Thanks to everyone who attended the AMA with the Discord developers today. It was truly awesome getting the chance to interact with you all and answer some of your questions. If you weren’t able to make it, or just want to relive the magic, below is a transcript (albeit not word for word).
Q (uppfinarn): Can you tell us a little about your roadmap?
A (Jason): What we’ve been working on is getting discord to a place where it is good enough to use and play games with friends. And it’s cool to see you guys using it.
Our next phase is to finish the feature set for mobile. We’re working really hard on mobile to get full voice chat and functionality including attachments and account creation.
After that, we’re working towards getting the word out. Heavensward comes out soon and we’re starting to reach out to the whole Final Fantasy community to get more people in and kinda get Discord to the next level.
Stan, do you want to mention some bonus features?
A (Stanislav): All these things are up in the air. You could call them extra credit features.
We want to integrate with Final Fantasy once we get bugs cleaned up. We want to link your Lodestone profile so Discord will show who you are in game. We want to have Discord server owners to sync with FC rosters so permissions are automatically set up.
We also want to add slash commands to search items on XIVDB and post them into Discord chat.
Finally, other things like having the “game you’re playing” provide more information like the character you’re playing, your level, your zone, your activity, etc.
Jason, do you want to talk about overlays?
A (Jason): Sure. So, one of the cool things we’re working on is overlays. We want to add a Discord UI that overlays your game so you can see who is talking in your voice channel and displays direct messages sent to you so you can respond without ever leaving the game.
The vision is to have chat heads similar to how Facebook’s mobile chat heads function. Imagine circular avatars that pop in on the side. You’ll see the written message and you can click on them to respond. The chat head will then dismiss. Heads can pop in and light up when they start chatting over voice. You’ll have a couple of little avatar icons.
We have a big focus on performance so this will not take away any experience from playing your game.
Q (Mizrahi): Will there be any expansion on the text-to-speech area? Maybe a way to assign certain text-to-speech voices to certain members of your server so that you don’t need to hear the “Member says: blablabla” bit. Also, are there any plans for a “mini” mode that just shows who’s currently speaking (a bit like what Skype has)?
A (Stanislav): The caveat to this feature is that it was added a week ago and we added it quickly in response to a user who requested it, so it’s not in a form where much design went into it.
We obviously can’t take it away so we’re gonna work on thinking it through and making it better. You’ll be able to choose which channel you want TTS on. We also plan on supporting different voice packs.
A (Jason): Do you think the usage of TTS as a feature is a side effect of not having a great overlay? Would you agree with that Stan? If you know who is showing up or who’s talking then TTS is less important.
A (Stanislav): Depends on people’s usage. If a person is unable to talk, maybe, but in other voice apps, people like to keybind certain phrases. There’s ways to expand it but it’s not at the top of our list. There’s other more important things but it’s on our radar.
Q (Ihm): What’s the plans as far as covering server costs and such go? You’ve said it’s free so how do you plan on covering costs and making money back?
A (Jason): So I’ll talk about how we plan to make money. Stan can talk about how much servers cost and scaling it.
Our plan is to keep the functionality — the core usability — free. So everything you’re using right now will stay free. Voice, text, mobile, all stay free. Almost all the new features will be free. Deep integrations and overlays and slash commands and bots — all free.
Our plan is to sell optional cosmetic things. One example is what Stan just mentioned: TTS features like selling voice packs. Something like the Unreal Tournament announcer packs. Selling themes, sticker packs, fancy elaborate emoji, sound packs, different sound effects, etc, are still up in the air but it’s what we’re planning to do.
As a note, part of the reason we’re not looking to make money right now is that we have raised funding from VCs in Silicon Valley. This is the second company I’ve started and the last one raised funding and did very well. We’re not stressed looking for money — we’re focused on building an amazing product and bringing real value to you guys.
If we successfully deliver that we will figure out money next.
A (Stanislav): The first key thing to point out is that on Vent, Teamspeak, and Mumble, everyone has their own server. Discord works differently in that it’s very dynamic.
If no one on your server is online then the server doesn’t exist. We use far less physical servers to solve the same problem. This cuts the cost down a lot. The tech Discord is built on currently uses far less bandwidth than what current voip solutions use. Bandwidth costs have gone down so much so that cost is currently not on our radar. Based on current estimations it’s not gonna be much.
Q (gazihsah): How will you implement a “freemium model” across multiple platforms?
A (Jason): On desktop apps, payment will be with credit cards and, on mobile, we’ll have in-app purchases. It’ll be just like you typically see on these platforms.
Q (Talren): Do you plan to have voice notification such as in TeamSpeak? Mumble does not have this and I believe they are at huge loss (I.E. Have a notification when someone enters the channel — not only blips and sounds).
A (Stanislav): It’s been requested multiple times. On our end, it’s a UI (user interface) concern. We just need to augment the notifications tab so you can choose sound or TTS. I don’t know when it will come but it will happen. You’ll be able to choose TTS, sound, or both.
Q (Nem): Is there any plans for releasing a server app so people can host their own servers?
A (Jason): This is directly related to Stan’s comment that our servers are provisioned and how there is no real server if no one is there because we dynamically allocate resources.
It’s all centralized. If you have multiple servers, you own the same accounts across all of them so it’s not designed in a way to run on your own server. The only reason you’d host it yourself is if the service would go down but we’re running on a distributed cloud data center so if we have trouble we can automatically move you over to another data center. Furthermore, those centers have experience dealing with DDOS and such so the level of stability is higher than what you’d expect from a normal voice server hosting product. We’re hoping there’s no reason for you to host it yourself.
A (Stanislav): If you switch regions while someone is talking to you, you’ll see how quickly it can switch servers. If a hurricane takes down the east coast it’ll move you to the west coast just to keep your voice running. This is not easily done on your own.
A (Jason): We chose to build our voice backend on top of Erlang which was built by the telecom industry because they needed distributed systems that must work in case of an emergency.
Erlang is popular in recent years to deal with large scale distributed systems that don’t go down. It’s the technology we chose to use and we hope it works out!
Q (Talren): Will it be possible to have a more contrasted UI? I have difficulties reading grey on white as well as difficulties finding the different buttons?
A (Haborym): We’re gonna look at different contrast for the UI. There’s been talk about a darker theme and fixing up the left hand column so the contrast is better.
For text, we’ll have different fonts for the smaller stuff. There will be lots of small improvements that will overall have a big impact.
Q (LucifaZ): There seems to be a keen focus on FFXIV right now, why FFXIV specifically? Do you intend to expand this kind of integration to other MMOs or games?
A (Jason): We decided we wanted to start with a single game as opposed to a lot of games because we think deep integrations to show exactly what you’re doing, what zone or fate you’re doing, make the experience much better.
We thought it made more sense to try and make Discord as amazing as possible for a particular group of people and expand from there. It just so happens that a lot of us love FF (Stanislav, Mike, and Andy are rabid FFXIV players), so thats why we started that.
Q (Xiao Sishen): I know WP8.1 development right now is pretty pointless, but are there plans for a native W10/WP10/XB1 app after the W10 release? (Also, I noticed I can’t use voice on the web app with Project Spartan/MS Edge. Is there a feature lacking in the preview to support it or does Discord just not recognize it as a valid browser yet)?
A (Stanislav): We’re probably never gonna directly develop for the Windows Phone. There are some scenarios where we can easily bring our tech and code to the Windows platforms and, in those cases, we may do it.
With Project Spartan/MS Edge, Microsoft has taken a different approach to the web voice tech thing but i’ve done the research and once they support the voice stuff we’re doing we will integrate with it and it should work. We’re waiting for them to release their final release of edge.
Q (Talren): What is the link between Guildwork and Discord? Do we need Guildwork plugin to have full option available in DIscord?
A (Stanislav): The link is my existence haha. I work on Guildwork and Discord.
So, some things we want to do for the Heavensward launch is to create Discord servers that are tied to each FF server. If you’re a GW user you’ll have a /discord command that’ll take you to the Discord voice server for that server.
There’s already a Discord widget for guild hosting. We want to get it on other guild hosting sites soon as well. We want to make it so people can easily communicate which is a value that Discord and Guildwork have in common.
Q (Talren): What’s the average age of the team ? You seem pretty young!
A (Consensus): Probably 29.
A (Jason): Most of us have been programming since we were little ducklings. I have 18 years of experience. Stan, Andy, Chris, Fanghao, and Miguel all have similar experiences. We’re young and hungry and been around the block a few times so hopefully that shows in the product.
Q (gazihsah): Which feature are you all most excited to potentially implement in the future?
A (Jason): I guess overlays is something that i’m really excited about. We don’t have a picture yet — we just have this concept we’ve been discussing. Right now we are working on the core technology of getting stuff rendered over games.
A (Stanislav): Piggybacking on overlays and the tech powering it. I’m excited for when you can track what you’re doing in the game and act based on it within Discord. For example, when you jump into a duty finder instance we can detect the instance ID and look to see if other people are using Discord. Then, you can opt-in to a temp voice session with those people and chat. I think that would be pretty cool.
We will not make you do this if you don’t want to. It will be opt-in. “We found two users. Click to join.”
A (mrkcsc): I’m excited to be connected to two voice servers at once. Normally for this I would have to connect to multiple vent servers and that’s a hassle.
A (Socrates): Definitely voice chat on mobile.
A (Haborym): Piggyback off Will. Voice chat on mobile.
A (Zencha): I’m excited for this feature we’ve been discussing. It’ll let you press a button and retroactively record your gameplay and then post it directly into Discord chat. As a MOBA player, I can see this being really cool. For example, I can make a killer play and then press a button to instantly post it to Discord so I can show off to my friends. For MMOs, this would be great to show off a boss kill or some silly unplanned event.
Q (Talren): Is there any risk for Discord to be detected as cheat by ingame protection like Steam Shield for example?
A (Stanislav): What we’re doing is not something that could be detected by that. It’s possible the overlay system could but it would be equally detected if curse or steam put an overlay on you. We’re not doing anything yet that would be considered a cheat and we would like to avoid doing so.
A (Jason): We will let mods and developers hook into discord and post things or read data from it. We are very specifically focusing on communication and playing games with your friends. We are looking to letting others add features to it. I don’t think we’ll ever do anything very specific that would cause that.
Q (achira): What kind of strain does that put on your data plan?
A (Stanislav): The strain on your data plan is the same is if you used Mumble or TeamSpeak on mobile. In fact, it’s probably a bit less. We don’t expect people to be using it much on 4G, though. The use case we expect is mostly for PS4 players or people chilling on the couch using WIFI.
Q (Ihm): What’s the plans for other game detection? I believe you mentioned hooking into the steam API to show games. Will we be able to add games manually should we want to display other games?
A (Stanislav): We want to make all this automatic so you don’t have to do anything manually. A nice solution would be to hook into steam and piggyback on what they are looking at. That’s not out of the realm of possibility. But, we are currently updating the list of recognized games ourselves. The games currently recognized by Discord are any Blizzard games, any Square games, League of Legends, Battlefield 4, Smite, Minecraft, Left 4 Dead, Day Z, Guild Wars 2, World of Tanks, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Dota 2.
Q (Xiao Sishen): Small curiosity… how does it determine which game you’re playing if you have more than one valid game launched? I play Hearthstone a lot while I’m on WoW/FFXIV. Any plans for custom status message?
A (Stanislav): Currently it shows the first game launched.
A (Jason): It’s a cool feature request and we didn’t have a specific plan to add it but we will put it to our list of things to do.
A (Stanislav): We like to order what we’re doing based on the amount of people asking for something.
A (Jason): Yea, we’ve been talking about setting up some publicly facing list of features so that you guys can submit features, vote on them, and as the dev team we can see what kind of features everyone likes or not. We were thinking of doing something like this on UserVoice.
This is what we do internally — whenever anyone mentions something we add a tally mark. If we get enough tally marks the feature gets bumped up. If the tally marks come in really fast we do it even sooner. We’re very much building this product for you guys so the input you give us is very important.
Q (Talren): Is this server permanent? I see there is a bug report channel so is it possible to come post there whenever we find a bug?
A (Stanislav): Yes, this dev server is permanent. It’s actually a testbed and it seems to be working haha.
Q (LucifaZ): Any plans for little chat tools or apps that are integrated into the text chat? Like a handwriting pad or a dice roller or even interactive games like the old days of MSN messenger?
A (Jason): Get some Minesweeper up in here!
A (Stanislav): One thing we thought would be cool is to have a strategy whiteboard so while you’re in a raid, everyone with the overlay would get the white board and you could tell people where to position and where to focus.
Q (Xiao Shishen): Speaking of which, is video/screen sharing on the roadmap? I’m hoping this can eventually replace Skype entirely for me.
A (Jason): Video screen sharing is not currently on our near term roadmap. We’ve been talking about lots of stuff that’s core to playing games and using voice with your friends. That’s what we’re focusing on first.
The tech we’ve built here could easily support screen sharing but as Achira said, gamers first and the world next.
Q (Talren): Is there any function like puu.sh to automatically share screenshots with the guildmates?
A (Stanislav): You can print screen on Windows or copy to clipboard on Mac and paste directly to Discord. Overlays will allow you to take a screenshot and post to channel if you want.
Q (uppfinnarn): What can you tell us about external integrations? Like bots or status widgets on websites.
A (Stanislav): Bots and slash commands are similar features. An advanced feature is binding a slash command to query a URL. An example is a command like /xivdb itemname which would query XIVDB and post the item back into the channel.
Bots might do things without requests like post anytime Yoshi tweets about FFXIV.
Another example is a Guildwork bot that posts in text chat when a hunt has spawned or even have people’s phone buzz when this happens.
Q (Mizrahi): Will there be a way to have both continuous mic and Push-to-Talk options at once? On Skype, I tend to have continuous mic but press my push-to-talk button to disable my mic temporarily to talk to someone in the room etc.
A (Socrates): Ha, Jason someone is asking about push-not-to-talk.
A (Jason): We’ve only had one person request this feature so it had one tally but now has two! We’ve been calling it push not to talk or push to mute and it would work with voice activity too.
Q (Socrates): I know we’re not giving out a specific timeline for features we are working on, but what is imminent?
A (Jason): To start, we’re working on voice for mobile apps and making the apps much more user friendly for people. Currently, when you first start using Discord there are a lot of hidden features that you only discover by playing around with the app. We want to make it easier to find things. We will be adding WoW-esque quest indicators to help explain features. For example, you will see a quest icon bounce up next to the attachment button that when clicked will explain this is the button to push to attach files. Or you can just paste or drag stuff directly into the chat window.
A (Socrates): In this image you can see part of the upcoming new user flow. Basically, these quests will highlight different features of the app to get you familiarized with how Discord works. You can, of course, choose to just dismiss these. But, we are also thinking of them in a way to gamify Discord a bit through profiles where you will be able to “level-up” your account.
Q (Jason): We should show them the new marketing page.
A (Socrates): This is just v1 of the landing page. We will go through it and, as we say around the office, “add the juice.” One thing you may be interested in is we are going to add “See More” buttons on each of the major benefits which will link to another page with details for that specific feature. For example, the security “See More” page will give an in-depth explanation of the security measures we have in place to protect you from DDoS as well as keep all your content private.
Q (uppfinnarn): No Mumble comparison?
A (Stanislav): Mumble, Vent and TeamSpeak are all very similar and would score almost exactly the same on the comparison chart. So, we decided to show only one of those three. We chose TeamSpeak because it has the most updates/momentum recently (the last update happened more than 6 months ago and it is still the most updated of the three though).
Q (Ihm): In a similar way to the now playing, could you integrate twitch streaming there, displaying stream information instead or as well as?
A (Jason): Yeah, I think it would be cool to have a little twitch icon next to your name if you are streaming. We are planning on making Discord really integrated with Twitch. We want you to be able to link up your twitch account to Discord. From a streamer perspective, we want you to be able to build and interact with your community on Discord. You can use bots to post in channels when you are streaming or send push notifications to your fans if they opt-in to receive this information. As a fan, it would be cool to get notifications when your favorite streamers come online. There’s all sorts of stuff we could do.
Q (Telren): Would it be possible to have a remote control function with mobile app to control the main app launched on the computer? A bit like the Spotify mobile app allows you to control Spotify running on your computer. (Well I do not know if it would be useful…)
A (Jason): The mobile app will eventually have all the same features as the desktop app. You’ll be able to change voice channels, change text channels, change servers, etc. Basically, anything you can do on the desktop app you’ll be able to do on mobile.
A (Stanislav): Think of them as a multi-room DVR. You can pull out your phone if you leave the room and continue talking.
Comments in text chat about using Discord from the bathroom.
A (Jason): Not sure if we want to make it easy to go to the bathroom while talking.
A (Zencha): Thats a killer feature for me.
Q (Socrates): It’s cross platform synced, so if I walked away from my desktop and started typing on my phone it would it be in the desktop app when I return?
A (Stanislav): Not yet, but soon!
A (Jason): The read state is currently synchronized. Goal is to have it be 100% synchronized.
Q (Lucifzac): When looking at my task manager I notice Discord has 5 processes up, and from what I see it’s using a fair bit of RAM. Can you explain what these processes are doing?
A (Stanislav): Discord should use less CPU than TeamSpeak, mumble and Ventrilo. It does use more RAM because of the rich text chat. But, Discord will release RAM when the system is under pressure. One of them is dedicated to notification pop-ups (windows 10 won’t have this).
Q (Xiao Shishen): When should we expect to see that integration in W10? After RTM?
A (Stanislav): Depending on how long it takes to integrate notification API, it could be on release.
A (Jason): We definitely prioritize platforms based on how many people are using it. If you got a lot of people to use the tech preview, we’d support it now.
Q (Ihm): How many people roughly are using Discord so far?
A (Jason): We’re still really new. About 1,000 people total. But, we had no one last week; last tuesday it was like 5 people. In the last week it’s been really exciting to go from having just our friends use it to meeting all of you and having more people on the app. We haven’t done a whole lot yet to spread the word since we’re still in Alpha.
A (Socrates): We haven’t done very much promotion up to this point. We’ve done a little 1 on 1 promotion with guilds that Stan has done through GuildWorks. And we’ve reached out to a few other groups playing various game genres. But, we’ll be doing a larger push around the Heavensward release and you’ll be seeing Discord out there a lot very soon.
Q (Xiao Shishen): Can we get little numbers to show how many people are in a given server/channel at a glance?
A (Stanislav): I would love to have a glance to see how many people are on each server. Which server has people so you know where to participate.
Q (uppfinnarn): How about that name?
A (Jason): We picked the name because at the end of the day it just sounds cool and has to do with talking. We had a bunch of names that we bounced around, but picking a name for a product is a complicated process. You want a name that is easy to say, spell, remember, related to the function of the product, available for ™, and has a website you can get. There are a lot of things to consider and we had a number of different candidates. Discord met all the criteria that we had and we fell in love with the name.
A (Socrates): And Discord in the gaming community is the problem we are trying to solve with this product.
People in chat comment about the HBO show Silicon Valley.
A (Stanislav): Silicon Valley is almost Jason’s life
A (Jason): That show is uncomfortably real.
Q (Alfie): What happens when a server goes over 1,000 users?
A (Stanislav): Theoretically, if a server reaches 1000 people it will ideally reallocate you to a larger server. You can test it, we’d love to get a thousand users in a single server. Later we will have probably a soft cap and if people reach that cap we will boost it. It would be awesome if we could have a server of thousand people for server-wide channels and communities to hang out in.
Q (Talren): Do you recommend using DISCORD with our guild starting now? Should we wait for final version ? I talked with guildmates they all said “we will see when they release the app.”
A (Jason): I would ask: When they talk about the app, do they mean mobile or desktop. Desktop apps are available now and they should work great and hopefully you’re experiencing that now. If you’re waiting on desktop you should give it a try. They’re awesome and stable and they’re ready to go.
A (Socrates): We are really out of Alpha now and should probably refer to the app as being in beta. During the Alpha stage we were doing a lot of bug squashing. Now that we’ve gone through that process the app and voice is really stable. I would say definitely get your guildmates on Discord. In my opinion, It’s already much better than other communication apps out there. And, It’s only gonna get better as we add more features.
A (Stanislav): If you’re using it, you’ll notice we’re updating it every day. We’re pushing updates nonstop.
Q (Lucifaz): What language was Discord coded in?
Q: (Xiao Shishen): Where can we follow upcoming news/features?
A: (Socrates): Liking the Discord Facebook page or following us on Twitter are probably the best ways to get the latest info as soon as it is released. Anytime we add new features or make major changes we’ll announce them through those channels. We also have a blog you can follow (I put links to new blog posts on FB and Twitter when I make them too). Also, you may have already noticed that when you open the app and the changelog has been updated, you’ll get a popup with everything that has been changed, fixed, as well as stuff we are working on. I usually update the changelog once a week (Friday afternoon).
Q (Telran): Is there anyway to identify “Server Admin” / “Channel Admin” etc?
A (Stanislav): Not right now, we will add visual identifiers in the future.
Q (Xiao Shishen): So I’ve noticed I have a portrait icon for DMs for a user when I have an unread DM — is there a way to pin users you DM often, or just make them stay until you dismiss them?
A (Zencha): You can’t do that right now and it’s not currently a feature spec but now that you mention it… that’s a cool idea! We’ll look into it.