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How to use pregenerated voice messages in game voicecoms

Lately, I’ve been playing a game called Friday the 13th. One of the originality of this game (which I don’t recommend at the moment due to the developpers’ very rude behavior towards the customers) is that it comes with a range-based voicechat: everyone, friend or foe, can hear you at a short distance, plus friends car hear you far away if both of you are equipped with a walkie-talkie.
This comes at a price, though: the devs thought it would be smart to only implement voicechat, meaning the game neither has text chat nor some kind of communication wheel with pre-recorded messages. In other words: no microphone = no communication. At all.

This sucks if: you do have no mic, or you don’t want to use a headset (mic can’t really be used without a headset because there doesn’t seem to be any kind of echo cancellation), or you don’t want to be noisy in the house because you play late, or if you’re a mute, etc.

People with no coms are also a weakness in the survivor (“counselor”) team, so eventually there was a rant topic on the Steam forums about people not using a mic, and in this thread a mute guy posted how he worked around the issue, by using software which basically created his own custom communication wheel. And here is how, with some tweaks so as to only use free (as in beer) or open source software.

Step 1: generate pre-recorded messages with text-to-speed software. Balabolka (freeware, Windows only) is nice for that, and very easy to use: type your message, choose between the 2 available voices (one male, one female), optionnally tweak it (I like to make it a bit faster, it saves time and since the pronounciation is good it’s still very understandable)

Step 2: install a “virtual audio cable” driver. That’s basically a driver that will create a device which can both act as a sound input and take sound input from another program. VB-Audio Virtual Cable (donationware, Windows only) will do nicely, and will be sufficient in its free version (if you donate, you get access to a version with more virtual audio cables, but you only need one for our purpose.

Step 3: get a soundboard software, like EXP Soundboard (open source and free, cross-platform – Java). This will allow you to map your sound files to hotkeys (I advise picking combined hotkeys, like ALT+X, so as to avoid accidentally playing sounds), and to send those sounds to both your speakers and your virtual audio cable. You can also configure the audio gain (separately for both outputs), meaning you can tweak the volume without having to redo your audio files, and you can choose different volumes from your local feedback (no need to make it too loud, this will allow you to hear game sounds better while “talking”) and your voice chat.
Of course, don’t forget to save your configuration 😉 It’s saved in a JSON file, which you should be able to manually edit if you want to re-order the sounds (which can’t been done from the software itself, apparently)

Step 4: don’t forget to configure your audio input in Steam, in Settings → Voice → Recording (audio input) device, otherwise the game won’t see it (that’s a little sad though, it means you can’t mix mic input and soundboard input – although I guess maybe the soundboard could be configured to also transmit mic input? I didn’t try that)

And voilà, you’re good to go. I didn’t go deep in each software’s details, but they are all pretty straightfoward so you shouldn’t have much difficulties setting them up.

Posted in multimedia, software.

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