GDCO 2010: Vivox's Monty Sharma talks voice integration between the PC and PS3

Shawn Schuster
S. Schuster|10.09.10

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GDCO 2010: Vivox's Monty Sharma talks voice integration between the PC and PS3
Since 2006, Vivox has provided integrated voice chat services to MMOs on the PC. At GDC Online in Austin, it made the major announcement that it has successfully implemented its voice chat service into the PlayStation 3 gaming console. This means players will be able to communicate between the PC and the PS3, which is a big milestone for cross-platform games.

This new service is currently being tested in SOE's upcoming MMO DC Universe Online, and players should see it in-game in the near future. Vivox Founder and Vice President Monty Sharma sat down to talk with Massively about the new service.
Massively: You have some exciting news to share about Vivox's voice chat service!

Monty Sharma: We announced a while ago that we had ported our software over to PS3 and DCUO was the first one to implement PC and PS3. I was there playing it on the PS3, a couple of guys were on PCs, and we were all in the world together, able to hear each other perfectly.

You have several companies currently using the PC version: NCsoft, SOE, 38 Studios...

Yes, EA used it for Command and Conquer, CCP uses it, Hi-Rez with Global Agenda as well.

Do you have companies lined up now to start using the cross platform service?

We have three new titles being worked on. I can't name them quite yet. It's been great so far to work with SOE on the PS3. Whenever you build new code, there are always bugs to work out, and they have an amazing team.

One feature that you've worked on is voice fonts. Will we see more of that in games you've worked with?

It's live in Second Life and IMVU, as well as EVE Online. The feature is live and will show up in more and more places. The voice fonts have had great reception so far.

"We had built all sorts of tools to deal with jerks. It turns out that 'ignore' is all anyone really wanted."

Any lag when using voice across two platforms?

No, not at all. We always focus on lag. We're very efficient on the CPU so that doesn't cause any local lag. The bandwidth is very well used as well, and our entire code system is all about fighting lag and any latency.

Any future plans now that you've completed the cross platform service?

The big thing is we've been doing a lot of work on the web side -- being able to give people access to voice on the web from outside of the game. We've found that guild chat is the new talk radio. You could be sitting there doing dishes or email, and it's something to run in the background.

We hope in the future to get to more devices than the PS3, and then it becomes a way to always be connected.

Two things I've noticed from using it is that, first, pick-up groups tend to go a bit more smoothly, and second, there is less drama, because when you realize you're actually speaking to a human on the other end, you're less likely to go ballistic. What have you noticed since Vivox added the voice chat service?

CCP was our first customer, and they were a bit skeptical because they were getting over 200 complaints a week about player behavior. But in the three years since, they haven't had a single complaint. It's that human factor -- we find that session length is longer because they like to hang out in conversation.

We had built all sorts of tools to deal with jerks. It turns out that "ignore" is all anyone really wanted.

What we love is the excitement in people's voices when something's going on. APB had a really cool implementation. They had 3D voice that everyone was in, and they had private channels. You'd have people trash talking to each other, but it was seen as funny, because it was done in the context of the game. We were amazed at the response to it.

Thank you for sharing the big announcement with Massively!
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