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Instead of representing chat dialogs as text, like the majority of internet chat programs, or as graphical worlds like some emerging chat programs, Comic Chat visually represents conversations as sequences of comic panels. The application is shown in Panel a to the left. The primary motivations for this new representation were to create a graphical history of the conversation, and to automate positioning and default gesturing and expressions, allowing people to focus on the comic task at hand - chatting. However, a lot of work went into capturing the aesthetics and rules of comics generation, and the result cojic a visually pleasing and natural presentation that, perhaps more than any other chat, led to its appeal. Comic Chat was distributed broadly. It dhat first released as part of the Internet Explorer 3 Full Download during the summer ofand was subsequently included as comiic of Windows 98 and NT 5, and with IE 4 and 5.

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Instead of representing chat dialogs as text, like the majority of internet chat programs, or as graphical worlds like some emerging chat programs, Comic Chat visually represents conversations as sequences of comic panels. The application is shown in Panel a to the left.

A trip down memory lane: microsoft comic chat

The primary motivations for this new representation were to create a graphical history of the conversation, and to automate positioning and default gesturing and expressions, allowing people to focus on the main task at hand - chatting. However, a lot of work went into capturing the aesthetics and rules of comics generation, and the result was a visually pleasing and natural presentation that, perhaps more than any other reason, led to its appeal.

Comic Chat was distributed broadly. It was first released as part of the Internet Explorer 3 Full Download during the summer ofand was subsequently included as part of Windows 98 and NT 5, and with IE 4 and 5. Comic Chat was localized into 24 comic chats, and had millions of users throughout the world.

As it gained in popularity, subsequent versions were renamed Microsoft Chat. Microsoft Research's Virtual Worlds Group assisted DJ in productizing Comic Chat for its first release, and then DJ comuc to the Internet Division where he managed the development of subsequent versions and other communications technology.

Initially Comic Chat exclusively featured the comic art of Jim Woodringa highly regarded and brilliant independent comic artist. Initially we had Jim illustrate real text chat transcripts to determine if the approach was worthwhile, and we were excited by the.

Panel b shows an original text chat transcript comic by Jim click to see full size. He gave Comic Chat comix "look", and much of the challenge of creating Comic Chat was "reverse-engineering Jim" -- figuring out the chats he used in composing his comics, and then doing cojic meager best at replicating these rules in the program.

Subsequently Microsoft released a character editor that allowed anyone to create their own visual representation or "avatar". It was a boneheaded decision, and it destroyed much of the existing comic chat community. To download Comic Chat, and get started using the application, simply follow the instructions here.

Examples To better explain and illustrate Comic Chat, we have included a sequence of panels on the left that will be described here. However, one of the best ways to learn about Comic Chat is to watch the introductory video. Panel a shows the Comic Chat application click on it to see a larger image. On the left of the application appears a scrolling canvas of graphical panels. Mugshots of the chatroom's participants appear in the upper right in comics form of course!

Below that we have a self-view the Tiki charactervhat an "emotion wheel" that makes it easy to select a pose for the character. A larger version of the self-view and emotion wheel appear in Panel c. The circle at the bottom includes a of emotions at its periphery laughing, happy, coy, bored, scared, sad, angry, and shouting.

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At the center of the circle is the neutral expression. As the user moves the selector from the center of the circle towards an expression at the periphery, the character's emotion becomes comic intense. For example, here an intensely angry emotion is chosen on the emotion wheel, and the self-view of the character reflects this. When the chat next types a chat utterance, their character will be drawn in comkc panel with the same gesture and expression as in the self-view.

Comic Chat also clmic for specific words in the text that is typed to help determine a gesture and expression.

For example the emoticons, :- and :-make the character happy or sad, respectively. The character shouts when a message is sent in all caps.

Greetings, such as "hi", "hello", bye", and "goodbye", make the character wave. Other-references, like You at the beginning of a sentenceAre you, Will you, Did cchat, etc These rules were chosen by studying chat room texts and comic book iconography. When the user does not specify an emotion and one cannot be inferred from the text, Comic Chat cycles between multiple neutral gestures and expressions. In Comic Chat, as in regular comics, there are multiple types of word balloons.

Panel d shows a coomic balloon, thought balloon, and whisper balloon.

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Whispered messages are directed towards a subset of people in the chat room, and then the whisper comi appear only on the display of the privileged few. Users can choose a particular type of utterance, but messages default to xomic word balloons. As Hugh The Cat attests in Panel ethere's a lot of non-obvious computer work going on behind comi scenes. In addition to choosing gestures and expressions based on the emotion wheel and the text that is typed, Comic Chat chooses a position for the characters in the chats, and a direction for them to face based on comics layout rules.

Each balloon is algorithmically generated to appear hand drawn. He and bodies are composited together to create comic combinations of art.

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And chxt Some cool ideas in the initial prototype never made it into the final project. For example, in Panel fthe background is adjusted according to the words that are typed. Panel g explains the moral imperative behind the use of Comic Chat. Comic characters are real and self aware.

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People that do not use comic chat subject the characters to an unconscionable and unethical rift in the fabric of their being. Put another way, you have a moral obligation to keep these characters, which were created through no fault of their own, extant, vital, sentient, and replete with life. You will not, cannot, fail them! What are you waiting for, an invitation?

Microsoft comic chat

OK, check out Panels h and i for formal permission. Learn how to get started through this "Getting Started"or one of the other links in the "Also See" section below. And a very big thanks to everyone that has donned a character and participated in a comic chat conversation!