Recently, there has been an addition to the sites of an online status feature, which involves a commonly used mechanism in the form of a coloured dot to display if you are online, offline or idle.
Firstly, I believe that this could overall be a positive addition to the sites, as in the past you could only use the map which defaulted to assuming that everyone was online, even if they were away from the keyboard. The additional clarity is useful in determining if someone is here or if they have stepped away for a bit. I also like the idea of a "ready to role-play" colour as this will help people to find active and willing users to role-play with.
I would like to suggest some amendments to the way it has been executed. At the moment, the use of the online status feature is made available through 100 forum posts. By default, all users have a green dot next to their name. This creates a discrepancy where users might display as being "online" even if they are away from their keyboard. For the users who have unlocked the feature, any attempt to display themselves as "online" may be overlooked, as they will get caught in a sea of the meaningless green dots of other users. In reality, the only way the feature comes in useful is if a user who's unlocked the feature has set themselves to "away" or "ready to role-play."
Furthermore, I feel there is a missed opportunity for encouraging collaboration among the users. The "ready to role-play" option is a great idea, but only possible to use after 100 forum posts. This suggests you must have done quite a lot of role-playing already. In reality, it is the newer users who will be the most keen to meet other users and find role-playing partners. Why not have this available to them? It would certainly help new players to know if anyone is particularly suitable to reach out to.
Another interesting quirk is the fact of this feature being initiated through chat. I fear that, by using this method, it may cause more spam in the chat rooms, especially if there are users who come and go a lot, and especially on larger sites with lots of active users. It is easy enough to see the online status dot next to a user's name on the map; therefore, one should only need to change the colour of the dot in their settings, and a chat message should not be necessary.
Finally, I wonder if this is perhaps an attempt to inspire more site activity by rewarding role-play? If so, I think you could still do this, but with a different sort of reward. Personally, I'd be all for receiving a special item as a reward for activity and participation - ideally, something that gives a leg up with game play or is useful in some way. Or maybe something visually cool, like the option to display your name in an honour bar?
So, to summarise, here are the amendments I suggest:
- Keep the online status feature, but detach it from the role-play achievement; this creates consistency across the board in regard to a user's online status.
- In its place, create something else that serves as a reward for lots of role-play, as this does inspire activity and dedication.
- Modify the online status feature so that is not associated with chat, but can be changed from your settings instead.
Thank you for your consideration.
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