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.

8 Comments so far

  1. Adriaan (unregistered) on September 5th, 2006 @ 4:40 pm

    The problem with teamspeak is that it closes out the players who are hearing impaired or are not able to use it for whatever other reason. Typed chat tends to go deadly silent with teamspeak on, making it hard for non-participants to follow the unfolding events.

  2. Eliah (unregistered) on September 5th, 2006 @ 8:58 pm

    My guild uses Vent in raids, but the typed chat tends to stay pretty active as well; both media are used to form one conversation. There are a few people, like me, who don’t talk in Vent, since I don’t have a decent mic, and it’s not a problem; I just type what I want to say and people type or say responses. I find Vent a godsenda as a healer, because it lets my eyes stay on the MT list or the emergency monitor or my manabar instead of the chatbox.

    I was also hesitant to try it at first (and I’m also on a Mac), but after having been in MC with and without it I definitely think Vent is for the win. I do wish the Mac client had some way to set per-user incoming volume adjustments though, as certain people in my guild have mic volume issues.

  3. Andrea (unregistered) on September 6th, 2006 @ 4:01 am

    I can’t imagine playing without Vent anymore when it comes to groups. Even in lower-level instances it helps immensely to quickly talk about crowd control options, strategies, etc. And it’s fun to banter inbetween and have a good laugh.

    And when the healer gets aggro a quick yelp is easier done than typing.

    I could imagine that Blizzard eventually will include internal VoIP stuff, because in end-game it pretty much seems to be a requirement to at least be able to listen.

  4. rev. dave (unregistered) on September 6th, 2006 @ 9:43 am

    I’m a mac user as well… have you been able to get it to work with your PC-playing friends without having them change the codec? I wish it would at least allow me to listen which would be really helpful. I’m the only mac user in my guild.

  5. Bendyr (unregistered) on September 6th, 2006 @ 9:47 am

    Yeah, unfortunately, the mac client only supports the Speex codec. All PC clients support it now, but you actually have to get the person running the ventrilo server to change the codec on their side, which is a pain, and is hard to push for when you’re the only Mac client.

    I guess this goes back to what Andrea was saying- Blizz endorsing an official client or building it in would really make things like this a lot easier.

  6. emo (unregistered) on September 7th, 2006 @ 3:15 pm

    I run around with my guildies and friends in another guild. We use Skype since we can conference up to 10 and the sound quality is good at that scale.

    I have TS and vent for larger groups

  7. Bendyr (unregistered) on September 7th, 2006 @ 3:18 pm

    Hmm- I was under the impression that Skype’s conference calling was limited to 4 or 5.

    Good to know.

  8. phoenix (unregistered) on September 9th, 2006 @ 9:33 am

    My guild uses Vent both for personal communication (just talking to one another) and for groups and instances and raids-I have to admit, I was skeptical, but once you start using it, it’s very hard to go back to not using it at all.

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