Current edition: Vol.5, No.3, March 2002

Active Worlds News

Bot of the Month
Developers Tip
Worlds to Watch
Tech Support Tip
Hot Spots to Visit
AWEC Calendar
A'tuin Anniversary
Cy Awards
Volunteer Highlight


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Bot Of The Month Club

This article was previously published in December 1999, but with the large number of new users and people who are interested in bots, we are publishing it again, so that those new users can become familiar with an exciting automation technology available in ActiveWorlds!

Hamfon & The Hambots

BOTS BOTS BOTS - Everyone is always talking about BOTS - what IS a bot, anyway? In different environments, "bot" means different things. On the Internet, bots are often spider or helper programs that assist you by doing a lot of the labor for you when you search for something. On IRC, bots are often used to moderate chat rooms. In ActiveWorlds (and all other universes that use the ActiveWorlds program), bots are used as tools to perform various tasks.

Bots can act as DJs to change music in an area, they can be programmed to chat intelligently (or not ;-), they can be used to build or destroy property quickly - and are often used for making backups of build sites, they can be used to run games - to enforce rules and move game pieces. Bots in AW generally can do anything that a citizen can do (except telegrams and contact lists), but since they are programmed, they can do it much faster, and more accurately. BuildBot, for example, can cover a world with thousands of objects - in seconds.

In 1997, a couple of AW citizens had figured out how to talk directly to the world and universe servers - and publicly available bots were born. Early versions of HamBot responded to simple help commands, and moved and changed their avatars. Zach (W) also figured out how to create bots. HamBot evolved to have a full featured scripting language, and allowed users to create tourist and citizen bots. HamBots were used by many citizens - as tour guides, to assist in building, and to handle "public relations" questions and generally assist visitors to these citizens builds, towns, and worlds.

With the introduction of the ActiveWorlds SDK , other programmers were able to start creating their own bots. Late 1998 and 1999 brought several "general purpose" bots, as well as a number of bots created for specific tasks. Bots by Faber ( Preston ), HamFon ( HamBot ) and XelaG ( Xelagot ) are general-purpose - these are the bots you should try if you want to have your own bots, but you aren't a programmer.

The SDK also provided positioning and monitoring capabilities for bots - which allowed the programmers to create bots that could control games. Check out bingo in AWBingo world, checkers in AWChekrs world, spades in AWSpades, capture-the-flag in AWCtf, trivia questions in AWTrivia, and a nice collection of games (bowling, soccer, pacman (cypac), tictactoe, othello, bingo, trivia, and checkers) in AWGames. The application of Bots in Active Worlds is in its infancy - we have many useful tools and games, but we have just scratched the surface. What can you expect to see in the future?

  • More integration with databases - for example, bots could access user information that you have, and change their behavior and capabilities based on that information
  • Web access - the ability for the bot to do research for you, and to give you a summary, and then drill down to any specifics you'd like to know - similar to the Librarian in "Snow Crash" by Neil Stephenson
  • Full fledged tour-guide capabilities - with full control over your location, your web page, and the abilitity to give you lectures, and interactively chanabilityon your feedback
  • More complex gaming capabilities - better control of your over-all immersion experience

To get more information about bots, or to join in the bot revolution, start by downloading one or more of the general purpose bots. The urls above also have links to other bots by those progURLsers, many of which are free downloads or shareware. Then join in the discussions in the Bots or SDK newsgroups, and build your own bots!


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