A new tool from Amazon allows developers to add voice acting to their game in minutes using text-to-speech. The results are admittedly robotic (I don't think I've heard anyone say "there he is!" with less enthusiasm) and I'd probably rather have on-screen text at this stage, but the potential is obvious. Yes, you don't want to have automated voice acting for main characters but for the odd cyber soldier grunt it could work. Plus, it will save indie developers time and money.
The tool is part of Lumberyard, Amazon's game development engine (which, I admit, I knew very little about until now). In its simplest form it's as easy as typing in dialogue, picking one of 24 languages and 50 voices, and pressing a button. Voila, speech. But under the hood you can tweak it to add plenty of extra detail.
You can add custom pronunciations for specific words, changes in tone and word breaks. The tool also has built-in lip sync, saving developers extra time. The company stresses that the tool is not "designed to replace voice talent; it just makes your use of voice talent more efficient".
It's by no means the first automated voice acting tool on the market, but a big player like Amazon coming into this space can only be a good thing for future iterations of the technology. "Be on the lookout in future Lumberyard releases as we continue build out this workflow, like making it even easier to replace synthesized speech with voice actor dialogue," Amazon said.