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Any call for a chat plugin?
Started by richard11 Jul 27 2018 02:06 AM

5 replies to this topic
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#1

richard11

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richard11
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One of the next mechanics we'll be building for our own games is a chat system, so I'm wondering if there's any call for this being made as a plugin?

 

There's already a chat plugin in the marketplace by Develephant ( https://marketplace.coronalabs.com/corona-plugins/coronium-chatterbox ) which admittedly I've not looked into properly, but it looks like this requires self-hosting the server side. Contrary, what I'm thinking is that we (QWeb) would host and manage the server side and sell monthly subscriptions to just tap into this for your own games, basically.

 

I.e. rather than a one-off plugin cost, you'd subscribe for an access token, integrate a free plugin, and the fee would then be based on usage.

 

Is this of interest to anybody? If so:

 

- Would you prefer that the plugin was a complete chat system that you just require() in and maybe pass parameters to define where on the screen this gets rendered and some primary colours to use?

 

- Or would you prefer that this is more of an API - you use the plugin to get/post messages and figure out the rendering of them yourself?

 

- For GDPR, messages would be transferred over https and stored pseudonymised/obfuscated. We'd prefer that storage is temporary, meaning that an integrated chat area would only be able to display per-session messages, because this is both better for GDPR and reduces storage costs and therefore the fee we'd need to charge, but would this be a deal breaker? Would you need more permanent storage and historical chat logs?

 

- There are undoubtedly some legal implications we'd need to look into here. For example I expect we'd need some kind of a report mechanic that goes to you as the game operator and probably QWeb as the chat operator to protect against cyber bullying and paedophilia, and you'd need to accept the responsibility of dealing with these reports appropriately. Again, would this be a deal breaker?

 

- Other than the basic sending and receiving of messages, what sort of features would be needed to win you over? Both in terms of the Corona plugin and the web based dashboard. What reports? Would you want to see actual chat logs (GDPR may restrict that)? Something else?

 

- What sort of cost would you consider to be reasonable? We've not begun to figure out operating costs ourselves but this would inevitably need to be based on the number of messages you pass through your account, otherwise if a game takes off and ends up with millions of players and we're only charging say, $5 a month, the resource and bandwidth usage costs incurred to us would be crippling.

 

Thanks.



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#2

SGS

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SGS
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Hey Rich,

 

I considered this for my games but finally decided the negative probably outweighed the positive.  Any games I've played with a chat system has always suffered with abuse in one form or another. 

 

Checking for expletives is always the main issue!  There are so many ways of saying F(%k it is not possible to trap all of them - and that's just English

 

If there was a simple way of hosting a chat API I would say lots would go for it.  Maybe a simple API call to get the last 50 messages would be all that most devs would require.  It should be up to the individual dev to decide how to display that data.  A simple JSON response should surfice.

 

Personally, I'd go flat rate and assume that most would be well under $5 a month (of server resources) and that would more than cover the odd $20 a month cost.

 

After all a decent dedicated box is well under $100 a month



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#3

richard11

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Sourcing a multilingual profanity dictionary is probably feasible, but implementing in a not too annoying way could be tricky. I think the key there is to be seen to be doing, and not to necessarily expect something bulletproof.

Our servers are with Rackspace who are industry leading and somewhat expensive, so under $100 p/m is unlikely in all honesty. The actual dashboard and API mechanic I'm sure could be hosted on one of our existing boxes initially so there'd be no hardware cost for that as such, but at the very least we'd probably look at setting up a cloud database server with a couple of replica instances for redundancy (if we're charging a subscription and expecting the possibility of some games being quite popular, stability would be priority for me) and for that alone we'd be looking at a base £140 p/m just for a 5gb capacity, not factoring in bandwidth usage or backup storage at all. This is one reason I'm hoping temporary storage would be sufficient as opposed to having to hold chat logs for offline users. In addition to the GDPR implications of indefinitely hosting private chat logs, the storage requirements could shoot through the roof fairly quickly.

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#4

richard11

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I should add actually - our loyalty to Rackspace isn't without reason. There are certainly cheaper providers and from a technical perspective a cheaper brand isn't necessarily inferior. It's important to some of our clients though that we use leading suppliers as we host some pretty mission-critical systems for them, plus I've gotten to know some of the technicians there over the years and they've truly earned our custom on numerous occasions.

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#5

SGS

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SGS
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Yes Rackspace is good but the prices are crazy!  Check out these guys if you need decent kit at more reasonable prices https://www.1and1.co.uk/dedicated-server.  I use them for my games and have had zero downtime in the past year and I get unlimited bandwidth too!

 

I would say chat history should be in session only and not be stored for any longer than an hour really.  That should keep the hardware costs down considerably.



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#6

richard11

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richard11
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I started out with 1and1 about 6 years ago. Just a VPS I believe, but the server kept dropping offline and their support line was just terrible. Perhaps they've improved, or perhaps their dedicated racks come with better support, but they lost my vote back then. I was working for another agency at the time who's servers were with Rackspace so I was already a bit put out that I could only afford 1and1, and in the end figured Rackspace were just worth the extra cost. They really do have an unbelievably good support network. I've had engineers write and run complex bash scripts for me to help resolve mess ups by colleagues before - they go way above and beyond for you.

Not that I'm trying to sell them or anything, ha.


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