Make the cast of TF2 recite old memes with this AI text-to-speech tool

The TF2 spy looks shocked!
(Image credit: Valve)

As far as I know, John Patrick Lowrie never stepped into Valve's recording booth to have The Sniper re-enact old Vine clips. But thanks to a free online machine-learning tool, folks are making everyone from TF2's marksman to The Stanley Parable's narrator and beyond say whatever the hell they want.

Spotted by Kotaku over the weekend, is a deep-learning text-to-speech tool trained on a library of audio clips for dozens of characters. It's all very fascinating to read about, from its use "deepmoji" systems to assign emotions to the way the algorithm scrapes the internet for online slang. But all you need to know is this: type in a line or two, pick a character, and the system will swiftly deliver a generated clip of, I don't know, the TF2 Heavy replacing a former US president in Home Alone 2.

Obviously, some characters fare a little better than others. GLaDOS is a natural fit, what with her voice sounding like computer-generated speech by design. But for all the hours of banked audio given to The Stanley Parable's narrator, the algorithm simply can't capture Kevan Brighting's whimsically droll intonation.

That hasn't stopped people going wild online, though, as any search for on Twitter will quickly demonstrate. After all, a little robotic voice-acting isn't going to stop the cast of Team Fortress 2 taking over an episode of Thomas The Tank Engine.

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Or how about the same gang of mercs bickering over a round of Among Us? 

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The TF2 gang are clear favourites among folks making these edits, and I'd be surprised if the Source Filmmaker scene doesn't go hog-wild plugging AI-generated lines into their vids. But the tool's character roster isn't just limited to videogames. SpongeBob SquarePants' shrill, nasally voice works shockingly well, and the undersea pineapple-dweller has some shocking things to say about the city of Baltimore.

You won't have as much luck with all characters, mind. Gordon Freeman and Chell won't speak no matter how hard you try, nor will the cast of Undertale or Celeste ever vocalise beyond frantic bleeps. But the tool's sole creator plans to add more voices from Sonic, Mass Effect, Fallout, The Witcher and more, and is currently taking contributions if you have any favourites you'd like to add.

Natalie Clayton
Features Producer

20 years ago, Nat played Jet Set Radio Future for the first time, and she's not stopped thinking about games since. Joining PC Gamer in 2020, she comes from three years of freelance reporting at Rock Paper Shotgun, Waypoint, VG247 and more. Embedded in the European indie scene and a part-time game developer herself, Nat is always looking for a new curiosity to scream about—whether it's the next best indie darling, or simply someone modding a Scotmid into Black Mesa. She also unofficially appears in Apex Legends under the pseudonym Horizon.