Second Life has had music, but has otherwise been rather mute. That’s all soon to change when Linden Lab rolls out a beta test for person-to-person speech. Like a lot of other in-game speech systems, you’ll need a headset, but Second Life will provide a different peer-to-peer chat experience than those World of Warcraft conversational gems.
The new system will mimic speech in the real world, adjusting the volume of voices relative to you based on the distance and direction of speaker. Like other products, voice will only be active on certain digital geographies, but private island owners will have the option to enable voice on their own land, depending on the terms of their subscription. Up to 100 people will be able to chat on the same connection at a time. If talking to everyone or just anyone is too much to handle, you can hold group conferences across geographical boundaries or talk one-to-one as well.
The whole system is powered by a technological collaboration between the voice chat technologies of Vivox and 3D voice tech from DiamondWare. The initial beta will be for 1,000 residents (apply by emailing email@example.com), broader beta in March, with a formal launch virtual world wide scheduled for Q2, 2007.