|We Are the Robots||2006-11-26 14:39:00 GMT
by Kami Harbinger
For a while now, I've been thinking about store presence. It's important to have someone in your shop or club or whatever, even if you're just sitting around building, because that green dot draws other green dots, and they can ask you questions and see demonstrations of your products, and soon you have a wild party of commerce. Camping is the lowest form of this, but something to draw people to your store is essential.
Products don't sell themselves, which is why we have salesmen. Advertising helps, but an empty storefront doesn't sell very much. For a few months earlier this year, I wasn't in-world much, so I didn't sell nearly as much as I had grown to expect. Even now, lag in Jiminy is getting insane, so I can't often work there, and I may be moving soon.
Let's say you're obsessed, and spend 8 hours of every day in-world (as I do on the weekends). SL is world-wide, so that's 16 hours a day that you're not there when potential customers are. You might be able to hire someone to be a salesman; it's a reasonable job for a newbie you can trust, but training them consumes time you may not have, and people wander off, and don't really want to do "Second Work" for a few L$ an hour... Not to mention the minimum wage laws, which may apply here.
So I came up with a cheap technical fix. THE KAMI ROBOT! The Kami Robot is a simple scripted agent that monitors for chat and responds or hands out notecards, can detect people to greet them, can page you if something important comes up, and can even sell items or accept tips. It can be a receptionist, a bartender, a salesman, or that weird guy at the tavern in every RPG that hands you the Spatula of Destiny.
Now sure, any scripter can spend a few hours or days and write one of these from scratch, that does some specific set of tasks. What separates the Kami Robot from all others is the magic of "Robot.cfg". A notecard with events and commands, simple enough to be written by any non-technical person, will control your Robot's every behavior. Here's an example of a rather surly receptionist:
listen/robot/say/0/I'm not a robot, you're a robot! listen/kami/say/0/Kami Harbinger's not in right now. If it's urgent, slip me L$10. money/10/msg/owner/%u has an urgent message for you. touch/say/0/Don't poke me, or I'll poke you.
The Kami Robot is available now for the low, low price of L$1000! If you'd rather not use my last-minute-design shiny robot body, you should be able to just pull the script out and drop it in something else.
If response to this model is good, I'll be making a 2.0 version (with a free upgrade for any Kami Robot 1.0 owners) with some simple animatronics and a range of more charming humanoid bodies.
Coincidentally, C.C. Chapman in Managing the Gray #21 mentioned a friend volunteering as his secretary for a day, and that it worked great; people were constantly coming by and asking questions. That is the kind of interaction you want, but can't always provide.
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