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Silvermyst

Communication (MMO)

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In my current design concept (MMO), characters do not have human vocal chords and can not speak. They communicate by making sounds and using body language. When two strangers meet, they will have to make do with sounds and body language. Each player can assign specific sounds and body movements to convey certain messages. This should/could lead to different 'languages' being created by different groups of players. Sound A might be used by one group of players to indicate fear, but another group of players might use it to indicate joy. If a player wants to converse with other characters, it's in his best interest to make his character follow the established rules of sounds (a guidebook to sounds will most likely be created by the community and posted on the web). As player interaction is one of the key concepts in an MMO, I've introduced a system into the concept that I like to call Delayed Chat Communication (DCC). The theory is that when two characters converse, they gradually start to understand each other better. To simulate this, limited text chat will be introduced at this point. Initially, when character 1 utters Sound A, the player controlling character 2 has to decipher that sound. But, with limited text chat, the meaning of the sound will be displayed for player 2, but there will be a certain delay between the sound being made and the text showing up. The longer two characters know each other and the more they have conversed, the shorter the delay will be. The exact wording of the 'meaning' of each sound can be selected by players from a list of common words. This list will be limited and only include very general words like 'danger', 'help', 'hello', 'back off', etc. When two characters become close friends by being near each other a lot and talking a lot, they may start to use advanced text chat. In advanced text chat, players will be able to actually type messages to friends. These typed messages will show up only to friends within sound range. Each player will be allowed to use one sound for advanced text chat. This means that when advanced text chat is used, any nearby non-friends will hear this sound. Advanced text chat can further be divided in several steps. Step 1 for example could allow for only one word with a maximum number of 8 characters to be typed. Step 2 could allow for two words of a maximum 8 characters each. The final step would allow a player to use text chat as it's used in current MMO games (but proximity rules would still apply.). Any comments and/or suggestions? [edited by - Silvermyst on February 8, 2003 11:07:25 AM]

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On the one hand, it''s an intriguing idea in theory. On the other hand, it basically eliminates from your game a key draw of MMO games - the ability to speak freely with other human players - and so you should really consider the effects carefully to see if the benefits outweigh the loss.

One thing you might want to reevaluate is the "leveling up toward chat" factor. Making the player earn through laborious work abilities which would be useful right off the bat is one of the factors which repels me from MMOGs as they stand now. I don''t want to wait to have fun, I want to do it now! This also basically invalidates the purpose of the "sounds and gestures" system, which is to make communications more of a challenge.

Further, it also invalidates a side benefit of "sounds and gestures" - limited communications between players, which makes the game potentially more kid-friendly. If people can only communicate using a set list of phrases, as in a Disney MMOG I read about recently, then there''s no need for language filters or worrying about child predators etc. The "sounds and gestures" system makes this even safer - certainly a particular gesture could be considered an insult, but it would be impossible to get specific - as in, giving away your RL address to some psycho.

Basically, I say either scrap this idea, or hold to it more rigidly - and if you hold to it, make absolutely sure the rest of the game is entertaining enough that people won''t mind the loss of free chat.

-STC

---------------------------------------------------
-SpittingTrashcan

You can''t have "civilization" without "civil".

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It doesn''t matter how one communicates, they still largely ''say'' the same things.

Just make it ''flavor'', not a barrier. Like trashy said, chatting with people all over the place is one of the biggest draws for MMOGs. Get rid of the ability to easily communicate and you get rid of a LOT of your audience.

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SpittingTrashcan wrote:
quote:
it basically eliminates from your game a key draw of MMO games - the ability to speak freely with other human players - and so you should really consider the effects carefully to see if the benefits outweigh the loss.

Agreed. This would be sacrificed. But I think there''s an element of mystique that is added, a deeper form of communication that is opened up, if sounds and gestures are used. Players could still create a language with sounds that allows them to use basic questions and give basic answers.
quote:
If people can only communicate using a set list of phrases, as in a Disney MMOG I read about recently, then there''s no need for language filters or worrying about child predators etc. The "sounds and gestures" system makes this even safer - certainly a particular gesture could be considered an insult, but it would be impossible to get specific - as in, giving away your RL address to some psycho.

This is one of the motivations for the sounds/gestures. It means no filters need to be put in place and no monitoring needs to be done. I''ve been toying around with the idea of letting players assign ''friend'' status. When two characters have both on each other''s friend list, regular chat would be enabled (the different steps could still be used). Otherwise, just sounds and gestures would be used. A reason why I''m not yet willing to adjust the system in that manner is that I don''t want players to assign friend status like that. But it may very well be that I have to let go of that objection.
quote:
I don''t want to wait to have fun, I want to do it now! This also basically invalidates the purpose of the "sounds and gestures" system, which is to make communications more of a challenge.

Perhaps ''challenge'' is the wrong word. ''Skill'' might fit better. In a game like Everquest, when I first found out about the many different languages that could be used I was intrigued. That is, until I found out exactly how one ''practiced'' these languages. From that moment on, I have tried to figure out a way to make communication into an actual skill.

I fully agree with the ''I want to do it now!'', but I feel like every ''it'' should be devided into several steps. That way, there can be progression throughout the game, while giving the player everything from the get-go (be it in limited form).

The design is very simulation oriented, and is targeted at long-term group interaction. I''m not using guilds as they are used in MMO games now, but clans will certainly be formed. A benefit of belonging to a clan could be that text chat could immediately be entered with any fellow clan members. In other words, joining a clan would immediately make all clan members your ''friend''.

I accept that there are several problems involved with this communications system, but that''s why I am trying to get some input.

SOLINEAR wrote:
quote:
Get rid of the ability to easily communicate and you get rid of a LOT of your audience.

It''s a concern I share I first want to attempt to solve the problem at least to some degree. If that doesn''t work, I may scrap the idea and start over.

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Don''t scrap the game, just scrap the idea of forcing people to (effectively) not communicate.

There are huge numbers of ''chat guilds''. These are groups of people who run around together in these games (UO, EQ, DAOC, AC, etc...) just for the communications aspect of the game. These are the exact people you DO want in your game. Not the powergamer that is going to spend 14 hours a day in your game and largely do nothing other than piss off everyone around them by not caring about anything but himself. No, he won''t end up being driven out of your game, he''ll band up with a bunch of other people like himself and create a ''raiding guild'' as it''s called in Everquest. These are people who live almost as much for the challenge as for the game. They make up a relatively small portion of the population (10%) of the gaming community, but they do the majority (90%) of the pissing off.

You can dream of Utopia, but it''s best if you plan for Purgatory.

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I''ll second what solinear said. Chat guilds are something you want. Without them, you''re game is going nowhere.

Take this for example: A lot of MMORPG''s force the player to sit still and wait long periods of time for his character to heal. The main reason for this is simple. If you have to wait, you''ll want to do something while you wait. If you can''t move around while waiting (and you usually can''t alt-tab) you''re only choice is to talk. When people talk, they make friends with other waiting people. When people make friends, they make guilds, they play more in order to be with friends, they bring other friends into the game, and they help establish the community which is your only chance of survival in the MMORPG market.

Any hinderance to communication is not going to help you. Believe me, people will get annoyed at even the slightest hitch when it comes to talking in an MMORPG (I do too). The only restriction with communication that''s considered acceptable (if not desirable) is not being able to shout really long distances and spam (and even then, these restrictions are usually lifted for guild/party members).

It''s a nice idea, but not a good one.

------------
MSN: nmaster42@hotmail.com, AIM: LockePick42, ICQ: 74128155
"It''s all part of the conspiracy of conspirators conspiring to conspire their own conspiracies..."

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Bear in mind the main feature of a game, especially an MMO, is to provide fun. Keep that in mind when deciding whether to go with this idea.

For my input, the biggest complaint I''ve seen with MMO''s (by the players) is communication tools. People want area chat, private chat, group chat, trade chat, allegiance chat, help chat, etc, etc. Beyond whether the system you''re proposing is fun to use or not, it certainly seems to rule out any option of including the advanced communication tools players are demanding.

- Ben Scott
Just starting out

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Hey you could use this system and melt it with a race system. Players from the same race can understand each other and chat/speak normally, but with other races you''ll have to communicate with gestures or sounds unless you know/learn other races languages.

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First, let go of any MMORPG thoughts...

Second, imagine yourself a wolf.

The entire concept strives to put you, the player, in the role of a semi-intelligent wolf, on a planet that is Earth-like.

Meetings between players should be somewhat uncomfortable at first, as both players' wolves test each other out. They'll pace, as they use sounds and body language to communicate their emotions.

Once two wolves become friendly, they will be able to communicate in a somewhat easier manner, as they become familiar with each other's sounds and behavior.

Groups of friendly wolves will be able to eventually use normal text chat, but only within hearing distance.

A wolf howl can be heard from far away, so players will be able to communicate across large distances with their friends. Non-friends will simply hear a howl and be unable to really gather much information from it.

The 'fun' element will be so much different from current MMORPGs that I don't think ANY of the established elements of MMORPGs should really be carried over. Let's try something entirely new for a change. If players want to guildchat no matter what, they'll have to stick with playing EQ/AO/UO, etc. Chat amongst wolves will happen on a smaller scale, but I imagine the bonds between wolves to become stronger than those between the elves and dwarves we now play. You'll mate with your friends, produce offspring and care for your children together. You'll mourn lost friends (permanent death), but will be able to see their spirit live on in their young. Territories will be established, hunting tactics developed and rivalries will evolve.

In this type of setting, I think the established way of communicating would completely destroy the immersion.

[edited by - Silvermyst on February 11, 2003 10:16:50 AM]

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