I am a new player, and have found what i Think is a software bug in the game. I am still playing through the levels and Learning the game until i get access to the Labs, and usually keep the chat window open while I play. The problem is that when i solve a puzzle and press the button for the next puzzle to start the chat window disappears and i have to manually go in to the settings and unpress the chat button, press it again and then it appears on my screen again.
This isn’t a bug, it’s a feature.
While we were developing the new set of tutorials, it was observed that depending on screen resolution, the chat widget could “clash” with the dialog boxes of the tutorials. This was one of the main reasons for disabling the chat for new players going through them.
Another quite important motivation for that decision was about fixing an ancient recurrent problem on the site. Every once in a while, a well-meaning teacher would invite his/her classroom(s) to play the game. The old tutorials had no such limitations, and we would regularly experience the visit of hordes of teenagers. Can you guess what bored and uninterested youngsters do when they find an in-game chat? You guessed it, they just troll and trash the place. Without the permanent presence of moderators, this was a nuisance. Disabling the chat in that phase helped in that regard too.
For the prior, would it be possible to re-enable chat after the “tutorial portion” is done?
For the latter, I do agree this was an issue. However, I know that a lot of new players come looking for help (yes, even without having solved any puzzles before!) - if the teenagers don’t see it (and I don’t necessarily see why they wouldn’t just use the chat on the main site if that’s the case, aside from not initially spending much time there), other users probably don’t either, leading to the possibility of a lower retention or just generally worse experience. I’m not necessarily sure that this is the way to go - my opinion though!
The chat widget is active as soon as the player has found and activated the option, in all puzzles, with the exception of tutorials that explicitly deactivate it, which is the case in what we call the puzzle progression.
The decision about making the widget disabled by default, and specially in the new puzzle progression, was taken a long time ago after some debating in the entire dev team. Players need to understand that the episodic outbursts of unruliness in the chat could have a negative impact on Eterna. Imagine Rhiju talking to the press or to possible funding sources (say, the Gates Foundation), inviting them to visit the site. And now, imagine the type of verbal pillow-fights that were a common occurrence. How do you expect Eterna to be taken seriously as an actually scientific endeavor? Would you pledge money, or write a positive article, if you perceived the place to be an elementary school playground?