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Chat Modalities for Roll20

Axel Castilla
KS Backer
Some people --me and my players included-- will be running games with Roll20 mainly using text, not webcams and voice. Roll20 already supports some chat features. But if it wants to support this sort of usgage --people with Fantasy Grounds 2 is often used to it, and I find it innapreciable--, at the bare minimum, then, I'd suggest more Roll20 chat modalities and features: for instance, besides supporting certain macro dice rolls, allow for a sort of /alias command for chosing a name-personality without needing to create a new NPC inside Roll20 --this will be useful for GMs, and for very casual or brief NPCs; also, as it was suggested in another thread, a sort of way for entering *narrative* text would be extremely useful. I think that other text chat modalities different than the default one would be indispensable for running text chat based games, like "Out of Character Chat" (displaying your Roll20 account name instead your character's name), and "In Character/Action Chat". Text Chat Modalities wouldn't be difficult to implement, and could be activated just by pushing the enter key, along with another specific key (such as ALT, CTRL or whatever), while submitting the written text into the chatbox. Different Chat Modalities can use different colors as well, and even font types --narrative text can be bold or italic, for instance. This make all the text chat content more readable. Example of "Out of Character Chat": Brian (player name in parenthesis): AFK, someone is calling at my door. or Brian (player name in parenthesis): Sorry, but you are doing it wrong. The rules say otherwise and my Spot check should have been successful; please, check the manual, page 132. Example of "In Character/Action Chat": /me walks quietly towards the deer, readying an arrow. resulting in Wyrloc walks quietly towards the deer, readying an arrow. Example of "Narrative text" --for the GM: Suddenly you are awake, on a sort of uncomfortable bed. It is dark, and you don't remember how did you end in this place. You only can see small metalic highlights around you, and the irregular sound of water drops failing to the floor. - While many of us would be happy with "Out of Character", "Alias function (speak as)", "Narrative Text", "Emote Text", "Action/In Character" and "Default" chat modalities, here is a rather exhaustive set of chat features --agreed, some of them are already included in Roll20, which is great! while some of them seem not completely applicable here, but they can be inspirational nonetheless-- written by a friend mine as a set of suggestions for a VTT. Since they are very good ideas to my mind, and indeed I run games mainly via text --mic. voice is reserved for "Out of Character chat", when we actually use it--, I have decided to post them here as a quote in the following post:
Axel Castilla
KS Backer
Chat features Users can change font and font size Important for those of us with older, dodgier eyes. Option to turn off timestamp This really isn't necessary against every single message when role-playing. In fact it's downright distracting! I'd suggest it is off by default. Alias system It must be easy to switch between aliases, so that GMs can impersonate NPCs and players can play multiple PCs, henchmen, or familiars. There is no need to put the player name after the alias. I find this disruptive. If included it should be an option: i.e. 'Arban: ' vs 'Arban (Spyke): ' Note you need to be able to set an alias even if you are only playing one player character. Often you want your character to have a full name (Flight Lieutenant Adrian Baltimore III) but you don't want to see that on every line of chat, you'd rather just see 'Ade: '. Action (Emote) Typically triggered by a command such as /me or holding down a control key when you press enter to send the line to the chat window (or both). Can be set using a button, but this is fiddly. This uses the player name as the first word(s) in the chat line followed by whatever is typed. An example would be: /me pulls his hood over his head. which would display as: Arban pulls his hood over his head. Mood Typically triggered by a command such as /m or holding down a control key when you press enter to send the line to the chat window (or both). Can be set using a button, but this is fiddly. This shows the character or player name followed by brackets containing the mood, in the way it would be shown in a play or film script, e.g.: /m quietly It's been a long time, Marta. which would display as: Arban (quietly): It's been a long time, Marta. This adds immense depth to the roleplaying experience. The first word after /m or on the line if using the hotkey is taken to be the mood. If the mood has multiple words they should be surrounded by brackets. It should be possible to make moods persistent, by using the mood alone, e.g.: '/m quietly. Persistent moods would be toggled off by sending '/m'. Narrate The GM has two in game voices, one is used when telling the players what to roll or dealing with rules questions and the other is used when providing game narration. He needs a way to mark which comment is narration so that the chat system can use a different font style (often bold) to mark it clearly. Speaking out of character While OOC can be another alias, this makes it a bit fiddly, and as GM you have to hunt for the right character after speaking OOC. It's better if there is a hotkey or button (or both) that toggles you out of character and then back to whatever you were before. Display of OOC We need a clear cue for OOC lines. Possibilities would include: simply using the player's name for the OOC chat lines prefacing with OOC (Player name) showing OOC lines in a separate area of the screen - though that wouldn't be to everyone's tastes and so should be an option. Player colours Separating out player comments by colour is one way to make a chat frame more readable. All users should have be able to pick a colour for their text. Ideally all users would have control over the colours shown in their client for all other users, so that they can have absolute control. Chat mode colours Separating out the mode for each chat line is an alternate way to make a chat frame more readable. All users should be able to set the colours for In Character speech, Out of Character, Action and GM Narrative. Dice rolls shown in-line These should be preceded by the name of the character who made the roll (not the player). A player may well be playing more than one character. Whispers Players should be able to send private chat messages to the GM or each other. The GM should be able to set an option on whether he is willing to allow players to whisper to each other without him also seeing the text. Options that add functionality Drag, copy or trigger blocks of stored text It is possible to GM a text-based game without this feature, but it's not a lot of fun. At its simplest this means just ensuring that Ctrl-V works to paste a block of text into the chat box. More complex options would be include being able to click to send a paragraph of text from a pdf to the chat window, and on to options like being able to set text blocks on tokens which can be sent to the chat window with a click. Flags that can be triggered by the GM Stop! (Tells players to stop typing so that the GM can catch up or provide important information without getting interrupted.) [Character Name]'s Turn! Vote Presents an option and each player has to click to set a tick or a cross. Provides a way to break deadlocks slowing down the game: important in chat-based roleplay. Anyone, GM or player, should be able to trigger a vote. Horizontal rule(s) Nice graphics that can provide a visual separator in the chat. Useful for separating out the start of the game or new chapters in the action. Formatted text lines A nice-to-have, but a really good one, is the ability to use italics, bold and underline. These can really add to the mood. However, if the ability to change font and size is also provided, the GM should have the option to prevent or allow this. These can really kill the mood... Full screen transparent overlay If the chat interface is a full page, then it would be good if the transparency could be set and it could appear as an overlay over another page (e.g. the current map). Chat line tags included on export This could be an option when saving the chat logs as it would make it easier to separate out OOC lines from in-character lines if you want to tidy up the log for presentation. Spare chat buffer You're often interrupted while typing some long text and you need a way to jump into a second buffer briefly to reply. Chat box history It's helpful to be able to use the up/down arrow keys to select and resend earlier chat lines.
Holy cow what a great list. I just wish each was it's own thread so I don't have to write a book to respond; *Font controls - Great Idea - <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a> *Timestamp controls - I can see where you are coming from but I'd rather this be up to each person. So if I want timestamps and you don't let me see them and let you choose not to. It'd be cool if it was an option next to the font controls, where ever they might exist - <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a> *Alias system - Already exists - If you create a Character and indicate what player has control of it, they have the dropdown and can choose to speak from it or from themselves. About the nicknaming, ... Make the character have the name you want presented, and show the full name in the character. *Action (Emote) - Already exists *Mood emoting - Use Emote, just phrase things accordingly, about the persistent moods... yea, i'd rather not have that. *Narrate - That might be nice, but I think I wouldn't use it I'd just tell the story as needed from the NPC's perpective or as myself w/the same name as if I was asking for a player to give me a roll result. *Out of Character - Yea more control over how you can change if your in/out of character might be nice, again I think I'd defer to have someone actually choose the option in the dropdown. *Player color control - This would be nice. If you could associate a character to a specific font/color/style that would be nice. So if I was a player and I controlled two characters, character 1 might have red text bold and character 2 might have blue text and it would be underlined. - <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a> *Dice rolls shown in-line - Already exists, if you choose the character it will roll not the player. *Whispers - Already exists, about the player to player, I'm pretty sure that works too. Gm to control that. I don't think I'd want to control that. *Drag, copy or trigger blocks of stored text - I think I might use this. But each object would need allow text. A way to do this would be with gm-layer drawing objects in the GM Info text and adding a method to send that to chat might be awesome, or a method to /w a npc with that might be cool. - <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a> *Flag - to allow GM control to stop others from using chat - I'm against this. If the players aren't listening to start with you probably have more problems then this will fix. *Vote - allow players to vote on things - I don't see why this wouldn't be just typed out as some players might want to do something extra in the voting like use an item or something. *Horizontal breaks - Fancy way to separate transitions - I like it. - <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a> *Formatted text - in general I'd be fine with this but if the characters preset font settings would happen I'd be not for this. So either this or the Player color control, but not both. *Chat Transparency - Like an opacity - I like it but a player preference like timestamps. - <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a> *Spare chat buffer - I don't understand *Chat box history - Already exists I'm going to create a thread for each of these so others don't have read this book.
Okay I created the ones I want so others can vote em up or down individually.