There was yesterday the announcement about the public availibility of the voice beta version of Second Life. Since I had spare time and a new, shiney headset, I downloaded the special beta client and gave it a try.
The first thing you’re going to notice is that you are not seeing much difference to the normal beta clients at all. Voice capability is disabled by default, so you have to enable it by yourself in the preferences. The second thing I experienced is – it’s much better to enable voice in the so called push-to-talk mode – meaning, that you’re only transmitting audio into the game world when you’re pressing down some key. Otherwise all people around you can be hearning echos if your soundcard is not configured correctly, many computers tend to transmit much noise, well, let’s just say it’s a waste of bandwidth and computing power.
I know how voice is being handled by services like Skype. Skype automatically adjusts the microfon volume while you speak, so that the microfon level is always nice mannered and not too loud. In the Second Life beta you’ve got to adjust the microfon volume on your own, so you should better now how to setup the volume mixer under Windows or Macintosh. Yup, there’s no beta for this available at the moment under Linux.
Well, if you’ve got your settings then right you can enjoy the voice capabilites of the beta – or not. First you need to get to a region, though, that is voice enabled in the beta grid. There are not many available and you can see a list of enabled regions in the release notes of the beta client. According to Lindenlabs there are these voice enabled regions at the moment on the beta grid: Abbotts, Lusk, Pulveria, Spaceport Alpha, Morris, Da Boom, Tehama and Balance. BTW, it’s not advisable under Windows to use the Shift-Key for enable the push-to-talk mode, since this is per default enabled by Windows to enable some advanced features for people with disabilities after pressing it fives times. Better use another key or turn those features of in the system settings of Windows.