In World of Warcraft, interacting with other players is optional. You can reach the level cap without ever joining forces with another player, without even saying hello to anyone on your realm. But by going it alone, you won't be able to master some of the game's tougher challenges, you will likely take longer to reach the endgame, and you won't have access to the game's most powerful magical treasures. Most importantly, the other players on your realm will miss out on the pleasure of meeting you. Your paths will cross with thousands of other people who share similar goals, interests, likes, and dislikes with you; so speak up, it's easy to make new friends in World of Warcraft.
This chapter takes you through the ins and outs of World of Warcraft's many social play features.
Meeting new people in real-life is intimidating enough. How do you introduce yourself? How do you start a conversation? Thankfully, chatting in World of Warcraft is easier and more casual than anything you’d encounter in the real world. Usually, in-game chat is text-based. You will see other people’s public conversations scrolling down in the game’s chat window, and if you feel like it, you can jump in anytime and either add something to an ongoing discussion or start a conversation about a new topic.
Filtering out the noise
The standard public chat channels are General, Trade, Local Defense, Looking For Group, and Guild Recruitment. You can join and leave these channels at will, and all players can chat there as well. These channels are mostly intended to provide players with proper channels for specific topics such as item trading or guild recruitment.
You can also create your own custom chat channels. The obvious advantage of a custom channel is privacy; only people in that channel will be able to read the conversations going on there. You can also moderate these channels, meaning that you can invite, remove, mute, or otherwise moderate chat in your channel if you want.
Instead of typing words to chat with other players, you can also use World of Warcraft's built-in voice chat system to talk. All you need is a headset or a microphone and speakers. Talking is a much faster way to communicate than typing; in the heat of battle, you may not have time to type out what you want to say.
Voice chat channels: Voice chat only works in special channels set up as voice chat channels. Group and raid chat can use voice chat, as can all your custom channels, but the public chat channels do not support voice chat, nor is there any area voice chat.
There are three notable types of chat you should be aware of: say, yell, and whisper.
Saying something is the most basic, fundamental in-game communication tool. When you say something, your message is only visible to players in your character’s immediate vicinity. Conversations between strangers, role-playing in public places, a funny joke to share at the mailbox – these types of interaction are frequently said.
Yelling is for when you need to reach out to players just outside of your immediate vicinity; things you yell can be read by players who are quite some distance away from you, but many consider it rude, especially if overused. Players often use yell to bark out warnings to friendly players that may otherwise be just outside of earshot. Say and yell are both forms of area chat, meant for communicating to nearby players.
Whispering is World of Warcraft’s private communication tool. Whispers can only be heard by the specific player you target with your whisper. Better yet, whispers are not restricted to your immediate surroundings, so you can whisper any player of your own faction on your own realm, no matter where they are. (Yes, you can even ‘whisper’ to someone on a different continent. Best not to dwell on this for too long.)
Parties and Raids
If you want to take on the greatest challenges World of Warcraft has to offer, you will need allies to fight by your side against the tides of darkness. With parties and raids, you get to rally other players to join you on your quest and defeat whatever evil stands in your way.
Parties are groups of up to 5 players; you should bring a party if you want to clear most of World of Warcraft's dungeons. Raids are larger than parties and are generally composed of 10 or 25 players; the toughest monsters of World of Warcraft can only be taken down by these large raid groups.
You can form your own party anytime and anywhere; all it takes is to invite another player to join your party. If he or she accepts the invitation, you’re now in a group. You can invite players via chat, through your friends list, or by clicking on their characters… inviting players and forming parties is easy.
One of the reasons why you’ll want to form a party with other players is so you can take on more difficult monsters and get the superior loot they’re guarding. Of course, that raises the question of how to fairly divvy up the loot among your party. As group leader, you can choose one of five different loot rule sets:
Free For All
Anyone in your party can search the bodies of monsters killed by your party for loot. Treasure distribution is essentially first-come, first-served, winner-take-all.
Everyone in your party takes turns looting.
Similar to Round Robin, with one key difference. Whenever the group finds special or rare items, everyone in the group can choose to roll dice, and the highest roll wins the item. If you choose to roll for an item, you can roll “need” if the item in question is suited to your character or “greed” if you want the item for other reasons.
The leader appoints one character in the party as the master looter. The master looter gets to search monsters first, and he is responsible for how the loot is distributed among the group.
Need Before Greed
This setting is similar to Group Loot, with the exception that characters who cannot use the item automatically pass.
If you create a group, you are that group’s leader by default. As leader, you can adjust some of the group’s rules (more on that later), add other players to the party, and you can also kick players out of your party if they get out of line. You can also promote another player to leader at any time; if a party’s leader leaves, another player is automatically promoted to leader.
Parties and raids are temporary alliances, but guilds are persistent groups of characters who regularly play together and who generally prefer a similar gaming style. If you are a member of a guild, you will have easier access to other players with whom you can form parties and raids, but there are a wide range of other benefits to being in a guild.
To show your support for your guild, you can have your character wear a tabard showing your guild’s colors and logo. The guild leader is responsible for making these design decisions; you have a wide range of icons and color combinations to choose from, so let your creativity run free and create a truly unique design that your friends will wear proudly! You also have to choose a name for the guild when you hand in the guild charter to register your new guild. This name will be displayed underneath every guild member’s name for the world to see, so choose wisely.
Just like with parties and raids, guilds have rules that their leaders can adjust and modify to give the guild structure and purpose. As a guild leader, you can:
Define Guild Ranks
You can create ranks with different titles and privileges within your guild. Some players prefer strict hierarchies, others like a more… freeform style of organization. The choice is entirely up to you.
Promote / Demote Members
You can assign the ranks you’ve defined earlier to the members of your guild, moving people up or down the totem pole depending on how they’re doing in your guild.
You’ll likely want your guild to grow and gain new members, but the day may come when you will have to assert your position as guild leader and remove players who are causing problems for your guild. As guild leader, you can add and remove players from your guild at any time.
Assign new Guild Leader
If you feel like your term as guild leader has come to an end, or if your guild members are calling for you to step down after that ‘unfortunate incident’, you can always pass the torch on to a new guild leader who will inherit all your powers and responsibilities.
One of the benefits of being in a guild is access to a guild bank. These banks work a lot like your character’s personal bank, except this bank is shared between all guild members with guild bank privileges (as set by the guild leader). Another important difference is that you can deposit gold in your guild bank; that way, all guild members can pool their resources and help each other out with repair bills and other expenses.
Every guild has its own dedicated chat channels providing all its members with a convenient means to talk to each other. The two standard channels for each guild are called Guild Chat and Officer Chat; the guild leader can set different access rights for these chats depending on your guild rank. Guild Chat is used for regular guild communication, while Officer Chat is traditionally only available to the guild’s senior members.
As your guild members grow in number and play together, your guild earns experience points that eventually translate into special perks and other bonuses for your guild as a whole. The more you play with other members of your guild, the more experience you earn for your guild.
Beyond parties, raids, and guilds, you will inevitably encounter other players who share some of the same interests, likes, and dislikes as you, people with whom you’ll end up chatting even when you’re not in a dungeon or on a quest; the kind of people where you don’t even notice the hours flying by as you swap stories, joke, and play together. In other words, you’ll make friends. Making friends and going on adventures with them is part of what makes World of Warcraft so much fun.
You can keep track of all your in-game friends via World of Warcraft’s Friends List interface. After you’ve added someone to your friends, this handy little frame lets you know when they are online and where they are currently hanging out. You can easily chat with your friends and even invite them to your group via the friends list.
Real ID Friends
Prior to the release of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, we added a new feature called Real ID to our Battle.net online gaming service. In a nutshell, Real ID lets you stay in touch with friends even if they are playing different games on Battle.net.
For example, if one of your in-game friends were playing StarCraft II and you were playing World of Warcraft, you wouldn't be able to chat with that friend; however, if you were both Real ID friends, you would both be able to see that the other is online, what they are doing, and you would be able to chat freely. Real ID is essentially a deeper level of friendship to connect players across all Battle.net games.
Chapter III: Playing Together