Voice over Internet Protocol
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- "TS" redirects here. For timesink, a game development concept, see Timesink.
Voice over Internet Protocol (aka VoIP) is a method of transmitting audio over the Internet by encoding analog audio in a digital form, transmitting it over the internet, and decoding it back to analog form for listening.
World of Warcraft Voice Chat
Since Patch 2.2.0, a VoIP client was built into World of Warcraft and its features include:
- The default user interface will display voice chat information, making it easy to identify who is talking.
- The interface allows for clicking the portrait of the speaker to allow for easy assisting or healing.
- Expanded API to allow interface addons the ability to interact with the voice chat system.
- Push-To-Talk as well as auto.
- Can talk to party, raid or chat channels.
- Mute function (Same as Ignore).
- Automatic volume control for in-game sound if you or someone else is talking.
The patch went live on September 25, 2007 and included the built in Voice Chat. At time of release, only a few realms were slated to have the chat service turned on as to test it with all remaining realms to be enabled within the following week. Upon implementation, there were a few problems reported and Blizzard did rolling restarts on the realms to turn off the Voice chat functionality. September 28th, Blizzard had voice chat running on a very small list of realms since 7pm the previous night and was actively monitoring them. By late afternoon on October 1st, Blizzard had fixed the issue with voice chat and has since turned on the service for all realms.
Ask the Devs - Answers #1 | 2011-03-14 00:00 | Nethaera
A: We aren’t at all happy with the quality and feature set of Voice Chat. We think we can do a lot better. While we aren’t working on it right this moment, the next time we revisit Voice Chat, we want it to be an epic improvement, the same way Dungeon Finder redefined Looking for Group.
Mumble is a free/open-source voice chat application for groups. While it can be used for any kind of activity, it is primarily intended for gaming. Mumble has very low latency combined with good sound quality; it uses Speex extensively, not just the voice compression technology, but also the voice preprocessing to remove noise and improve clarity. Mumble is open source which means the source code is freely available, servers don't require a license, and people who are software savvy can alter the code and contribute to the project.
Mumble is able to sound much clearer then its other voice applications thanks to denoising. This is a standard part of Speex 1.1 and above, and any voice product already implementing speex should be able to trivially include the same filtering. Removing the noise from the input means that the audio will be clearer and that the needed bitrate will decrease. It takes fewer bits to model clear voice than it does to accurately represent the noise, so in any noisy transmission a large share of the bits will be noise modelling.
The client runs on any Mac, Linux or Windows machine, and you also need a microphone. The server is mostly bandwidth bound, so as long as your network hardware is sufficient it should run on pretty much anything.
Mumble has a positional-audio component that makes players' voices appear relative to other players' positions, but as it accesses WoW's memory, it runs contrary to the ToU (see §2.C) and EULA (see §2.D).
TeamSpeak, or "TS", is VoIP software for quality voice communication via the Internet. TeamSpeak's platform offers a client-server architecture where client and server software is clearly separated. This means the server product runs as a dedicated server, rather than peer-to-peer. The TeamSpeak server software is capable of handling thousands of simultaneous clients or users, which results in an Internet-based teleconferencing solution that works for a repertory of different applications such as an alternative to conference calls, cutting long distance telephone costs, or just as a method of personal communication with friends and family.
The software is released under proprietary license free of charge to non-profit entities while commercial or for-profit entities have the ability to become part of a licensing program.
Ventrilo, or "Vent", is another Voice over IP (VoIP) software released under proprietary freeware license. It offers surround sound positioning and special sound effects on a per user, per channel, per server or global configuration level.
Some people believe Ventrilo has better sound quality than other VoIP solutions.
Guild Site Integration
Since many guilds use Ventrilo as an important form of communication, some guild hosting sites have taken to offering Ventrilo as an optional add-on service/module.
One example integration is available on Guildomatic guild hosting sites, where Ventrilo status is updated in real-time and displayed on guild home pages as a popup display. Another example of integration is available on Ejeet Networks guild hosting sites, where Ventrilo status is updated in real-time and displayed on guild home pages as internal block which automatically adjusts to your theme. This allows guild members to easily see things like when their friends are online, which instances are currently being run, and so forth even when they're at work or somewhere where they can't play the game. Sample screenshots of the hover display can be found at the Guildomatic Ventrilo Spotlight page.
Ventrilo servers allow the administrator to configure various "codecs" with which voice data is encoded and transmitted. Current best practices are to use the GSM codec if your users are Windows-only, or the Speex codec if you will have MacOS users as well.
There are several different families of codec used by Ventrilo. The most popular are GSM and Speex. GSM is the same codec used in cell phones, while Speex is open source and available on all operating systems. If you have Mac users in your guild, you'll need to use the Speex codec. If you don't have Mac users, you may want to use GSM.
More importantly, make sure you have the highest quality codec turned on. Double check to make sure your Ventrilo host has all of the highest quality codecs available. Most do, but only for an extra charge. Be sure to read their site to see if they support the high quality codecs.
One problem that Ventrilo has is that it has no automatic volume normalization. While using "vent" you might notice that some people might be annoyingly soft whilst others are earbleedingly loud. To avoid this you simply have to change a few of the settings.
- Go to Setup
- Enable Direct Sound
- Select the "SFX" Button
- Select Compressor and click "Add".
- Under Compressor Properties use the following settings
- Gain = 15 (Change depending on your preference of how loud you want it to be)
- Attack = 0.01
- Release = Around 500
- Threshold = Around -30
- Ratio = 100
- Pre delay = 4.0
Advantages and Disadvantages
- The disadvantage of World of Warcraft in-game chat is that a disconnect from the game server will result in a total loss of communication, whereas in the case of a 3rd party client, communication will still be possible. When players are disconnected from the game server during combat or boss fights it is often useful to maintain communication, especially when a boss has been downed and is about to be looted. ("Wait, I have DC'ed, I'm busy relogging!")
- The advantage of World of Warcraft in-game chat is that it does not require 3rd party software. Setting up channels and passwords on 3rd party clients like TeamSpeak can often be quite challenging.
Choosing a VoIP
There are many possible choices. If you'd like to start small and want to speak with your friends while playing, you will most likely start with Skype. Since Skype has limited conference support, you will quickly leave it (Skype drops the conference if the player who has started it by inviting the third person leaves).
On most servers, there is one system prevailing. You need this one installed if you want to PUG. If you want to get your own server, you have a wide range of choices — again. If you are recruiting for your guild, most players would only join if you support their favorite system — or don't want to use VoIP.