EA working on player-voiced characters in games, patent shows

A patent filed by EA reveals the company is looking into ways to implement player-voiced characters into its games.

The patent, which was spotted by veryaligaming and reshared on social media by NextGenPlayer, aims to allow players to make their in-game characters communicate by using their own voices.

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The patent was submitted back in 2020, but recently made available to view publicaly.

“A computer-implemented method of generating speech audio in a video game is provided. The method includes inputting, into a synthesiser module, input data that represents speech content,” the patent’s abstract reads.

“Source acoustic features for the speech content in the voice of a source speaker are generated and are input, along with a speaker embedding associated with a player of the video game into an acoustic feature encoder of a voice converter.

“One or more acoustic feature encodings are generated as output of the acoustic feature encoder, which are inputted into an acoustic feature decoder of the voice converter to generate target acoustic features. The target acoustic features are processed with one or more modules, to generate speech audio in the voice of the player.”

You can see an example of this method and its application in the image below.

Illustrates an example method for generating speech audio in a voice of a player of a video game using voice converter. | Image credit: EA/Patent Public Search

“Many modern video games provide players with the ability to create their own personalised characters, or avatars,” EA writes towards the end of its patent.

“In some video games, players may be able to configure their avatars to speak in different voices. However, previous approaches of generating speech audio in a particular voice typically require many speech samples (e.g. hours of speech samples) in order for the synthesiser to accurately capture the voice in the synthesised speech audio.”

EA’s patent could aim to reduce the amount of speech data required during development.

It certainly sounds like an interesting idea from where I am sitting, although I think I would find it odd to hear the likes of Batman speaking in my voice. Also, I would want to read that small print before I put my voice into a game in any way, shape, or form, especially given the recent conversations around voice acting and AI.

Earlier this year, our Ed interviewed prolific voice actors such as Jane Perry and Troy Baker, where they discussed their scepticism of whether AI can truly replicate human performances and what its impact could be on the voice acting industry.

Meanwhile, upcoming destruction-heavy PvP FPS The Finals recently came under fire when it was revealed developer Embark Studios used AI for its commentator voice overs.

Embark went on to respond to this backlash, telling Eurogamer “making games without actors isn’t an end goal for Embark” and that the use of AI text-to-speech is based on real voices.

It hasn’t been all negative, however. CD Projekt recently turned to AI technology to replicate the vocal stylings of a Cyberpunk 2077 Polish voice actor who passed away in 2021.

The late Miłogost Reczek’s voice was reproduced by an AI algorithm for Phantom Liberty – the base game’s recent expansion – for its Polish-language release with his family’s permission.

What are your thoughts on it all?

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