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Hamfon : I'm not a Bot .....

 Interview by Simon Says. Another CY-award winner : Hamfon. He probably has one of the most visited pages (by the AW-community) on the web. The man who allowed us to make bots walk the face of the worlds in AW or build without the risk of our avatars getting a hernia. An interview.  

Simon Says: Hi, hamfon :)) how are you? :) 

HamFon: Doing fine, Simon :-)  How are you? 

Simon Says: I'm ok, thx :)) Your place, I presume? :) 

HamFon: Yeah, this is my warping wall, behind me, with warps to a bunch of things  
        I've built... Most is pretty old. 
        Behind you are the sauna, ski slope, trampoline, beer garden, pool, bungee,  
        and other stuff.... 

Simon Says: Hamfon, winner of a CY-awrd..... how did it feel? 

HamFon: It was great - a very big surprise to me, tho, since I didn't even know that  
        I was nominated... 

Simon Says: That seems to be the case with all of you award winners:) 

HamFon: There are around 400 users of HamBot, so I guess I have more support than I  
        thought LOL 

Simon Says: 400 is much. That will give you a lot of work, not? 

HamFon: Well, actually, I have maybe 20 or 30 people who I "actively" support - the  
        rest just use existing scripts, or figure things out for themselves. 
        I've been running bots for about a year and a half - on AW version 1, as well  
        as version 2. 
        I also have taught a class in the AWUniversity for how to use bots. 
        There are a lot of uses or potential uses for bots - and we are just on the  
        very edge of exploiting what they can do. 
Simon Says: Can you give some examples? 

HamFon: A tour-guide bot - that leads you around a world or part of a world, talks to  
        you, points things out. 
        A help bot that converses with you and answers questions. 
        A DJ bot to play music (there is one running in the Oct31 world now for the  
        Halloween party room) and also Roland has one in AWGate 
        Building bots - to automate landscaping (see the Virtualy world - all done by  
        Game bots - like for Trivia games, and for more interactive games such as maybe  
        games of football. :-) 

Simon Says: How did you come to the idea? 

HamFon: Well... hmmm. 
        I started out a couple years ago needing to do things more automated than AW  
        would let me, so I figured out the messages going back and forth from the world  
        and universe servers to the AW client program, and then made my own program to  
        do that.  My first bot was for the purpose of looking at several avatars at one  
        time - it was a line-up of ten bots, each in different avatars. 
        From there, I went on to start listening to conversations, and having the bot  
        say things based on what it heard. 
        I also wanted to be able to build with no starter object - like way far out ....  
        and also to be able to build a repeated pattern quickly. 

Simon Says: So, building came later? 

HamFon: My 3rd or 4th bot application did building, and used a propdump-formatted file to  
        build from. Basically, it would let you "dump" a section of AW - and then rebuild  
        it somewhere else. 

Simon Says: Like copying it? 

HamFon: Yes, exactly. 
        It was much easier and quicker with a bot :-) 

Simon Says: And you could 

HamFon: Yes.  In fact, I had the building bot listen to you to figure out what to build. 

Simon Says: Yes, i saw that. As i understand you always made Bot-ware for AW? Any other  
        environments too? 

HamFon: No, not really... I've been in several other places, Blaxxun - and others, but  
        none is as advanced or as immersible as Active Worlds. 
        And the fact that you can actually BUILD here - it's just so much more like real  
        life than any other environments. 

Simon Says: You needed cooperation of COF, I guess....was it always easy to get it? 

HamFon: Actually, COF did NOT help me - I had to work it all out on my own.  They did not  
        share their message set. 

Simon Says: Any idea why not? 

HamFon: Well, sure... it's a proprietary system - and knowing how it works, it's easier to  
        hack or hurt it. 
        So they did not want to share it, but they were not causing me any trouble either... 
        They did not block me or discourage me. 

Simon Says: Any idea how bots are accepted by the users? 

HamFon: There was a lot of initial resistance to bots. 
        There are several things that they do that cause trouble...  
        One is that the bots see everyone, so if someone is "lurking", they get exposed... 

Simon Says: Isn't that the reponsability of the Bot-writer? He/she writes the script.... 

HamFon: It's the bot-writer's option - and they can make it bad for the normal users -  
        such as at AW in Ground Zero.. 

Simon Says: Last time i used bots, they had to stay out of the GZ-perimeter 

HamFon: Yes, HamBot blocks out from GZ just for that reason. There were a lot of people  
        who got mad because bots in GZ were catching them and saying their names.  
        Also, bots can say too much - they can scroll too much text...  flooding the screen. 

Simon Says: Were bots ever used for pk-assistance? 

HamFon: Yes, I wrote some bots to help PKs - they basically just helped identify people  
        - just as a normal PS (bold-type Public Speaker)can do. 

Simon Says: You mean you wrote scripts? Or did the software have to change? 

HamFon: I wrote the PK scripts, and also enhanced HamBot to support new features.  However,  
        the PK bots are no different from the normal HamBot bots.  All other bot users have  
        the same capability, except that the PK bots can get in to GZ. 
        The older bots also were able to identify IP addresses.. however, the newer versions 
        of AW don't support that. 

Simon Says: Why not? 

HamFon: The version 1 AW supported peer-to-peer chatting - the ability for each machine  
        to talk directly to others, without going thru the server. 
        But in version 2 AW, everything goes thru the servers, and they don't need to allow 
        each user to know other's IP addresses. 

Simon Says: Ok. Any ideas on what to come in the future? 

HamFon: Yes - more automation for everything- more helpers and easier for us all to do more  
        with chat commands. 
        Also, fully immersible games.... 
        Like maybe REAL football games or soccer games... 
        With a ball for an avatar, and players that are able to interact more directly. 

Simon Says: Must be a hell of a job. Time to spare i guess? lol 

HamFon: Well, between building projects (Titans Guild, and my own world, and friends worlds) 
        - and bots, and working on AW code, I don't have much "free" time. 
        But it's all fun - I really enjoy it... 

Simon Says: How would one keep doing it, if it were otherwise? 

HamFon: Hehehe.... Well, that's why I work all night on this stuff - it's more fun than  
        sleeping :-)) 

Simon Says: What will the influence of SDK be? 

HamFon: The SDK allows you build your own bots in C or C++ - but you need to have a  
        programming environment. 
        HamBot supports SDK - for those people who don't want to do their own programming. 
        And the SDK will allow others to build more advanced bots than HamBot. 

Simon Says: Then we surely didn't see the end of it yet. So no real other Bot-types are to  
        be expected? 

HamFon: Of HamBot?  No, actually, it compliments the SDK, because it can be used for those  
        who don't want to write their own program. 
        They can just write simple scripts. 

Simon Says: Thank you very much for this conversation...anything you'd like to say to our  

HamFon: I'd like to thank you and all the readers who have used bots....  And I'd like to  
        have you all join with me in architecting the future of the virtual worlds. 

Simon Says: A last question, Hamfon.... Was I interviewing a bot? 
HamFon: I am not a bot.... 
HamFon: I am not a bot... 
HamFon: I am not a bot... 
HamFon: LOL 
HamFon: heheh 

Simon Says: hahahaha, guess you weren't....... :)) 

HamFon: Nope, it's the real me.. for a change... 

 Simon Says 
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