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Social Features

Bob
With EE 15 deployed and functioning fairly smoothly, our plan is to spend some time working on social features, then move on to Enchanting so that we can get you all some additional crafter/refiner bonuses before the +4/5 structures become essential.

We'd like to work on social features first for a few reasons. A central reason is that social features have always been so highly requested, in a variety of different forms, and we'd really like to find ways to meet some of that demand as soon as possible.

Also, with EE 15 being such a large and complex update, we anticipate the need to release one or more 15.x updates to iterate on all the different systems it added. While Enchanting is likely to be a large feature that we'll need to stay focused on during both design and implementation, we see social features as more of a mix of smaller features that we can mix in with other changes, any number of which could be released separately as part of a smaller update.

Finally, for various business and gameplay reasons, we need to do some work on our email system, and there's some potential for that to be relevant to social features. For example, one of the things we didn't quite get into EE 15 was email notification to settlement leaders when their settlements were going to shut down, and we'd still like to get that into a 15.x. Assuming we do, we could also look at letting players opt-in to receive company/settlement emails.

We anticipate that we'll be working on social features and 15.x releases for the next 6-8 weeks or so, which gives us plenty of time to talk through multiple possibilities and do a fair amount of work on social systems. To kick off some discussion, here are a few possibilities we've been thinking about:

Social Companies: These are what we originally planned as part of the road map. They'd take advantage of the systems for handling company membership, but wouldn't be involved in influence or PvP. You'd still only be able to join one standard company for influence purposes, but you could join a social company (or hopefully more than one) as well. There wouldn't be many (if any) mechanical benefits to social companies, the focus instead would be on making it easier to manage groups of friends who like to play/interact with each other regularly, whether or not they're on the same side in other aspects of the game.

Friend Lists: I'd originally worried about these because of the hassles of having to manage friend lists for multiple characters on multiple accounts. However, they're a well-understood mechanic that new players regularly ask about, and could be implemented as a stepping stone to social companies. There are also some relatively simple things we could do to make it easier to handle friend lists across multiple characters, like export/import functions (similar to keybinds). On the downside, they may be a little redundant with social companies.

Online Status: The ability to quickly see which of your friends (or company-mates or whatever) are online. This would presumably also call for the ability to block your own online status from showing, or possibly to say which categories of people can see your status (friends, company mates, settlement mates, allies).

Daily Messages: Allow companies and/or settlements to set messages that are shown to all members on login (or immediately if they're already logged in).

Also Plays As: For those who regularly play as multiple characters, and aren't trying to hide that fact, it could be useful to verifiably mark those characters as all belonging to the same person. In particular, this could be handy for showing online status, since we could show that even though a particular character isn't on, that person is on as a different character.

Company/Settlement Emails: As mentioned above, we could let players opt-in to receive emails from company/settlement leaders.

Web Site Direct Messages: A very popular request. Can't guarantee we could actually add these to our web site in a reasonable amount of time, but we could take some time to look into it and figure out what would be involved.

In-Game Direct Messages: The ability to send messages to characters while they're not logged in and have them see the messages when they next log in.

Email Notifications: There are several things that can happen in-game while a player is logged out that they might want to know about so that they can log in and deal with it. For example, settlement leaders would want to know about upkeep or DI issues, company leaders would want to know about incoming feuds or characters applying for membership, and players would want to know if their housing is running low on upkeep and about to be torn down.

Improved Company Applications UI: Make it easier to apply, view the state of your application, cancel your application, etc…

Chat Improvements: The chat system could certain use some polish. Some very simple improvements have been suggested over the years, such as pressing / to open the message field with a / pre-entered, and I suspect there are other improvements both small and large that would make chatting better. On the other hand, while there are probably some easy fixes we could look at, I'm not sure that chat issues are really the sticking point for improving the overall social situation.


Let us know which of these you'd find most useful, thoughts on how they should be implemented, other social features you'd like to see, or anything else you think we should keep in mind while picking and choosing between these features and designing their actual implementations.
Bringslite
I would like to be able to send a message from the game that could be received by "character name X". They should be able to reply as well to character name Y. So I am down for that.

Love the idea of being able to get notifications of feuds, shutdowns (even Imminent), other important issues.

Chat links directly from character names to /whisper, /invite, /kick, /ignore, /trade. etc…

Not sure there is a real need for social companies(as described above) but I am ok with the idea if there is a genuine want by more players for them.
Virtute et Armis
-Unknown
Harad Navar
Regarding social companies:
1) How do you envision leadership and applying/rejecting/kicking/promoting members? E.g., would there be a </createsocialcompany, name> command with the creator as "leader"?
2) Do you envision social company mechanics as the predecessor to factions?
3) Possible game mechanical benefits to social companies - I remember an example from a very early blog post of a company of crafters/refiners hiring out to a settlement to provide services. An non-settlement company for this purpose might be too restrictive to be an attractive play option. A social company made of weaponsmiths (for example) might be a real draw to players as a non-PvE/non-PvP way to play the game if there was a game mechanic to add a sense of identity. Basically a social company as a guild. Could there be a modified crafter studios accessible to the social company rather than an individual character that would allow a guild member to sell items with the guild taking a percent as a guild tax. These could be either store items or GM generated opportunities in TK or other starter settlements.
4) What about a social company of bandits?
5) What about a social company of law keepers?
Knowledge can explain the darkness, but it is not a light.
Maxen
Definitely like what I see listed above. I'd also like a /AFK (away from keyboard) command that would appear above the character's head after either a) the player types the /AFK command or b) is inactive with no keystroke or mouse inputs for 5 minutes.

Not suggesting any sort of invulnerability. Just a way to let others know that the driver is not in the driver's seat and is not being rude by not responding to queries. (Also, if a whisper is sent to a player in AFK status, the sender gets an auto-reply that the player is AFK.)
Stilachio Thrax
All of the listed items look good.

While not strictly social, we need a true whitelist to complement the blacklist, and it needs to be integrated with our settlement controls.
Virtus et Honor

Steward of Ozem's Vigil, Lord Commander of the Argyraspides Iomedais
Bob
Harad Navar
1) How do you envision leadership and applying/rejecting/kicking/promoting members? E.g., would there be a </createsocialcompany, name> command with the creator as "leader"?

Pretty much.

Harad Navar
2) Do you envision social company mechanics as the predecessor to factions?

Not really. Factions are about relationships with NPC organizations, so players won't be in control of their membership rolls. It's certainly possible that some features we'd work on for social companies would be useful for factions as well, particularly anything making it easier for them to interact with each other, but the two concepts fill very different needs.

Harad Navar
3) Possible game mechanical benefits to social companies - I remember an example from a very early blog post of a company of crafters/refiners hiring out to a settlement to provide services. An non-settlement company for this purpose might be too restrictive to be an attractive play option. A social company made of weaponsmiths (for example) might be a real draw to players as a non-PvE/non-PvP way to play the game if there was a game mechanic to add a sense of identity. Basically a social company as a guild. Could there be a modified crafter studios accessible to the social company rather than an individual character that would allow a guild member to sell items with the guild taking a percent as a guild tax. These could be either store items or GM generated opportunities in TK or other starter settlements.

There are definitely some possibles for features that help social companies work together. The tricky part is that the initial idea around social companies was to focus purely on the social aspects and to keep them out of the territorial aspects of the game. They're meant so that a group of players who like to play together, but may be in completely different companies/settlements/alliances for purposes of territorial competition, still have a way to easily organize for regular gameplay sessions together. They wouldn't be subject to feuds or any of the other mechanics that potentially regulate venture company membership, so members could come and go as they pleased. That means we'd have to put other meaningful restrictions on any asset that can be utilized by all members of a social company.

Harad Navar
4) What about a social company of bandits?
5) What about a social company of law keepers?

Assuming they remain purely social, then there's no reason any group of like-minded players couldn't get together and form a social company.
Bob
Of all the things mentioned so far, by me or by others, what's the one thing that each of you would most like to have working soon?
Bringslite
That is a tough call as most would be great. Thinking of new players, I would go:

1. Friend Lists: I'd originally worried about these because of the hassles of having to manage friend lists for multiple characters on multiple accounts. However, they're a well-understood mechanic that new players regularly ask about, and could be implemented as a stepping stone to social companies. There are also some relatively simple things we could do to make it easier to handle friend lists across multiple characters, like export/import functions (similar to keybinds). On the downside, they may be a little redundant with social companies.

2. In-Game Direct Messages: The ability to send messages to characters while they're not logged in and have them see the messages when they next log in.

3. While not strictly social, we need a true whitelist to complement the blacklist, and it needs to be integrated with our settlement controls.

#3 A category between "Allied" and "Member" or a category between "Allied" and "Unaffiliated". I would also argue that it IS a social feature because it affects all players on a social level.
Virtute et Armis
-Unknown
You are a Troll
Friends list.

I think the whole *applying to belong to a social company* thing is kinda silly and redundant with a Friends list. I just need to know/remember who the friendly people I met were (as a new player) and when my non-settlement friends are in game (as an established player). Another whole layer of potentially confusing company affiliations is totally unnecessary.
Bringslite
Maybe if Social Companies could add a feature like… Party formations larger than 6, or something like that, they would not feel so redundant. They would have a nice feature that is needed and wouldn't add to the super criss-crossed social scene already developing. The time coding them could be put to better use, IMO.
Virtute et Armis
-Unknown
 
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