Linden Labs will begin the process of integrating voice chat into Second Life next week, the company has said.
Voice functionality will be provided by Vivox, which claims to have technology that enables '3D' audio - in other words, just using spacial distance and environmental effects to post-process the audio effects to simulate a conversation environment.
Whilst Linden Labs has been relatively cautious about any promises to introduce voice, the recent explosion of the game has seen the issue become more of a 'when' than an 'if'. Many SL residents have taken to using Skype to communicate with each other.
Of course, it's not all roses for the firm. Some residents have questioned the wisdom of introducing a bandwidth heavy feature into the game when the grid is already teetering on the edge of instability. A recent post to the official Second Life Blog tells gamers that the firm is "We understand it’s very tiring to see these Grid issues on an almost-daily basis, and scaling Second Life during so much growth continues to be of high importance."
Second Life is growing at a phenomenal rate, with more and more gamers experimenting with the virtual world. However, sceptics will certainly point out that the vast majority of growth is almost universally driven by the in-world 'adult' industry of strip joints and escort agencies. We suspect that those who will be amongst the first to get into voice chat in SL will be those making money from adult services.
We're also sure that many will get fed up of the vocal harrassment that should inevitably ensue. Thankfuly, land-owners will be able to turn off voice on their land, which should limit the amount of vocal aggro going around.
Are you psyched about getting voice in Second Life, or do you wish Linden Labs would fix everything that's wrong with it just at the moment? Let us know over in the forums.