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question about games with a silent protagonist

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I have played lots of computer games and there is one thing I find very strange:

In some games lots of people talk to the main character, but the main character does not talk at all.

 

First a short overview:

- There are games where the main character(s) talk a lot, with other people and with each other. For example most JRPGs. I have played the Trails series recently.

- There are games that have no characters (e.g. tetris) or who have chars but non of them talks to other chars (e.g. several shooters).

- There are games where you have many different choices about what kind of char you use. (e.g. many western RPGs like Pillars of Eternity). You can chose different answers quite often, but the char does not talk a lot in a normal conversation. The reason is, that you can create so many different chars, that it is impossible for the devs to write a fitting dialogue for any char you can create in the game.

 

I have no problem with the 3 categories above, but now comes the thing that bothers me:

 

In many games ( Zelda for SNES and N64 (have not played the others), Alundra for PS1, "A Hat in Time" for PC recently, . . .) you have a pre defined main char and there are many friendly characters in the game. You can go to them and press the "talk" button. Those chars will say a lot of things to you, but the main char does not say a single word in the entire game. At least not as written text, they do make sounds when you attack or get hit. When playing with such a char I get the feeling that they have a strong mental illness. They can only nod or shake their head to say yes or no and they can point at things they want to buy or sell, but otherwise they are unable to communicate at all.

 

I came up with some theories ( which are most likely wrong):

- The main char is very shy, thats why (s)he cannot talk to others.

- The main char comes from another country and does not speak the language. ( In many cases the main chars are locals and even if not, they do not have problems to understand what other people say)

- The main char has lost his/her tongue or has another serious disease that prevents him/her from speaking. ( This is never mentioned in the game)

- There is some kind of "super hero disease" or a demonic contract saying: " I gain superhuman powers to kill dragons and save the world in exchange for my ability to speak. If I ever say an understandable word, I will lose my powers at once".

 

Since I did not find an answer, I want to ask you what you think about this.

What do you (as player) think of your char or why did the devs chose to do it this way.

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Lol I love your theories but actually it's something much more simple than that - Design choice.

 

I had done my research on this very subject when I first played Ys Chronicles 1&2 but cannot find the exact video so I'll leave this one and hopefully it will answer your questions.

 

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Just what do you think you're doing?! You dare to come between me and my prey? Is it a habit of yours to scurry about, getting in the way and causing bother?

 

What are you still bothering me for? I'm a Knight. I'm not interested in your childish games. I need my rest.

 

Begone! Lest I draw my nail...

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Also watch this...


Just what do you think you're doing?! You dare to come between me and my prey? Is it a habit of yours to scurry about, getting in the way and causing bother?

 

What are you still bothering me for? I'm a Knight. I'm not interested in your childish games. I need my rest.

 

Begone! Lest I draw my nail...

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I have the same theory for silent protagonists as I have for gaming mice - it does not need to talk, therefore it does not talk. Yet it needs to indicate, if it has received damage or is reloading the weapon, thus battle cries are voiced.

As for why developers choose to do so, it's either to not annoy the player or to not waste resources on something unnecessary (less VA => more dialogue options/lower production cost). Quoting Wikipedia: "Many games have made use of a silent protagonist out of utility, because of technology, time, or budget limitations, or as a narrative device. Whether the player is supposed to be the protagonist or is merely assuming control of an established character and whether the game allows the player freedom of choices that would be difficult to believably justify with spoken narrative influence this decision".

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Thank you

 

I watched several videos of the guy in the first video and it was very interesting.

About the second video, I wanted to talk about any kind of written or spoken dialogue, not voice acting specifically.

 

The reason for this thread is, that one of the last games I have played was "A Hat in Time".

I liked the game and the main character has lots of personality, but seeing that everyone except her does talk in the game, I was asking myself "Is she ill?"

Seing the Zelda movie makes me realize that some characters really should stay silent.

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Having a fixed character like Link and Gordon be silent seems to be a matter of tradition for tradition's sake. They were protagonists of good games who happened to be silent, and for some reason that became an association to defend, no matter how much people claim to understand correlation is not causation. It's basically just dogma at this point. Fortunately Arkane were good enough to acknowledge their missteps and Dishonored 2 reversed the decision on the silent protagonist and is a better game because of it.


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I think silent protagonists are a developer's way of saying, "We can't think of how to write the protagonist's part in this story in a way that isn't going to annoy a lot of people", opting instead for something about as blank and inoffensive as possible. It's an okay route to go in some cases - really depends on the game in question - while others, it's pretty dumb. Half-Life 2, for example, I always felt it was a pretty bad choice to do a silent protagonist because Gordon Freeman really has a set role in the game, and the character interactions actually come across as being pretty comedic at times because of him being silent for no apparent reason. On the other hand, the cutscenes in that game (that technically aren't cutscenes) were already painful enough for the most part, so it was probably for the best they didn't make it worse by having Gordon talk in them too.

Edited by Bartimaeus

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Eh I rather have silent protagonist unless I have choices in what's being said because less is more in that for example Link, I can view him as a badass or a very sad friend zoned hero. You give them a voice, u give them an identity other than their actions. It can be limiting and fall short because imagination for the most part is better than what is shown.

Think of the horror movies, when are they more scary? When they show u exactly what happens or when they set up a situation and then cut away so that ur mind fills in the blanks of the crazy messed scary things our minds come up with?

Or think of someone who u saw and had an idea about them and then they opened thier mouth and spun and crashed that awesome viewpoint of them.

Edited by redneckdevil

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Maybe the answear is... Money.

Main hero would have most lines in game. Some games also offer a variance of male/female dwarf/elf/orc/troll

And there are some games like Witcher, Mass Effect, LiS, H0D and others with talkative lead.

I see the pattern that games with more money and more specific main characters are more likely to have VO.

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gordon freeman having a voice would be sacriliege, but link and zelda already have voices 

 

The definitive Link voice.

 

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"Show me a man who "plays fair" and I'll show you a very talented cheater."

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Sometimes it is about budget, the the Lego games are a great example.the first Lego Batman had silent characters except for grunts and such. The 2nd Lego game had viice acting... what a world of a difference (in a positive way, the talking protagonists added to the immersion)


Just what do you think you're doing?! You dare to come between me and my prey? Is it a habit of yours to scurry about, getting in the way and causing bother?

 

What are you still bothering me for? I'm a Knight. I'm not interested in your childish games. I need my rest.

 

Begone! Lest I draw my nail...

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Given the high probability that the voice actor they choose for my guy is going to be awful or not a good fit, silence is a blessing. 

 

Another issue is - we'd need, what, 18 full voiceovers for every major race/class/sex combo in POE?

Edited by Tigranes

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Once one has played the Legacy of Kain series the voice acting in most other titles seems half hearted at best in comparison, so silence becomes preferable.


Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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Another issue is - we'd need, what, 18 full voiceovers for every major race/class/sex combo in POE?

I don't think "silent protagonist" means "protagonist who isn't voiced" - it means "protagonist who has no dialogue". As such, the POE protagonist is not a silent protagonist. And yeah, protagonist voices have a tendency to suck, especially the stupid and grating early-to-mid-20s male voices that all sound the same.

Edited by Bartimaeus

How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?
 
How to Totally Remove Ignored Users from Your Obsidian Forums.

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I also took silent protag to mean that they have dialogue but are not voiced

 

I don't mind having my character voiced if it is a set character even if I can modify them to a large degree, I'm thinking Shepard from Mass Effect here. For blank slate characters I prefer them to not have their dialogue voiced.


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I actually like silent protagonists. I can go either way. I like that Gordon Freeman is a both a character but you can place yourself into his circumstances. I think their is something charming about Link, and would hate if they all of a sudden gave him a voice. For a first-person game I think it works really well. Not sure I want the Link model to be replicated though, it wouldn't work as well for new characters.

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