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Role Playing (Games) Entertainment Games

MUD Co-Creator Bartle On Voice Chat in MMOGs 154

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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  • Hrmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by acehole ( 174372 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @06:45AM (#6653700) Homepage
    I guess the world isnt ready to hear:

    "n0 way I k1ll3d u d00d! u c4mp1ng f4g!"

  • by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @06:47AM (#6653702) Journal
    From the article:
    .strong opinions... the idea of voice chat in massively-multiplayer online role-playing games..

    Okay, here's the scenario:
    Strong opinions: All Slashdotters have them
    Voice vhat : Vow! That'd be cool over here...
    Massively-multiplayer : The very definition of Slashdot.
    Online role-playing: Yeah, we have the MS shills, the Apple astro-turfers, the GNU devotees, the FSF freaks, the trolls, the GNAA folks...

    Let's get this chap to write Slashcode I say!

  • problems (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tirel ( 692085 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @06:51AM (#6653710)
    Not only would voice destroy the ROLE PLAYING element (as he nicely puts it: "Hey, this elf babe is from England!". Hello reality."), but they present a number of technical problems. Just how would you log these chats for abuse? What about bandwidth and processing power? Even MUD servers never seem to have enough bandwidth, in graphical MMO's lag is always a huge problem, but instead of fixing those problems they go and intruduce a whole new dimension based on the presumption that it's going to "attract newbies". Well guess what? It's going to turn away long.time players.
    • Re:problems (Score:3, Insightful)

      by xyvimur ( 268026 )
      I agree that it would destroy the role playing element. However I think the process is inevitable. In the past the graphics was the innovation, now it's quite natural I think. The bandwitdth and processing power - there will be a huge group of people willing to pay for possibility of having voice chat and the business will do the rest... Personally I prefer no graphics and sound. Only monitor and keyboard (and some mp3 in the background...)
      • Re:problems (Score:4, Funny)

        by Gherald ( 682277 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @07:15AM (#6653753) Journal
        Why would it destroy the role playing element?

        I have a decent she-elf accent!
      • I haven't ever played one of those graphical MMWHATHAVEYOUORGS but if they're anything like muds, I can already imagine the mayhem from getting out of your computer speakers someone ooc'ing something, an auction playing out, someone flirting with you, an imm announcing a new quest, the group telling you it's time to regen and someone sounding off at the clan channel ALL at the same time. Now imagine you also have attention deficit disorder...
    • Re:problems (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      What I would give to meet an elf babe from England... damn that accent... Yummm
    • Re:problems (Score:5, Insightful)

      by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @07:23AM (#6653772) Homepage
      Not only would voice destroy the ROLE PLAYING element

      What role playing element? In all successful MMORPGs so far, role playing dies for most players around level 5 or so, except as an occasional thing.

      Take a look at group chat in a game like EQ or DAoC during an idle moment between fights. If the players are chatting about game stuff, they most likely will be chatting as human game players, not as citizens of Norrath or Camelot. If not chatting about game-specific stuff, they'll be talking about movies, TV, sports, politics, and everything else people talk about on, say, AOL or MSN.

      • If not chatting about game-specific stuff, they'll be talking about movies, TV, sports, politics, and everything else people talk about on, say, AOL or MSN.

        ...or Slashdot?

        Oh wait, people. Gotcha ;)
      • You're thinking that people want to play the role of an elf or a troll or whatever. That's not the role we're talking about. They want to project themselves as someone they're not in real life. For instance, PFY with a voice pitch problem might want to use his brains and appear as a cool, relaxed and self-confident high-level character even though he's still in high school and getting beaten up half the time.

        With text, he can easily do that. Let the voice through, and the minute it changes pitch in the mi
      • In all successful MMORPGs so far, role playing dies for most players around level 5 or so, except as an occasional thing.

        Roleplaying in Ultima Online is alive and well (and I dare say the game is still succesfull despite its age). Not every player is into RP, but there are many who like it, and some of them are RP'ing full time.

        Thank god UO has no chat window... 'spoken' text appears over the avatars' heads instead, which greatly helps immersion and makes it quite easy to ignore non-roleplayers around

    • Re:problems (Score:1, Insightful)

      by grug0 ( 696014 )
      Not only would voice destroy the ROLE PLAYING element
      Voice chat wouldn't necessarily "destroy the role playing" element, as people could just talk funny or something. What *would* destroy the role playing element, however, would be stuff like hearing Britney Spears being played in the background.
    • And?

      Those technical issues are going to drive technology in voice compression technology as well as bandwidth.

      There will be some inevitable failures of course, but those are just stepping stones.
    • Re:problems (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wfberg ( 24378 )
      What about bandwidth and processing power?

      When you use an IM program like MSN messenger, do voice streams run through the server? No, they're client-to-client. There will be other problems, like people behind NAT, people on dialup who won't be able to listen to more than 2 people shouting to each other, but so what? People with the most impressive hardware/pipe will get the best experience. Same as it always was.

      You might also want to note that there already are non-MMORPG games that use voice. They seem
    • I agree entirly.

      When we play LAROS it is totally ruined.

      Even before that, playing pen and paper games, when I had to talk to the people it made it absolutly no fun at all. I was thrilled when MMORGs came out, because when I had to type everything it really added a whole new dimmension to my role playing.

      CPU argument stands though
    • Re:problems (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Alan Cox ( 27532 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:45AM (#6654665) Homepage
      I'd disagree here. Granted all current MMORPGs suck, but then its a fairly new art anyway. Richard doesn't seperate communication and immersion nearly enough in my experiences as a game designer. Lets face it when was the last time your fantasy figures were squggles on a monitor. What heroic character controlled his own movements with a joystick ?

      None of course, but the player doesn't care. No more than the player will care about voice commands to the game or beeps notifying them of events. If you look at a lot of these games players can also do a lot of "impossible" things like talk to one another wherever they are in the game, if you remove that you'll annoy the players just like any paper RPG game master will annoy players who can't chit-chat out of character just because their character is currently next door.

      Tolkien summed up the key to believable fantasy long before MMORPG - it is consistency rather than simulation. The online world has no value to the people who crave the physical experience - thats what the SCA is for. Instead its about story telling - which means that evil guys behave in a believable fashion, swords work the same way all the time, books can all be read and so on.

      Another great example is distance. It takes eight hours to make some journey, now try inflicting that on players with live reality simulated eight hour horse rides.

      As to "I can tell Foo the Elf is English", I already can - Foo the Elf can spell colour 8),

      Abuse btw isnt a problem - the technology for scanning voice data is well understood for things like voice mailboxes, "chat line" services and of course on a large scale by the security services 8).

    • And... elves and dwarves usually run around with text bubbles over their heads?

    • Actually, if people find out the "elf babe" is actually a woman, regardless of where she is from that will make it complete hell for the poor girl.

      Its bad enough right now with female avatars and attention and flirting, but if the geeks on the other end had 100% confirmation that this was an ACTUAL GIRL behind the big breasted elf avatar, she would never get a moment to herself.

      And god help us all if the girl turns out to be Japanese.
    • Not only would voice destroy the ROLE PLAYING...

      Um, the last time I remember, online RPGs are simply an extension of "offline" RPGs like D&D. And as I recall, people playing D&D don't write down what they want to say on little pieces of paper and show them to everybody. They talk to each other.

      In my experience of playing D&D, people are way more into the roleplaying element when they're talking out-loud. My (brief) experience of MMORPGs is that people break character all the time.

      Sure, no

    • "as he nicely puts it: "Hey, this elf babe is from England!". Hello reality.""

      No, that's still fantasy, reality would be the elf babe sounding like a 13 year old boy with his voice cracking.

  • Voice chat is especially useful on consoles, because most do not have a keyboard to type with.

    I don't see anything wrong with it. You can set aside some game servers for voice, and some for non-voice, depending on demand.

    To each his own!
  • role playing... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FryGuy1013 ( 664126 ) * on Saturday August 09, 2003 @06:53AM (#6653716) Homepage
    Perhaps I'm the only one, but when I'm playing a MMORPG, I don't want to role play. Sure, it's in the name, but I'm _playing a game_. Why should I have to pretend to be an stupid ogre? I just want to get my levels/money/items/etc and have fun doing it. Many people already use external programs like Roger Wilco, Battlecom, or Ventrillo to voice chat within guilds, so why shouldn't the newbies be able to also?
    • Re:role playing... (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "Why should I have to pretend to be an stupid ogre?" Because it ruins it for everyone else when some dude trots up with his leet speak. Personally, I think people who don't roleplay in roleplay games should be k-lined. "I just want to get my levels/money/items/etc " Translation: I want to be selfish
      • "I just want to get my levels/money/items/etc" Translation: I want to be selfish

        But, maybe they are roleplaying a selfish character?

        Props to realism!
    • Re:role playing... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Yokaze ( 70883 )
      > Perhaps I'm the only one [...]

      No, sadly you aren't. You're in the majority. I say that as a person, who likes role-playing games, and not item gathering/leveling games.

      > Why should I have to pretend to be an stupid ogre?

      Because that is the whole idea of a role-playing game? When you want to l/m/i/etc, play Diablo, but not a role-playing game. Because it destroys the fucking athmosphere, wandering through, say Middle-Earth, and see a knight in shiny armor called "+R011Ki114".
      Well, actually that's
      • They have hardcore RPG servers for people like you. And paperback editions.

        What the public wants, it will get. Go found your own exclusive club! You cannot expect people "in the wild" to create the exact atmosphere you desire.
        • Well, the author in question seems to be interested in creating the atmosphere I desire.

          Of course, this is an assumption, but I think there are other people like me, who feel that level-and-gather people are destroying the atmosphere. As I said, I believe the people like me are in the minority of the active players. I don't want to deny them to play the game the way the like.

          But I think it is a sizeable minority, which is able and willing to pay for a game, which would more carter for their needs. So, I t
      • Re:role playing... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Gorelab ( 689501 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @08:30AM (#6653885)
        Personally, I think the problem goes both ways, the hardcore roleplayers often want too much from the people who are playing and just want to have some fun, and those people often just go too far out in having really idiotic names, and running about with leetspeak and everything. Personally I think it's best when you have a compromise. Make them have decent names, and not blantently go about with OOC stuff in more public places, but don't penatlize them for not having a 6 page essay on their charecters motivations and such and let them have their fun killing the denizens and getting loot. In the end it'd probally make both side much happier.
        • I've yet to see a hardcore-roleplayer, which shun people because they have not written 6 page essays on their characters.

          As I wrote in another post, I'm not a hard-core roleplayer. In my experience, every attempt at role-play was appreciated by role-players, and non-roleplay was tolerated.

          The only thing I heard of, what you could call "punishmemt" of a non-role-player was the following:
          A NRP wanted to buy something at a market place from a RP from the opposing faction, the RP denied, because the NRP was f
    • Well... If it will be a feature internal to the game - you will be forced to use it. Probably if one would not like to use the feature he would be feeling as an alien and would stop playing the game.
  • Yeah well (Score:2, Funny)

    by grug0 ( 696014 )
    I think slashdot should have voice chat. Imagine hearing people yell fr1st p0st.
  • heh, yeah. (Score:5, Funny)

    by DashEvil ( 645963 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @07:00AM (#6653728)
    I can just see it now, "I'm humping you, see my character going back and forth, oh yeah, finger yourself babe, I want to hear you moan, oh yeah, oh YEAAAAAAAH, OH SWEET JESUS THANK MICROSOFT FOR GIVING ME THE CHANCE TO GET LAID!"
  • 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!
    • Some servers could have voice on, and some off. Let everyone play the way they want.
    • I've played multiplayer rpgs (like baldur's gate and neverwinter nights) with voice chat - it is quite fun.

      Probably the best game ever was playing System Shock 2 with my friend using voice chat. The game became almost real - we played through it in only two sittings. With the voice chat and the lights out, the game became *very* immersive.

      Chat may not be ready for MMORPGs, but it's more than ready for regular multiplayer games.
  • They have one article in which they besides actual content they admit they have trouble paying their bandwith. Hmmm. I'm not sure but putting on of their articles in front of slashdot may mean Doom to those Advanced Gaming Girls. [unless they put link for paypal donations in article for helping them to keep up their site.]
  • Choice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gradji ( 188612 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @07:19AM (#6653761)
    The main problem I have with the article is that it ignores the basic principle of choice . As in some first person shooters, I imagine MMORPGs would come with the option to disable voice ... so you can choose not to broadcast/receive real-time voice communication.

    This option would keep most parties happy: the newbies who are drawn to the promise of trash-talking, the tight-knit group of friends who like to chat while they explore and conquer, and the veterans who would rather not have voice interfere with their virtual world immersion.

    While Marx (maybe Lennin? I get the modern Socialists mixed up) complained about the tyranny of choices, I think most contemporary people find choices to be a good thing.
    • RTFA: Even if voice becomes the norm in virtual worlds, text as a means communication will still exist: not all players will be able to use voice. My wife can watch TV while I visit virtual worlds, but she wouldn't be able to if I were talking the whole time in the next room - it would be way too annoying. So I'd have to type; so would plenty of other people.
    • "The main problem I have with the article is that it ignores the basic principle of choice."

      No, you don't understand - the article is about in-game voice taking away choice from everyone.

      Once a game with significant popularity implements voice, then every game out there will put it in. And people will start using it, not just to talk within their guilds, but to talk to everyone out there. That removes the concept of choice from those who don't want to listen to other people, because technology isn't rea
  • by Tennguin ( 553870 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @07:23AM (#6653770) Homepage Journal
    I think Richard Bartle has lost touch with what role playing's origins. If we apply his logic to pen and paper games we see how flawed his argument really is. Afterall how many of us sat around the table throwing dice passing written notes back and forth explaining what our chacters were doing/saying? I think "voice communication" was as acceptable then as it remains now. I think people are becomming a little TOO immersed in the digital world and forgeting that there are analog analogies to some of these problems. Think people. I doubt that most people in these games are concernied about character development anyway... its all about the amount of "stuff" you can gather. Those geeks that are into playing out their bvirtual cahracters arent going to be disuaded by the fact that voice has been introduced into the game. I wasn't when I role played my Theif in 1988...
    • Exactly! I was thinking this all throughout the article -- role playing has been going on a *long time* with voice chat and there's been no problem. Also, anyone who's OOC in voice-chat would also be OOC in keyboard-chat. It really just makes the medium faster and convey more information, not necissarily better or worse.
  • 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 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.
    • 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!

      erm, no. The MOST I ever did was listen to the lecture and doodle over the printouts, most of the time I slept or read a book, and printed the notes out later...

      However I learnt to sleep with my eyes open, does that count?
  • 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.

    • So let's see, you think it would be a good idea if all those who had packed the bank were screaming at the top of their lungs over their microphones instead of just pumping text on screen?

      That seems like a huge problem to me.

      Many people here are bitching that "RPGs were based on voice, this guy doesn't know what he's talking about!" How wrong can you be? The "MMO" part of "MMORPG" precludes using voice. I don't want to hear hundreds of voices around me all the time. I also don't want people to hear me
      • First off, if voice does get implemented it will happen by someone who has thought about it...there'll be a circle arouind your character beyond which you won't be able to hear anything (common sense against overcrowding and it mimics RL a bit too; anything beyond that could well be typing only (or in a futuristic setting 1-1 voicecomms over a telephonelike device).

        Not only that, but I type things wrong much, much more often than I say things wrong...I hardly ever do the latter unless I'm drunk! And furthe
  • 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.
  • And now I know why I hated players using voice communication while playing Counter-Strike. It blows me away from the game back to the real world. And I get tired of it :)
    • Voice comms in a game like CS is almost an absolute must.
      Team-work is essential, and it's so fast paced that communicating via the keyboard is not an option. The only type of non-voice communication I used was moving the mouse to produce quick visual gestures to tell my team-mate things like "you go first", "duck, so I can climb over there", and stuff like that.
      No way are you going to type those. Getting your hand off the mouse for any length of time is not a good idea (unless you're a camper).
    • As everyone knows, the roleplaying element is the most important part of CS. Voice just reminds me that I'm getting mopped up by 14 year old kids, not the "l33t krew" they purport themselves to be!
  • by donscarletti ( 569232 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @08:09AM (#6653850)
    I find it very hard to take anything seriously published on gga after reading this []
  • Here are some reasons why:

    1. People will speak all kinds of languages.
    2. People will scream.
    3. There will not be any 1337speak (that way we can't decide who's a newbie or not)
  • 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...
    • Voice is pretty good and useful in FPS games. Natural Selection is a whole new game when you can give orders and organize with your team in real time without having to type.
  • by LordLucless ( 582312 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @08:35AM (#6653895)
    ...for someone to turn on their stereo while playing his favorite MMORPG, only to find the RIAA busting the entire player population of Everquest for listening to pirated music.
  • 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.
    • Then again, maybe the fact that you can be heard (and can hear others) will enable a more courteous environment, and more roleplaying in that environment.
  • I'm just wondering what brought some women to the point where they felt they needed their own voice in video gaming. Was it because of sexism in ads? (I can remember an ad which had a bikini-clad babe lathered in soap draped over a sports car... to sell a videogame!) Is it the violent nature of some game genres? The lack of strong female representation as a whole? Does addressing sexual content like trance vibrator's fulfill this gaping intellectual chasm?

    Girls, to my limited knowledge gleaned from being the father of three daughters (2 of whom game on the PS2 and PC), enjoy games that test problem solving spatial skills like Tetris, Pac Man and The Sims among many others. These are the same games guys play. Sex has nothing to do with it.
    • Well, the answer is simple: No. In fact, I think that who site is actually more of a disgrace and an insult to women and gamers alike and it simply proves that sex sells []. Hey, it's perfect marketing, can't say it didn't work. Anyways, as for serious female gamers that I know of (That excludes the "OMG i play cs because that cute boi from halfway across teh world plays it 2!!1" types) mostly enjoy the same games as guys. Some enjoy BF1942, some of em enjoy The Sims, some others enjoy online turn based strate

    • 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 so

    • The gaming culture is still very hostile/patronizing to women and girls. This isn't because all male gamers are immature, sexist pigs who run around EQ yelling "A/S/L?" and offering magic items in exchange for a quick cyber. Basically, the gaming culture started out as a very male-dominated one (as was I.T. at the time) and the remnants of this still linger as sexist advertising and attitudes.

      So... if somebody thinks GGA is a good idea, more power to them. If it's an oasis of female-positive gaming jour
  • by evslin ( 612024 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @09:05AM (#6653943)
    Voice chat for an mmog is a decent idea, provided that: A) Everyone you're going to be grouping/associating with has access to it B) You're not playing in a roleplaying environment. (Hey, that elf chick is really an old dude from Alabama!)
  • That'll solve the lag issues for the most part (if Unreal doesn't lag under the strain I doubt these games will).

    I'm not convinced this'll have that big an impact on Role Playing. I used voice in Role Playing all the time playing D & D in a room with friends, how's this any different? Besides, Newbies will gladly give up the some role playing to avoid typing (every watch someone who can't touch type playing one of these games, it's painful...). Moreover, I think a lot of people (especially casual game
  • Hearing Voices (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ihummel ( 154369 )
    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
  • by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:51AM (#6654716) Homepage Journal
    Aberistwyth came up with a graphical MUD - I believe it was the second MUD engine to come out, after Essex MUD. Have you seen any MUDs using this engine, lately? Have you seen any graphical MUDs at all? No? Oh, what a surprise.

    Bottom line is that some ideas sound great, but just don't work in practice. The technological constraints are such that you end up with something worse than not using that idea at all.

    Richard Bartle is an expert on these issues, by the sheer amount of time and effort he has spent on developing MUD. I'd be very cautious about simply dismissing the guy's thoughts. Sure, his idea of commercializing the MUD engine didn't work out. IMHO, though, that gives him more practical experience in what works and what doesn't. He's been on both sides.

    Voices in MUDs are bandwidth-intensive and OOC (Out Of Character) unless you've speech synthesis. And, while Festival is a decent system, I don't think it's quite at the point where it can support the quality you'd want.

    Speech synthesis requires only that the text be transmitted. Transmitting voice-over-IP, at any kind of quality, requires digitizing the speech and transmitting the result. Even if you assume 10K/sec/voice, I've seen MUSHes with 40-50 people in the same room RPing. That's 500K/second, just for the sound, with one hell of a mixing desk on the other end to merge those streams.

    I don't know about you, but I'm not sure there are enough MUDders out there with that kind of bandwidth. Not many home owners have their own T1 line, and DSL at that kind of bandwidth is often sold to businesses only.

    So you drop some of the voices, perhaps. And then what's the point of having the VoIP link? If what you get is inferior to plain text (which loses nothing), then who is going to use VoIP for anything other than a novelty?

    The final problem is the lack of multicasting. If you've 50 people in a room, the server is going to have to multicast to transmit the volume of data to each user. However, "Internet Providers" don't generally offer multicasting. Unless you're rich. Not for technical reasons, but because they don't know how to bill it, so opt for only providing it for really expensive lines.

    Why do you need multicast? Let's look at the numbers. 50 users x 500K/sec/user = 25 M/sec of data, if you unicast it. If you look at the times that there have been unicast transmissions - say of the Leonid meteors - the server rapidly collapses from the load. If multicast were deployed, you could have as many recipients as you liked, and there wouldn't be an issue. But because ISPs are cheapskates and the admins offering public services often aren't as clueful as they could be, the system fails very rapidly, offering nobody anything.

    REAL broadband (ie: gigabit to the home) plus multicasting plus good speech synthesis would make audio MUDding a real, practical, possibility. As things stand, the idea is going to be tried (as with Abermud), it will fail, and when the technology does emerge people will remember only the prior failure, not the future possibility.

    Some things you just have to wait for. If you want to cut the waiting time, then pressure your ISP to enable multicasting. If you're using DSL, then pressure your ISP to make SDSL available to home users for a reasonable price. But if you do nothing, expect nothing. ISPs are happy to provide you with the smallest scraps of service that you'll tolerate, and that'll never be enough to do quality VoIP MUDding.

  • I agree (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ZorMonkey ( 653731 )
    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. Eve
  • 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.
    • That is indeed a truly excellent idea, and I'm sure it will be stolen as soon as the technology is there to implement it.

      Does anyone else remember the game starflight (I think that was the name)? You had a communications officer and depending on the skill, the aliens woult range from being unintelligible to having poor grammar to having perfect english (with a few screwed up colloquilisms like "see you later crocadile"). This was all in text, of course.

  • You know who Simon Marsh is!
  • We don't speak in my DnD games. we just pass notes, because speaking wouldn't allow us to roleplay...

    this is exactly why actors always just mime plays, because we could never believe they were the characters there playing if they spoke.

    When this happens, so many filter willl be in place. You will jut be able to choose who you here, that way you can hear people who play the game the way you do.

    Now, he says voice can be a good thing, but that it's just not ready. Well Smarty McPants, how will it get perfec
  • He got it partially right that we should change my voice to fit my charicter. However he missed the hard part. I'f I'm playing a southern bell, not only does my voice need to change from midwest male to southern female, but the words change. Nobody in the south would use the word pop when they want a carbonated drink, they use soda, while in my area nobody uses the word soda, we use pop. Do you bucket or pail? Vacuume cleaner or Hover? Xerox or copier? Those are just a few examples I can think of, a

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