and snapshots by Betty B.
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
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
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
Betty B: Do you still make models...art...or
that kind of things in real material...like 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
Betty B: With all the web cams yes
Betty B: Why?
Betty B: And now we are two years later....you
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 further...am 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...
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
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
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