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07/28/2003

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Chris

I think that it could be both good and bad. The above points made are understandable, but while playing Ragnarok Onine with my friends, i often find it irksome to have to stop and start typing stuff that only people on the same screen as me can hear. Although there is a way to speak to entire partys at once wether on screen or not, I find that during battle, it would be far simpler to just say something rather than pause to type it. If centralized to only being able to actualy speak to people in ones partys or certain people who would be able to be set to hot keys then i wouldnt have a problem with it. I only one hand to click on a bad guy, but i need both to type, so if all I have to do is push Q to speak live to my friend Ryan, then Im all or it.

Crissa

I think one word can be said here: Strangers.

No, two: Strangers, and Stalkers.

With small groups, voice is fine. But playing with random person? You don't know their voice, you don't know which character it belongs to... And you don't know who they are.

I already don't play most online graphical games because the intelligence level is so low. I don't need to play a game with random_joe who seems to get the utmost enjoyment about harassing me for being a girl gamer, or worse, and more common: Spewing obscenities at me.

Random people comming up to you in a game, possibly many of them at once?

No way.

Talk with video games? Maybe. It'd be useful.

Roleplaying? Heck no.

Would I use either? No.

J

One thing: Voice communications are already being very widely used for MMORPGs and the like; just look at Ventrilo and the like. My own mother uses Ventrilo with her friends while playing DAoC.

C.

Ah, once a visionary...
Now just another snob.

The problem being voiced here isnt with voice but with lack of RP in someone's experience, and the 'break of immersion' rationale is merely that.

This quote amuses me:

"Immersion is enhanced by closeness to reality, but thwarted by isomorphism with it: the act of will required to suspend disbelief is what sustains a player's drive to be, but it disappears when there is no disbelief required.
"

WTF does THAT nonsense mean?

he's saying that a game that feels real won't be immersive (feel real) because you don't have to "remember to forget that this is a game."

In fact, it goes on to clarify that it is "the remberance of the forgetting that drives you to continue playing."

Do any of you REALLY buy that?

That would make this statement true:

"Pretending to fly a 747 feels much more like the real thing than flying an actual plane because when I fly a simulated plane I can remember that it's not a real plane which makes it FEEL more like a real plane."

I mean sure, this guy has written some true and astute things in the past, but this issue is just rationalized whining that boils down to "I don't want to hear human voices in my virtual worlds so no one else should either."

Personally, as a game developer, avid role player of over a decade of games, and proponent of the technological advancement of the species I have found in my extensive experience that voice chat greatly increases the immersion factor of the multiplayer games I have played.
From first person adventure games to space flight simulators, actually speaking with my squadmates (as though via a radio) or clan mates (via whatever sci-fi fictionalization you like) has only helped the experience by providing a connection that felt as though the characters I was interacting with were more than programmable AI's with a canned textual response.
Players on chat curse at you or the environment, Who pauses to type an expletive as it is uttered?
Players on chat share emotion in their voices modified or not, how many textual /tells have you gotten that you could hear the fear or anxiety in?

It comes down to simply this:
/Gag 'em if they won't speak In Character (IC) and force them to type...If that doesn't work (and it won't) /gag them out of your text chat too and you can blissfully ignore anything they have to say.

And surely the fact that you can effectively annul some character's ability to make 'verbal' utterances (voice or text) won't break your verisimilitude right?


Why not simply say "I like to imagine your voices and am sad that soon I will not have that control over our shared experiences unless I want to sacrifice some other functionality. (Such as speed of thought transfer, or ability to communicate effectively with those that exclusively use Voice."
It would be more honest than flaming an otherwise desirable development in the field of multiplayergaming.

Ellen

James raises an excellent point about the potential exclusion of hearing impaired players if the voice chat is included. If it were voice only, I would be unable to play the games as I am deaf myself.

However, when he proposes speech to text then text to speech he seems to be asumme that all the deaf and hard of hearing can speak clearly. Uh-uh.

Although I can speak well enough, certain words are hard for me to say. I shoud add there are other deaf people out there who can not speak at all. Also due to nerve deafness, words that I can hear are not very clear to me and I can not make them out. For this reason, I prefer the keyboard to using a microphone.

Also, many hearing people have speech problems ranging from stuttering to being unable to to speak at all due to disablities. I have no objection to text> speech and having the speaker's voice turned into text so I can understand what's he's saying.

It is hoped that game developers who want voice will not ignore us or give us assurance someone will listen to us and then do nothing to include us in games that we want to play online.

Also, we need some way of knowing what sort of sounds in game are. I remember Riven very well for one very good reason: I was unable to solve the game because I could not hear the clues in a key puzzle.

MiloPEZ

Richard...

While for the most part I understand your concern, my problem with your article is that 'voice' is not the holy grail of disbelief. As a player of SWG I see people chatting in their wanna-be popper EQ 'I am the duke of Bestine' tone of type all the time. I see supposedly smart in game characters with spelling and grammar as bad as mine. I see jedi's named 'ImaNotta idej' (no joke). And this is just skimming the top.

The fact is: players destroy the games all the time and designers let them. I challenge you to find one game that does _not_ contain a player named 'Uber Dood' in its database. And, the only game where this might be acceptable is in one like Neocron. Voice won't change anything. It only further levels the playing field for those not savvy enough to download teamspeak or roger wilco.

Game-play is placed WAY over immersion. Neat little 'see what I can do' features are built long before time in the script is spent. I am not sure why this is. I speculate that it is because the majority of the design community comes from the programming community. The rest of the software development world understands that seldom is it wise to put a programmer in charge of _designing_ the user interface; not the entertainment industry. This is not to say all designers and all programmers are at fault… Who is it that recognizes and decides on the talent hired and their job function? And who is it that forces them to stick to that roll? – I am getting way down a path that I don't want to walk…

I will conclude to say this is the same core problem sited in the article written criticizing Max Pane's dialogue and can be related to the majority of the article criticizing a games design.

poop

Damn it, I want to see the FULL Rez vibrator article, that chick has to be hot, I want to see her shuve that vibrator far up her pussy!

Lizzy

The biggest problem I see with voice communication in MMORPGs is this: player's accent. One has to keep in mind that not everyone speaks the same way, some accents make it difficult to understand what they are saying. It would be a pity that in order to implement actual voice communication, we would have segregate players by country and region. Shouldn't gaming also promote the coming together of people from different countries?

In typing dialogues, there's still the problem of bad spelling and delibrate l33tspeak, but at least we can still understand what is being said most of the time. Voice communication is not going to eliminate childishness or promote better understanding, it is not (currently or at least not for long time) going to improve gaming experience. Personally, I would rather read l33t than to hear a squeeky child play the role of a veteran knight. IMHO, that will really break my bubble of suspended reality.

Jake Winters

Surprised the comments haven't touched so much on gender issues. Seems to me the consequences of this technology would be strangest in that area. Just imagine what it would be like to actually become female in a game, to actually sound like a girl.

Am linking an article about male-to-female transexual voice therapy here. Highly recommend reading it.

http://heartcorps.com/journeys/voice.htm

Couldn't something like that happen to a wide range of roleplayers in the near future?

This also reminds of the Japanese "doll" cosplayers -- men who put on masks and schoolgirl costumes. I interviewed one for about a half-hour over AIM once. This guy actually purchased a pink computer to use while "in character," and the strange thing is that he denied being a cross-dresser.

It seems to me that "suiting up" in a virtual world would lead to this weird new fetish, which is not cross-dressing or sexual in any tangible way, but is at the same time. When men start talking like women, and the in-game camera moves like a real head which can look down at a female body...that's going to change the human experience.

It's been my personal experience that the more immersive a game is, the closer I stick to my own identity.

A 3rd person RPG is not immersive at all for me...it's just like telling a story or watching a movie. For those games, I play as a female character because they look better and it's more enjoyable to imagine their stories. To me, it's really strange that guys would want to fantasize about muscle-bound men running around in leather outfits. (Seriously, that's just weird. Then again, those people probably have a different experience than I do. For me, the game is about watching and fantasizing about the character, not becoming her/it (robots are also a favorite avatar of mine).)

FPS, OTOH, feel like I'm really inside the game, and so I always choose a character that looks just like me. It's real disconcerting to walk by a mirror (non-literal here -- Deus Ex is the only game I've experienced this in, and that game has just the one stock character) and see a different person, or worse yet a person of the opposite gender. As experiences like that become commonplace, the cognitive dissonance is going to be hella crazy.

Jake Winters

One other thought. Unrelated to last comments.

How would people react to someone who is a really good actor? What would they do if someone started crying, or went into an apparent psychotic episode? What if somebody was playing a "scary" character and they were so good at it that they really scared the crap out of everyone?

I often go to open mic nights and start in on a comedy routine, then pretend to have a nervous breakdown. It's amazing to watch people's faces as they go from "this is comedy" to "this is frighteningly real."

So, I'm looking forward to this. I could entertain myself with "sociological experiments" endlessly. You just can't grip an unsuspecting audience with text the way you can with speech. Text-only lies, no matter how good the writing is, only work when you provoke interaction from the observer. With speech -- the emotional reaction just happens.

Buddhaman

Sorry bartle but you are way off.
Voice chat can easily be sectioned into channels.
Just hope the designers allow for catagories of channels to chose from.
Image you log on and can choose from "trash talkers", "In character only", "comabt & tactics", "Player Vs Player" type channels. That would be great. If you're afraid someone will talk OOC than don't log into the voice option.
Personnaly I hate trying to type to my brother "hurry up heal me i am about to..." and then find out i am incapacitated.

mmethoo

mothafuckhaaaa

Katy

Another topic I'm surprised hasn't come up with more emphasis is the concept of putting yourself into a much more personal - and thus vulnerable - position with people that you don't know. SpunikSweetheart mentioned it, but has far more confidence in the decency of online gamers. I, personally, despise online games and the concept of voice makes me cringe. A large part of that, I think, is that there's no guarantee a person I'll meet in real life will be someone I want to speak with, but even more so this is true online, where anonymity and competition combine to produce aggressive personalities. It's like how anyone can gain the courage to scream obscenities if they never see the target, but it's an entirely different situation in person. (Take the Feb 1 post by mmethoo for example.)

While I'll be the first to point out that aggressive teenage boys are certainly not the only ones playing video games, it is obvious that the competition and bragging rights associated with competitive online play are conducive to nasty rivalries and a general disrespect and alienation of other gamers. I myself am a 19 year old gay woman. And while it shouldn't have any impact on with whom I want to play games and which games I'll play online, it certainly makes me stay away from online at all. But again, I fault the over-masculinized culture of teenage gamers, to whom common courtesy and respect don't have much to do with meeting other people. And of course, the loudest constituency sets the tone for the games or the servers.

I think the biggest problem with voice chat is that it makes online games that much less appealing, giving inconsiderate gamers an even easier way to offend and intrude. Until there is some widely followed ethical base, or even just an accepted etiquette online gaming, particularly with voice chat, will push me farther and farther away from trying it. I am NOT, however, suggesting censorship, but for the individual gamers to take on their own responsibilities, or to be able to distinguish between friendly servers and servers where decency is not expected.

Perhaps this move towards voice will actually serve to usher in a new group of vocal gamers who choose to respect and "play nice." Or it could just further push away gamers outside of the aggressive teenage mob.

Raymon

Katy: I don't really agree on you when on the claim that voice chat would (as you put it) give an even easier way to offend and intrude. Why the offending does happen is mostly because the people who offend are doing it mostly because they'll stay anonymous. Writing "yo u muthafuk suk my dik" really doesn't give an idea what kind of a person is saying it, but saying something similar in a voice chat would reveal quite a lot from you(gender, age, where you live, so on).

We also have to face it, though, there WILL be people who will be misusing voice chat. But there are always people who want to break the rules.

Skyrender

Pulling from FFXI as an idea, why not restrict voice-chat to more private channels, such as parties or linkshells? Being able to hear any random person chatting is liable to be impossible to manage, but if you limit yourself to a smaller group of pre-approved people to whom you can listen, how is that much different from teamchat in Counterstrike?

Skyrender

Pulling from FFXI as an idea, why not restrict voice-chat to more private channels, such as parties or linkshells? Being able to hear any random person chatting is liable to be impossible to manage, but if you limit yourself to a smaller group of pre-approved people to whom you can listen, how is that much different from teamchat in Counterstrike?

Skyrender

Pulling from FFXI as an idea, why not restrict voice-chat to more private channels, such as parties or linkshells? Being able to hear any random person chatting is liable to be impossible to manage, but if you limit yourself to a smaller group of pre-approved people to whom you can listen, how is that much different from teamchat in Counterstrike?

Roone G

Good thought Skyrender!

Joan

"As for the speech conversion, I happen to have a master's degree in related topics. I also work on a voice conferencing system. So I know something about that kind of deal."

dugger

immersion hasnt been important in mog's in a long long long time, everquest has what, 2 role play servers out of how many? Lets call this what it is, a complaint that you cant really pretend to be a girl when your not.

awesome_asam

"immersion hasnt been important in mog's in a long long long time, everquest has what, 2 role play servers out of how many?"

So...because Everquest doesn't do something, that means it's not important? I guess good graphics and gameplay aren't important either. And with those amazing logic skillz, you can tell what someone really meant...despite there being no evidence to support that conclusion, and the post you refer to directly contradicting it? You should go to work for the NSA. You're brilliant.

Dardan

I fully agree that designers should not mix reality with virtual worlds. Take a look at Second Life. It's a fantastic world but there is one MAJOR problem:

In the game you can buy items which people create for either L$, which are Linden dollars (fake in-game money), or REAL money. I read on their site that they hope to include IN-GAME ATMs!!!

How would you feel if games charged your credit card every time you bought your Half-Giant Warrior a new shield or your Wizard a new staff? Although I hope it does not go that far, it is beginning to happen.

Dard.

Dardan

I fully agree that designers should not mix reality with virtual worlds. Take a look at Second Life. It's a fantastic world but there is one MAJOR problem:

In the game you can buy items which people create for either L$, which are Linden dollars (fake in-game money), or REAL money. I read on their site that they hope to include IN-GAME ATMs!!!

How would you feel if games charged your credit card every time you bought your Half-Giant Warrior a new shield or your Wizard a new staff? Although I hope it does not go that far, it is beginning to happen.

Dard.

Dardan

I fully agree that designers should not mix reality with virtual worlds. Take a look at Second Life. It's a fantastic world but there is one MAJOR problem:

In the game you can buy items which people create for either L$, which are Linden dollars (fake in-game money), or REAL money. I read on their site that they hope to include IN-GAME ATMs!!!

How would you feel if games charged your credit card every time you bought your Half-Giant Warrior a new shield or your Wizard a new staff? Although I hope it does not go that far, it is beginning to happen.

Dard.

flatlander37

I spent a winter playing WWII online. Voice comms were essential for coordinating attacks and defense, and socializing. Also only people from our squad got the password, and the password changed whenever spies and double crossing players were discovered in our midst. And at one point a guy came online to tell us his girl friend was taking the computer so he would be offline for a couple of weeks while he found a replacement machine. Squadies online at the time on the voice server expressed sadness, especially when he told the alleged reason of their break up. The height of pathos was that he described her walking over to the machine in the room and that she was mad and pulling the plug on the computer. He never finished the sentence. Real life has entered the games and added a bizarre dimension to the simple escapist immersive experience that MMO's used to be. I found that people wanted to socialize with others who played the game and voice comms added to that dimension in between the times in the game when the voice comms added to the gameplay of coordinating attacks.

Voice is here to stay, and veteran gamers will adapt to the influx of the newbies who won't go away. Don't try to stay static, because that won't work. Voice comms are the next dimension for those who want it.

smiles . . .

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