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Is adding voice overs really that expensive if they don't use big name or expensive (voice) actors?

 

They don't necessarily need to hire the most well known voice actors like Ron Perlman, Kevin Michael Richardson, Phil Lamarr, Tricia Helfer, Jennifer Hale, etc.

 

There are plenty of talented young or new (voice) actors out there.

 

The devs obviously know more about the costs than you do, and if they say it's cost prohibitive to re-record dialogue for the sake of editing the script, I'll believe MCA over you.

 

And for the record, Ron Perlman is a film and TV "real actor." Not a "voice actor." His primary work is in the film industry. Lots of "real actors" do voicework on the side because it's a quick and easy buck in between or even during major projects like TV shows or movies. Ron Perlman obviously commands a much higher fee than your Jennifer Hales and Phill Lamarrs. I mean, have you seen the City of Lost Children? Ron Perlman is no mere Steven Blum or Mark Meer.

 

And Bethesda likely shells out tens or even hundreds of thousands when they get people like Liam Neeson, Christopher Lee or Patrick Stewart for their games.

Edited by AGX-17
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My husband is fond of mentioning this radio interview of Chris Rock that he heard one morning, where Chris said something like "Voice acting has been the easiest buck I ever made. Walk in, sit in a booth, talk for a while, go home with big paycheck." :lol:

 

And I dunno...occasionally I've heard amateur/volunteer voice work in mods and such that were ok, but most of the time ... they're quite terrible. It's not just whether you have a decent speaking voice, but how well you use it. That Blue Planet video, the intro narration is awful and it lasts forever. The gameplay voice stuff is better but still lackluster.

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“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts

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I do not want the protaganist voiced,

 

Probably don't have to worry about this one. I don't think any of us want another Hawke.

 

you think wrongly then

while you may be right that many people on this board will share this opinion, i for one, and i'm sure i'm not alone on this, think that few things can lift a game up as much as a well voiced main character

the mentioned dragon age 2 (at least the female hawke, which i played), aquanox2 and alpha protocol are only some examples that profited massively from well voiced main characters

on the contrary, i would say the missing voice acting for the main char in games like dishonored and dragon age 1 is those games greatest flaw

 

 

Forgive me then, I stand corrected. Regardless I am in favour of an unvoiced main character.

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And I dunno...occasionally I've heard amateur/volunteer voice work in mods and such that were ok, but most of the time ... they're quite terrible.

 

This, so this.

 

Regardless I am in favour of an unvoiced main character.

 

I wouldn't have a problem with a voiced main character if there were a multitude of voice options, which would be extremely expensive and hit-or-miss so it's not a viable option. You had a choice of voices in Dragon Age Origins and I didn't particularly like any of the male ones and loved one of the female ones and hated the rest, and that was it. It was only for combat barks, anyway. It was worth a try at least.

Edited by AGX-17

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I do not want the protaganist voiced,

 

Probably don't have to worry about this one. I don't think any of us want another Hawke.

 

you think wrongly then

while you may be right that many people on this board will share this opinion, i for one, and i'm sure i'm not alone on this, think that few things can lift a game up as much as a well voiced main character

the mentioned dragon age 2 (at least the female hawke, which i played), aquanox2 and alpha protocol are only some examples that profited massively from well voiced main characters

on the contrary, i would say the missing voice acting for the main char in games like dishonored and dragon age 1 is those games greatest flaw

 

 

on the point that a community can't do good voice acting, go and play this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tlo_5U6fqqw

 

I really don't think I'd use the term "Massively profited" in the same sentence as Dragon Age 2 considering that it was such a huge train wreck it spawned it's own meme, and irreperably tarnished the Bioware name to the point where EA's now pulling the name from studio's.

 

I'm not commenting on voiced protagonists, situationally each has it's merits. I'm just saying that using DA2 as an example is a bad selection.

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I do not want the protaganist voiced,

 

Probably don't have to worry about this one. I don't think any of us want another Hawke.

 

you think wrongly then

while you may be right that many people on this board will share this opinion, i for one, and i'm sure i'm not alone on this, think that few things can lift a game up as much as a well voiced main character

the mentioned dragon age 2 (at least the female hawke, which i played), aquanox2 and alpha protocol are only some examples that profited massively from well voiced main characters

on the contrary, i would say the missing voice acting for the main char in games like dishonored and dragon age 1 is those games greatest flaw

 

 

on the point that a community can't do good voice acting, go and play this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tlo_5U6fqqw

 

I really don't think I'd use the term "Massively profited" in the same sentence as Dragon Age 2 considering that it was such a huge train wreck it spawned it's own meme, and irreperably tarnished the Bioware name to the point where EA's now pulling the name from studio's.

 

I'm not commenting on voiced protagonists, situationally each has it's merits. I'm just saying that using DA2 as an example is a bad selection.

 

Gatt..."tarnished the Bioware name" is an understatement, your being too kind, he he good post!

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Voicing the protagonist limits role playing on so many levels it's incompatible with a great RPG, it limits a wide section of the game to action adventure or action RPG status. It also stifles choice and increases development costs on top of that. Never a good choice if you're making a RPG, and since Obsidian said they were making a RPG, the only sensible choice is to not voice the protagonist. Clearly a voiced protagonist isn't suitable at all for a game like DA: Origins. For games like Dishonored it's viable either way, Bioshock & Bioshock 2 didn't suffer for not having voiced protagonists, neither does the Portal, Half-Life, or Crysis (which has both) franchises .

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And I dunno...occasionally I've heard amateur/volunteer voice work in mods and such that were ok, but most of the time ... they're quite terrible.

 

Agreed, though some of them are really good in their amateur acting but the volume is wrong, the microphone is bad (sounds like someone is talking in a can) and it really sounds like something someone has put "into" the game externally. You hear lip smacking and the "Ptt" (breathing into the microphone is bad). It really sounds like it isn't a part of the game and that ruins the entire immersion aspects, so the sound has to be of a certain quality as well. Doesn't matter how good your voice acting is, if I can't hear it, it is pretty much pointless and more of an annoyance.

 

EDIT: If you are going to do any voice acting you need to check your Input levels, check your audio editting skills (which isn't too complicated), work on your own voice level (test test test!!! Trial and error until you get control of your own voice!!). Ask someone for feedback!! You're probably going to have to retake every single line about 10-20 times to get something remotely "good" (often in the professional world you don't "strike Gold" on the first take).

 

If you've ever done some "Bowling" you'll know this (unless you were/are a natural talent of course), you don't get a "Strike" the very first time you try it (acting requires

, something I feel that many of the amateur sound sets didn't do before releasing). Edited by Osvir

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Is adding voice overs really that expensive if they don't use big name or expensive (voice) actors?

 

They don't necessarily need to hire the most well known voice actors like Ron Perlman, Kevin Michael Richardson, Phil Lamarr, Tricia Helfer, Jennifer Hale, etc.

 

There are plenty of talented young or new (voice) actors out there.

 

The devs obviously know more about the costs than you do, and if they say it's cost prohibitive to re-record dialogue for the sake of editing the script, I'll believe MCA over you.

 

And for the record, Ron Perlman is a film and TV "real actor." Not a "voice actor." His primary work is in the film industry. Lots of "real actors" do voicework on the side because it's a quick and easy buck in between or even during major projects like TV shows or movies. Ron Perlman obviously commands a much higher fee than your Jennifer Hales and Phill Lamarrs. I mean, have you seen the City of Lost Children? Ron Perlman is no mere Steven Blum or Mark Meer.

 

And Bethesda likely shells out tens or even hundreds of thousands when they get people like Liam Neeson, Christopher Lee or Patrick Stewart for their games.

 

Where did I say that I knew more about the costs than the devs?

 

I simply asked a question about the costs. Since the devs never gave a breakdown for the cost of voice overs, I asked a question about how much having voice overs would cost if they don't use established voice actors. I would assume that getting the guy who did the narration for Bastion would be a lot cheaper than getting Ron Perlman even though they would likely give similar performances.

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Agreed, though some of them are really good in their amateur acting but the volume is wrong, the microphone is bad (sounds like someone is talking in a can) and it really sounds like something someone has put "into" the game externally. You hear lip smacking and the "Ptt" (breathing into the microphone is bad). It really sounds like it isn't a part of the game and that ruins the entire immersion aspects, so the sound has to be of a certain quality as well. Doesn't matter how good your voice acting is, if I can't hear it, it is pretty much pointless and more of an annoyance.

 

EDIT: If you are going to do any voice acting you need to check your Input levels, check your audio editting skills (which isn't too complicated), work on your own voice level (test test test!!! Trial and error until you get control of your own voice!!). Ask someone for feedback!! You're probably going to have to retake every single line about 10-20 times to get something remotely "good" (often in the professional world you don't "strike Gold" on the first take).

 

If you've ever done some "Bowling" you'll know this (unless you were/are a natural talent of course), you don't get a "Strike" the very first time you try it (acting requires

, something I feel that many of the amateur sound sets didn't do before releasing).

Those are good points, and I'd agree. Sometimes those things are a big part of it. With amateur mod work, I often feel like there's just no life in the voices...things are recited too much in a monotone or too much all at one even speed (no different length in pauses, no difference in emphasis etc) ...doesn't sound like a natural spoken rhythm. Or, like you said, it doesn't match/jibe with the rest of the game sounds in some way, which is jarring.

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“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts

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@LadyCrimson: For fan-work voice acting it requires a devoted fan, someone who is engaged and knows all of these "issues" with recording, someone who has done some research and has a small/big portfolio. The question is then, why should a fan put so much work into it if it isn't interesting for the developers or the forums to begin with?

 

I really want to do some sound sets for BGEE and test it out (get some feedback on the forums) but if there isn't any "end goal" or someone discourages you from doing it? Why even bother trying? <- this is all about personal confidence though, and I'm probably going to encounter hardships regardless if it is good or not when or if I release anything. Did I say this another post?: The internet can be a cruel place.

 

EDIT: Prosper is Prosper and manages to pull it off (genius, really). Voice acting is difficult in a different way and there is more prestige in it me thinks.

Edited by Osvir

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Yeah, I know someone who's been doing some mod work occasionally. She really enjoys doing it, but she got some harsh criticism when she put samples on public YouTube. People can indeed be overly cruel, vs. some tough but fair criticism. I think she needs some more time, but what I like about her is that she tries to make her voices distinct and they feel like characters. It just takes a lot of practice and time to find one's own "voice"...like with any acting or public speaking or artistic venture.

 

My own voice probably sounds like a nasal foghorn. Heh.


“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts

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I enjoyed it a lot Felithvian, albeit from time to time. It felt like I was on a roller coaster between good and bad. Wherein it was awesome at some points, and took a down turn, then went up again, then down (it grew on me, but I decided that it would before I even started to listen to it, mindset is a powerful thing). The presentation (the initial narration) felt oddly inserted. Though, my headphones broke and I'm relying on very poor laptop speakers. Now I've got an excuse to use my real speakers :devil:

 

EDIT: Which brings up another interesting point, sound is different dependent on hardware. Harman/Kardon speaks for itself, that's like some monster computer speakers by themselves and that makes anything sound way better. Some headphones you got may distort your experience and you won't get the "full" experience either and will get a bad experience because you couldn't turn up your headphones to present the "depth" or immersion, though that is a bad argument for bad voice acting (bad voice acting is bad voice acting). It is still something ponder on I think.

Edited by Osvir
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Sorry to go offtopic here, but I gotta ask a question (Especially to all those that feel that anything less than perfect is unacceptable).

 

The voice from the narrator of The Challenge of Control from Master of Orion 3. Do you like it?

I think combined with the music and (what sounds like) maybe a tiny bit of reverb, it fits the scene and mood. The delivery and timing (pacing/acting) works well for me. But I guess I'm picky about the monotone/colorless thing (maybe there's a better word, but monotone is the only one coming to my mind right now). If the narrator is supposed to be something like HAL, that would affect my opinion (HAL's voice is great, because of what HAL is). If narrator is human...a little staid for my tastes.


“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts

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Sorry to go offtopic here, but I gotta ask a question (Especially to all those that feel that anything less than perfect is unacceptable).

 

The voice from the narrator of The Challenge of Control from Master of Orion 3. Do you like it?

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpeBD86U8dk

 

No, the volume and effects going on were really off putting, maybe it's down to whoever produced the video though. Apart from that I have preferences about weight and presence that weren't met, maybe I just don't like the voice or accent. Of course this kind of voice acting isn't that difficult, I have no idea of any character behind it, and it doesn't give me any, same with the other clip with mission briefings recited in a dry tone, characters are way harder to voice act. Maybe I'm picky about narration though, I like Fallout, Sands of Time, Shadow of the Templars, Diablo 2, and Bastion in terms of narration. Total Annihilation's narration is OK, although it's so short and generic in content I didn't care about it at all.

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Apart from this post (How to make custom sound sets for Baldur's Gate, might be different for BGEE (which folder to put it in, google is your friend)) I'd also like to link to Audacity as well (freeware audio recording)

 

If anyone is interested in doing some fan work later on for Obsidian IF they would ever ask, and if not in P:E you might get your voice heard in BGEE. It just released and should be a great ground to test out your skill, and more importantly have some material to back up any claims.

 

EDIT: Right! If you're making some sound sets, just make one .wav file first. Let's take "Battle Cry 1" as an example. Save it, put it into the Baldur's Gate folder where applicable, listen and see if you've got the volume right in Character Creation (compared to the other characters/sound sets in Baldur's Gate). It is pain staking to make an entire 40 .wav file list and realizing that your volume was wrong (easy to fix in Audacity though, just crank up the volume a little bit, but it might make it BAD too). Articulation is very important too (I'm in the midst of creating something serious silly for laughs).

Edited by Osvir

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I vote either BG2 levels of VA or take the NWN approach and have full VA but only for certain key characters. I do not want in dialog VA for the protagonist.

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Some VA i know that i definitely want in are those chants they would say before casting a spell i loved hearing them.

Illusion: "Veritas, Credo, Oculos" = "The truth, I believe, with my eyes"

 

Alteration: "Praeses, Alia, Fero" = "Protecting, another, I bring this forth"

 

Necromancy: "Vita, Mortis, Careo" = "Life, and death, I am without"

 

Divination: "Scio, Didici, Pecto" = "I know, for I have studied, with my mind"

 

Abjuration: "Manus, Potentis, Paro" = "A hand, powerful, I prepare"

 

Evocation: "Incertus, Pulcher, Imperio" = "Uncertain, beautiful things, I command"

 

Conjuration: "Facio, Voco, Ferre" = "This I do, I call, to bring you forth"

 

Enchantment: "Cupio, Virtus, Licet" = "I want, excellence, allowed to me"

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No full voice-acting. This game should be for people who can read. Oh, apparently it also costs money and dev resources.

-snip

 

That's beautiful, I never knew it actually meant anything. This is latin perchance?

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Since full-VO is out (which I agree with fully) and partial-VO is in the question is what should be voiced and what not?

 

I think that the protagonist being limited to something like BG sound sets works well, since many (most?) players would prefer to imagine for themselves what their characters sound like.

 

As far as NPCs, I think for branching conversations only the first line should be voiced. This helps establish the mood and tone of the conversation, as well as give the player a concept of the speaker. Having the responses be text only helps the writers remain flexible, as the opening line is least likely to be changed. Also it allows followup lines to be added/deleted/changed with no trouble.

 

For 'cutscene' like scenes like the Sarevok/Gorion encounter at the beginning of BG1 it helps to have every line voiced. Since there are no branches to the conversation there is no need to record multiple versions of similar lines. Also, since a cutscene is more likely to be viewed by the player (as opposed to an NPC or quest that can be skipped or simply missed) it is more cost-effective.

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To the people who're saying voiced acting = less depth, you need to look at two games. Alpha Protocol, and Vampire the Masquerade:Bloodlines. Both of these games were fully voiced (With Alpha even coicing the character), and both those games had a massive amount of depth. They were games you had ro play multiple times to really get just what was going on. That seemed simple, but had a dozen other things going on that you'd never see until you probed into it.

 

Hell, Alpha even showed how you can use a dialog wheel to good effect, putting a lot of tension in certain spoken encounters, making weaving through a conversation a treat.

 

Yea, it costs money, but voice acting does not mean less depth in anyway.

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VtM: Bloodlines is my second favourite game, but it's small, they sacrificed content for depth because of being fully voiced. The amount of characters, the amount of choices in dialogue, the amount of dialogue is way lower than games with primarily text dialogue, the dialogue trees are narrow. There is a trade off, it's size vs depth vs voice. Voice acting costs money, takes time, and is obviously less flexible, you can't just edit a line even the final months, you have to nail down the voice acting.

Edited by AwesomeOcelot
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Since full-VO is out (which I agree with fully) and partial-VO is in the question is what should be voiced and what not?

 

I think that the protagonist being limited to something like BG sound sets works well, since many (most?) players would prefer to imagine for themselves what their characters sound like.

 

As far as NPCs, I think for branching conversations only the first line should be voiced. This helps establish the mood and tone of the conversation, as well as give the player a concept of the speaker. Having the responses be text only helps the writers remain flexible, as the opening line is least likely to be changed. Also it allows followup lines to be added/deleted/changed with no trouble.

 

For 'cutscene' like scenes like the Sarevok/Gorion encounter at the beginning of BG1 it helps to have every line voiced. Since there are no branches to the conversation there is no need to record multiple versions of similar lines. Also, since a cutscene is more likely to be viewed by the player (as opposed to an NPC or quest that can be skipped or simply missed) it is more cost-effective.

 

I agree that cutscenes should be fully voiced. But.... that also requires very good VAs. Quest/interaction dialogues are another matter. I think the vast majority of players here don't want the PC to be voiced besides the basic selection/combat soundsets.

 

I've started playing BG:EE, and I must say that I don't like how the new characters were implemented. They are fully voiced. This is completely inconsistent with the existing characters (partially voiced in default content and completely unvoiced in new content), very jarring when they speak lines containing the PC's name and leave an empty void where that name would be ("Wait, are you___?"), and the pacing is thrown off due to the difference between established reading rates and waiting for a VO to complete. Moreover, one of the antagonists I've met so far has a horrible voice actor. Any normal person can tell instantly if someone is merely "reading the script." Flat. Something "off."

 

With full VO, this tastes far too, well.... current-Biowarean. I'm a bit disappointed at the moment, really, but anyway.

 

Yea, it costs money, but voice acting does not mean less depth in anyway.

The logical problem here is that you're coming at this from a very flawed premise: That what you see as the consumer is the exact replication of the ideal product the developer wanted to make. How could you possibly know what initial depth was chopped and edited out in favor of full VA? Why not ask developers themselves?

 

To wit, in a Joystiq interview with Brathwaithe and Avellone ("Voice acting in RPGs may be more trouble than it's worth"):

I, for one, didn't realize their impact on games until just a year or two ago, when I commented on game designer Brenda Brathwaite's blog about how an RPG could be done cheaper and faster without many modern components, which included recorded speech. Brathwaite responded specifically to the voice acting component, saying that once her company started making RPGs with voice acting, they discovered that their writing and editing process had to be completed well in advance of what they were used to, with the actor's recording of his or her lines "baking" the narrative section in place much earlier than normal.

 

"Great ideas were left sitting on the bench because the time to record them (or render graphics) wasn't available," she said in her reply.

And additional thoughts from Avellone in the article, particularly about AP, Fallout 2, KoTOR2.


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Whereas I am in favor of limiting the voice acting to only very important parts of the plot, if it even needs to be there at all. The trade-off for more voice acting is less dialogue, diminished ability to change dialogue during production, a lack of modability...in short, less choice and less depth.

 

I want more choice and more depth, not less. And if the cost of that is that less voice acting, then I'll pay it happily.

 

That's not really the case. There might be more choice, as far as the devs changing the dialogue along the way and maybe writing up more options for dialogue, but I don't think you can prove that it will necessarily mean more depth. Part of what makes a line of dialogue memorable or "deep" for me is hearing the power with which it's delivered.One of my all time favourite video game lines of dialogue was the "would you kindly" speech from bio-shock (sort of a spoiler if you haven't played it) that dialogue really stuck in my mind because of the way it was delivered. If it was just a line of dialogue I probably would have just skipped through it without a second glance.

 

Whatever happened to imagination?

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