Command Your Army with Your Voice

Type Less, Talk More with Vivox. Risk-Free Communication For Gamers.

It isn’t very often that you see a company gain such a successful lead so quickly in such a competitive space as online games.  Vivox has done just that with their voice chat technology. I was lucky enough to have a first hand look in September at Austin Game Developers Conference. They are touting the clearest and feature-rich quality audio conversation experience one can currently obtain for communication in online games.

As any online gamer knows, it is vital to communicate with your guild mates and those around you in-game as efficiently as possible.  There are typically three options immediately available in any online game.  The first is through body language and basic movements.  The second is the most common, through built-in chat windows that allow you to type in commands and directives that you wish your group to follow.

Both of the first two choices are tedious, lengthy, and often result in errors when your chat history is scrolling like crazy with others around you also trying to communicate.  How does the guild leader or those in command rise above the chaos at hand to actually lead the group into battle?  The third and final possibility is with their voice.  The problem in many previous software solutions has been poor voice clarity, difficult to set up and operate, and a high price point that only a few could afford to purchase.

Vivox’s technology has changed the landscape dramatically, setting aside a lot of cost worries, as well as the setup and maintenance of the software.  The beauty of their technology is it is integrated directly into the game interface for those games that support it.  EVE Online, EverQuest, Star War Galaxies and Second Life are just a few examples that already have Vivox support.  CCP Games, Linden Lab, NCsoft, SOE, and 38 Studios are currently their largest partners.  Once the software is set up you’re good to go, with only basic adjustments and easy to understand controls.

Also, they handle the bandwidth, voice mixing and all traffic related requirements on their own servers, not through the game servers.  This helps to minimize voice lag and maximize overall voice quality.  The only thing required on your end is a standard computer and a broadband connection.  Naturally, a decent headset and microphone are recommended for optimal transference through the software, but nothing costly is required.

Players are making it very clear nowadays that if you are going to make a game it needs to have voice chat, ” said Monty Sharma, VP of Product Management and Marketing at Vivox and an admitted gaming geek in his own right. “We have seen voice chat transform the way players interact with the game and each other and positive business benefits for the developers as players are staying in games longer. There’s no limits to what games can do with the technology and we enjoy working with them and the players to push the innovations.

While the software is built to communicate via voice in games, it also provides a lot of features toward this function.  One of the biggest ones is the ability to alter the pitch, speed and various other attributes of your voice.  For example, let’s say you’re playing a mean Ogre.  It is incredibly easy to alter your voice, through a click of the mouse button, to make it sound more like how a deep pitched grunting Ogre might sound.

One of the ultimate tricks with any voice communication is ensuring you know who you are speaking with.  There could be three Erics, Joes or other common names in a large raid, but there are no duplicates when it comes to text communications.  Vivox allows the game to display certain source indicators, in addition to the pure voice communication, to ensure you know who is trying to speak with you.  They even support 3D spatial sound which helps you figure out whether the source is in front of or behind you.

Why would you want to choose Vivox rather than other services like Ventrilo and Teamspeak?  From the first moments of visiting their booth I saw that one of Vivox’s strengths is their commitment to the game industry.  They understand what a player wants, when they want it and what results they are expecting.  Vivox’s software and service are tweaked to that expectation. 

When speaking with Maggie Olsen, the newest addition to Vivox in her role as Community Manager, she had this to say, “One of the things that drew me to work for Vivox was their commitment to the game experience. Their desire to push their own technology and ability to apply feedback from the community to further games is unrivaled. I am loving working with the team and the community in making sure everyone has a voice – an awful pun perhaps, but so true ”.

There is only one catch that I can complain about at this time, and that is that their software is not supported by 100% of the companies out there, which really isn’t a reasonable proposition for this phase of the software anyway.  This is changing though, as they work with developers to ensure their software is compatible with as many games as possible.  To view a list of what games are currently supported, visit Vivox’s website at !

Mathew "Berek" Anderson
Community Manager, ZAM Network


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