When I first saw There Came An Echo, the Wil Wheaton-supported Kickstarter project whose creators want $US90,000 to make a voice-controlled real-time strategy game, I thought it was kind of absurd. Voice commands? Who wants to use some sort of gimmick to play an RTS? What's wrong with a mouse and keyboard?
So while chatting with Jason Wishnov, the man behind There Came An Echo whose last game, Sequence, came out on Steam back in 2011, I asked why he thought people would care. And he gave me a pretty decent explanation:
There's a few reasons. Voice commands, not used in a dedicated fashion since 2008's EndWar, have progressed significantly in the past five years, primarily due to research and development spurred on by the smartphone industry and features like Siri. The recognition rates have drastically improved, and supplementary features...like Mass Effect 3's voice command system, or getting to yell "FUS RO DAH!" at Skyrim, have worked well, and gotten a good response from those who chose to use them.
Moreover, though, I simply think they haven't been used correctly yet. 2004's Lifeline is a perfect example of this. Voice commands should *never* be designed to replace the press of the button...they'll never be perfectly accurate, and they're much slower. Having to tell a character to fire their gun, reload, get out of the line of fire...this would be utterly frustrating. Instead, the player should be using voice *in a manner that reflects an actual usage of voice*...in this particular case, directing a small squad of units. It's how it would actually be done. The minutia, the small stuff, is handled intelligently by the AI. And the speech isn't just one-way: the characters ask you questions, they talk back, it becomes a dialogue. It's a very immersive experience, and helps to tie the player emotionally to the characters. Using generic "army dudes" in a game like this is severely limiting its potential, which is why we've been sure to write a script that takes full advantage.
Could it work? Dunno. I'm still sceptical. But I really enjoyed Sequence — which is a fun, albeit grindy little rhythm-RPG — so maybe Wishnov can pull this thing off too.