Guild Chat: The layout, usage, and manners of voice chat

    
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Welcome along to Guild Chat, my own wee place in the ‘webs in which we can discuss all things guilds and club together to give advice to a reader in need. I’m rushed off my feet with not one but three questions to answer this month, so I do believe it’s some else’s turn to stick the kettle on! This edition of Guild Chat is focused on VOIP use in guilds, with all three questions tying back to problems with voice. Some of the scenarios presented are downright hilarious, so you’ll not want to miss this one!

The questions were submitted by Massively Overpowered readers Max, Rick, and SpirriX, and they focus on several different VOIP-related issues. First up, we have a discussion on how best to set up your VOIP channels, followed by whether or not it is worth leaving a guild that is heavily dependent on voice chat if you don’t join in yourself. My advice turns a wee bit ranty when we get to the issue of noisy push-to-talk haters who overshare when it comes to their eating and pottying habits – oy! Read each question in full below and don’t forget to pop your own advice in the comments for the good of the group.

The guild I recently joined does not have a TeamSpeak server or equivalent. I have therefore volunteered to research and set up a RaidCall group, but I have no clue what it should look like. For instance, I know there should be different rooms: some for AFK, officers, and the different teams/occupations (such as PvP, levelling, dungeoning, and RBGs). I’m not looking for help in the program, but rather just with the layout and setup with what I should include.

-Max

I think you have this pretty much covered, Max! You’ve made a great start by thinking about separating rooms by function and content type. The optimum setup will largely depend on your guild, and there’s not one specific calibration I would recommend across every guild. Having said that, I definitely think that an AFK channel and some management rooms are necessary fGuild Chat, confused gamersor virtually every guild, plus a general room in which members can discuss absolutely anything to encourage bonding outside of group content.

In terms of more specific advice, think about the size of your guild and the capability of the voice system you’re using when considering what other rooms you might need. In your case, Max, you’re going for RaidCall as your VOIP solution, and I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that since your guild is new to voice chat, it is probably either a modestly sized guild or perhaps new. If I’m right in my assumptions, you might find the layout diagram I pictured useful as a baseline since it is structured without being too much. I’ve included tips on how each room should be set up too. Use the inbuilt features of RaidCall to control what happens in each room and to help shoehorn players into the right spots more easily.

RaidCall Channels (3)

Think about the content your guild focuses on and go from there: A PvE-only guild may not require specific rooms for PvP, for example, or if levelling is your main guild objective right now, you might want to create level-banded rooms in which members of a similar level can buddy up. Ensure that your specific-purpose rooms are well-labelled, and don’t forget to set up your announcements with room rules that will remind people not to lurk around in there during downtime. RaidCall is very flexible in terms of room size and number of rooms, so feel free to rejig as often as necessary until you’re totally happy with your configuration. Happy VOIPing!

I am part of a guild that has a very active Mumble channel. I do not have or want voice participation as I am in a studio apartment with my wife who doesn’t play but likes to chat while I do, so I end up seeing half a conversation typically. “X”s will start to appear (must be someone asking for raid volunteers on Mumble) or the punchline of a joke with no context. Should I just live with this (it’s a great guild) or move on to a Mumbleless one?

-Rick

This is a hard one, Rick, and I totally understand where you’re coming from. I think this can roll one of two ways: You can either continue to stay off Mumble to keep up with your real-world communication with your wife and tackle the problem within the guild, or you could perhaps consider inviting your wife to hang out in your Mumble server so she becomes a part of that same conversation and social clique. The answer really depends on her!

What your good lady likes to do while you play and how much you think she might click with your guildmates are good points to consider here. If she’s usually doing something audio-based like watching TV or doesn’t seem to have much in common with your online friends, she won’t want to join in on your online chat. She may not be a fan of online chatting in general and could find the suggestion of chatting on Mumble when you both share a physical space a little too odd for comfort, which is understandable. It also depends on how much time you get to spend together outside of the time you play: If that’s the only chance you get to talk in a day, it’s perhaps best to keep it off Mumble to allow personal topics to be discussed without prying ears listening.

If she is willing, Mumble could be a good way to introduce her to the friends you’ve made online and could perhaps even get her into the games you play. Before mGuild Chat, no gamingy fiancé Steven played World of Warcraft with my guild, he got to know my guildmates through listening to and eventually joining in on our Ventrilo conversations. I didn’t use a headset for sound since I didn’t like blocking out the other people I lived with, so he could hear our conversation on voice chat. My guildies could also usually hear Steven in the background through my mic and soon the banter flowed between them. This was actually a large factor in his decision to play the game with us.

I definitely wouldn’t leave an otherwise great guild simply because of its reliance on Mumble. If you both don’t like the idea of chatting online instead of in-person, you could bring up how VOIP is employed in your guild with the guild management. It can be very difficult to change the status quo in an established guild, especially when it comes to habitual usage of systems like VOIP programs, but a good guild leader will listen to feedback and will make changes if it won’t rock the boat much. Explain how isolated and out of the loop you can be and suggest solutions such as saving standard announcement sentences in a notepad that can be pasted into chat when group requests are made in Mumble.

If you don’t get results from management, a possible solution is to directly tackle each instance of exclusion. Question the posters in guild chat with lines like “Hey, why are we placing an X in chat? Are you guys discussing something on Mumble that I should know about?” or “With a punchline like that, I have to hear the joke! Care to share it here?” and they’ll soon start to see how much you miss when you’re off Mumble. I hope you keep on having fun regardless!

I often experience people chewing chips/food/candy while on voice chat without muting themselves. Some even have wireless headsets and take a piss with the mic still on. A few have very noisy keyboards as well, but I’m not going to make them switch; I’ll just have to live with button mashing and typing. How can I convince my guildies to bind a mute button — and actually use it — without sounding like a whiny wimp? My self-diagnosed condition of misophonia might be the reason I hate this so much more than other members in my guild, though. Anyone else experiencing this issue?

-SpirriX

Ooh, boy… I absolutely cannot stand mouth noises of any description, least of all over a bloody microphone! This whole scenario is exactly why push-to-talk is a thing, and I’d urge you to put your foot down. You won’t be the only one suffering in silence just because other people aren’t thinking about the sound they’re generating. Think of it this way: Would you speak up if someone’s microphone was generating a non-human obnoxious noise such as static? I sure would, so don’t stay quiet when people assault your eardrums with the noises their bodies make. It’s rude to act in that way in the first place, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to bring it up and it certainly isn’t whinging.

OK, so now that I’ve ranted about how nasty mouth noises are, I suppose I should help you come up with a way to broach the subject, huh? I think a chat with the guild leader is in the cards here: Explain that hearing a guy take a leak (eww!) was really the straw that broke the camel’s back and that some sort of control or moderation needs to happen to keep you happy on your guild’s voice chat. Not many guild leaders can justify that kind of behaviour, really. I would always move anyone who was particularly noisy or who didn’t have a push-to-talk bind to the AFK channel and would then help them get that set up. Your guild’s management will need to actively patrol this until people fall in line; if nobody is making them comply, theGuild Chat, no eattingy won’t.

If the leaders decide that it really isn’t an issue and don’t bring in a push-to talk rule, you can try policing the issue yourself. Like most issues of manners, social pressure is usually what creates conformity. Most people simply don’t realise how much a microphone intensifies those noises when you’re placing the sound directly over your ears, so be sure to point it out. Don’t make it too heavy: instead, bring it up casually just as you would if his or her microphone was too loud or too quiet.

Simply say something along the lines of, “Hey, can you do me a favour and mute while you chew?” or, “Listen, your keyboard is really audible… can you turn down your mic and see if that fixes it?” and all but the most persistent will oblige. I’m presuming that you’re quite friendly with your guildies here, but really obnoxious offenders usually desist if it becomes a bit of an in-joke between your fellow guildies. In the case of the wireless headset and peeing situation, for example, my guild would not have let him live that down for quite a while! Good luck with is one, SpirriX… I sympathise.

Over to you!

What do you think, readers? What does your VOIP channel layout look like, and does it work well for you? Would you leave a guild if it over-depended on voice chat and you weren’t a part of that? Are you a push-to-talk fan, or would you be the kind of person who tinkles for the whole guild to hear? Have a go at tackling these issues yourself in the comments below. Tina knows best (or at least she thinks she does!), so pitch me your guild-related questions by email or drop them in the comments. Your input is what makes Guild Chat great!

Thanks to Max, Rick, and SpirriX for this month’s questions.

MOP’s Tina Lauro is on-hand to deal with all of your guild-related questions, queries, and drama in Guild Chat. Whatever your guild issue, she’s sure to have a witty yet sympathetic response. If there’s a specific topic you’d like to see dissected, drop Tina a comment or send an email to tina@massivelyop.com.
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Jay Lee

Mind the DTMF mixed quality BADLY affects your communications. I have a real story for you; I’m calling one of my banks, they Rep is transferring me to a robot to enter my pin #… I’m entering it, and the robot can’t understand the pin. The robot says to enter again… after 3 tries it gives up. …., and it does not understand your commands due to the line in not DTMF. You must troubleshoot DTMF problems with your VoIP connection through route-test.com. They offer a free testing credits. You can find the solution quickly. #VoIP

Jeeshman
Guest
Jeeshman

I have a suggestion for Rick: get a mono headset with only one earpiece.  Wear the headset so it covers whatever ear is farthest from your girlfriend/spouse.  That way you can hear what’s being said in voice chat AND hear what your wife is saying.  It takes a bit of concentration if both parties are talking at the same time, but it generally works for me.  (Luckily, my wife also plays, but not as much as I do.)

Here’s one for $9.95: http://www.amazon.com/Cyber-Acoustics-AC-104-Headset-Y-Adapter/dp/B0055CR9PC

Rhime
Guest
Rhime

Push to talk is a must! I’ve heard so many “Darth Vaders” with the over-sensitive mic and it’s quite annoying. I agree, if you don’t want to be involved with a voip guild then don’t join and expect to be excluded whenever a guild event is happening. Who the hell can type instructions and a whole lot of strategy when a boss is whacking you anyways?
One thing not brought up in the article is the need for developers to include voip within their game. This is 2015 people! Lotro has it and it’s the best thing ever for Pugs(when they have to happen) and for ease of connecting to guild groups too. I also think ingame voip would actually encourage more players to connect.

Ald
Guest
Ald

It’s been my experience over the last decade or so that the people that tend to not get on voice chat, for anything other than raids, are the ones that don’t last long within the guilds I’ve been in. Those players tend to just be there for the loot and don’t want to invest time into getting to know fellow guildies.

Zardoz1972
Guest
Zardoz1972

Many people here miss the point. This has nothing to do with being fair. A guild/cabal/corp is an exclusive club. There are rules for membership. If Voice Comms are required and you do not want to comply. Then do not join. I have seen people join up because the guild was getting stuff done in game. Smashing raids, blowing through grp, etc. But then they pull the “my mic broke, or I don’t have a mic or I’ll just listen” thing. To me the people I speak to are part of my content. I want to joke, tell storries, share links, music, vent, etc. If someone can not offer me that social interaction…then I do not want them around.

Gibbins
Guest
Gibbins

Push to talk doesn’t solve everything, one of my big hates is people keying up just to laugh, grunt, shout when they die, say “wtf” or give a running commentary on their movements.

All of which makes it hard to listen to the leader in a structured group.

DPandaren
Guest
DPandaren

My personal friends and I use Ventrilo, a really cheap 10 slot server. I use the Mumbles for my old LS and over at /r/gaymers. And my Planetside 2 crew, who doesn’t play much Planetside, use TeamSpeak. 

I wonder whatever happened to Curse’s client. Also Mumble’s dynamic voip support is awesome when it works.

DPandaren
Guest
DPandaren

dirtyklingon kiranshields Celestial Skype does have a push to talk feature, but it’s incredibly out of the way and a little bit unintuitive to set up. Like, you have to enable a mute key, and then whenever you’re in a call, you have to hit the mute button. And then it just acts like a push to talk client for some weird reason.

ZenDadaist
Guest
ZenDadaist

PTT or GTFO.

I’ve been in guild chat channels in which people had open mics. Was horrible but it wasn’t my chat or ‘my’ guild so all I could do was point out how nasty it sounded to hear chewing and other amplified noises. One chat i was in for some time as a total open mic ‘culture’. Was extremely eird tbh. Whenever I tried to bring it up they’d all just yell abotu how it’d be too hard to change now and how they’d forget and mess it up in a combat situation. When I returned to the game I was playign with them some years later they had all changed over to PTT just fine… When it’s come to my own guild chats for ‘my’ guilds, though, everyone’s defaulted to PTT thankfully.

Otherwise I’ve not normally been in a guild that requires an extensive set of custom channels. I’ve guested ina couple that have and the vast majority of channels where never used that I could see in months of visiting, event he larger gaming conglomerates. My own tends to only have a couple, and ‘my’ guilds are usually fairly small anyway. A general chat and then a couple of extra rooms for people to have seperate conversations if they’re doing something different. Passworded to hell of course, and with strict rules of never inviting total randoms to it.

I’ve become so used to using VOIP for gaming purposes now that I cannot imagine coordinating raids without it, or chilling with friends chatting while doing something in game. One thing I don’t use it for is RP – character sounding like player breaks immersion for me!

Ald
Guest
Ald

#1 rule of all voice chat: 

Use push to talk or i’ll hunt you down and feed you to the animals.