Woah, this is hilarious. I am loving this.
I love the miners talking to the players. This is related to what was apparently a dismissed idea from as early as the original Descent builds of the very early 1990's. They had video of people dressed up as muddied miners complaining about things and haranguing the players. It's hilarious and great that a similar idea is being implemented here, but perhaps better that there are no videos. (Love video-game FMV though!)
Also the announcements in Survival mode are neat. If you played much of Descent 3, you get a feel for the kinds of voices they were using. Some of them were literally the voices of robots, and some humans over some kind of distorted channel. Also, the announcements in the mines (which they made to sound like it was echoing through the mines) gave the eerie feeling that you didn't know if the voice was human or AI.
All this is to re-ask what Wingman posits: when do the voices get annoying? I think only when they are not atmospheric. If it fits the atmosphere, it's great.
D3 'cheated' the repetition of voices by having set recordings at certain times, which would only ever play once in the whole game. Other voices could be considered AI voices — voices of police robots, etc. But humans were cleverly depicted as anonymous disembodied things that had one or two lines with complete variation based on scenarios.
Obviously, that's not happening here. You have people saying things over and over and that potentially breaks the atmosphere quickly, especially over long periods of time. And since you plan on building a new Descent fan community for a decade or more, those phrases should be high in variety, and possibly masked, muffled or otherwise distinguished from "voice over". (Can there be a technology that reads and distorts phrases on the fly, for example? That might be too much work.)
So here is my recommendation, and call it crazy if you want, but I think this would add a little 'reward' to people returning to the game over several years.
First of all, identify and distinguish the sound design of different "rules" for the voices in the game. Rules for:
- voices of AI/robots heard through your ship or drone mics (screeches, etc.)
- voices of your drone/ship(?) (Amy who says "Mega missile" and "Laser grid")
- voices of the mine broadcast over loudspeaker (e.g.; "Self destruct sequence activated" in Descent 1 & 2, "Attention Security Personnel, unauthorized data access in retrieval center B" in D3, and now seemingly the voices making announcements in Survival mode in D:U)
- voices of voice com (e.g.; "Shadow Serendipity to M D one oh three two ... these caves should lead you to ..." in D3, miners from Miner Mayhem in D:U)
To keep that latter category, the voice com of living beings, fresh and minimally redundant, regularly record new lines of dialogue that are peppered into the game at intervals. For example, you could assign a random voice/character profile to a miner when they spawn. Then for example, if it gets Pixley's voice like you have now, make like 10 variations of key moments ("successful delivery", "just got picked up", etc.) for each voice, because those will get the most redundant quickly. So with 10 different "characters" a miner could have, you'd have a total of 100 different delivery comments (e.g.; "Wow, I am surprised I got through that alive!").
And in addition to 10 different "pick up" and "drop off" variations (and "traded" or "nabbed" key moments) for each character, record 10 or more different random sardonic phrases they spew out based on "achievements" like escaping a fire fight, tricording out of a fray, etc. The cynical adventurous miner says "woohoo!" and the depressed miner screams one out of every 10 times a very confusing/deft maneuver has them escape a situation like that. You don't need them to be as chatty as they are now. They might only say one or two things before the delivery and that would be rewarding enough. If there were some visual indicator of where the voice were coming from, that would help. Will our drone have a visual indicator of "channel" for example? So we can see "mine announcement", "in mine channel" (miners), or "ship to ship" channel? And can they get cool sci-fi names and indication lights?
And every month or so, audition us - the fans - as the "characters" of the miners in order to freshen up the voices. So that you can slowly build up a large profile and increase the diversity of the randomized miners. And you can store them in a slightly lossy or digital format to keep the files nice and small and it wouldn't mess with the atmosphere too badly since they are communicating through some weird super-efficient channel from their suit to your ship. Walkie-talkie bursts.
And then, just because you're so generous that you get all this stuff done all the time ...
You might also include a "mute channel" button so the miners don't bug people who don't want to hear them at all.
You could also have the miners communicate a number of different ways. They could text you, for example, which requires less recording, and which an AI voice like a kind of "Siri" voice could read on board your ship or drone simulation room or whatever. And you could mute that too if you wanted.
I know this sounds like a lot of overthinking, for people concerned about other details, but the beauty and fun of a clever game is in the attention to details that adds polish and pizazz to hours of repeated gameplay. And let's face it, right now, there isn't a whole heck of a lot to the game right now besides these multiplayer modes. So anything to flesh them out and increase the comedy/gloom/whatever mood of that mode ... will make the game feel super replayable and rewarding. This particular "fleshing out" only requires two things:
- the person-hours in writing the monologues that fans record auditions for, then converting them to the "voice com" sound of D:U
- a minimal amount of storage space (compared with the much larger and more hefty graphics)
And with just those two things, you have basically fleshed out the "Miner mayhem" mode with a fun, funny, fan-participatory and game-boosting and community-keeping/-building addition to D:U.