This last weekend we implemented our first-ever community-driven feature: parties and chat. This marks a pretty big stepping stone for us because a chat system (in particular) was something that we were never particularly keen on. However, the community convinced us otherwise and we are completely delighted with what this adds to the game despite our previous reservations. So not only does it feel awesome to finally implement a feature that the community have been asking for, but it also feels awesome that the game is blooming into something more than we could have imagined ourselves. Not only that but it's all thanks to our awesome little community!
Before I move onto other things, here's a quick overview of what we've added. When you start up the game now, you'll notice a new button in the top-left of the screen, as shown on the left. This is where it all starts.
By clicking on this button, a new screen will open up known as the "party screen". This screen allows you to create and manage a party, invite members to your party and also view and join parties created by other players.
There's still a bit of work to do here. For example, we plan to make the "all parties" section on the right display the parties in a list that more closely resemble a leaderboard, so that parties can essentially pit themselves against each other in a real-time fight for the highest total score. This is something that we plan to implement in the next major update. Here's the new party screen displayed below:
In addition to the above, we've altered the live ranking section shown in the top-right of the screen. As you can see on the right, we've added a "WORLD" and "PARTY" tab to the live ranking, allowing you to display the usual world ranking, or display only the ranking of you and your party members. This allows you to set up a party with you and your friends to determine who really is the best!
Just like the party screen, the update to the live ranking is also a work in progress. We plan to add a third tab which allows you to see a live ranking for all parties, essentially showing you the same as what will be shown in the "all parties" section of the new parties screen: a leaderboard that shows which parties have the highest total score, pitting parties against each other. This is something that we plan to implement in the next major update.
So, what is the purpose of parties?
As shown above, parties allow you to group up with your friends, pit yourselves against each other, easily find each other in the world and also better communicate with each other (as we'll discuss in a moment). The main reason for this though is it gives us the foundation to provide more features in the future such as rewards and game modes that encourage players to play with their friends.
We have already started to plan for the next major update, which we've coined "Parties Improved". This will include some of the features mentioned above, along with some additional ones that we couldn't quite fit into this update. You can take a look at the roadmap for version 1.22.2 here: but ultimately what we should be seeing in future updates is awesome new features as a result of the new party system.
Is this a web-only feature?
Both the party and the chat system are web-only features, which is one of the main reasons that we needed convincing to implement them in the first place. Ultimately it was the only way they could be added to the game.
One of the major downside of mobile applications is that they do not function like desktop applications or web applications where they can easily and intuitively "run in the background". Mobile applications go to sleep (stop running) when they are not actively in focus, which causes many problems for mobile games that utilize multiplayer because they need to efficiently be able to disconnect and reconnect when the game goes out of focus and comes back into focus. Ultimately, it's very common for mobile players to disconnect and reconnect which would cause the party system to fail, as disconnection causes you to leave your party.
As for chat, there's just not enough screen space to implement that on the mobile version. In addition to that, using a chat system on your phone is tricky and not very intuitive. So we've just kept it so that the mobile version uses the emoticon system, while the web version can use the party, chat and emoticon system.
Moving onto the chat system, on the left we can see how the chat system currently works. We still have the emoticon system which everyone loves, but in addition to that you'll notice the new chat input field and also a new settings section.
Chatting is simple. Specify who you want to chat to (currently you can chat to @all, @friends and @party), hit enter and type away! The settings section is basically used to filter the types of messages that you want to receive and/or disable chat entirely.
For members of the community and others who have been watching our social channels, you may have noticed our recent poll asking what our first community discussion should be about. The results were pretty clear, you guys want to talk about new game modes:
We're pretty excited to get this discussion underway, but recent off-topic discussions with the community have indicated that the type of game modes that you guys are interested in are team-based, which makes things pretty difficult because the usual team-based game modes wouldn't really work in Frogar.io, and we want to avoid a situation where you're asked to "join the blue or red team".
So what we've decided to do is put the topic of game modes on pause for now and start looking at implementing clans. Clans will allow for many new things such as clan quests/tournaments. More importantly though, clans will give us a persistent (online and offline) grouping of players that we can use as the "teams" in team-based game modes. For example, imagine a game mode such as territorial control that allows players to control areas of the map based on control points. Something like this would work really well in frogar.io, but not without there being persistent grouping of players (clans). So by implementing clans we'll put ourselves in a position where we can much better talk about game modes that implement team-play and that also work with the core mechanics of Frogar.io.
Since recently starting up the discord server we have been blown away by the support that you guys have shown us. The level of feedback that we get now that we have the community set up is amazing. Not only do we get countless suggestions each day for new ideas and ways that we can improve the game, but we also get help with things like sharing news about the game or even streaming new content! Our community is awesome :)
So if you want to get involved in a community that cares, listens and is generally just awesome then you should absolutely head on over to our Discord. It's clear that this is exactly where the future of Frogar.io will be shaped, so don't miss out!
You can find our discord server here: https://discord.gg/UJhEhDV
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