I am currently in a replay of Icewind Dale, and the amount of voice acting in that game is just right. The characters you play as are not voiced beyond their selection/action sounds, bu those are well done. Dialogue is memorable because characters respond to whether you are a dwarf, bard, elf, gnome, or whatever. You get different dialogue options based on your stats, race, class, gender, and who in the world you have already talked to and what you know. None of that was voiced.
That said, Icewind Dale has some of the best villains I have ever heard. It really is a shame that they are not as well known as David Warner's Irenicus. Finally encountering the spirit of The Black Wolf Kresselack was one thing, but having him voiced by the late Tony Jay was something else entirely:
The next voiced charater you encounter in the game is Yxunomei the Tanari general. Being confronted with a little girl that turns into a six armed, snake bodied, topless true Tanari was a great villain reveal, but it was made all the greater by the fact that the "little girl" was voiced by the not-yet-famous Tara Strong:
Interestingly enough, I think the much shorter Heart of Winter expansion has nearly as much voice acting as the main game, despite being much shorter and probably having a smaller budget for production. One of those voices was Ron "war never changes" Pearlman as the tribal leader Wylfdene. But I can't find a good example of his voice acting on Youtube.
I once took a peek at the sound files using Near Infinity; each character only has about a couple of dozen lines. That probably was done in one or two recording sessions (was it? the people monitoring this forum made
Icewind Dale.) The way pricing for voice actors works, it's typically per session (four hours max). You pay them the same whether it's just a couple of lines for an incidental character in a few minutes, or a character like Kresselack. According to Rob "the voice of Morte" Paulsen, if they hire a voice actor, they can have him or her do up to three voices without needing to pay him/her more. So if we go in for a penny with voice acting (occasional character selection sounds), then they may as well go in for a pound, and voice important characters (as it would not actually cost that much more, as far as I can tell.)
They could save more money by doing the voicing in Canada (which is what Friendship is Magic
does) rather than LA, as well.
I agree though, trying to fully voice the game would be too much of a cramp in their style, in terms of cost and story inflexibility (would you
pay to produce a completely optional series of side quests, with full voicing, for content your players might not ever see?)
Edited by Vargr Raekr, 08 October 2012 - 09:05 AM.