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Xuri
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on: March 13, 2013, 03:56:20 AM

Soo... I'm looking for thoughts, ideas and/or inspiring examples on how to design a chat-system with localized "chat channels" based on player location in an online roleplaying game (with a limited amount (20-30?) of players in each such location), the ultimate goal of which should be to foster/reinforce positive social interaction between players and prevent, discourage and/or punish negative behaviour.

I realize that this might very well be an exercise in futility, due to the following...

...but I'd still like to hear thoughts on this.

What would be included in your ideal chat-system design? What improvements would you make to the chat-systems implemented in currently available games? Is there at all anything left to improve on?

-= Ho Eyo He Hum =-
Nebu
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Reply #1 on: March 13, 2013, 07:45:41 AM

I know that this has little to do with the actual chat system, but I've always wanted accounts to have a consistent and unique tag (i.e. a surname).  If all toons on an account have a singular identifier, then it acts as a means to discourage griefing and general douchebaggery.  Your avatar is your identity in game.  The more that your behavior is tied to your reputation, the more people will be forced to consider the cost of their in-game actions. 

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-  Mark Twain
Hutch
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Reply #2 on: March 13, 2013, 09:10:59 AM

Here is how I have my chat tabs set up in WoW. I'm not saying that there are any original ideas here, but this is my no-regrets setup. I don't have chat add-ons, all customization is using features native to WoW.

Main frame: local chat, whispers, party and raid chat, guild chat, officer chat. Environmental stuff (emotes, etc). Blocked: Yell, globals.
Combat frame: default blizzard config. I don't even know if this frame can be modified.
"Tell" frame: all chat except Yell and Say. Just in case I want to go back and see a tell, but not look for it in the main frame.
"Spam" frame: all chat, all globals. Basically, in case someone in my guild says "check out Trade chat, something funny is happening."

If I encounter someone truly obnoxious, right-click their name to ignore. I believe ignore is automatically account-wide in WoW nowadays.

However my needs are relatively simple. I almost always talk only to guildmates and battle-tag friends.

Edit: Where possible, I have peoples' toon names colored with their standard in-game class color.

Also, did I say no regrets? I do wish that I could get a timestamp, like you get from the Prat add-on, without installing Prat.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2013, 09:17:53 AM by Hutch »

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Cadaverine
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Reply #3 on: March 13, 2013, 05:39:07 PM

A time stamp option would be good.

As Nebu mentioned, some sort of account-wide identifier, similar to what Star Trek Online uses.

I also like Hutch's idea of being able to change the color of peoples names, whether by class, by guild, or what have you.

Lastly, I'd like the ability to just turn the chat window off entirely for those times when I'm feeling particularly anti-social.

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Nebu
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Reply #4 on: March 13, 2013, 10:58:30 PM

As Nebu mentioned, some sort of account-wide identifier, similar to what Star Trek Online uses.

I'd prefer an identifier by IP rather than by account, but that may be going a bit too far.  It's just too easy to have multiple accounts on F2P games and be a douche on one of them. 

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Xuri
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Reply #5 on: March 13, 2013, 11:44:52 PM

Well, people who want to grief will generally find a way no matter what obstacles you put in their way. I don't really think restrictions like limiting the amount of accounts per IP would have any other effect than be a bother for the people who want multiple accounts for more "legit" reasons - like for instance several people in the same household playing at the same time.

As for account-wide identifiers - if we dismiss the effect it would have on pure griefers (none, because of multiple accounts), I guess it could provide some incentive to not behave like an asshat on your regular characters, though it's a double-edged sword as well. For instance, from time to time you might want to take a break from the usual guild-drama and/or constantly have to reply to people who know you - or to hide from your boss who's playing the same game as you awesome, for real

I guess it comes down to how much convenience one can sacrifice for "accountability" before the game starts to suffer from it?

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ezrast
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Reply #6 on: March 14, 2013, 12:08:25 AM

You can keep all that if you allow users to log on invisibly (only to the chat system, of course - if your GM sees you in the open world and wonders why you're having fun instead of farming mats for the guild bank you're still boned).
Viin
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Reply #7 on: March 14, 2013, 12:21:30 AM

Open PVP solves all those problems.

- Viin
Ragnoros
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Reply #8 on: March 14, 2013, 03:37:45 AM

Isn't local chat basically exactly what you are alluding to in every MMO ever? i.e. I zone into Mulgore and it puts me into chat with the other 5-10 newbies there?

I think the MUCH bigger issue is giving players an incentive to interact. Obv. WoW does it backwards with mod tagging and quests. GW2 pushed things forward with everyone getting the reward, but given the nature of GW2 encounters, everyone just facerolls to victory and it is fine, and no one talks. What you need is a reason for people to need to communicate. Then having an appropriate chat channel or w/e matters.

See, if you really wanted to foster some exciting interactions... I would have the starting zone be an instance that would randomly pair up 3 noobs for the tutorial/intro zone/mission. Say it's SWTOR random sci-fi game and you get dropped behind enemy lines for a covert mission, and you have to work together to avoid/distract guards, get into rooms and accomplish goals, while others cover your back. You all fail or succeed as a group. Either way you get to continue, but if someone sucks you can arrange for the guards to find them and they get to fight out of the NPC jail alone before the came continues, or maybe a ranking system of who was helpful or a dick. I mean, limitless potential for abuse/dickery, but i'll bet people might fire off a couple words in chat, maybe.

Just a stupid example, but I think you get what I mean in that people need a reason to interact in your game. They could just be doing chat roulette if they wanna talk with people. Gamers wanna play.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2013, 03:45:46 AM by Ragnoros »

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Hutch
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Reply #9 on: March 14, 2013, 06:00:33 AM

Open PVP solves all those problems.

Just like killing all of your livestock will prevent the spread of hoof and mouth disease.

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Reply #10 on: March 14, 2013, 06:09:21 AM

Xuri, getting back to your stated goals, I don't know if you can foster community-building and/or punish bad players just via the chat system, with the exception of the ignore functions that are already pervasive in modern MMOs.

Having some content in your game that requires people to band together for success is going to be key, but that's outside the scope of the chat system. Unless you're planning to make people form groups using a global LFG channel  swamp poop


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apocrypha
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Reply #11 on: March 14, 2013, 07:02:29 AM

You need a simple right-click -> ignore/report option, that works flawlessly. I.e. if you ignore someone then you hear *nothing* from them, including emotes and suchlike. You also need to have no limits on the number of people in your block list. I would also advocate a public display showing how many people have a character on ignore. If I get an invite to a party from some stranger who has 100+ ignores then I can safely assume they're a fuckwad.

Also crucial is swift and harsh dealing with anyone who breaks the code of conduct. If someone's a chat spammer, an vocal abuser, an internet shitcock, then they need to be made to feel very unwelcome by both the community and the GMs. Yes, I realise this has a high cost to implement, but IMO it's the only way to stop people being cunts. Cunt? Banned. No fucking about.

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Pantastic
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Reply #12 on: March 14, 2013, 11:44:56 AM

See, if you really wanted to foster some exciting interactions... I would have the starting zone be an instance that would randomly pair up 3 noobs for the tutorial/intro zone/mission.

If a game's introduction is forcing me to coordinate with 3 unknown people who might not even speak English, much less work with me and be decent people to play with, it's probably going to lose me at the first review (that is, I won't even bother to try it out). Encouraging players to work together is one thing, but I can't see how forced grouping with no way out when you're just learning the basic systems is going to result in anything but bad reviews and cancelled subscriptions.
Xuri
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Reply #13 on: March 14, 2013, 12:05:41 PM

I agree that giving incentives for people to actually band together/interact with one another outside of chat is important, but I'm still curious about what can be done (if anything) to improve on the current crop of chat implementations, for when the players are sharing the same location space without necessarily being in groups (though that's still relevant, since there'd probably be group chat too. :)

Having robust tools for ignoring other players and reporting (and then dealing with!) spam is absolutely on my radar. In that vein, anyone here have any experience with (or speculation about) the "Warden Program" system that SWG had for letting players self-police the chat to some extent? To deal with gold-spam/powerlevelling-spam specifically, I guess. Looks interesting, but I can't recall seeing something like that implemented anywhere else, and I only read about it after the game was gone, so don't really know how effective it was (or not).

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Bunk
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Reply #14 on: March 14, 2013, 12:26:15 PM

I'd like to see functionality along the lines of Poker sites use - an easy way to add and associate notes to a person. Give me an easy way to integrate that, so I can remember which guy was the douche in that random group.

Also makes it a lot easier to identify who an ALT is.

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Tarami
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Reply #15 on: March 14, 2013, 11:36:45 PM

It's not strictly chat, but to build on what Bunk said, relationship pages like Facebook has would be good from a socialization standpoint. That is, a page that details your relationship with another character, which would allow for note taking, but could also list the occasions you've been in the same group, whisper logs, trades done, PvP stats (kills of you and vice versa), and so on. It happens fairly often that I recognize a handle but am unable to pin it to an occasion.

Sorry for being unhelpful. tongue

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apocrypha
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Reply #16 on: March 15, 2013, 02:08:57 AM

No need to reinvent the wheel, just require that every account is associated with a Facebook account and make that visible! What could possibly go wrong?  Oh ho ho ho. Reallllly?

"Bourgeois society stands at the crossroads, either transition to socialism or regression into barbarism" - Rosa Luxemburg, 1915.
satael
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Reply #17 on: March 15, 2013, 03:08:00 AM

One thing I would consider adding to an environment like MMO would be player-created channels modeled (even more than now) after IRC with admins/ops etc. (and players being the ops for player-created channels) and also consider creating a separate client/interface that would enable you to connect to the chat from outside of the game.
Hutch
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Reply #18 on: March 15, 2013, 11:17:57 AM

That reminds me, when I was playing A Tale In The Desert, I belonged to multiple guilds. I don't remember if they're called "guilds" in that game or not; the point is that you could be in more than one of them simultaneously.

Each guild got its own chat channel. In AtitD, this means that each guild gets its own chat tab, and you had to switch tabs if you were following multiple conversations.

As an example of using chat to foster community, this comes at it backwards, i.e. you have to join the guild to see the chat channel. The fact that you can belong to multiple guilds is what fosters community in this case.

Still, I wanted to throw it out there as an idea to chew on.

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Salamok
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Reply #19 on: March 15, 2013, 01:21:30 PM

eqim - your chat system should be available out of the game as well.  Even better to use something pidgin supports so people could just lump it in with all other chat if they so choose.
Pennilenko
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Reply #20 on: March 17, 2013, 12:01:24 PM

1. Unique account identifier regardless of alt.
2. One fixed global channel, based on zone or location or server.
3. All other channels are player created and moderated, an example would be that guilds, or what ever social system makes up organized play, make their own channel, complete with moderation and administrative capabilities to have admins and the ability to invite and or ban from channel.
4. Simple commands to derive channel lists and the ability to request access.
5. A robust chat capture system for reporting abuses and EULA based rule violations.

p.s. Also make sure the UI can allow for multiple windows tabbed or separate with each chat window being able to be re-sized easily.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2013, 12:03:04 PM by Pennilenko »

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Malakili
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Reply #21 on: March 17, 2013, 06:14:44 PM

The bottom line is just moderation.  I've always wondered what something like an RP server in WoW would look like if RP were actually enforced, at least in certain channels.  Man power wise it is just an enormous undertaking, but I can't think of any other way to really achieve a friendly useful chat.  I think back to NWN PW servers - they were friendly, and people RPed, and chat was clear.  Why? Because admins would ban people for breaking the rules full stop.  Harder to do when people are paying customers I guess.
Xuri
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Reply #22 on: March 17, 2013, 09:46:59 PM

Those NWN PW servers were also smaller, more tightly knit communities than huge sprawling MMOs with global chat, but yeah. Too bad it's hard to get any numbers on the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of heavy/strict moderation when it comes to the amount of people who are banned vs the amount of people who are driven away by obnoxious communities.

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Malakili
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Reply #23 on: March 17, 2013, 09:56:30 PM

Too bad it's hard to get any numbers on the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of heavy/strict moderation when it comes to the amount of people who are banned vs the amount of people who are driven away by obnoxious communities.

Well, there are ways to mitigate the obnoxious community bit without having to quit the game (highly functional ignore lists being the number one feature there).  But if you want to not just have a tolerable chat, but an actually good chat, I think it just flat requires you have a gated community of some kind.  This is another reason I'm patiently waiting for basically a full featured MMO that lets you run private servers.  The could run all of the stuff on their end just like they would normally, charge me the monthly fee, and charge the community some overall monthly fee for the server. That would be well worth it.  I'd certainly be interested in an F13 only WoW server or something like that.
SurfD
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Reply #24 on: June 01, 2013, 11:17:44 PM

If you consider the "friends list" as part of the overall chat system, then there are a few things that I would like to see as default in most chat systems now (some already mentioned):

- A stealth mode, where I can be online, but not show up to other people on my friends list (for those days i just want to be antisocial)
- A cut / paste option.  I LOVE this function in the Prat mod in WoW.  Being able to pop up a window to C/P from is handy for many things
- As previously mentioned, lots and lots of filter functionality.  The ability to customize colors for Names, individual chat messages from specific channels and the like is important.
- Multi window / tabs.
- Possibly the option to enable a messenger style popup / toast notification when you recieve direct tells / whispers.  Nothing sucks more then being in a busy hub with trade / general chat enabled and missing whispers because the genral traffic drown them out.  You could even take it one step farther and allow people to parse chat for keywords to trigger toast notifications.  Would definately help foster interaction if you could, say, set a temporary filter to watch for specific words and fire you a notification, if you are for example looking for a "heroic scenario" group, or "World Boss X" group, and trade is super busy.


- Another hing that might help foster interaction in your zones would be a "player count" indicator, kind of like a basic integration of the /who command only for local into the basic chat window.  EvE did this in the default UI, but they did it a bit "overkill" in the sense that I dont really need to ALWAYS see every person in local on one side of my chat window all the time, but having a clickable Button that would show a count of people in the current zone would be useful.  Clicking on it could then bring up a list of all players in local similar to doing a /who.   If you could then interact with these people by clicking on their name to message or group with them that would be handy.    Not exactly an exampe of fostering interaction, but I know that I would kill for that kind of functionality in some F2P games i play, where you log in and are immediately spammed to death by level 1 goldseller bots.  Being able to see them all in local and just right click / ingnore them from a central window would be much easier then spending 5 minuts scrolling back through the chat window trying to grab them individually by name tag in their spam lines.

« Last Edit: June 01, 2013, 11:23:42 PM by SurfD »

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Koyasha
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Reply #25 on: August 23, 2013, 12:25:22 AM

I'm not clear on whether you mean for global chat channels to exist at all or not; if you don't intend them, I recommend them, because it's frustrating to have to use out-of-game means to communicate.  Player-created chat channels with decent channel security are the big thing for me, though.  I don't understand why so few games seem to do this; most of them have it so that the moment everyone leaves a channel, the channel, all its settings, the moderator list, and the ban list, all disappear.  EQ's channel system, one of the first, also got it very close to right, if you ask me.  If a channel is passworded, it's persistent for 24 hours after the last person leaves it.  It retains all settings, its moderator list, and owner.  If nobody logs in for 24 hours, it resets, but it's persistent through server resets and if people all go offline at the same time.  To improve on that, global chat handles like City of Heroes did it make things better as well.

Allowing players to create custom chat channels and effectively moderate them allows for communities to form around chat channels that I just haven't seen happen in any game that doesn't have solid chat channel moderation.  A few groups tried it early on in WoW, but the problems with keeping the chat channel secure from griefers made it impossible; every server reset it was a challenge to keep control of the channel, and if everyone ever logged off at the same time, the channel would get lost.  Community fell apart primarily because we just couldn't control an adequate means to communicate.  We wanted to be in different guilds but keep a channel open, but WoW just didn't allow it with their total lack of channel security.  In EQ and CoX on the other hand, there were various channels for different purposes that lasted years because they could be effectively moderated.

Edit: Heh, and I just realized this thread is months old.  I don't look in this section that much.   embarassed

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