Alright so the chat at the bottom of the dashboard in the Dota2 client is a bit lack luster. It could use an overhaul.

Anyone in their late 20's or older might remember Mplayer, that dearly departed gaming service / chat client that was perhaps one of the best gaming chat clients that ever existed. I only mention it here because I think chat is important, and good chat should not be underestimated.

Mplayer had good chat. You could create lobbies, sure. But lobbies were easy to browse. They had icons. They had character. They displayed their ping. They displayed, I donno... ICONS!

Lobbies were everything in Mplayer. People used them for just about everything, even using them as a way to create a sort of "permanent website" for their clan / guild / team. They would keep their official lobby open continually, and it would be full of people almost always. Lobbies were also used to create a sort of "topic", and the chat happening in there would be related to that topic.

These lobbies were full of social features. Player images would appear beside player names. You could post pictures directly into the chat area. And there was voice chat inside the lobbies, and people would be chatting away in many lobbies on voice chat.

Of course, the only reason all of this worked is because on mPlayer, there was literally NOTHING to do except go to a lobby. There were no other cool things to do besides that. So ALL the traffic went to these nice feature-rich chat lobbies. So they were always full of people, which made it a lot of fun.

But the dota2 client has many tabs, such as the "Watch" tab, which I'm sure draws a lot of people. So even if you made a "Chat" tab, and you loaded it with all these cool features, there is a risk that it would be a graveyard area, and the lobbies would just have 1 person in each of them, and it would be an embarrassment and make the whole game look abandoned.

That said, I think chat is important, and the dota2 client seems a little lonely as you browse around. There are only two places where people chat... in-game, or while spectating. But in the dashboard area, it feels a bit lonely.

Where else could there be chat?

It's important that chat not be put EVERYWHERE, because dead chat boxes don't look good. I'm seeing some dead chat boxes here and there. This can be fixed.

For areas that have low traffic, a "forum" type chat works better, because it provides a means of communication, without appearing "dead" just because the chat isn't scrolling fast.



My suggestions for improving chat:

REGIONAL CHAT is boring, TOPICAL chat is fun!

1) Allow players to create topical chat lobbies. These can have pretty icons and names, to give them character to each topic and make them interesting.

2) In the chat box along the bottom of the screen in the dota2 client's dashboard area, the regional chat idea should be kind of... ditched. Instead, phase that out in favor of topical chat. Sending random chat messages to everyone in [mycity] is boring. Nobody is doing it. The chat is dead almost always. Chat needs more character than that. Topics add character. Allow players to create lobbies for discussion of specific topics. Then, display a list of "popular" topical lobbies along the side of that chat box. I'm talking about the chat box in the dashboard. When a player joins the chat, instead of regional chat, it'll put them into a "General" topic lobby. Players will only see chat messages that are posted in their preferred language(s), regardless of what lobby they are in. If a lobby exists, but NONE of the recent chat messages in that lobby are in any of the user's preferred language(s), then the user simply won't see that topical lobby at all. So in the end, every user will feel like every topic is being discussed in their preferred language(s), because they won't see the active discussions in those same lobbies that are happening in other languages.

3) Add a small button on the right side of the chat bar to expand the topical chat area to maximum, so that it fills the dota2 dashboard area. When maximized, you'll see a bigger list of lobbies, with bigger icons. Here in this maximized view, all the options to create, browse and find lobbies will be available. Possibly you'll see some lobby categories, like what you might see on a forum website. This will be like a forum, in that these lobbies will stay alive even if nobody is in them, but they will work like chat in that chat will be super easy, you'll be able to add to the discussion by simply typing text into the box and hitting enter. So kind of a chat-forum hybrid. Old topics will drop to the bottom, and hot topics will be at the top. But since players are likely to not stay in these lobbies continually, the list of active players should be anonymous. It should simply say "x people have viewed this topic in the last x minutes". That way people are less likely to think that they can simply chat with a specific person using this system. Because player-to-player chat isn't what this area was designed for. Oh and very important, these lobbies need icons to represent the topic, and full image support in the text, and fancy text / fonts support. Color plz.

4) in the "Watch" tab, add a chat box below each game, which will display the /all chat from the game, along with the spectator chat. So as you click through the different games in the "Watch" tab, you'll not only see the little mini-map, but below it you'll see the chat that's happening at that moment in the game. This might help draw you in. But YOU shouldn't be able to add any chat from here, because you're not spectating the game yet, so you can't add to the chat from here, but you should be able to see it and even scroll through it to get an idea of what's been happening. It should also include game messages such as runes being activated, kill streaks, etc. Being able to see all this from the Watch tab will help you figure out more quickly what's happening in the game, and decide if you want to spectate.

5) Player profiles (which I described in my other topic titled: "wishing we had: an overhaul to the heroes tab") should have a comments area. This will help increase the social feel you get while looking at player's profiles. Players should be able to prevent certain comments on their own profile, but by default, comments will be allowed from every other player.

6) Team profiles (which I described in my other topic titled: "wishing we had: an overhaul to the heroes tab") in the dota2 client should have a comments area also