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Game Commander MX By John "Award" Del Percio, June 28, 2000
Developer :Mindmaker, Inc.
Publisher :Mindmaker, Inc.
Release Date :> 1 year
Demo Available :Yes - Download
Table of Contents

Closer Look

Computer: I said "F I R E", not "Eject Weapons"!!!!!

I was rather impressed with the package itself. High quality packaging, comparative to any game developer (in fact, the box and the inside cardboard reminded me suspiciously of Activision's makes you wonder). It did have a jewel case (shrink-wrapped no less!) for the CD. It also includes an extensive, well-written manual detailing every portion of the program, and even they "why's" of it all (Not that I read too much of it, as it is also presented in online documentation, which I happen to prefer in many cases). The best part, however was the rather nice microphone included in the box: a Labtec LVA-7331, one of the nicer microphones on the market. It is a headset mic, and (aside from my apparently oddly shaped head, as the darn thing doesn't fit on correctly, unless I place the pads on my temples, and have the band draping loosely on the top of my head), has one of the highest success rates of any mic I tested, and sure beats my old one (cheap $3 boom mic).

Recording-level dialogue
Sound sytem select in the options panel

I finally got the package opened and ran the installer. I was mildly disappointed at having to reboot the system for install (one of the many flaws of Windows, I always cross my fingers and hope the system comes back up), but it installed quite painlessly. One of the nicest features of Game Commander is that it is speaker independent. Instead of simply matching stored waves for similar peaks, as many speech "recognition" programs do, this one's engine actually compares syllable sounds to what it determines a certain blending of letters should sound like. Similar in fashion to "emacspeak" for the Emacs text editor for (xNIX operating systems, as well as a port to Windows), or the old apple speech synthesizer which converted text to speech (Mindmaker, the company who makes Game Commander also has a similar product for Windows), Game Commander works in reverse, synthesizing speech to text, and comparing it to the accurate command. Speaker independence, not only means that you don't have to reconfigure it for every user, but the best part is that there are no training sessions to sit through; everything is ready to go! It is also highly configurable, including the ability to train it for certain problem commands. You add your new commands simply by typing them in, (users familiar with any xNIX OS should feel right at home with the configuration of commands, as it very nicely follows the macro setup). Possibly the feature that makes it the most extensible is the template library on the GC website. User submitted templates are stored there, so you can just download and go for many games and demos.

So, naturally, the first game I tested was the Klingon Academy single player demo I still happened to have installed from several months ago. My first impressions with it were not as high as I had hoped. I used a template from the template library, and only altered one or two commands. In-game, many commands were not being processed, at all, or other things kept happening. I switched out to the GC console and ran a test. Sure enough, it was confusing many commands for others. Then again, it could just be me, right? I am fairly new to it, and the learning curve for voice recognition is never the easiest one in the world. We're still light-years away from the Star Trek computing model of "Computer: is crewman Doe onboard? 'Crewman Doe is not onboard' Are there any other crewmen onboard with similar expertise? 'Affirmative, Crewman Doe2 has similar specifications'". This surely wouldn't be quite that easy.

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