First off - great game! I love it so far, and I am looking forward to seeing what way this is heading. Not psyched about the idea of dinosaurs right now, but we’ll see what happens.
My suggestion is this:
For the sake of realism, I think the server-wide chat should be removed. I realise that for most multiplayer games, an active community within specific servers is dependent on the ability of players to communicate easily. The chat is of course the most straightforward way of doing this - alive or dead, position independent, night or day, the chat is always available. However, I have a few problems with this. One is of course that for the sake of realism, this does not even come close. In fact, crafting military weapons and perfect tools from metal scraps both seem more likely than verbal telepathy at this point. Also, it makes it a little too easy to team up, share information etc. regardless of the level of realism. So how about this?
- Remove server-wide text chat.
- Implement local chat, which would function just like speech does in real life - limited range, possibly increased by shouting.
- Keep local voice chat so that players can interact within fairly short ranges using microphones.
4. Implement a radio system. A crude, easy to craft stationary radio that can tune into a few channels (a public one would replace world chat) and possibly allow clans/friends to set up their own channels for privacy. There could also be a more advanced and expensive portable version, which naturally could be carried and used on the go. Maybe it could run on batteries?
It would also be cool with jamming or tapping equipment to allow players to attempt to disrupt or eavesdrop on nearby transmissions, but appropriate mechanics would of course have to be applied.
Another possibility would be to allow the radio to also transfer text, lessening the need for verbal skills in the server language as well as making it easier for people without mics (do they still exist?). This would restore server-wide chat functions to anyone skilled/smart/lucky enough to acquire a radio.
Perhaps the radio could also contribute with occasional information about world events that might realistically be broadcasted, such as the airdrop.
Would this be omitted by simply using skype, teamspeak, ventrilo etc. and thus leaving the server chat-less? Possibly.
Would many players think it is a bad thing to remove world chat in the first place and be unhappy? Quite likely.
Would it add a unique sense of realism, and change the nature of random player interactions? Hopefully and probably.
My main criticism to the idea is that it could leave players somewhat isolated, increasing the initial challenges of the game. I certainly picked up many things from the chat in my first few hours of play, and without this informational lifeline, some people might find the game harder as they spawn the first few times. Deterring players from the game would naturally be counter-productive, but the radio system might empower voice chatting and make for interesting approaches to communication that no other games that I know of provide.
I think the interface and crafting list would have to make it very clear that chatting server-wide is something that arises from these communication technologies, and that in order to contact others from a distance a radio must be built/found.
What do you think? Any thoughts?