The Sound of SilenceOctober 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.