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Suggested radio overhaul with dedicated push-to-transmit button and animation (feature overhaul suggestion)
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The current implementation of radios as of 1.13 needs an overhaul, for reasons of: improved user experience, improved clarify ("am I transmitting right now? Can they hear my friends standing next to me?"), and improved immersion ("why am I broadcasting everything? How am I activating my radio!?")

The suggestion is an overhaul to the way that radios are used, which should lead to improved clarity around radio usage, and simpler more intuitive mechanics. The basis of this suggestion is that current radio mechanics seem to contain features that are either bugged or counter-intuitive, radio usage is not physically telegraphed by players, and that this current system discourages radio usage.

The result of this suggested overhaul is improved and simplified player interactions with radios, allowing this important feature the use that it deserves.

The essential piece of the suggestion is to add a dedicated radio 'push to transmit' button, which is bound to a separate key to the 'proximity chat' push to talk key. Including a dedicated key solves two major problems which currently exist as of 1.13:

  1. Players with their radios turned on are unable to communicate in proximity chat without simultaneously broadcasting their voice over the radio
  1. Players speaking in proximity chat standing near another player with his radio switched on have their voices broadcast over the radio, even if the radio owner has not pressed their push to talk button.

The first issue seems an intentional feature, while the second is probably a bug, since it makes no sense (we have confirmed that this still exists in version 1.13). Bug or feature, both of these issues create negative feedback loops in terms of player interactions and immersion and discourage the use of radios.

My main suggestions are as follows:

  1. Create a radio push-to-transmit function, and have it bound by default to a different key to proximity chat (e.g. bind radio push to transmit to ~ key). Activating this key corresponds to the player pushing the transmit button on their radio handset, which allows their voice to be broadcast if the radio is switched on. Speaking in direct chat without the push-to-transmit button active means the player's voice is NOT transmitted on the radio.
  1. Create an animation for the player that corresponds to pushing the transmit button on their handset and speaking into it. With the radio held in the player's hands, this would look like the player lifting the handset to their mouth. With the radio held on the player's backpack strap, this would look like the player lifting one hand to their shoulder area, to simulate pressing the transmit button on the radio.

The positives that I see coming from these changes are as follows:

Linking radio broadcasting to a specific animation has two positive effects. First, the push to transmit button cannot be accessed when the radio isn't in the player's hands or on their backpack strap. As a result, the player cannot transmit over the radio unless the radio is in one of these two positions. I see this as a positive thing - after all, how can one use a handheld radio that is buried in a backpack? By forcing the radio to be in one of these two positions, and indicating radio usage by a distinct animation, the player character telegraphs the player's action more clearly. It is then clear for others watching this player that they are communicating via radio (as it would be in real life). This is a critical piece of information when it comes to choosing how to respond to an unknown player, e.g. are they in radio contact with a squad, off in the trees somewhere? Having visible information that indicates the player's interaction with a handheld radio therefore increases the immersion in the game, and improves the quality of information available to perceptive players. Currently, radio useage isn't physically indicated anywhere on the player, and it's impossible to tell whether a player is speaking only in direct or also over the radio.

Other suggestions related to this radio overhaul:

When a player is speaking while using the push to transmit button, as well as broadcasting their voice, they should be audible to others in close physical proximity to the player, e.g. in the whisper radius. This emulates the player speaking directly into the radio in a quiet voice (there is no need to shout into the radio, after all).

Similarly, incoming transmissions that are broadcast by the player's handheld radio should also be audible within the whisper proximity range, with suitable audio filters applied (e.g. crackling) to make it clear that this sound is coming from a radio. There could be an optional headset attachment for the radio that eliminated this proximity broadcast entirely, this would be a desirable attachment for radio users that wished to remained totally inaudible while receiving broadcasts. Perhaps an option to adjust the output volume of the radio speaker could also be added. Radios that are switched on would broadcast into local proximity chat regardless of where they are positioned in a player's inventory or on the ground. Radios are thus able to receive and play broadcasts freely, but only transmit if the handset transmit function is accessible (by being in one of the two positions described earlier).

Currently it is difficult or impossible to tell whether a voice is coming over the radio or over proximity chat (without taking into account environmental queues or positional audio). It would be excellent if some mild audio filters were added to voices coming from the radio to make it clear that they are being received via radio transmission. It would also be nice sensory feedback to add a small noise when a user keys the push-to-transmit button on and off.

The suggestion of a push to transmit button and dedicated animation could also be applied to the backpack radio set in a similar way.

With transmitting on the radio requiring the radio to be held in hands or on a backpack strap, it might be useful in the future to add other attachment points where a radio can be position and accessed by the player, e.g. mounted on a chest rig, or on a belt.

More sophisticated filters relating to radio range, geography and other interference effects could be added, in the style of TFAR, etc. but this is a lower priority, in my view, than fixing the core gameplay components of radio interactions.


Operating System
Windows 7
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rypasmith added a comment.EditedAug 12 2021, 3:36 PM

Similarly, incoming transmissions that are broadcast by the player's handheld radio should also be audible within the whisper proximity range

This can actually currently occur if the radio is turned on, dropped, then placed back on the player's bag. server relies on the radio heavily due to our niche "no 3rd party VoiP program" rule so these sorts of changes would really make the radio come to life even more so than it does now.

  • Players speaking in proximity chat standing near another player with his radio switched on have their voices broadcast over the radio, even if the radio owner has not pressed their push to talk button.

This. It makes no sense to hear the conversations of a whole group when only one has their radio switched on (and is not transmitting).

mrdarn added a subscriber: mrdarn.Aug 12 2021, 5:15 PM
kplan added a subscriber: kplan.Aug 12 2021, 6:56 PM

While all of the suggestions sound amazing they also sound like a lot of effort on the developers part. Simply adding an option to bind a seperate key (or the same one if you prefer the way it is currently) as push-to-transmit like suggested in 1. would in my opinion already be a major step towards an immersive radio experience with only a fraction of the work required.
So if these features do not get scheduled simply because the const/benefit ratio doesn't work out, please consider at least part one of this suggestion.