When I started playing Guild Wars, it was hard to juggle the need to communicate via the chat window with the requirement to stay alive and kill things. One of my guildies and I thought that we should look into some sort of voice communication system. A lot of online gamers use voice chat programs, and successful teams/guilds/squads require them. TeamSpeak and Ventrilo seemed a little too complex and paying for a server didn’t seem to be worth the effort. Eventually we got used to the chat system, so the voice idea stagnated.
We didn’t find the lack of voice chat as much of a hindrance as before. However, even if people how to use the in-game commumications tools, it does not put a stop to n00b-ish behaviour! I discovered this other night whilst questing with a guildie and a friend (both of whom I know IRL). With all the action happening on-screen, sometimes one can miss directions from one’s party members. Maybe other factors were to blame for the regression to n00b-ness. All I know is that my frequent directions (e.g. “Wait! Stop running ahead! Check the map! Stop aggro-ing mobs! Wait, the (NPC) Healer’s dead again; Rez her! I think this is the wrong way!”) via chat either went ignored or there was a delay in action, to the detriment of the team.
In general though, the in-game chat function, combined with use of the Left CTRL key and using the Compass Mini-Map to draw routes has worked pretty well. Using the Left CTRL key is possibly one of the more important combat techniques to learn in Guild Wars. Holding down Left CTRL and using it with other key commands can make party-wide announcements such as:
- How much Health you have — Left CTRL + Click Health Bar
- How much Energy you have — Left CTRL + Click Energy Bar
- What enemy you are attacking (Called Target) — Left CTRL + Space Bar — Usually you will have the Target already selected at this point. Space Bar is used for Default action, in this case, Attack. Called Target will automatically flash that enemy’s location on the Compass Mini-Map so the party knows which one you are attacking.
- The fact that you are using a Skill on an enemy or party member — Left CTRL + Click Skill — Again, the Target would already be selected at this point.
- What Conditions you have on you — Left CTRL + Click Icon — The Conditions you have on you are displayed at the top-left of the screen.
- The fact that you are talking to an NPC — Left CTRL + Click NPC
- How close you are to leveling — Left CTRL + Click XP Bar
- The fact that you are following a specific party member — Left CTRL + Double Click Party Member’s Name in Party List
These announcements will be displayed in the Chat Window (or Chat Bar if you have the window minimised).
Pick-up groups will not have voice chat. All (or at least most) party members of successful PUGs that I have grouped with were able to use the given tools properly to communicate. In these cases, game play went very smoothly, in fact. For PvE, the lack of voice chat does not make game play impossible if you know how to use all the communication tools.
A friend of mine recently got Guild Wars. For months, I’d been interrupting a lot of our MSN conversations with “I’m going to go play GW now. I’ll talk to you later”. And then I wouldn’t actually talk to him later, because I’d be playing so long that he’d go AFK to do other things. And later on, I’d talk about Guild Wars to him. This made him curious, so he started playing. He now “sees what all the fuss was about” and he is enjoying the game, but he is also experiencing the learning curve that comes with using the in-game communications tools. He asked me about voice chat programs, and I thought, “Why? In-game chat works well”. But I’m used to the user interface now, and I forgot that he isn’t yet.
I was reminded of Xfire when I saw Joystiq’s entry on PC and Mac applications every gamer should have. This further reminded me that the Store Manager at the GameStop I worked at last year also mentioned that he uses it to communicate whilst playing online games. Since Xfire appeared to be easy to grasp, and my friend is not as computer-inclined as I am (not that I am some super computer person to start with), I decided to download the app and let him know about it.
I’ve used it a couple of times this week, and in short, voice chat makes questing in PvE much easier. In reference to the anecdote above, had everyone in the party been on voice chat, rather than just two of us (out of three), perhaps the minor fiascos that occurred the other night might not have happened. It would certainly be harder to ignore vocal commands than on-screen commands. One would hope. Anyway, I think we’ll try to use Xfire if we can, but I wouldn’t be upset if people continued without it.