Chat Currency enters Beta

Chat currency is finally here… sort’v!  The currency system is now in place, allowing room owners to create their own room-specific chat currency, and allowing users to trade currencies between them using the new trade window.   There is also a new API system that allows room owners to integrate their in-room currency with their off-chat website scripts to automatically give or take their room’s currency to users, or to query for an account balance.

Now, let me preface this by saying that the currency system is still “beta”, and all currency records will be DELETED when beta is finished.  This is to allow people to mess around with the currency system, and allow for errors in the system that might incorrectly delete or duplicate currency (which would be a problem in the long term!) before anyone uses the currency for any serious purposes.   So, feel free to give out, trade, or whatever.

So… what is “Chat Currency” exactly?  Well, it’s a sort of virtual money that you can get in chat, and use to trade with other chatters or potentially use outside of chat if the page decides to integrate outside services with their in-chat currency.   Voodoo itself has a currency that you’ll be able to use to buy titles and account upgrades, as well as trade with other users or (if a room allows for it) purchase room currency with, and so on.

To create a room currency for your room, you simply go into the Page App for your page and set an image and a name for your room’s currency.   Once you’ve done that you can open a trade window with any user that is a fan of your page, and give them any amount of your room’s currency.   Your room’s currency will appear on your list of currencies and it’ll show that you have infinity of it (a tiny infinity symbol).

It’s important to note that only page fans (people who have “liked” your facebook page) can traffic in your room’s currency.  It is impossible to give your room’s currency to people who are not fans of your page, to prevent people from being loaded up with useless currency they don’t want, and to prevent “fraud”, since more than one room could have the same name and image for their currency.  If you open a trade window with another user, only currencies that they are able to accept will appear in your possible selections list.

Official Voodoo currency (the global currency) appears on red panels in currency lists.  If you’re trading in a room, the room’s own currency appears in a bronze panel.  All other currencies appear in grey panels.   This way you will be able to tell the difference between the current room’s currency and other currencies of the same name, as well as the difference between the official currencies, and any people may create with the same name (and try to trick you with!).    We opted to do this instead of requiring that you trade in a room’s currency only when you’re in that room.

To make a trade with someone, you open their user menu and select “Trade”.   You’ll get the initial trade screen which has the currencies you currently have, and your offer.   Click any currency and type an amount into the amount box, then click “Add” to add it to your offer.   Once you’ve finished creating your offer, you click “Make Offer”.    At this point it will switch to the trading screen, which shows what you offer and what they offer.   Once both of you have finished your offers, you can click “Accept Trade” to confirm that you want to make that trade.   When both of you have accepted, the actual currency changes hands.   Accepting an offer locks you into it, but that acceptance is removed if either of you alter your offer in any way.

Now, some of this may sound complicated, but it really isn’t – you should be able to get the hang of it quite quickly!


Background Music Added

Rooms can now specify either an MP3 file to loop, or a Shoutcast URL to stream, as background music.  This requires the user choose to enable music while in your room – you cannot force a user to listen to the music automatically due to the security issues associated with forcing users to make connections to 3rd party systems.

The background music setting replaces the Custom Content URL setting that we were working on.   We determined that most room administrators would have difficulty understanding and dealing with the Flash security sandbox issues surrounding the use of custom images and flash movies as room backgrounds – issues that are not a major concern when it comes to simple audio playback.    Hopefully at some point we will offer some easy and effective visual options, but for now audio should be working properly.

If you are a room owner, and you want to make use of this new feature, you should go into your Administrator Control Panel (via the Page App on your FB page) and enter the full URL to either the MP3 file or the Shoutcast server you want to stream the music from… including the leading http:// – if it is a shoutcast server the URL should end with the port number for your server stream (no trailing slashes or anything else).   Once you have set the URL and it has been accepted, you can enter your room (you’ll have to leave it and re-enter it if you’re already in it) and then clicking on the room’s background will bring up the room menu, which will now include an “Enable Music” option.  That will turn the music on, and a “Disable Music” option in the same menu will turn it off…. as will exiting the room or playing music in another room.

We will likely add in some form of volume and play control to the UI in the coming weeks.  For now, enjoy the music!


Admin Control Panel – First Functions

The Administrator Control Panel in our current development area, and the very first administrator room setting is now available to experiment with for all room owners.   Additional settings and page functions will be available soon, giving room owners better control, and more interesting options to give their chatters a superior chatting experience.

As you may have read in our previous blog posting, room-specific titles are one of the things we’re working on.   The first room-specific title option, the “Fan Title” for your users who have Liked your associated facebook page, is now available to be set.  This means you can select the text of the title, and set the graphic, to be whatever you want… any chatter that uses the default “Chatter” title in your room will instead display your custom room title, when in your room, if they have Liked your facebook page.

You may notice the Custom Background Content area of the settings is there too.  This will allow you to set a custom URL to a graphic or SWF file, to use as your room’s background.  The client-side implementation of this is not yet in place, so you won’t see any results from this, but we’re leaving the option available so that when we do implement the client-side portion, you can be ready.

The three administration tabs/pages other than settings are not yet available.  These should be available in the next week or two – certainly the ability to remove administrators or existing user penalties will be in place soon.  Customized room titles other than the Fan title, will likely the the last to be implemented as we still haven’t decided how to display the selection for these to your users.