Steam’s voice chat system now leverages the SILK audio codec, developed and used by Skype, makers of the world’s most popular voice communication service.
Oh, snap! That’s several shades of awesomeness right there. Skype is great. I mean, all the cool podcasts like Steamcast and Podcast 17 and Kritzkast use it, so it must be pretty cool, right?
The SILK codec provides a significant quality improvement over Steam’s previous voice technology, at the cost of some increase in bandwidth usage. Steam Voice used to require 15 kbps of bandwidth, whereas SILK is a dynamic bit rate protocol which varies in its use of bandwidth between 8 and 30 kbps, depending on the range of data in the voice signal and current network conditions.
Boosh! You hear that? It’s the sound of… significantly improved voice chat quality! I hope you’re not deaf now… cause the audio quality on that boosh was so significantly improved it was near-deafening!
As of today’s Steam client update, voice chat using SILK is available to all users of Steam. To start using Steam chat with SILK, simply click the ‘Start Voice Chat’ button within a friend or group chat on Steam. You can access chat from both the friends list at the desktop, or while in game using Steam’s in-game overlay. You’ll find voice chat connectivity and reliability have also been improved with this release.
Steam chat with SILK is now also automatically available for all games that take advantage of the Steamworks Voice API. Valve’s own Portal 2, set to release in mid-April, uses this newly updated system to enable voice chat in its cooperative gameplay mode.
Great to hear they’ll be using these for all future games. We’d like to see updates adding these to previous Valve games, especially the more popular ones, but it might be too much to ask.
So, get a friend and try out the new voice chat! We’re sure it’s been much improved.
And in case anyone didn’t know (odd) or wanted to see us write about it (also odd), Steam Guard is now available for everyone!
You’ll find it in your Steam Settings. It’s toggled on by default. You can deauthorize all other PC’s at any time you wish, and you can get rid of it entirely… in case you would actually want to do that. For whatever reason.
In any case, enjoy this new security! I can already feel the power.
And it’s press release parody time, as Gabe Newell, or some sort of doppelgänger or Bizarro Gabe Newell confirmed that 93% of all Steam users were born on January 1st.
“It’s something that’s been really bothering us for awhile,” a visibly befuddled Newell told The Noble Eskimo. “The odds of this happening are even less than a billion-to-one. In fact, this is without a doubt the least likely thing that has ever happened on this planet. 93% of our more-than 30 million users were born on January 1st. It’s incredible.”
Crunching the numbers reveals approximately 27,900,000 of its users share the same New Year’s birthday.
Digging a little deeper yields more interesting results. Of the estimated 6.9 billion people on the planet (source: United States Census Bureau), and under the assumption that each day of the year has the same number of birthdays amongst the population, there should be 18,904,110 people sharing birthdays on each calendar date. This is 16,114,110 fewer people than there are Steam users with January 1st birthdays. So what accounts for the disproportionate number of January 1st births?
“It’s hard to say exactly why so many babies are born on New Year’s as opposed to other days of the year,” Newell ponders. “There are many theories floating around the Valve offices, and we have even hired some outside help to determine what the causes are. They’ve been working diligently for a couple years now, and though they have yet to discover anything conclusive, I remain confident they will find something soon.”
We’re amazed, stunned, astonished, flabbergasted and shocked. And we’re laughing. Great job, Noble Eskimo.