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Thursday 17 April 2003

Death to Roger Wilco! [lurks]

Those of us old enough to remember when EED played games in competitions, will remember that we wrangled long and hard over voice communication software. Back then the choice was Battlecom or Roger Wilco. We favored Battlecom because it more technically competant, allowed you to select the particular codecs and featured a client-server architecture rather than the weird pseudo p2p style in RW. It also just had more buttons. We like buttons in EED.
Unfortunately a few things happened. Some sort of DirectX upgrade started making Battlecom get flakey, Microsoft duly bought out the guys who made Battlecom, Canadian outfit ShadowFactor. Of course what Microsoft then proceeded to do was turn the shareware into Gamevoice, take away all the controls over the workings and remove some other features so that they turned an excellent bit of software into a steaming pile of turd. That being so they could sell it to retards with their own headset controller puck software thing that we don't want.
Incidentally there's a nifty support site for the proper old Battlecom software. They've even got downloads for the old client and server.
Anyhow after destroying Battlecome, big up the Microsoft. Of course now all that tech is behind the voice tech in XBox Live so it wasn't a complete disaster. Unless you just wanted voice comms on the PC of course. Sigh.
Anyhow, so Roger Wilco got a couple of updates and started not to suck. It sounded bad, the latency was poor and there's bugger all controls. However the latest version isn't too bad. It's nagware but otherwise free. We've been using it for donkeys on and off. The only real problem with it, other than the audio quality, is how people get disconnected mysteriously and there's no warning and no indication in the GUI - only a reconnect will fix it.
So, belatedly, to the point of this goddamn blog! Turns out there's a new kid on the block voice comms software wise. TeamSpeak. Actually it's not even that new, I recall taking a look at their website a long time ago but they only had some early version 1 stuff knocking about. Having been prompted to take a fresh look, I fired up the TeamSpeak 2 RC2 client.
Hey, it's good! It installs a new low-bandwidth voice codec called CELP. The GUI is clean and straight forward. The settings are there as you'd expect, it's welcome to see a choice of codecs suitable for varying bandwidths - although in fairness, pretty much every setting is an insultingly low amount of bandwidth for broadband users. The lowest sounds acceptable, the 2nd lowest sounds excellent.
It doesn't have a kind of level set-up wizard like Roger Wilco has. That's a bit of a shame because right away in early tests there were your usual people with hideously loud and hideously soft microphones and fucked up voice-activation settings and whatnot. Roger Wilco tends to set things up for people although plenty just skip through that and mong up the settings as well.
What there is, which is welcome, is a simple local test mode. You whack that and you can play with your mic and voice activation levels and you hear back, with a second delay or so, what you said as others would hear it. Nice one. As usual, the more people can be persuaded to use a key for push-to-talk the better :)
Zero issues from this end concerning sound drivers and working in games which can be more problematic than you'd think. However I'm running bog-standard SB Live type hardware, it'll be interesting to see how it works on fucked up stuff like Am runs (some pro audio card with 96-bit audio or something but mashed DirectSound drivers).
I did notice, with a little annoyance, that I had to manually set my sound control panel to record microphone. I don't have to do that with RW, it records that as standard. See my sound card records Line In virtually all day because that's what my lair's Sky Digibox is plugged into. Ah well, a truly minor niggle.
There's a bunch of shit in the software for managing users, channels and having 'ops' which can do various things like specify the codec everyone will use. It isn't clear if the Op can move people into channels which is a feature we've desperately been needing for team vs team type games.
Anyhow, we're about to give it a live test in tonight's Raven Shield sesh so I guess we'll see how it goes with a trial by fire.
Oh, it even has a Linux server too, which could be handy eh Slim? :)


  1. We had a good test on this last night. It seemed to work flawlessly. The improvement in sound quality was quite notable. Comedy events, however, included Am's self-described 'nighttime whisper' voice which Slim requested he desist from as his deep 'Doctor of lurve' voice was giving him a hard on. Then again, while sneaking about shooting terrorists we were all treated to a domestic at the Slim household due to the modern miracle of voice-activated mode and non-muting mongitude. Quality stuff indeed. Big thumbs up for Teamspeak all around, now if only we can get the Swede on it...

  2. So we can hear him fuck?