Have you ever thought about how cool it would be to talk to other people over the Internet for free, maybe even while playing online games? Here is your chance! There are several programs out there that can be downloaded for free. My favorite is Roger Wilco. It is easy to use and supports most of the popular PC games on the market. It is so cool to play first person shooters and be able to verbally torment your opponent with statements like, “I bet that hurt.” Roger Wilco is also a great program to communicate with friends and relatives who do not live near you. Just think, no more long distance bills.
Roger Wilco is a program that allows users to talk in real time across the Internet. The original purpose of the program was to let teammates communicate in online flight sims and other team games (Delta Force, etc.). The name comes from military terminology meaning “message received, will comply”. There are many similar programs out there, but the ease of use and sound quality of this program makes it really attractive to the casual computer user. Roger Wilco has the following requirements:
How does it work?
The program allows users to connect to each other via IP. It is really easy. One person starts up Roger Wilco and chooses to host by clicking the Create button. The other users simply choose to join the conversation by clicking the Join button. At that time they enter the IP address of the person who is the host. When one chooses to host, the program will show that person’s IP address. This is very helpful to people who do not know how to obtain their IP address. One could then send that information to the people whom they would like to have join. Sessions can protected with a password too. Roger Wilco also has a base station version that will host any number of channels. This feature allows users who have a machine that is permanently connected to the Internet to host any number of channels or IP addresses. The base station version is a separate download from the regular software. It supports Windows 95, 98, and 2000. There is even a Linux version.
Roger Wilco comes with several features that make it convenient and easy to use. First, the user can map the talk key to any key on your keyboard. To do this all one has to do is go to the Transmit tab. There is a white box labeled Transmit Key with the current mapped key listed inside of it. Click inside the white box to get a blinking cursor. Then the next thing pushed on the keyboard will become the transmit key.
The user can also use voice activation. This is done by going to the Transmit tab once again and selecting Voice Activated. This feature is very handy. When the user speaks in to the microphone his/her voice is automatically picked up. There is no need to hit a transmit button. The sensitivity can be changed so as to pick up the user’s voice correctly. The sensitivity of the microphone is adjusted by sliding bar to the right of the voice activation key.
Under the Adjust tab there is a place to adjust the microphone input level and the speaker level. Be sure to not set these settings too high or you will get unwanted feedback or distortion.
The sound quality in Roger Wilco is very good compared to other similar programs on the market. It has at least the quality of a CB radio. Actually I personally felt it was a little better than all of the other voice programs that I tried. The voice activation works well too.
Roger Wilco now has an add-on program called Rapman that allows users to add a buddy list to their Roger Wilco program. This program works similar to ICQ. It shows which of your friends or relatives are online so you can connect with them right away.
Observations and Conclusion
The ease of use of this program makes it a winner. It is so easy to use that almost anyone can figure it out. There is no large instruction manual to learn either. The program is very small too, only 360k. The program will only work for 15 minutes of continuous chat. After 15 minutes the users have to reconnect. This feature is in place to get people to register the program. It is free to register and once done the chat time is no longer limited. After registering the registration key is then mailed to the user’s email address. This is somewhat of a pain, but the program is free so one should not really complain. The IP address of the host is posted for easy reference too. The only problem I encountered was when connected to a large number of people. Sometimes when there are 15 or so people connected, there might be one or two people that for some reason do not hear you when you are speaking. This is a rare occurrence, but it has happened to me.
I have personally used this program with Grand Prix Legends, Quake 2 & 3, and Unreal. It works great! I did turn off the microphone clicks because they got annoying after a while. I also turned off the automatic microphone. I set the program to only send my voice when I held down the transmit button. This saves the precious bandwidth for the game one is playing. Remember when the voice activation enabled, it transmits all sounds not just voice. This includes sound from the speakers. The only way to get around this is to use a headset which is also supported by Roger Wilco. Any button can be configured to work as a transmit button. Some controllers even have the capability to have a button configured as the transmit button. There are some games that require specific changes in the settings of the software so that Roger Wilco will work. The compatibility page addresses most of the popular games on the market.
Roger Wilco is best used with a sound card that has full duplex. Half duplex cards will work but you will only be able to receive. That is not very fun. It must also be noted that Roger Wilco is much more effective if the user has a buddy program like ICQ. This program will let you know when your buddies are online. You can then ask them to join you in Roger Wilco. ICQ can be downloaded from http://www.icq.com. The host has to send their IP address to the people whom they wish to have join them on Roger Wilco. Cable users usually have a static IP address so they can be give out their IP number ahead of time so the their friends can keep it for later reference. I like the fact that when I host, my current IP address is shown in a box at the top of the program. It makes this important task very easy to do. I can even copy and paste it into an ICQ message.
Next time you think about playing a multiplayer game online, give Roger Wilco a try. It adds a new element of realism and communication between players that was not available in the past. I think you will find yourself using it more and more once you get used to the new levels of interaction that are possible.
Links and Resources
Roger Wilco user groups: http://126.96.36.199/php/db/usergroups.phtml
Games with integrated support: http://www.resounding.com/gameroom/integrated.html
Gamer lobby: http://188.8.131.52/php/gamerlobby/index.phtml
Submitted by: Brian Bowles