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Saturday, January 29, 2022

‘Discord’ 101: All you need to know about the go-to communication app for gamers

Here’s a quick rundown on the popular messaging and voice chat app, ‘Discord’: Tips, features, and more.

Written by Rahul Chettiyar | Navi Mumbai |
Updated: December 4, 2021 8:42:00 am
‘Discord’ 101: Everything about the messaging app for gamers. (Image credit: Discord)

In an online multiplayer game, communication is key. Up until 2015, players relied on third-party applications such as TeamSpeak and Skype to talk or discuss strategies in-game. These software did serve the core purpose, but had several issues ranging from latency (lag), a barebones texting system, paid features, and an overall bad user interface. Most people hated using them but had no other options at the time.

Enter, Discord – a free new app that allowed high-quality voice, video, and text chat both in-game and outside. The concept behind Discord came from Jason Citron, who initially wanted to create a social media network for mobile games. The idea soon shifted focus towards online PC titles, wherein the in-built communication system wasn’t feasible enough. This led to the development of their own chat service, geared towards user-friendliness and minimal impact on performance.

Today, Discord is the industry standard for communication in eSports and LAN based gaming tournaments. (Image credit: Harrisburg University)

Today, Discord is the industry standard for communication in eSports and LAN based gaming tournaments. Even people who were not really into gaming took notice of the app and started using it for their daily tasks such as calls, video conferences or meetings, and even file sharing. In fact, Slack is heavily inspired by it. On Discord, you can add friends, build your own communities, host watch parties, and do a whole lot more. Here’s a quick rundown of all the cool features and tips that make Discord stand out from other voice/video communication platforms.

How to use Discord?

Getting started on Discord is quite easy. The software can be accessed for free on Windows PC and macOS by visiting the official website. Between the two variants – desktop and browser, we would recommend you to pick the downloadable one as it has more features. On Android and iOS devices, you can download it from their respective app stores.

Discord log-in/registration page. (Screenshot)

Upon signing up, you’ll be asked to enter a username and the app will assign you a unique ID (example – yourname#0000). This number will then help you to add desired friends from a vast pool of similar usernames.

Discord’s create Server Button on the left side panel. (Screenshot)

Once on the home page, users can initiate conversations by clicking the Plus(+) button on the left-hand side pane. This opens up the server prompt, where you have the choice of creating your own or joining an existing community. Let’s start by creating a server.

Discord’s Server Creation screen. (Screenshot)

On the right-hand side, you’ll see the server members and their activity status – online, offline, idle, etc. The left side features the general text and voice channels, above which you’ll see plus symbols. These allow you to add more channels, where members can hold casual discussions based on several topics. For example, groups for games, movie talk, anime, food or pet photos, etc.

Discord Channels; you can add more by clicking the ‘plus’ icon. (Screenshot)

Inviting someone to your server is as easy as clicking the “Invite People” button. This creates a custom invite link, using which others can join. By default, this link is set to expire in 7 days. But you can set it to never expire by clicking the checkbox.

Creating a custom link to invite someone to your Discord server. (Screenshot)

You can also join other public servers by hitting the compass button on the left side panel. This allows you to explore vastly populated official communities. Using the search bar, you can find servers based on your desired topics or games, and request to join them. Upon approval, you can engage in conversations and add friends from that group. To join private servers you will require the invite link that I mentioned earlier.

You can request to join public servers by clicking the Discover (compass) button on Discord. (Screenshot)

Discord Features

Discord packs a wide range of settings that allow you to customise its appearance, accessibility features, and even a Streamer Mode toggle that hides sensitive information from viewers.

Profile Customisation – By default, the User Profile tab lets you set a custom avatar and enter a bio. On the Appearance section, you can set font size, spacing between letters, and a magnification slider that lets you adjust the zoom levels. Discord also lets you add filters for NSFW content and features several language settings to choose from, including Hindi.

Discord Profile Customisation. (Screenshot)

Accessibility – For people with colour blindness or some other form of disability, Discord has added a number of accessibility features. Users can adjust the colour saturation based on their eye stress levels or even listen to the text-to-speech version of a written message. It also features a ‘Reduced Motion’ segment where people with motion sickness can disable GIF movements or animated emojis.

Discord Accessibility Settings. (Screenshot)

Voice and Video Settings – Before heading into a call and blasting someone’s ear off, it is recommended that you test and adjust your mic audio. In Voice Settings, users can set their default input or output volumes and test their microphone sensitivity by speaking into it. The app instantly plays back a recording of your voice. Additionally, you have toggles for noise suppression, echo cancellation, and the ability to enable push to talk.

Discord Voice Settings. (Screenshot)

If you don’t own a webcam or refuse to show your face, you can pick between a set of video backgrounds, offered by discord. If you want to use a custom one, you’ll need to purchase a Discord Nitro subscription (we’ll get to this below).

Discord Video Settings. (Screenshot)

Streamer Mode – If you’re live streaming on Twitch or YouTube, there is a good chance that you might end up leaking sensitive information ranging from emails, phone numbers, or billing information. To prevent that, Discord has added a Streamer Mode toggle that hides all of that data. An in-depth setting also lets you pick between what information you’re okay with showing and even disable notifications.

Discord Streamer Mode. (Screenshot)

Discord Nitro

Discord Nitro is a paid subscription-based feature that adds more profile customisation options, emojis, and superpowered chat features. Priced at $9.99 (about Rs 750) per month, the feature lets you stylise your profile with a banner and add an animated GIF avatar. You get access to 300 Nitro-exclusive stickers and the ability to use custom backgrounds for video calls as well.

Discord Nitro. (Image credit: Discord)

It also upgrades your screen sharing resolution from the default 720p to 1080p 60FPS, allowing you to host watch parties in high definition. File sharing size increases from 8MB to 100MBs, while the text chat character count goes up to 4000. Besides that, you get to pick custom tags, an exclusive badge, and animated emojis. If you’re the owner of a server, you can ‘Boost’ it to earn special perks such as more emoji slots and better audio quality.

Tips for Discord

Keybinds – If you’re someone who uses Discord rigorously, shortcut keys can be very helpful in getting your tasks done quickly. To access them, you can simply head over to the Keybinds tab in settings, where you’ll see an entire list of keyboard shortcuts. Memorise the ones you use the most, or you can create your own.

Discord Keybinds. (Screenshot)

QR Code Login – If you happen to be in a situation where the Discord desktop app happens to log out or you’re trying to log in from a new computer, the phone app should come in handy. For some reason, the Discord app rarely ever logs out of handheld devices. So, you can use the in-built QR Code reader to scan and instantly log in.

Discord QR Code Login. (Screenshot)

Discord Overlay – During intense situations in games, it might be difficult to check on your Discord notifications or calls. By enabling in-game overlay, you won’t have to tab out of your running application to check on them. Every notification will pop onto the corner of your screen, and if you don’t like that, you can disable it in settings.

Discord Overlay. (Image credit: Discord)

Windows Settings – Startup applications put a lot of stress on your RAM (Random Access Memory). So, it is advised that you head over into Windows Settings and prevent Discord from launching upon system bootup.

Discord Windows Settings. (Screenshot)

Two-Factor Authentication – To protect your account from unauthorised access, it is highly recommended that you enable Two-Factor authentication. Once configured, you’ll be required to enter both your password and an authentication code from your mobile phone (SMS) to sign in.

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