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Role Playing (Games) Entertainment Games

MUD Co-Creator Bartle On Voice Chat in MMOGs 154

Posted by michael
from the who-are-you-talking-to-dear dept.
Fusty writes "In 1979, Richard Bartle co-created a MUD, the first system for players to share adventures online. Aside from veteran game coding skills, Bartle has strong opinions about game design. He recently examined the idea of voice chat in massively-multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). His opinion? Not Yet You Fools! - on Game Girl Advance."
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MUD Co-Creator Bartle On Voice Chat in MMOGs

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  • I disagree (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bruha (412869) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @07:03AM (#6653732) Homepage Journal
    He's not realizing the fact that many people that would use voice chat in MMO's would only do so between friends and established guild members people can stand to talk to. I've played Asheron's Call with voice chat in the early days with 3 or 4 players and I can tell you we worked like a well oiled machine while in combat. You hurting just scream MEDIC! hehe..

    But seriously I can also understand the other side who thinks it's a problem. If they allowed everyone to hear everyone in the bazzar that may be cool only in a perfect world where little johnny has his gag in place. Otherwise you'll have some of the most annoying things going on. I would give such a system 10 minutes before someone started playing the soundtrack to a pr0n or worse. And the bad part there is in that type of situation how do you find out who's doing it?

    Private chat channels YES.

    General chat NO!
  • by Mac Degger (576336) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @07:24AM (#6653774) Journal
    He, and everyone else who is against voicechat in games, just don't get what voice really means. Their argument always goes: 'it will break your suspension of disbelief'.

    It won't, and I have proof: everyone who has ever played a tabletop roleplaying game knows what I'm talking about. If a voice is enough to destroy your suspension of disbelief, it wasn't very strong to begin with.

    Not only that, but voice filters can (and will) make you sound like a troll ( :) ).

    The only halfway valid argument he makes is the 'difficulty' of having to deal with two streams of communication, text and voice. And the only people who can't cope with that aren't too bright; we've all had school here where you read and write down what the teacher has written on the blackboard /while you're listening to his lecture/!

    Fact is that voice is just the best/fastest comm system available. The only problem it does have, which mister whiskers didn't even address, is that sometimes people don't speak the common carrier language well enough...in which case they might have to type, thereby communicating slower than others.
    Which means they'll either learn better english (or mandarin, whatever) or go adventuring with people who speak the same language.

    And as for abuse; even a basic personal kick/ban system will take care of that.

    In short: the guy might know his MUD's, but I think he should have stayed there.
  • by Molt (116343) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @07:27AM (#6653779)

    I do wonder if he's ever played a tabletop, or freeform, roleplaying game? If he did, did he and the other players sit there passing notes instead of speaking so they didn't have to suspend any disbelief for voices?

    Roleplaying has a history far longer than MMORPGs, and it's mainly a vocal one. I consider it much easier to manage to get into a character if you speak what they say, and the fact you're typing on a keyboard isn't there to get in the way. I'd say that was a far greater intrusion of reality than someone sounding 'wrong', I don't normally communicate face-to-face with people by typing.

    Some players do change their voice, put on accents and so forth, but most just use their normal voices, and it still works if the player can roleplay. If they can't roleplay then it doesn't matter if they're speaking or typing- what's said will still not feel right.

    I have played some MMORPGs, admittedly though not to any great extent each. I generally found the worlds to be repetative and also many people just didn't act in the world at all, much metagaming. I remember trying Ultima Online for a bit, spending a few hours digging and lugging stuff so I could make a few low-quality daggers, then going off to the bank to deposit the new-found fortune I'd made.

    The bank was absolutely packed, the machine slowed to a crawl. It looked like everyone in the town had come to the bank, and bought their horses, pet dragons, etc. with them.

    Whilst some were idly wandering against the tide of lag, many were standing there shouting prescripted offers of items and so forth.

    I'd say it takes less suspension of disbelief to imagine the gruff Scots voice coming out of the headphones to be the Elven swordswoman than it does to imagine r0X0r the Ranger going "So, what shall I do today to help serve the Good? I know, I'll take my horse ScreamingDeff and my enchanted rust turtle ScreamingDeffII and go and shout '****Enchanted Axxes to SELL!***** Offers?' in the bank for a few hours.

    I know many of the games have come a way since then, but I still think MMORPGs have a loooong way to go before they could consider voices to be a major problem.

  • simple solution! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 09, 2003 @07:43AM (#6653812)
    Morph the voices.. English kid turns into female elf, tough barbarian etc. depending on who he's playing the game as.
  • by thelandp (632129) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @08:15AM (#6653861)
    ...another pessimist to a new technology from the past.

    "Who the HELL wants to hear actors talk?" H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927

    Is this article just the online equivalent?

  • aRgh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Aeonsfx (675982) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @08:17AM (#6653870) Journal
    Well, I hate to say it, but I agree with the man. I never cared much for voice chat in games, much less voices in games. Anyone like the voices in FFX? I know I don't. Because it ruins the imagination. The experience. Well, lets extend this concept to voice recognition in games. Same thing. Ruins the entire virtual aspect of MMORPG. I think I'll eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich now...
  • Great. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BHearsum (325814) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @08:47AM (#6653916) Homepage
    The last thing I needed is some lamer in Everquest shouting 'OMFG YOU KILL STEALER'. These games have poor role playing environments as it is, don't make them worse.
  • Hearing Voices (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ihummel (154369) <ihummel@gmaiEULERl.com minus math_god> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:02AM (#6654406)
    I think that the "not-the-heck-yet" response is the correct one. Now, I only play text-based muds, and those only occasionally, and am confident that those will never, ever have voice. Yes, you could write an extended Telnet that included voice (sort of like what was done with Pueblo), but I think it would only prove to ruin the experience.

    Graphical MMORPGs on the other hand could benefit from voice. When you are interacting in a graphical world, actually speaking to each other just makes sense, more sense than chatting through text. I do not think the bandwidth is here yet for thousands upon thousands of people to be talking away in games, but it will be someday, probably soon.

    I do not think that voices will ruin the roleplaying experience, for the simple reasons that a) they can develop voice filters to make you sound like a troll, or a dwarf, or whatever, b) that you can speak in an altered voice all by yourself (the best solution, IMHO) and c) hearing people's natural voices in table-top RPGs never ruined it for anyone before, as at least one other person has mentioned.

    Logging voice to prevent abuse could be a problem, but perhaps not in a couple of years. It may be that they will then have enough computer power and HD space to record all voice exchange. Hell, logging all voice conversations on the client side shouldn't be a problem now if you have a good enough system.
  • by kongjie (639414) <kongjie@NOSPAM.mac.com> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:27AM (#6654538)
    I think much of the impetus for girl-oriented gaming zines and sites does come from the violent, mail-oriented nature of a large percentage of the games out there.

    Your own experience with your daughters largely supports this idea. The point is NOT that boys also enjoy Tetris etc., it's that these games are different from most of the offerings and girls can enjoy them.

    But anecdotal support is going to be largely irrelevant here--lots of people probably know girls/women who love blasting their way through some FPS. On the whole, though, I think it's clear that most gaming is produced by boys for boys. Notice the use of the word "most."

  • I agree (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ZorMonkey (653731) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:35PM (#6655588)
    Voice chat really only works well with small groups of friends, or with small groups of players in fast paced games where you dont get much chance to type. Thats why Roger Wilco and such work so well. MMORPGs dont really fit.

    I've tried running a voice server for my old EQ guild. At first, a few people would log on and chat about the weather and whatnot, but after a few weeks nearly everyone stopped using it. Except during the few high-intensity raiding situations, it was just another way to chitchat. Even during raids only a few people used it, with too many it was just too crazy. I think most people just decided it wasnt worth the bother to use voice.

    Personally, I think if I started talking to my computer regularly, they'd finally put me away. "It talks back! Really!"
  • Better roleplaying? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jheinen (82399) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:40PM (#6655604) Homepage
    I think there was one idea presented that, if taken a bit further, would really enhance role playing. Since voice is filtered through the machine, you would now have the ability to implement languages into the game. So to go beyone making a troll's voice gruff, what if you just made it unintelligible alltogether (at least to non-trolls)? Language could be a skill you can learn, and if you don't have a particular language the system garbles the voice of anyone speaking it. Going to a new area that was populated mainly by a different race could be a truly adventerous experience if you couldn't speak to many of the inhabitants. Trying to get your point across or finding a translator could be an adventure in itself.
  • by Mattsson (105422) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @07:11PM (#6656796) Homepage Journal
    "imagine hearing hundreds of EverCrackers or Ultima Onliners in the center of town at all times...."

    But if they made a system where the volume of the voice is related to the distance of the one speaking?
    If you're standing in a *real* town, you may hear lots of people talking in the background, but that doesn't hinder you from having a conversation with someone standing right next to you.
    And if you're in a pub, you may very well be unable to have a conversation with someone right next to you due to all the noise. =)

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