It seems every day we hear more and more about the inevitable rise of robot overlords, sentient AI and the dystopic enslavement of the human race by androids gone haywire.
Just the other day, we heard about robotic arms evolving to the point they could both catch and crush beer cans.
Brisbane-based gaming studio Affable Games, however, has taken this concept and turned it into one of the outright funniest games on display at PAX 2018 – Speaking Simulator.
Speaking Simulator puts you in control of a human-disguised android that must naturally talk its way through everyday social scenarios – eventually infiltrating society and enslaving us all.
But it’s not complicated dialogue choices you’re tasked with selecting, it’s the physical act of speaking – with nothing more than your mouse and a handful of keys – you have to get right.
Just check it out.
As you can see, all you have to do is move your face around with a mouse and move your tongue around with the W-A-S-D keys and deliver such eloquent and natural lines such as; “Query: What amount of currency is required for two fermented ethanol beverages?”
In the demo I tried, I had to talk my way through a date. I managed to get through okay, but there were plenty of others who couldn’t quite fool Becky from HR that they were a warm-blooded being at all – with hilarious consequences.
Afterwards, I had a chance to speak to Jordan Comino, one of the developers. He and co-founder Jed Dawson previously worked at Halfbrick Studios – of Fruit Ninja fame – but came to the idea of Speaking Simulator from very different avenues.
“[Jed] had the idea from watching movies where they use special effects to make monsters and creatures talk. They physically can’t but, because movies, they can.
“I, meanwhile, was laughing at videos coming out of robots trying to replicate humans. I just find it hilarious.
“We fused those ideas, and made a game about robots that can’t really speak, but do.”
As whimsical as it all sounds – making fun games isn’t all fun and games. Funnily enough when you’re making a game about glitches and things going wrong, you have to keep an especially close eye on things going wrong.
“There’s a big difference between when the tongue is flapping around and knocking your teeth out, and when it twists around, goes inside out – that looks messy and broken broken.
“But funny broken, like when your tongue flicks out and it knocks your teeth out, or it slaps you in the nose – that’s hilarious.
“We’re constantly trying to ride that line, and it’s hard to strike that balance.”
While the demo only had my android trying to talk his way through a date, a whole host of other scenarios have been promised for when the game launches in the second quarter of next year.
Talking your way out of a speeding ticket, navigating a job interview and – once you’ve successfully infiltrated society – delivering your state of the union are all on the agenda.
“If there’s a situation in human life where talking is important – we’re putting it in the game.”
Speaking Simulator is set to launch on PC in Q2 2019