DigiWorldz has donated unfinished code for the Mumble voice system to the OpenSim community, the grid announced this week.
Mumble is an alternative to the proprietary Vivox voice system.
Boston-based Vivox Inc. provides high-quality spacial voice to Second Life, the Elder Scrolls, Eve Online, Everquest and many other large multiplayer online games — 80 million users total. The system is free to small OpenSim grids with fewer than five users speaking at once. Larger grids need to sign up for a commercial license.
However, all voice traffic goes through Vivox servers. This can be an advantage for some grids, since there is no additional load on their servers. For other grids, however, this can be a security concern, or a price issue.
The Mumble voice alternative is two parts — an OpenSim voice module that region owners need to install on their OpenSim servers, and code to integrate Mumble voice with the viewer.
“The problems we ran into was the integration of the voice client in the viewer was at times buggy, and we still did not have the spacial feature sorted out,” DigiWorldz founder Terry Ford told Hypergrid Business. “The test grid where we had this installed would work fine for users on a Windows machine, voice was clear as a bell with no background noise, it worked on a parcel level, but users on Mac machines had a miserable time –either it would not work, would work sometimes, or on rare occasions, a Mac user would have no issues at all.”
DigiWorldz hired viewer developer Cinder Roxley and made a “significant monetary investment” in Mumble, but eventually had to shelve the project since it was taking so much time.
Meanwhile, the grid has purchased a commercial Vivox voice license for its own use.
“Our intent was to get this code working, implement it on our grid, test it, tweak it and then donate to the community a finished, working project,” Ford said. “But … with others asking for it, we felt we would just release what we had in hopes it might help someone, or maybe someone would have an idea on how to solve the issues. I think with some time and effort, this code will prove very useful and in the end it will provide us all with a great alternative to Vivox.”
The only other voice alternative is Freeswitch, which has issues with background noise, has no spacial support, and can be tricky to configure.
“The Mumble solution will provide clarity on par with Vivox with no background noise, easy configuration, and will also support spacial voice,” Ford said. “Our hopes are that members of the OpenSim community will join together in helping to solve the issues we encountered on this project and continue to evolve the code which will allow us all to have an alternative to a paid voice service.”