Two Communication/Cooperation Ideas


##In Which Arkenbrien Posts Another Wall of Text Inspired by a Book

I do love me a big wall of text, doesn’t it seem? :stuck_out_tongue:

I was listening to an audio book about being a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War. The title of the book is Guts 'N Gunships. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in this area. This book inspired me to jot down these two suggestions, although with the understanding that they’ve probably been hashed out eons before. :wink:

Come to think about it, this is another wall of text inspired by a book. I’d better stop reading, it’s giving me ideas…

Advanced voice porting/channels in-game (also applies to text). I believe that, if there are going to be large groups of players working towards a common goal, communication will be key. Therefore, voice, text, or both need to be employed, in game if possible. Of course, there’s Discord etc, however being able to handle complex communications without having to alt-tab will be a huge boon to I:B. So here is how I would see voice/text chat working in-game.

A ship channel. Every ship has an individual voice channel. This allows for command to contact individual ships. This will benefit multi-crew ships.

A squadron/wing channel. This allows for general communication for a smaller group of players, and allows for command to contact larger groups of players. Command will be able to choose individual squadrons or group select them.

A general call-out channel. This is for call out for player locations. For example, if there is a bogey detected at a specific coordinates, a call out of those coordinates could be made on this channel, and a friendly would be able to hear this, and confirm their location. If not, then it might be a bad guy… Of course, there would be a coordinate indicator in every ship.

A strategic channel. Command exclusive, contacts all players associated with command: i.e., player corp leaders, squadron leaders. Used for strategizing.

A general strategic channel. Also command exclusive, but used for dictating general commands to all players.

A general/random channel. Anybody is able to talk on this channel.

For anyone in a ship, there are four channels always on by default: the ship, squadron (if applicable), general call-out, and general strategic. If there’s an incoming call for that ship from command or another player, the person in charge of handling coms will accept or deny the call.

All channels can be turned off/on, except the ship channel.

Four channels might sound like a lot, but if in an interceptor or bomber, there won’t be any ship channel. General call-outs will be rare. Squadron/wing channels will used for a small group of players, and general strategic will only be heard when a command is given.

A player can only speak on one channel besides the ship channel at a time. However, once logged into a strategic channel, the ship channel is turned off, in order to have a clear line of communication with command.

A player can technically listen to all four of the “always on” channels at a time. It probably won’t happen, but you never know in a busy situation. The game could detect when an incoming general call-out request is unnecessary, such as in the middle of a fight, which brings the total down to three. An additional rule could be made to have all traffic coming from general strategic to be diverted to the squadron leader. It will be that person’s responsibility to relay commands to the squadron.

If there’s a troll on any of the channels, affected players will be able to vote to ban that player from that channel. The ban will last a short period of time. If more than three bans are given in a certain time period, that person is banned for a much longer period. Players will also be able to vote against that person being banned, in the case of a vote.

What is the second seat in the corvette used for? Here’s how I see a two-player crew on a corvette working.


  1. Piloting the ship.
  2. Firing any forward firing weapons/missiles.
  3. Telling what the Copilot is supposed to do.
  4. Any form of ship defense.

Copilot (CP)

  1. Sensor management (you knew this was coming :stuck_out_tongue:). The CP will be in charge of monitoring and manipulating the ship’s sensor(s) for the purpose of highlighting potential targets for the pilot to aim for, and also to warn the pilot of any unmanageable threats.
  2. Com management. The CP will be in charge of all coms, leaving the pilot to deal only with as many or as few voice channels as they want. BTW, in the book, Guts 'N Gunships, the CP was in fact required to learn to listen to 3 busy radio channels simultaneously and learn exactly what the pilot needed to know, like where not to fly if avoiding the parabolic flights of mortar rounds was wanted (!!!).
  3. Turret controls. Assuming that the corvette is armed with turrets, the CP will be in charge of firing/managing the turrets.
  4. Missiles. An extension of the Turret controls. The Pilot can also fire missiles. If the corvette is an interceptor destroying beast then I hope it can fire more than one missile at a time. :wink:
  5. Any form of ship defense.

Of course, if there isn’t a second player for the corvette, all functions will be available for the pilot. However, I want there to be a clear advantage to having a second player. Having the pilot deal with everything is going to be overwhelming. Having a CP to take care of everything other than flying a ship will give the ship a much higher survivability rate.

All that said, I’d love it if all my suggestions came to fruition, seeing as I tend to see I:B as having a deep tactical possibility, and I think of ways that could happen. At the end of the day, my biggest, most importantest suggestion is:

Give the players tools.

If not, then I’m sure it’ll come out awesome anyways. :wink:

Keep it up, gents.

I’m done…

… for now…


I like it, in theory it sounds very good. There just needs to be enough tactical play to make advanced communications like that worthwhile. So far this seems to me the biggest challenge, giving players enough reasons to plan and coordinate attacks.

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Communication with other players in I:B matches has bothered me for some time now. Some people don’t like voice comms, others don’t speak the same spoken language. Its the same problem Star Citizen is going to have if it ever gets that far down the road. I would of thought I:B devs will at least need to run a game Discord server with lots of rooms for voice and IM chat, and maybe also a Teamspeak server.

I mention temspeak because its the only platform (as far as I know) you can use something like Crosstalk plugin. Which also can allow for commander channels (I think). I’ve not used it in a while, but I did like using it.

I have lobbied Discord devs to write and release their own Crosstalk voice effects plugin. Voice comms sounds so much better with the Crosstalk plugin running.

Crosstalk VOIP voice effects plugin request on Discord - link

I think such an extensive voice chat integration would be quite the task. It honestly baffles me how teamspeak/discord integration into games is not a huge thing.
I like your ideas, but I think the 2 player system would be better suited for capitals.

If there are multi-crew ships, this would be essential.

A group channel is definitely a must-have.

As for command channels, I’d suggest having distinct channels that group leaders can join at their discretion. Just a pool of numbered channels. Leaders of groups can speak on those channels while anyone can listen to them (unless the leaders vote to make it private or some such thing). That lets players structure their comms to match the gameplay. Given that INS would like to allow mods of the game, the voice system would have to be flexible enough to support whatever mods come down the pike.

I’d suggest making this a ‘ping’ feature that simply pings in the channel that you’ve currently selected. So if you’re speaking in group and you ping something that you can see, everyone in your group sees the ping. If you’re speaking in some random command channel and you ping something, they see the ping.

If that pool of channels is made available, then the players would organize as they see fit. There might be 20 fighter groups on a server, and if those group leaders want to coordinate, they’ll grab a channel and use that. A few representatives from that group of 20 could then get the leaders of the other major elements to jump into a shared channel that they could use for inter-element coordination.

Don’t do this.

And don’t do this either. All universal channels would be shut down by any player who could do so because they would always be full of off-topic noise, questions, trolls, accidental broadcasts and who knows what else.

In my experience, even universal text chat is of limited value - but it’s needed as a means of making sure that people who have lost contact can find each other again.

I hope that whatever communication system is implemented, it lets players turn off whatever information they don’t want to deal with. That goes for text chat and voice chat equally, and it also means turning off information generated by specific players (muting).

Best would be to allow the players to divvy up the responsibilities as they prefer - and as circumstances dictate.

If one player wants to take their lead from another player, that’s their business. Under no circumstances should gameplay be formally structured this way. It would be like telling all players that they had to vote on whether to fire at a ship. Being forced to operate that way would alienate some fraction of the player base. Similarly, being forced into a subordinate position in a ship would prove alienating.

I’m liking this.

So say that there’s a bogey on sensors. You send a out a ping, which is basically a location confirmation request with the given coordinates to all players in the local area. All allied players can view the ping and confirm/ignore, regardless of their ‘chosen’ channel. This eliminates the need for this channel.

I’m not sure how to handle trolls who hit confirm regardless, but I don’t see any other way other than to have instant friend/foe id when a ship comes on sensors.

A definite improvement on my idea. I like the idea of a larger group of squadron leaders coordinating and creating their own channel to do so.

I still do believe a system-wide channel would be in order, as this would allow for system-wide requests for support, and players can organize accordingly.

I suppose I’m being idealistic, imagining a perfect world free from the clueless and the trolls. Yeah, the potential for abuse would probably be too much temptation for some. Having the ability for self organization would probably be adequate, and fill this role. So no go on this.

The only reason I added this was to provide a place for the noise. Otherwise, it might end up somewhere else.

I wish I would have made my point more clear, as this was my original intent. So here I go, making clear what I should have made clear. :wink:

A single player would be able to fly a corvette, however I was imagining how two players would be the most efficient in a corvette, but not necessarily because the game forces it. Sorry for my lack of clarity.

So in order to make the most efficiently run corvette, I made point 3), which was rather bluntly stated I do admit. If the Copilot and Pilot disagree, the corvette isn’t going to last very long.

In flying a corvette, or any ship for that matter, the biggest concern would be the survival of any encounter. In my opinion, destruction of the target remains a secondary goal, unless the situation is desperate.

As the Pilot would be flying the corvette, in this situation I see the Pilot as having the biggest responsibility of ensuring survival. As this is his responsibility, it’s his call on how the corvette and all its assets are to be handled.

Of course, the Pilot could be taking orders from the CP, and this would be, as you stated, at the player’s discretion.

What I didn’t mean was that one person’s job was to micromanage the other, only to say stuff like “Hey, don’t try hitting that target 50 km away and try hitting this guy 50 m in front of us”. So more of the general suggestion.

Actually, in the case of a good crew, I don’t really see the need for point 3). Both players would know exactly what to do without anyone telling them. But somebody has to be in charge.

As a second point, I can’t imagine there wouldn’t be some form of ‘ship ownership’ mechanic, as well as a kicking mechanic to go along with that. If the CP is being downright unruly, it isn’t like real life where you would have to put up with him, you could just kick him and ban him forever. So having a situation where the CP/P consistently doesn’t do what you tell him to isn’t going to make for a good experience. And if there’s a micromanaging player you’re flying with - you could always leave.

I hope this clears my thoughts up.

I find the value of an in game voice communication system dubious at best.

From what I’ve seen in other games, and what I’ve talked to other small scale developers, voice comms are surprisingly difficult to get working well, and typically woefully underused in favor of the dozen options already available (TeamSpeak,Ventrillo, Discord, Skype, etc.).

Even if you succeed in developing a functional voice integration, there is the problem of trolls, language barriers, and general human behavior.

Instead, I think the time would be better spent developing a robust set of “quick commands” a la World of Tanks or Paragon or Rocket League. The more urgent ones (taking fire, help, etc.) would be available in a few keystrokes, less urgent ones would be deeper in the tree. Preferably, the key patterns would also be customizable, allowing you to create a huge number of messages people could pick and choose from.

The perk to this style of messaging is that you can control message frequency (eliminating spamming of this system), you can translate the messages into any language you want (instant team coordination across language barriers), and it’s not any more complicated than a chat system (in fact, I imagine the programming looks very similar).

Leave the voice comms to the companies that have already created so many good options out there. At most, try to make it user friendly for in-game overlays like Overwolf.

Might be worth creating a thread to flesh out the details of such a quick chat system.


The ping idea is stolen straight out of ARMA 3. Just click on an object or a location, hit the ping key and the object or location is highlighted for everyone on your chosen channel. The typical use is “Contact right.” Ping. Everyone looks right, sees the highlight and they understand what he’s talking about. It’s a game version of pointing in a direction.

So there is no confirmation, no coordinate values. Just a highlight in the world (and the map) that people can use for reference.

As a chat channel sure. As a voice channel, I would continue to argue against it. Voice doesn’t work beyond about 10 possible speakers because discussions start to fracture at that point and people talk over each other.

It’s far from a requirement. In fact, collaborations are probably more effective. I suspect that one of the main reasons that so many gamers dump on the idea of crewed vehicles is that they don’t want to follow somebody else’s orders. That’s because they see things in that light; somebody gives orders and everyone else follows them.

In ARMA 3, we collaborate on three-man tank crews. One drives, one shoots and the third is an extra set of eyes (and may also handle close-in threats). There are all sorts of restrictions on each crew position (specializations) that mean that we depend on each other to spot problems and to deal with them. It is the restrictions that make cooperative play interesting because they produce interdependencies. This is entirely counter-intuitive to those who come from the world of non-cooperative gaming because they’re used to doing everything themselves.

Play some ARMA 3. Voice works. In fact, it’s essential in highly cooperative gaming. Without it, the gameplay devolves to a fixed pattern that is repeated over and over (think of every MMORPG out there). Experimentation and variation is far more difficult when you can’t quickly communicate ideas to other people.

Having gameplay that permits variation certainly helps.

I haven’t played any of those games, but I suspect that they suffer from the effect I just described - the games fall into a tight pattern of behaviors that are structured by the commands available.

VOIP technology should not be pursued by INS. They should, however, want to integrate Teamspeak or Discord or whatever, via their native APIs. That integration should be tight, with in-game controls for messing with the communications channels, and having the game environment influencing communications. Perhaps a certain type of fairly common weapons fire bleeds onto the communication channels, producing lots of static. Perhaps communications are line of sight, but instantaneous. And so on. That’s how it’s done in ARMA via Task Force Radio. It’s pretty much de rigueur for the military realism groups.

Ideally, IBS should have all the hooks for letting players modify the game. Teamspeak and Discord already have those hooks. So bringing the two together would be something that some talented players could tackle.


I don’t know that any of the games I’ve mentioned are limited by the available chats, so much as they’re limited by the relatively simple gameplay they have to offer in the first place. WoT would probably be the most “broad” game that I know of with quick-chat commands, but most of your high-level play is done with verbal commands and only using quick commands to designate targets visually. Pub matches are…well, most of the players in the game are awful at the game, so their value in giving commands is minimal at best.

I am not denying that voice is, by far, the most effective communication tool…when everyone is in small enough groups for it to be useful, and they can all understand each other, and they have generally agreed to follow the instructions of a select few. However, I’m not sure I agree with the idea that voice comms are a necessity outside of modders installing it into the system themselves. I’m all for modding being made simple. That being said, I don’t believe that the developers themselves should dedicate too much effort to directly implementing their own voice servers and programming, when a much simpler implement will serve much the same purpose and be far less likely to have problems.

Even if there ends up being no in-game implements for voice comms, people who want to use voice will use voice. They’ll simply organize outside the game, and post the addresses and passwords for whatever server they’re using. Having a default Discord link for people to meet in would be cool, and AFAIK free, but that should be the limit to how far iNovae Studios goes in terms of providing voice services, other than hopefully making it possible for players to mod such things into the game themselves.

That being said, I do believe there should be some form of communication system implemented into the game, for a minimum of the basics. I created another thread discussing that idea, but the concept I proposed should be very similar to a chat window in terms of programming complexity. It would provide (at the least) a rudimentary way for players to communicate across languages, without requiring any sort of complex effort.

I’m just struck by the way that so much effort is put into the visuals, while the ability to communicate with other players in a massively multiplayer game is ultimately relegated to “organizing outside the game” and “a minimum of the basics”. INS seems to feel the same way that you do; man years of effort to get the visuals right, but it’s important to avoid “complex effort” to facilitate player communication.


It’s a matter of “Why?”

I didn’t say the in-game quick chat had to be limited to the basics. I merely said that it should cover no less than the basics.

As I said before, I have spoken with small-scale developers about voice comms before. They are surprisingly difficult to implement well, server-side resource intensive, and difficult to keep functional every single update. On the other hand, there are perfectly functional alternatives developed by companies that focus on voice comms that players around the globe use on a regular basis. Why would a small team, already undermanned from what they had originally planned, want to take on a task that is already made available by outside means, and is done so flawlessly, without any sort of required effort on their part? What possible justification can you give me other than “I have to spend at least twelve more clicks, and maybe a couple CTRL+C/CTRL+V commands, and maybe an ALT+TAB or two, and that’s just soooooo exhausting” for spending that sort of development time on a system that already exists?

The system I proposed (have you actually bothered to read it?) is actually not all that visually intensive. It would require implementing…let’s go on the super-crazy-intensive estimates, and we’ll say 30 icons. Nothing fancy, mind you, just simple markers like circles, squares, triangles, chevrons, etc., and that would really be 15 icons made in two colors. The honest number is probably no more than 10, but meh. Then there’s an opacity slider bar for the two colors: pretty sure this already exists inside the client, so it’d be more copy-paste-adjust than actual development. I don’t know if there are any plans to implement friend lists/block lists, but I certainly hope so. If so, then the priority/block lists are already developed: more copy-paste-adjust. The actual notifications could be placed into the chat window, piggybacking on the already-existing chat programming, or they could be displayed separately. Either way, it’s at worst yet more copy-paste-adjust, at best simply having an automatic entry for chat. The most intensive part would be designing and implementing the HUD for the Comms Rose/Comms Tree itself, which would be the most intensive part of the entire undertaking…and still far simpler than designing a voice comms system.

My point is that integrated voice comms are nice, but ultimately serve no purpose not already filled by something else. On the other hand, integrating voice comms will never allow players who do not speak the same language to communicate with one another. Ever. There is no way for me to speak to someone who speaks Russian, if they don’t speak English. On the other hand, a Quick Chat most certainly does have the ability to allow us to communicate on a more basic level. If I call out “Help!” and it gets translated to “Помогите!” (sorry if Google translated that poorly) on that Russian player’s screen, he now knows I’m asking for help. I can call out “Help!” all I want in voice chat, and they’ll never know what I want from them.

What would I prefer? I’d prefer both to be integrated into the game. However, I also comprehend that it is a small team, on a small budget, who will have to shave anything unnecessary out of the scope of the game. Given that organized voice communication systems already exist in this world, that makes integrated chat unnecessary.

It’s not so much as exhausting to alt tab, as it is a waste of time. If you have all the time in the world to communicate something, then sure, use discord. Don’t even have to change channels, just hit that push to talk button and you’re good to go. However, IB is a game where there could be 100 other players on your team. They’re probably not going to be all on the same voice channel. If you want to say something to a completely different group right now, then you’d have to alt tab, find the channel (if you even have access), and say whatever. Integrated voice negates one step, and would let you pilot your ship at the same time.

Text-based communication has it’s merits, however it falls short in detailed communication. Admitting, it would work for a lot of cases. With a ‘smart’ system, where saying ‘help’ will give the location and even the types and number of ships attacking. Make the system divided up into separate channels like I suggested for voice. Boom, you have an excellent way to communicate. I’d like that.

However, it won’t be able to cover all the combat situations, and I’d imagine there would be lots of unique kinds of situations. Having only text in an FPS is just fine, because you have essentially an uniform 2-D environment. In IB, it’s anything but that. You would either have to rely on a small pool of general text options, which fail at clearly communicating a situation; or have a vast pool, that’s bogged down by either finding the correct command or having a context mechanic fail on you.

I contend that the only difference between exterior comms and integrated comms is the ALT+TAB. With integrated comms, you still have to open the window and find where you want to go to speak with who you want.

I know TS actually has a “whisper” function where you can designate only a select few people to receive a broadcast when you push a key, and I’m pretty sure you can multiple such hotkeys set up for multiple lists. It’s certainly not a fast process, so it’s only good for preparing and not so useful on the fly, but again, that will hold true even in an integrated situation.

After reading the posts. What to do then?

I disagree with this. With ALT+TAB, you are disconnected from players that are using a different client, are in a separate server, or simply forgot to log in/open their client of choice. Sure, if you are with a coordinated group, or have your own server, then integrated is moot. But on official servers, with random players or mixed corps, you are stuck with your own group. That’s the problem that integrated comms solves.

With integrated comms, you have have access to every player, regardless whether or not they have a separate client. You can communicate with every player with voice or text. Voice preferably, as it’s quicker, easier, and natural. Certainly there is going to be a language barrier in some cases, in which case neither solution, alt tab or integrated, is going to work. Then a per-defined quick-text wheel is going to have to suffice, provided it’s properly translated.

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Eh. If an integrated solution automatically drops newcomers into my chat channel, I’ll pass. If it doesn’t, then it is only a little less effort than using outside comms to get to the channel you want, and both methods are going to interrupt flying.

As for not having the same program, anyone unwilling to obtain one of the programs you have is probably not likely to be cooperative anyway: most of the clients are free ware, so it’s just a matter of obtaining the (usually small) installer file.

I’m not against having an integrated client, I just feel like if iNovae Studios is an unwilling creator of such a system, then there is probably a good reason behind it. Most likely, that reason is the resources required in man hours and server resources to support such a thing. If there is a simple implement to give players the ability to mod an existing program into the game, great! Minimal effort for something the players will do themselves. I continue to have my doubts, though.

The only automatic chat channel newcomers will be dropped into will be their own ship voice channel, which nobody else may be in. If they’re in a wing, then they will be joined into that wing’s channel.

If somebody is wanting to talk to you via ship to ship chat, you can see who is trying to call, and cancel/ignore/block the call if you don’t want talk.

This makes the assumption that everybody will use the same client on the same server. Somebody may use discord, another ts3, another mumble, etc etc. Both freeware, but what you are saying is that having multiple programs running in order to talk to somebody else, and having to manage all that, is better than an integrated comm? If you want to contact someone via voice who is not part of your group, you would have no way to do so, as you would have no clue what client or server.

Being in a corp’s or a group’s voice server is great! But you can’t talk to anyone outside of the system.

If you want to communicate, you must use in-game resources to do so.

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Sure, I’ve already acknowledged that an integrated solution is ideal. If it’s possible, without being so much of a pain as to delay other aspects of the game, that’s great news. I only said that it’s not necessary for voice comms.

And yes, I have nearly every voice comms program there is installed, and have communicated across two TS channels and a second program simultaneously. It’s a PITA, but it’s certainly doable.

However, until we get developer input regarding the feasibility of an integrated program, this line of discourse is kind of dead: those who believe it to be too much a hassle and those who believe it to not be will be stuck with no evidence until someone with an official opinion steps up.