Free Flow Chat, what is it _really_ about?
Habbo is a social platform. At the very core of our world are Rooms and Chat. We have recently decided to take a look at these features with the goal of unlocking new possibilities for Habbos to interact and have fun. We feel our first step into this challenging area of development went well. We were able to bring new room layouts, stacking tools, and more intuitive navigation. Many more possibilities will follow.
Working on such core features is never easy and we understand that it can be a bit scary when things change. For that reason, we’d like to explain exactly what we’re doing now with the chat and why.
First, let’s define the problem. The chat system currently works by placing one speech bubble on each line and varying length of the bubble based on the amount of text. This works well in situations where the entire room is having a single conversation. However, in many rooms the layout provides various seating areas and hangouts. Habbos often gather in these hangouts to form groups and chat, but their speech winds up as part of the whole room conversation rather than supporting this natural tendency toward small to medium sized groups.
Enter the Free Flow Chat: Non-overlapping bubbles can now pass each other and avatars talking in one position for a longer time get their chat pulled together into a single column. Your group of friends get your own column, while the group next door gets theirs, and the room owner gets to decide how wide these columns are and how fast they scroll up, and design their room accordingly!
Example: If you go to a dedicated area of a large room like a diner with your friends and sit down at a table, you can’t really casually talk without interruption if the room is busy with lots of chat already. We believe room building skills and your avatar’s position should affect the range of possible socializing actions in more intricate ways than just the crude hearing-range implementation Habbo has now. We want to offer the room builders more than just furni to control the atmosphere of their rooms, hence the possibility to also control the way the chat flows.
And now for the apology: The old chat was great in many occasions and should still be available (in pixel perfect form)! We believed the choice of chat style should be made by the owner of the room since it requires users to navigate a bit differently to fully appreciate the benefits. However, chat is such a personal experience that the choice should rest with individuals as well. For this reason, we will be adding an account setting to choose your chat style as well as the alternative to take the room’s default setting.
If you’d like to follow along with the progress, the Free Flow Beta group will be open for everyone to opt-in. A lot of people enjoyed the new model, and we will offer them the possibility to take it to use everywhere in the hotel while we work to emulate the old chat perfectly while still giving you the improvements of the new: Chat history view spanning multiple rooms with time-stamps, instant response to room panning, pointers moving while you walk, fabulous-looking chat styles, and more still to come!
We now have BETA groups for testing the chat in COM, ES, FR, BR and FI. Join your local beta via the following link: