If you've ever thought to yourself that what the gently crackling quiet of Fallout: New Vegas really needs is the endless nattering of a credulous media personality, then I might have just the mod for you: The Joe Rogan Experience, in which the bafflingly popular presenter gives voice to eight sponsor messages and nine interviews with various high-profile characters.
Of course, it's not actually Joe Rogan's voice: The mod uses AI-powered voice synthesis to recreate Rogan in the game. The big giveaway is that it doesn't really sound like him, particularly during the interview with Caesar in the first part of the trailer. Rogan has a distinctive voice, which I've grown passingly familiar with through UFC broadcasts and the occasional brief clip from his podcast that's passed around on social media, and the voice in the trailer is far enough off the mark that it just doesn't click for me.
(What I do find amusingly on the nose is the way mod-Rogan insists on talking about the Burned Man as if he's real, repeatedly contradicting Caesar's statement that the Burned Man is just a myth.)
The voice sounds closer to the real thing in the second segment, during a promo for the Crimson Caravan. I still can't say for sure that I'd guess it as a Joe Rogan impersonation unprompted, but it's close enough to be passable—and, to be fair, my hearing is not what it once was.
The mod page doesn't say exactly how Rogan's voice is recreated, but mod maker IIncidious explained in an email that they used "AI speech software" ElevenLabs to create all the clips in the mod.
"In terms of training the voice, the process with ElevenLabs is relatively simple," IIncidious said. "The AI is amazing in the aspect that it only needs five minutes of voice samples to recreate an almost perfect voice. I simply isolated clips from his podcasts and used those."
IIncidious said they were inspired to make the mod by a YouTube video of an AI-voiced Rogan interviewing Caesar, which among other things contains the absolutely magical line, "Did you see that video of the guy getting fucked up by the radscorpion?"
"People in the comments were actually saying 'Hey, it would be cool to see this as a mod', and 'I'd definitely listen to a mod like that', and stuff like that," IIncidious said. "This set off my interest and I went to check if there was a mod already. When there wasn't, I spent the next 2-3 hours making the first version of the game. From there, the mod evolved."
Here's who Joe interviews in the mod:
- President Kimball
- General Lee Oliver
- Mr. House
- Joshua Graham
- No-bark Noonan
He also does promo spots for Crimson Caravan, Wasteland Water, The Tops Casino, Mojave Survival Kit, Sunset Sarsparilla, Atomic Wrangler, Brotherhood of Steel, and NCR Military. And there may be more to come: IIncidious invited suggestions for future interviews on the mod page, although they warned that characters being interviewed need at least five minutes of voice lines in the "for effective voice reproduction."
"Depending on future time I may have, I'm thinking of maybe doing an actual quest mod where you get to speak to Joe Rogan," IIncidious said. "I'm for sure going to work on more updates to the mod, and I'm also thinking about doing a TTW conversion or even a version of the mod for Fallout 3 or 4. This is all dependent on time, but when I find some free time, this is definitely something I'm interested in working on."
The Joe Rogan Experience for Fallout: New Vegas may not be the most convincing deepfake we've ever encountered, but it's obviously going to appeal to Rogan fans, and more interestingly it is doubtless an early example of something we're going to see a lot more of in the future. And the reality is that there's no clear and easy answer about how to move ahead. Deepfakes are an ethical minefield and government agencies are already trying to figure out how to regulate AI, but on the other hand a mod that could, for example, bring Three Dog to Fallout 4 would be pretty cool, no?
Although it might not seem so cool to Erik Todd Dellums, who voiced Three Dog in Fallout 3 and would probably like to be paid for any future appearances. An ethical minefield, as I said.
The Joe Rogan Experience mod for Fallout: New Vegas, and instructions for installing it (which are really quite simple) can be had at NexusMods.