Last week, Steam pushed live the changes to its social features it first announced back in June. As we wrote at the time, its claim to fame was a significantly overhauled group discussion system, which surely not coincidentally looks an awful lot like Discord, complete with the new voice chat.
A guildie of mine and I gave the new stuff a spin last week, and while it’s nice enough, we couldn’t see a good reason to switch away from what we use, which is Slack, chiefly for security (and the fact that many of us already used Slack for work). Without Slack, we’d use Discord like so many other gamers. Steam’s new tools still seem a tad clunky, and the lack of persistent chat when you log in seemed like a deal-breaker.
I have to wonder whether we’re alone. Are you using Steam’s new community chat features? And if not, what do your MMO guilds use?
The chat system in Crowfall was developed in-house for chatting within the game, and it had only one problem insofar as it didn’t actually provide a solid framework for chatting. It worked well enough, but it had issues with custom channels, zoning, and so forth. So the latest development entry is all about the new Vivox-based system integrated into the game starting with patch 5.7, which provides players with far more robust options for managing channels, contacts, and all manner of discussion.
Players will be able to create new customized chat tabs, along with individual chat filtering and autofilling commands. The team is still working on making the new system as useful as possible, so it’s important to note that the current iteration is just the first and most basic option for chatting across zones and with your faction. Check out the full breakdown if you want to see more of the tools you’ll have at your disposal for conversation with the next patch.
Where does your allegiance lie: Steam or Discord? It won’t really matter either way, considering that both online services are trying so hard to ape each other that they’re becoming hard to distinguish.
Earlier this month, we covered how Steam is instituting a very Discord-like chat system in an attempt to pull some players back into its ecosystem. Now, Discord has pushed out a games tab that looks pretty much exactly like what you would find on Steam.
Both platforms show what friends are playing (because virtual stalking is a must-have feature in 2018) and pulls some headlines from games that you’ve indexed. Maybe when we blink, the two services will merge together and become the ultimate social gaming platform that will devour the world and consume all our attention?
The first MMO I ever played was Final Fantasy XI, which meant that I got used to the idea of having no zone-wide chat. If you needed to get the attention of everyone in the zone, you used the /yell command, and that was considered intensely rude. It was only when I started playing City of Heroes (my second MMO) that I started getting used to the idea of zone-wide chat… which meant it seemed noisy at first. Going back to FFXI and then later in Final Fantasy XIV, it seemed downright quiet.
On the one hand, having a zone chat feature means that you get to talk with more people on a regular basis, so in some ways it helps with socializing. But it also means socializing that you might not want; Barrens Chat in World of Warcraft was legendary for being awful, and there’s a running meme in FFXIV to just turn off /shout when people are using it heavily. Plus there are people who prefer not to have it for immersion or the sense of immediacy. So what do you think? Is zone-wide chat a good thing for MMOs?
I wouldn’t be able to play TERA on console. Not simply because I lack the console it’s available on; that could be fixed by a trip to the store followed by a quick round of console setup. That’s whatever. No, it’s because that version of the game doesn’t feature text chat, and thus it may as well be controlled entirely by putting in contact lenses. It’s such an unpleasant proposition that it more or less poisons my eagerness to play the game’s console version at all.
Obviously, it’s hardly the only console game to focus exclusively on voice chat, which makes me think that for a lot of people this isn’t a dealbreaker. So we’re going to turn this particular musing over to our readers, because it’s always interesting to learn about that spread of opinions. Is the lack of text chat in an MMO a dealbreaker for you? Do you refuse to play on platforms where it’s unavailable, or do you outright refuse to play games that push voice chat on you? Or do you not particularly mind, either from a desire not to chat or just not being bothered?
This week, The Ancient Gaming Noob posted up an image of RIFT Prime, where Trion asks people to… play nice. “Just a neighborly reminder that 1-29 chat is for RIFT chat, ideally things relevant to level 1-29 gameplay,” the UI HUD reads. “Please be good to each other. We’ve muted some and shall mute again. Have a great evening!”
Meanwhile, over in Trion’s Trove, I’ve had to report-and-block dozens of fellow players just in the last few days for disgusting slurs in multiple languages, stuff the filter doesn’t catch. For a free-to-play game that’s also on console, yeah, I guess I expect no better from the playerbase. But but but RIFT Prime is subscription-based. Surely that means a strong community, where such polite warnings from developers aren’t necessary? Yeah, not so much, as anyone who played old-school MMORPGs can tell you. This is a problem even in games whose devs prioritize community and care a whole lot.
So this week, let’s talk about in-game chat. Do you use it? Do you watch it? Do you turn it off? Is it really terrible everywhere, or just in some games? Which one is the worst and the best, and what should developers do about chat specifically?
The small portion of EVE Online
players who will be heartbroken over the loss of the game’s voice chat
will really just be riding the forefront of the game’s chat changes. Significant backend changes to the game’s chat functionality are coming with the March update
, and the short version is that chat in general is getting spun out to a separate platform on a different infrastructure.
Why such a significant change? Well, for one thing, it should help reduce the chat load on specific nodes during fleet operations, and it also serves to help split up the game’s functionality into more manageable chunks for the development team. It also gives the game’s customer service team easier access to chat logs, so that should be fun, too. You shouldn’t notice any changes in-game after the chat changeover, but players are encouraged to report any bugs that managed to slip through as always.
On my server in Star Wars: The Old Republic
, there are more guild advertisements than chatter in the general channel on the starter planets and fleet. This can quickly become overwhelming to those who don’t know what to look for. I have actually seen these advertisements turn people away from joining a guild altogether. The SWTOR
population has also fluctuated quite a bit, so it’s difficult to find a guild that is active and
has been in the game for an extended period of time. In other words, general chat is flooded with advertisements for guilds that aren’t very old. In fact, there are many who advertise needing a person or two to help start
If you are returning to SWTOR or maybe jumping in for the very first time, you are going to want to find a good guild. It’s possible to play the game without interaction with other people, but you will not really get the full experience until you join up to play the game with like-minded individuals.
My advice on finding a guild will avoid some of the obvious questions: Are they friendly, do they have regular events, and do they fit your playstyle? Instead, I would like to focus on the questions that are a little outside-the-box but are just as important if you want to find a guild that actually makes you want to stay in the game instead of flee it.
Thus far when playing OrbusVR, players have had no ability to send private messages to one another. As a result, you’ve had to rely on context clues; perhaps your friend is running toward you screaming while brandishing a sword because she’s bringing you a free sword and she’s very excited. When the game’s second closed beta starts up, though, she’ll be able to send you a quick message to let you know ahead of time that she’s doing a new cardio routine requiring her to run and scream, and the sword is a good weight to use when it’s over her head.
Players will be able to send private messages to friends or Fellowship members, with Fellowships also getting added to the game (if you’re thinking that sounds like a guild by another name, good job). There’s also new market stall functionality, so NPCs run by players can just sell you stuff and you can buy it. And if dealing with a merchant’s prices cause you to subsequently run around screaming with a sword over your head, well, you can send messages about that.
The EVE Online community was a little surprised this week by what appeared to be the accidental early reveal of the feature list for this summer’s update. Someone noticed that the official EVE Updates page had a new “summer” section filled with details of upcoming features but with placeholder images attached. The page disappeared shortly thereafter, but not before someone snapped a screenshot of it and published it to Reddit. CCP Falcon tweeted that this wasn’t a leak but that “a few cards were published early without images” and they’ll be re-published properly on Monday. This hasn’t stopped the EVE community and bloggers from speculating heavily on the content of the early reveal, and I must admit that I can’t resist doing the same.
The summer update comes ahead of the Drilling Platforms discussed in my previous article, but it looks like part of the impending resource-gathering revolution is coming early in the form of a complete re-design of the mechanics behind asteroid belts. Strategic cruisers will also be getting a significant balance pass across the board, and the recently announced Exoplanet search minigame will be coming to Project Discovery. The update also includes graphical overhauls for several space station types, redesigns of the Vexor and Ishtar drone ships, new explosion graphics, and improvements to the new player experience. Outside the game, we’ll be getting all-new forums boasting new features for sharing and engagement, and a chat system that keeps going even when the server is offline.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I dig into a few of these early reveals and speculate on what they might mean for EVE. Is a total mining overhaul coming earlier than expected, and could we get EVE chat on our phones?
Camelot Unchained has a powerful new ally in its fight against your personal boredom. Mark Jacobs revealed a partnership this week that should bode well for the future of the game and its community.
“I’m pleased to announce that City State Entertainment and Discord have reached an agreement to work together on combining their cutting-edge tech along with that of Camelot Unchained,” Jacobs said. “It will help make Camelot Unchained a better and more immersive experience for our players.”
The agreement means that Camelot Unchained will be able to incorporate the full suite of Discord technology into the MMO, including text and voice chat services. Jacobs said that this will save the studio time that it would otherwise have had to spend on creating such features. Another bonus? Allowing players to access chat channels while logged out of the game.
MOP reader Arsin Halfmoon recently wrote to us with an unexpected story. He’s an English teacher in the real world, but far from being a grammar stickler, he’s actually found himself incredibly uncomfortable when people over-embellish their chat with punctuation. He told us that he considers gaming a non-academic setting, a casual, social space, so when a new friend of his uses periods every every single sentence when typing in an MMORPG, it bothers him.
“It feels like they come off with an air of I’m better than you because I type with periods,” he explained. “I’m not condoning abandonment of grammar. If I were making longer explanations in chat, then yes, I would use periods to separate my sentences. But I think we need to recognize that the MMO space has a specific code, and from what I’ve seen, writing a period at the end of short, single sentence entries or single words is meant for dramatic effect” — not for casual chit-chat between pulls.
Even though I’m MOP’s resident grammar geek, I completely empathize with Arsin. My guildies and fellow writers will attest that while I insist on pronoun/antecedent agreement and despise errant commas here on the site, I type quickly and sloppily in chat, with little regard for the rules that govern my professional writing — and I definitely don’t waste clicks on periods or caps or semicolons most of the time.
How judgmental are you about MMO chat grammar? Let’s take it to the Leaderboard polls with a multi-answer poll.
Bad words still make me giggle. I’ve been told that I’m not allowed to link my several examples of this, but I’m sure that isn’t necessary; you get the idea just from knowing that I find bad words funny. So one of the first things I do when logging into a game for the first time is make sure that the profanity filter is off, so I can both construct and witness new forms of compound profanity. They can be funny!
But that’s not a universal sentiment, and for some people profanity just isn’t appropriate. Maybe you’re playing Guild Wars 2 with your kids in the room. Maybe you really don’t want to hear new slurs leveled at you in a World of Warcraft battleground. Maybe you’re playing League of Legends and don’t mind seeing maybe one word of every thirty entered into chat. So today, dear readers, that’s our question. Do you keep your profanity filter on in MMO chat? And why do you leave it on or turn it off?