There Came an Echo: voice-controlled, squad-based tactics and Wil Wheaton’s “magnificent beard”


Well, this is a fine, fine concept for a game if there ever was one. There Came an Echo is a squad-based tactical game in the vein of XCOM, but rather than being controlled through more traditional methods like, say, a mouse and maybe a keyboard, it’s entirely directed by your voice. Call out commands to your squad members, such as orders for them to switch weapons or take cover, and they’ll respond to you and do their best to see them through. They may even offer a little backchat, too.

That’s the idea, anyway, but for that vision to be realised, creator Iridium Studios require $90,000 from you. Not from you personally, but from you collectively. Fund their game, and they’ll even throw in writer and actor Wil Wheaton, who will bring his “magnificent beard” into the bargain. I don’t know, it looks quite passable to me, but I could beat that in a beard-off.

Click through to see the pitch video.

Immediately, I’m interested. In the demonstration you see here, things are progressing smoothly and it’s all going to plan, but I’m quite certain it’ll descend into a desperate screaming and babbling of orders as soon as excrement meets extraction device.

Should the Kickstarter reach its target, something I’m guessing is very likely given the strong pitch and the popularity of Mr Wheaton online, this will be Iridium’s second game. They already have the rather unusual concept of a rhythm-action RPG under their belt, with Sequence.

If you’re keen to pony up, you can find the Kickstarter here. At the time of writing it’s already passed $36,000 and it was only launched a day and a half ago. Iridium had better start work on those stretch goals.

And yes, while there are all sorts of problems with voice recognition in more complex contexts, when it comes to the very limited area that is squad-based combat commands, I doubt these are going to be so prevalent. Nevertheless, Iridium know how imperfect voice recognition can be and they’ve made an extra video that demonstrates how they’re already considering aliasing, taking into account different words and phrases that a commander might give.

It looks like they’re already doing much better than Windows Vista ever managed: