If you never look at the column on the right-hand side of my blog posts, you might miss my little section called “What I’m Backing”. Typically once every few months I find a Kickstarter project I’m interested in, and I’ll update the section to show at what I’ve most recently chucked money. Right now it’s the video game There Came an Echo. Check out their video:
The concept of being able to control a video game with your voice isn’t exactly new. I remember being excited when Mass Effect 3 and BioWare announced that you’d be able to command your squad and make your dialogue choices with vocal commands. Anything that removes handling a physical controller and allows you to interface immediately with the game itself only increases immersion, IMO, which I count as a good thing in my entertainment. The real question is how well it works, since working poorly would only yank you out of the game instead. With ME I ended up never using voice commands with my Kinect since the Kinect itself would drive me buggy during normal daily usage (half the time taking actions I didn’t request, the other half ignoring my yelled commands. I’m pretty sure my neighbors think I’m a crazy person). Hopefully There Came an Echo will do better!
The fact that you’ll need a microphone to receive the commands instead of your Kinect is probably a plus. Assuming you have even just a halfway decent mic the game should hear everything you say without an issue, and from what the video showed it’s able to easily distinguish your commands and asks you to clarify otherwise. Additionally it doesn’t look like you’re giving commands constantly, one after the other; instead you’re often responding to requests made to your squad. This probably makes it less prone to confusion and will hopefully make the game less tedious as well. Tedium and speed were complaints I read on several sites reviewing the use of the Kinect with Mass Effect; the commands would be fun to use at first, but eventually it just became easier to use the control wheel.
There Came an Echo sounds like it has a lot of promise; it’s already in large part completed so I have confidence the game will get finished without issue (as opposed to some cases of Kickstarter remorse I’ve been reading). I love the idea of actively talking to my video games, so I’m hoping the voice commands end up working smoothly and make the game that much more fun to play.
There’s only a couple weeks left of their Kickstarter campaign, so if you’re as intrigued as I am, consider throwing a few bucks their way!