Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Having a Voice in Second Life

Last week Linden Lab announced the beta release of their new voice technology. Not that voice communication wasn't possible already; last month I experimented with Skype and blogged about it (Voicing Concerns in Second Life). Beta testing is starting this week, with an official launch to start sometime in the second quarter. Text based communication will still be an option, and avatars who choose not to use voice can display a "speech not enabled" indicator. Speech will be "proximity based" with sound changing to indicate position and distance. There will be three usage options:
  • General speech audible to anyone within hearing range
  • Group conference calls that include anyone in a group regardless of their location
  • One to one personal communication
They are also working on speech animations that trigger the beginning, ending and intensity of speech.

The biggest consideration about making voice part of the platform is how it will effect the performance. Second Life is struggling to cope with the 30% growth it is experiencing each month, but this feature should not effect performance on the grid since the voice is provided by 3rd party servers. It will however use more bandwidth, so quality will depend on each person's individual connection. It seems to me that it could even result in better performance on the grid since less text messaging will occur as voice takes its place.

More information and points of view:
ZDNet: Integrated voice coming to 'Second Life'
Who's On Second - podcast: Episode 16 - Everybody's sister Jeska Linden

1 comment:

Aleister Kronos said...

There's quite a good article on SLNN about the impact on role-play:

As I say in my response, I assume that some bright spark will produce filters to help disguise the voice. There seems to be a lot of rumpus kicking off about this - and I fail to see why.

If it's not appropriate or desirable to use it - don't use it!