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When I started playing UO the preferred method of extra-game communication was ICQ. Back then ICQ was new and fresh and small and extremely cool. It wasn't particularly good for large group chats, but it worked quite well for one-to-one communications. Unfortunately ICQ has changed a lot over the years. Now it is a bloated, and intrusive mess that insists on sucking bandwidth you pay for with obnoxious advertising. Fortunately, there is an extraordinarily good alternative that has already been partially embraced by GoL. The alternative is IRC (Internet Relay Chat).
Reasons to use IRC in place of ICQ are numerous, but the two biggest reasons are:
Many of you reading this may be asking yourselves "why do I care if it's and Open Protocol or not?" very simply, if America Online decides to charge for ICQ access, you will be at their mercy. An Open Protocol means this can never happen which means that you the user will always have choices available.
The second reason to use IRC is that it can be used to build community. One of the primary reasons people play UO is because of the friends they meet online. IRC can build on that sense of community by providing a public forum for guildmates to interact with each other even when they are not in game.
In addition to creating a public forum, users may create private one-on-one chats using using the /QUERY feature, or using DCC CHAT. If you need a meeting with fewer people than the complete channel, but more people than one-on-one chat allows. It is a simple matter to create a new channel and invite the necessary people (e.g, the recruiting committee could create a channel called #gol_recruit or #gol_interview).
One other complaint I have heard about IRC is that you can't know when someone has sent you a message. This is simply not true, and is quite easy to configure in most IRC clients (we will be discussing mIRC here). In addition to knowing if someone has sent you a message, you can also "listen" for other words or phrases. So if Xena wants to find out if people are fomenting rebellion, she could put "Xena Sucks" in her list of words and phrases to watch for, and any time it occurred in the channel she could have her client play the William Tell Overture and go running in to the channel to find out who had said such nasty and untrue things about her.
An additional benefit of a single gathering place for the GoL community is never having to call for help more than once. When anyone is set upon by a hoarde of vicious mongbats, instead of figuring out who's online in ICQ, and then figuring out if they are in the game or not, and then paging them one after another to ask for help, and then have them try and get together a rescue party...well you get the idea; all you need to do is yell for help in the guild chatroom, and a rescue party can be formed up by those who are available.
One small thing before we continue. I regularly see people joining GoL not saying anything and leaving, or saying "Hi there" and leaving. If you don't say who you are talking to, the notify features won't work, and if they aren't watching IRC, they won't know you are there. Also, don't come in and then leave, come in and stay. If enough people come in and stay, then there will be a nice community spot.
So lets make joining #gol as automatic as logging into UO...
There are numerous IRC clients available. Here we will be concentrating on using mIRC. While there will be some mIRC specific things mentioned here, most of the concepts should work in the IRC client of your choice.
I'm going to assume that you know how do download and install software so the instructions here will not go into that detail. That said, we will go into detail on configuring mIRC for use with #gol.
Please note that mIRC is shareware. This means that if you use it you should pay for it. If you don't pay for it I hope your conscience hurts as you are stealing from the author. If you don't want to pay for your IRC client I suggest you look at xircon which is free and quite functional.
After you have passed the registration box, mIRC will display the mIRC
Options dialogue box. The Connect item will be selected in the tree on the
Now fill in the Full Name, E-Mail Address, Nickname, and Alternative boxes. Click on the Connect to IRC Server button.
That's all there is to it, you have now successfully connected to the #gol chat channel (the #gol channel always exists because there is a bot named XS that keeps it open).
Now that you have successfully joined the channel, it's time to start chatting. There are a few different ways to chat in IRC...
Hey everybody, what kind of bow do you prefer?
Leo: What kind of bow do you prefer?
/msg Leo: I think that Rasman picks the wrong bows
/query Leo: What kinds of bows do you use in what situations
Method two is preferred over method one because method two assures that the person you are chatting with's nickname appears in the text. That way if the person is away from the keyboard, or doing something else, they will be notified that they have a message waiting. It is easy to place a persons nickname at the beginning of the message. Simply use the feature called Tab-completion. If I wanted to send a message with Xena's name. I would simply do this...
X<TAB> how are you this fine evening?"
If there is more than one person in the channel with a nickname starting
with "X" you can keep hitting
Ras<TAB>Ya wanna go hunt mongbats tonight dude?