The Voice of the Dungeon
Blog Azeroth – Shared Topic for the week of October 18th, 2010
Shared Topic Idea: Voice Chat in Random Dungeons
It was just the other day when I took the time to read the second half of the menu button “Sound & Voice”. Immediately I wanted to toy with it. It was after a few minutes of messing around when a thought stuck my mind: does this work in cross-server dungeons?
To my dismay, it appears it does not. But….
What if it did?
So I read this topic about a week ago and immediately wrote down a couple pages of thoughts. This evening I sat down and read the post by Azryu and a couple of other ones that were linked therein. They have radically altered how I want to talk about this idea. First, though, I do want to share the first little bit of the original article:
The Eye looks upon you and judges you worthy. You lick your dry lips and teleport. Your stomach lurches and you feel cobblestones beneath your boots. A quick glance around reveals the interior of a keep, lined with torches and heavy-hung with furs. The rustle of robes behind you makes you turn. You see four individuals decked in glistening armor carrying menacing, glowing weaponry of all sorts. The hunter on the left bends down to give his pet a hunk of bloody meat from his pack. The priestess to his side makes a quick flipping motion with her hand and is immediately bathed in shadows. Your gaze moves to the far right and falls on a short, lithe undead. You blink. The mouldering form has vanished from sight. A large form moves out from the shadows of the doorway and motions with his gauntleted hand. The tauren begins to unravel before you and reform as a huge bear with vicious looking teeth and monstrous paws. The bear turns to face you. It starts jumping up and down repeatedly, spinning in circles in midair.
When the Looking For Dungeon tool was added to World of Warcraft, it began a new era of pugging. As those other articles linked above have discussed, the immediacy and simplicity that the LFD tool offers removes much of the intimacy and community out of dungeon running. Azryu has offered the idea that voice communication could help bring some of the social back.
When I consider games that have voice communication, the first things that come to mind are Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network. I have put in my fair share of time playing Halo and Modern Warfare with complete strangers. In my time with those types of games, I have found one thing to be abundantly clear: they need mute-all buttons.
Players in those games can be disrespectful, vulgar, even downright malicious. Matches pass by so quickly that no individual person can be held accountable for anything. Just as quickly as they blast in, they disappear, never to be seen again.
Similarly, random groups from the dungeon finder are once-in-a-lifetime combinations of individuals, no redos. As such, nobody feels accountable for their actions. With the ties of society cut, people act ‘naturally’; their true essences surface. (This idea might warrant a longer look later on…)
The good news out of all of this is that there are still good people out there who are friendly and awesome to run with. You have all, I’m sure, seen them. The tank that has patience beyond measure despite the idiot Mage that pulls threat every other second, the healer that keeps even the most under-geared tank up through Halls of Reflection, the top notch Warlock that spreads unimaginable amounts of death but never pulls a single mob off the tank. Those people make random dungeons fun. Those people are individuals I would talk to. I just don’t want to have to wade through the other 80% that are fair to awful.
I feel like this article is a little schizophrenic. As I sit here typing and pondering, my thoughts are split. Part of me would like the opportunity to share a deeper, richer experience with the people I meet in dungeons. The other part of me fears and loathes dealing with the gritty details that real people bring with them.
In the end, I don’t quite know where I come down. All indications from the Cataclysm beta tell us that dungeons are about to get harder. A lot harder. Groups will have to coordinate and plan their strategies instead of just charging in and blasting away. It will take time for people to learn their responsibilities. Many will not take the time. For those that persevere, voice chat could be a huge blessing or a thorn in the side. Would you take the plunge and speak to those shadowy figures from the twisting nether? Or would your group remain a quintet of silent sentinels?