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 The Multicast Spectator Mode / Voice Communication - September 2 - 2001

By Garmer

After several delays and a very long time of waiting it finally seems that Counter-Strike 1.3 and Half-Life is near release. More specific it should be available for download in early September, and includes two new and very interesting technologies - the multicast Spectating and the Voice Communication. In order to see what to expect I've gathered all the current available info including all screenshots, the best videoclips and the most interesting interviews/articles dealing with the technologies.

What are the spec/voice technologies ?

The Multicast Spectator tech, or HLTV in daily speech, is designed to allow several hundred people to view an online Half-Life / Counter-Strike match live on the internet. The spectator will be able to change viewmode, angle or decide what player to follow. In the map overview you can see all players position and view. Terrorists are marked with red, while Counter-Terrorists are marked blue. You can also choose to follow a player and watch the mapoverview at the same time (see the screenshot), which is very cool. This technology will be used at the CPL and other events, and is definitely different from following a match on IRC.

The Voice tech will make you able to speak with the people you play with (assuming you have a microphone/headset of course). This is actually already possible in form of external programs like Roger Wilco, Battlecom etc, but they won't do the job nearly as good as Valves however. It will run smooth over a 56K connection and there won't be problems hearing your teammates, which often happens with the other programs. Valve also plans to release a broadband version, which will make the sound even clearer. Of course you get to decide who you want to talk to (see the screenshot), so you won't have to listen to some lamer cursing his entire team. Whenever a player speaks, his name will appear on his teammates screen so there won't be doubts about who's speaking either.

Both technologies will be included in the next Half-Life patch Hopefuly it will be released sometime soon.

The goods

This video clip is from the Speakeasy CPL event in Dallas earlier this year, and it contains an interview with the founder of CPL concerning CS as a spectator sport + a few clips from HLTV.

CPL HLTV video/interview (17 MB - .ASF file)

And here are all released screenshots showing Valves news technologies:

Spec Screens:







Voice Screens:




And finally a list of interviews/articles discussing the Spec/Voice technologies:

In-depth Article that explains the history and technology behind HLTV.

Interview with Martin Otten - author of the Multicast Spectator mode - answering a lot of interesting generel questions about the spec system.

Article at Gamespy about the Voice technology. It discusses the development, how it works, details and Eric Johnson answers questions. The article is based on Gamespys visit with Valve, its comprehensive and very interesting.

Article at Gamespy about the Multicast Spectator mode. A very nice article going behind the technology and Eric Johnson explains how several thousands can watch one game at the same time. Some of Valves future plans with the spec system are also revealed, and this is definitely a must-read!

Interview with Eric Johnson at about HLTV (scroll down on the page to find it).

Test of the voice/spec tech at Homelanfed. This is one of the first CS 1.3 playtests for gamesites, and this explains the experience you get with the new technologies - very interesting.

That's all the current available info about Valves technologies but remember to check back on our news, where we'll keep you updated on the subject.
Copyright 2001 - 2014 - code & design by Garmer