Puppets and Zombies and Pets, oh my!

So, I'm playing (with) fictive characters and they're all playing with puppets, right? Well, yes and no. Like several others, the word does not have quite the same meaning as in the real world.
One of the fun (?) things you can do on a MUCK is create things. Build rooms, fill them with objects and make the rooms and/or objects do things (actions). And one thing you can do is to create an object (usually described as an animal or robot - they are just records in a database, they "are" whatever you say they are [Sidetrack: That goes for player characters as well - on Furry there once was a player who played a shade of blue! (It later became more concrete but retained the colour..]) and make it follow you (well, your character...) around and even take orders from you just like your main character.
These strange little creatures are known by different names depending on how they function. An object that has been set up to take orders from you (through your character) is a "puppet". If it is connected to a special program that makes it follow you around, it is a "pet". And if it is set up to report back to you what it "sees" and "hears" (when moving around on its own), it is a "zombie".
[For more on setting up the different types and cool things to do with them, check my newest addition to this site.]
Most companions are both puppets, pets and zombies, which explains why the latest (?) modification to the Zomcont program used on at least Dizzy and Fuzzy is so popular - it makes a pet/zombie follow you around without repeating the room descriptions your character has already seen!

But enough of the technical stuff, here's a (roughly) chronological listing of my (characters') creations in this category:


The help files I studied before joining Furry did contain instructions for building puppets/zombies, but the first time and place I practiced the art was on my second MUCK, TF&F. Someone had left a note (object called a note) with the "recipe" lying around, and I looked at it and decided to give it a try. This was just meant as an experiment, so my first thought was to called it Test. That was just too boring, so I decided to add a number, and as a Hitchhiker's Guide fan I made a pretty obvious choice! The name was later shortened to just 42.
42's species was "hitchhiker", and its description read "Life, the Universe and Everything!". It carried two objects called "The Question!" and "the Answer!", and you won't believe the trouble I had making them appear in that order! (This was during my first time on a MUCK, remember? I later found out how simple it is to rearrange things!) When some joker came running into the park one day and duct-taped everyone, I decided that ol' 42 had teflon fur, and that's about how far I got with defining that one.
Useless trivia: There were actually two versions of 42. The first one was created "manually" the oldfashioned way and was just a puppet/zombie. I later found out that the pet function depended on a special program (Zomcont.muf) but didn't know how to set it up manually on an existing puppet, so I used a special program for creating a new one from scratch and simply transferred the description data (and the two objects) to that one. If anyone from TF&F remembers seeing Huwuda with a puppet called Another One or something, that was the one that became the new #42, so to speak...
My first puppet was destroyed with the rest of the MUCK, but by that time I had already created several others, starting with...


If I remember correctly, this was the day after I made 42, or maybe a day or two after that. Yip and his friend/partner sfox (who got his name from his player's email user name, hence the small s) were shooting the breeze in the latter's room when sfox's player suddenly announced that his computer was acting up again and he had to go offline and reboot. Golden opportunity! <evil grin> I spent the next couple of minutes playing Frankenstein, and so the first thing sfox "heard" when he got back online was Yip saying "Hey, look what the stork brought!" and a little fox called tfox hugging him and calling him daddy!
The little tyke is still around - we decided to keep him (sex: male, species: fox) and change him to sfox's nephew (his original description read "You see a little fox just like sfox, but smaller. Hmmm...!" Hey, I was in a hurry, okay?) - and after a while I had transferred both ownership and control to sfox.


After a while sfox got kind of tired of having to control tfox whenever he was around, and wanted me to take over again for a while. I didn't really want to because taking control of a puppet is hard enough, and switching it back and forth would be even harder. So I started thinking about other ways to control a puppet, and built the mobile to see if it was possible to make a remote control as an object and enable anyone holding the remote to control the puppet. Well, it is but the feedback still goes to its owner, so the possibilities are rather limited. I (Yip) have still kept the mobile though and am/is occasionally using it as a messenger and a carrier of special actions. (The last is technical, don't ask!)
The mobile does not really have a specified appearance - its species is "prototype" and the description is just an explanation of what it's for and how to take control of it and use the actions attached to it. This led to a bit of confusion when one of my new friends (whose native language isn't English) met the mobile (for the first time) somewhere. Apparently he had looked up the word and assumed he was looking at a decoration piece hanging from the ceiling, so he got rather surprised when it talked to him! (It's supposed to be short for mobile unit or something.)
Restricted information: For a couple of weeks last spring the mobile seemed to have disappeared from the surface of Furry. It was still there, but wearing a different appearance under some other name that eventually developed into an alt...


One fine day on TF&F Huwuda went exploring and found that Squirrel City had been reopened after allegedly being quarantined for a few thousand years. (Part of an elaborate miniplot - don't ask!) And consequently the Public Drone Machine (a transformation device that enabled players to explore the city in character as squirrel "drones") was functioning again. After a bit of experimentation with the machine he found a form I liked and decided to work a bit on and transfer to a new puppet named Waydya.
Well, actually I did a stupid mistake and lost the original morph, so I had to start over with a new one, but Waydya turned out pretty cute anyway!
The original Waydya, who was really Huwuda's third puppet if you count both the 42s, got wiped out with the rest of TF&F, but unlike her owner and his other puppet she survived long enough as a concept to develop into a full fledged character on SpinDizzy.


This is one of the few puppets I have created with a specific purpose in mind. ;) As suggested at the beginning it's possible to create special "actions" that enable players to use more than the standard commands, but there is a catch. If an action is "attached" to a room, anyone in that room can use it. If it's attached to an object, anyone holding that object or just standing in the same room (assuming it's in the room and not held by anyone) can use it. But if an action is attached to a character, only that character can use it. Duh. Sure, your character is a really convenient place to store private actions, but if you want to make a portable action for anyone to use, it has to be on an object. And to avoid having to drop the object every time they enter a room and pick it up again when they leave, many players choose to make the action carrier a pet so it follows them around automatically. This is why many characters can be seen followed around by their tails and other strange things!
Having a tail follow Jabari around sounded a bit too weird for me (besides a lion's tail isn't that big anyway!), so when I made a portable action for him I decided to make the carrier an individual entity, and that is how the old cockatoo Kitzuka ("ghost" in swahili) was born. (Yes, I know the cockatoo isn't an African bird but nobody's said anything so far!) According to the description, this old bird is Jabari's mentor and magical familiar, enabling him to work his magic. (Which just happens to be true - the action is attached to her!) Because she is just an action carrier (though I do use her for testing exits and stuff now and then), I have also made her deaf and (nearly) blind to avoid having to play her in interaction with other characters - she's just there.


Okayyyy... Now we're getting into the Domain project. Jabari is slightly out of character for that area, so I made Jabari junior (who, FYI, is not Jabari's son but his nephew or something - like sfox, Jabari is really a bit too young to be a father...) as a kind of Domain alter ego. If the project ever takes off (no response so far) he may become an alt, but until that happens this younger urban version of Jabari (sex: male, species: lion) will just spend most of his time hanging around in the Domain Central Square and waiting for visitors to show off to...


Some players are quite content with having just one identity, others use the morph program (or "spell" to IC players) to change from one identity to another. But some aren't even satisfied with having many identities and have somehow found a way to enable other players to change them. (Just as an example, if you meet Adair on Furry, try to "skunk" or "cheetah" her - she's got more forms than that, but I can't remember them just now! (Note: This only works in rooms where the special social actions are installed.))
I've got no idea how this is done, and getting transformed like that would be pretty out of character for most of my identities anyway, so I decided to make a puppet that anyone nearby can transform. Morphia was first created on TF&F about a week before the big wipe-out and got lost in it. Fortunately I had all the information filed locally and it only took a couple of minutes to recreate her in Jabari's second home, whence he brought her with him to SpinDizzy. As soon as I get her 'debugged' and come up with some more morphs for her I'll probably copy her to Furry as well... or maybe she'll turn up on this site as a project you can duplicate...!
[Morphia has three morphs so far: rabbit, raccoon and lion(ess). Suggestions for more are welcome, particularly if they are accompanied by complete descriptions in the same style as the ones I've written already.]
For the technically minded: Morphia has one action associated with each of her forms. Each action contains a "force" MPI code that makes her run the ordinary morph program with the appropriate parameter. There are probably better ways of doing this, but...


Back to weirdness! Lego_Fox was the new Waydya's (the character, not the puppet) first "live" creation, and a rather spontaneous one at that! His creation story is found in his description, but just to repeat myself a bit, various people were standing around on SD and talking about the shortage of something (foxes??) when Waydya asked jestfully "Why don't we just build some?" Some vixen handed her a box of Lego bricks, and when I "saw" that they were all red, white and black I asked if I was supposed to build a Lego fox. Some of the others seemed to think it was a good idea, so I did it!


Of course, once you have a creature made of Lego, you can take it for granted that some people's fingers will start itching, and one day someone started "building" (He was just posing, not actually creating anything) more Lego foxes, including a vixen, then after some thought took them apart and used the parts to "improve" Lego_Fox! This got a bit too silly for both me and LF, so I let him remove the extra parts and use some of them to reconstruct the vixen. (That's right, I built them both, but the IC story is that Waydya built LF and he built LV, who has started trying to persuade other players to build more Lego creatures! So far only Nikon (a raccoon) has responded and built Lego_Coon, but who knows what the future will bring? Apart from another big phone bill I mean!)


Another of Waydya's creations... not really. I found this cool otter morph in a TRaM device on Furry (the Otterizer to be precise) and decided to keep it and do something with it. What I did was store the morph data and "export" it to SpinDizzy, where I let Waydya use it for another puppet. That was a couple of days ago as I write this, and I don't know what, if anything, is going to come out of this yet.
As the name suggests (?) Mekota is a Mekanikal Ota (otter), and a pretty expensive one too. Built of silver and platinum with gemstones for eyes, her surface consists of myriads of tiny little metal parts that have a tendency to pinch your fur when you hug her. (The hug message and the smell are the only truly original things I have added to the design so far. Time will show... Oh, and if you polish her (SD has a LOT of "hug verbs"!) she sparkles expensively... ;)

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