Author Topic: Messaging  (Read 3932 times)

Vellos

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 86
  • Karma: +2/-0
    • View Profile
Messaging
« on: February 27, 2014, 06:52:11 AM »
So I'm not really raging here, just a bit frustrated.


The messaging system is extraordinarily unfriendly to lightweight play. It's difficult figuring out what order messages came in, and next to impossible to flip through relevant messages swiftly. You have to click through extended branching message trees to figure out what's going on. While I'm sure the coding architecture is quite elegant, for those of us who would rather cut to the important things because we only play in a lightweight fashion, it's quite hard to follow the messages. It's not clear who the recipients are either, so I don't really know how to figure out if I'm talking to the right people.


I don't really have a proposed solution, but I will say I'm generally fond of very flat text designs like forums, BM's message system, etc.

Foxglove

  • Global Moderator
  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 555
  • Karma: +72/-10
    • View Profile
Re: Messaging
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2014, 06:57:02 AM »
Standing for the responsible use of power since Year 1, Week 1, Day 1.
Fun fact: I wrote some of the text for the M&F crowdfunding campaign.
Favourite warm beverage: hot chocolate.

Tom

  • Head Developer
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6320
  • Karma: +102/-15
    • View Profile
    • Might & Fealty
Re: Messaging
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2014, 07:50:49 AM »
It's a matter of presentation. Tell me what you want it to look like, as specific as possible, and I can adapt the view.

Tan dSerrai

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 866
  • Karma: +20/-2
    • View Profile
Re: Messaging
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2014, 09:22:30 AM »
As said elsewhere, the current reply function has its reason of existence (I do not want to see it go) - but it would be handy to simplify the _display_.

First, I would make the 'add new message' more prominent (as I assume it will be used more widely)...maybe moving it from the right edge of the screen to the left would be sufficient. Maybe enlarge the button somewhat as well in relation to the reply and split buttons.

Second, and more important, what I would like to see is a basic, timeline oriented display (with some additions): all messages within a conversation are displayed from from oldest on top to newest at the bottom with unread messages clearly marked and the 'point of view' centered on the first unread message. Alternatively, display the messages the same, but hide already read messages.

This would both go for added messages AND replies. The replies should then have a 'this message is a reply to:' button which when clicked expands to show the message that was replied to. This way you only need to expand messages if you want to find out what they did reply to, you do NOT need to expand the whole tree to actually read the replies. It would also serve to easily show the timeline in which (for example) 3 different character reply to the same message - which might be important and is hard to find out currently.

If there really is a necessity to bring order into the chaos, the current 'split' works fine - you can then create a sub-thread to an ongoing and maybe derailed conversation.

All in all I think if the system becomes just a bit more intuitive it will be very powerful.And luckily not quite 'email-like' which I personally would like to avoid.  I already like it a lot - keep up the excellent work, I am having a lot of fun!

Tom

  • Head Developer
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6320
  • Karma: +102/-15
    • View Profile
    • Might & Fealty
Re: Messaging
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2014, 04:25:09 PM »
I think the threaded view has its advantages, too. But yes, I need to make things easier to access. Sadly, I'm not a great designer. I could really need some design input here.

Cynic

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 338
  • Karma: +16/-8
    • View Profile
Re: Messaging
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2014, 04:54:16 PM »
Bunch of ideas, probably bad, but I'm too unfamiliar with design to know for sure how bad they are...

Is it possible to have the message view 'centre' on a selected message?  Rather than manually clicking show on the messages you want and hiding them again afterwards, clicking on a message could collapse the rest of the conversation, but expand the message, its parent message and any replies so you can see the context.

I don't know how this would interact with mobile devices, but I think simply reducing the size of the messages (when collapsed) would go a long way towards making the conversation structure easier to visualise as you can fit more onto the screen and see patterns more easily. If a message can have the reply, split, name, date and 4 inactive buttons on the same text-line then you could see a lot of conversation on a single screen, and simply select the one you want to expand and view.

Is it possible to show unread messages in a different colour/bold/something to make them jump out, but keep them within the structure in the normal place?

There is a choice between showing and hiding all the layers of a conversation.  Showing them all by default would allow people to easily jump around a conversation, but when the conversation is large you wouldn't be able to completely hide obsolete branches with lots of replies.  Hiding branches within a message until it is expanded would make it easier to filter out bits you don't want but slower to navigate to what you want to see if it's not right there.

Could have a second (toggle-able) view which is sorted by message date, and possibly using the above thing where if you select it it shows the parent and reply messages above and below so you can get an idea of what it's responding to.

Could have two expand/collapse functions - one (clicking the 'header bar' of a message maybe?) to expand a message from its header or collapse the message down to just a header line, and one +/- type button similar to some older windows interfaces to show/hide the further threads and reply headers below, which could then be clicked to actually view the messages themselves.

Foxglove

  • Global Moderator
  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 555
  • Karma: +72/-10
    • View Profile
Re: Messaging
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2014, 06:24:19 PM »
It seems to me that the only way to make the presentation clearer would be to have the entire conversation on display from the start in a forum style display. The current system just isn't working. Looking at the Fading Isles realm-wide conversation, there are only 19 faded out messages on display of the 63 total messages in the conversation (figures correct at time of writing). So, if I need to find any other messages, I need to go mining through the 'response click here' buttons. Which is a massive time sink.

Elsewhere, De-Legro suggested an expand all option to retrieve messages. If we really have to have anything of that sort, I'd turn it on its head and have a collapse messages option. So that you have the entire conversation on display as default, but the user is then given the option to collapse the full text of messages if they find it too troublesome to scroll up and down through a long list of messages. Obviously, they should also be able to expand the messages again if they wish.
Standing for the responsible use of power since Year 1, Week 1, Day 1.
Fun fact: I wrote some of the text for the M&F crowdfunding campaign.
Favourite warm beverage: hot chocolate.

De-Legro

  • M&F Dev Team
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3130
  • Karma: +105/-55
    • View Profile
Re: Messaging
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2014, 09:42:05 PM »
It seems to me that the only way to make the presentation clearer would be to have the entire conversation on display from the start in a forum style display. The current system just isn't working. Looking at the Fading Isles realm-wide conversation, there are only 19 faded out messages on display of the 63 total messages in the conversation (figures correct at time of writing). So, if I need to find any other messages, I need to go mining through the 'response click here' buttons. Which is a massive time sink.

Elsewhere, De-Legro suggested an expand all option to retrieve messages. If we really have to have anything of that sort, I'd turn it on its head and have a collapse messages option. So that you have the entire conversation on display as default, but the user is then given the option to collapse the full text of messages if they find it too troublesome to scroll up and down through a long list of messages. Obviously, they should also be able to expand the messages again if they wish.


Yeah I sort of glossed over that. In my head if you have a expand all button you have a hide all button by default :). One thing the system needs is user configuration. I see no reason why it couldn't be a choice to expand the entire message tree by default if that is what you wish. Actually given structure Tom has set up there is not reason why a flat forum style couldn't be an option, though it would require more work to set up.
He who was once known as Blackfyre

Tom

  • Head Developer
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6320
  • Karma: +102/-15
    • View Profile
    • Might & Fealty
Re: Messaging
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2014, 10:12:46 PM »
Yes. People have different preferences. Some people like threaded conversations, some like flat views by time. The system can give you both, it just needs to know which one you want.

The forum solution is to split a conversation into pages once it goes beyond a certain number of posts. Maybe I should adopt that convention.


Foxglove

  • Global Moderator
  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 555
  • Karma: +72/-10
    • View Profile
Re: Messaging
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2014, 10:20:54 PM »


The forum solution is to split a conversation into pages once it goes beyond a certain number of posts. Maybe I should adopt that convention.

That might be the best solution to start with. User configuration would be the ideal long term solution, depending on how much work it would take to set it up. If the system can give both threaded conversations, or flat views by timeline, it would be great to have the options so people could choose what they prefer.

I'd suggest that the flat forum style display should be the default for the sake of new players who are likely to be much more used to seeing things in that way, rather than threaded conversations.
Standing for the responsible use of power since Year 1, Week 1, Day 1.
Fun fact: I wrote some of the text for the M&F crowdfunding campaign.
Favourite warm beverage: hot chocolate.

Bubba

  • Guest
Re: Messaging
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2014, 12:57:38 AM »
I despise pages and always set forums to the maximum posts per page.

Valast

  • Guest
Re: Messaging
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2014, 04:00:40 AM »
I would love to see an archive/file system.  Where someone can put messages that they do not need for a while but still keep the text of the conversation.

For example if you are a realms diplomat you could have a folder for each of the realms you come into contact with.  That way you never have to scroll for hours to find information.  Instead you go to the place you stored it and scroll a fraction as much.  It would also help to keep people and places sorted.

Call it a Lendan Stone satchel.  After all we would need one to remember what stone was for what person.






Alumaani

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
  • Karma: +25/-13
    • View Profile
Re: Messaging
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2014, 08:15:38 AM »
Me too...how can I do that here?

Tom

  • Head Developer
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6320
  • Karma: +102/-15
    • View Profile
    • Might & Fealty
Re: Messaging
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2014, 09:12:18 AM »
As I said elsewhere: The entire messaging system has been re-written from scratch and is still early.

It has many options, but few of them are implemented so far. If someone with PHP and Symfony2 experience wants to help me out, the entire code is available here:

https://github.com/tvogt/msgbundle

Perth

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 72
  • Karma: +4/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Messaging
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2014, 10:47:01 PM »
Just started playing on March 1st. Came to the forum to comment on how frustrating the message is currently, but was wise enough to look around for a relevant thread first because I figured I couldn't be the only one. Just adding my two cents to the "frustrated" camp.

Messages are so crucial to a game like this. If I can't easily follow conversations, see who wrote them, know who that person is, etc. It makes it really difficult to get immersed in the atmosphere of the game for me.

The BattleMaster message system was not perfect, but it did a lot of things right and I think the M&F system could benefit from those things. 1) Every message was in a time stream so you knew which messages came first, 2) the interface was clean, the text was easily legible, and the options for reply/etc. were easy to find and intuitive, 3) it was very easy to tell who a message was from. The big thing the M&F system has right right now is that it is easy to tell who is responding to who, where the BM system certainly lacked that.

Final thing: I really really want automatic signatures, they were so helpful in BM to know who was writing you. Half the time in I have no idea who people are in the realm thread and I shouldn't have to click their name and click through estates and stuff just to figure it out.