Earlier this week Patch 1.2.0 was launched for StarCraft 2 players, introducing a slew of tweaks for each race, as well as an extreme graphics setting, the new Master's League rank for the highest tier of players, and of course, chat rooms. While all of these new features and additions are interesting, it's the chat room implications that we really wanted to get into. Chat rooms offer ways for new players to meet, new ways to form clans, and new ways to set up tournaments. So what is our verdict on the new chat rooms? Read on to find out, and check out the full patch notes on Blizzard's StarCraft 2 patch notes site.
When Bnet 2.0 was launched with SC 2, a lot of people were a bit shocked that it didn't include chat rooms. Frank Pearce, Blizzard's VP of Product Development, even said back in May that there were no plans to implement chat rooms, as the match making service basically did the job of a looking for match chat room. But looking for match chat rooms weren't the only things players wanted, and wasn't the only chat room released this week.
Nine predetermined "public" chat channels are now available to players. They include:
- Looking For Team
- Looking For Custom Game
- Terran Strategy
- Zerg Strategy
- Protoss Strategy
- Single Player Discussion
- General Chat
I'm not going to go through the details behind each of these channels, as they're very self explanatory. However, I do want to mention a few really fantastic implications that come with these chat rooms. If you join the Looking For Team chat channel for example, you're met with up to 100 players seeking out either a partner or opponent for a game, but that's not all. People also are recruiting for clans in this channel, as well as setting up tournaments strictly for bragging rights.
Pros of Chat Rooms
Sure all of this was possible before chat rooms came along, but now it's so much easier and faster than having to go on a forum to do it. Clans haven't really been around in StarCraft 2 yet, but the emergence of them is finally coming. Clans will be able to join their own chat rooms and talk about strategy, recruit new players, and hang out with one another.
Not only are clans advertising for people to join their chat rooms, but official eSports teams like Evil Geniuses are doing it as well. On their Facebook page, EG said, "Whenever you happen to be on the US Battle.net Server in StarCraft II be sure to drop by our new chat channel "Team EG" (without the quotes) and interact with your favorite players from Team EG." This is a great way for fans to be able to interact with the members of the team, and maybe even some of the administrators of the teams as well.
Players are also making their own chat rooms for their fans. Pro StarCraft 2 player Kevin "ROOT.qxc" Riley, mentioned on his Facebook page that he'd like his fans to come and chat with him in his chat room "qxc". Kevin loves his fans and constantly chats with them via an outside chat room while he streams. Now he (and other pros) can just chat with them in game which might be easier and more fun.
Cons of Chat Rooms
Aside from the predetermined chat rooms listed above, players can also create or join up to six private channels (only one of the public channels listed above can be open at a time). The name "private channel" is very misleading however, as there is no way to password protect your channel. This option will most likely be added in another patch, but as of right now, if someone knows the name to your channel then all they have to do is type it in to join. There's no way to kick them out, either.
Which leads me to my next gripe: the auto-join feature. Let's say when you come online you auto-join the G4TV chat room and it has 99 people in it. You get into the channel, go straight into a game, and then go offline. The way the chat rooms work right now is that even people in a game or even offline still take up a slot. Since chat rooms have 100 players max, another player would now be unable to join the G4TV chat room as it would be full. It's frustrating to other players who want to join the chat room that people who are offline aren't kicked from the room. It makes sense that if they're in a game they can still be in the chat though, as there's the option for players to show chat channel messages while in-game.
Chat rooms are a fantastic implementation, but as they are right now, the design is a bit flawed. Having a 100 player maximum in chat rooms really limits communities who want all their members to be able to talk to one another in a mIRC-esque environment. Removing the limit would get rid of the offline members taking up slots problem as well, and is just one way to fix that problem.
But overall, the chat rooms are pretty great. They've already lead to the formation of some clans, and my friends have been participating in mini tournaments they've found via chat rooms ever since the patch was released. Blizzard listened to its player base by implementing the chat rooms in the first place, and will most likely listen to suggestions in order to improve them over the coming months.
What do you think about the new chat rooms? Have you joined a clan or talked to your friends via private chat rooms yet? Let us know!