Lately the feature we’ve been focusing on developing is the in-chat currency system. To a lot of people this sounds like a “microtransaction” thing, and while that will be a possibility, the real focus of in-chat currency is to provide chatters with something they can trade with one another as part of the social experience. If you’ve read previous blogs, you’ll know that we’re also going to allow each room to “mint” its own room-specific currency to do with as they please.
As the currency idea has been fleshed out, there have been several conceptual snags that have forced us to reall wrack out brains for decent solutions. From past experience with in-chat currency on the old version of Voodoo Chat, we know that chatters tend to take their currency pretty seriously, and because of that it is important to checks and balances, and security of some sort to minimize the amount of abuse people heap on one another. No doubt the idea that chatters will abuse, cheat, and swindle one another is socking to some… but it’s a safe bet that if there exists a way to screw someone, someone else is eager to find it.
We mentioned before one of the security-related restrictions we planned on having was that in order to gain a room currency you need to have Liked the associated Facebook page. This may seem like a strange concept, but when you frame it with the fact that FB pages need not have unique names or images, and that room currency names don’t need to be unique, and you start to see where abuse can sneak in – people could create an exact duplicate of a room and currency, and pass it off as “counterfeit” versions of a room’s currency, assuming the real currency becomes popular. It is unlikely anyone will jump into a fake, duplicate room and then click Like on that page, meaning that such a scenario will be nearly impossible with that limitation.
With the potential for a near-infinite number of different currencies in this new system we also decided a “trade” system was required, much like you would find in your average MMO. As cynical as it may sound, the (admittedly sarcastic) old adage “good fences make good neighbors” is very true on the internet: the less trust you need to invest in other people the happier everybody ends up being. The trade system will let people trade various types of currency from their own virtual wallet with other users for that other user’s types of currency, or nothing at all if they’re just giving things away, requiring both users to confirm it once all changes are completed.
Another more recent thing we’ve decided on is that trades will have to be done while in a room, and all trades will have to involve that room’s currency on one side or the other (or just the voodoo global currency), as an added layer of security against people trying to trick one another into accepting counterfeit versions of a currency.
From the room owner’s perspective, another thing we’ve been working on is a very simple HTTP based system to allow room owners to give, remove, or check balances on their own room’s currency in relation with a specific user, based on the user’s in-chat user number. This will allow rooms to have automatic currency-related actions on external sites. An example might be rewarding users on your own external forums with in-chat currency, or to let them spend that in-chat currency on your own website’s features or games.
As stated above, this is what we’re currently working on.. hopefully we’ll start to see the first parts of this system in place in the next few weeks.
For users of the old Voodoo Chat, once the base currency system is put in place, the ability to move your old resources over (and names) will become available, too.