The Palace (computer program)
The Palace is a software program used to access graphical chat rooms called palaces. By default users are represented by spherical emoticons, but can also wear bitmaps called props. User messages appear as chat bubbles above their avatar, similar to those seen in comic books. Each room in a palace is represented by a large image that serves as a backdrop for the users. By clicking in certain areas in a room called doors, users can travel to different rooms. In some rooms, users are allowed to paint on the backdrop using a simple suite of tools similar to oekaki.
Palace clients and servers are available for Mac OS 9, Mac OS X, Linux, and Microsoft Windows.
The Palace has a flexible avatar system that allows users to combine small, partially transparent images to create a unique look for themselves. Once the member has created an avatar to represent herself or himself, the member can pick up various pieces of clothing or other items, such as hats, handbags, cans of soda, candy bars, bicycles, or hand tools. The Dollz that can be seen in many places around the internet today originated in The Palace.
As in many other virtual worlds, prestige is shown through the intricacy of the user's avatar. Some users sign on with two or more clients in order to blanket their avatar across a larger area to give themselves more room to express themselves.
The use of avatars also allowed friends and couples to show their closeness. Unlike all text chatrooms, The Palace offers the chance for groups and cliques to emerge. By simply putting your avatar next to someone else's avatar, you are signaling either that you two belong together or are friends. Conversely, by "running away" from another avatar, you can show your low opinion of that person.
The Palace was created by Jim Bumgardner, an employee of Time Warner Interactive, in 1996. Bumgardner incorporated many features of Idaho, an in-house authoring tool he had previously developed for making multimedia CD-ROMs. One of those features was iptScrae, a Forth-like programming language. The name is a play on the word "script", in Pig Latin. One of the unique features of the Palace for its time, was that the server software was given away for free, and ran on consumer PCs, rather than being housed in a central location. This is one of the reasons why Palace servers are still running today.
The Palace's source code, along with that of its associated server software, was the subject of a number of sales between companies until 2001, when it was purchased by Open Text Corporation as part of a bankruptcy settlement. The software is currently unsupported by Open Text or any of its previous owners, and many members of the community now consider the software abandonware and provide support for existing versions on various unofficial web sites.
There are no official Palace software developments but two groups have decided to make alternative clients : Pawnsoft created PalaceChat for Mac OS X and BHLabs is currently producing Phalanx Visual Chat.
Like many projects there are some drawbacks and most people decide to stick with the old and outdated client for as long as their operating system supports it.
There are now hundreds of palaces out there, people all over the world use the palace client to interact with each other and make friendships through a virtual world.
List of well-known palaces
- The Mansion which was the first palace to open its doors on november 25th 1995
- Practice Palace for people who need to learn how to operate the Palace Client
- The Welcome Palace for links to the rest of Palace space
- Avatar Palace for anyone wanting to find a nice dress, mostly teen chat
For a list of active Palaces people should visit the Palace directory (link is below in the External links part). To visit any of these worlds you need to install a Palace client first.
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