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Posts with tag teamspeak

Drama Mamas: Voice communication etiquette for MMO players

Photo: Moe_

Headsets and voice communications have become ubiquitous to group play in MMOs today. Guilds freely share their server addresses with pickup players. PvP groups rely on tight communication to sweep to resounding battleground victories. Even players in random groups often meet up on voice comms to simplify strategy and tactical coordination. Headsets have become quite affordable, and USB connections make it easy to simply plug in and play.

Despite all this, speaking up in a channel full of strangers can be one of the more intimidating and awkward experiences in your group play experience. And then there's the other side of the coin: bearing up under the onslaught of That Guy in Vent who's cursing up a blue streak at every turn of the encounter, leaving his mic open so the rest of us can fully experience his barking dog, his blaring television and his half-chewed mouthful of pizza.

The Voice Comms Etiquette talk probably wasn't part of your mama's standard coming-of-age advice repertoire, so consider this the heart-to-heart advisory every player should receive upon reaching grouping age. Go forth with awareness and the facts!

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Filed under: Drama Mamas

What's your voice comm system of choice?

This post has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

It was before my time, but I still hear nostalgic stories about how TeamSpeak was once the voice communication service of choice for MMO gamers. Barring a few potential holdouts -- who I must assume are raiding from nondescript shacks in the mountains of Montana -- there's been a very clear sea change that has placed Ventrilo quite comfortably at the top of the heap. If you raid, chances are you have Vent.

Like its predecessors, though, Vent has competitors of its own vying to overthrow the current king of speech. Perhaps the one getting the most attention right now is Mumble, which boasts low latency, clear sound, and the pseudo-celebrity endorsements of more than a few WoW Insider staffers.

Personally, my guild started using Mumble a few months ago and hasn't looked back. Now, this is partly because one of my officers pimps it out like she's getting paid, but mostly because so many of the guildies just plain think it's better. We've run into some problems -- mainly with installation or getting the not-always-intuitive client to work properly -- but for better or worse, it looks like we've been transformed into a Mumble guild. We've even started requesting that puggies download it before raids, promising them that they'll never again want to return to Ventrilo.

So, have you tried Mumble yet, either of your own volition or due to peer (to peer) pressure? Did you feel like there were benefits, or did you find yourself missing Vent? Do you think it will ever become as ubiquitous as Vent or will it eventually fade into obscurity? Most importantly, what will you Vent loyalists do the next time you enter a raid and the leader sends you their Mumble info?

What's your voice comm system of choice?
Mumble2162 (18.5%)
TeamSpeak1188 (10.2%)
Ventrilo7861 (67.3%)
In-game voice system476 (4.1%)

Filed under: Guest Posts

Breakfast Topic: Push to talk

Ventrilo. WoW's second communication backbone has been and can be the source of comedy, drama and everything in between. From loot freakouts and epic guild removals to Onyxia wipes and pranks-a-plenty, Ventrilo is ubiquitous with the massively multiplayer genre and experience. We all have our legendary stories, but what does Ventrilo mean to the games we play? In fact, what role does communication play in our virtual worlds?

The first communication backbone of World of Warcraft is the chat itself. The fully realized interaction we have with the people inhabiting the world with us boils down to what appears inside that chat box. Communication with chat is limited, however, by typing speed, range of communication, lack of vocal inflection, tone, and volume. Key components of human communication are missing from the very basic communication apparatus we use to interact in WoW.

Communication has a long and varied history in the MMO genre. Before Ventrilo and Teamspeak, my friends and I had a complex system of phone conference calls to make communication in Ultima Online easier. Before Paypal and other cash services, people would send checks, money orders and cash to other countries to purchase items in MUDs, the proto-MMO. These forms of communication paved the way for the pieces of software we take for granted today.

Humans are social creatures. Ventrilo was an inevitability. But there has to be more, something that will become as ubiquitous as voice. So here's the question -- where is communication in games headed? What is the next or new Ventrilo?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Gearing up for PvP - Your sound system


So you've got your computer, your input device, and maybe some specialized keyboard. The only thing you'll need now is some sound system. In the conclusion of this series, we'll take a look at what you use for game sounds. For general gaming purposes, your computer's default sound system, if any, should really do fine. On the other hand, if you're serious about your PvP, you might want to invest in a good headset. If you normally play at home and have the luxury of playing indiscreetly, a great sound system is an awesome thing to have.

Personally, I don't play external background music (e.g., through iTunes) whenever I PvP. It's cool for PvP videos, but it's generally a bad idea. For one thing, music, even the one found in-game, tends to obscure important PvP sounds. In particular, the stealth sound is one of the most important sound effects in World of Warcraft PvP. That sound will often, but not always, precede visual confirmation of a stealthed unit nearby. If only for this reason, I turn up game sounds and lower in-game music to an ambient level.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Art of War(craft) (PvP), Battlegrounds, Arena

Observations from running a Naxx-25 PuG


I'm very "up" on PuGs. I started my career as a PuG tank and met a lot of great players that way, many of whom I still raid with today. I've always been a stout supporter of throwing caution to the wind and joining LFG for an afternoon to see where it'll take you; it's been my experience that random players on your realm can and often will surprise you.

Once you master the art of the 5-person PuG, the ultimate risk is a raid PuG. One-shot the instance, or spend the night wiping? You won't know until you try.

I used to run Hyjal PuG's in late Burning Crusade and got to be the person in charge of arranging healers on Anetheron, explaining where to die on Azgalor, and uttering a hollow laugh at suggestions on whether or not Archimonde was in the cards (answer: hell no). I wasn't around for my guild's Naxx run one of these past weeks, and a few guildies were interested in gearing up their alts, so we thought -- PuG a 25-man Naxx? Why not?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Instances, Features, Humor, Raiding, Bosses, Classes

The Queue: Shoo fly, don't bother me


Welcome back to The Queue, WoW Insider's daily Q&A column where the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Alex Ziebart will be your host today.

To kick things off today, I actually wanted to add something to one of Adam's responses yesterday. Spiraea was looking for a title that would fit their Priest. Adam suggested The Immortal, but me? I'm all about the Hallowed. You can't get it until October, which makes getting your hands on it tough... but it'll be worth the wait! It's my favorite title on my Priest. When I get a new raid title I switch to that for awhile, but always go back to Hallowed.

realt asked...

I have a question regarding in-game voice chat (or Ventrilo). Our guild has never used voice-chat when raiding. So far we have done pretty well with clearing all 10man content, including Sartharion+1D, without it. Now we are progressing into 25man. At which point do we really need starting using voice chat you think or isn't required at all? I haven't been in many other raiding guilds besides this one so I am curious how others are handling their communication.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, The Queue

WoW Rookie: Communication Part 2


WoW Rookie is brought to our readers to help our newest players get acclimated to the game. Make sure you send a note to WoW Insider if you have suggestions for what new players need to know.

I have to compliment Blizzard on paying attention to the tools the players are using. They've made many changes to the User Interface to integrate those tools into the World of Warcraft. Unfortunately, like the voice chat interface, many of those changes have had bugs and have not been widely accepted by players. As you progress through the levels you will find that you will likely have to download third party programs to facilitate your play.

Ventrilo and Teamspeak are some of the most widely used third party applications used in WoW. These tools facilitate voice chat which is necessary when quickly coordinating activities. In most cases you will find yourself excused from a raid or premade battleground if you do not have the proper tools.

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Filed under: Tips, PvP, Raiding, Guides, WoW Rookie

Making yourself heard with the right headset

Mr_elenganza has a great question over on the WoW LJ-- what headset do you use for voicechatting in WoW?

Me, I use two different audio inputs. On my Mac Powerbook, the built-in microphone actually works really well (and I hear from others who've used the new Macbooks that those work even better), so whenever I'm raiding with Teamspeak on, I'll have it on there, and just use that mic to talk.

But when I need something a little clearer, I use the cheaper Logitech headset-- there are more expensive gaming headsets out there, but the headset is really just for voice (I've also got a nice set of 5.1 speakers on my PC), so it works just fine for my purposes. To tell the truth, if I went for another headset, I'd probably try and get something Bluetooth (the fewer wires running around, the better), but I haven't shopped around too much for that-- anyone want to recommend one?

At this point, headsets are so cheap and so commonly used that "I don't have a mic" isn't really a valid excuse for not voicechatting any more (of course, it's always a good excuse if there are other reasons you don't want to speak). A nice USB headset will help you hear what's going on, and will make the experience better for people playing with you, too.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Odds and ends

Blizzard posts a Voice Chat FAQ

European CM Salthem has posted a Frequently Asked Questions about the new voice chat feature coming in the next patch (which has got to be just around the corner, right?).

There's not much new here, but there is a lot of Blizzard confirming what players have already discovered about the voice chat system. People will be one-click mute-able, and voice chat will be able to be disabled by Parental Controls. Blizzard also makes a few interesting points about bandwidth-- while they say voice chat won't have a big effect on those with high bandwidth connections, they say people who currently experience high latency will likely have bigger problems.

And perhaps most disappointingly, they almost sound apologetic about the quality of the sound. They recommend multi-thread processors (as if that's something someone can really upgrade to without getting a whole new computer), and they acknowledge that third party applications will likely have much better quality.

Not that their voice chat system is bad-- as I've said before (and as we found out in the voice chat survey), lots of players will definitely use it. But third party applications aren't going away anytime soon either.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard

70% of WoW Insider readers will be on Voice Chat


Well there you go. I'd like to say that I called it (although I did say that voice chat would find a place in a lot of PUGgers' hearts), but I was surprised to see that 70% of you readers expect to use Blizzard's new voice chat feature coming in 2.2. Personally, I'd rather stick to Teamspeak (and I'm guessing my guild will do just that). And I know, from the comments yesterday, that there are lots of people out there who just don't want to get involved in voice chat, whether there's an ingame system or not.

But clearly Blizzard was right to put the time in-- there is a good majority of players ready to plug a mic in and start speaking to each other. Very interesting.

Update: You're right, commenters. Title updated from "players" to "WoW Insider readers," since that's who we actually polled. I only got a B in Stats class in college.

Filed under: Patches, Polls, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard

Are you going to use voice chat?

Kachra from Ursin asks a question that I'd like to know the answer to: are you going to use the voice chat feature? And just like the guys who built the Six Million Dollar Man, we have the technology. We can find out. So here's a poll. And hopefully, we can get a good, somewhat scientific reading on the community-- are you going to use the voice chat feature or not?

Keep in mind that TS and Vent aren't going anywhere, and as I said in my Voice Chat hands on, it's very likely that a lot of guilds (especially bigger guilds), will keep using those. But my guess is also that a lot of people will use both-- TS in raids, and the builtin voice chat in PuGs or more private groups. So if you're planning to use voice chat at all (even if it's in conjunction with a third party voice program), mark yes below.

And if you don't think you'll ever touch it, either because you're sticking to third party, or you don't want to voice chat, mark no. Who knows-- maybe Blizzard's overestimating demand for the feature in the first place.

Will you use the Voice Chat feature?
Yes3050 (69.7%)
No1328 (30.3%)

Filed under: Patches, Polls, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard

WoW Insider's PTR voice chat hands on

Voice chat is now available on the 2.2 PTR, so I downloaded the test realms, rolled up a gnome Warlock, and put on my Logitech headset to try it out. What I found was a pretty intuitive voice chat system that does most everything Blizzard promised to do, and will likely replace Teamspeak or Ventrilo for a lot of smaller guilds.

Unfortunately, it's complicated enough that it probably won't be extremely widespread-- players who haven't found the need to join up on voice chat yet probably still won't feel a need to do so. But for guilds who don't want to pay for a separate server and friends who group together often, the ingame voice chat should work just fine.

The rest of my impressions, including a complete walkthrough on how the chat system works, are after the jump.

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Features, Guides

Voice chat coming soon to the PTRs

We missed it on Friday afternoon, but apparently voice chat is coming in 2.2. Previously, we'd heard that Zul'Aman and guild banks weren't showing up until 2.3, but there wasn't official word on when voice chat was arriving. PTR players have reported seeing a voicechat interface, but of course it hasn't been hooked up to any code yet.

But Hortus now says we'll be seeing voice chat ingame sooner than we thought-- it will be coming soon to a PTR near you, and pending testing, should go live with 2.2. Wow. Blizzard must have done a lot of work on that behind the scenes, assuming that it is what they promise: a fully featured builtin voice chat client. Think it's coincidence that there have been a few sound bugs on the test realms lately?

Which means that at some point we'll have to ask this question: What will happen to Teamspeak and Ventrilo? There's a nice bit of industry there-- players pay for servers all over the place, and while each server is pretty cheap, altogether they add up to a nice chunk of change, I'm sure. My guess is that TS and Vent aren't going anywhere (because players are so used to them, and not just in WoW), but until we see what kind of interface Blizzard has created, we won't know if they're worth leaving or not. Seeing as it's the PTRs, we should get a chance to play with it soon.

Filed under: Patches, Blizzard, News items, Features

PTR Notes: New music in the inns of Azeroth

After a player says he thought he'd heard something he'd never heard before on the PTR, Hortus says that yes, there is new music in inns all over the world of Azeroth.

Which seems like a strange addition to make, and an even stranger change to leave out of the patch notes. Personally, I have music turned off maybe 90% of the time-- while grinding, I'm usually listening to my own music or watching a movie, and while raiding, I'm listening to my guildies on Teamspeak. While I like the Warcraft music as much as the next guy, I can only hear it so many times before I'm ready for something else.

But I supposed after the next patch comes on, I'll have to flip it back on again and have a listen. You have to wonder why they're spending time implementing new music when there seems like so much else to do, but maybe these are leftovers-- music written for Outland or other new content that Blizzard didn't have anywhere else to put.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Expansions

Hearing voices in the World of Warcraft

Clive Thompson (who I've enjoyed reading for a while now) posted a piece on Wired the other day about how voice changed the way he saw fellow players in World of Warcraft. It's a really interesting read, not least of all because of the two academic studies mentioned: one study found that women were "treated differently" when using voice chat, and another found that gamers made more solid and trusting relationships with friends they knew by voice rather than those that knew by text.

I don't know if Thompson has heard yet that voice is going to be builtin to WoW very soon now, but it's true: voice is about to play a much bigger part in our game. And it's also true that voice changes things a lot-- in my regular guild, I will often jump on our Teamspeak server just to chat with my fellow guildies and friends, even if I'm not in a group. In It came from the Blog (the official WoW Insider guild in which I occasionally can be seen saying crazy things), we haven't set up a Vent server (although it's coming, guys), and so I had the strange experience the other day of running an instance with only text chat to keep me company. Don't get me wrong, I like all the guys in IcftB, but I don't know if the reason I don't know them better is just because I haven't been with the guild as long, or if I just haven't actually heard their voices.

In the end, Thompson marks it down to a generational thing-- some people are willing to share their voices and hear others, he says, and some just aren't. I'm not sure if that's true necessarily (I am pretty conservative on, say, my Myspace page, and pretty free with my Ventrilo joining), but either way, the use of voice chat in videogames has only just started to make itself known.

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