July 23, 2009

MMO Voice Communication

Meanwhile no serious gaming approach takes place without some kind of voice communication. A good & quick group communication is key to flip the odds in your favour. Setting up ventrilo/teamspeak server has become very easy and maintaining a server is not that expensive. Can you remember the early days when not many had larger voice communication channels and we were eg. "learning" Molten Core in WoW with only using chat to coordinate all the people? Especially for the group/raid leaders it can be a pain to maintain a bunch of macros to explain encounters or to adjust the strategy pending on what is happening. Tho i still swear since (at least listen to) voice communication became nearly mandatory, sometimes it feels like some people shut off their brain and just wait for instructions. If you play with a good & smart group tho, using eg. ventrilo makes it a lot more fun, as you'll have time to clear an instance or coordinate RvR activity and have some fun chat even while doing the encounters. And some people are really slow typers, so a headset can help there as well.

Most of you will have realised that some time ago UGT servers became a sponsor for my blog. UGT does not make me rich, but they additionally provided me with a ventrilo server i can use at my will and always wanted to try out setting up my own. So far this was never necessary because all the guilds i was part of had a great voice communication setup. But i was curious about the possibilities and how tricky it would be to set up for "normal" computer users. During one of our Lost Vale runs i figured this was the right moment to try out my own vent server. I assume the location of the server does not matter as much anymore as it did some years ago, but still its a good idea to choose a centeralized location depending on where the most players are located, the one we used is located in Amsterdam.

Setting up the server is really easy to do, you just log into the control panel and with a few clicks the Server Wizard will guide you through the process and you're ready to go. The config interface is plain and simple, but well organized and you'll find everything you need to get going quick. After the initial setup, which took me only a few minutes, you can already use the server and are online. If you want to access advanced functions or set up different channels/users later on its no problem to do so either. But i really liked the fast initial quick wizard setup, which enabled us to get going into Lost Vale on the ventrilo server without much waiting time. During the whole run the sound quality (GSM 6.10 codec) was crystal clear for all of us and my ping stayed around 140 all the time, with no packet loss i can remember, a very enjoyable experience. The wizard and the four page quick reference was enough to answer all questions and set up the server to my liking. The only thing not very intuitive is their FAQ, since you have to click to expand the questions, but the mouse pointer does not give you any indicator you can. No big deal for me, but some might be irritated. Interesting payment option is a paypal link your guild mates can use to help paying for the upkeep.

If your guild does not use voice communication yet, you should really try it.

Tip of the Day: For ventrilo, if someone is very low/high on volume on vent, right-click the user and choose Miscellaneous -> Special Effects. Now choose Volume -> Add. There you can adjust the volume of that specific user towards your liking. Helps a lot to maintain a pleasant overall volume level for yourself.

Do you think you could play MMOs without voice communication anymore?

Hmmm.. i still have this idea in my head about an orchestrated instance run, where you play music on vent fitting the encounter or instance part. Came up with the idea during those long MC crawls back then, but never came around to organize it. ;)


WeRT said...

Imo 100000k better is TeamSpeak. Because:

1) freeware
2) automatic adjust on channel from the low to high volume. Better then adjust volume to every single person.

Dorath said...

"Ventrilo normalization" helps quite a bit with different people coming in at different volumes. Highly recommended. Directions in the link.


Thulf said...

Sound quality on vent is usually a bit better tho.

Thanks for the info! I'll try this out...

Anonymous said...

Here are the steps I posted on my guild's forums. Ventrillo Normalization makes everyone's voice the exact same volume. In essence, you won't blow your eardrums out
or have difficulty hearing people.

Here's how:

- Go to Setup
- Enable Direct Sound
- Select the SFX Button
- Select Compressor and click Add.
- Under Compressor Properties use the following settings:
- Gain = Adjust for how loud you want people to be. (I use 15)
- Attack = 0.01
- Release = Around 500
- Threshold = Around -30
- Ratio = 100
- Pre delay = 4.0


Sharon said...

Ooh, thanks for the info on normalization. I use vent a lot in both my WoW and WAR guilds, and I always manually adjust the volume for everyone. I love my vent. :)

Anonymous said...

In europe teamspeak dies because there's no v3. Now we'll use mumble/murmur. it's open source and very quick with more quality than vent.

try it

Anonymous said...

normalization not only the voicechat in MUMBLE. it normalize the gamesound too if you speak in mumble

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