Posted by: clintworley | February 22, 2008

Vivox Integration – Voice Chat For FREE In EQ

As many of you have seen by now, SOE as a company has decided to integrate Vivox voice chat into many of its games, EverQuest included. We are in the planning stages of the whats and hows of the integration right now. I think this will be a great new feature for the game and the fact that it will be free of charge is even better.

I know that voice chat is a feature that can sometimes be divisive amongst groups of players—you’re a player who doesn’t like chat on a raid where most everyone else is on voice chat, or you’re in a group where there is no text chat going on because everyone is using voice. We will certainly do our best to make the use or non-use of this feature as flexible as possible, and obvious as to who is using it and who isn’t.

Of course, participation in voice chat will be totally optional—you’ll be able to switch the feature off entirely if you like. Of course, we can’t control what policies your groups or guilds put in place. This is an interesting new form of netiquette that has arisen over the last couple years—made even more interesting by adding a feature like this to already established games. Yet another part of the social evolution of the Internet.

We’d certainly like to hear your feedback on ways we can make this new feature work well for both the “voice chatters” and the “silent types”.

Here is the Press Release:

~ Steven “Sklug” Klug
Assistant Lead Programmer, EverQuest

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  1. I think this is a seriously great Idea if handled correctly, there would need to be the ability to lock out unwanted people from your raid chat, a Guild Chat, Group Chat, & Fellowship Chat. and an easy way to switch between them as well as listen to them all with a way of knowing which chat what voice came from. there was a Teamspeak add on that worked well in identifying what member was talking in an overlay prechance this can come as a window that just lists Channel & Character’s name, with buttons underneath to select which channel you wish to speak in. this should not be a hard UI window to construct… just some constructive feedback.

    Larul WolfCaller
    Spirit Walker (shamaness)
    The Rathe

    Fellowship of the Crazy Mo’Fo

  2. I think it kills the immersion. However, I recognize that it is a far more positive than negative thing. Part of the magic of an MMORPG is that you can be whatever you want to be, voice chat, especially guild/group enforced mandatory voice chat has the potential to destroy that.

  3. I think it is a terrible idea. There are third party programs that provide this service quite nicely. making this something easy for a random group to use will absolutely kill pick up groups for the large portion of us that dont use voice chat.

    Also, and this is similar to the immersion aspect mentioned above, EQ still has that old school MMO feel to it…Adding voice chat would pretty much singlehandedly remove that feel.

  4. Sounds cool to me.

  5. This is the best news Ive heard in awhile. Most of the mains in my guild currently use voice chat through a different program, weve tried them all and nothing has impressed us.
    One question though, when will the voice chat become available?

  6. Awesome.

    I suggested this to the Devs back at the Atlanta Fan Faire, as it seemed fairly obvious this is very doable. After all… many games all ready were making this a basic feature (expcially in console games).

    As it is, players are shelling out $$$ for the voice chat ability. This will actually SAVE players money!

    I am shcoked that Sony is actually doing something for free. Hats off to you!!

    My only concern is that it will need some “pre-set” channels like typed-chat has… meaning a Guild channel, common game-wide channels and even group channels.

    Example — the chat for a player may allow him to join any channel to chat and listen to, but the player may also be able to “monitor” other channels, if possible.

    Further, there will need to be limitations on the number of channels.

    Channels list for a player would be something like:

    CURRENT: GUILD: For your Guild only… chat/listen to fellow Guildies.

    CURRENT: RAID: For your current raid only, chat/listen to people in your raid.

    CURRENT: GROUP: For your current group only, chat/listen to people in your actual group.

    CURRENT: FRIENDS: A Guild channel where firends and allies of the Guild can chat/listen with your guild. Guild Leaders and Officers can grant temporary access individuals (invite them to chat) or designate standing access to ally Guilds.

    CURRENT: FELLOWSHIP: A channel for your current Fellowship only, so you an chat/listen to them.

    Players of course would also need to be able to “mute” players who annoy them.

    Officers/Leaders should have to ability to deny access, mute-to-all or boot/kick annoying players.

    Server wide channels should not be allowed. Leave those as typed-chat channels only.

    Lastly, I am not too keen on the idea of players being able to make their own channels… as it would only add to the server load and problems for voice chat. They can just keep their own private channels in the typed-chat venue.

    Just my 2-cents. :)

  7. I have always shied away from voice chat because it also kills immersion for me, however I am curious how this new feature will work out. Especially the fact that you can have your voice changed. Though there seem to be only 5 voices to choose from which could be odd. I am also wondering how those voices sound, are they nice Fantasy voices, or a garbled alien-sounding voice?
    I am also wondering if I understood it correctly that you can actually tune in to other players voice-chat? Will I be able to stand in the Guild lobby, turn on /Listen to All or some, and then hear everyone talking around me that have their voice toggled to /World can listen in or some?
    Because that actually sounds kinda cool, though it seems a bandwidth nightmare to me.

  8. I’ve used this in Lord of the Rings Online. I must say I really like it for groups. It is a good idea to add this to EverQuest.

    I would like to mention, however, that LOTRO voice does have one drawback, you can’t adjust the volume of each person you are listening to individually.

    Thus, if the party is six people, you might get 3 people at a good volume, 1 person who is too loud and 1 who is too soft. Telling the people who are too loud or too soft to adjust their microphone volume only helps a little, especially when everyone else seems to hear them fine and only you have the problem.

    I would hope that there might be some way to adjust the volume of each person, or even better, some kind of equalization (that you can turn on or off) to keep all sound at a level volume.

  9. I think it’s a great idea to give voice to those who are silent for lack of typing skills. For those who prefer the keyboard how about some more voice macros or the ability to record a few voice macros and make them hotkeys?

  10. voice chat has pretty much become a standard in all new games… so I think this is a good step forward towards keeping EQ modern

  11. If you really need some pointers, go check out World of Warcraft and their intergrated voice chat, and take the pointers on what NOT to do… don’t be cheap with the codecs allowed and have such crappy quality sound from the client. If you can achieve that then i think this would be a good substitute. Or you could work with it the way Teamspeak works with it. That way it’s not bothering anyone who’s in or out of group or on a raid. Have certain channels that only people with moderated status can control.

  12. This is a feature that I am very excited about and have wished existed in game since I joined a couple of years ago. There were people that used Teamspeak and other 3rd party programs but this leaves others out in the cold. I was really hoping that such a feature would be implemented from within the game and was going to suggest it when suddenly I saw the press release about it!
    I can see some people not wanting to use it and it is a clever idea to have it as a feature that people can turn on or off like the in-game music.
    For myself though it would be a valuable feature. Though I am no slouch at typing there are many times when voice chat would be great. For example, when telling someone longer details about a player class, spells , items, quests, directions for a zone etc.
    When in a group, sometimes the fighting is fast and fierce and it is very hard to squeeze in typing -you have to rely on canned hotkeys. It would be great to be able to communicate instructions on-the-fly while leaving your hands free for in-game fighting, moving and nuking.

    Last but not least , their are times you just want to talk with guildies and friends while medding , hanging out in PoK or the Guild Hall etc. and voice chat would really enhance that experience and make it better.

  13. In my opinion, voice chat is a superb tool for online gaming. In my eyes, it is a must. It brings faster communication and really makes things to a more personal level making online friendships even tighter. It also makes grind groups alot less boring.

    I can understand the whole roleplaying ppl and how voice chat would not fit for them. Maybe keep it off the roleplaying servers.

  14. I’m completely against adding this to EverQuest and any other game that doesn’t already have it. As the first poster said it will kill the immersion and in my mind, the magic of the game.

    Imagine if you will a little woodelf comes up and with her deep husky voice with a southern drawl says, “Haste me, will ya please.”

    Voice is fine for team based shooter type games but for a fantasy based rpg, I just don’t see the “need” for it.

  15. If you use voicechat in EQ then there will need to be a stand alone client as well. I never use voice chat on my main EQ PC as it is connected to a 5.1 system. But I usually have chat up and running on my second PC via headphones. I know in my guild I am not the only one who does this.

  16. I fall into the “I hate it.” camp I’m afraid, and I absolutely WILL NOT use it with the exception of during raids. I understand the utility, and I’m certain it will make the lives of raid leaders easier by several orders of magnitude. During raids I would hope voice chat would be restricted to ONLY the raid leaders. All other scenarios I can imagine are nightmareish.

    Outside of raiding though it will be silenced. Voice chat is fine for the teenager sequestered in his room. I, on the other hand, am an adult and my computer is in an open area of the house where I can interact with my family. My wife isn’t a gamer and puts up pretty well with my EQ addiction seldom complaining about the noises the game already makes. But if a bunch of people talking were thrown in (including me talking to those other people) she would probably go ballistic. And if I took to playing with headphones it would only solve half the problem while further antagonizing the wife.

    Of course, most of the people in my guild won’t really understand, so they’ll be chatting away and I will be sitting in silence, unaware that conversations are going on. They’ll think I’m ignoring them or don’t like them, so they’ll soon all be mad at me. And I suppose I’ll be thrown out of groups pretty much as soon as it is learned that I won’t be turning on voice chat.

    Oh well, I suppose that’s okay; Vinge is a Necromancer and pretty used to being hated and playing solo.

  17. Good idea .. being a ventrilo user.. for grps and raids .. saves a bucket laod of typing .. My worry .. when in place it, I hope we dont get the patch thaty will patch the patch that jack built .. and will b fully tested on a sever b 4 going live to all severs :-)

  18. You will find that the ingame voice chat a love hate thing. If it is only usable in a group or raid setting that might solve some of the immersion fears. I use it in both WoW and LotRO. It is a good tool for groups and raids. But should only be usable in a group or raid setting, but this is just my observation. Guild ect. voice chat should be left for team speak or ventrilo users.

  19. Add me to the “don’t like it” camp. I have said it many times but I really don’t care what people had for dinner or to listen to them tell their kids to go get them a bag of cheetos. I don’t care about what is on Lost tonight. When you get voice chat, you get all of this, like it or not.

    This game doesn’t need anything more to alienate players, and doing this will do that. It will divide those that use it and those that don’t.

  20. A really nice idea – of course I will have to confess that I’m British so of course with an English accent my voice will have a +100% augmentation to coolness :)

  21. I don’t think its a good idea.. I can’t see myself talking to others online while my family is wathing TV, playing other games, etc. It would be a distraction from the fantasy world. And I can’t see a fifty year old getting help from a teenager. keep the original EQ alone with the old school feel of a MMORPG!

  22. I like TeamSpeak but find it hard to set up (OK I’m stupid!). I’d like to hear some of my guildies speak and I know some of them like to hear me (another Brit). I agree with keeping it a group or raid or possibly guild thing though, rather than general chatter, which could get overpowering.

  23. Nice idea, though i dont think the channels should be hosted by eq itself rather any channel created being created shall be run by the first player to start it, if run off eq itself the lag increase will not make this worthwile for many players if posible put it in a seperate program you can choose to run therefore will not affect overall server preformance.
    channels should be Guild, Raid, Group, Fellowship, i belive guild should have seperate subchannels and raid channel should be able to be loged into by anyone but raid leader can assign only certain ppl to talk to avoid confusion. i also think a private voice chat is apropriate for those who may not be in same guild or maybe they are in a group and dont want others to hear it.

    -Just my imput Good idea tho needs to be thought out slightly better

  24. I’m a person who wants this. As long as you can disable or enable it, it works. But if you disable it, plan on missing out on half the things that go on in groups/raids. If someone’s going to tell you to do something over this client, and you have it disabled…Uh-oh, that looks bad. Muting voices will be nice, but people are soon just going to use this other than chatting, and people who don’t like this…will be missing out.

  25. As a PvPer I already use TS2 so if it works it’ll save a few bucks a month.

    The wife on the other hand *HATES* the idea. She gets enough grief as a G.I.R.L. as it is and having used voice in LOTRO even I saw how people’s attitudes change, totally for the worse, to really knowing a gamer is a girl. If all her guild and a majority of gamers are using this free service she can hardly switch it off. I tell you, she’s gutted at this news, it’s hit her really hard.

  26. I have to agree with zar’s other half.

    It’s very difficult to explain the changes in folks disposition towards a gamer once they hear her speaking over voice. Although with close, online freindships, it can certainly enhance the camaraderie; the otherwise ‘occasionally annoying’ minority within the teen male demograhic ramps up to horrifylingly graphic and invasive over night.

    I only ever use voice for guild raids and even then, there remains a perceptable shift in folks attitudes towards you but I’m not so thin skinned as to let that get me down. Everyone on voice tho? I don’t think the male majority can ever understand the impact it has on a woman’s game experience. It’s not pleasant.

  27. Generally I think it is a good idea to offer a voice integration as mayn mates like to use such a communication channel.

    As raidleader I prefer to use simple text communication via the raid channels plus some voice macros like “RAID FOLLOW”, “BATTLE” etc.

    Personally I often play EQ without any sound :)

  28. I think a voice server integration is a good idea. but i think you should be able turn it off. and also be able to choose which turn to talk in in which one to listen to

  29. The biggest problems I have had regarding voice chat is that quite often the users themselves did not know how to use their own mic.

    They either did not set it up in windows correctly or did not set it up in the options right. There was a lot of “noise” and sometimes people would sound like they were repeating themselves.

    Also some groups would not communicate with you using text. They would not even look at text in other games. I can see a lot of players either being passed up for groups or ignored simply because they don’t use voice chat. It is a lonely place when everyone but you uses it.

  30. How about if they added an option to ‘modify’ your voice ?
    You hear them all the time on tv shows where the kidnapper uses some gizmo to distort their voice so noone knows what they really sound like, or even if they male or female.

    I suppose the other option is to buy one of these gizmos and hook it between mic and pc.

  31. cool haha

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