Updated: Jan 8
On the one hand, COMMS etiquette keeps Discord clear and quiet. On the other, COMMS etiquette improves the in-game experience for you and your team.
There isn't a gamer alive that doesn't want a better, more intense gaming experience. For fans of Hell Let Loose, a better, more intense gaming experience is actually pretty easy to get. All you have to do is realize that what attracts people most to Hell Let Loose is not the fact that HLL is easily the most authentic WW2 FPS/RTS available to date. What attracts people most to Hell Let Loose is the promise of equally-awesome teamwork. Of course, not every match has it, but there is a way to inspire it. It's called basic comms etiquette.
What is basic comms etiquette?
Basic comms etiquette is a set of best practices for effectively communicating both in-game and in Discord, a popular third-party text/voice app (PC, Mac, Linux). What's more, these best practices are based on real-world military comms and are, thus, easily transferable to other FPS/RTS games of this genre (games like Squad, Post Scriptum, etc.).
In-game COMMS Etiquette
The goal of in-game comms etiquette is to deepen immersion. Immersion refers to a player's experience of a game as wholly absorbing. Win or lose, most players will tell you that the best matches they've ever had were those in which they were "really into it." In-game comms etiquette does this by adding an extra level of realism through the battle chatter. To deepen your Hell Let Loose experience and help others do the same, here are the best practices for in-game comms:
1) Open every dialogue using a player's call-sign, rank, or name
2) Identify yourself using your call-sign, rank, or name
3) Use clear, concise language
4) Communicate only what your see
5) Stay professional (i.e. calm and collected)
6) When receiving info/orders, use acknowledgements
Battles in Hell Let Loose can be intense. At such times, comms can easily become cluttered and confused. When this happens, the flow of vital information slows and may even stop. Nothing obscures a team's combat situational awareness like a lack of information. Here are a few examples of players using in-game comms etiquette in actual matches:
"COMMANDER: this is ABLE. I have an enemy garrison on my mark in grid DOG-3."
"ARTILLERY: this is COMMAND. Give me two HE on my fire support mark at Foy."
"TIGER: this is BAKER. We have a 'wrench' coming to fix you."
Call-signs and ranks are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are distinctly different. The words "ABLE,"BAKER," and "ARTILLERY" are obvious call-signs, but the word "COMMANDER" is sometimes confused with the word "COMMAND." The word "COMMANDER" is a rank. The word "COMMAND" is a call-sign. Grid "DOG-3" is not a call-sign. However, if used to identify, for example, two squads in grid DOG-3, then it is a call-sign. The following are replies from HLLTC players to the examples above:
"COPY, ABLE. All squads, be advised: enemy garrison on my translation in DOG-3."
"WILCO, COMMAND. Two rounds, HE, on the way."
"ROGER, BAKER. TIGER is holding for repairs."
Using "sir" or "ma'am" can inspire SQLs and commanders to do their best. Similarly, using a player's name instead of his or her role can be a real game-changer.
Tip 01: Stay Pro
Even when I'm playing with friends, I always use comms etiquette, especially "sir" or "ma'am" when talking to officers or the commander. It helps them and your squadmates be their best.
Tip 02: Keep it Real
Great comms are like great games; they're entirely up to you. If your squad or team is asleep, wake them with a dose of realism. I promise you: It's pure battlefield magic.
GOD-sSs-END here: Friends, I can't tell you how many times I've jumped into games in which the comms were dead and the teamwork was basically nonexistent. Then, with a little comms etiquette and a healthy dose of playing the game as if it was real, the squad starts to come alive, the team gels, and, after a short time, we begin to give as good as we get. Those have literally been some of the best, most dramatic games I've ever played.
COMMS Etiquette in Discord
The goal of comms etiquette in Discord (or any other third-party text/voice app for gaming) is to maintain immersion. Comms etiquette in Discord does this by setting simple guidelines for the proper use of voice channels to support your team's in-game activities. Special note: Discord is a great tool and can really help your community grow. But like any tool, it can also hurt you. Most players shy away from teams with loud, chatty voice channels. Here are three guidelines for proper comms etiquette in Discord:
1) While in a match, keep all communications in-game
2) See "current servers" before joining a gaming voice channel
3) If you must speak in the voice channel during a match, be brief
If you run a Discord server, I recommend that you create a "current servers" text channel and designate one or two members playing with you to update the game server, side, and voice channel your group is using (ex: "TEAM DIXX #3, Germans, PTT - WST").
In the above graphic, note the location of the "current servers" chat channel. It is located just above the voice channels. Ensure that this channel is not used for discussion. It should only be used for server, team, and related voice channel information. At the HLLTC, we also have a "team-up requests" text channel. This channel is used to schedule gaming sessions ahead of time. It's very useful.
Additionally, it is recommended that voice channels for gaming be set as PTT (or "push-to-talk") and that users bind the tilde key (the key above "tab") as their Discord comms key. The tilde key is used in very few games and is not used in HLL at all. The tilde key is also well out of the way of other HLL game keys but easily reached by the left pinky finger.
To bind a Discord comms key, click the gear icon next to your name in the lower left-hand corner of your screen (see graphic above). Then click "Voice & Video" in the "APP SETTINGS" section (see graphic below). Next, check the box next to "Push to Talk" and click inside the "SHORTCUT" input field. Select your desired comms key for Discord by pressing any key on your keyboard. This records your selection. Then click the circle with the "X" to return to the main screen. The "Push to Talk" box must be check to use PTT.
To use regular (non-PTT) comms in Discord, return to the screen in the graphic above and check the box next to "Voice Activity" in the "INPUT MODE" section. Regular voice activity is typically used in "general" or "open" voice chat channels.