21st May 2009 – What is FunOrb Central?
Here at Jagex, we're always keeping tabs on the FunOrb website. There are many aspects that we like - the games, for example, and the sense of community that can be seen on the forums and in the lobbies - but there are improvements that we think we can make. That's why I'm excited to be working on FunOrb Central; a radical update to the FunOrb service. While the project still has a long way to go, I'd like to tell you about some of the neat things we're trying to do.
For example, at the moment, it's not possible to talk to friends on FunOrb unless you're in a multiplayer game or on the forums. We really like the interaction between players on FunOrb, and we'd like to let you take that even further. So, we thought it'd be fun to develop a chat service that spans across all of the games - even the single-player ones - letting people talk to friends and join chat channels wherever they are on FunOrb.
Another thing that we find annoying is that in some of the less frequented multiplayer games, it's possible to spend a long time waiting for a game in an empty lobby. With FunOrb Central, what we'd like to be able to do is let, say, those die-hard Pixelate fans among you (we know you're there, hands up!) keep an eye out for a game starting, even while they're perfecting their technique in Vertigo 2.
Still on the topic of multiplayer games, it can sometimes be a bit of a hassle to start a game with your friends - you have to first log on, find the server they're in, switch to it (reloading the game), and even then they might already be playing someone else. It'd be much easier, we think, if your Friends List could tell you where each of your friends is and what they’re doing, then give you easy options to invite them into games or join them in theirs. Server-hopping and long delays would become a thing of the past.
Finally, FunOrb sometimes feels to us like collection of separate games, but we'd prefer to see it more as a service. One of the more powerful features we're adding to FunOrb Central is a unified game loader, so you won’t have to keep bouncing backwards and forwards to the Game List - all the games will be available within the same Java applet! You'll be able to quickly flick through all the games to find one you like, as well as review your Highscores and Achievements in each of them.
As you may be able to see, this is going to be a major update, so developing it will bring with it its fair share of problems. In the next diary, I'll run through some of the ones we've encountered so far, and how we plan to resolve them.