[VOIP programs are linked at the bottom]
Ever since I started playing multiplayer games, I always liked the idea of VOIP. It beats having a 2-10 seconds delay on every message. Over the years I’ve seen some impressive standalone software and some proprietary. In my opinion, most proprietary software would be the least effective considering most of them have a small but noticeable lag time in some situations. The only one’s I’ve really encountered is the Battlefield’s VOIP program, Armed Assault’s “Chain of Command” channel system and America’s Army TeamSpeak application. The first two worked superbly, however it does pick up the sound from the headset and creates a feedback. TeamSpeak is a pretty good one with hardly any lag spikes. ArmA does have a channel feature, allowing various forms of speech to be projected from Direct (localized and distance based), Team (simply that) and Command being the supposed channel for the leadership. However since I started using VOIP, times have started to really change.
First of being localized chatter applications. Some games like Armed Assault have this feature to lessen the amount of chatter over large virtual distance. This have been applied to Mumble and TeamSpeak under certain supported games for this. Second is the method of compression to allow voice to be transmitted. Well if you are looking for some VOIP software, maybe I can help you out.
If you like playing games with voice, there is a vast select to choose from. Here is Mumble, TeamSpeak, and Ventrilo. The last 2 in the latter is mostly what I’ve encountered mostly when I’m online. Mumble is an open source software which primarily focuses on local chat. It’s pretty nice in terms of how you can send information to a few or to everyone. Downside being the support of the local chat feature. Like Mumble, TeamSpeak 3.0 versions have that local chat as well as settings to place people at a given distance as well as individually lowering or increasing another user’s volume. On top of all this new features like channel icons and a variety of customization features making it very versatile in the “look and feel” department. Downside? Server costs and licensing, so administrators beware. Next on the list is Ventrilo. Its versatility with Logitech G15 LCD display support, simplified settings and minimal display makes it fairly simple to use. To this, it has a profile feature; allow you to make a call sign and under that call sign have all the servers which you will log into under that call sign. This is crippling especially with multiple call signs since you would have to add each server on each call sign individually. The in-game HUD is marginally good. Upside to this is a free 10 slot server application allowing you to make a server for a small amount of people. Though it’s simplicity doesn’t carry over too well in it’s server program. This is mostly configuration files with the parameters loaded into a DOS display which at times may confuse you. Lastly, I’ve been looking around and found a new one I’ve been really enjoying. It’s called RaidCall. So far I find it pretty nice since you can create three 50 slot servers for free. It works is pretty easy from registration to start up. It’s not very simplified but if I could describe it, it would be between TeamSpeak and Ventrilo good. Though without all the bells and whistles, it maintains an honest latency of 45-50 ms (DSL at 300 mbps). Sound quality is fairly the same as TeamSpeak with a setup which is much more simplified than Ventrilo. Redeeming quality about this is that you can as the administrator to your own server, ban people based off of account ID or IP address. Downsides is that to join a server without finding on with the search is the ID number of that server. One thing I hate though I hardly had a problem with is how oversimplified the settings are. I almost didn’t have my microphone working. My recommendation would be fairly bias. If you want easy and simple, try Ventrilo. If you want more settings and customization features, pick up TeamSpeak. And if you’re half and half and you’re really cheap, RaidCall would be a nice pick from the litter.
Now I’ve dealt with the gamers; on you trend savvy internet social people. You guys get it great since most clients have their own proprietary voice which surpasses video games as well as webcam features to match. Windows Live Messenger (MSN for the people living in the 2000’s) is pretty good if you want to link towards your email account. Downside being from Microsoft and that it doesn’t auto-update itself from the last time I checked. This goes the same with AIM and Yahoo Messenger (might need to auto-update my brain for that one). A 1-up solution would be Skype. I do notice latency changes at certain times and depending on wire or wireless connection. This and the ability to call phones give it a nice method to call anyone around the world for a small fee. The new kid on the block, Google Voice, I’ve haven’t tried this but some of my contacts have told me that it’s very similar to Skype and the install is much lighter to only add in the interface (I’m using Google Chrome as a browser by the way). Back by popular demand, Google has free calling to North American numbers which (if you have a long distance relationship) would be the nice delicious icing on this chocolate cake. Overall all these I’ve mentioned have a simple setup and registration (Windows Live might be somewhat annoying), simple and minimal design and good quality sound. Big downside is that if you want to use it for video games, you will receive a large lag spike and maybe disconnections.
Like always, sharing is caring so post your views on VOIP and what you use or recommend on the bottom. Links to all the software is listed under. Almost forgot…TGIF!