Flash of Steel header image 2

Chat chat

September 26th, 2005 by Troy Goodfellow · No Comments · Uncategorized

I am in the process of reviewing a strategy game that is all about the multiplayer. Its setup, premise and design emphasize that the game is meant to be played with and against other people. It also has one major oversight that has the potential to cripple its multiplayer base. No chat.

Since I’m still in the evaluation stage, I’ll leave the game unnamed. Plus, my explicit opinions on the game are the property of someone else for the moment. But the omission of such a standard interface tool is jaw-droppingly mad.

I’ve played a lot of terrible games – many with tiny budgets. War Times has a chat option. Pax Romana does, too. It is such a basic multiplayer tool that wargames like The Falklands War: 1982 use it. The prospect of playing any game with a multiplayer component without a chat tool is almost too ridiculous to imagine. Hell, Literati has chat.

And its not like the developer in questions is new. They’ve been around for a few years and have a nice stable of games to their credit. All had chat.

In what circumstances would you not want the players to communicate via a chat interface? Is it conceivable that you would not want players to interact? If a game can only have two players and they are locked in a duel to the death from the moment the game begins, you might be able to get away with tossing chat. You wouldn’t be able to taunt your enemies, but you always have the postgame for that. But when a game gets bigger than two people, not including chat cuts off the possibility of diplomacy and coordination.

Maybe you don’t want your players to work together. If a game is designed as a purely solo, survival of the fittest, Darwin on steroids type of strategy game then you could probably justify the choice on pure game design merits.

Information wants to be free, though, so players will get frustrated if they can’t trade intelligence or offer support against the big dog in town. Even if a game is set up as last man standing, chat allows the weaker player (usually me) to buy time through persuasion and puppy-dog eyes.

The game in question must have been designed without chat for a good reason, but I’ll be damned if I can think of it. Any game designers want to help me out here? When is communication between players something you choose to design out?


No Comments so far ↓

Like gas stations in rural Texas after 10 pm, comments are closed.