Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Anybody Remember Shorthand?

One thing that has always amazed me is the ability of some people to type messages on the fly while playing an MMO.

Perhaps I'm showing my age, but I have to stop what I'm doing and type with both hands in order to respond to something I'm watching.  If I'm in a BG and we get jumped by 4-5 people in Arathi Basin, I basically have to sacrifice myself in order to warn everyone else.*

All I can do is marvel at the people who raid and can type while they're casting or playing whack-a-boss.  I once carried on a conversation with a blogger friend while the blogger was in the middle of progression ICC.  When I mentioned that I'll let him do his job, he kind of laughed it off, saying it wasn't a big deal.

I suppose that's were a multi-button mouse (like the Razer Naga) comes in handy.  Of course, you still have to be able to type with one hand, and I'm kind of lousy at that.

What would be nice would be combining voice recognition software with an MMO, so that you can speak into a mic and have what you're saying pop up in typewritten chat.

Of course, I can see some readers saying "there's this thing called Mumble or Vent, and it really works!"  Yes, I know all about those, but when do you use that when you get into a random BG?  Or an instance pug without guildies (or any other guild to provide vent access)?  Last I checked, most non-raid pugs just roll with it and get going without much more than a "howdy!"  The thing is, the more you play, the more complex things are, the nicer it is to communicate without these artificial barriers.

For example, discussing which enemy to DPS down when confronting the opposing faction team in Mandalorian Raiders helps that encounter go much more smoothly.  Likewise, working out strategy in Gundrak helps make fighting Gal'Darah that much easier.  I've found that more wipes come from a lack of coherent strategy, such as in Halls of Reflections or Magister's Terrace, than the inability to get the job done. Perhaps the worst place for a strategy breakdown is in the long run to get away from Arthas in HoR, because if not everybody is on the same page, that increases the likelihood of a wipe exponentially.

That loops back to the need to communicate, and the disadvantages puggers have over guild runs.

I can type, and type quickly.  Not everybody can.  I can't type on the fly in the middle of a fight, while others can.  That means that other forms of communication --such as audio chat-- are superior, because people can communicate without changing what they're doing.  However, the current setup of using a third party tool --often paid for by a guild who would naturally be reluctant to share with a non-guildie-- is a barrier that ought to be examined.  Yes, I know about WoW's built in audio chat, but really, who does use that anyway?

Here is an opportunity for either an entrepreneur or an MMO company to fill in a communication gap and reap some nice profits.

*Well, unless I'm stealthed as a Rogue.  Even then, if I'm low enough level people will find me easily.


  1. I feel better now, I'm always baffled by people running around killing while typing coherent sentences. I have to come to a complete stop by the side of the road to type.

    I like that idea, kind of like the emails I get from Comcast when I have a phone message. They aren't always right, they keep addressing me as Robert but usually I don't have to play the sound file. I'd sure use it if someone developed it!

    1. You are so not alone there! I know that a lot of high schools have dropped typing classes entirely, which boggles my mind in this age of the computer, but what do I know anyway?

      But yeah, the idea of marrying some sort of Dragon Naturally Speaking to an MMO --or having a dynamic audio link that switches to a common channel when you enter an instance-- seems like a killer app.

  2. lol wow if that isn't exactly how I feel every time I have to type in chat while playing. I can't even tell you how many times I have died in a WZ just because I was typing a warning or a response and was jumped.

    1. I've so been there.

      When I first started playing MMOs, I had to train myself to not type in complete sentences all the time. Even then, I still wouldn't type fast enough before I got ganked.