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Chat Bubbles: We need an option to enable them for say, yell and emote chat!

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > General Discussion > Suggestion Box
Chat Bubbles: We need an option to enable them for say, yell and emote chat!
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Glzmo's Avatar

12.17.2011 , 09:40 AM | #1
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Chat Bubbles: Please add speech bubbles and a toggle option to enable them for /say, /yell and /emote chat!
Originally posted December 17, 2011.
Last Updated April 17, 2021. <- Over 124 months - that's right, over 10 years - with hundreds of pages and thousands of posts/views in support and still going strong and mostly floating on top or near the top of the Suggestion Box forum with more and more players supporting the cause every day make this the longest running active thread on the forums - Thank you!

Dear developers and other employees of Bioware, Lucas Arts, Disney and Electronic Arts!

A large part of the player base can't enjoy the game properly because of the lack of chat bubbles (aka speech bubbles). Therefore, on behalf of the affected players, we are hereby suggesting and formally requesting an option to toggle chat bubbles for spatial chat (/say, /yell, /emote).
This thread has started in beta shortly after chat bubbles were removed from the game for "optimization", reposted after the forum wipe and has now run an incredibly long amount of time while still remaining constructive and has garnered a lot of support ever since.

Fact is, chat bubbles make a big difference in the perception of human (and alien ) presence around the player in the game. With chat bubbles the chat text is strongly associated with the likeness of the player's character that you're talking to, leading to a much richer (and more natural) form of social environment. The game world simply feels too sterile and lonely without them.
One could say that chat bubbles are for the roleplaying and social aspects of the game what the group finder is for the PVE aspect and the warzone queing and the galactic starfigther hangar interfaces are for the PVP aspect. These three have been implemented a long time ago, yet players of the social and roleplaying aspects have never received their equivalent - speech/chat bubbles.

A large part of the player base, and an even larger part of the potential player base (and the player base that left the game because the feature has been missing so long and wish to return once it's implemented) needs an option to toggle on chat bubbles. Indeed, chat bubbles are a "must-have" feature to be able to enjoy the game and their playstyle for many of the socializers, roleplayers, casual players as well as players suffering from certain medical conditions out there. People are leaving the game every day due to this feature missing. On the bright side, many have voiced interest to return once the feature is implemented...but the longer it takes, the easier it will be to loose them permanently.

Background Information
The actual reasons why chat bubbles have been removed and what is required to implement them properly

So why were chat bubbles removed from beta, you may ask. Many newer players and developers/community managers that have joined the game/team late may not be privy to the facts.
There are also many myths that are owed in large part to the misinformation spread by certain former community managers (that joined the team post-launch) without a clue what the original situation was. To make it worse, that information was taken by their successors as fact which spiraled us to where we are now.
I've been following this issue since closed beta and have archived information on it for posterity, thus I'll share it with you.

The Facts
1. There were performance problems during beta, due to chat bubbles alone occupying roughly 400MBs of video memory (just like Nameplates in beta did before they fixed them just in time for the launch of SWTOR).
During beta and the launch of the game, 256-768MB of VRAM on a video card were common (1.5-3GB were high-end with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 580), so you can see that 400MBs of video memory being taken up was a big deal back then. Jump ahead to today where the lowest-end video cards even have 2GB of Video RAM, this really isn't a big issue with today's video cards anymore.
For exampkle, I myself was lucky enough to have a Nvidia GeForce GTX 580 with 3GB of video RAM during beta and didn't experience any performance issues with chat bubbles enabled whatsoever, just like others that already had 1.5-3GB video cards back in the day.

2. The Developers knew how to fix the performance issues as they have done so for Nameplates as well (nameplates were fixed just in time for the launch of SWTOR). They simply ran out of time to finish it in time for the launch of the game which EA didn't want to push back. Even though the performance fix may no longer be needed with modern video cards, Bioware developers should knows how to fix it and should be able to do so rather easily when looking at the code for fixing nameplates.

3. Chat Bubbles have been optional in beta and developers always said they would be. This means you could easily turn them off in your client options in case they happen to have a negative effect on performance on your system or you simply don't like them, just like you can do with other options like nameplates, shadows, anti-aliasing, and much more.

4.While I've posted all kinds of Bioware responses (and there have been alot of uninformed ones over the years) on the topic in the timeline further down in this post, the only developer post that is truly relevant when it comes to facts so far is by the person that worked on the GUI back in Beta and in the early days after release then GUI developer Cory Kolek, and explained the problems with chat bubbles and why they haven't been implemented yet in detail.
Here is the quote of that very post from January 18th, 2013 here so you don't have to search for it (click on the little arrows in the quoted posts to get to the original posts):
Quote: Originally Posted by CoryKolek View Post
Quote: Originally Posted by Glzmo View Post
Since you're a GUI guy, would you be the person to work on chat bubbles as well?
I don't have much else to say on the topic than what was already said in that thread.

I can get a bit more technical on the topic though. As it was said before chat bubbles were a huge performance hit on the game when we had initially implemented them in beta. We're talking upwards of 400Mbs of video memory used on chat bubbles alone. Nameplates had the same issue. We fixed nameplates but have not had time to do the same with chat bubbles. If you played in beta and saw our initial implementation of them they weren't very pretty or as fully featured as we'd like them to be. So, yes, we would like to implement them again, but when we do we want to do it right.
To summarize, the performance issues aren't very relevant with current hardware, yet they are fixed rather easily. All we need is for the developers to add them back, add the checkbox to the option and possibly apply the performance fix. If they add some bells and whistles, fine, but perhaps save that for a future patch instead of stringing us along even longer.
Well over five years after launch, there really isn't any valid reason or excuse on why competent developers at Bioware wouldn't be able to finally implement optional chat bubbles in the game anymore.

Even simple chat bubbles or overhead text for /say, /yell and /emote chat that we had during beta would go a long way.

With that out of the way, on to the actual request. We're hereby requesting to implement at least the bare minimum implementation listed below (although it would be nice (but not necessary) to implement some or all of the additional community suggestions further below as well):

Bare Minimum Implementation
The following is the Bare Minimum Implementation that a large part of the player base feels to be a must-have and most would feel comfortable with:

  • Add chat bubbles (or, at the very, very least overhead chat text) with all the typed text in /say, /yell and /emote chat channels to appear above the head of the player characters that are saying it (above the head of other player characters as well as your own), in addition to the same text being displayed in the chat window. The implementation we had during closed beta would suffice as a bare minimum requirement, so feel free to reuse those assets.
  • Add a client-side option to toggle chat bubbles on/off on each computer individually so people can choose whether they wish to see chat bubbles above player characters' heads or not.

Additional Community Suggestions
The following are additional suggestions by players in this thread which would improve the experience even more and could be added after the bare minimum implementation detailed above has made it into the game. They are some of the ideas the community has come up with on how to design and implement chat bubbles really well (click on the button labeled SHOW below to view).

Reasons: Why Chat bubbles?
The following is a short summary of the reasons why chat bubbles should be implemented.

Related Links
The following are hyperlinks related to the topic of chat bubbles (click on the button labeled SHOW below to view).

Media Articles about the lack of Chat bubbles
The following are articles from various media on the topic of missing chat bubbles in Star Wars: The Old Republic (click on the button labeled SHOW below to view).

Timeline of Official statements by Bioware on the topic of Chat Bubbles
Would you like to know what exactly the developers and other Bioware representatives said about chat bubbles? This is the place (click on the button labeled SHOW below to view)!
The following is a timeline with quotes from various official non-beta statements of TOR developers and other Bioware representatives on the topic of chat bubbles including links to the statements where available (click on the button labeled SHOW below to view).

Original Post from the Beta Forums
A quote of the old, prose version of the original post that started it all and was first posted in the TOR Beta Forums back in Summer 2011 for those that like to read it (click on the button labeled SHOW below to view).

PS.: The development team will receive cupcakes once chat bubbles are in the game. The longer they wait, the older the cupcakes get. So hurry up, it's for your own good!

Orvish's Avatar

12.17.2011 , 09:42 AM | #2
I was unaware of any performance issues that tied into chat bubbles, but regardless I would dearly love a toggle option. It feels extremely weird not having them after playing other MMOs for so many years.

Cave's Avatar

12.17.2011 , 12:02 PM | #3
The developers said during beta that adding chat bubbles for spatial chat was a high priority feature for launch. I am baffled as to why they haven't delivered.

All I know is that without chat bubbles, it's incredibly hard to talk to other players near you and not fun at all. I can't socialize and roleplay with other players (I tried hard, but it didn't work).

For me, chat bubbles are an important feature. I want to keep track of the action in the game and see which character talks right away. I am a roleplayer and roleplaying with others while questing and doing other game things is almost impossible because there are no chat bubbles (I tried very hard, but it just doesn't work).
I always miss most of the things people type in /say, /yell and /emote chat, the chat window moves too fast at times, too and it's hard to see which character on the screen is speaking or to link the chat to the characters on the screen. I want to focus on the game, not on the chat window.

I have pre-ordered the Collector's Edition, but if there won't be any chat bubbles at least announced in the next couple of days, I will cancel the pre-order and not play the game until chat bubbles are added. They are just that important for my enjoyment of the game to me. And I really, really want to have fun when playing SWTOR.
I've cancelled my subscription due to the lack of Chat Bubbles.
I will never give EA or Bioware another cent or play any of their games or use any of their software again until speech bubbles that fully display /say, /yell and /emote chat are implemented in Star Wars: The Old Republic and the needs of socializers and roleplayers are finally taken seriously.

Stubacca's Avatar

12.19.2011 , 06:50 AM | #4
This is pretty much a standard feature of ANY modern MMORPG. I probably won't continue playing past my free month if chat bubbles or at least overhead text has been implemented. It is a crucial feature for my style of play and pretty much necessary for any kind of social interaction between players. I can't understand how an MMORPG that is supposed to be the most modern doesn't have anything like that in the game at launch already.
Add Wookiees as playable species (solution to voice over problem: MT-D Miniaturized Translator Droid!
SUBSCRIPTION WON'T BE RENEWED due to the lasting lack of CHAT BUBBLES and how long-term subcribers are treated by EA/Bioware.

Oooz's Avatar

12.19.2011 , 06:55 AM | #5
Quote: Originally Posted by Stubacca View Post
This is pretty much a standard feature of ANY modern MMORPG. I probably won't continue playing past my free month if chat bubbles or at least overhead text has been implemented. It is a crucial feature for my style of play and pretty much necessary for any kind of social interaction between players. I can't understand how an MMORPG that is supposed to be the most modern doesn't have anything like that in the game at launch already.
its not a standard feature, in fact not many mmo's have this feature and thats a relief, bloody hate chat bubbles appearing everywhere. totaly no need for them.

Xerda's Avatar

12.19.2011 , 06:56 AM | #6
Quote: Originally Posted by Oooz View Post
its not a standard feature, in fact not many mmo's have this feature and thats a relief, bloody hate chat bubbles appearing everywhere. totaly no need for them.
I hate chat bubbles too. It's just another form of spam.

So as long as they introduce it with an option to disable. I'll be happy
Help me, Bio-Ware Support; you're my only hope.

Nighenhale's Avatar

12.19.2011 , 06:59 AM | #7
I really hope they will add this option soon, I tend to go chatblind at times so this would help me a lot. It's right up there with the ability to scale/adjust the interface for me.

smellymetal's Avatar

12.19.2011 , 07:01 AM | #8
100% agreed. I ended up not talking at all in the game...and I think 'RP people' need them. It would be nice to create an option so you can display them or not. But not having them at all is completely stupid IMHO

Aleeha's Avatar

12.19.2011 , 07:01 AM | #9
I personally do not care for chat bubbles as I do not like the spam from them in the middle of my screen. I realize that it may be a feature for RP but honestly if you have more than 1 or 2 people chatting at the same time, THAT becomes tedious too.

I would say that with all the other more serious issues with the game in regards to stability, performance, scalability, ect. that this is a feature that can easily wait until the next major patch.

Spankya's Avatar

12.19.2011 , 07:01 AM | #10
I hope they add this too. On various occassions I've used /say and people just dont see it. Chat bubbles help so much, please add them.