Part of the modern soundscape is a sing-song synthetic voice telling us about everything from slime recipes and teenage drama to unionisation procedures and scissor-wielding ‘fashion hacks’ that surely are covert fetish videos. It is TikTok’s text-to-speech voice, and it is everywhere. Now it’s even in Half-Life, thanks to a mod which replaces the opening tram ride voiceover with a TikTok TTS version. It’s a distressing artifact, and I hate that it kinda works. See/hear for yourself in the video below.
Like many horrible ideas on the Internet, it began with a joke:
half life but every single voice clip is redone by the tik tok text to speech voice(s)
— 💙M&M McFurry🧡 (@TheFloofierLove) April 23, 2022
And like many alarming jokes on the Internet, it escalated by following through. Mere hours later, creator and jokester “TheFloofierLove” had fed the opening tram announcer script into the TikTok API to renovate the Black Mesa tram system with a chipper and sassy new personality.
“Why does this exist? Because I got bored and found out that you don’t actually need TikTok to generate the voice clips,” they explain on the TikTok Transit Voiceover mod’s download page. A great reason to make a mod. I am delighted that they made this mod.
The readme file (always read the readme) does note, “I am really not sure how far I’ll be going with this mod.” Maybe it’ll remain only the tram intro. That would be fine. That would be plenty for the joke. That might still be too much. Though… if they did do the whole game, absolutely I would download and play it.
While Black Mesa the government lab will doubtless hold onto its legacy announcer system until the magnetic tapes dry, crack, and wither to dust, I could see a tech startup Black Mesa adopting a TikTok voiceover. You know, the sort of workplace that would replace their announcer every few weeks with a new joke voice (and would list this as a perk on job ads alongside “beer fridge” and “top banter”). You know, where one month it would be the CEO doing his horrible Rick & Morty impression, again. Though this workplace would probably also replace the trams with slides. Still, Half-Life’s On A Rail chapter would be way better with slides (especially with surfing).
I do now want to see TikTok voice replacements combined with how musician Graham Dunning replaced all of Half-Life’s sounds with vintage rave and dance samples to turn Half-Life into an experimental electronica generator.