Before I started playing Lord of the Rings Online, I’d never spoken on in-game chat or Teamspeak or Ventrilo. I raided a little in World of Warcraft and I’d logged on to a Teamspeak server before, but I’d never plucked up the courage to actually talk to other gamers using my actual voice, not just typing back and forth, which I do a lot ;p
Then, with Lord of the Rings Online, my guild had a Teamspeak server set up by one of the members, and the game has in-game chat as part of it too. We joined a few mixed guild raids through Helegrod, using in-game chat, and we used Teamspeak for our own instance or raid runs. When it came to the crunch I had to make the decision to actually speak for the first time. And I did it. And it wasn’t too scary, though it was a bit of a worry. I had to learn all the added things, like how to set up push-to-talk on the various systems, and not to use the same push-to-talk key for both systems. And I think my guildmates will now happily tell everyone I’ve not stopped talking yet!
It is a pretty big hurdle, the revelation of your real voice. You can’t hide much there. We quickly discovered who were the female gamers (we have quite a lot of them actually), but it’s that kind of revelation that I think puts many people off. Some women are naturally cautious about revealing they’re really female, and I can understand why when people do get harassed in-game over such things. But hey, I’m in a mature and sensible guild and we’ve not had trouble with that kind of thing.
Anyway, my use of Teamspeak has grown as I’ve gamed. I’ll now happily talk to anyone about pretty much anything. And I’ll also keep in-game chat on as default, especially when in the Monster Play area. There’s a definite advantage in the PvP areas, because of coordination and also those with better computers can warn in advance of an enemy attack. It also helps us find out as soon as possible when a stealther has spotted the enemy and exactly where they are. Coordination is really the key though, and even if you can’t talk back, being able to listen in is really valuable if voice chat is being used.
It’s taken my friendships forward in Lord of the Rings Online, to the stage where we’ll chat on Teamspeak even if we’re not all in-game, and everyone from the guild can come join us. It’s always particularly useful to me when there’s something big to get my head around, like the recent announcements about cut classes. I popped into Teamspeak and we talked about it for ages, it was good to have a bit of a rant before I came back to the blog and had to start writing about it. And to hear some other opinions before I formed my own.
So I expect we’ll use it a lot in Warhammer. I think we’ve said as much in our guild charter (as much as that’s a work in progress). Some to help our gameplay and some to just chatter and pass along news about new games, films, TV shows or whatever the hot topic of the day is. We’ll use it to coordinate any groups we run, or any actions we take. Of course, with no in-game voice it’ll be interesting to see what servers get used on Teamspeak and Ventrilo and how that gets organised. That’ll be something for each server and realm to sort out as each guild is bound to have their own, maybe we’ll start seeing alliance servers and even open realm servers (though I don’t know how expensive that gets).
It’s not as easy for everyone, I know. My sister (non-Spinks) finds it hard to use voice chat programmes as much as I do. Because her partner tends to sit in the same room and isn’t a gamer! He naturally expects her to be able to talk to him – and she likes to game with the TV on. Other people don’t have mikes, or have other influences that mean they can’t be chatting all the time. So I do understand that not everyone can have the happy relationship I do with Teamspeak and my friends.
But, I’d definitely recommend people try it. It does make coordination in-game easier, we can all speak and listen faster than we can type and it offers that advantage, even if you can only listen in. I found that the first half hour of talking was scary, but after that I kind of got over my own self-consciousness. So, if you’ve never used it for similar reasons.. go for it.