Jon: Yo man, you up for some ET?
Jakub: Sweet, I haven’t played that in weeks. Where’d ya wanna play?
Jon: Umm… lemme fire up All-Seeing-Eye. Crap, NF and VDP don’t seem to be running, and JZ is full. Go to [obscure server name full of squares and ASCII symbols].
Jakub: WTF? Where the hell do you see that?
Jon: Sort by name, scroll down to the 2nd page and it’s halfway down.
[pause for 30 seconds]
Jakub: Don’t see it. What resolution you at?
Jon: 16x12. Look, just remember the IP address…
Jakub: Fat chance, the only IP address I remember is 127.0.0.1. Crap, I’m at 1024 b/c my good monitor fried itself. Lemme scroll down some more. Ah, found it. Cya there.
[2 minutes later]
Jakub: Dude, where are you?
Jon: I was telling Chris and the guys how to get there, then the server got full.
Jakub: Ugh, let’s start over.
How many times has the above happened to you? You’re trying to play a game, your favorites are full or offline, or you just installed and you need to find a server to play on. You’re trying to organize your friends to meet somewhere, using AIM or ICQ, combined with Ventrilo and All-Seeing-Eye or the internal browser. By the time you get everyone organized, the server is full or something comes up.
Or say you’re late to the party. Everyone is playing Headquarters in Call of Duty, but you have no idea – they all look like they’re offline, or are “Away”. Your only option is to be an ass and call, interrupting a perfectly good gaming session, or you could logon to the Ventrilo server and interrupt the team chat. Neither is a particularly elegant solution. No wonder Gabe and Tycho won’t shut up about Xbox Live, along with everyone else who’s tried it.
This is where Xfire comes in. It’s an instant messaging client for gamers. “Oh great, another…” I know what you’re thinking. If Dennis “Thresh” Fong himself hadn’t convinced me to try it out, it wouldn’t be on my computer right now and you wouldn’t be reading this article. Having actually tried it though, if I could have only ONE chat client, this would be it. It’s small, it’s fast, it’s quiet and most importantly, it makes playing online with my friends a whole lot easier.
How does it do that? That’s easy – Xfire tells you what game your buddy is playing (you can see the full list of supported games here -ed.), what server, how many people on that server, what the ping time is, and who the other players on the server are. If you have the game he’s playing, all you have to do is click ‘Join’ and you’ll connect immediately.
Not only that, but it will show you if any friends of your friends are playing. They won’t appear on your contact list until they’re playing a game, but if you hover your cursor above their names it will show you who the mutual friend you have is.
Finally, unlike almost every other chat client out there, Xfire won’t interrupt your games when you get a message. How many times have you had a game interrupted because AIM just has to pop up that stupid “Away” message window? Yeah, I know how you feel.