Saturday, 4 June 2011

Break Break FC - Fleet Comms in PVP

When you're out PVPing with other people, being able to communicate effectively is really important. This doesn't necessarily mean being strict on comms - some people will have their own preferences regarding comms discipline - however there are a few simple guidelines which will make your life much easier.


Why Voice Comms?

I'm sure we've all been in the situation in other games where a couple of kids with microphones succeed in doing very little other than hurl abuse and make themselves sound stupid. I expect that, combined with the inevitable shock of 'does my voice really sound like that?' puts a lot of people off using a mic for gaming.

However, let me illustrate with an example. A couple of days ago I was taking a fleet through lowsec. I'm currently flying with RvB, and for whatever reason a lot of those guys don't use mics. We narrowly missed getting a warp-in on a couple of hostile battleships, however one of our guys in a dramiel managed to catch their destination and snagged one of them. He wasn't on voice comms, and it took us a good 10-15 seconds to spot his frantic XXXXXXing in fleet chat. We got the warp-in and ended up winning the fight, but he lost his ship. Had he been on comms, we could have reacted the moment he got the tackle, and he would likely have kept his ship.

This is especially important if you're an FC, a scout, or anyone who might need to provide information to the fleet. Even if you're not expecting to have to use it, being able to speak up in a time-critical situation can make a huge difference to the outcome.

Me, Myself and I

The first golden rule of voice comms is to avoid referring to yourself in the first person where possible. Unless you're in a relatively small group and you've been flying together long enough that everyone is able to easily recognise each other's voices, 'warp to me' is inevitably going to be followed by a delay while people ask 'who is me? can you x up in fleet?'. On the other hand if I said 'warp to Azual', my fleet would be able to respond much faster. The same is true of just about everything you say over comms where identifying the individual is important, from 'I'll get eyes on the opposing gang' to 'can you trade me some drones'.

This can be a bit of a strange habit to get into, but after a while it becomes second nature and really does make things easier.

Location Location Location

Whenever you're talking about a particular location, always try to be specific. A common example is when a target is spotted on a gate, and the fleet member who spotted him excitedly calls they the target is 'on the gate'. As a result, the fleet gets ready to spring the trap, only to realise they weren't talking about the gate they thought you were.

It's very easy to assume the FC knows where you are and thus knows what you're talking about, but with the level of information that most FCs have to process, that's far from assured. Again, get into the habit and try to be specific - which gate in which system are you talking about? When someone goes through a gate, be clear about which system they have gone into. I sounds like simple stuff, but it's easy to forget and makes a big difference.

Know When Not to Talk

Sometimes it's just as important to know when not to speak up on comms. Only one person can really speak at once and be heard, so in combat situations you need to make sure the important messages can get through.

Think about what it is you have to say, and how important it is. Ask yourself whether it's something that the rest of your gang need to hear now (i.e. it's time critical) or whether it's something they just need to be aware of when they have a moment. Where you draw the line will really depend on your fleet and the level of comms discipline you prefer, but personally I'll put non-time critical information (intel on empty systems which aren't in our direct route, or single ship movements which aren't directly relevant to the fleet) as text in fleet chat, usually in bold to make sure it gets picked up.

Try to avoid talking over something that might be more important - if the FC is giving orders or a scout is providing intel, don't talk unless what you're about to say is absolutely critical. Some corps will use phrases like 'Break Break', 'Check Check' or 'Recon' to clear comms and ensure the important information doesn't get overrun by chatter.

Finally, the gang almost never needs to know that you are dying. They might need to know that you're dead, and that information should be given quickly and probably in fleet chat (for example, '-1 rifter'). Whining on voice comms while your FC is trying to call targets is simply not a good idea.

Let's be Clear

As a final note, it's important that when you're talking during a combat situation people are able to take in what you're saying. Keep things short and to the point, and try to talk calmly - this can be easier said than done when your ship is exploding in a cloud of flames and duct tape, but it makes a real difference.

When giving intel, try to include as much information as you think would be useful, and try to do it without too much filler. Remember to give your location, and when reporting on enemy gangs focus on the important information - numbers and ship types. Avoid listing out every single ship in a large gang and summarise instead.

The need for clarity applies to FCs too. Just because you know who you've called primary doesn't mean that information made it through to your fleet. Use both names and ship types, and when facing a large fleet consider spelling out the first few letters of the name too - with the variety of accents in game, one person's pronunciation of a name isn't always the same as another's.

Finally, don't be afraid to speak up. When something needs to be called, be it a target or a piece of intel, it's always easy to just wait until someone else does it. Just remember that while you're sitting there your fleet could already be acting. So speak up - it's really not as bad as you think!

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The Altruist is the Eve Online blog of Azual Skoll, PVP instructor and small gang PVPer.

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