Mic Technique pt 7: Etiquette
Hopefully now we all have working microphones. Let’s end this series by talking about mic etiquette. Blowing out someone’s ears or speakers is a fast way to find yourself squelched. Of course the first thing you should do is set up your mic appropriately (see previous segment).
Open mics are an invitation for poor mic etiquette and embarrassing situations. An open, or live, mic is one that is actively transmitting signal. This means that it will pick up EVERYTHING constantly. If you leave your mic open you will need to be much more aware of your mic. Things like eating, drinking, chewing gum, smacking your lips, turning and yelling at your kids/wife, your kids/wife yelling at you, dogs barking, fans and everything else that might be around you will be picked up and transmitted to everyone else. Of particular concern here are your own speakers. While the rest can be exceedingly annoying, your speakers can cause feedback. If you prefer to play with an open mic, please make sure you are in a peaceful environment. Also, never touch an open microphone. It is a horrendous sound to have someone tear off their open headset and drop it on the table.
Instead of using an open mic, players can opt to use push to talk. In this mode you must push a button to open your mic. If you simply push the button it will open your mic and then you must push the button again to close it. If you push and hold the button then when you release the button your mic will close. Push to talk is by far the best way to use a com communication (which is essentially what DDO voice chat is). By doing this we drastically minimize the above concerns. Of course you can still end up with an open mic, but this will be exception not the rule.
My personal preference is to have my push to talk button on the side of my mouse. This puts it in a convenient easy to use position that utilizes a non critical finger. Whether you use a gaming pad, a controller, or keyboard and mouse, I recommend trying to find a similar key to use. Don’t be too concerned about making a transition to push to talk. Especially if you find a good key you will find yourself naturally pushing to talk. If you find that whichever finger you do use twitches when you speak in person, consider reducing your game play time.
When you are talking try to maintain a relatively even volume. This will help you not only set your mic up better, but will allow other folks to adjust to you. You will find that if you run with enough people, there is essentially a normalized setting across a server for mic gain. This is because everyone is constantly adjusting each other. When the loud guy joins the group, he is immediately told he is too loud. Over time groups of players develop a normalized setting and as those groups intermingle they merge until most of the server is normalized with a constant degree of variation as new people populate the server.
When you join a group, even if it is full of players you run with regularly, gauge the talkativeness of the players. If you find that you are having a conversation with yourself, consider shutting up. If other players are chatting casually, it’s safe to assume that you can join in. A group that is quiet is far more likely to alienate a chatty PUG than a chatty group is to alienate a quiet PUG. As a general rule, even chatty groups will stop talking for major fights and quests where some degree of coordination is required. Raids are a good example of this since they tend to have more intricate fights, though even here a group in a good groove may resume a degree of talkativeness. Regardless though, always be ready to let the party leader be heard.
It also helps if you acknowledge instructions. Typing such an acknowledgement is probably best so more instructions can be given. Nodding assent is not going to work very well, you can only be heard not seen.
Keep this in mind too; talkative players tend to prove themselves to be noobs more than quiet players. I do not mean by this that you should not ask questions, for advice, or for help. What I do mean is that most of us have met at least one player who absolutely knows something to be true when in fact they are completely wrong. Opening your mouth invites the opportunity to prove yourself a fool.
Remember this above all else, many players play with headphones, so a sudden loud noise will be painful and irritating (and land you on my squelch list)