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Usgu

Focus-listen on selected radio/voice channel

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(Image Source: DoD photo by Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway, U.S. Air Force, photo from article here)

 

Summary:
I have the following suggestion concerning the radio and local voice chat. Add the new function "focus-listening" which allows to focus-listen on one particular channel while automatically tuning down the volume of the other channels. Let me explain in more details what I mean and how it could work.

How does this feature work:
When listing on radio or local chat to conversations, you hold Left-Shift and the corresponding key of the channel you want to listen to. While you do this, the volumes of the other channels are lowered while the full volume of the "focused-listened channel" remains, allowing you to clearly understand what's being said there.

I consider this feature not only extremely useful but also realistic. In the real world when using your mobile phone, you often cover your other ear with your hand to cancel out environmenal noices and other people's chatter. A radio can be used exactly in the same way.

This also works the other way around. If you hold your radio away from your ear, the radio voices are muted while you can focus on the person speaking next to you.

My rationale for focus-listening to one particular radio channel and ignoring other radio channel is this: with a walkie-talkie you would listen only to one particular channel at any given time, not ALL available channel. On a music radio you also listen to only one station, not all stations at the same time. I admit that I don't know how military radios work, but I assume they also listen only to one channel at a time, right?

Focus-listening would work just the same once we get radio channels for each squad (numpad 1 to 9). Just hold the Left-Shift and the corresponding number on the numbpad.

While you hold down the focus-listen key, you see onscreen an coloured indicator (lets call it "focus-listen indicator") that tells you A: you are currently focus-listening and B: on which channel you are doing this (the indicator is using the colour of the channel, i.e. blue, green or red). It could look like the following icon - it's similar to the speaker icon we see when we actively speak on a channel. The icon below intents to look like an ear shape - please excuse my lack of designer skills - but you get the idea. This icon could appear exactly at the same spot where the speaker icon appears, as both icons cannot appear at the same time (you cannot focus-listen and speak at the same time - to speak, you have to let go of the Left-Shift key).

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I think the "focus-listen indicator" alone is probably not enough visualization. When focus-listing is active we should also highlight or mark incoming channels in some way to show which of them you are focusing on and which you are ignoring - this will help you even more to home in to the channel you are really interested in and make clear which person you are currently listening to. Here some ideas how this could be visulized on the HUD. Of course, this is optional and just an additional way of aiding the player.

Suggestion 1: Use a lighter font colour for un-focused incoming channels and the normal dark font colour on focused channels. Downside: depending on the background, this could be hard to read. I don't like this idea much.

Suggestion 2: Cross out channels you are not focusing on. I like this idea. The cross-out is a simple and intuitive visual hint to the player.

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Suggestion 3: We could also highlight the channel you listen to with an additional icon or marking of some kind. I have no specific idea, but we sure could come up with some design.

 

All these HUD ideas are just my first thoughts/concepts how we can visually indicate focus-listing to the player. I am sure if we set AJAX or the devs to the task they will come up with something much better and workable.

Game settings could look like this:

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We also need the ability to rebind the "Shift" key, as the focus-listener modifier, to another key. Not everybody has long enough fingers to easily reach B when holding Shift.

Example:
As a Squad Leader you want to focus-listen to an important conversation on the Squad Leader radio channel and ignore loud chatter on the squad radio. You hold Left-Shift and G on your keyboard for as long as you want to focus-listen to the Squad Leader radio channel. While you do this, you will hear the Squad Leader channel on full volume while any chatter on the Squad radio and local voice chat is tuned down and hardly audible. This allows you to fully follow the converation on the Squad Leader channel.

Additional sub-features/variations:
1. Optional feature "mute environmental sounds" (highly recommended): We could even go further and reduce the surrounding environmental sounds while we focus-listen on any channel. This is still realistic, as this would also happen in the real world if you covered your ears with your hands and the radio. The benefit of this would be to reduce surrounding noices like machine gun fire and therefore being able to hear what is being said on the radio even in noisy situations. A really useful feature. If we want to be hyper realistic, reducing environmental noises only works when focus-listening to radio channels and not local voice chat as you can hold shut one ear to cancel out the environmental sounds while you press the radio close to your other ear, but you can't do that in any form when listening to local voices next to you with your open ears.

2. Optional feature "close both ears/gun&hand-free vision" (nice-to-have): And for the fun (and realism of it), we can also assign a new button that represents holding shut both your ears with both your hands, i.e. all sounds are slightly muted. If we want to go even further, add animations that have the gun and your hands disappear from view when we do this. Additional benefit: this feature would help taking scenic screenshots without a gun and hands in the way - NICE!

I admit, it's a silly idea as muting all sounds in general does not really serve a useful purpose (if you want that, you just turn down your computer/headset speakers) but having a gun/hand-free vision would be really useful to take screenshots. Therefore, completely independent of my suggestion here, we could assign a new key to select no equipment/weapon (for example key 0 (zero) or any other key; it could also just be a console command). This will just remove the hands and weapons/equipment entirely from the screen. Just an idea. I may bring this up in a new suggestions thread some time in the future.

3. Optional feature "use both hands" (not recommended): For hard-core realism, when using focus-listening, force players to let go of the mouse and use both hands on the keyboard to simulate that they would not have a free hand to fire a gun while focus-listening to the radio as both hands are needed to do this. Possible keyboard shortcuts to achieve this: hold down three keys far across from each other on the keyboard, for example Left-Shift + Right-Shift + channel key. This is just taking the original idea further, but in my opinion too far. This would make using the focus-listen feature too annoying and would compromise its practical use ingame. I thought I just mention the idea here to show that taking an idea too far turns it into something counterproductive.

Why do we need this feature:
We all know that it's hard to follow ANY conversation when you are overwhelmed by simulatenous conversation on multiple channels. This is particularly difficult for Squad Leaders who have to speak on three channels. Yes, as Squad Leader you can tell your guys on the Squad radio to shut up and ask the other Squad Leader to repeat his statement, but often it's annoying and often people won't listen. Yes, the real world is also messy and noisy and you have to deal with it. But in the real world you also have your hands which you can use to cover your ears and you don't listen to multiple channels at the same time. Adding focus-listening to the game would make listening much easier while still being realistic.

The control scheme I propose is simple and intuitive. It will not make things more complicated. It will add another level of realism to the game and is just plain practical.

I consider this feature as important because it will help communication in Squad - and communication is THE key feature of Squad. Lets make communciation as good and effective as possible. Focus-listening is a small but powerful and useful feature to help with this. Give my post a "Like" if you want to see this feature implemented.

 

The guy in picture below says loud and clearly: "We NEED this feature, ASAP!"

What speaks against this feature:
Nothing I can think of. I just don't know if it can be easily implemented with Mumble or not.

 

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(Image Source: Copyright Steve R., direct link, more amazing picture by Steve here)

Edited by Usgu

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This is good but not very intuitive. I would prefer the game would lower the volume of other coms by priority, for example: Commander > Squad leader radio > Squad radio > Local chat. The last one being the lowest priority. There would be an automatic sound attenuation of lower priority channels when a higher priority channel was in effect.
 

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Great thread, Usgu. :) I am glad to see that there are other forum members who also disagree with the idea that "more comms = always better". The ability to block-out unneeded comms would be an invaluable tool for the players of SQUAD (and also PR).

 

As NanoAgeWarrior said, the keybinds for this kind of selective focusing system wouldn't be intuitive, but I don't think there is any way to address this issue without adding some kind of layer of complication to the game. This is a complicated problem. There won't be a perfect solution.
 

Commander > Squad leader radio > Squad radio > Local chat. The last one being the lowest priority. There would be an automatic sound attenuation of lower priority channels when a higher priority channel was in effect.

 
I don't think this would work, because it's not always the case that one layer of comms is higher priority than the other layers. This is especially true when we consider the fact that 100 random players probably won't have any semblance of radio etiquette; often you will see that the SL-to-SL channel is being used to relay information that is irrelevant to your squad, so it is a waste of time to stop all of your squad's comms just to wait for the information to pass by. In fact, I would argue that the priority should be Local > Squad > SL-to-SL. To me, being able to hear "GRENADE!" is always the highest priority. Squad Leaders can always afford to repeat messages over the radio, but you can not afford to delay your localVOIP when the enemy is about to shoot you.

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Yes I really like this idea. Actually I do that unconsciously, but having it as an in-game feature would greatly help. It's true that it adds another layer of complexity but it's just another tool that you can choose either to use it or not.

Personally I wouldn't use it because I kind of enjoy the chaos and the mental stress when the S**7 hits the fan and you have 2/3 people talking through the radio + the weapons being fired + transmitting that info to your squad while you maintain SA. But that's just me.

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This puts every previously expressed idea about how to implement prioritising VOIP to shame, including mine. Nicely done Usgu. I totally endorse this idea and proposal as it would fix all the issues surrounding comms that currently exist.

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Thanks for the feedback, guys.
 
I think an automatic or fixed prioritisation of the comm channels will NEVER work. Only the human listener himself can decide what he needs to listen to at the moment.
 
Just look at the first two comments from yourselves here - they show completely opposite prioritisations, both with valid arguments and reasons. So which one would be the "right" one?

The core problem is that only the context of the situation and the listener himself will determine which channel is more important to him at the moment. In every situation a different channel will be more important to someone else.

Let me give you examples:

  • At the beginning of a match, when everyone walks to the first objective, I have often seen causal chatter between squad members on the squad comm or on local about this and that. At the same time, on the SL comm plans are being made where each squad should go. As SL, I would want to listen to the SL comm.
  • Right now, as we don't have squad-to-squad radio channels, sometimes one SL talks specifically to another SL over SL comm. All other SL can ignore this conversation and would either focus on local or squad comm. Also, I have heard SLs argue over SL comm - I would rather ignore that conversation too.
  • Often, out in the field, you hear casual chatter between other squads on local. This is totally irrelevant to me. If something came in over Squad comm, I would want to focus on that and ignore local.

I stop right here with examples. We can come up with endless situations in which one particularly listener will want to focus on a particular channel while, at the same time, another listener will want to focus on a different channel. A fixed prioritisation of the channels would be worse than what we have now.

Not intuitive? Suggest a better key binding that is easier to use. As I explained above, the only way this feature is useful is if the player can control it himself. Selecting the comm channels with V, B und G to speak on these channels is intuitive and accepted practice. Now, focusing on one of these channels by additionally holding the Shift key seems very intuitive to me. We use Shift for running (instead of walking) and for zooming when aiming. If we add another three keys somewhere else on the keyboard to focus on each of these channels, seems much less intuitive to me. Although, I would argue that we should give people the ability to rebind the Shift key to any another key (for example the X key) - not everybody has long fingers and can easily reach B when holding Shift.

Gal4ct1c, I like your point: a player can use this feature if you want to, but doesn't have to. I think, if we had this feature, those that use it, will have the edge over others who don't. Fast and effective communication is key - understanding what was said and responding to it as fast as possible can be the key to success. Seconds can make the difference between killing or being killed.

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  • Right now, as we don't have squad-to-squad radio channels, sometimes one SL talks specifically to another SL over SL comm. All other SL can ignore this conversation and would either focus on local or squad comm. Also, I have heard SLs argue over 

 

I don't really know why we would need a SL<->SL comm to be honest.

It would require some radio training atleast, but in my opinion the SL<->SL comms is least important thing right now.

 

But the focus-listen would be sweet!

 

SL1 saying something to SL4

"Squad 4, this is squad 1. Requesting peanuts at my POS, over"

"Squad 1, this is squad 4. Peanuts bound, 5 mike. How copy?

"Squad 4, solid copy, out"

 

or even SL1 asking SL3 and 4 to do two different things:

"Squad 3, this is squad 1, requesting pizza delivery at my position, break break, squad 4, squad 1 is supressing the snackbars at delta 7 key 2 out"

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We need to have SL-to-SL comms because, despite what some people think, there is never any instance where one message actually pertains to all 9 Squad Leaders on a map (except maybe on the smallest 1km maps). Certainly, there are cases where SLs may need to have 3-way, 4-way, or 5-way conversations. But never 9-ways. Unless every squad is an infantry squad, and they're all within 300m of each other, I can't think of even one case where it is justified for 1 SL to be sending instant comms with every other SL on the team.

Shamelessly linking my own thread because I think both threads are trying to solve the same problem: http://forums.joinsquad.com/topic/5530-channel-system-for-intersquad-comms/

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I agree with Nightingale, we need a way to allow SLs to communicate directly without flooding everyone else with useless info. The focus shift (with shift key at that) is a very nice solution to an issue some of us posters have tried to address before, but I'm not entirely sold on the concept of pressing multiple buttons during a firefight just to hear what's going on. On the same token it's a better concept than what we have to deal with for now.

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I am giving this a bump because I think this thread deserves more attention than, well, throwing knives.

 

On North American PR servers, the amount of chatter between SLs is absolutely insane, because almost nobody bothers to use num1~num9 instead of num*. I had a match on Xiangshan last night where TANK, APC, CAS, and TRANS didn't know how to use any key other than num* to convey information, and they were absolutely merciless in how often then pressed that key or for how long they pressed it. It made it absolutely impossible to communicate with my own squad members for longer than 10 seconds at a time, so I just quit the squad so I wouldn't have to be a Squad Leader anymore. These were all very experienced and skilled PR players. This problem is not specific to people who are new to the game. I don't know why this problem is not as prevalent on European PR servers, but occassionally I have also experienced the same problem on Euro servers.

 

I know it's a problem from Project Reality and not SQUAD, but I really hope that we will not have to deal with this in SQUAD. It is not fair to punish players who are willing to take on the responsibility of being a SL by making it impossible for them to deafen themselves to excessive SL-to-SL comms.

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Cheers for the bump. Haven't gotten through your posts yet, my priority is on the manual at the moment. But I'll come back to it.

 

If you don't mind, I post on your threads and link to here, to get people from there join our discussion here and see what they think of my idea.

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Bumping this only because i joined the forums to post a similar suggestion, except I thought maybe a simple volume rosette bound to a key, when depressed you'd see a rosette with sliders and could turn them up or down accordingly. So much chatter makes half the game telling the team to clear coms, also sometimes people don't use local and start screaming about an engagement you aren't anywhere near.

 

It would be nice for teammates and commanders

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