I love Minecraft. And I love to play it together with my daughter and her cousin and second cousin. However when me and my daughter wants to play with the others, we have to use some kind of voice program, so we can talk together while we play.
There are many choices for a voice program (VoIP).
There are Google Talk, Skype, Ventrilo, Teamspeak and Mumble. When it was only my daughter and her cousin that played together, they used Google Talk. It's so simple so the girls (they are both 9 years old) could easily turn on the computers, start Google Talk and call each other up and play together. No problem at all. But then the second cousin got Minecraft also and she wanted to play with them too. Now we couldn't use Google Talk anymore, since there is no function to allow 3 or more people to talk together (Are you listening Google?).
Then there is Skype. It's like Google Talk as in you can call your contacts but it also have a conference function. But skype is incredibly bloated these days and very complex to navigate. And it also transmit data all the time, even when no one is speaking. And since the girls are playing on some very old computers with not so much power, we really need something very light on resources both CPU and memory wise. So Skype was out of the picture also.
Ventrilo is suffering from some of the same issues as Skype and I always found Ventrilo to be kind of buggy and not play nice with the rest of the system, so I didn't want to use that.
Teamspeak is a little better but with every version it seems to grow bigger and bigger and it also have some weird quirks (sometimes one person can't hear another even though others can).
So what is left?
I LOVE Mumble! I have loved Mumble ever since I first found it. It's so small and resource friendly and the sound quality is amazing (at least when people know how to set it up properly). But the best part of Mumble, is that it's free. Totally FREE to download and use and totally free to set up a server without having to buy a license. And speaking of server, the server for Mumble is called Murmur and if Mumble is light on resources, then Murmur must be made of feathers. I use a version of Murmur called Umurmur (minimalistic murmur, even lighter than murmur) and have it running on my old QNAP NAS and it barely registers as running.
That's how light it is.
And Mumble is very easy to use, as easy as Google Talk so the girls have no problems playing on their own without me having to go and start it all up first. Mumble is a godsend!
So I have used Mumble before in other games when I played with friends and one thing in Mumble that always fascinated me, was that it had Positional Audio for select games. What this means is that for games that supported it, you could enable positional audio and now you could suddenly hear ingame where your friends were. So if your friend was to your left in the game, his voice would come from your left side. You could even set it up so the volume of his voice would decrease over distance. That way it was easy to locate your friend in the game, just go after the direction of his voice. In First Person Shooters were speed is essential, it saves a lot of time asking 'where are you now?' all the time. Also another advantage with Mumble I forgot to mention, is the very low latency in the program. There is practically NO latency what so ever, except from the ping time from the clients and the server. With other VoIP programs, you have to suffer a lot of latency from the program on top of the ping time. 1 second of delay is very common in all the other VoIP programs. Not in Mumble!
I found a very nice mod for Minecraft, that allowed you to connect Minecraft to Mumble so the positional audio would work in Minecraft. It was really easy to install (I will make a simple guide later) so I installed it on all the computers the girls and me use to play on and now we can talk with each other when we play, without lagging Minecraft, with low latency, very little resources used on the computers AND with positional audio.
Only Mumble makes it all possible!
I have made a small video demonstrating Mumble in Minecraft. The volume is a little low since I forgot to turn it up properly before recording it, but I'm sure you can hear just how amazing it is, to HEAR where the players are in the game.
Links to Mumble MumbleLink and Minecraft.