Speak Too Loudly While Playing Phasmophobia and Video Game Ghosts Will Hunt You Down
Players hunting ghosts in popular horror video game Phasmophobia have a reason to whisper when talking to others playing the game. Ghosts can track down a player by the sound of their voice if they speak too loudly in the latest update from developer Kinetic Games. The new feature, added because a large chunk of the player base thought it already existed, provides a good example of a subtle combination of voice tech and AI applied to video games.
Phasmophobia is an online cooperative game where players take the role of a paranormal investigations team exploring haunted areas. The goal is to collect proof of ghosts and the supernatural using special equipment to find and record the evidence, selling it to poltergeist removal experts. The four players split the roles of monitoring video from a truck or walking around the haunted area and dealing with mysterious and hostile spirits. The players use their own microphones and speakers to simulate communicating to each other by radio. Now, the ghosts are listening too. Instead of looking for the player purely with line-of-sight, any talk above a certain volume will also draw the ghost’s attention and send it in the loud person’s direction.
What makes the update more than a little amusing is that it’s a feature plenty of players thought already existed. Whispering to each other while playing was thought to help hide from the ghosts, but it just inadvertently added to the atmosphere of gothic horror in the game. Not averse to taking up a good idea when they heard it, Kinetic Games shrugged and made the rumored hearing ability of ghosts a reality, augmenting the ghost’s AI with reactions to audio data coming through the system.
Lots of people thought it was a feature so it has been added 😉 https://t.co/uHnE7MNrQe
— Phasmophobia (@KineticGame) January 11, 2021
Voice AI is becoming an ever more common piece of video game play. Phasmophobia equips the antagonist AI with hearing, but there are friendlier examples as well. For instance, a mod for Star Wars: Squadrons gives the player the chance to issue vocal orders to AI co-pilots voiced by famous actors like Michael Dorn, also known as Worf on Star Trek: The Next Generation. The same integration is happening from the other direction as well, with smart speakers and smart displays leveraging voice controls to make increasingly sophisticated games. The haunted house story in Earplay’s audio game The Orpheus Device evokes a similar atmosphere to Phasmophobia, while Pac-Man Waka Waka translates the classic arcade game to smart displays and asks players to give commands in Pac-Man’s native ‘Wakanese.’