" which is automatically assigned to your avatar each time you sign on.
Since the room inside the Cartoon Bar building isn't ready yet, Pete took me down the sidewalk. If you click on the sidewalk to the right, you'll go to the next scene -- a village street. There are six different rooms ready, but I won't spoil the surprise by telling you everything about them. Hunt around, and you'll find each of them.
If you'd like to see if anyone is in one of the rooms, go under the Options menu, and select "Find User." It will list each present user and which room they are in. Just click on the user's name you want to join, and press the "go to" button. You can also select "Go To Room" under the Options menu, and see how many rooms there are at a site, and go directly to the room you want.
There are many other Palace sites online. You can find the Palace Directory at http://www.thepalace.com/. When you're done, go under the file menu, and select "exit."
Here are a few other intriguing features:
I can't recommend this experience enough. It's much more fun than a text based chat window. Try it out!
- Registered users can draw right on the screen during a conversation. If you want to explain something graphically, or just want to doodle while you talk, you can.
- Pete says that on a Mac, everything people "say" is spoken by the computer. There are a variety of voices available, but you can only pick one to speak all the dialog. I imagine this feature will be available on PCs down the road.
- Sound effects can be used -- I'm not sure to what extent, but I've encounted other Palace sites that had sounds in the background.
----------------------------------------------------------- Ted Goff's web site is at: http://www.tfs.net/personal/tgoff/main.html
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