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Dialogue in Obsidian Games

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#101
SonicMage117

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Being a musician I mostly guess that VO is expensive due to my personal experience in music. First you need a place to record - studios and concert halls are expensive. For a musician a recording session is expected to be better paid than a live concert, because your work will be reused by someone without you profiting. Sure there are a lot of musicians but they spent many years training, often deal with large student loans and purchased instruments worth $10,000-$100,000. Playing below union wage is not in their best interest. In the recording you have musicians and a team of director and audio engineers who will help in making sure recorded material is high quality and later edit it.

Recording of 30min-1hour long, high quality demo reel in US usually costed me between $500-$1000 and that was the cost of a small studio with one audio engineer and a very basic ensemble (just a single violinist - therefore not much equipment in use, no balancing to do) and it covered couple hours of recording session, and cleaning up/editing audio (naturally I didn’t pay myself for performing). I would also want to point out that as it was proof of my abilities recording, there was no time consuming editing like putting different takes together, adjusting intonation etc. Sure, I usually recorded for around $120 but the difference in quality was drastically noticeable. while I can’t possibly predict how much a recording of VO or soundtrack for a game costs I expect it to not be a cheap process.

And yet, Obsidian had in-house workers who did the ost of the first game for free (out of the goodness of their hearts came great deeds, from cheerful glee). It doesn't have to cost, there are and will always be people who do the job just as good as paid or free.

We are forgetting how common good voice actors and musicians are to find. The voice actor strike didn't harm games, except for the companies who refused to look outside of what was recommended to them.

#102
Wormerine

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And yet, Obsidian had in-house workers who did the ost of the first game for free (out of the goodness of their hearts came great deeds, from cheerful glee). It doesn't have to cost, there are and will always be people who do the job just as good as paid or free.

We are forgetting how common good voice actors and musicians are to find. The voice actor strike didn't harm games, except for the companies who refused to look outside of what was recommended to them.


That’s great, I am doing bunch of passion/favour gigs as well. But asking people to do work for free, whenever it is voice acting, music or programming is just unprofessional and inconsiderate.

I don’t know anything about Obsidians music being recorded for free - I am pretty sure they hired an orchestra for some of the pieces. Are you referring to music recorded for the Kickstarter trailer? Quality of that wasn’t great.

Considering how rare it is to see a competent musician or actor - no, I wouldn’t say that there are so many of them.

Also in all that discussion we omit the cost of casting. More characters = longer casting&search.

Whatever, trying to discuss cost of something we don’t know much about. Obsidian will do what they will do.
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#103
gz33

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All this talk of partial voice acting is reminding me of Neverwinter Nights. It always stuck out to me how Aribeth was basically the only character with her conversations fully recorded, whenever I went back to talk with her it was mildly disconcerting since every other conversation was (at least in majority) purely in my head and on the screen. Then there's this zealous paladin cutting through the background noise as she loudly proclaims whatever she has to say.



#104
cokane

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I strongly disagree with the OP take on this. I think partial voice acting is just fine. The only objection I'd have to partial voicing is that a character shouldn't stop mid-dialogue if they began voiced. i.e. You have to click the "continue" button or enter a dialogue response before it switches to text only.

 

I think people don't appreciate how many labor hours and thus how costly voicing a game is. And think about Pillars' reactivity, NPCs reacted to your race, your sex, your freaking background, your dispositions, your reputations... Fully voicing the game is going to mean making sacrifices elsewhere and one of the easiest things to sacrifice will be cutting down the number of lines to be voiced, thus killing alot of reactivity.

 

Additionally, partial voicing leaves quests, tasks and other encounters open to being modified during patches, and I'd love for the developers to have the opportunity to improve not just the game systems, but the NPCs in patches if they need to.

 

Suck it up and learn to read. Why else you playing these games if you don't want to do some reading?


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#105
cokane

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Biggest problem with the dialogue in PoE is that the writers almost universally failed to follow the rule "Less is more".

 

So many flowery adjectives, so little substance.

 

Have to strongly disagree here as well. I didn't actually find the dialogue spoken by characters to be "flowery" but rather drenched in the game's lore. I'll agree that it's a bit inscrutable on your first playthrough, but it holds up well over multiple campaigns. Once you understand the world a bit, almost all of the dialogue is believable, which is a feat in of itself for most games. The dialogue often reveals both facts about the world and the character's attitude about them. IMO, the line by line writing is solid. Maybe it's not Hugo Award winning, but in the context of games, it's excellent.

 

Where the writing failed was a bit more structural. The main story relied too heavily on withholding key information. I guess they thought that would be a carrot for the player. But on my first playthrough, I remember losing interest in unraveling the main plot.


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#106
Tigranes

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Wormerine has covered the various costs and processes involved very nicely.

 

It is also patently false that POE1's music was done "for free". Obsidian employ Justin Bell as an audio director precisely to create and process the music, among other things. His expertise is not "free", and the equipment they have invested in is also not "free". You don't get some coders in a room and say "why don't we just get a laptop mic and record a jingle in a jiffy". Doing it in-house, or even in rare instances where you grab the producer for voice acting and realise he is perfect (which happened in Torment), does not mean that you can do it all the time, or that you can do it easily and without costs (monetary and otherwise).

 

Some basic details re. Bell:

https://eternity.obs...rs-of-eternity-

http://gamemusic.pl/...llars-eternity/


Edited by Tigranes, 16 January 2018 - 02:57 PM.

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#107
Lord_Mord

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It's one of the biggest problems with the way critics received PoE that the writing in it was described as 'it's like you're reading a book!'

 

That assessment is wrong.

 

PoE's writing reads like no book that would ever win any awards, sorry but that's the truth.  The writing is, as I said, almost universally over the top with its use of high-level language.  The concept 'less is more' dictates that using an apt word or phrase is excellent, but using a simpler one is also great, if it doesn't impact on the meaning.  If the 'right' word is a simple one, there's nothing wrong with that.  Good writing doesn't necessarily equate to complex writing.

 

That said, I am fond of the writing, and the language it uses is very impressive in an intellectual sense.  I just find it very tedious to read, and I think it impacts on one's enjoyment of the game to constantly have to put in so much effort just to decipher every. bloody. sentence.

 

In my opinion, there is not much to decipher there. I am not a native speaker and not even good at english. My problem with the writing was quite the opposite: I found it oftentimes too silly. A lot of the characters don't speak as if they were part of a medieval or renaissance world and I fear that this will be getting worse in Deadfire. Part of the reason why I like Durance is the way he talks. He is on one hand convincing as a medieval character, on the other hand he does not speak overly complicated or strange from a modern point of view.

For me the perfect mix between modern/simple/understandable and intellectual/authentic/poetic would be something similar to "The Name of the Rose". Of course, if I had to make a game, I would go far beyond that. I guess it would be as readable as Naked Lunch or Ulysses, just a whole lot dumber.

I have a question: Which character, part of the game or piece of dialogue in particular did you find complicated? And did you play the game in your mother tongue?



#108
daven

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Why everyone's ignoring the muting option? Are most of you against vo by principal? :blink:

If there's a mute option n o ne's forcing voices. If they're bad, you can always mute them.

 

It's not a matter of not wanting to hear voice overs, the issue is that at a fundamental level of game design you're either writing deep dialogue trees where adding another tree is as easy as typing OR you design such that dialogue is as minimum as possible in order to minimize the amount of voice work needed. The first lets you add in whole sections of dialogue easily at any point, even post release via patching, while the fully voiced model is effectively set in stone at an early time and can't be easily changed.

 

Fully voiced games are attempting to chase the mythical 'casual gamer' that will reward middle of the road mediocrity with untold riches. I'd like PoE and its sequels to remain a high quality niche that can be modestly supported by its current customers. Limiting the expense on voice overs looks to be trying to stay and serve our niche market.

 

I get what you're saying, but Pillars didn't have particularly deep dialogue trees or full VO...



#109
Tigranes

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Even POE1's trees are "deep" enough to make voice acting prohibitively expensive for its budget... as we saw with its lack of full VO.



#110
SonicMage117

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I really don't know who would buy Pillars Of Eternity expecting voice acting or not expecting to read a book worth of dialogue (or two). That should be an instantaneous given... and perhaps instinct at this point.

However, I always welcome voice acting, even if not particularly well versed because sometimes it's easier on the eyes you see and makes the ears work, see?

Anyhow, I think well written dialogue is the greatest power a game could have. It can make the game worth leaving or worth playing. That may just be me.
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#111
Wormerine

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I really don't know who would buy Pillars Of Eternity expecting voice acting or not expecting to read a book worth of dialogue (or two). That should be an instantaneous given... and perhaps instinct at this point.


For people familiar with this paricular style of cRPGs, sure. But those type of game went away for many years, and RPG or isometric RPG will not be the same for everyone anymore. It was interesting to see people play those type of game for the first time when Pillars released. “What do you mean you want to scroll with WASDa?” I would yell at my screen. “Set auto pause and use space a lot and you won’t die. Noob”. And I won’t lie, it took me a while to get back into “partially voiceacted, fully written” rhythm of the game. The mixing of mute narration and VOed lines didn’t help though.

#112
injurai

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To hell with people who don't play games to read books. They can not read when they're dead!


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#113
Night Stalker

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I really don't know who would buy Pillars Of Eternity expecting voice acting or not expecting to read a book worth of dialogue (or two). That should be an instantaneous given... and perhaps instinct at this point.


The game market has changed a lot in the intervening years. A lot of people have come to expect full voice acting from big RPGs, and are turned off when its not there.

Part of it is the fact that a lot of people who play RPGs now have grown up in the interval between the IE games and now, the fact that RPGs have become more mainstream (for both good and ill), and that full voice acting has become the mainstream norm.

So no, I don't think that is a given.

#114
KDubya

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I really don't know who would buy Pillars Of Eternity expecting voice acting or not expecting to read a book worth of dialogue (or two). That should be an instantaneous given... and perhaps instinct at this point.


The game market has changed a lot in the intervening years. A lot of people have come to expect full voice acting from big RPGs, and are turned off when its not there.

Part of it is the fact that a lot of people who play RPGs now have grown up in the interval between the IE games and now, the fact that RPGs have become more mainstream (for both good and ill), and that full voice acting has become the mainstream norm.

So no, I don't think that is a given.

 

 

But PoE and DeadFire are not mainstream big RPGs. They're a niche market.

 

They're never going to get the Skyrim market and trying to will just ruin the game. Let Skyrim and Fallout chase the market down to the lowest common denominator of the semi-literate couch surfing consoler, let PoE serve the discerning gamer that appreciates the details. Sort of like the difference between people who like Laphroig  single malt scotch compared to Pabst Blue Ribbon.

 

DeadFire will be a critically acclaimed  success by having a great story, great choices with consequences, great tactical gameplay and great game mechanics. Full or partial Voice acting is not going to make or break the game and since full voice acting is not without both cost and design implications, I vote for partial voice acting and spend the resources elsewhere.


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#115
SonicMage117

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I don't think that rpg's are more inclined to feature voice acting in the present. Most rpg's, whether Jrpg, Western rpg, isometric rpg, rpgMaker still are text based and only partially voiced if at all. It's really only the bigger budgeted Action Rpg's that are fully voiced from my knowledge and I see quite a bit of newer rpg's.

The thing is that bigger budgeted rpg's are very few compared to smaller rpg's these days but I'm looking at console and pc market. It would surprise me if someday the majority or even half of the rpg's in a year were fully voiced.

If the person playing is disabled, I would understand but for people to complain about a game being bad for the sole reason of not featuring voice or expecting voice from a genre/game just because we have the technology to provide so, does not somehow impress a standard or legitify an expectation. The core rpg will still always require some reading and I suppose that's why the rpg's whom do have full voice acting still also have the text to read as well.

#116
Mannock

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I really don't know who would buy Pillars Of Eternity expecting voice acting or not expecting to read a book worth of dialogue (or two). That should be an instantaneous given... and perhaps instinct at this point.


The game market has changed a lot in the intervening years. A lot of people have come to expect full voice acting from big RPGs, and are turned off when its not there.

Part of it is the fact that a lot of people who play RPGs now have grown up in the interval between the IE games and now, the fact that RPGs have become more mainstream (for both good and ill), and that full voice acting has become the mainstream norm.

So no, I don't think that is a given.

 

 

You're thinking of AAA action RPG's. PoE is not that. It's niche.


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#117
Ninjamestari

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Part of it is the fact that a lot of people who play RPGs now have grown up in the interval between the IE games and now, the fact that RPGs have become more mainstream (for both good and ill), and that full voice acting has become the mainstream norm.

 

It's a lot easier to change their minds than it is to change your product, and only idiots like those who are currently running the whole AAA gaming industry down actually give a **** about what people think. Winners do their own thing and people love them for it, losers try everything to please people and people are disgusted by them. That's the way of the world.


Edited by Ninjamestari, 20 January 2018 - 06:32 PM.

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