Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Hangouts Updated 2016

Google System Requirements for Hangouts

300kbps (kilobit) (35KBps or KiloByte/s) uploading just voice and downloading just 1 other participant for a total of 600kbps (70KBps)

For every additional participant you download more data. So if you are talking to 3 other people then you will be download 300kbps (35KBps) per participant for a total of 900kbps (105KBps). Don't forget to add yourself for a total of 900kbps down and 300kps up for a total of 1.2mbps or (140KBps).

Like Marching you can move only as fast as the slowest member. This means that the user experience is by the person with the worse internet. This can translate to a bunch of you being affected.

Hardware Matters!

Noise Cancelling Headphones is just plain basic Courtesy in Voice/Video over IP. Even the robust Iphone Earbuds are pretty good noise cancelling. The more ambient sounds you have the get into your mic the harder it is to be understood.

Latency, like in Online Game, Matters
So PING or MS matters. I normally use my Steam PING measures to see how things are by loading Insurgency and see how the Ping is per

or you can use a PING test  to see how is the MS of your country or region with your players/gm's region.

DSLReports is the Bandwidth tester I use these days. It tells me my Ping as well.

Latency Benchmarks are those you need for an FPS, about more than 200 becomes noticeably difficult and blow 100 becomes easy and undetectable. (Check the MS rating for the location)

DDOS Attack Map: Checking the Internet Weather.
Check the Digital Attack Map to see if your Country and Backbones are experiencing any irregular attacks.

Google Alerts ISP Outage and Conditions 
If you use Google Alerts than make an alert sends alerts before your game day about Outages, Interruptions, Maintenance, and Servicing. (Use those words as key words).

2.6mbps (megabit) (350KBps) up or down with video.
So in a Game of 4 other players, thats 10.4mbps (1.4MegaByte/sec). This can even be more if the Video is in HD.

My internet at home is measured at 100KBps. This means I can talk to 2 other people in a voice only Google Hangout. I have a "advertised" 4mbps aka 500KBps. 

If PLDT FINALLY comes up with 50mbps (60usd/mo) and PLDT delivers only 1/5 of promised at 10mbps (1.25MBps) I need to still do the Hangout on Audio to maximize the user experience. 

GM and Players need to MATCH Bandwidth.
If I run a game with 4 other players EVERYONE will need about 1.4MB and a latency of about below 300ms.

Roll20 needs about 400kbps to 800kbps (50-100KB/s) to add on. Again check the latency of this all.  Here is Roll20's image best practices and my Optimized Combat Mapping Post

Turn Off Mic if not Speaking
You will learn that turning off the Mic when its not your turn (and to comment on the chat or send whispers) is better to minimize confusion and maximize everyone's Mental and ISP bandwidth. More Voice Streams of data the more Download the system needs.
If you find it Rude for the GM or Other players to mute you, then be aware when its not your turn and your Mic is on.
The GM may make a disclaimer - Will mute you if its not your turn to talk to limit noise and bandwidth. 

Computer CPU and RAM.
Browsers can surprisingly eat up a lot of ram, and when I have it on my CPU monitor shows all 4 cores firing at max in my i3 computer. So if you can divide tasks by devices it would help. I ran a hangout from my phone and Roll20 on my laptop to help with the responsiveness.

In Closing
Hopefully one day someone can make a Chrome or Firefox Plug-in to automate all this. I'm sure someone would have figured out this pain point and

Second - Skype and Hangouts can have a dashboard for matching.
If all VOIP services can have a way to test and measure. like my tested bandwidth quality, capacity, and beside each name the PING/MS/Latency I have with each player updated every couple of minutes would be AWESOME!

Allow us to Search by Hubs and Discussion on User Experience.
If we can find gamers to play with online by the Quality of the Connection it would also be awesome. Breaking it down to "Hubs" would be ok and an opt in system. As well as informing people how they can improve their User Experience. In my area X is the best way, as I've tried Z, Y and B!

The Philippine Condition
It seems my timing leaving Roll20 is not so bad since I've been downgraded and will need to look for a good ISP. The example is true that If I do get to move to a new ISP at BEST I have only 1.25MB/s to look forward to or 4 player slots in only Voice.

But I'm not getting that until PLDT gets a fiber backbone in our area (by the experience of them just setting up a leased line in our provincial plant may mean x2-3 the amount of time, for a project that should have taken 60 days), I can only get 8mbps which is sobering 200KBs (remember 1/5 of the advertised rate) and that means Voice only and latency problems. Thats probably 2 years away (2018) or never.

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