Streamlining basic social interactions?

We’ve added the basic social feature set to Tohm. Please tell us what you think of our design choices! How can we make this part of our game even better? We want to do everything we can to encourage players to socialize.

Demo Video: youtube.com/watch?v=TGtqmedQayQ

Read more here: tohm.wikia.com/wiki/Basic_Social_Commands

Key points:

  • Say and whisper, no tell.
  • Freeform emote and targeted emotes.
  • Basic grammar correction.
  • We’re considering add a yell command, please share your opinions?
  • We may add eavesdropping and sending private messages far away, based on hero skills.
  • How can we streamline all of this to make it easier and faster?

All criticisms and suggestions are very much appreciated. Thank you!

I think the design here is contrary to the goal of encouraging players to socialize. From the wiki,

Unless you’re specifically targeting the game at a narrow niche of immersive roleplayers, I think it’s a bad idea to remove a general OOC chat and tell from the game. Niche games like muds, and text muds in particular, live and die by their community. With fewer players on muds in general, the community becomes much more important. OOC chat and tells are vital to forming that community.

With whisper, you can replace that OOC function with a simple OOC chat channel. Players can turn it off if they don’t want to hear it. Of course you can have a separate channel for game help questions too.

With tell, responding in order to the points raised:

  • you can have an 'ignore ’ command to fix spammers
  • putting chat outside the game doesn’t encourage in-game community IMO
  • it seems like you could make the same argument against whisper as the point here does for ‘tell’.

Yes, players on many large MMOs use voice chat and IMs (tbh, a lot of mud players do, regardless of in-game OOC channels). However I think the dynamic is different on larger games; essentially people are self-selecting their smaller communities. On a mud I think you want to keep things in-game as much as you can.

From the wiki:

I would recommend against the visible whispers, or add a WHISPER OOC option to ensure that they’re concealed.

If Person A is playing a snooty royal, and Person B is playing a snotty lowlife, it doesn’t make RP sense for Person A to snuggle up to Person B and start whispering in their ear, but OOC Person A may very much want to give mechanics help to Person B when Person B is visibly struggling.

It sounds like you’re trying to be what MUDers sometimes refer to as an RP Encouraged environment – an immersive world with mechanics that can accommodate roleplaying and generally more immersive playing styles, without all the mechanics being based on realism and without a policy requiring players to be in-character.

Re: whisper

Agreed. I love the idea of the WHISPER command, and I love the further idea of having a skill for eavesdropping on whispers. However, if you’re creating an environment that facilitates roleplaying more than nominally, you can’t encourage use of whispers for OOC and still have game mechanics that affect whispers. It doesn’t make sense to have an eavesdropping skill if whispers are for OOC communication.

Re: tell
In most MUDs, the tell command is outdated and doesn’t make sense even outside of a roleplaying context. I think it’s a holdover from the ASK/TELL conversation system from the earliest single player text adventures that MUDs were drawn from. Unless the MUD has a big problem with spamming, tells are not particularly annoying, but the fact that the command is called “tell” at all is an anarchism, in my opinion.

There is often a need to communicate with other players from different parts of the game. Sometimes, a party gets split up, and you need to communicate with your group. Communication problems are part of the challenge in a completely immersive-style roleplaying MUD, which would take a hard stance on realism. However, I’m not sure that you’re aiming to be that realistic.

I don’t recommend leaving it to IM/external voice chat to solve this problem. I’m not a hardcore gamer, and I never use voicechat or external IM, not even when playing first-person shooters online.

Suggestion: Make your unlimited-range communication command the same as your private OOC command, and don’t call it “TELL”. Maybe make this command extendable to groups. If there is a party system, like groups or fellowships from graphical MMORPGs, the OOC command could be a channel for communication among party members wherever they may be.

Re: yell
This can be very annoying to immersive-style players like myself. Maybe you can make the “YELL” command a social emote instead of a communication command. Maybe the result of “YELL” could be something like “You bellow loudly!” and maybe players in the next room could see “Vadz bellows loudly!”

However, yells can be useful in tactical situations, especially if you don’t have other means of group communication. They can even enhance immersion if they are implemented somewhat realistically and the game doesn’t have too many griefers. If I remember correctly, the super-realistic Argila codebase allows yells to be heard from one room away, which seems to be what you’re suggesting. It could work, but there is the risk of spam/griefing. I would definitely not recommend implementing a global or zone-wide yell.

cvaneseltine, thanks very much for that specific example. I hadn’t thought of that, and you’ve convinced me to make a change. :slight_smile:

@Everyone

A channel for game help is definitely in the plan. I didn’t mention it because in my mind, it’s more of a “new player tool” than a general social tool.

I agree with Bainespal regarding a /tell verb feeling very awkward in a game where immersion and roleplaying are important (as I hope our game will be), but I do recognize it has some limited practical uses which aren’t answered by other in-game mechanisms, at least as far as I’ve experienced. I’m now thinking of trying to balance the RP aspect with the helping others aspect by keeping whisper, but also adding a /tell with an expensive wait between /tells. I also want players who know each other to be able to meet up, and players should be able to help each other out without compromising the RP element. I think that adjustment will do both - thoughts? Long term, there will probably be some telepathic hero skill or expensive item capable of communicating over distances more frequently, one that will still give some indication to passerby that the player is active (as opposed to idling or AFK).

I have a lot of prior experience in dealing with spammers, griefers, and trolls from both the client and server sides. I think we can safely manage a “yell” which reaches all instances of the current room and one or two rooms away. For the zone-wide thing, I’m thinking long term of adding an in-game device or hero skill for communicating across the wider area, to others with the same equipment/skill, and maybe even server-wide at a higher level. I think the expense of advancing a hero up to the required level or spending the in-game effort to amass the resources needed to acquire the needed equipment will make it not-worthwhile for a potential griefer to use those game elements as an avenue for griefing.