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Dreme Lojyk : the man behind the CY-award.

 Interview and snapshots by Betty B. Dreme Buildings    

The day i was introduced to this person and his work, changed my perspective towards building in every way. I was dealing with a "builders block" and was even wondering if my AW days were over. Building lost all her magic , excitement and interest to me. Me meeting him and seeing his buildings brought back the eagerness to create again.  
And now i was about to interview this (to me) master builder of Active Worlds. The preparation for this interview led to visiting the toilet more then once in a hour,  tossing and turning in bed, thinking about the right questions , visiting his building sites over and over again, to checking my log over and over again (if that would fail!)  
With one old genever (Dutch booze) behind the jaws (to calm down the nerves), a new package of ciggy´s and a towel to wipe my sweaty hands, I teleported to AW 1964N 0W. To meet the winner of the Cy Award for Excellence in Community Development in the category of Architecture/Urban Planning/DesignÖÖ.Dreme Lojyk. 

Dreme Lojyk: Good evening Betty  :) 
Betty B:  Evening :) Tired? 
Dreme Lojyk: Nah, a workmate's been feeding me extremely powerful coffee all day  ;) 
Betty B: Ah good :) 
Dreme Lojyk: Have you been to this place before? 
Betty B: Yes I visited all your places before 
Betty B: Ok can I start asking you some questions? 
Dreme Lojyk: Sure, shoot , c'mon in. 
Betty B: How did you get involved with computers? 
Dreme Lojyk: I've always been intrigued by technology.  TV documentaries about inventions and the odder forms of engineering have always caught my interest... so, when Clive Sinclair brought out his tiny home computers in 1980, I had to have one. 
Betty B: What did you do with your first computer? 
Dreme Lojyk: Well, there I am with Clive's ZX81, one of the worlds first useable home computers...and I'm about 17 and know exactly nothing about what it could be used for. So, I turned it on, turned to page one of the manual, and began a journey thatís led me here ;) At first all any of us could do was learn BASIC on the things, as thatís what the manual taught you. After you learned some of that, you started to experiment, trying out your own ideas, playing with the different program forms. 
Dreme Lojyk: Well, after I learned basic on a ZX81, I got a Sinclair ZX Spectrum, and its about then that pre-written software started coming out...So programming lost its appeal  and I entered a long period of computer consumerism... From Spectrum to Amiga four years later...Ah, the Amiga... :)The first system that behaved like a real computer. 
Betty B: Does your work involves computers as well? 
Betty B: Tell me how you started on internet and when was that? 
Dreme Lojyk: Anyway, it was my second Amiga that first got a modem.  It does now, yes. My first experiences were with a system called Prestel. Prestel was a teletext based dialup system, owned and operated by British Telecom. Are you familiar with the teletext thatís broadcast by TV companies? 
Betty B: Yes, we have it here as well 
Dreme Lojyk: Well, thatís exactly what you saw on screen, except you could navigate around their services more easily and many of the services were interactive, like chat facilities, and an early form of email, although it only worked between the Prestel users. There were even online games, called MUDs  Multi User Dungeons. 
Betty B: At that time I found it boring , didnít interest me...did it interest you? 
Dreme Lojyk: No graphics, just a text-style adventure game interface, but you could interact with the other players. 
Betty B: I guess it did to you...your vision is more  a technical approach 
Dreme Lojyk: Well, the games were OK, but I preferred the chat system that used the same system, called DialTalk. Anyway, Prestel eventually killed off all the non-business stuff. But before they did, they offered everyone a cheap signup to CompuServe.  So I moved on up the ladder. And for the next couple of years I wandered round what felt to me, the huge vast spaces of the CompuServe servers. 
Betty B: At the time were you still creating things on the computer? 
Dreme Lojyk: Towards the end of my time in CompuServe, I changed computers again, this time to the Amiga 4000. And yes I was.  Programming was (and is) still not that interesting to me, but I'd learned about the joys of graphics, and started using a package called Imagine, a 3d modelling and raytrace rendering system. 
Betty B: Ah so you work with that as well 
Dreme Lojyk: And it was the first time that my interest in modelling, sculpture had been possible on a computer. 
 I used to build lots of model kits years ago, and was into many types of construction kits as a kid, like Lego, Meccano, Fischer Technic...Although I can doodle fairly well, 2D drawing is not something I'm good at, but give me a 3d medium and I do quite well. Anyhow, it was the Amiga 4000 that was my first gateway into the Internet proper 
Betty B: Do you still make that kind of things in real clay for example? 
Dreme Lojyk: Does Plasticine count?  Been using that stuff all my life. I've made things in almost every substance imaginable, I even got to work in glass blowing when I was 18. Plasticine is a proprietary non-toxic modelling material for children and artists.  Its made from clay, oil and water, and a few other secret ingredients. 
Betty B: Yes i know that stuff :) 
Betty B: So you are a creator in many ways. When did you enter AW? 
Dreme Lojyk: About 2 years ago. 
Betty B: How did you find out about this place? 
Dreme Lojyk: I was being wowed by a graphical chat system called Worlds Away. It was the first I'd ever seen, but it was 2D, and the range of places was a little limited, plus all you could collect to add to your persona was clothing and personal accessories. Then one of the lecturers, who's a big internet explorer, he likes to delve into the more bizarre places in it, he mentioned Active Worlds.  So, I dutifully trotted over to what was then the Worlds Inc website and started reading the bumf on the screen. And was immediately hooked by one particular page.  I'd recently read Snowcrash, by Neal Stephenson, and although already a big fan of William Gibson, (read Neuromancer 5 times so far) I'd found Stephensonís vision of Cyberspace somewhat more believable. The page in question was the one where Stephenson had written his own little greeting and it was this that hooked me. 
Betty B: I just found out about that book today...bumped into it surfing the web 
Dreme Lojyk: Read it. 
Betty B: Yes I was straight away interested :) 
Dreme Lojyk: In it he describes a vision of cyberspace that lead directly to many of the concepts in use here in Active Worlds.  What really blew me away was, his vision is set in the future, and yet here it was, free, and on my computer (which was by this time a P133 (its still is a P133, but changes are afoot) I can still remember the night I got the software loaded on the PC.  I logged in, after some business with immigrating and receiving a code via email...and this window opened, with a black rectangle in it...and then something wonderful happened. 
 A figure suddenly appeared, alien, grey, and animated. Within moments I was surrounded by them, all walking, leaning to and fro, straightening imaginary ties, and checking invisible watches. 
Betty B: hahaha 
Dreme Lojyk: and we were in a strange place, with menacing gates on all sides... and if that wasnít astounding enough...One of them talked to me. 24 hours later I'd staked out my first claim in AlphaWorld. Your standing on it now. 
Betty B: Quick mover :) 
Dreme Lojyk: Yup.  The second night I spent about 6/7 hours just exploringÖ.about a month later I'd built a building, but not here, this place came later. 
Dreme Lojyk: My first building was Windows on the World 

Betty B: With all the web cams yes 
Betty B: And now we are two years just win the Cy award...what do you think about that? 
Dreme Lojyk: I feel good about it.  It was completely unexpected, I didn't know I'd been nominated until I got a message asking if I'd come to the presentation. 
Betty B: I always have a feeling that your trying to teach people a lesson in looking i right? 
Dreme Lojyk: I had met a person who nominated the house earlier that week, but nothing about nominations was said.  Thatís a very nice thing to say, but I'm not always thinking in those terms. 
Betty B: I hope not...hope you enjoy yourself in the first place :) 
Dreme Lojyk: I'd like to think that was what I was doing, but mostly I'm building in here for me.  Its strange; I have played with the other public worlds, but I always end up back here in Alpha...and I think I know why... 

Betty B: Why? 
Dreme Lojyk: Partly its because there's so much space to fill here...but primarily... I think its because the Alpha object set is so bland, simple and geometrically unspecific. Example; In Alpha you'd have to think long and hard about how to build something like an aeroplane. But in places like America, they've been built for you as single objects. So thereís no challenge I had a really good feeling when I figured out how to put round, real looking wheels on an AlphaWorld car using a custom made graphic on a picture object.  I can see the attraction of the worlds with more objects, but for me, a small range of 'colours' releases more creative energy. Maybe I'll give it a go someday, but the approach to building in some other worlds is that if there isn't an object for it, then add one.  I find it more satisfying to use whatís already there in creative ways. 
Betty B: So how do you see the future of virtual worlds? 
Dreme Lojyk: Now thatís a toughie. Everyone thinks they know, a world filled with VR headsets, people with data sockets into their brains, etc...But, this, AW, wasn't really predicted.  Everyone thought VR had to be twin screens, stereoscopic, a visual headset. 
Betty B: What about using your own animations... whenever you want 
Dreme Lojyk: Ah, you mean how do I think AW will develop? 
Betty B: not in your own world...but anywhere 
Betty B: no not AW in special 
Dreme Lojyk: Well, now that theres the AW SDK (software developers kit) I think you'll begin to see real progress in innovative AW add-ons and enhancements.  I've been expecting for the last couple of years that a competitor would appear, and when I heard about Blaxxun I thought that would be it 
Betty B: Like what? 
Dreme Lojyk: Hambot is one of the first.   
Betty B: With his bots? 
Dreme Lojyk: Yes.  Without some very in-depth knowledge of how the AW servers were working, that was a project dead in the water   He used the SDK and it enabled him to develop software that interfaced with the servers.  The point of the SDK is to make the architecture of the system more open, and to allow people to develop new add-ons, like Hambot, that work within the current and future set-up without damaging it.  I had had my doubts about it,  but COF havenít banned it so it must be OK by them 
Betty B: yes 
Betty B: Well I think I know everything now, what I wanted to know :) 
Dreme Lojyk: As long as only COF knew enough about how AW worked, then they were the only ones to create new stuff.  Now that more people can know, we'll start to see changes more often 
Betty B: If I think of more I will ask you ok?   Well that would be interesting i think 
Dreme Lojyk: Is this the end of the interview? 
Betty B: I think the possibilities are endless in a way...but beyond my knowledge 
Betty B: Yes this was it :) 
Dreme Lojyk: Bummer, and just as I was getting to the good bit... 
Dreme Lojyk: ;) 
Betty B: oh go on then :)) 
Dreme Lojyk: Hehe, gotcha... :D 
Betty B: hahaha 
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