How do you play a multiplayer game when the primary chat channel doesn’t work?
Edit 2: This bug has now been fixed. Keeping the post as a reminder of dire times in the past!
I think we can all agree that communication is halfway important in a multiplayer game. Sure, there are those who prefer to adventure on their own, not interacting too much with others. Among the rest, opinions might differ on what the primary means of communication is (World chat channels? External voice services?). However, for many, the local chat channel is high on the list. This is the channel where you enter text that players near you will see in their own chat window, sometimes also in the form of chat bubbles over your head.
In LOTRO, local chat happens the /say channel. Well, most of the time. Sometimes…
The /say channel is notoriously buggy. It has been buggy for ages.
How does /say fail?
For some reason, the range of the LOTRO /say channel is unpredictable. Other local chats, like the player /emote channel, /shout or NPC chatter, seem to have consistent long ranges. They never fail. Related to /say, though, you can sometimes stand three feet from another player, engaged in dialogue, until you realize the other player can’t see your /say text. Or that you are missing out yourself. Congratulations, you are yet another victim of the LOTRO /say bug.
Moving around might trigger the bug. Chat with someone in the far-off corner of an inn, then go to the bar to buy a drink, and you cannot be certain that /say will work between you when you return. This puts a damper on any movement-related interaction in LOTRO, for instance related to walks/travels.
Obviously, this bug has been a source of constant irritation in the roleplaying community in LOTRO, which relies on player interaction in /say. Musicians also have problems, given that they often introduce their songs or perform song lyrics in this channel. Any player group that relies on local player interaction is impacted by this.
Can it be fixed?
There are workarounds for the bug. At player events when many are gathered, for instance concerts, you’ll often see some players run around the room/area, trying to pass through as many other characters as possible (including the band). This is because close proximity to another player usually triggers the /say chat if it is bugged (although, it might resurface if you move too far away from the other players again). Other times, a relog is necessary to solve the issue.
It is an unpredictable bug, in the sense that it is hard to understand exactly what triggers it. Why is it only /say that fails like this, while other chat channels don’t? Are there bugs related to the range calculations between players? (well, emote and shout and NPC chat seems to work, so…). Is is related to the fact that /say is the only channel that can be displayed in chat bubbles? Are there other causes? Beats me.
Apparently, it beats Turbine as well. During the 9th anniversary 6-hour streaming event last Wednesday, Turbine answered a lot of questions from the players, including controversial ones like why the EU server move was dropped (contracts fell through). I saw a couple of dozen attempts at getting them to address the /say bug too. They didn’t answer it, at least not in the part of the stream I saw.
/say it isn’t so
Player chat is a pretty fundamental function in an MMO. It sort of beggars belief that Turbine hasn’t solved it yet, or (as far as I know) even addressed the bug in any detail.
It is time they stepped up to the plate.
Thanks for updates in the comments! Turbine did briefly touch upon the bug in the anniversary stream, in a chat between Baccata, Arbor and Frelorn starting at around 4:23:15 and lasting for about 3 minutes. Basically, their answer was we don’t know what that is, this is new to us, put more information on it in the forums and we might look into it.
Honestly, this bug has to be in their systems already. It has been /bugged many times, it has been mentioned on their forums many times, people have spoken about it for years. The bug has been here for ages, at least from 2011 (which is when I started putting information about it in my own event listings), possibly longer.
A new thread was just made here, to address it directly. Fingers crossed.
I had no idea this bug was in the game. Learn a thing every day. :)
I wonder if other MMOs experience similar bugs. Surely a fix should be possible.
It’s been around for ages, and it can be depressingly disruptive for interactions with other players. Especially when players start asking “Is he/she saying something”, then run around to try fix the bug.
I thought for sure I read or heard on a podcast that Frelorn and the devs were just made aware of this. I have to call hoary-auroch-poo on this, as this issue was also brought up when the bug was initially introduced back when the instruments were were being “updated”. It seems that either, A) They’re incompetent to the level that they’ve let this fall through the cracks, or B) Chose to ignore it and play dumb when it has been brought up again. Either way, very sad that this is still an issue.
Thanks for the update!
Lina <3 I LUV yu for that excellent review about the say bug!
(been a long time I try to express it myself but I do not know enough well english to do it as yu did)
The /say bug part when they tried to answer is here : https://www.twitch.tv/lotrostream/v/63137842
begins at 4:23:00 by Tim & Rebecca
Their answer…. something like, we don't know what you speak about but we will try to reproduce it in game ;)
Thanks for the update! I just relistened to the Twitch stream (they started touching upon it just after I fell asleep). It is pretty amazing if they aren’t aware of it, given the number of bug report on this for years, also the number of times it has been mentioned on their own forums.
I watched almost the whole stream to figure out, looks like I missed this point aswell but glad they caught the question! “They don’t know what it is.” Seriously? Turbine is so funny sometimes. Like when they talked about wich class should be fixed mentioning guardian being too strong *facepalm* No, don’t ya fix hunter that has been broken since HD… specially that they fix things by playing the classes themself.. Araborn said she plays hunter!
One would hope it was more “I can’t recall this bug” than “we’ve never heard about it”, but… well…
Let’s see if they manage to shift into gear now. I’m not really that hopeful after all these years, but it’d be great if this one was finally fixed.
I’ve heard other players complain about this bug a couple times in the past few months, but this is the first time I’ve actually seen someone explain what the problem really is. Now I wonder if I’ve ever experienced it and just didn’t realize it.
I think that there are many who have been victim of it without knowing over the years. And wondered why the other player was so rude as not to reply to their friendly chat *grins*
This bug is one reason why bands sometimes output their lyrics in two channels when performing at large events, like Weatherstock or similar. Having lyrics in /say is great because of the chat bubbles. These are useful to avoid depending on the chat box, which tends to be spammed hard with emotes. It also helps those streaming the event. But given how unpredictable /say is, players sometimes use /shout, /rp or /regional in addition (the two latter are somewhat problematic on their own, given that players across the region are spammed with lots of strange lyrics while questing merrily alone in a far-off corner).
Yup, I’ve certainly been to a few concerts where I haven’t realised there were lyrics being sung in /say until other audience members commented upon them ~ such songs just appeared to be instrumental pieces otherwise. I know the bug can be got around by moving near or through other characters, but if a performance is already underway I think it can seem disrupting (if not rude) to do so mid-song.
The run around the crowd-dance is a clear indicator of who knows about the bug *giggles*
The /say bug is the single most annoying thing about lotro to me these days. I can stand next to someone and have it without knowing it. Once I do rid myself of it, I can move a foot or three away and get it again. At Ales & Tales, I have had it happen while I’m playing in the band and another band member is singing… RIGHT beside me. It’s very frustrating!
Oh aye. I usually luck out from just running around the room once, but you always have that nagging uncertainty that you’re missing out on something anyway.
LOTRO is the only game I have played with basic bugs like the /say problem and saddle bounce. It is difficult to convince new players to join when they see so many problems in their first hours of play. It gives the impression that the entire game is half-baked and buggy.
There’s HOPE <3 we're on the good way! Today, Arbor said in lotro.com say bug thread : […] Hopefully we'll be able to find a fix for this. […] Rejoice! ./Toasts
Thanks! Fingers are well and truly crossed!
One thing that I could not tolerate on Landy was these toons that had many different copies of themselves at the same time. Having multiple toons on at the same time should be band on all MMO’s.
I realise that this discussion is old, but the topic itself remains current. So I hope I am not out of line by adding my own comments at this point.
I suspect that the “/say bug” is not quite a *bug*, so much as an unwelcome side effect of an *intentional* (and rather sophisticated) feature.
It appears that, rather than being defined as a simple radius, a character’s zone of /say channel awareness persists along the path she has moved. The purpose is likely so that your “hearing” extends farther into areas where you have already been than into areas you have not yet reached.
As it is apparently tied to the path, and not to objects, other characters’ movements will not affect your awareness zone. Thus, running through an audience right before you sing will do nothing to help them hear you when you return to the stage. Also, if you have not moved at all, then you should be able to hear a new singer or speaker who stands on the same spot as one you previously heard. (However, if that spot is very near the end of your zone, someone right next to or just beyond that spot may be out of range.)
I do not know the formula by which the game defines the zone, or what the threshold distances are. Nor do I quite know how it is affected by backtracking or changing direction, or even the shape of the zone – possibly a teardrop (and bent along the path) or an oval (radial distance from the points along the path).
But say, for instance, that the hearing range is nominally 20 meters (again, I do not know the actual numbers) for points you have most recently passed through, and only 10m for points you are approaching. If you and a partner start at the same spot and walk in opposite directions, you will still be able to hear one another when 20m apart, but you will not perceive the chatter from anyone who is more than 10m ahead or to the side of you.
While that may be preferable for *most* situations in the game, it makes it very difficult to know where your hearing zone is. And, as most of us have observed, this is *especially* problematic for stage performances.
One would naturally assume that if we are in range to hear the music, we should be in range to see the lyrics (or announcements or recitation). But no…if you approach a venue from elsewhere, you will not see the lyrics if you stop approaching when you hear the music. (Music reaches 30m in front of a musician, but your say awareness range is considerably less than that for points you have not recently visited.)
Furthermore, if you move toward the stage just close enough for the lyrics to appear, and then you begin to back away, they will soon vanish again (because most of your recent path is still *behind* you, rather than weighted in the direction of the stage). Again, I do not know exactly *how* the zone is determined. I am just making my best guesses based on my own observations, many of which seem to contradict one another.
For example, at the Bree Festival Grounds Stage, I often find that the only way to “hear” from the very back of the house (such as from one of the raised terraces) is to run *through* the singer herself and *directly* back to my position. That should set my entire “recent” path on a direct line toward the singer, with none of the path remaining behind me and the singer at the far end of the zone. However, if I rushed the stage at a point a few meters to the *side* of the singer, or traveled in an *arc* back to my spot, the lyrics often fall out of range when I reach the back of the house.
Similarly, I will sometimes lose them again if I then take a step to the side (or even forward), as that seems to drag my awareness zone such that the least recent points fall from my focus. If you’re a dancer, you probably take *many* such small steps during a concert – either to halt a dance emote or to adjust your position relative to a partner or the characters around you. (Of course, the steps of the dance animation itself will not affect your /say awareness zone – dancing does not alter your position as far as the game is concerned.)
The solution I would like to see is to have a setting (either in Chat Options or Social Options) to turn off the path-based /say channel persistence, so that it will act as a simple radius.
Alternatively, and even preferable to a simple radius, would be to have the range weighted toward the direction the character is facing – such as a 25m radius from a point 10m directly in front of the character. Maybe call it something like “Audience Mode”.
That would easily encompass the stage’s 30m music range (so that, if one can hear music, she can be certain that she is also in range to see /say) and probably all of the audience, without being bothered by chatter from non-concert-goers and NPCs far to the rear. (Hmm…do NPCs even use Say channel? or are they in a different one? In any case, it would be nice if Audience Mode could also suppress NPCs so that we don’t hear Ada Musgrove giving dance instructions or have all those chatty NPCs in the Pony flooding the Chat window during RP.) It would also help ensure that the performers do not miss any audience comments (which is a seldom-mentioned adverse effect of /say zones – as a musician, I really hate missing audience responses).
Currently, having player music reach farther than /say perception results in players hearing music without realising that they are missing lyrics. However, an Audience Mode extending say range beyond that of music would not create the opposite problem, because you can tell visually by the notes flying off the instruments whether there is music playing. Furthermore, losing the lyrics by facing the wrong way isn’t really any worse than the current situation, in which seemingly nearby characters may be just outside of our zone or in which music volume drops off when we turn.
I agree that this is a very annoying problem with LotRO right now. I see that Zed has linked to this page, but I wonder if Halgoreth could post this whole comment on the main Turbine forum? We need Arbor or another blue-name to reply.
[…] The /say bug will be fixed, and the range of /say will be increased from 15 to 25 meters. […]