For those that just want to get chat installed and go, scroll the end of this article. For those that want to know why there is no chat in High Fidelity and how people are handling that, read on.
As one starts to look at the documentation for High Fidelity (HF) they will come across the interesting bit of news from March 3: Announcement: High Fidelity is not going to host a text chat system. Well, that could explain why there is no apparent way to text chat in the current Interface (viewer). There once was, but it has been removed.
The reasons given are:
- Providing a global chat system is not a core competence of ours and there are a number of fantastic services available on the web.
- Domain owners may want different types of chat, or no chat at all and we want them to be able to control that experience.
- Our community (you) will be able to provide powerful alternatives for those who are wanting to use chat. With the existing JS stuff we have you could build very powerful solutions, including ranged chat, 1:1 messaging, etc. Creating these different chat experiences should be in the hands of the user base.
- We don’t want to give out usernames of all public users to each other as a default capability.
They are making it obvious they aren’t opposed to chat. They think the better way is to make it possible for people to add whatever chat system they want. I suppose that technically that makes sense at this point.
I think to leave it this way would be a huge mistake. One of the turn-offs of Second Life is the complexity of learning to use the viewer. As it is now one will have to learn; that they need to add text chat, to install chat, and then only be able to chat with those using a similar chat system.
David from CtrlAltStudio has added his two-cents in the comments to the announcement. He seems to be looking ahead to High Fidelity serving content for augmented reality …
Multiple “chat” systems will be available – phones, Skype, whatever – but in what ways might this be augmented? I’m behind on these ideas.
Person/avatar to person/avatar chat: discovery and display of chat systems the other person/avatar chooses to make public to you as a stranger or as a friend.
Local text chat to augment local voice, as a shared baseline experience. Including the ability to mute specific people.
Aside: Probably also want to be able to mute people in local voice, for that matter.
Friends and groups: discovery of who’s logged into High Fidelity; provision and use of hifi:// links for teleporting.
Making 3rd party chat systems available in-world: make Web content able to be displayed in-world (e.g., virtual “smartphone”, floating window, avatar toasts, …).
All these also applicable to the virtual reality case.
I think it shows he is thinking ahead to systems more advanced and versatile than Second Life.
Before long the HF peeps published more information on how to use text chat. You currently get started by pressing the \-key. That gives you a link to FreeNode, an IRC chat site. (FreeNode High Fidelity channel) I found a couple of dozen people logged into the chat channel I landed in.