VoIP options for GCCG (and other MeCCG) use

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VoIP options for GCCG (and other MeCCG) use

Post by Gwaihir » Wed Jun 16, 2004 5:28 pm

Based on subject raised here
Yü-Gung wrote:
karmi wrote:A casual player, although I must admit playing online restricts my style quite a bit - my fingers just don't work fast enough for decent storytelling using a keyboard.
In other on-line gaming I often use http://www.teamspeak.org/, which offers very usable voice over IP. This or any other voicechat program could be used with gccg (teamspeak is restricted to win32 and linux tho)
Indeed it is fun and more relaxed to play with a voice line. I feel very much the same about this and have so far played two games using MSN Messenger's built in VoIP support.

I've been looking for a good cross platform VoIP program, with the ultimate goal of having it made available from within GCCG (meaning GCCG acts as a front-end that allows you to make and manipulate VoIP connections through the same interface you use to connect to and play the game itself). Another user, Eljar Haugen, also recommended teamspeak for this purpose. Someone who's name I forgot thought of ventrilo (www.ventrilo.com).

I'd be interested to hear about the suitability of these options and possible others, which is why I've opened this thread. Things to look for are: preferably available for all three GCCG platforms (Windows, Linux, OS X), free to use, easy to obtain and install, easy to integrate.
Last edited by Gwaihir on Mon Nov 28, 2005 5:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Peter » Sun Oct 31, 2004 9:44 am

There is another option: H323. That's a standard VoIP protocol supported by many clients on just about all major platforms (including OS X). Using the openmcu software (www.openh323.org) it's possible to setup a conferencing server.

There are various clients for the different platforms, here's a small list of the most popular ones:

Windows: NetMeeting (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/netmeeting/, or already installed)
GNU/Linux: GnomeMeeting (www.gnomemeeting.org, also commonly in the distro)
OS X: ohphoneX (xmeeting.sf.net)

To chat somebody with a Windows or GNU/Linux box needs to run the openmcu server and all people need the url or IP address of that box.

A problem can occur when running a client on the same box as the server. This is due to the fact that both the server and the client try to use port 1720. The solution is to switch to port 1820 for the client. For gnomemeeting you need to run gconf-editor and under apps/gnomeeting/protocols/h323/ports set listen_port to 1820. For ohphoneX and NetMeeting I don't know how to adjust the port. It's also possible to run the server on another port (like 1820) but that requires a :1820 after the ip address or url for all clients.

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Post by Tegarend » Sun Oct 31, 2004 10:47 pm

I've got to say it plays nicely relaxed using VOIP (being one of the two people who played Wim with it, I guess). Suggest & I'll install (I think teamspeak is still installed here due to my brother's love of shoot-em-ups)

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Post by Peter » Mon Nov 01, 2004 5:34 pm

Well under Windows there are two easy options at the moment: NetMeeting (url in my previous post, though it could be already installed or installable through config screen) and SJphone ([ur]http://www.sjlabs.com/sjp.html[/url]). I haven't tested those though. If you're a command line junky you can use ohphone (www.openh323.org).

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Post by Peter » Tue Nov 02, 2004 10:04 am

For windows there's also OpenPhone (from the openh323.org website, which at the moment isn't reachable) which is basically a wrapper around ohPhone.

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Post by Peter » Fri Nov 05, 2004 5:35 pm

I just tried the two windows GUI's. Personally I like OpenPhone more, since it feels like an extremely powerful application that gives you full control, but NetMeeting is probably easier to use for the common user.

A few hints about OpenPhone installation: you need to download the OpenPhone, pwlib and openh323 packages and place the contents of the lib dirs of pwlib and openh323 in the directory where openphone.exe resides. This has to do with finding shared libraries. You can also place those libs in /windows/system, but that's generally a bad idea since it causes those DLL's to be loaded at startup slowing your system.

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Post by Peter » Sat Dec 04, 2004 1:04 pm

In my quest for a decent VoIP system I found something that could solve the problems with the other systems (which are either not Win/Mac/Linux or not usable behind NAT). It's called IAX and is implemented in Iaxcomm which is available for all three systems.

On the server side it's a little tricky system, but I believe I'm getting the hang of it. While I haven't been able to actually test this stuff in a multi-user environment (aka non-localhost) yet it seems to solve the problems we have and it's very extensible.

On top of that the client library is Free (as in Freedom) so it could be integrated with GCCG should that ever become an issue.

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Post by tharasix » Sat Dec 18, 2004 1:18 am

The guys who created Kazaa have released their own VoIP application, called Skype. I know first-hand that it works well on Linux and Windows, at least. I believe they have a Mac client, too.

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Post by Peter » Wed Dec 22, 2004 7:00 pm

Had a test run of Asterisk/Iaxcomm today. Using the GSM codec the quality is quite good. Bandwidth requirement should be around 5 KB/s.

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Post by Gwaihir » Wed Dec 22, 2004 7:16 pm

tharasix wrote:The guys who created Kazaa have released their own VoIP application, called Skype.
Thanks. We've looked at that one too. Fell short on some of our criteria though. [It was one of the first we looked at, so forgive me for not remembering the exact issues.]
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Post by EndersGame » Thu Apr 28, 2005 3:55 am

Skype is cross-platform, plus it is entirely free to use (costs are only incurred when you use it to phone regular telephone numbers, an optional feature I've never used) - download from http://www.skype.com For the most part, I've found that it works quite well. Are there any experienced players available for a simple tutorial game on Monday, using Skype for voice chat? Talking does tend to be quicker than typing, so I'm hoping this will be a more efficient way of learning the game. I've installed GCCG already and tentatively tried it with success - I've also done some reading about METW on the web to help me be somewhat aware of the game basics. So far I'm impressed by the game, the software, and the helpful MeCCG community!
-An enthusiastic newbie

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Post by Gwaihir » Thu Apr 28, 2005 7:40 am

Well, the very first thing I don't get about Skype is the ad: "from the guys who created Kazaa". Kazaa being one of the most annoying pieces of spyware around, why would I trust Skype? Another more specific thing I don't like about it is that once installed it will use my computer as it sees fit, in order to process other people's calls; I prefer my pc's and its bandwith's use to be strictly under my own control.

So, I'm not displeased at all that Peter, who did most of the research on this one, choose another solution: the Asterisk / IaxComm combo mentioned above. I'm not sure what is currently keeping him from setting it up, but I expect it to be done within a matter of weeks.

It is a client-server system (like teamspeak). It allows pretty much any number of people per conversation. Each GCCG table will simply have a matching voice-chatroom, making the conversation easy to find and join/leave. In addition the system supports private conferences (for example for council / project meetings).

Edit: and Peter just helped me remember the real game breaker: Skype doesn't interface with other software. We wanted to give the programmers of GCCG (and similar stuff) the option to fully integrate VoIP inside the program, meaning that the connections could be managed from inside it.
Last edited by Gwaihir on Mon Nov 28, 2005 5:28 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Post by EndersGame » Thu Apr 28, 2005 11:50 am

I wasn't aware that Skype had any security risks, thanks for pointing this out. I don't trust Kazaa either - although it seems that the Skype management just hired some of their programmers, so it's not the same company?. Nonetheless there does seem to be some ground for concern about security. See for instance:
http://computerworld.com.sg/PrinterFrie ... issueid=33
http://www.redherring.com/Article.aspx? ... tor=Europe

I'm glad to hear that things are in the works to implement voice chat in GCCG, and that "Each GCCG table will simply have a matching voice-chatroom, making the conversation easy to find and join/leave". I'm sure this has potential benefit for all players, but as a newbie I know from experience that it will certainly make it easier to do tutorial games and so learn the game and the software. Thanks to everyone who is working on this!

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Post by Gwaihir » Wed Nov 02, 2005 12:17 am

We're getting close to formally announcing this, but we've got one nasty problem left to figure out that keeps crashing the server.

Meanwhile the question "Why have you guys choosen this solution and not X?" keeps coming by. To answer this - before we have totally forgotten ourselves too - I'll list our criteria here:
  • Offer voice conferences with a significant number of people not just 1:1 conversation; at least 9 people should fit in a conference.
  • Offer conference rooms in a fixed, easy to find place, much like one goes to a specific forum or IRC channel to discuss a specific topic. We'd like to use this feature to give each GCCG table a matching voice conference room that watchers can easily find and join too as well as for meccg-organisational meetings.
  • Offer these rooms both for public and for private use.
  • The client must be available on all three major platforms: Windows, Linux and Mac.
  • Client should be simple to install, set up, and use. Looking and handling the same on all platforms is helpful here, as it makes it relatively simple for each user to help each potential / new user on its way.
  • It should be free to install and use and remain so. This means among other things that it should ideally not be dependent on a third party's network (servers) and that it should not be possible for a third party to change the license in such a way that it would forbid continuing use of the (up till then) free version. It also means that it should not mess with the user's computer in any unnecessary and potentially unwanted way; no spyware, adware, nor relaying third party datastreams.
  • It should offer a way to integrate it with other software (an API that enables to use of other software as a front end). This means that with relatively little programming it can be controlled from inside another program such as GCCG, enabling users there to see when others use of VoIP during a game, join the conversation, etc.
  • It should offer good sound quality.
  • It should be perfectly useable by dial-up users and not even saturate their connection to the point that it becomes impossible to do some (limited) additional things on the net at the same time.
  • It should be useable by users behind a NAT, preferably without additional setup. (For the not so techy: if you have a home network and / or an external firewall (in your ADSL modem for example), then this is you. :))
  • Have some form of access control that enables use to wield out the occasional bad apple upsetting conversation in (one of the) public rooms, as well as to limit access if such is required to keep total system load acceptable.
  • While our primary orientation is towards pre-arranged on-line meetings, it would be nice if it allowed actually calling some of the "core users" as well while they happen to be on-line.
We found that an Asterisk server with iaxComm as the recommended basic client best matches these needs. In fact, it matched the whole list. Only downside is that the server side of it is so elaborate that it takes us a good while to master it.

Mind you: once comments from others involved start flowing in this will likely still see an edit or two before I've got the above list exactly right. ;)
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