Feel like you're not getting enough use out of your Kinect? Always dreamed of telling Wesley Crusher off Star Trek: The Next Generation to go laser somebody's elbows off? You might be interested in There Came an Echo, a voice-controlled real-time squad tactics game that's pencilled in for Xbox One this year.
Developer Iridium is now a member of the ID@Xbox program, and plans to release the game on PC in June (all going to plan), with the console version to follow "shortly" after. You might remember Iridium as the outfit behind Sequence for Xbox Live Indie Games, a vaguely Puzzle Questy mixture of rhythm and role-playing game.
So what's There Came an Echo about, then? Well, it takes place in the near future, and allows you to order a small, Syndicate-style group of soldiers (including Crusher's Earth-based alter ego Wil Wheaton) around various hand-drawn isometric maps. There's a set of pre-defined voice commands - e.g. "open fire", "[unit name], head to [map objective]" - which are assembled from a vocab sheet of 500 words. The options are fairly complex - individual mines can be detonated using voice commands, and you can tell automated turrets to attack specific enemy units.
In a fun-sounding twist, you can also invent your own custom phrase for each command or unit. Instead of "hold position", for instance, you might yell "become an immovable object" or "first man to die, loses". Units will also talk back at points in each mission - if somebody else is in trouble, for example, a squaddie might ask for permission to go help. There will be support for controllers, should the idea of yelling tactics at your TV strike you as sinister.
Check out the strictly work-in-progress trailer below for more. "Almost literally nothing in this video is even close to final... except the models, maybe?" notes the blurb. "Dialogue, voiceover, animation, art, sound effects, UI... all will undergo significant improvements before release."
There Came an Echo has been funded via Kickstarter to the tune of $115,569, outstripping its target by $25,000. The money will be used to hire an art director and a 3-D modeller, among other things.
"Game development is notoriously difficult to predict, in terms of time of completion," cautions Iridium's Kickstarter page. "The script is fully written and a basic framework of the game exists, but a current estimate would put the game at only 15-20% complete. We have a lot of work to do, and while June of 2014 is a 'middle-of-the-road' estimate, it could very well be delayed for any number of reasons.
"We're relentlessly committed, however, to updating our backers with constant, informative, seriously-Iridium-we-get-it-already updates. We have several backup plans in place with regard to a scaled-down graphical style, and we're leaving a bit of financial 'cushion' to account for those inevitable hiccups along the way.
"Any creative project of this scale has significant risks, and we understand that. Still, you placed your trust in us, and whatever bumps we encounter, rest assured that Iridium Studios is going to fulfil its promises and put out one hell of a game."
Watch out for more on the ID@Xbox front shortly. There are some decidedly interesting games on the horizon. You may wish to bookmark our list of every confirmed ID@Xbox game so far.