We have a voice now in SecondLife

Alexander Howe having his first voice chat in SecondLife with PatriciaAnn

Linden Lab did it: since August 2nd and with SL Client version we have a voice in SecondLife ! This is so promising that I could not wait one more second to try it out.

Thus I downloaded, plugged in my headset, went through the voice configuration wizard and was teleporting around to find someone to speak to – to really speak to with my voice, not with my keyboard. Wow, folks, to me this is a major milestone in the history of SecondLife, a new era of much more efficient communication and collaboration in this virtual world.
On one of the IBM islands I bumped into PatriciaAnn and I noticed the white bubble over her head indicating that she was voice enabled already. Thus I started speaking to her and it right away worked more or less. We had to play a little with adjusting volumes and gain some more experience before it turned out to be a real nice experience and efficient way to talk. After a few minutes we really started to talk like I would have talked to her in real life. No more typing anymore, a more fluent conversation started building up.
Another avatar named Boris joined us. He seemed to have problems with his setup, he either came in too low or too distorted. Some other people joined and it worked more or less nice with them too.
Several hints I have collected so far:

  • Before you configure your voice chat in SL, ensure you have a headset plugged in and configured your audio settings so that your microphone is enabled.
  • Watch the white bubbles above avatars. They indicate who is voice enabled. When waves are ejected from this bubble this avatar actually is speaking. Watch your own bubble as well. If the waves turn red you talk too loud. Go to Edit -> Preferences -> Voice Chat -> Device Settings and adjust your volume.
  • Pushing the middle mouse button or the Talk button before speaking is like using a walkie talkie – thus a little odd for having a conversation. Nevertheless you can “lock” the talk button by clicking on the lock icon.
  • You can also use the “Active Speaker” window by pushing the button left to the Talk button to see who is voice enabled and to adjust the volume for each avatar in your neighborhood or to mute him. Initially the volume level is set to kind of low, thus if you hear someone not loud enough you might increase the volume through this window to hear him better.

“Talking” in SecondLife at the beginning might be a new and kind of weird experience, especially if you have been used to type on your keyboard. But after a while it becomes a nice and very convenient experience and a more natural way to communicate with other. We all will have to go through some learning curve how to deal with that, how to adjust our and others volume and how to fumble with these other settings like setting volume based on your avatars or based on your camera position, but I realized already that after a while it becomes a great experience and a much faster and convenient way to communicate.
How this will work out in big events with hundreds of people is another story and something to try out next. Performance should not be an issue as Linden Labs promises in their Voice FAQ since voice is supported by extra servers. This FAQ by the way is a recommended read to get started.

Nevertheless – a great step forward and congratulations to Linden Lab for getting this done !


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