Author Topic: In-game chat, match making, and similar social functions  (Read 1663 times)

Offline zharmad

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In-game chat, match making, and similar social functions
« on: September 04, 2016, 06:33:13 PM »
Here we want to think about how the community would go about engaging in social aspects of AI War 2.

One of the original suggestions in the design doc is some form of a matchmaking system, so that players do not need an external source like Steam or the forums. This was critiqued by a couple of us as not being a good fit - with the game length being many hours, most players will actually be playing at any one point in time, and won't be available for a game.
Note that Chaos Reborn does resolve this in a limited manner by allowing players in single player games to still flag themselves as being available. Although adopting this in AIW2 will need players to pack up whatever they are doing, which is not always in a good time.

One alternative put forward is to create a global channel system that all players can connect to, so like Star Ruler 2 or ARPG games. This way, players can chat directly in game, with implicit matchmaking done by the community. Chris suggested that the ongoing maintenance costs for such services can be a concern, so it needs to be looked into.

Now, classic had done okay without either of the above. It's not obvious that in 201X we must adopt since form of multiplayer matchmaking, IRC, etc.  What are people's thoughts? Desiring input especially if they are more experienced in online social engagement for long-play games (unlike monas and fps).

EDIT: I'd like to also ask people whether they would consider completely third party options like Discord. Having to install it is a minus, but then Arcen can give it's official blessings.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2016, 01:51:28 AM by zharmad »

Offline Orelius

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Re: In-game chat, match making, and similar social functions
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2016, 06:44:52 PM »
I think each AI War game requires way too much time investment to be able to benefit from matchmaking.

Yeah, I think something like a chat room or a noticeboard where people look for people or groups (i.e. LF 2 players for AI 7/7 Mad Bomber/Zenith Descendant game) would probably be the best way to do this without needing significant investment.  Maybe even having something like an AI War Discord channel could be sufficient.  That would be also not consume many resources, too.


Offline Cyborg

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Re: In-game chat, match making, and similar social functions
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2016, 07:49:45 PM »
The ingame IRC client was something we wanted a long time ago. I think we still want it, in part because to be able to ask questions, chat about your current game, and build community is something that we want in addition to matchmaking. I'm not saying we need it version 1.0, but this isn't a bad idea at all. It's one of those features that can only help.
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Offline Wingflier

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Re: In-game chat, match making, and similar social functions
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2016, 08:42:02 PM »
Personally I think a matchmaking system for a game like this is a little...ambitious. We're talking about the sort of game which lasts for 12+ hours at a time, and doesn't often have the concurrent playerbase to even get one started (who wants to sit in a lobby for hours waiting for it to fill up when they could just be playing). I think it's a lot of work for something that would never get used.

Now the built-in IRC client might be worthwhile because there's always players in there, and they could perhaps organize their own games, but in terms of going through the trouble to implement something like that yourself? Probably a waste of time.

One thing that might be cool is an in-game kind of bulletin posting board system. A person (the host) would create a future game, including all the settings he or she was planning to use, and the number of players they were seeking, and also put the time and date within the bulletin. Players within the game could view these bulletins and decide whether or not they wanted to join the game at the given time. Once they had signed up, it would let the host (and anyone else who had chosen to participate) know that those players would be meeting at that time for a game with those specific settings.

It would of course be a much more informal way of doing things, but it would at least give players an outline of when game's were happening, and would allow them to host or choose games with the settings they liked within the timeframes that worked for them.

Even still, I'm not sure it would be worth the effort.
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Offline chemical_art

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Re: In-game chat, match making, and similar social functions
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2016, 08:50:57 PM »
I do not think true matchmaking will work, I can imagine it being a ghost town.

However, if it were possible to have drop in co-op that would be great. A player could drop in mid game and help a player for a few hours. The how part can be worked out later. Sometimes I just don't want to do the labor of setting up a new game, but would love to jump into someone else's so I can help out for a bit.
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Offline Draco18s

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Re: In-game chat, match making, and similar social functions
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2016, 09:53:35 PM »
Well, one of the things I'd like to see is games that only last 3-5 hours, rather than 10+.
But yes, I'd love an IRC thingamajig that lets players hook up, drop in/out multiplayer, drop in spectating, and so on.

Offline Aklyon

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Re: In-game chat, match making, and similar social functions
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2016, 12:36:57 AM »
Having an in-game IRC would be a great idea, but actual matchmaking? No, for the same reasons as the others.

Offline Draco18s

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Re: In-game chat, match making, and similar social functions
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2016, 01:13:21 AM »
BTW, when I say "IRC for matchmaking" I mean "IRC has functions built into it that ease matchmaking" not that it's the only way.

Chatting with a dude and decide to start a game? Right click -> create game with user.

Offline zharmad

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Re: In-game chat, match making, and similar social functions
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2016, 01:38:05 AM »
I'm somewhat for the IRC solution, is something I would rarely, actively engaged in, but see as beneficial. Whether it makes the game look alive or dead depends on the playing community, and does have a social maintenance requirement as well.
The longest games that would work on matchmaking, I think, would be the supreme commander FAF forever community.

I wonder if there are third party drop-in applications that can float alongside the game, or if the Unity shop has some form of code pack to simplify the implementation. Blizzard was able to float its client across all its games, which is probably a very involved task of splitting the networking layer into Battle.net and then hooking it into the social interfaces within every game. Arcen does not have a universal launcher, and will incur a development cost for the initial startup and however they choose to host the service.

Chat Latency can also be an usability issue in an age where everyone takes the internet for granted. The max we are familiar with is calling the other side of the world, which is ~0.5 seconds. Arcen might not pay for high priority traffic
 to send via and receive messages to all connected players in real time.., will 3 second delays be okay? 5?

At which point should we all just install Discord and have Arcen's official blessing of a completely independent solution?

How many people will be willing to actively participate in chat while playing? Rather than browser the forum and Netflix while waiting to refleet? With the pacing of classic, there wa certainly plenty of room, and the game has pause, after all.

Offline kasnavada

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Re: In-game chat, match making, and similar social functions
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2016, 01:45:09 AM »
At which point should we all just install Discord and have Arcen's official blessing of a completely independent solution?

This.

In-game client is 90% of the time a waste of game dev time. An external solution is next to always superior for 2 reasons:
- it's better coded.
- if the game server crashed, the external client does not.

I don't count the number of games where I or another warned that his game crashed.


Second, about matchmaking itself, my opinion is that its good for a game which lasts for a few hours at most, and can realistically be done in one (relatively long, perhaps) session. There is no reason to think (even if it's on my wishlist) that AI war 2 games could last for one session at the computer. A multiplayer game which actively requires multiple sessions with everyone present ? Setting appointments on a forum is already complex enough, an in-game client enabling that would be overly complex IMO.


Offline Tridus

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Re: In-game chat, match making, and similar social functions
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2016, 08:15:44 AM »
At which point should we all just install Discord and have Arcen's official blessing of a completely independent solution?

This.

In-game client is 90% of the time a waste of game dev time. An external solution is next to always superior for 2 reasons:
- it's better coded.
- if the game server crashed, the external client does not.

I don't count the number of games where I or another warned that his game crashed.

At which point most players won't use it because it requires external tools and effort.

Offline kasnavada

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Re: In-game chat, match making, and similar social functions
« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2016, 08:47:23 AM »
At which point most players won't use it because it requires external tools and effort.

I don't know what your point is, but Mumble, Discord, Ventrilo, Teamspeak... hell even Skype all have millions of users. I think it's proved by now that players as a whole did, do and will use external tools even when internal tool exists.

It's even possible to set some of those applications (I mean the "type of application as a whole, not the one I've quoted) directly as an API in the game itself. A few have an overlay that adapts to games, with varying success. Others work directly in a browser. Give an internet link... and it's done. Yay for "effort".

Last, if a player can't be bothered to go the extra millimeter and take the at most 5 minutes that's needed to connect to an external server, I wonder what (s)he's doing installing AI war in the first place. (S)He's obviously going to be way out of his(her) depth understanding the game.


That say, I acknowledge that those tools only "solve" the communication issues inside an already created game and not the match-making issues.
But I wonder exactly what kind of in-game lobby would be able to set-up games 20 hours long. I've seen people use forums for that, and nothing else.

Offline Tridus

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Re: In-game chat, match making, and similar social functions
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2016, 09:12:19 AM »
At which point most players won't use it because it requires external tools and effort.

I don't know what your point is, but Mumble, Discord, Ventrilo, Teamspeak... hell even Skype all have millions of users. I think it's proved by now that players as a whole did, do and will use external tools even when internal tool exists.

Millions of users out of hundreds of millions of players.

That's just how it is. If you want something that will get a large percentage of AIW players in it, it needs to be in the game. A third party thing will get a small segment of those people, and that's it. Maybe that's fine. It has the advantage of not costing anything and taking no effort. But it's not going to grab the new guy who tries out the game and has some questions, because almost none of them will use it (whereas they could very easily start talking in a built in client).

The question that has to be answered here is: what's the goal? If it's to give a place for dedicated AIW players to chat while playing, Discord is probably fine. If it's to get a very large group of AIW players together so they can help newbies and try to organize matches? It's not at all adequate.

Offline chemical_art

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Re: In-game chat, match making, and similar social functions
« Reply #13 on: September 05, 2016, 09:39:31 AM »
...But it's not going to grab the new guy who tries out the game and has some questions, because almost none of them will use it (whereas they could very easily start talking in a built in client)...

I understand what you are getting at, but I will flip your example. There are hundreds of millions of players. Only a few million actually have a microphone that they will use. So the weeding out has already happened before a player even installs the game.
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Offline zharmad

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Re: In-game chat, match making, and similar social functions
« Reply #14 on: September 05, 2016, 10:09:14 AM »
For the record, I specifically mentioned Discord (and not TeamSpeak) because it claims to have text as well as speech functionalities. So I won't need a mike to participate (and won't use one. A semi-permanent channel for AIW2 should also be feasible, acting as a global lobby.

Nevertheless, Tridus has a point - I personally have an in-built (irrational) aversion to third party chat clients, and am probably not alone in that perception. Used TeamSpeak once ever, and in generally need to keep my gaming environment quiet. Unless the player is a social gamer, they aren't likely to have such software installed, and AIW2 will my magically tip the balance.

Perhaps the optimal outcome is for Chris to identify an easy way to integrate one of the major third party clients into the game. FWIW given the lack of relevant experience I don't think he has the development time to make his own, nor host the server. I don't have the time to research APIs to make proper advice though.