ArmA v1.09's Voice Over IP

December 16th, 2007

Updated Feb 14 2008 to change videos over to Stage6 instead of Youtube.

Note: As of Feb 27th, Stage6 is down. I am currently moving the videos onto my website and will update them to stream from my site in the next day or two. Have patience. =)

Forward

This will not be a typical article, as it was originally a post on several forums and I unfortunately do not have the time to completely re-edit it to format it into a more proper article. I think that the value of the content is the main focus in any case, and I hope anyone reading this enjoys it.

I am re-posting this here primarily because it contains some interesting information and video footage of ShackTac, the gaming group I run, but also because it shows some cool functionality in the 1.09 patch for Armed Assault: Combat Operations.

The post is mostly word-for-word as it was originally made, though I have formatted it to have embedded videos. I hope you all enjoy it.

 

VOIP in 1.09, as seen by Shack Tactical

My impressions of the 1.09 patch at this stage are that it's going to be a very good one for this community. I think the most telling aspect of 1.09 testing is how frequently our players want to "test" it. The amount of depth and fun that is brought on by the enhanced VOIP is incredible - it has been awhile since I have had so much fun, or laughed so hard, as when testing 1.09 VOIP.

Moving away from the VOIP briefly, I'll touch on a few of the other changes in 1.09 that are particularly significant.

There are a bunch of other changes in 1.09 - BIS has been very responsive to suggestions and comments on it. As I said, I'm not going to go into the full changelog. There has to be an element of surprise, after all.

And now... moving back to VOIP.

VOIP in 1.09 is amazingly cool. We've been testing it extensively, oftentimes going through five builds in a week, with each one addressing issues noticed and implementing feature requests or tweaks that we've suggested after our test sessions.

The pride and joy of VOIP for me is that we finally have a "Who's Speaking" indication . You will not see this in the videos (afaik) because it was literally just added, but our initial testing of it has revealed it to be very, very handy. This is set as a server-side difficulty option in case any groups don't think it's "realistic" to have an indication of who's talking over VOIP.

The indicator works like this:

- When someone speaks on Direct Speaking (locational chat), their name does not show up. You can hear their voice coming from their body instead.

- If someone speaks on Global, Side, Group, or Vehicle chat you will see their name display at the bottom of the "chat" bar. When they stop speaking, their name will linger for one second and then disappear. The name is color-coded based on what chat channel they're speaking over - white for global, blue for side, green for group, yellow for vehicle. If more than one person is talking at once, you will have their names appear to the right side of the first speaker, in the order that they started talking. Because of this, you can have many people talking at once and still be able to figure out who's who, while screen real estate is preserved due to the fact that it lists them horizontally instead of vertically.

Think "Teamspeak Overlay", except integrated into the game by default. It's an awesome feature.

Oh yeah - when you die, you can speak in VOIP with the dead players, without the living players hearing you. The same thing happens with text - dead people's text cannot be seen by the living. Admins can still transmit to all players, though, if they choose.

Here are some videos of us testing VOIP. Bear in mind that this is obviously prerelease test footage and that there are elements in the behavior of VOIP that are still being tweaked and addressed. I have updated this page as of February 14th to include hires Stage6.com embedded videos instead of the prior Youtube ones.

Videos

MOUT Battle Drill, subtitled

The first video is a simple "Battle Drill" mission of ours that is meant to train MOUT fighting and movement through urban areas. This mission shines with VOIP - the amount of communication fluidity that is present now due to the VOIP is fantastic. This is the video you should probably check out first - I went through after the mission and subtitled what I was saying, due to the fact that (as is to be expected) my voice was not recorded via FRAPs.


No video? Get the DivX Web Player for Windows or Mac

Hires: http://dslyecxi.com/videos/dec10_voip_mout_bd.wmv
Lores: http://dslyecxi.com/videos/dec10_voip_mout_bd_lowres.wmv

Forest Firefight & Pilot Rescue

Next up we have a mission where our squad is moving through a forested area to try to locate two captured pilots. My voice isn't subbed one this one, but you can see where I'm talking (due to the VOIP transmit indicator showing up). This is a pretty neat video as well and is fairly typical of our VOIP experiences thus far.


No video? Get the DivX Web Player for Windows or Mac

Hires: http://dslyecxi.com/videos/dec8_voip_Forest.wmv
Lores: http://dslyecxi.com/videos/dec8_voip_Forest_lores.wmv

 

Outtakes

And, finally, some stupid outtakes and such from our testing. Things can't always be serious, after all. If you have sensitive ears or no sense of humor, you might want to avoid these.

Madcows Breakdown


No video? Get the DivX Web Player for Windows or Mac

Hires: http://dslyecxi.com/videos/dec11_madcows_breakdown.wmv

 

Lazy Sunday


No video? Get the DivX Web Player for Windows or Mac


Hires: http://dslyecxi.com/videos/dec12_lazy_sunday.wmv

 

Boss Battle



No video? Get the DivX Web Player for Windows or Mac
Hires: http://dslyecxi.com/videos/dec8_boss_battle_outtake.wmv

 

TS & VOIP in tandem

In closing , here is some information I posted regarding how ShackTac is planning to utilize TeamSpeak2 as well as VOIP to maximum effect.

Here's how ShackTac will be running TS/ArmA VOIP integration. We do things at the platoon level, but it applies to squad-level procedures as well.

We will utilize TS for the following:

- Command chat, using the "Channel Commander" functionality. This will include:
x. Platoon Commander
x. Squad Leaders
x. Leaders of any special elements (ie air, armor, etc)

- Squad chat. This will be where the entire squad is in the same TS channel. This is to be used for the Squad Leader to communicate to his squad members, or for a squad member to talk to the entire squad. There will be an emphasis on not using this unless you're a squad leader or fireteam leader.

We will utilize ArmA VOIP for the following:

- Fireteam chat. Because of how our organization breaks down in mission terms, each "group" is actually a fireteam. Because of this, speaking on the "Group" VOIP channel means that you're talking to just the members of your fireteam. I believe that the SimHQ template you guys use is very similar to this. "Group" chat can be potentially used to maintain control over your fireteam when you're spread particularly thin for whatever reason, or when things are loud enough that you can't rely on the direct-speaking channel. We will be experimenting with this channel a lot to see how best to utilize it in the future.

- Vehicle chat. The "Vehicle" channel will be used for, you guessed it, vehicle-based chat. This will allow vehicle crews to be much more communicative than they have been able to be in the past, and should really help us out and make certain types of missions a lot more feasible (ie a mission where there are 10+ vehicles on our side) and less of a headache in terms of TS.

- Direct Speaking. This is the big one. Direct Speaking is used to communicate verbally with anyone around you. This is where we have been restricted with TS - there are only a few ways to organize TS, and we basically have the best compromise possible, with things broken down to the squad level. However, that means you have 14 people in the TS channel for a squad, and since a squad can be distributed over a several hundred meter area in some situations, it can make for confusing communications if everyone is trying to talk (even in moderation). We have restricted a squad TS channel to mostly the SL and FTLs in 1.08, and 1.09 will open it up and allow us to have fireteam members talking as much as they want to anyone around them. This is huge - the significance cannot be emphasized enough.

Situations that have stood out to me in our recent VOIP test sessions (we do them almost on a daily basis to provide feedback to BIS), with regards to Direct Speaking, are:

1. Me, as a medic, hearing a burst of gunfire, a burst of return fire, and then, from about 50 meters away, someone shouting "Medic! We need a medic over here!"

2. Hearing people shout insults back and forth in the darkness of an adversarial mission in between bursts of flare light and exchanges of fire.

3. A squad advancing on line through some woods takes fire. Up and down the line, you hear people shouting "Contact front!" as everyone goes to ground and dives behind trees. There are a few tense moments, and you can hear people asking "Where's that coming from? Where are they at?". After a second you hear, from further down the line, someone shout "It's a dshka, left side of the road up ahead!". The contact report is repeated verbally up and down the line, the dshka's engaged, and the person who kills the gunner shouts "Dshka down!", followed by that call being verbally passed up and down the line.

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