- TS redirects here. For other uses, see TS (disambiguation).
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. It is also known by the acronym "VoIP".
World of Warcraft Voice Chat
As of Patch 2.2.0, a VoIP client is built into World of Warcraft and 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.
Mumble is a free 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 it does not work in WoW as there's no safe way of getting that information to outside programs.
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 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 an evolutionary step of Voice over IP (VoIP) group communications software. By offering surround sound positioning and special sound effects on a per user, per channel, per server or global configuration level the program provides each user the option to fully customize exactly how they wish to hear sounds from other users or events.
Ventrilo is best known for its superior sound quality and minimal use of CPU resources so as not to interfere with day to day operations of the computer or during online game competitions. It is also preferred for the simple user interface that any first time computer user can very quickly learn because the most commonly used features are immediately visible and can be activated with a single click of the mouse.
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.
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.
Since Ventrilo is essentially streaming data in real-time, the location of your Ventrilo server is of import and you should make sure to work with your hosting provider to have it positioned as close to you and your guild members as possible.
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.
- Mumble has very low latency while having better audio than both Ventrillo or TeamSpeak.
- Mumble is the upcoming VoIP client.
Choosing your VoIP
There are many possible choices. If you start small and want to with you friends while playing, you will most likely start with Skype. Since Skype has limited conference support, you will quickly leave there again (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 to you guild, most player will only join, if you support their favourite system — or don't want use VoIP.
If you want the best quality system, look toward Mumble. It is the newest, has low latency, and very good quality. Hosting is also cheap, since the provider doesn't need to license it. Downside — you will need to convince ppl to try it.