Friday, February 22, 2008

Tabula Rasa - Managing Chat

Alright, here we go again back into Tabula Rasa with common beginner questions. Perhaps one of the most common requests in Tabula Rasa's new player chat is whether or not players can manage the GUI settings, exampling the ability to move the chat window, radar, or other components of the screen.

Well, the short answer is no. At this time Tabula Rasa's User Interface is static, and as far as I am aware there are no development plans to change that. However, the player does have some control over some of the window panes, as Zed Blogtest will shortly demonstrate with the chat window.

I'll go ahead and state I'm not exactly thrilled with the design choices made by Destination Games in regards to the default chat format. I'm going to compare the chat to City of Heroes for a second. City of Heroes defaults with a broadcast channel that only covers the zone the player is currently in. Ergo if a player is in Atlas Park, their broadcast chat will only be heard in Atlas Park. The broadcast chat will not be heard in Steel Canyon or Skyway City.

The default chat channel for Tabula Rasa is general chat channel that covers every zone and every instance in the game. It is my opinion that the presence of a default channel for every zone and instance is what gave rise to the extreme amount of trolls that populate the general chat channel.

The result is that many new players to Tabula Rasa shortly ask if they can turn the general chat off. I'll go so far as to say that the vast majority of people who play Tabula Rasa avoid the general channel. It is my opinion that Destination Games needs to eliminate the general chat channel, and switch to the broadcast format found in City of Heroes. The broadcast format is actually already in place for Tabula Rasa, but it is channel #4, so the underlying code change should be fairly trivial to remove the general channel.

The point of such changes is to push the focus of battle organization into the clan networks, or private channels. Private global channels such as Triumph Watch and Freedom Badge have gone a long way towards simplifying team organization in City of Heroes, and the formula has been proven to work. One of the reasons why private channels work in CoH is that whoever creates the channel has, and can assign, admin rights. Ergo unruly players can be visibly silenced or kicked from the channels by moderators.

Until such time as the chat system is reworked in a manner that neutralizes troublesome elements, lets meet up with Zed and see how we can manage what is currently in the game.

Seems that Zed has found his way to the top of Stone Anvil. To begin our chat window modification, first start like you were going to send a message.

For me I tend to use the forward slash, /, in order to start a chat message. At this point the mouse pointer should be free. So move it up to the chat tabs and right click.

Seems that we have a drop-down window now with various commands to play around with. While I didn't show it, the opacity mentioned there? Changes whether or not the window fades to the background. In the first picture the opacity is all the way off, and in the picture below, it's at it's darkest.

Lets walk through deleting a tab. I already have a Clan tab I created earlier. With a right click to Clan, I can then left click on Delete Tab.

Whenever you delete a tab you have to confirm that the tab will be deleted.

Now our chat window is down to just 5 tabs. Clan is gone. Now lets bring Clan back.

With a right click on local and a left click to create tab...

We now have a flashing blue New Tab.

At the flashing blue text I've typed in Clan

Now to set the channels that will appear in Clan. With a right click I bring up the menu again, and I've mouse hovered down to Channels. A left click to each channel will select the channel. However... I don't want any of those in my clan chat.

So with a mouse hover down to Clan, I have both members and leader selected.

I can also use this method to turn channels OFF. A left click to General System Messages... Okay, note how the new Clan channel marked my AFK? Messages like that will no longer appear. The only thing that will appear outside of clan chat is *ADMIN* chat... and I don't really want to ignore that anyways.

To answer one other question, can you delete the default tabs created by the game?

YES. Goodbye General tab.

This walkthrough does differ graphically a bit from the previous Tabula Rasa walkthrough. For those who have not followed my screen-cap methods I make it a point to only use native OS-tools. However the native screen-cap tool in Windows is Microsoft paint. I'm not exactly happy with the quality of the jpeg's that Microsoft Paint produces, so for this walkthrough I went back to the method I used in Windows 2000 to create png's for MepisGuides. Microsoft Paint is used to capture the full screen in bit-map mode, then the GIMP is used to compress the image into the final format at a lower quality. On the monitor I used to create these guides I think the image quality is better with an 85% jpeg compression from the GIMP.

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