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When I first saw There Came An Echo, the Wil Wheaton-supported Kickstarter project whose creators want $90,000 to make a voice-controlled real-time strategy game, I thought it was kind of absurd.



Voice commands? Who wants to use some sort of gimmick to play an RTS? What's wrong with a mouse and keyboard?



So while chatting with Jason Wishnov, the man behind There Came An Echo whose last game, Sequence, came out on Steam back in 2011, I asked why he thought people would care. And he gave me a pretty decent explanation:




There's a few reasons. Voice commands, not used in a dedicated fashion since 2008's EndWar, have progressed significantly in the past five years, primarily due to research and development spurred on by the smartphone industry and features like Siri. The recognition rates have drastically improved, and supplementary features...like Mass Effect 3's voice command system, or getting to yell "FUS RO DAH!" at Skyrim, have worked well, and gotten a good response from those who chose to use them.



Moreover, though, I simply think they haven't been used correctly yet. 2004's Lifeline is a perfect example of this. Voice commands should *never* be designed to replace the press of the button...they'll never be perfectly accurate, and they're much slower. Having to tell a character to fire their gun, reload, get out of the line of fire...this would be utterly frustrating. Instead, the player should be using voice *in a manner that reflects an actual usage of voice*...in this particular case, directing a small squad of units. It's how it would actually be done. The minutia, the small stuff, is handled intelligently by the AI. And the speech isn't just one-way: the characters ask you questions, they talk back, it becomes a dialogue. It's a very immersive experience, and helps to tie the player emotionally to the characters. Using generic "army dudes" in a game like this is severely limiting its potential, which is why we've been sure to write a script that takes full advantage.




Could it work? Dunno. I'm still skeptical. But I really enjoyed Sequence—which is a fun, albeit grindy little rhythm-RPG—so maybe Wishnov can pull this thing off too.


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Nov 21, 2011
Product Update - Valve
Patch Notes:

- Fullscreen mode will now work correctly in your monitor's native resolution, even if lower than 1280x720 or in non-16:9 aspect ratios
- Game window can now be resized at will
- Minor increase in drop percentages all across the board (3-5%)
- Removed an incorrect line in Tutorial 1 stating a player had to use the WSAD and Arrow Keys at the same time to hit doubles
- Joy2Key / Third Party keymapping programs should now work correctly
- Fixed a bug where bringing up the Steam Overlay at a certain point while learning a spell would make it impossible to exit
Nov 4, 2011
Product Update - Valve
Patch notes:

- Fixed an exceedingly rare bug that caused inproper values to be loaded into a save slot from another save slot, possibly hindering progress. If you have experienced this bug, please contact iridium@playiridium.com.
- Added redundancy checks at the end of battles for four "missable" achievements: On Your Way, Erudite, Element 77, and Another Castle.

Nov 3, 2011
Product Update - Valve
Patch notes:

- Save Slots have been added to the main menu.
- Fixed a bug where quitting to the main menu directly following a lost battle, and then subsequently attempting to access the Bonus screen would crash the game.
- Fixed a bug where equipping the final item in the current pane to a blank equipment slot would allow the player to move his or her item cursor freely and crash the game.
- Fixed a bug where directly closing the game window directly after synthing an item could lead to out-of-bounds experience point values.

Oct 28, 2011
Product Update - Valve
- Gem speed modifiers (1x, 1.5x, 2x, 3x, 4x) have now been added to the options menu.
- Freeplay mode has now been implemented: go to any battle song in Bonus mode and hit the 1 key or Y button to play!
- An option to turn off spell particle effects has been added.
- Fixed an issue with Trigger Boost modifiers stacking incorrectly.
- Pressing cancel now works the same as pause on the "Learn Spells" screen.
- Fixed a rare rounding error when learning scrolls that would cause a player to fail a spell despite the display saying otherwise.
- The item "Radiance" can no longer be desynthed.
- Fixed a bug where hitting two spell hotkeys in the same frame would cause one of them to fail to activate.
- The achievement "Manafont" will now unlock correctly on Easy and Medium difficulties.
- The game will no longer respond to keyboard or mouse input if the window does not have focus.



Oct 24, 2011
Product Update - Valve
- Anti-mashing algorithm will no longer interfere with higher-end Hard/Spasmodic play
- Slight decrease in combo/accuracy requirements for learning spells
- Players will be able to reunlock the ability to change difficulty level after defeating the secret boss
- The achievement "Iris" can be more easily obtained on any hardware configuration
- Fixed a bug where using the mouse scroll wheel under certain circumstances would crash the game
- Fixed a bug that would cause a player's difficulty to revert to easy under certain circumstances
- The achievement "Meant For Each Other" will now unlock properly
- Crashes will now cause a "errorlog.txt" file to appear in the same directory as the .exe, allowing much easier debugging of player crashes
- Slightly decreased the volume of the "spell is now ready" sound effect


Oct 21, 2011
Product Update - Valve
- The Steam achievements page now displays properly.
- Cancel will now have the same effect as Pause during battle.
- The achievement "Quarter Quell" should now unlock correctly.
- The achievement "Triple Fortune" should now unlock correctly.
- The game will display a warning and then quit, not crash, if the player does not have Windows Media Player 12 installed.
- The item mode screen "negative item" glitch has been corrected.



Oct 21, 2011
Product Update - Valve
Fixes:

-Fixes a game-crashing bug in Tutorial 3.
-Fixes a bug on both the Spellset and Learn Spell screens.



Oct 20, 2011
Product Update - Valve
Improvements:
- Included a windowed option.
- Game will now run on a wider variety of hardware.
- Game should no longer attempt to reinstall components on every bootup.

Known Issues:
- On certain machines, minimizing and returning to windowed mode causes a periodic twitch. We are working on fixing this shortly.



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