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There Came an Echo: Voice-controlled Strategy on PS4

Jason Wishnov's Avatar + Posted by Jason Wishnov on Apr 10, 2014 // Lead Designer, Iridium Studios

Hey, PlayStation fans! Quick backstory: we were making this game, and market research showed us that people who own PS4s like games. After extensive trend analysis and writing numbers down on paper in the hopes of making it look like we knew basic mathematics, we made the executive decision to bring our title, There Came an Echo, over to the Sony side of town. There’s a trailer above, which you should probably watch, but if you didn’t, it’s okay, we’re cool.

There Came an Echo is, if you’ll pardon the torrent of hyphens, a voice-controlled squad-based real-time strategy game. You don’t play directly as the soldiers in the field, but rather as the tactical commander, issuing strategic orders via headset. Ever felt annoyed when someone in your earpiece told you what to do in a blockbuster, AAA first-person shooter? Well, now, you’re the someone in the earpiece. Some direct influences on the game include X-COM: Enemy Unknown and Tom Clancy’s EndWar.

A lot of you might feel a little antsy about voice recognition. And we understand! But we’d encourage you to turn on your Playstation 4 and give the basic OS voice commands a shot. (It was, in fact, this very process that initially convinced us to reach out to Sony!) But There Came an Echo goes a little farther with something we call “command aliasing”. Don’t like the default commands, like “fire” or “shields up”? You can enter in your own custom word or phrase for every existing unit and command in the game. Want to talk to your units using nothing but quotes from Zoolander? Done. And, for those who still aren’t sold (or just have a sleeping roommate), you can fully control the game with your standard DualShock 4, no problem.

There Came an Echo on PS4

There Came an Echo on PS4There Came an Echo on PS4

There Came an Echo also has a heavy narrative focus. Your soldiers aren’t generic military types, but individuals, unaccustomed to combat, thrown into an unimaginable conflict over a technology very certain to change the world. You not only talk to them, but they to you; character development and motivation is a major focus for us. And, to that end, we’ve assembled a cast fit for Hollywood: Wil Wheaton and Ashly Burch headline, with industry veterans Yuri Lowenthal, Laura Bailey, Karen Strassman, Rachel Robinson, and Cindy Robinson rounding out the fantastic ensemble. We couldn’t be more excited to work with this incredible pool of talent. Well, maybe we could be, if they promise to bring Oreos to the recording sessions later this year. (Wil, I know you’re reading this. Seriously. Bring them.)

Our release date is still a little up in the air, but rest assured we’re working closely with Sony to finish our game and get it up onto the PlayStation Store as soon as possible. We hope you’re looking forward to the game!

You’ve all probably got a bunch of questions, comments, and hilarious jokes, so post ‘em in the comments below! We’ll be around, responding and judging your comedic abilities.

//Add Your Own

30 Comments   10 Replies

1

+ GABEv01 on April 10th, 2014 at 9:09 am said:

I like the style and word play of your blog post Mr. Wishnov.


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    + Jason Wishnov on April 10th, 2014 at 9:32 am said:

    And we like the style of your comment, sir. = D


2

+ Wolfs__Reign on April 10th, 2014 at 9:14 am said:

Looks awesome! Im definitely inerested…you have my buy


3

+ FifthDream on April 10th, 2014 at 9:18 am said:

You had me at Wil Wheaton, Yuri Lowenthal, (ESPECIALLY) Laura Bailey, and “voice controlled”. This sounds (SOUNDS! No pun intended) like a lot of fun. I’m gonna play in the dark and pretend i’m in some secret control room somewhere and that the game is all really happening.

Muahahahahahehehehehehehehmmm…


4

+ anti-altair16 on April 10th, 2014 at 9:18 am said:

I heard about this game when it was announced for X1 and thought it sounded pretty interesting. Nice to see it coming to PS4. I’m not really into the strategy genre but I did play a bit of XCOM Enemy Unknown and enjoyed it but eventually just put it down. Also great to see a game using voice commands. It works pretty well on PS4 so hopefully more games start to implement them. Hope to see more of this soon. Who knows. Maybe I’ll end up getting it!


5

+ dodgedoors on April 10th, 2014 at 9:19 am said:

Wil Wheaton is actually quite a good voice actor. I loved him in the Ready Player One audiobook. Although thanks to family guy I can’t see him or hear his name without saying it like Stewie. WHH-ill WHHeaton. This looks really fun and I am really interested in seeing how well voice commands are implemented.


6

+ stlthriot on April 10th, 2014 at 9:20 am said:

Whoa the soundtrack alone has me intrigued! :)
The game looks great, too!


7

+ reson8er on April 10th, 2014 at 9:20 am said:

Intriguing. Can you mix control styles? Say I like direct controlling the characters, but for certain tasks would like to use voice, are both possible simultaneously? Also, can you control one character, while issuing voice commands to another? The concept seems pretty cool.


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    + Jason Wishnov on April 10th, 2014 at 9:24 am said:

    You can’t *directly* control a character, like, using the controller to move him around manually, but you can certainly mix voice commands in with controller/mouse/keyboard input. You can even have two people command the army together!


8

+ EddyC__ on April 10th, 2014 at 9:21 am said:

Ronald Jenkees?! The trailer got me interested for this game but man now I’m kinda excited for it.


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    + Jason Wishnov on April 10th, 2014 at 9:31 am said:

    His new works for this game are utterly incredible. I mean, I had to say that, you know, because it’s my job?

    But when he or Jimmy submit a new song, literally everyone in the office just immediately stops working and freaks out. The OST is going to be *amazing*.


9

+ toothdecaykills on April 10th, 2014 at 9:21 am said:

So let me get this straight. Art design looks fantastic. Its an RTS on a console with voice control. Inspired by XCom and End War. I can make my own voice commands. Amazing cast.

Take my money already!

Few questions, though. Any multiplayer planned? What should we expect for length? Is this retail or a download release? What happens to Wil if he doesn’t bring Oreos?


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    + Jason Wishnov on April 10th, 2014 at 9:29 am said:

    Thanks! = D

    No multiplayer is planned. We can balance the single player for the occasional missed voice command…as good as the system is, it’s bound to happen eventually…but in a multiplayer match, we feel that one single missed command could be the difference between victory and defeat, and that could be *very* frustrating. We’re just focusing on the single-player narrative for now.

    We’re currently looking at a good six hour campaign length, with multiple difficulties planned! It’ll be a download-only release.

    As for Wil, well, we might send him on a Thin Mint run, or something. = D


10

+ BahumatIsBack on April 10th, 2014 at 9:24 am said:

OK, love the “make it so” command especially with Will Wheaton in the voice cast. My only problem is it’s a voice controlled game. I refuse to buy any kind of camera because the NSA is running unchecked in the US. I’m sure I’ll get a couple people calling me paranoid, but those people don’t usually understand how the US government actually works. We’re only tools for them to meet their own ends. They don’t work for us anymore. We’re property and have let the fear mongerers win

Now, I would use my Turtle Beach headphones for the voice commands, but the PS4 doesn’t support my pair of XP5. I spent about 200 bucks on it just last year and refuse to buy a PS4 branded pair when there is absolutely no technical difference between the new ones and the one I already own. They are the same piece of hardware. When you buy a new laptop or computer all your old hardware still works unless it’s just ancient. This issue of PS4 not supporting expensive PS3 headsets is nothing more than a cash grab. It’s shameful and I won’t be suckered in like that

Is there going to be an option for full controller control of the game because voice control is a complete dead end for me


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    + Jason Wishnov on April 10th, 2014 at 9:26 am said:

    We understand your concerns, and we do want to make clear that There Came an Echo *never* records any data whatsoever from its players. However, we know that everyone wants to play in their own desired style, so the game absolutely supports full use of controllers, keyboards, and mice. = D

    No worries!


11

+ Trendy_Kid on April 10th, 2014 at 9:29 am said:

Excellent music.


12

+ coolasj19 on April 10th, 2014 at 9:31 am said:

How well will this work with the PS4′s default mono earpiece microphone? That’s what I intend on using until I can scrounge up something much much better.

It almost doesn’t matter about anything else at this point though. You’re game has Laura Bailey as a main cast role. Now I have to buy it. Good casting choice, you guys.


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    + Jason Wishnov on April 10th, 2014 at 9:33 am said:

    We basically cast this game largely from Virtue’s Last Reward, one of our favorite games of all time. Cindy Robinson (Zero III), Laura Bailey (Luna), and Karen Strassman (Phi) all absolutely blew us away.

    It should work fine with the microphone, provided a quiet environment!


13

+ GlassBead on April 10th, 2014 at 9:34 am said:

The transition to custom voice commands in all voice controlled games seems so obvious to the genius of Wil the great one so thank you for reminding the rank and file of game development to think ahead of the box.


14

+ jenyjhon on April 10th, 2014 at 9:51 am said:

M­y l­a­­s­t p­a­y c­h­­e­c­k w­a­s $­8­­5­o­o ­w­o­r­k­i­n­g 1­o h­o­u­r­s a w­e­e­k o­n­l­i­n­e­. M­y y­o­u­n­g­e­r b­r­o­t­h­e­r f­r­i­e­n­d h­a­s b­e­e­n a­v­e­r­a­g­i­n­g 1­2­k f­o­r m­o­n­t­h­s ­n­o­w a­n­d h­e w­o­r­k­s a­b­o­u­t 2­2 h­o­u­r­s a w­e­e­k­. I c­a­n­’­t b­e­l­i­e­v­e h­o­w e­a­s­y i­t w­a­s o­n­c­e I t­r­i­e­d i­t o­u­t­. T­h­i­s i­s w­h­a­t I d­o.­.­.­..­. >>>­­­j­o­b­s­35.ℭℴℳ


15

+ BlawxEX on April 10th, 2014 at 9:53 am said:

Looks very cool! Definitely going to check it out. The art style reminds me of Transistor.


16

+ FrostBalrog on April 10th, 2014 at 9:54 am said:

Looks terrible


17

+ BarrenMind on April 10th, 2014 at 9:55 am said:

I loved Sequence so I’ll be keeping an eye on this. Might be the first good reason (for me) to pick up the camera.


18

+ GioRage on April 10th, 2014 at 10:39 am said:

THIS GAME GAMe GAme Game game LOOKS LOOKs LOOks LOoks Looks looks COOL COOl COol Cool cool. LOL LOl Lol lol.


19

+ GioRage on April 10th, 2014 at 10:45 am said:

I’m buying this game and no one is going to ‘talk me out of it’.


20

+ KazeEternal on April 10th, 2014 at 10:47 am said:

Thanks for Keyboard and Mouse support I hope other developers get a clue about this. 2 Console Generations prior had this ability and was never supported. Excited to give this game a try.


21

+ CrownedLion on April 10th, 2014 at 11:04 am said:

Would you say that the voice commands are a pretty integral part of the whole *experience*, or more of a fun bonus? Will the story make more sense in the context of using your voice, or will the characters understand that a silent Commander still loves them?


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    + Jason Wishnov on April 10th, 2014 at 11:05 am said:

    The game is designed from the ground up for voice controls, but the controller/keyboard/mouse support still “emulates” voice commands, so the players react as though they’d heard you, the tactical commander, speak.

    The player *is* a canon character in the plotline, and the soldiers recognize you as such.


22

+ Ryumoau on April 10th, 2014 at 11:06 am said:

@10

Do you have any idea how paranoid and idiotic you sound?

Anyway, this game looks interesting because i like the rts elements. But as you stated in the article, some of us just find Voice controls gimmicky and annoying. traditional dualshock controls for this game would make me far more excited.


23

+ xClayMeow on April 10th, 2014 at 11:21 am said:

Any plans for a Vita version?

Vita needs a good turn-based strategy game! I really wish Enemy Within came to Vita, but this would do!


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    + Jason Wishnov on April 10th, 2014 at 12:50 pm said:

    Not at the moment, but we’ll take the public interest into account. ;)


24

+ MMaLuFII on April 10th, 2014 at 11:43 am said:

This game would be Awesome with online CO-OP, each player controlling one character. Congratulation, this game looks really amazing.


25

+ lisatsunami on April 10th, 2014 at 12:12 pm said:

Gotta make this quick, before the guys in black ‘copters track me through my iPad…

Hey, Jason, good writing style, good trailer but you had me @ voice command. I bought a Star Wars 360 just so I could replay Skyrim when Beth patched voice command. Aw, the 500 hours I yelled Dragon Shouts in the night. Switching up weapons just using voice was super convenient.

So, yeah, getting your game, thanks.


26

+ twinspectre on April 10th, 2014 at 12:49 pm said:

i wonder if this game can be played with the dual shock 4 without voice command (i hope yes)


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    + Jason Wishnov on April 10th, 2014 at 12:50 pm said:

    Of course! No problem.


27

+ BahumatIsBack on April 10th, 2014 at 1:48 pm said:

yeah, yeah, I’m paranoid and idiotic for not putting an internet connected camera in my bedroom in the age of the US government spying on their own people through data mining without even probable cause. They’ve admitted to this by the way in case you haven’t followed the news so it’s not a hairbrained theory. They say they’re doing it for our own good, but who asked em to do it? What the US government admits to is never the full story so there’s no telling how much info they collect and how far they’re willing to go to check up on people without a warrant and breaking our 4th ammendment right. Keep living in the dark if you want to

Other than that I talk about how the PS4 won’t support my $200 plus pair of headphones even though the new models aren’t technically any different than the one I have now. Was that the reason I was called idiotic because I don’t want to shell out another $200 to buy something I already own just because it has the PS4 label on the case but the insides are the same?

I only wanted to ask the developer if voice control was mandatory for this game to function because as it stands now I will never have voice control on my PS4


28

+ Elvick_ on April 10th, 2014 at 1:50 pm said:

I’m sold! This looks like a lot of fun. Also great that you allow controller controls.

And this is unrelated to the game, but I enjoy the system voice commands too. I hope that Sony adds more, would be great if they could add them to the Netflix app itself. That would be awesome to pause and resume without needing to turn on my DS4.


29

+ HobanKnight on April 10th, 2014 at 3:11 pm said:

Make a Vita version and I will buy 5 copies.


30

+ tusunami on April 10th, 2014 at 4:04 pm said:

Not to sure about this if there is a demo might try this out.


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    + Jason Wishnov on April 10th, 2014 at 7:38 pm said:

    We feel ya! This is a very unique concept, and a lot of gamers want to try it before they buy it. We’re looking into making a demo…but first, we should probably finish the game. ;)


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