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Maha'ki: the fantasy language of In Verbis Virtus

Until now the games where you play the role of a wizard and cast spells weren’t very much different from any game out there, you choose a spell and click a button. But... Where is the real feeling of casting a spell? We want to give the player this feeling, and to do so spells must be cast using voice. We know that the speech recognition system as main game mechanic may not be attractive to everyone, but we want to create a new engaging experience, not just another game among many. We're not afraid to try something groundbreaking, nevertheless our aim is to achieve a quality such to convince even skeptics.

To get the most out of speech recognition we created a fantasy language, called Maha'ki, specially for the magic formulas that must be pronounced in In Verbis Virtus. Maha'ki will be included in the list of languages that players can choose for the spells, which will also include English. The meaning of Maha'ki is "language of the gods", where "maha" means "creator deities" and "ki" means "voice, language". We designed Maha'ki with three main objectives in mind:

  • to give it an epic tone
  • to have it easily pronounceable
  • to have it highly optimized for best accuracy with the speech recognition system.

DISCLAIMER. The following indications are based on our practical experience, they simply express what we found to work well with the speech recognition system with respect to the gameplay. We are neither linguists nor experts in speech recognition theory.

We based on the most common sounds among languages of the world, and we used as inspiration, among other, latin and esperanto. The following are examples of Maha'ki words and their meaning (exact pronunciations can be heard from the in-game journal):

  • tial (so be it)
  • lumeh (light)
  • ekto (ray, direction)
  • udah (command)
  • kehnu (motion)
  • obi (matter, substance)

These words are combined to form the magic formulas of the spells, for instance:

  • light spell -> lumeh tial
  • light beam spell -> ekto lumeh
  • command spell -> tial udah
  • telekinesis spell -> obi kehnu

To improve the accuracy performance of the speech recognizer, we avoid "noisy" consonants like "r" and "s", whose pronounce varies considerably among different languages, and also among people with the same native language. This is the alphabet we obtained:

Moreover, we give to each magic formula a unique "pattern" of vowels, i.e. each formula contains a sequence of vowels which is different from all other formulas. We try to maximize the differences between these "patterns", in order to make magic formulas highly distinguishable from each other. In Verbis Virtus includes an option to "train" the speech recognizer to the player's voice, which can be selected to improve the accuracy of the recognition. However, with these measures, we aim to get the Maha'ki language work well out of the box for the vast majority of people, without any need for "training".

(Notice: we already published this information during the Indiegogo campaign, but we decided to make them available on our site too, for those who didn’t know about us at the time)

In Verbis Virtus out on Steam