Over the past few years, multiplayer gaming has been the focus in many different genres. In many cases,
the multiplayer aspect of a game superceded the single player mode. Quake III is a pretty good example
of this phenomenon, as Quake III's single player mode is essentially a single-player training mode of
the multiplayer play. Along with this rise in games that have strong multiplayer elements, we've seen
a rise in games, and especially mods of games, that are specifically team or squad-based.
Communication, then, was given a renewed emphasis for these team-based games. How supremely annoying
is it when you are playing a game of CTF (Capture the Flag) and you are killed in your base with the
enemy flag? On the annoyance scale, than is magnitudes less than trying to describe where you dropped
the flag by typing furiously on your keyboard to your teammates, only to watch (while dead) an enemy
team member go and take the flag back. How about playing Counterstrike and trying to coordinate an
attack and assign roles to your teammates - again, by typing furiously on your keyboard?
What can we do?
Short of playing a game while having someone on the phone, there are not too many options for real-time
voice communication available for gamers. Fortunately, several companies saw this need and began to
address them. Roger Wilco
, by Hearme, is a real-time voice chat
application that many of you may be familiar with. Another one of the real-time voice chats was
, formerly Battlefield Communicator, by ShadowFactor.
While popular applications, they most widely used by clans or teams that played together regularly,
as they require that both players have the software installed to use the application.
Breaking into the mainstream
Now, we have some indication that the mainstream market is looking towards this same kind of real-time
chat technology that you clan and team players have been using for the past few years. About 14 months
ago, Battlecom was purchased by Microsoft, the purveyor of all things technologically mainstream.
Microsoft's intention was to incorporate support for real-time voice chat into the release version
of DirectX 8, which is scheduled to be released by the end of the year.
Preparing themselves for their DirectX 8 release, Microsoft has recently released a new product in
their "SideWinder" series of gaming accessories. In the past, most of the SideWinder line has been
joysticks, gamepads, and other assorted input devices. The one we are taking a look at today is called
Game Voice, and leverages the voice technology that Microsoft plans to include in DirectX 8.