A new mod for Star Wars: Squadrons allows players to order their AI co-pilots around with vocal commands. The HCS Voicepacks software adds new life to the videogame, especially as the AI voices acknowledging orders come from veteran actors, including Michael Dorn, the man who played Worf on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Star Wars AI
The three voices, each costing approximately $13 serve as the co-pilot for the player. While the game is on, the player can order the AI to adjust targeting, manage the engine systems of the ship and order them to fire their weapons, even specifying which weapon to fire by telling the AI what the loadout for the ship is before beginning the next level. Star Wars is not the first game that HCS Voicepacks has created voices for. The company already offers mods for the popular Elite Dangerous and No Man’s Sky titles, with a similar purpose. The voice controls are touted as especially key for players using virtual reality headsets to play the game, as that limits their control of the keyboard and mouse.
“We make these things because we play the games,” HCS Voicepacks explained in releasing the voices. “That means we put our best into it and enjoy them very much. If we enjoy them, we know you will.”
HCS Voicepacks represents one of the many approaches to applying voice and AI to gaming currently ongoing. There’s a lot of discussion about how voice assistants for a particular platform will work. Rumors about a voice assistant for the Sony PlayStation 5 have been swirling for years at this point. The current thinking is that the PlayStation Assist if it is called that, would help players in their games while monitoring phone calls and other real-world activity. In the game, it could be used to complete microtransactions, all run through the microphone in the controller. And elaborate voice assistants for games don’t have to come from the big companies either. Startups like Fridai, part of the Microsoft for Startups accelerator, create video game-specific voice assistants.
PC gaming is growing more interested in voice as well. This summer, gaming voice assistant developer GOSU.AI became available for free as part of the Overwolf video game platform. GOSU is designed to help Overwolf users improve how well they perform in online games like League of Legends by offering players advice and guidance from a voice AI for competitive games played on a worldwide scale, like DOTA 2 and League of Legends. The AI was the first step in GOSU’s plans for more customized features and premium content, but it’s telling that it all begins with the voice AI. For HCS Voicepacks, the game’s AI still handles the commands, it just adds a layer of response using recorded lines from the actors to interact with the players. That limits how the AI can respond compared to a synthetic voice built on a model of a person talking. That makes it less expensive while still giving the illusion of live interactions with the co-pilot.