Vocola: Part 4 — Raid Healing and Communication

In Part 2: Healing, Abilities, and Multiple Characters, I gave three examples of how you can heal a group without the use of your hands:

  1. Referencing group members by name or alias (difficult when players names’ include non-standard characters)
  2. Mouseover healing, cascading to target-healing, cascading to self-healing
  3. Referencing group members by numerical index (1-4)
first-aid-sign

Within a raid environment, approaches 1 and 2 serve reasonably well. The numerical index system used in a group can get a little tricky, though. Because, while it’s possible for you to heal the thirty-second member of your raid by saying, Mend 32 to issue the /use [raid32] Swiftmend command, it’s difficult and kludgy to identify raid members visually (it would also likely conflict with your group-healing macro, depending on where your group falls within the raid). But by leveraging any one of the many grid-style raid addons, it’s possible to solve both of these issues.

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Vocola: Part 3 — Movement, Mouse, and Camera

It was obvious pretty early on when setting up my configuration that spellcasting was not going to be my biggest problem; movement was. Because while using abilities and casting spells, opening and closing interface panels, and even targeting other players are very binary actions, it is infeasible to play without the analog mouselook feature (I tried). I have had good luck using a SmartNav: EG head tracker at work, an assistive device I had purchased out-of-pocket to reduce my use of the mouse as a software developer. This camera tracks the movement of a small, reflective silver dot that you wear somewhere on the top of your head. That movement is then translated into mouse movement on-screen. Once I was certain of its efficacy, I requested that my work buy one for my use at the office so that I could take the one I had purchased home.

To hopefully pique your interest, I have created a short video of me demonstrating all of the techniques in this post:

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Vocola: Part 2 – Group Healing, Abilities, and Multiple Characters

In Part I of the Vocola series, I demonstrated several syntax features useful for creating flexible macros: alternative words, optional words, and variables. In a couple of examples, we looked at spellcasting macros that, while effective, would be difficult to maintain. In this post, I’m going to show you my latest iteration of how I am able to manage my many different abilities with minimal effort.

The key to the system I recently settled upon is recognizing that you have 3 distinct types of abilities:

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Vocola: Part 1 – The Basics

Dragon NaturallySpeaking is impressive software. It’s recognition accuracy is excellent. However, to unlock its full potential with macros and complex commands, you would have to purchase the Professional version for around $500, putting it well outside of the reach of many gamers. Thankfully, third-party software called Vocola can be used to replace — and in some cases, improve upon — the functionality missing from the Home and Premium versions of DNS.

Written by Rick Mohr, Vocola is available in two different versions: Vocola 2 works with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, while Vocola 3 was developed for Windows Speech Recognition. The syntax is slightly different between the two, but there is a primer of the differences available. (In most cases, you can use the same commands in either, but I will endeavor to point out the exceptions.)

Download and installation instructions: Vocola 2 | Vocola 3.

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Getting Started with Voice Recognition

A vital component of playing hands-free is some form of voice recognition software. To fulfill this need, there are two major players in the market: Dragon NaturallySpeaking and Windows Speech Recognition. While the former promises greater accuracy, the latter is included free as part of the Accessibility Features of any recent Windows operating system. (Note that there is a version of Dragon for Mac, but I have no experience with it and can thus not give my recommendation.)

Dragon NaturallySpeaking

There are actually three different versions of Dragon 13 available: Home, Premium, and Professional. For a comparison of the three different versions, you can see this PDF from Nuance. At nearly $500, Dragon Professional has the most advanced features, including the ability to write complex macros and commands. However, thanks to the free third-party software, Vocola — which I will show you how to use in a future post — you can get away with a copy of Premium, possibly Home (which I have not tried — YMMV).

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