Looking back, this is probably the first blog post I should have made. There are often people playing DDO at the same time you are that are willing to offer help and advice. But if you are a new player and have only re-sized the Chat Box and maybe moved it, you might not get any help or advice until you are a little more aware of how it works.
IS ANYBODY THERE?
The default Chat Box has 4 tabs, and starts you out on the General tab. Depending on where you are located and what you are doing, typing into it and reading from it can be useful, or just downright frustrating. If you type something in the General tab and don’t get a response, it doesn’t mean everyone on the entire server is ignoring you. In fact, the General tab defaults to the general channel which is localized to your area. And there are lots of different areas. So what you type there is only available to be seen by those in the same area you are. And if they leave your area, they can no longer communicate with you in the general channel. However there are other reasons why someone might not see what you type there.
First off, the General tab is the kitchen sink of all Chat Box tabs. By default it shows you not only every chat channel that another player could use to send you a message, but also almost all the informational messages that the game generates. If you are in a quest, you will see messages from the Dungeon Master, enemies, etc. scrolling by in your window. Even if other players in your area are also using the General tab, your message may be hidden among all these game generated messages and they are unlikely to scroll back and look for chat from other players when they finish their quest. So once a player steps into a quest, they may not be able to easily continue a conversation they were having with you in the general channel, much less notice that you want to start a new one.
The general channel also tends to be a social channel in some areas, especially the Harbor. So quite a few people will filter it out. There are however two other localized channels that can be used that are monitored by some who filter out the general channel. One is trade, and as the name implies is used for buying, selling and trading items. The other is the advice channel. While this can sometimes contain things that are not about playing the game, most people by courtesy will only talk about game related things in it. So if you are trying to get advice from more experienced players, you can chat in the advice channel. You only have to start what you type with /advice and a space before your message.
Another reason someone might not see what you type in the General tab, and thus the general channel, is that they have switched to a tab that does not display the general channel by default. Even new players at some point will discover that if they switch to the Party tab by clicking on it with the mouse, messages will go only to their fellow party members. But the default set up of the Party tab will also filter out a lot of other messages that the general tab shows, so it is often desirable to use it when you are in a quest. But it does not show the general channel. So other players might not be seeing your message because of this.
The party channel that is used in the Party tab is also a server wide channel. So while the main purpose of forming a party is to go adventuring with other players, parties can be formed just so several people can converse in their own private, server wide chat channel. So those you might be trying to communicate with might have just switched to the Party tab for that reason as well.
TALKING TO ANYONE, ANYWHERE
So the party chat channel works server wide. No matter where you or another party member is, you can always see each other’s messages sent in the party channel. The same is true of the guild channel which the Guild tab defaults to. Once you join a guild, messages typed there can be seen by any of your guild mates, no matter where they are, as long as they are using a Chat Box tab that shows the guild channel. But what about talking to anyone else who isn’t currently in your local area?
There are user created chat channels, and we’ll cover that next. But most people usually just want to communicate one on one with someone else no matter where they are in the world without having to join that person in a party, or be in the same guild. For this, there are tells. And you can even use a tell to just take a conversation you are having in the general channel, private. To manually initiate a conversation with another player, you can type /tell, a space, the first name of their character, and then your message. But there are lots of short cuts to the process.
If you already see a message from the player you want to converse with in your chat box, you can position the mouse pointer over their name and right click to get a menu of options, including Tell, which will type /tell and the character name for you in the chat box. And if you just received a tell from another player, you can reply to it by simply typing /r and a space.
The Social panel (some of which is covered in the LFMs post) also has buttons to send tells to players, which will fill /tell and the character name in the Chat Box when you press them. For the GROUPING tab, the tell is sent to the party leader. For the FRIENDS and WHO tab, the tell goes to the player you select from the list.
ADVANCED CHAT BOX
Sometimes you will see people mention chat channels. What they are actually referring to is user created chat channels. These are server wide and supposedly have no limit as to the number of players who can join the channel. Each channel has a name, created by the first person to join it. That person has the option of password protecting the channel, so that only those who have the password can join it. There is no directory of these channels. If you don’t know the name of a channel, you can’t join it, even if it is not password protected.
How do you create/join/talk in such a channel? The command to create/join a channel is /joinchannel followed by a space and the channel name (and possibly a password). To talk in a channel, you preface a message with /userchat1 for the first channel you belong to, /userchat2 for the second, etc. up to the maximum of four channels you can belong to. But like lots of chat commands there are abbreviated versions. You can type just /1 for /userchat1, /2 for /userchat2, etc.
For a full list of every special command you can type in the Chat Box, type /help. In the list provided you will also see some fun things like /dance, /laugh, and /cry. And you can use /p to talk to your party and /g to talk to you guild. But if you want to do something really advanced, you can customize the chat channel tabs.
If you right click on a chat channel tab, you will get a menu of six options. The first four have to do with manipulating the number of tabs and chat windows you have. You can Rename the tab you clicked on. You can Undock the tab and create a separate Chat Box. You can Create a new tab. Or you can Rename the one you clicked on. All of these commands refer to chat windows. The tabs are actually Windows that have been “Docked” together. If you hold down the left mouse button, you can move a tab to “Undock” it and create a new window, or drop it on an existing window to become a tab in that targeted window. When a tab is docked with a new window, it becomes the last tab in that group. So it is possible to re-order your chat tabs by undocking them and then redocking them.
But even if you don’t create more tabs or windows, you still may want to look at the last two menu options, Incoming Text types and the Outgoing Text type. When you type in a chat tab/window, unless you start the message with a /p or /g or some such, the message will go to the channel which is set by the Outgoing Text type menu option. So for the General tab this starts out as the general channel. For the Party tab, the party channel. But for any tab, this is settable. The Incoming Text type menu is a check list of all the available chat channels and game message types. Unfortunately you have to check or uncheck them one at a time. So fully customizing a tab might take a lot of clicks of the mouse button.