Monday, June 18, 2007

Using Voice in Second Life with the First Look Viewer

Anyone game to try voice? Here's all the info I could dredge up from the Second Life web pages:

(Go to the URL above to download the first look viewer.)
First Look Viewers are test versions of the Second Life viewer. These viewers connect to the main grid, so that you can test it in your everyday Second Life. These are test viewers connecting to the live grid which means everything you do is for real. We want you to use these test viewers for your normal day-to-day activities, but please be aware that they might be buggier than normal.

Voice First Look Viewer:

This Second Life Voice First Look Viewer offers the Residents the ability to help us test the new voice feature against the Live Grid! Further information can be found in the related blog post here.
This First Look Viewer is in sync with the normal viewer. When updates to the normal viewer are released, we will update the test viewer downloads on this page.
If you're trying to find a voice-enabled region, take a look at this map.

Headset: In order to participate in the Voice Beta test, you will need a set of stereo headphones with a microphone (preferably digital USB headphones). You will also need to select your headphones as the input and output device on your computer (otherwise, your voice will feedback into Second Life).
First, please make sure you have a set of stereo headphones with a microphone that works well on your computer. We have tested many brands and most work well, but you may have better results with digital USB models like those from Plantronics and Logitech. For this beta release, please make sure your headset is the selected audio input and output device before launching the viewer.

Please Note: Voice is NOT enabled by default. To enable voice, please go to Edit > Preferences and click the "Voice Chat" tab. Check the "Enable Voice" box.
When you are on a voice-enabled parcel, you can simply walk up to another avatar and begin speaking in a normal voice (no need to shout!).

If your headset is correctly configured, you will see a voice "intensity indicator" over your avatar. This indicates that your voice is being sent to (and can be heard by) others on the parcel.

The voice intensity indicator will change color slightly and will grow and shrink along with the natural volume patterns and fluctuations of your voice.
If the indicator turns red, you're either speaking too loudly, the microphone is too close to your mouth, or the volume control on your microphone is turned up a little too far.
Please make adjustments until the voice indicator stays in the bright green range and only seldom flickers to red.

When others speak, you will see their intensity indicators and hear their voices as they will hear yours. Walk around someone who is speaking to you to hear the voice move around in 3D, based on where you are relative to that avatar. If you turn toward someone and move closer, for example, their voice will be louder. If you speak while walking around someone else, they too will hear your voice tracking your position.

Group Voice Chat is not based on your proximity to other avatars. This means that you can chat with other groups of avatars (either formal Second Life groups you belong to, or with a group of friends selected from your Friends list) no matter where they are in-world.

You can access Group Voice Chat by clicking on the "Communicate" button in the bottom left corner of the viewer. Doing so opens a new feature called the Chatterbox. You will see a tab called "My Friends", which includes Group and Friends tabs.

Select a group from the Groups tab, or select multiple individuals from the Friends tab, and click the "IM/Call" button. An active chat tab for that group will open, and you can click the "Call" button in that window (located to the right of the "Profile" button) to initiate a voice call with a formal SL group.
Initiating a voice call with a group of your friends works the same way as text chat with multiple friends. From the Friends tab, multi-select the friends you'd like to call, click IM/Call, and then click the "Call" button. If a friend of yours does not have voice enabled, s/he will not be able to receive your voice call.

Volume and Camera Position
Also, each speaker's volume is attenuated by their distance from your camera position. For example, if you are in mouselook mode and walk up to someone who is speaking, you will hear their voice become louder the nearer you are. As you move away, their voices will become softer until you won't be able to hear them at all.

You may use the camera controls (alt-mouse, for example) to create a momentary "audio focus" on a given speaker. This makes it easy to "pick a voice" out of a crowd of talking avatars while remaining in one location.
In the Voice Chat tab of the Preferences window, you can now choose where you prefer to hear voice from: 1) camera position and camera direction, 2) avatar position and avatar direction, or 3) avatar position and camera direction.

Push to Talk
Included in the beta is a new "Voice Chat" tab in the Preferences panel. The Voice Chat tab allows you to turn voice on and off and offers "Push to Talk" options to determine when your microphone is open.

When you check the "Use Push-to-Talk mode" checkbox in the "Voice Chat" tab in the Preferences panel, you can have extra control over your microphone. We have also added an on-screen Push-to-Talk control in a recent release.

A "lock" button on top of the Talk button enables you to hold "talk on" or "talk off" (so the button doesn't have to be held down manually to maintain either state). Please Note: The Push to Talk setting is ON by default, which means that the Talk button is OFF. You will need to press the Talk button and/or lock "Talk On" in order for others to hear you. If you would like to turn the PTT setting off, please go to Edit > Preferences > Voice Chat, and uncheck the PTT box.

The volume slider on the "Voice" tab allows you to set a "baseline" volume for others' voices. You'll be able to hear speakers' voices increase or decrease in volume as you move the slider, which allows you to set a more comfortable overall setting for the voice volume you hear in world.

The "Talk" button is an on-screen Push-to-Talk button. If you have Push-to-Talk enabled in the Preferences > Voice Chat window, you can push the "Talk" button (using your mouse) when you want to talk and release the Talk button when you're finished. If you'd like to "lock talk on" (to avoid pushing the Talk button in and out to speak), just click the "lock" button on top of the Talk button. This will lock the button to it's "on voice" or "off voice" setting.

You can still control Push-to-Talk settings through the Preferences > Voice Chat window as well.

Now, you can check the "Push-to-Talk acts as a toggle" checkbox option. When you select "Push-to-Talk acts as a toggle," you press the Push-to-Talk key you chose (from the list of six, above) to turn talk "on." You will stay in "Talk" (on) mode until you press the key again, which turns talk "off."
When you select the "Push-to-Talk acts as a toggle" checkbox option, you can select any key to act as your "Push-to-Talk trigger". Just select "the "Push-to-Talk acts as a toggle" checkbox option", and then click the "Set Key" button. You'll be prompted to select a key as your trigger. After you've touched the key you wish to use, it will appear in the text box above "Set Key". If you wish to change it, repeat this process until you've selected the desired key. When satisfied with your selection, click "Apply" and then "OK" to close the Preferences window.

Active Speakers

The Active Speakers window displays a list of residents who are currently speaking in a particular voice channel. It also allows you to individually control the volume and muting of each speaker.

You can open the Active Speakers window by clicking on the button with speakers and speech bubbles on it. This button is located in the Voice tab, at the bottom of the viewer window, and is immediately to the right of the "Talk" button.

A dot appears beside each speaker's name. Dots indicate who is speaking. The dot mimics the speaker's volume range, which is also shown in the "active speaking" indicator that floats above avatars' heads. A green dot shows active speakers within normal volume range; a red dot shows an active speaker who has spoken a little too loudly.

In addition, the name of the resident who spoke most recently appears at the top of the Active Speakers list. As the time since a speaker's last utterance increases, the speaker's name moves down the list (to indicate "less recent" speaking) and the dot next to the speaker's name fades to increasingly lighter shades of gray.
Resident names can also be sorted alphabetically in the Active Speakers window.
To control the volume and mute settings for a particular speaker, just click on the speaker's name in the list and then use the volume control at the bottom of the window to make adjustments.

Voice Volume Control
You will notice a "Voice" tab at the bottom of the viewer window. It contains a volume slider and two buttons, one that says "Talk" and has a "lock" icon button and volume indicator on it, and one with an image of speakers and speech bubbles.
The volume slider on the "Voice" tab allows you to set a "baseline" volume for others' voices. You'll be able to hear speakers' voices increase or decrease in volume as you move the slider, which allows you to set a more comfortable overall setting for the voice volume you hear in world.

The Talk button on the Voice tab contains a volume indicator (a dot to the right of the button text that says "Talk") that shows how loudly you are speaking. Green indicates a normal volume and red indicates too loud a volume. This color scheme is a standard across visual speaking indicators for voice, but this indicator tells you how loudly you are speaking, not how loudly others are speaking.

One type of mute is currently available: one mute button mutes all chat (both text and voice chat) for a specified user. You can, for instance, opt to mute chat with a selected user, and doing so will mute both text and voice chat from that person.
To mute all chat with a specified user, access "Mute" in the pie menu by right-clicking on the avatar you wish to mute.
More nuanced mute functionality, for voice chat alone and text chat alone, is in development and will be included in future releases.

Speech Gestures
This build also gives you the ability to "wear" an initial set of "speech gestures". These speech gestures are randomly selected from nine different animations based on the intensity of your voice. These Gestures are currently located in your Library's Gesture Folder (under "Speech Gestures").

There are three gesture "sets" of three gestures each for low, medium, and high speech intensity levels.
To enable speech gestures, simply drag the folder labeled "Speech Gestures" from your Library on to your avatar.
To disable them, right click the Speech Gestures folder and select "Take Off Items."
We will refine and add to the set of nine speech gestures in the next few builds.

Just keep in mind: Voice is NOT enabled everywhere. You'll need to find a region in which voice has been activated. Just a few places mentioned (You should be able to use the "search" or "map" button to look for these locations. P.S. I can't vouch for what you'll find at these locations): Help Island, Orientation Island, The Port, Tolkein, University Island - and many others.

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