It used to be that people playing online games together had to use a third-party voice app to talk to one another. Tools like Ventrilo, or TeamSpeak, or GameSpy’s weird, resource-intensive voice chat. Something.
Ventrilo and TeamSpeak and their ilk are all clumsy and non-intuitive to use. Someone has to set up a server, everyone has to log into the chat server as well as to the game, very hassle-y, so much so that I just didn’t. When I played multi-player games I’d rather just type.*
* In fairness I should point out that TeamSpeak is on its third version and looks less clunky. Is it? I dunno. Haven’t used it in years.
Then games started including their own built-in voice chat. DDO was one of the earlier games to do so, at least in my experience, and it was a big part of why I loved the game so much. All I had to do was enable voice chat – no more servers, no more setup, no more separate logins, no more hassle.
Suddenly I was able to actually talk with those in my party. Whether plotting a complex strategy or simply chatting on current events, the game became so much more social. Of course, voice chat also enabled those who detract from game fun, by yelling or berating or simply by setting their mic “always on” so that we could hear them sniffle and cough and watch TV and whatever other game-detracting noises they were broadcasting.
But the good outweighed the bad, by far, and besides there was always “/squelch add” for those times when you encountered someone who’s audio you just could not abide.
But this is more backstory than I’d intended. Those of you who have been gaming long enough already know about the shortcomings of Ventrilo and GameSpy (which no longer exists in any case). And you already appreciate modern games that bake in voice support.
With all that in mind, it was kind of odd when my Gamer Girl and I discovered Elder Scrolls Online and could not figure out the voice chat. Supposedly it exists, at least for those in guilds, but may require that your guild have a certain number of members? Or maybe one must be on the subscription plan? I cannot say, we never figured it out. And regardless, there we were, back to typing. Typing! Can you imagine!?
I had been introduced to Discord by the DDO Chat channel. They were setting up some sort of Discord-based DDO global chat and talking about it on DDOChat, I never figured out exactly what they were doing. The very next day my job changed and I was no longer able to monitor the DDO Chat channel daily. Or much at all.
But I was left with Discord. I didn’t do anything with it, just kept it in the back of my mind, a free web-based voice and chat server that some people seemed to really like.
And then came ESO with its lack of a built-in chat. We had friends on ESO too, DDO friends, and we wanted to be able to group up and talk like we always did.
Discord turned out to be ridiculously easy to use. And it really is web-based. No resource hogging, nothing on your PC at all, unless you download the PC app, and even then it seems to be lightweight and simple. It just feels modern, from the simple style of its website to the way you don’t have to configure anything or do anything to use it. It just works.
You do have to login, but only once. There is no server to set up. You may want a channel of your own, which once created is always on and always available to those you’ve invited, unless you specifically turn it off. Everything is managed in Discord’s cloud, nothing requires you to be logged on or to even have your PC powered up.
The voice quality is amazing. I had no idea how tinny and remote DDO’s voice chat makes one sound until I was listening to Discord and DDO chat side-by-side. It is a world of difference, like AM radio versus stereo. So much richer and life-like.
If you use the Discord web client, you have to use push-to-talk. If you download and use the PC app, you can set it to always-on. Normally, always-on is a nightmare, but not on Discord. It seems smart enough to filter out sounds that are coming from your PC, or your kitchen, or the neighboring apartment. My Gamer Girl and I are actually able to set one mic between us, turn on always-on, and be fine. Our friends sound fine too!
We may regret the always-on when we get deeper into flu-and-cold season but so far it is just really easy and very high quality.
And now, to bring this story full circle, now Discord is making our DDO experience better too.
Specifically, guild night. Because we have more than six people in our guild and don’t always want to run raids. Meaning, sometimes on guild night, we’d have to split up into multiple parties, and even when we were all doing the same thing, we were not really playing together. Typing in guild chat did not make up the difference.
Typing! Can you imagine!?
But these are our favorite people to game with and we want to play with all of them. All the time. And thanks to Discord, we can!
Now it no longer matters how many quests we are running at once, or how the teams are split up, or even if we are doing the same things at all. It just feels like we are all playing together, even when we are not.
It is like the next generation of DDO. Call it “DDO++”
🙂 😀 🙂