Designing the perfect space exploration MMO – Communication

Social interaction is quite a wide topic of discussion so for now I’m going to break it down to a few types communication, hostility and cooperation. In this post Ill talk specifically about communication.

The use of a simple chat system presents an elegantly and simple solution to this problem. I personally don’t like the idea of implementing basic communication this way because it distracts from the realism. If messages can travel instantaneously why cant ships? I’m sure we could make up some hogwash involving miniature wormholes but I prefer not to sidestep the issue. We have the opportunity to create a unique communication system which will make the game stand out above others. So with that all in mind here are some principles to my idea..

  • Ship-to-Ship communication speed is directly proportional to distance, messages cannot traverse wormholes. Messages can be routed through comm-stations.
  • Communication is centred around comm-stations, either created initially by devs or player constructs.
  • Stations can be linked at limited linking distance, one station can link to many.
  • Communication through a wormhole is difficult but possible in short range.
  • Comm-stations are lockable and toll-able.
  • Players within 1 system of a comm-stations can access it.

I am going about this in very much the same way as travel, turning something essential into financial opportunity. A player in isolation needs to feel isolated, games with universal chat systems never make you feel isolated. A lot of games have zoned chat and this is essentially a privatized version.

One issue I see with this is out-of-game communication (Skype, IRC, face-to-face), nothing particularly effective can be done against this. We can however give players incentive to build comm-stations, maybe advanced features beyond chat. Any method which attempt to prevent players from using other applications is best avoided. Someone will always find a way around, then we get issues with players calling each other hackers or cheaters. If everyone can do it its fair.

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