There Came an Echo Dev Interview
There Came an Echo is an independently produced game from Iridium Studios that was successfully Kickstarted almost a year ago, and is scheduled to release on the PC later this year and on the Xbox One in 2015. The game is confirmed to be launching on Steam without needing to go through the Steam Greenlight process when it is complete. We have reached out to the developers to try and get some more information on this upcoming title.
The game is a real-time strategy game that seems to use similar mechanics to XCOM, although the player will direct their squad using what appear to be some very responsive voice controls, even when they first demonstrated the controls one year ago, early into their development of the game. However, the developers have confirmed to that using the voice will not be the only option; keyboard and mouse support will be available on the PC, whilst controller support will be available on the PC, and obviously the Xbox One.
“We think voice is definitely, absolutely the way to go, but we understand some users are a bit reluctant. Or maybe their roommate is sleeping, or their little brother keeps yelling inappropriate things into the room to mess you up.”
There Came an Echo certainly seems to be perfectly suited to the Xbox One platform due to every console having a Kinect camera, and whilst the PC version will use a regular headset for the voice commands, the Xbox One version will include optional motion controls that will allow the player to pull their fingers up to their ear, as if using an ear piece, that will cause the game to begin a voice command. This can be done with a button press instead if that is your preference.
The concept art that was shown in the initial Kickstarter promotion certainly looked fantastic, and if that aesthetic is transferred into the game, There Came an Echo could be both a very beautiful, and technically sound production. The game will also feature celebrity voice acting from Wil Wheaton, who will be voicing one of the main characters in the game, and will feature customisable voice commands.
The concept art you showed also looked fantastic, has that transferred into the game as you’d hoped?
Actually, yeah. We hired Noe Leyva as a contractor to do two concept pieces for the Kickstarter campaign, and they came out exceptionally well. When the Kickstarter succeeded and I went on to look for artists, I realized that the person best suited to match Noe’s work was…well, Noe himself. We managed to convince him to swing on down to Los Angeles and join us on the project, and his hand-drawn work is transferring into the game remarkably well.
The voice command functionality was impressive a year ago, how have you refined it since then? Will the ability to record custom voice commands allow users with heavy regional dialects to go around any issues they may have with the voice commands?
We’ve been tuning the parameters and making sure we get the best possible performance. You can select an “acoustic model”, which basically means a specific accent or language, that can pick up a wide variety of voice types. Of course, users may opt to use simple keyb-oh, wait, we’re jumping the gun on your next question…
Can you control the game with a controller, or is it a purely voice controlled experience?
Of course. Controllers, keyboards, mice. We think voice is definitely, absolutely the way to go, but we understand some users are a bit reluctant. Or maybe their roommate is sleeping, or their little brother keeps yelling inappropriate things into the room to mess you up.
This game is focused on a PC release, but will be coming to the Xbox One, scheduled in 2015 – do you have any plans to bring it to the PS4 or is that not a possibility now due to contracts etc.?
We’re…entertaining the possibility. We have to be sure, though, that the voice recognition accuracy is high enough to remain an acceptable input method for players.
The Xbox One Kinect voice commands can work well at times, but can be a little unresponsive at times. How much work has been done to try and get the Xbox One Kinect to work well with your game? Is it challenging or easy to develop for the hardware?
I can confidently state that our solution is working markedly better than the XB1 dash commands (though we have yet to test out some of the game-specific implementations, like in Dead Rising 3). We’ve been using a Microsoft-based solution since the beginning of the project, even on the PC, so we’re quite familiar with how the acoustic systems work with various grammar configurations.
Still, we understand how it is. We’re supposed to write stuff like this. The only way you can really know is if you try it out, and we’ll be showing off the game at PAX East in April to hopefully give everyone a shot.
Have to ask, what’s it been like to work with Wil Wheaton?
Fantastic, actually. The dude just has some many awesome stories. We haven’t done principal recording yet…our voice cast is really amazing, not just Wil, but everyone around him…but we’re absurdly excited to get in the booth.
Again, I have to ask - Are you expecting to hit 1080p60fps on this game when it comes to Xbox One?
Ahahahah, this question. Our game isn’t terribly demanding, from a technical perspective, so we certainly do anticipate that.
We’d like to thank Jason for talking to us about this incredibly exciting project, and for being such a great and co-operative guy to talk to; we’re certainly looking forward to seeing the further development of this game here at JumpToGamer. Check out the Kickstarter page and the official website of Iridium Studios, as well as their Twitter and Facebook pages for more information on the game in the links below.
Rest assured we shall be keeping up to date with this progress on this game.
Successful Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/iridiumstudios/there-came-an-echo-0
Official Website: http://www.playiridium.com/