Do you Vent?
I have to admit that I have always been a little bit hesitant about using external clients like Ventrilo or Teemspeex while WoWing. For those of you unaware, Ventrilo and Teemspeex are two popular Voice over IP clients that allow a group of players to communicate via voice chat using a third party program running in the background. While my initial protests involved technical aspects like possibly impacting my already crappy framerate and latency given my horrible hardware, I have to admit that I was probably a little more hesitant about saying something stupid that couldn’t be deleted (or even worse, could be recorded and become a minor internet phenomenon). Though my main is part of a fairly casual guild that has not yet found the need for massive coordination, I have started a “twink” character in the 29 battlgrounds who has joined a specifically twink-oriented guild on my server in order to make premade raids. After a month or two of playing in silence, they strongly suggested I set up Ventrilo so as to better contribute to and streamline the team’s battleground performance. I took the plunge and downloaded the latest Ventrilo client for Mac, and decided to finally see what all the fuss was about.
Though it took some fiddling to get my Vent setup correct, I finally got it working with my mic, and found a key binding I liked for Push-To-Talk functions (the unused “option” key on Apple Keyboards). I had to change some other things, like running with the Warcraft sound off (of course), and not running the game in fullscreen mode so I could still see my Vent window so I’d know who was talking (at least until I got used to matching voices with toons).
From the first Arathi Basin run I did with Vent running, I was pretty much blown away. I had been completely oblivious to the primary channel of my guild’s communication for so long, I was suddenly aware of how coordinated we could be with the voice channel. Though I was pretty hesitant to speak at first (for the aforementioned fear of notoriety), I could immediately take advantage of the instructions and alerts people were barking out in short, efficient messages. As I got more used to voicing my opinions and alerts on Vent, I became a much better node defender. Obviously when you get ambushed, it’s not very efficient to have to suddenly hit “/”, “g”, “z”, “o”, “m”, “g”, ” “, “r”, “o”, “g”,”u”, “e”, ” “, “i”, “n”,”c”, ” “, “b”, “s”; while it’s very easy to turn around and bash the rogue while swearing information over ventrilo. I had no noticeable increase in latency or decrease in fps performance, even on my POS hardware.
The other, unexpected but not unwelcome aspect of Ventrilo was the new dimension it added to the social aspect of WoW. While I had always enjoyed the levity and clever comments people toss into guild chat, the banter and camraderie was multiplied by hearing other people assent or immediately react to what you’re saying and doing. In-between BGs, our vent room is full of musings about a variety of topics in-game and out; and it’s not nearly as sophomoric as I had feared (although still just-sophomoric enough to be funny). After hearing a guildie’s Ozzy twang, I found out he was from Brisbane. Hearing another guildie yawn during what was an afternoon game for me eventually revealed that he was an American expat in Hong Kong.
My experience with Vent has been extremely favorable, and it has made my BG experience more enjoyable and personal. I don’t know that I’d recommend it for everyone; I have female friends that are extremely coy about revealing their gender in-game for fear of being treated different or even harassed. The quick reactions people have over vent probably leads to more profanity than normal typed guild chat, so I wouldn’t recommend it for younger players, either. Furthermore, if you’re like me and rely on the WoW sound effects sometimes to augment your playstyle, you’ll need to either get used to playing with WoW muted or invest in a headset. Still, if you’ve ever been apprehensive or curious about what it’s like on the vocal side, I have been there, and it is good.