WoW Design Improvements: Chatting

This article is part 2 of 8 in the series WoW Design Improvements

Well, I took my time. Things are busy right now. As I’m waiting for the compiler to do it’s dirty deeds, I can spare some time on discussing the first feature in my series on WoW design improvements: chatting with other users.

Chatting in WoW stands in the tradition of all MUDs that came before it, and is reminiscent of IRC. What you type ends up as a message in a channel, and which channel that is depends on the type of channel and which channel you last spoke into.

Channels include:

  1. The default “say” channel: channel members, and thus recipients of your message, are those characters standing within a certain radius of your own. This and just about all other channels are sticky, that is, if you’ve spoken into the channel once, the next time you start typing a message it will automatically be sent to the same channel, until you explicitly switch channels again.
  2. The “yell” channel: channel members are those characters in the geographic region that your character stands in.
  3. The private “whisper” or “tell” channel: A two-person, private channel, this channel is non-sticky, that is, for every message you send you have to specify which person to talk to. The recipient may be anywhere on the game world.
  4. The party channel: A channel for two to five players, recipients include every character currently in the same party (group) as other players.
  5. The raid channel: A variation of the party channel, this channel can include up to forty recipients, all members of the same raid1.
  6. The trade channel: A world-spanning channel, intended to be used for trading with other players.
  7. The “Looking for Group” channel: A world-spanning channel, intended to find other players to group with.
  8. The guild channel: A channel private to all members of a guild, and thus the ideal channel both for general conversations and discussion guild-related matters. This is by default the channel you’ll spend most time in, because it contains most of the people you talk to on a regular basis.
  9. Various read-only channels: WoW uses the channel concept to report various game-related events to you, such as damage you may have taken, spells that have been cast on you, etc. As you can subscribe or unsubscribe to these channels, you can thus filter out unwanted information – what you cannot do is send messages to these channels.
  10. User-defined channels: You can define channels yourself, by picking a name for them. You can optionally assign passwords to the channels. They more or less follow the IRC concept, in that you have a channel moderator with special privileges, most notably that of kicking other players out. User-defined channels are non-sticky.

The list could go on for a while, but for my purposes, I’ve listed the most important channels. While the intent of this post is to criticize many of Blizzard’s design decisions, on the whole I have to say this concept of communicating through chat channels works very well, in most circumstances.

It works even better because the WoW client allows one to create several chat windows, each of which can be subscribed to multiple channels, and that can be positioned more or less freely in the user interface.

  1. A raid is a group of up to eight parties, each of which can include up to five players. []
  • dat nörmsche

    Gestern erfuhr ich von einer lieben Freundin, die wohl ein halbes Jahr oder länger in dieser VR versackt ist, daß man dafür auch noch Geld bezahlen muß? Und zwar nicht nur, indem man das Spiel kauft, sondern auch noch monatlich? Unglaublich! Du machst mir Angst, mein Lieber, insbesondere, wenn ich mir Frequenz und Intensität Deiner Beiträge zu WoW anschaue…

  • unwesen

    In der Tat zahlt man dafuer monatliche Beitraege – auch wenn mich diese stoeren, hilft eine einfache Rechnung, um sie in Relation zu setzen: Fuer den Preis von 1.5 Kinobesuchen im Monat bekommst Du nicht 2.25h Unterhaltung, sondern soviel, wie Du magst. Und kannst Dich dabei mit Leuten unterhalten, die Du sonst nie kennengelernt haettest.

    Nix, was einem Angst machen muesste.

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  • Merusk

    Both problems would be solved if there were special “invisible” synchronization channels, which could have a different (or, heavens forbid: no) upper limit.


    Just for your info; There is – and has been – an add on sync channel since sometime in late 2006. If you’re using add ons that still use sync channels, they’re either older unsupported add ons, or programmed by someone who doesn’t know this.

  • unwesen

    Having not attempted to program an addon that synchronizes with other players’ addons in any way, I can only go by what I’ve seen, though — and that is that a number of addons still “spam” the message window.

    Good to know there’s a sync channel, though! I’m always happy for one gripe less :)