The Almighty /Tell
Dec 04, 2006 17:08:46

MMORPGs are virtual worlds. Things we see in our real lives are in essence translated into these digital worlds and in the process they often become fantastical or exaggerated. Many of the things we see in our favorite games all have some real life facsimile. Allow me to demonstrate:

In Game:In Real Life:Criteria:
An OrcMy bossUntalented but loud, forceful and sweaty
A MurlocMy daughterGurgles, covered in drool, aggros nearby humans
A zonelineBus, Train or Airport turnstileCross a line, endure an excruciating wait, end up elsewhere eventually
Overhead titlesBusiness cardsMeaningless and good for nothing except your ego
GuildsCliquesA collection of relatively like-minded individuals hell bent on a common goal
Epic setsBusiness suitsBody covering that impresses newbs but ultimately is a form over function scenario
TradeskillingYour jobSomething you hate doing, but find necessary for survival
RaidsBachelor partiesUnorganized masses of testosterone on a mission to 'conquer' elite creatures
PotionsBeerConsumable liquid that helps you survive the day
PvPFootballAn organized system of battle that accomplishes nothing of value
Gold FarmingMowing the lawnTedious activity resulting in a product that draws the envy of your neighbor
MagicComputer skillsA talent that is incredibly common and easier than it looks, but impresses n00bs nonetheless

It is a given that these things are supernatural or fictional, but most have a root in the real world. What about this one?

In Game:In Real Life:Criteria:
/Tellhmm... mobile phone?An annoying technology that lets you speak over long distances

In Eve Online, Anarchy Online, Planetside, the Matrix and the like, the /tell can easily be passed under the technology blanket, but in WoW, EQ and all the other medieval MMORPGs the /tell is a huge break from reality with no reasonable analogue. We have come to accept this suspension in reality as part of virtually every multiplayer online game and no one complains. In Second Life, an environment which attempts to simulate a world more vigorously than most, they've not only included long distance chatting, they've included the innate ability to fly for every avatar AND the ability to teleport to anywhere on the map. Needless to say, the convenience of flight and teleporting brings as many issues as it does bonuses. Anytime a player can transport themselves around a virtual world instantly the grandeur of the world is diminished to nothingness, especially in Second Life.

But what about /tell? Does it hurt these virtual worlds in any significant way? Is /tell a necessary evil? What would happen if they removed /tell and all other long distance chat lines from World of Warcraft for one week? Riots? Turmoil? Disaster? Massive lag around the mail boxes? Or would it improve the social interaction among players in close proximity? Would it bring a new peace and quiet to the world? Would the worlds be more immersive and tactile as a result of the greatest nerf of all time? It is a distinct possibility. Perhaps we can talk Blizzard or SOE into trying this for a week. Or not.

Submitted by Brent on Dec 04, 2006 17:08:46 CST (comments: 4)


'TellPhone...' by Wilhelm2451
Submitted on 2006-12-05 11:10:21 CST
Because flying on griffons or even travelling 20 miles from your place of birth in your lifetime doesn't break the medieval reality?

Okay, there will always be adventurers, just more than average in MMOs.

What removing all but proximity communication would do is hasten the adoption of hosted voice communication solutions like Skype, Teamspeak, and Ventrillo. Instant messenger services like ICQ and XFire would flourish as well. We would see a lot more /yelling going on as well. People would immediately work around the absence of long distance communication. Once in proximity with your group, things would remain the same, only more quiet, which might be a blessing.

/Tell, /whisper, or some form of direct communication has been available in some form in every online multiplayer game I have played over the last 20 years. It seems to be an industry standard. I am sure there are exceptions, but I have not run into one yet.

It would be amusing to see what would happen if WoW, for example, pulled all but immediate proximity communications, but I am not sure it would be a good thing. I might be one of the few people laughing.

'Super Experiment' by Brent
Submitted on 2006-12-06 16:04:25 CST
I too would be laughing and would love to see an MMO with an established audience try something like that. I think you might be right about out-of-game chat channels as alternatives. That's exactly what would happen between friends and guilds, but what about the people you run across in world?

Obviously I'm sorta making a joke here, but I also do wonder what it would be like to have less instant travel or log distance chats in these games. As an experiement.

'Here I am talking about UO again...' by Psyik
Submitted on 2006-12-06 20:25:45 CST
Back in the old days, UO didn't have a /tell or /whisper or any thing so convenient. We had these little glowing crystals, which functioned exactly like an in-game IM. They were magical items that could like to each other, and you could communicate with friends that way.

Needless to say, they were never used. ICQ got a pretty large boost of users from that. I remember having a 6-digit number at some point (which I have since lost, and I'm sure it's been deleted from their servers long ago).

Either way, the evolution of the /tell was as follows: UO don't include it on purpose, trying to get players to resort to the crystals if they wanted long ranged communication; players use ICQ instead. Since then, other companies just haven't bothered trying. A noteworthy exception is Eve, where I believe you're muted when podded (I don't remember, as I had no one to play with and left the game long ago).

'Communication Crystals' by Psyik
Submitted on 2006-12-06 20:30:40 CST
That's right! Wow... Kinda obvious... And it seems they could translate ghost talk. Like anyone cared. ICQ FTW


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