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Issues with the new chat (specifically Android Netrunner)

Firstly let me say how much I enjoy OCTGN and I'm currently a subscriber. However the new chat implementation has caused such a shake-up of game flow and usability that makes it very awkward for me to use. From the main chat lobby I see there has been a lot of consternation from a lot of other users regarding the changes as well.

Firstly as I'm colourblind I find it very hard to read, the chat box needs to be on an opaque background (or an option to change it).

I appreciate that removing the chat box from the bottom UI has given more room to display cards (wasn't really an issue in Netrunner before and I even raised an issue on github to enable me to drag the chatbox horizontally again before that got changed). However that new horizontal bar (magenta shaded area) along the top has taken away some of the vertical space of the play area which is what I've been trying to get more of (the main reason I subscribed and play in fullscreen mode coincidentally). There is lots of dead space at the side of the play area for Netrunner. This would be the perfect spot to have a chat / event log. (Large yellow shaded area).

Ignoring the fact the (magenta) scrolling log thing is unreadable which is easily fixed giving it an opaque background. Having it take up more vertical space means I would have to zoom the play area back out a bit making everything smaller. I was about to start recording and streaming games. Having things smaller is bad for the viewers, one of the stated reasons for this chat change was to create more playing space, though you can clearly see that it has done the opposite.

Lets compare the way I've got it set up without the subscription banner, fullscreen and no taskbar vs someone who has the banner, not playing fullscreen (so larger menu) and a visible taskbar.

This screenshot comparison should show you how taking up more of the vertical space is a detriment to the UI and playing area (at least for Netrunner).

There are other issues with not having a visible chat/event log is that it helps with both game flow and also being social when playing. I play other board games online using other platforms and spend a lot of time chatting with my friends/other players. Having it visible all the time is great for this and adds to the enjoyment of the game, at least for me.

Having the events log viewable also helps with game flow as both players can easily see how many credits are used for boosting strength and breaking subroutines when using icebreakers. Having to pop the log up every time someone passes a piece of ICE is going to make the game much more convoluted and slower.

I saw some people suggest having two separate logs with only one visible full time. I'm personally against doing this as being able to chat in line with the event log is one of the best way to teach new players if you don't have voice comms (which is nearly every game I've played). Being able to explain inline what's going on is a massive help.

Lastly a personal bugbear of the new chat box is that it puts new lines at the top rather than at the bottom like before. As a long time user of IRC (as demonstrated in the main OCTGN lobby) I'm used to things scrolling from the bottom when it comes to chat. It seems odd having it scroll from the top when most of the main card UI is all at the bottom of the screen. I hardly ever use the top menu for anything beyond perhaps resetting the game. I spend more time looking at the bottom area of the screen than the top and that's also where the chat input box is. When having a convo, typing what you are saying at the bottom and then glancing up for the responses seems a bit awkward compared to having to just look one line up. I could live with it scrolling from the top but not having them displayed on screen where there is plenty of space to have a permanently visible one (for Netrunner) is a big step backwards in usability. From the reaction of other players in the main chat it seems I am not alone.

I do hope you take these points on board going forwards. The one issue it would create is that when you hover over cards and get a larger version of them. With having the chat in that area on the left, it would make sense if the large card image hover always came up on the right. This was what was stopping me from previously just dragging the old chat box vertically upwards all the way to the top (that and the translucent background).

EDIT: Oh one other thing is that is awkward with having it disappearing / reappearing is that it is set to use the ESC key. For Netrunner I use that fairly often to jack out of a run. If I start chatting mid run and then try to get rid of the box I can accidentally jack out of a run if the focus isn't on the box (this is easily done). While db0 could reassign jacking out to another key, it is actually a really useful key to use ESC for that function. While not having the chat box visible as I explained actually makes OCTGN less usable (for me).

2 people like this idea

Just gave myself another idea after posting those. If you only put the chat log filling up halve that area on the left hand side of the screen. Anyone live streaming could overlay live chat in that extra space above it using their streaming software (I believe this is possible with both OBS and Xsplit). Really would need the large card pop ups to always be on the right though if doing that.

This layout seems ideal for Netrunner and it all appears to be fine using the text client version

Nice big log up the side so can easily keep track of icebreaker spending etc. I did make a custom wallpaper with the background behind it all black as a personal preference to make it easier for me to read. Plenty of space for your hand of cards, can make the play area nice and large and it 

I have done some local tests where some runner decks were only getting 3 clicks instead of 4 but it was fine using the core decks I was using for that screenshot.

The only problem is that the large card hover appears underneath the chat box when I stretch it out like this. If they only came up on the right side and not the left this wouldn't be an issue or if they had z-index priority. Not a big deal at the end of the day just a little niggling, though I don't know what all the other planned UI changes are which may way resolve this in the future anyway. Screenshot showing chat box overlap on left card hover:

Test version is much much improved, seems to fix all the issues, at least the ones I had with it (non-auto scroll, plus placement and is now resizable again).

Good work :)

We have a new test version out if you guys want to try it and report back.


Also regarding the error messaging, I believe you can select "Hide Errors" as host in the pre-game lobby in order to hide those. Although you might not be able to toggle them back on within the game.

The "You don't control the Trace Card" error that tripped almost every time I hit f12 was annoying. As Explosive said above, db0 may be addressing this already.

Thanks to Kelly for being responsive.



Regarding point 2, I spoke to DB0 in the chat earlier and he said that is something he can fix, the OCTGN updates have changed something that means he has to do something differently. I'm paraphrasing a bit as I don't know how the back end of things works, but he knows about it and is working on a fix.

Summary of problems right now:

1. No autoscroll

2. Retarded amounts of those giant red errors

3. Would be nice if control T still worked, no reason to throw that out

4. Where it was was great, right now it's just obscuring a whole bunch of stuff unnecessarily.

Otherwise, the text links are a nice touch.

It is better.  Thanks for removing the bobbing text, and putting the chat to the side.  That is great.

However.....not having autoscroll on the chat window makes it very close to unplayable.  I use the log to see when it is time to do things, and having to continually find the bottom of the chat window is really difficult, especially with lag that I experience and also all the big boxed error messages. 

So, if we could get autoscroll back, this would make the games easily playable again.

And as a (distant) second request, if we could get the "hide error messages" toggle back, it would be nice too.

Thanks for being responsive to our requests!


Thanks Kelly,

It's way better now, really appreciate the quick fix.

The one apparently remaining issue (at least for me) is that the chat box doesn't scroll down with new messages. Apart from that, this new version seems pretty great (even though it wasn't what was planned).

Thanks for all of the criticisms that were constructive(not all comments apply). We've made a few updates that will hopefully help. Chat still opens and closes the same way, but in the bottom left. Since you need to focus the chat to close it, you can effectively leave it open by not pressing escape in it. 

The current solution isn't the ideal one we wanted, but due to lack of time this is the best we can do for now.

Thanks again for expressing your concerns.

Just logging in to express my utter disappointment with the new chat set up. 

The dancing text (that resizes) is really difficult to read.

The  scrolling down is just crazy (maybe one would get used to that one?)

Having the chat box block the game makes things *very* difficult.  I just don't see why this is of any use at all. Chat in lower left (OFF THE BOARD) is great. I don't understand the motivation for this change.

Someone mentioned a "chat ticker".  Is that the toolbar-looking thing that periodically shows up between the board and my hand?  Maybe that would help, but it is translucent and the text is unreadable.  So...that's not working for me at all.

I am currently a subscriber, and I have also contributed to db0's page for netrunner development.  I really hope that this chat interface can be fixed.

Thank you for your attention.

Ugh can we please have the old chat system back?

I also cannot play since the dancing text is making me motion sick. Props for being the first card game platform to make me motion sick that is an unusual honor. 

Letting me move and resize it and stop the dancing would be amazing. Reverting back to what was there before, also amazing. 

Please fix it, I want to test my decks!

I also find the new chat window irritating for all the reasons already mentioned. I think making it movable and resizable would solve just about every problem.

If this new chat window could be moved and resized, everything would be fine. The thing that everyone hates is that it sits there in the middle of the screen blocking your view of the game. We're getting two sources of data when playing - the chat log and the board - why are you making us choose one over the other?

Super frustrating.

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