This week, we have been putting in the hours to get the Chat feature up and running. In our previous blog, The Not Yet Chat we discussed the technical side of things. In this post we want to give you and update on the Chat progress, and mention some of the extra features we want to get into.
To start off today, here is a screenshot of the current state of the chat to give you some context when we talk about features:
On this screenshot you can see the sidebar with the Rooms header. The main area of the chat is used for open chat rooms. You can join multiple rooms at the same time, and the tab bar at the bottom allows you to quickly switch between your current rooms. Also new is the room description directly under the room title and the leave button in the top right that allows you to leave a room again.
We are still working on the layout of the messages themselves. Currently we collapse multiple messages by the same player. That helps to make sure the screen is not cluttered with names and avatars. While adjusting the layout we want to ensure that a player’s focus while chatting is on the characters and the in-character text in a way that enhances chat roleplay.
We are happy with this layout, because it offers a place for most of the things that will improve the chat specifically for roleplay:
Sidebar: Player and Character presence
A lot of the viability comes from the sidebar. It should help you see who is playing where, and what character or role they are currently playing as.
We want to support private conversations as a way of quickly conversing with another player outside of any rooms. This helps if you just have quick question for someone — or if you just want to talk to them without having the “baggage” of a rooms context (or other players).
Finally, we want a low-hassle way of creating a new room. This supports the dynamic nature of chat roleplay by allowing people to quickly create a new room for some side-adventure, or simply because other rooms are to crowded.
Main: Roleplay-specific messages and Character selection
The “main” part of the chat is where the chat room view is located — eventually the private message views as well — and this is where most of the focus during play will be.
As opposed to the forum, where character and mask selection is done “for that post”, we want character selection to be its own action. This allows other players to see which character you are playing, even if your are not actively posting.
We want dice rolling to be supported as an “immediate action” — just like you can roll some dice on the table. Rolling dice in the chat should be something that you can do without having to write a post. Often, the act of rolling the dice is enough communication.
We are on the fence with regards to message editing. It has good sides, such as being able to fix small mistakes. But due to the real-time nature of chat, there is always the chance that you edit a message after someone else started typing a reply, which can quickly become really confusing.