Cranial Inversion

A blog about personal views on Internet Search, SEO, Gaming and the Gaming Industry

Monday, September 11, 2006

In-game voice for MMOs

Voice chat programs have, without a doubt, revolutionized online gaming. They provide the ability to talk to your teammates in real time in the heat of battle or just kicking back watching the rendered virtual sun set. The services these programs provide have been very successsful with more and more gamers logging in and using the "push to talk" button to begin, at times, a more immersive feeling.

Some of the more popular services Ventrilo , Roger Wilco , and Team Speak allow for seamless communications with your friends while you are all playing, or not. They also provide you a way to communicate with friends while you are playing and they are not, in another game or vice versa. There are no boundaries, per say, with these programs.

Enter Vivox. This company is developing a program for use as an internal game hosted in-game voice program. An article written in Wired.com outlines the core of the capabilites. At first look it seems like a great addition to any online game. Persistent channels, outgame IM and even voicemail. There are alot more great features in this program. But there is one thing I see as a speed bump to it's usage. Latency.

What I mean by that being an issue, I mean how will the continous connection of this program to others affect your ping? With all things considered, CPU speed, the type of graphics card you have, amount of RAM, game settings, etc. , sound is often overlooked for game performance. But it does have an affect on your system's performance. As laggy as some MMOs can be, how much so will it be when you have abunch of people talking at you through a program in a game already hogging your system's resources?

Perhaps the good people at Vivox have already thought about that have been able to come up with a solution. After all, not all gaming systems are greated equal. Hopefully they have designed their new program with the lowest common demonator in mind. Or even the option to disable this program in the game (which is a no brainer, but you have to ask).

Another thought (from the cynic in me), with the addition of in game advertising and this type of voice chat programs in games, how long before the first unwanted podcast commercial for the Honda models?

In conclusion, I think that until this new system is tried and tested and meets industry standards (by that I mean the overwhelming approval of gamers everywhere) I think that gamers will continue to use the old reliable third party programs.

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