He Believes Voice Controls Can Actually Work In A Video Game

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.


    For me personally, RTS seems perfect for voice control. Seems more realistic.

    Wouldn't mind a squad based game to work on a similar principle.

    I think it depends on the how it is implimented, Endwar was a little forgatable as a game, but I do remember playing it with the voice commands and having a great time ordering troops around!

    It's the ultimate way to see how far you can push someone - have the commander calling out the commands and the simple grunts (played by other people) forced (or enticed in some way) to follow the commands.

    I know a few games have hinted at this level of control - but I'm yet to see it implemented - this game has the potential to finally cement the first step - voice control for the commander. Fingers crossed it's not a total mess.

    SOCOM on PS2 (back in da dayz) with the headset was awesome.

      Bloody oath, would love another real SOCOM game... the newer ones just aren't the same.

    Voice control could be fun in something like FTL.

    I remember using voice control in Unreal Tournament back in the day. Totally wasn't worth it - went back the keyboard in a hurry.

    I think it would be good in dialogue sections in RPG games such as The Elder Scrolls and Fallout series. This way it feels like you are having conversations with NPCs, even though you are just reading the choice off the screen.

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