Saturday, November 1, 2008

Chat Channels and Community

Yesterday, patch 1.0.3 went live, and one of the features it brought was a re-vamping of the chat system. When the game launched, rather than having zone-wide chat channels, the zones were broken up into chapters, with each chapter having a seperate channel. So in a given zone you might have 3-4 different channels, plus a seperate one for the RvR lake.

This ended up being a bad idea, as the channel was useless for organization purposes, and wasn't large enough to be a bullshit chat channel. So it was silent. Which meant that most days, you could log on and never hear a word from anyone but your guild. It made the population seem smaller and the world seem emptier.

And then yesterday, they put farther-reaching channels in. Not just zone-wide, but a channel for each pairing in each tier. So you have a region channel that covers, say, all of Avelorn and Saphery, since that's the Tier 3 High/Dark Elf area. And it was like flipping a switch. Suddenly there was chat. Some of it lame, sure, a few scattered Chuck Norris jokes and someone asking about Mankirk's wife, but also people asking genuine questions and being answered, people gathering warbands for RvR, reporting about keep status, etc. It was a real, live, MMO community, and it instantly changed the feel of the game.

I didn't realize that I had missed that feeling. I loved WAR from day one, but it did feel a bit different from WoW or LOTRO, and I wasn't able to put my finger on why. Turns out that was it. So while a lot of people are going to be filtering out /1 soon and whining about "Barrens chat", I will be leaving it on, at least for a while.