World Review: Chamber of Chat
Compatible with Operating Systems:
World Status: Operational
An isometric collection of rooms, Chamber of Chat is designed to mimic the Harry Potter franchise as closely as their technology allows, incorporating every detail from the series in some form or another. Areas include Hogwarts, the dark forest, Gringotts bank, and other locations across the UK.
Chamber of Chat, presumably named after chamber of secrets, never makes a secret about its Harry Potter parodying. Every element stands proud, as copied directly from the books, or the films. This blatant copying is made possible mainly in that the chamber is a free service, with no hidden charges whatsoever.
Registering takes some time, as names have to be approved by the administration after submitting, to make sure they are appropriate to the setting. The system will not accept two requests from the same email address, or from the same IP, ever. So your first entry is also going to be your last, from that location. A notice at sign up says to allow 24-72 hours for verification.
Once approved, an email is sent to you, confirming you are allowed in. Your username and password are also emailed to you, with your password in plain text. You should not be using the same password as anywhere else anyway, but this is extra warning to be careful.
The shockwave-based client immediately shows a few problems, despite the overall polish of the world. The client is stuck in an American keyboard format, regardless of the preferences of the client PC. This means that if not using an American keyboard, the key pressed is not the key entered. This problem was encountered due to a British keyboard being used on the initial review, the login username being the email address of the user, and the @ key not being in the same place on the two keyboards. Similar problems will be encountered by other nationalities.
When using Firefox to run the client program, the 'back' buttons on menus, represented by mystery meat navigation (a hand pointing to the left is cancel, where as a hand pointing to the right is ok/confirm) always lock up the client when activated.
Avatar creation is another issue, as this screenshot demonstrates. The tiny avatar is no smaller than it appears in world, but the little details you change - hair under a hat for example - are very hard to see and differentiate.
During the login process, Chamber of Chat requests your age, and details about which country you live in. This information is, in world, displayed alongside your name, whenever someone mouse's over your avatar. That information is not made clear until you have completed sign-up and confirmed all changes, so if you would rather not show your age, you would be out of luck.
After this little gauntlet you enter the world itself.
Initial impressions are that the interface is very unfriendly. If you have any manner of disability affecting the steadiness of your hands, you are not going to be able to do a lot here - it uses a pixel perfect gesture recognition system.
The interface is divided into an isometric view of a given room environment on the left ? of the client, and a menu on the right, containing, in order from left to right, top first:
The crystal ball
Used for drawing spells into, the crystal ball is the top third of the menu. It reacts to a mouse click by drawing a green circle at the point clicked, which swiftly turns black. Lines can be dragged in it, and freehand shapes drawn, which fade soon after. This is where spells are cast.
Below the crystal ball are two rows of three icons each. Mousing over them, lists their function in the crystal ball.
Design your student
- Takes you back to avatar creation, to change how you look
Look at Spellbook
- the spellbook is your reference manual for spells. It gives you on each page, the instructions for drawing a spell on the crystal ball. Please note, it will take a great many attempts for each, as drawing on the crystal ball is freehand, but the spell has to be pixel perfect to the spellbook. A single slight wobble in a complex spell will void it.
- Listing all the money you have
- Indecates rewards and punishments placed by the administration on character behaviour.
Time since login
Below the menu are nine inventory slots, completing the interface.
Interaction with others is like movement, very point and click. To talk to others you just type chat which appears in bubbles above user heads. However, two features that cause concern here, are:
- A complete lack of chat history: Once someone types again, whatever they said before is erased from the screen, so you will need to be a very quick reader in busy chat.
- There is a 90 character limit. Text box doesn't cut off at all, but after 90 characters in any post, it just never displays. This is a standard problem with shockwave.
You can duel with others, by clicking on their feet and then casting spells in the crystal ball. The spellbook does not have to be open, it is purely reference. Since it is so hard to cast a spell if you do not have deft, quick and accurate movements, expect fights to be long and drawn out with failures on both sides. There is no turn taking here, spells flow out as swiftly as each person can cast them.
The spell gesture system demands a quick hand, and expert precision on the mouse. Too slow and it will time out mid gesture. Too wobbly, and it will fail entirely. A steady and fairly swift hand is necessary, as well as a steady gaze to ensure the line is drawn only over the correct part of the glass.
The spellbook does not list all the spells possible, and the community have had to supplement with youtube to teach newcomers.
One promising feature, is that the world age-checks its visitors, which goes a long way to stop predation. Such checking is a mix of script and staff users. It would be counterproductive to list in this review, the actual method they use, of course. Still, very reassuring for parents.
Room navigation is by mouse. Point and click and your avatar will walk there. There are brown arrows hidden at the edges of each room, as there is no scrolling, and each room is one screen wide only. These arrows convey you to the next room.
Some locations, like Hogwats, comprise thousands of rooms, with each 20m section of corridor being a different one.
Client OS:Win 2K, Win 98, Win 2K, Win 2K
Client OS:Win 2K, Win 98, Win 2K, Win 2K