DORIS – remember her? If you’ve enjoyed Elite: Mostly Harmless, the fantastic novel from technology journalist and BBC Click presenter Kate Russell, the audiobook version of which also has a cameo from Elite’s creator David Braben, you can never forget DORIS!
DORIS, also voiced by Ms Russell, is the the sarcastic biscuit tin-shaped robot, accompanying Angel on her travels. Gamers will be aware that when playing Elite Dangerous, pressing the various controls will cause your ship’s computer to confirm certain actions, such as getting permission to dock. However, I’m now getting into using a headset for the first time and it’s far more fun to control with my voice.
Maybe I’ll even do Let’s Play videos regularly, which is normally the kind of thing that annoys me when I want to just see the gameplay from a level without the chatter, but I’m warming to them for when I’m looking for something not so straight-forward, since the chatter is what can make them unique – as long as the chatterer is not an annoying individual. I’ve only done one “Let’s Play” before, for the final level of last year's Rambo game , and I ended up recording the commentary aferwards since I had to edit the video down so you didn’t see me dying a zillion times.
As you’ll see from my attempt at creating DORIS, I still need to practice my diction (stop laughing at the back), since there are times when I’ve spoken and she hasn’t responded. There are multiple pages of commands so there’s only so many you can learn, but there are also the odd times when I’ve accidentally triggered a command, even when in the menu! Basically, DORIS is always listening… and you’ll see the trouble that can cause in Mostly Harmless 😉
However, here, she is mostly obedient, so either I wasn’t saying the commands correctly, or even the correct commands, or DORIS was cocking a deaf’un, as we say oop North. Realistically, I still need to attune my voice.
In order to use DORIS, you’ll need a piece of voice recognition software called Voice Attack – there is a trial version, but you need the full version. At a mere $8, that’s about the price of a pint and a half, so nothing that’ll break the bank and if you plan to speak to your PC regularly then it’s a bargain. Yes, Windows has a Speech Recognition program, but Voice Attack is far more vestalie with all the commands that can be programmed into it.
If you’re not sure whether you need to improve your speech then go back to Voice Attack and try different phrases and see whether it recognises the words correctly.
I easily managed to speed up and slow down my craft with simple commands like “50%” for speed, and if you mention Douglas Adams‘ name then you’ll get a random quote of his.
And around 37 minutes into the video below, see my David Bowie-related question to DORIS…
And given the way that the internet works, no doubt one of the suggested links at the bottom of this review will be for the new Sally Field comedy/drama, Hello My Name Is Doris. The two are unrelated, but it’d be fab if there was a connection.
If you have Elite Dangerous, then this voicepack is a must. And she will be a fun companion over the festive season, but, remember, a DORIS is for life, not just for Christmas.
Looking for more from the creator? Then you can have Kate Russell coming in your ears from December with “Kate”, the virtual assistant, in a new voicepack. She’s not doing a character this time, but using her own voice instead. I still have an mp3 on my phone of Kate telling me “You’ve got mail” which she put online many moons ago. I think Kate should do far more voiceover work. If you’re reading this and you hire people for voiceovers, then hire her!
As for male voiceovers, in my youth, when I was talking to one girl, she said, “Oh, I could listen to your voice all night long!” Sadly, our respective parents were due back before long and so that wasn’t going to happen. I was of an age when I was too chicken to ask her out at the time, and when I finally got round to it, too long had passed and she thought a mutual friend had suggested this as a wind-up. I think she was saying “No”. Ah well, if you need a male voiceover, I’m free. And if you just want to hear my voice all night long, then replay the above video.
Below, is another of Kate’s Elite Dangerous videos, this time featuring an exclusive chat with the team behind Voice Attack & HCS Voicepacks.
DORIS Voicepack – Overall: 10/10
Buy the DORIS Voicepack and pre-order virtual assistant “Kate” voicepack.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.