EA is continuing to experiment with new ideas. Another U.S. patent has popped up, this one having to do with custom voice-controlled action in video games. Whether or not it will eventually find its way into the likes of EA games like Madden NFL, Star Wars Jedi, or Command and Conquer are not yet known, but the details are titillating.
EA has not always been the most popular of publishers, but it seems to be working on reversing that with new technologies. Recently, a patent that would make advancements on facial animations was found, for example. While that patent leans more towards visuals, this most recent one has more to do more with gameplay.
EA seems to be looking into player-controlled gameplay via voice commands. The technology does not seem as basic as simply adding the ability to speak an action into existence, however, as the patent apparently has learning models associated with it. Recently a Nintendo fan beat a Super Mario World level through voice commands. This patent looks to be much more complex than that.
In normal game design, commands are defined by game designers, and then players act out on them to jump, shoot, move, etc. In the case of this patent, the machine learning model would learn and adjust associated with “utterances based on player demonstration of desired character actions.” The details almost sound closer to Peter Molyneux’s Project Milo than simply voice commands.
That being said, if the patent was more in line with a highly sensitive voice command feature–one that was precise and could pick up tones, pitches, accents, and more–then voice commands in a game could also be a very interesting feature in games moving forward. While not an EA-published game, the thought of using voice commands to cast spells in a game like the next Elder Scrolls is fascinating. If EA has a magic action adventure up its sleeve, that would be intriguing.
The same could be said for more easily using one’s voice for changing plays at the line in Madden NFL, or commanding squads with ease in Command and Conquer. Mass Effect could have an entirely new dynamic if players could have branching conversations with an AI that understood conversations via voice command, as opposed to simple yea or nay style options with a controller input. Some of the ideas may sound lofty, but in some ways, video games have become stagnant. Games look a little prettier into next-gen, but the jump between what a game can do in the last decade and a half doesn’t seem as big as what they could do from the early 90s to the mid-2000s. Perhaps the next big jump is around the corner.