GameCareerGuide, Gamasutra's sister site for aspiring game developers, recently asked readers to come up with an MMORPG communications system that is useful, intuitive, and most importantly, something that players would actually want to use.
Readers submitted a variety of responses, and now a new feature is up
at GameCareerGuide, summarizing the results of the challenge and selecting three winners and many honorable mentions:
Many entries attempted to break the language barrier through the use of pictographs. Some suggested that certain symbols carry universal messages across all languages, meaning that all players would be capable of simple interactions.
Problems would inevitably arise, however, when one attempts to convey a more complex series of thoughts. A few standout entries described workable solutions to common communication issues within picture-driven languages.
Other submissions took a more drastic approach. Some attempted to circumvent the need for verbal communication altogether, describing game worlds in which all players were unable to speak. A few went as far to suggest the implementation of an entirely new language, requiring all players to attend in-game classes in order to learn its vocabulary and grammar.
One of the chosen entries came from Black Drop Studios producer Peter Lubeck, who prefaces his proposal:
The communication system I am proposing sacrifices precision and versatility in favor of speed, accessibility, ease-of-use and interaction feedback. By using a library of "universal" symbols, accessible through an intuitive graphical user interface, players will be able to convey messages quickly and smoothly.
By pressing and holding a hot-key, a spiral of symbols is invoked on the screen. When you rotate the analogue stick the symbols light up and scale up as you pass them. The spiral is repeating, so when you get to the end, the symbol that was first in line will seamlessly follow the last symbol. This makes it quick and easy to browse all of the symbols and there is no limit as to how many symbols you can put into it.
To learn more about Lubeck's system and the other entrants, read the full results feature