Like amateur porn, just because you can some people believe that they must, the adoption of voice over IP (VoIP) has become an almost indispensable tool for the modern gamer. So many games require hands-on-keyboard-and-mouse at all times that it makes responding to an incoming chat message impossible. People think they’re being ignored, or someone forgets to check after the boss battle is over, and communication via keyboard just sucks.
The “standards” for a long time were Teamspeak and Ventrilo, but we’ve got a lot of other choices these days, like C3, Mumble, and Raidcall, among others. Most of these work great: the audio is great, people know them, etc. The downside, though, is that a lot of them overwhelm you with options — codecs? Bitrates? Accounts or no accounts? They also all require a server that you have to run, or pay someone to host.
Discord is kind of the opposite of all that. It’s got minimal setup, and no hosting fee. Anyone can set up a “server” and invite people to it. It offers both text chat (which persists between sessions, like a “wall” of your least favorite social network) and also VoIP at the same time. The best (and weirdest, actually) part is that it runs from a web browser. Technically, there’s nothing to download and nothing to install. You simply hit up http://discord.gg, log in, create or join a sever (via invite link), and you’re good to go. If you do want to download their desktop wrapper, though, you’ll gain notification toasts and push to talk (PTT) abilities.
Here we have the Discord layout. It’s the same whether we use the web or desktop app.
1. Server list. You can create a server, or join a server. You can inhabit multiple servers, although you can only participate in one server at a time, but are free to switch at will.
2. Chat and voice channels. Chat channels allow you to create rooms by topic to keep your text chatting organized. Voice channels can be created for the same purpose. You can participate in a chat and a voice channel at the same time, and can switch through each independently. There are permissions that can be set via a role system.
3. Voice controls. If you are using the web UI or aren’t using PTT on the desktop client, you can mute yourself or all audio here. You can also get access to some of the settings here.
4. Chat area. Type in the box, see it in the chat window. Simple! You can even upload images, and posting URLs provides a preview of the
porn cute animal pictures you’re linking to. Chat posted here persists between sessions, so be sure not to say bad things about other server members. HAHAHAHAH! Seriously, don’t.
5. People on the server. People who are currently live (or AFK) are listed here. A green dot indicates that they’re active; grey means they’re sleeping, eating, fighting off sharks, etc. You can private message people as well, and any open messaging sessions you have active will show up in section 2.
And that’s it! Really.
The only downside that I’ve seen is that Discord servers are invite only. If you don’t have a link to a server, then you’re not getting into that server. There’s no discovery service that lets you “friend” anyone, and you can’t petition to join a server. It’s made a tad bit more difficult because the links you generate to give access to the server are randomly generated, and while you can view the invite codes you generate at any time, you can’t copy them once they’ve been generated, forcing you to type intelligible strings to your friends (caps matter, because of course they do).
I’ve since stopped paying for a TS server because Discord is so simple to use and is always available through a web browser (except IE, probably, because of course it’s not). There’s also an iOS and Android app for your chatting on the go, you social butterfly, you!
I am not affiliated with Discord, but I do like pimping services that I find to be useful and friendly.