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Software Review:7th Level's Agent 7, Part 2

By Scott Clark We know what it does...how's it work? Agent 7 actually uses several technologies, including Java, ActiveX, RealAudio and 7th Level's own bag of tricks. But the makers of Agent 7 have pretty much saved the developer from having to know anything about these technologies through the use of its Agent 7 wizard. The Agent 7 Wizard (See Figure 1) walks the developer through the steps of putting a character on their Web page.
The Agent 7 Wizard
Figure 1 The Agent 7 Wizard
To create a character, basically what you do is this:
  1. Pick a character from the list
  2. Choose the character level (from 1-4, with 1 having less actions, and 4 having the most)
  3. Type the text that the character will speak
  4. Record the audio, speaking the same text that you entered above, or select a wav file from your computer
  5. Select the recording criteria (such as 15 kbps voice, or 15 kbps music, etc)
  6. Select the directory where you wish the finished page to be stored, and if needed, provide your name and login password so the Wizard can upload it to your server.
  7. Review the new character in your browser.
Now, just because Agent 7 is basically a Wizard doesn't mean that all your work is done. Agent 7 still has some bugs to be worked out to be a seamless endeavor. When you have finished the creation process, you'll be presented with your character in the Web browser, and on the "test" page are several drop down boxes which enable you to choose certain "actions" based on events that happen to the character. These actions may involve the character speaking, moving to a new URL, pointing his finger, dancing around, etc. in response to events such as the mouse moving over the character, a mouse click, the beginning of the audio stream, the end of the audio stream, etc. The developer is presented with three types of info: the JavaScript, VBScript and Character script which would cause the action to occur. For example, to get the character to point up, you must insert this code into the character's text file:
 {OnMouseBrowseIn PointUp} 
So where is this text file? Well, remember back when you wrote the text that the character speaks before you recorded the audio? That text file! So now that you have several actions you wish the character to engage in, you must go back through the procedure and place the code beneath the "spoken text" in the text file, and then select the wav file that was previously recorded, and convert the two into a RealMedia file that will be streamed. If it sounds a bit confusing, that's because it is. In my opinion, these character actions should be a part of the creation process, not something you decide at a later time.


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