TeamSpeak Rules of the Road
Frank “Dart” Giger enjoys painting the ground red with his virtual blood in the SimHQ ArmA server close to the ground and from 3,000 feet up in the IL-2 series of flight sims — and clogging the TeamSpeak channel by telling everyone about it. Who better to give us insight on proper (and improper) comms!
TeamSpeak, Ventrillo, and all the other VOIP programs have revolutionized online gaming, as it allows players to actually speak to each other while in a game or simulation rather than rely on typing in chat bars.
It’s the stuff of not just good gaming, but making friendships. I can count more than just a couple close friends that I’ve never met in person!
However, misuse of TeamSpeak (and I’ll be “Xeroxing” all VOIP programs by referring to them as TeamSpeak, as it’s the most popular) can also lead to frustration and even shouting matches, ruining game play.
Forget the griefers that surf TeamSpeak channels — it’s our good friends that can really goof up a session of ArmA or an IL-2 coop mission. Usually it’s a matter of poor “radio” discipline that hasn’t been learned.
The “rules” I’ve selected come from personal experience, I’m guilty of breaking all of them! Certainly I wish someone would have written them down for me early on — and I’ll probably need a copy of this article posted next to the monitor to keep me in line.
There’s a couple basic rules that can really help keep TeamSpeak humming along and still keep it fun.
Know What’s Going On!
Part of the fun is talking to each other and chewing the fat about everything from the best way to keep moles out of the yard to favorite music. I’m the first to point out that an all work and no fun TeamSpeak channel makes for a set of very dull boys.
Waiting for a mission to load, engines warming on an airstrip, players joining before a session are all good times to goof off and relax with each other. In flight sims, long transit flights to and from targets are good opportunities to compare the merits of the film Porky’s to its sequel.
However, when plans are being developed and the squad leader is describing the routes to the rally points, the flight is diving on an enemy formation, the fire fight is joined, or the “action” part of the experience is about to happen is not the time to give unsolicited views on the inconsistencies in FM/DM/AI modeling.
Some sessions are “relaxed” missions where things are pretty easy going and discipline isn’t as guarded. The tone of ArmA “Evolution Saturday” missions where a player may be in simulation for five straight hours is a lot more loose than the short “Military Mondays” where tight teamwork for intense half hour missions is the goal. Flying in a Dogfight server with my squaddies is a lot less concise on channel than when we’re flying a Wing Walker’s tournament for good reason. Understand which type of play is being attempted when you log on.
Press to Talk
If you haven’t set up your TeamSpeak for “press to talk,” you’re wrong. Full Stop. Bind it to an easy to reach key (mine is the big top button of the throttle on my X52 PRO).
First, voice activation is discourteous. Nothing is more irritating than low crawling silently to the military crest of a hill, pulling out the binoculars, spotting a patrol moving 200 meters out, switching to a rifle and taking careful aim…. only to have the sound of very loud telephone ringing filling the headset. We saw Star Wars, and know how Darth Vader sounds when he’s not speaking; hearing someone breathe into a microphone is maddening after about two seconds.
Second, it’s too much information. Nobody needs to hear the game through your speakers. We have speakers of our own, and you’re drowning us out. Everyone gets to hear every curse word, every kid yelling, dogs barking (!), the TV program in the other room, and the wife discussing the shopping list while a player is on voice activation.