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I'm of the complete opposite opinion. :cat:



Same here. I think lack of voiceacting (or at most very moderate use of it) opens the path to much better characterization through interpretation of the given lines and tone of the conversation.

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If reading detaches from a character, then reading books never would have caught on. A good performance can bring a character to life in amazing ways, but it's not such a requirement. And it has to be good. Mediocre performances do very little for me.

"Show me a man who "plays fair" and I'll show you a very talented cheater."
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I've stated this before but it bears repeating I think, a little quality voice acting can go a long way: The IE games proved this, one can easily imagine many of the characters lines voiced even if they are not, a strong introduction and distinctive personality and this is aided immeasurably. Thus for low budget RPGs i'd say take advantage of this aural trickery, and make the few lines that are spoken so distinctive and characterful that they resonate throughout the game. Arcanum by Troika also stands out here, who can forget Torian Kels description of the battle between the Molochean Hand and the Grey Legion of the Derian Ka, or verbally sparring with the worlds smartest Orc over his preference for black tea.





That said i've played games where characters almost leap off the screen without a single spoken word, the Avatar's Companion trio from Ultima, Gorath and Owyn from Betrayal at Krondor thanks to Mr Halfords fantastic prose, Christine the young mute lady from the Sierra Madre, Some designers can transmit themes and impressions very powerfully with the simplest tools, the cave painters of the modern age?


Yet another angle to look at this is games where voice acting is an intrinsic part, the Legacy of Kain series springs to mind, here the prose is thick and strong as it holds a good portion of the game together. Are these games, or interactive visual novels? Another example would be the barks from RTS games, perhaps the finest example in terms of consistent quality being the Dawn of War series.





Tl/dr: It depends on the game and implementation.

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As far as I'm concerned, take the surely massively overblown VA budget and put it somewhere where it'd so more good to the game. Anywhere. I have a lot of imagination and I love reading books, I'm fine in that department.


Sure, a lot of cinematic games would feel quite weird without voice acting, but I don't think text-heavy isometric RPGs need it at all.

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I agree with the others who have said that voice acting can enhance a character, but does not inherently do so. David Warner's performance as Irenicus was extremely engaging, and I doubt the character would have been half as memorable without it.


On the other hand, weak performances can substantially detract from a game. Bloodlines has this problem. While there are some amazing performances, a lot of the minor characters make me go, "Really? That was the best read they could get?" which draws me out of the experience of being in the game.


Indifferent performances also are a net negative for me. The voice acting in Pillars and Tyranny is competent, but none of the performances are particularly evocative. And I'm hard pressed to remember any of them. They do, however, prevent me from creating my own voice for the characters, which does make the characters less memorable. Most of the characters in Final Fantasy Tactics are not particularly deep or developed, but they are very memorable for me because I've given them all distinct voices in my head. That is, when I read their lines, I visualize how they sound in my head with distinctive accents and deliveries. This is possible because none of the lines are voiced, leaving me free to interpret the characters however I want.


So unless the performance is great, I prefer no voice acting.

Edited by eimatshya
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The only place I'm completely opposed to voice acting is for the PC.  Other than that, I can take it or leave it for the most part.  I find in subsequent playthroughs I tend to skip over a lot of the voiced dialogue because I always play with subtitles on, and I can read much, much faster than they speak.


But yes, if you're going to have voiced characters, make sure they're well done.

Edited by Vaeliorin
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Voice performances are part of an art in and of themselves, and they can help further enhance good writing, or even make bad or mediocre writing somewhat palatable. But a bad performance can also ruin the text it's interpreting. I enjoy it as yet another means of portraying and experiencing the text so long as the voicework is decent or better, but I would rather have fewer voiced lines and characters in favour of maintaining a consistently high calibre through them all, than performing as many characters as one can at the expense of overall quality.

Edited by algroth

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Discretion is the better part of...uh, game design, I guess.

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