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The Sound of Silence

October 6, 2008

I’ll admit that, just like everyone else, gold spammers sending me /tells are bizarrely annoying, like driving to work and having a perfume counter saleswoman popping up from my back seat, spraying me with a puff of whatever it is they make out of whale blubber this week, and then disappearing again. Yet, in a weird way, it’s comforting to know that my chat box is being used for something other than a vacuum of silence.

Really, if it wasn’t for my guild or the gold spammers, I don’t think my chat window would ever scroll. Most every MMO I’ve ever played has seen the use and abuse of the general chat channel to the point of insanity, and yet even in the midst of a 13-hour telethon of Chuck Norris jokes, it was oddly pleasant to see the chat scroll by and know that all of these people were actually playing the game right then, just like me. It was easy enough to type out a witty barb now and then at some dimwit who thought they owned the game, or to ask about the current status and location of Mankirk’s wife.

So I just don’t get it — why is Warhammer Online’s chat the most barren wasteland this side of the Badlands? Seriously, nobody talks! Even in open groups or whatnot, it’s a sentence of “howdy!” and then silence as we all dutifully punch our buttons and try not to die. I almost wept for joy the other day when I saw a guild recruitment message in general chat, just to know that others are out there.

Is it because we’re so focused on leveling and racing with each other that nobody wants to risk a missed opportunity at XP/renown if they stop to send out a message? Is it because we depend a lot less on auto-attacks (which allow players to type as they fight) and more on clickable special abilities? Is chat the refuge of the bored, and nobody’s bored yet? In other MMOs, the first couple weeks in game seemed like a nonstop barrage of questions and chatter as people tried to figure out the game — here, it is the quiet of the dead. Maybe open grouping has made it too easy to team up that nobody feels as if they have to stoop to general chat to get together. Maybe guilds are incredibly insular right now. I don’t get it.

I miss a faction-wide chat channel. It’d be great if, at all times, we could have the option of tuning into Altdorf general chat, or a way to quickly spread the word if reinforcements were needed in certain zones. I miss people being weird and goofy and social as they quested in the zones.

It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in wondering all this. This lack of chatter actually worries me more about the future of WAR than any population balance/imbalance issue. Being social is the glue that really does hold MMOs together, in terms of its community, and I have to wonder if Mythic’s focus on guilds and open grouping have encouraged people to keep their yaps shut in general chat. It’d also help if the chat got another set of tweaks to help us see what channel we’re typing in right away.

From our end, it might help if we fiddled with our chat settings a bit more. I switched my font to a smaller, yet thicker font, which makes it both readable and able to fit a lot more text in the box at a time. Don’t forget that you can filter out NPC chatter and transaction chatter as well. I don’t think there’s an official server-wide chat channel, but in beta a lot of people would join a player-made Order or Destruction channel that served in that function.

Players have asked Mythic for more or better chat options, including:

  • Fully zone-wide chat
  • Tier chat (I like this option quite a bit)
  • Faction chat

I know some people find the silence a blessed relief from the stupidity of other MMO’s chatter, but I’d much rather have more talk than no talk at all. Let’s hope we can see some progress in this area before the silence truly makes this the first anti-social/social MMO. Go ahead and post your suggestions to Mark Jacobs and the dev team on this thread Mark created.

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44 comments

  1. I’ve frequently noticed the resounding silence on both my Order and Chaos servers. I do wish folks were a little more chatty–it does add to the multiplayer feel of the game even if you’re off in a remote part of the game world. The thing I’ve noticed about my own playstyle is I do not chat when I’m PvPing–and I’d say 60% of my gametime so far has been spent in scenarios. My initial compulsion would be to say that people aren’t as talkative because they’re busy fighting, but only time will tell.


  2. God I love the lack of chat. Not so much just that but the maturity level I see when people do talk. I think there are quite a few immature players who wind up quiting because there is no inane chatter to engage in, and the game is much better for the loss.

    Of course the game does need to develop more chat, but maybe it is better that this comes along slowly. That makes it more likely that it will actually be about the game rather than chuck norris.

    Anyway I think it is by design. Most of the chat in WoW or DAoC was from either low-level xp grind areas or high-level crafting grind areas. Warhammer doesn’t have much in the way of either. If you are xping you are probably doing quests and PQs with a group and busy talking to them. If you are RvRing you are talking in /sc or with your warband. It is just too hard to chat in /sc, /p, /gu, AND a realm chat channel. Especially given the ackward colored chat text.


  3. Here’s my suggestion: *Start Talking*. I try to talk up everybody I work with. Often they will talk back, and they’re usually friendly. People are just shy in WAR for some reason. Anyway, we bloggers, and blogger-reader-commenters, we are not so shy with text =) so it falls to us to shake the talk into people in-game.

    It also helps find me recruits =)


  4. I think there’s two sides to this. First, there have been many bloggers and forum posters talking about the possibility that the current way WAR works makes people less social, since the grouping tools (like open groups and public quests) work so well, you don’t actually need to talk to anyone to work with others.

    I don’t really agree with that reasoning, since the opposite is not “talking all the time to work together”, is “not working together”, as we have seen on WoW (ok, as I have seen; WoW was the only other MMO I played). The lack of good tools made people prefer to solo most the time, not use chat tools to compensate.

    The second side is… what is the alternative, Barrens Chat all over again? Global chat channels tend to have two things at large numbers: spam, and stupidity. Among those you find a few help-me questions, usually treated as stupidity by experienced-but-arrogant players, and a very small number of group offers.

    I believe this is actually a problem with no solution. A global/tiered/zone chat system is just to easy to abuse, and the lack of such channel makes gaming too lonely. Neither option is optimal.


  5. Conditioning. Other MMOs have taught most of us that the general chat channels are a waste of time. Barrens chat, anyone? So we don’t waste our time wasting time chatting. If someone asks a question, I’ll respond, but just chatter away? No.

    As you mentioned, generally open chat channels are used by the bored, the people that can’t find something to do in game to occupy their attention, and yet can’t get themselves to log out. If I’m focused on what I’m doing, I’ll be paying attention to that and not chatting.

    In-group chatter depends on the players. I tend to run silent, tossing out a quip in response to what the others are saying. My two partners in crime? Gah, we started a Destruction trio, they went greenskins and are constantly bantering in-character.

    It also depends on the server. RP ruleset, OOC banter on the general channels is verboten. That cuts down the chatter you’d see there, to almost nil.

    Me? I’m enjoying the silence. If general realm server-wide channels became available, I wouldn’t join them. I can barely remember to join the World PvP channels most servers have tried to get going.


  6. It does seem that public chat is rather quiet. It’s strange not to see guild advertisements or anything.


  7. My opinion is chat is completely lost in the window. It just needs a revamp – maybe colors, maybe… just eliminate some things? not sure.

    My opinion is the game is a bit more intense than others. You are constantly RvR’ing – Scenarios etc, I don’t have too much time to type unless I’m dead.

    I have sent a person more than 10 tells in a scenario and outside. No response? Huh? I finally say the person outside of a scenario and was actually right beside them and then just said something with the /say command. They saw this and immediatly responded, yet they missed the 10 tells I sent?

    AHHHH, Other thing other games had is “sounds” with tells right? No one hears the words I type ever.

    That’s my two cents, more intense – no way of seeing tells without actually looking at your chat box, too much scrolls right on by before you know it, it’s lost. Colors need some work, where is WiM? Ahh, the love of that add-on.

    bye.

    -s


  8. I don’t see the lack of chat as bad, I’m really enjoying it. In WOW I always had trade in a different window so I couldn’t see it. General chat is the worst part of a MMO. I’m in a big guild and I find that chat more then enough. I think everyone is forgetting how bad general chat is and can be. It’s just full of hatred, racism and bigotry. Maybe if companies could deal with those issues I might be interested in having a general chat channel.


  9. I agree that the lack of chat in the starting areas is a bit eerie, but….I can’t remember needing any help getting started. This game follows the mold from the beginning that soo many MMO’s have already formed that, if you’ve played one, you should know what to do by know. I also agree with the statement that its just too early. So many people have just been working with their guilds that there really is no community yet (and I do feel that this is the most group/guild centric game Ive ever played).

    Some concerns that I have are;

    -Lack of economy- (I know its early, but the main cities are easily accessable and there is hardly ever anything on the auction)
    -Lack of population at the main city- (I think theres usually about 5 people there when I go. and again, It may be because most of the neato stuff is high level and people are just out getting leveled right now)
    -The tradeskills….suck- (other than apothecary, is there even a reason to do one? Most gear I have seen doesnt have talisman spots , so even if there is more armor endgame with slots, it makes the grind there non-lucrative for the talisman maker.

    The big hope that I hold onto, is that this game IS all about RvR, and thats all I really care about. If the rest of the game is meh and turns out to be unnecessary for what you do in RvR, fine. I just hope they didnt lie to people who wanted a solid PvE game alongside the solid PvE game.

    Conclusion: WAAAAAAAYYYYY to early to tell.


  10. doh, meant to say PvP rather than PvE on that second to last line =P


  11. I find the lack of chat to be almost unbearable. As soon as I joined the Black Watch guild, and when they joined an overarching Alliance on Axe Bite Pass, it was a massive relief. Now I can create a filtered Chat tab containing only Guild/Alliance/Party/Warband chat in the smallest font available and watch it fill up with activity. Now I get news, complaints, and jokes from all 4 tiers from members and there’s a constant stream of chat.

    The problems with WAR’s chat is pretty obvious to most people. Coming from Eve Online where we can create fixed channels for Coops/Alliances and even custom chat channels all packaged like a mini version of IRC (not far from the truth ;)) I find WAR’s offering borderline ridiculous.

    Small tabs, huge text, incredible noise level, no font colour distinguishing names from messages (greens and blues are horrible defaults since they visually blur into each other) and tiny little areas of general chat.

    I wistfully wish I could hack the Eve Online or even WOW system into WAR…

    I really hope Mythic make an effort here. Having a single default tab dedicated ONLY to player chat with no other noise would be glorious.


  12. I do most of my chatting in Warband and Guild chat and I do try to communicate with people, especially in Warband since we travel all over the place to take objectives. I also find myself saying things like “Let the tank get aggro” way too often, but that’s a different story.

    There definitely needs to be zone wide channels simply for recruiting to take/defend objectives and keeps. We also need some sort of chime sound for incoming whispers.


  13. Good point! I hadn’t thought much about it yet, but outside of a few party conversations while doing PQs and the occasional Scenario party messages, my chat window has been quiet. Oh, and the gold spammers of course…they always greet me right when I log in.

    Personally, I’ve been too busy figuring out the game and putting it altogether to miss any chatting. Maybe everyone is too involved with that right now.


  14. I think its a combination of “Is it because we depend a lot less on auto-attacks” and white global chat text. you dont care just because of the color.


  15. A big reason why I don’t chat as much as I could is because in order to send a message you have to essentially type the entire message without doing anything else. If I make an auto-run course adjustment with the mouse or mouse-click an ability, or basically anything besides typeing in your message, I almost always lose the entire message. The “you clicked something, so you must be done” behavior, coupled with the highlighting of the full message when you hit enter to continue typing, causes so many potentially sent messages to get lost in the ether that I just don’t try anymore.


  16. I eventually end up turning off General Chat in just about every game, so I don’t really care if anyone is chatting in it. My guild chat scrolls quickly by, so I’m not lonely.


  17. I don’t really know how to talk is the thing.

    Even when there’s nominally a channel to do it in, I can’t figure out how to do it in open world.

    The scenario stuff is nice, but typing and fighting doesn’t work too well.

    They need to wholesale rip off WoW’s chat system. If you don’t like chatter, feel free to turn it off, but making it hard to coordinate is going to hurt the fun of the game, especially pqs once the zerg rush is done with them.


  18. Typing in game is just too slow.

    Aside item links (which WAR doesn’t even have yet), I could care less about my chat box. I’m perfectly content to close it and only use it as a log file for information from the server. (combat, xp, etc.)

    I still type on occassion, in fact last night was one. I was in a group of 5 doing a PQ. I was the only tank in the group and got in a nice debate with another player who was upset over choices he had made. He and I typing back and forth put quite a slowdown on our progress and I was unable to be a proper tank during that period. It is impossible to type paragraphs of text and still react to all the pulls and changes in battle.

    When I need to communicate with group members for a tactical situation I use voice chat. Today’s mmo’s are much faster than the first generation. You must be on your toes in combat using a vast array of skills, and your time between such encounters has drecreased to almost nil.

    If you want a solution to make chat more active in an mmo this fast paced, give players a radial chat menu similar to the Battlefield games. A quick key press and mouse direction is enough to spit out a blurb about your current target such as “Attacking ____” or “Need Heals.”

    That system coupled with chat bubbles or audio files would make communication much easier between people not on the same vent server.

    Syp, you don’t seem to be talking about communication problems as much as socialization. Honestly, the game does not reward socializing so players aren’t going to focus on it as much. I’m not even going to get into how to fix such a problem. Just wanted to point it out as one of the problems.


  19. I had to change to color of guild chat to GREEN and officer chat to BLUE… Anything else just didn’t seem right.

    But as for our guild (Exceed Ulthuan Server) don’t get people started on Politics, Bush, Palin, Obama, random members Mom’s, the wall of text won’t stop… Granted we have been together for like 6 years so there is plenty of Mom’s jokes to go around…


  20. I think part of it may have to do with the difficulty of figuring out how to chat. It took me a while to figure out how to even use the area wide chat with /1, and then even then it doesn’t stick, so you have to do that every time you talk. Plus the chat defaults to /say, which has a very minimal range.

    I think a broadcast/general chat would be nice, but I know I would inevitably turn it off because of the annoyance factor. It would be nice for those questions that newbs are bound to ask. I know I have used those kinds of channels in past games when I needed help.

    Other than that, my guild and alliance chat is pretty busy, but most of the communication is handled over Ventrilo.


  21. Ok, I don’t get it. Mythic has made it possible for us to create our own chat channels. On our server we have a general, realmwide RvR channel. We publicize it, we join it, we talk.

    Simple steps. Create, Spread the word, use.

    The tools are there. It just seems no one knows how to use them.


  22. @ Galaji – I see the method of communication (the chat box) as being subpar and directly leading to a problem of weaker socialization. People, by and large, are social creatures. For them not to communicating socially in WAR as much as in other MMOs represents a serious symptom that needs to be examined. But you make several good points and ideas.

    @ Risset – Good in theory, lousy in practice. As you said, just because the tools are there doesn’t mean people will use them. Many players rely on default chat settings for their MMO experiences, and if those chat settings require significant player tweakage to be utilized to their full — or even standard, in comparison to other MMOs — potential, that can be seen as a “failed” system.

    I remember back in the first year of WoW, when the game lacked a good LFG system (which it still does, according to some), there was a great mod someone created named Call to Arms. It did everything a LFG system should do and was hailed as a great and necessary mod. And yet it flopped: not enough people used it because it didn’t come standard with the game.

    Effective chat should be completely prolific to be seen as useful; user-created chat channels and whatnot will never be as prolific, and therefore have an uphill battle towards usefulness.


  23. On Ostermark (Order) we have tier1 – tier4 channels already, so we ARE talking already. The issue is remembering to “/channeljoin tier2” every time I log in or restart the client. I wish the game would remember channel membership, like a certain other MMO does, but having a premade channel would work just as well. 🙂


  24. I agree. Im the only guy shouting warnings in scenarios most of the time.
    “Incoming , 2 from Left Hill”
    “Flag taker exiting from the left”


  25. It’s amazing how much chatter was just created on the concept of chatting.


  26. I don’t particularly like endless-inane-babble chat, but tomayto/tomahto — the more options we have, the better off everyone is. If’n I don’t like the chat one day, I can turn it off; beats not having it at all.

    As many others have noticed, on paper the WAR chat system seems perfectly adequate. In practice, it sucks, especially “out of the box”. It can be modified to be somewhat less bad, but if 99% of people are making the same modifications to their chat windows, those things should be in by default.

    I suspect we will see more changes to it.


  27. /ignore doesn’t seem to work for anyone that wants to sell me gold….


  28. I love when I get a gold seller spam from Grugzzb and type /ignore Grugzzb and get the message, “Grugzzb has been removed from your ignore list.”

    /facepalm


  29. @the comments about gold sellers

    I HIGHLY reccomend installing the SpamMeNot plugin. (can be found at Curse but I’m sure it’s elsewhere)

    Follow the install instructions and get the dependant SlashLib mod or whatever the name is.

    Keep it updated (so it functions) and this mod works wonders for gold spam. Last night alone it must have auto-ignored / reported at least 10 spammers that sent me tells.

    It doesn’t seem to add them to your broken ignore list, it removes them from the chat window in some other fashion so you never see it unless you check the mod’s window in game.


  30. If you want to not get tells from gold spammers just do /hide in game.


  31. @Mitch – the problem with hiding is that to anybody on your friends list you appear to be offline, although you’re right about not getting the spam. My husband’s been doing that and not a single bit of spam. I’m happy just to use SpamMeNot though. It’s just as essential in WAR as it is in WoW.

    re the chat system and people missing tells. My husband missed heaps of tells from a GM after sending in a report about a bugged public quest. Eventually he got a little popup saying that a GM was trying to contact him. Apparently this isn’t unusual. If GM’s are having trouble getting in touch with people then what chance do the rest of us have? Hopefully chat will get an overhaul soon.


  32. In the spirit of completely missing the point, here’s a fun fact for you, Syp: Ambergris is vomit, not blubber.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambergris

    Makes it THAT much more appealing, eh? *spritz spritz*


  33. Not that I have tested it . . .I will in a minute or three, but wouldn’t a macro set let you set those pesky defaults for your chat login?

    This would also allow the ‘heal me’ and ‘tank . . sic im’ type insta commands

    “/channeljoin tier2″ is the one I want to try, gods knows it would be good sto send out the call when pecky old chaos is rushing us and taking what aint theirs on phoenix throne


  34. I’m not in a guild, so I don’t have guild chat to fall back on, and wow, it can get very, very quiet out there.

    Maybe it gets better in the higher tiers, but I think it’s part of a bigger problem — even during prime time on a full server like Phoenix Throne, the world still feels very empty out there. Places like the Dwarf / Greenskin tier 2 and 3 areas feel like they were built to support player population 3-4 times the people that are there now.


  35. It’s due to the ridiculous way you have to chat in a zone.

    /channelsay 1 Sup ladies!!

    I enjoy talking in “Barrens” chat as much as everyone, but it’s entirely TOO MUCH WORK in this game. Hell, I can’t even create a channel for just my friends to chat in, because it’s so damned inconvenient.


  36. Its because of the stupid idea Mythic had, to lock out chat if u click outside of the chat window.
    So now u can’t type while fighting a mob, while moving around in a zone or scenario.

    In WAR in order to chat, u have to stand still and type. Then move a bit, then stop and type some more. You get my point.

    WoW system might have resulted in “1111!!331211qwea11” messages sent to someone by mistake, but at least you could talk to a friend while hitting a mob (clicking your abilities).


  37. It is the design of this game I think and nothing more, Chat isn’t broken, people are just too busy playing the game to chat. This is a good thing IMO.

    In WoW, people had to grind. Grind for experience, rep, crafting items, whatever. Grinding was BORING, so people chatted to pass the time. In this game, people are in scenarios constantly, nobody is standing around doing nothing. No need to look for groups either so no spamming LFG messages going by all the time.

    Chat might pick up later as more people reach high level and may be standing around looking for things to occupy themselves with. This is WAR, what do you need to stand around chatting for? Get out there and fight!


  38. Interesting. The chat channel always annoyed me. I haven’t missed it a bit. That said, I’m pretty social and end up in convos all the time. Definitely agree they can do more to polish the chat interface. I’ve been waiting for a “Prat” addon myself 🙂


  39. Be careful what you ask for lest ye unleash the horror that is Barrens chat!

    Oh and installing the SpamMeNot mod means never having to see gold spam ever again. It even automatically reports the buggers to Mythic for you.


  40. Good point, Erna, although I’ve not even leveled enough to anywhere busy enough to make the observation. I might just start chatting with some NPCs!


  41. Add-on that joins chat channels automatically;

    http://war.curse.com/downloads/war-addons/details/channeljoin.aspx


  42. Honestly – reckon its that there are a lot of premade PVP guilds in WAR up and running with vent.

    Didn’t Mythic make some changes to the chat interface last patch?


  43. […] I won’t be taking the time to report any more spammers until this is fixed. It’s much easier to ignore the tells, which I have done up until I decided to try out the reporting. The only problem with this is that I am growing to ignore ALL the text I see in my chat window and I think this is slowly damaging the social side of the game. Especially given the fact that Warhammer is very quiet already. […]


  44. The lack of accessible global and zone chat is killing me. I agree that everything is well and good once you are in a larger, well established guild. Unfortunately for me, I am not. I also have aspirations of forming my own guild. With chat controls as they are now, it is near impossible to recruit and whatnot. It’s almost near impossible to get a valid group for a PQ. The open party system is nice in certain aspects, but what about when I want to form up a group for an instance, or a PQ on the other side of the map? Do I need to just park myself in the area for an hour grinding away and pray people check the party tab and join my group?

    I know WAR is in the early stages, and a lot of the game is about solo play leveling up and scenarios. But, if the chat issue isn’t cleared up, and it is just too difficult to interact with other players, sadly I’d go back to WoW.

    It is easy to ignore spammers, or just turn off zone or general chat. Its a whole lot more difficult trying to form a guild or build a party when those tools are not there.



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