Voice vs. Choice

Jared

The British Paladin
Jul 14, 2009
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I can certainly see the point, but,. as games develop further, and they recognise a need for better acting, it will come in time.

It might take some time, but, I think Voice Acting is here to stay, and, will make things better
 

Blueruler182

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May 21, 2010
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Yes. It is. I hate silent protagonists. I understand your reasoning, but I honestly think voice acting in games is absolutely essential to sell it as the next step in media that the industry seems to be trying desperately to do. If it comes down to reading multiple dozen option there are a lot of people, myself included, that'll read until something interesting comes up and click on that because they don't want to spend half an hour deciding on these things.

So I respectfully disagree.
 

vivadelkitty

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Dec 21, 2008
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In some games yes, but in others, you don't really need voice acting. I for one would never like to see Terranigma with voice acting. It's fine just as it is.
 
Apr 28, 2008
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Its not all gone.

I remember in Mass Effect, on Noveria when you were looking for Benezia, there were a lot of ways to get to her. It was fun replaying that part of the game many times.

But yeah, lots of this "freedom of choice" stuff is really only 2 or 3 options. Or in other words, railroading. I would love to see deep RPG's have like the first line of dialog voiced while the rest is text, while more linear games be fully voiced.

In Oblivion and Fallout 3 I just skipped most of the dialog, save for the smooth, buttery words of Patrick Stewart and Liam Neeson.

I know not many people would like that, but with the quality of voice acting for some RPG's, I wouldn't mind. Since some are so bad they end up breaking immersion more than text boxes.
 

Jandau

Smug Platypus
Dec 19, 2008
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As far as RPGs go (and the article was about them for the most part) I fully, completely and 100% agree. Voice acting can enrich an RPG, but is also VERY limiting to the developers in what they can do if they are trying to make the game fully voice acted.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely to change. The average consumer has gotten waaaaay too used to full voice acting by this point. Want an example? Just remember all the crap Dragon Age had to take because the protagonist wasn't voiced.

The only light at the end of the tunnel that I can see is the possibility of voice synthesizing software to get good enough to handle the voices on its own. Then you could once again just write out the lines (and add some data on the tone of voice and such). Granted, it would also likely put a lot of voice actors out of work... :p
 
Apr 28, 2008
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Jandau said:
Unfortunately, it is unlikely to change. The average consumer has gotten waaaaay too used to full voice acting by this point. Want an example? Just remember all the crap Dragon Age had to take because the protagonist wasn't voiced.
That pissed me off to be honest.

I actually liked it, since I could imagine my character sounding like Stephen Fry.

If the character was voice acted, it would just probably be a generic bland voice. I'm sure it would be well acted, but it would just sound boring.

And to voice the main character would require at least 6 voice actors. Female and Male voice actors for each race. Or they could just go what I call the "Bethesda route" and have 1 male and female voice actor voice all of the male and female player characters. Which wouldn't be much fun.
 

Ravek

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Aug 6, 2009
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I always click through conversations as well, unless it's a particularly significant moment or I love the character's voice.

The thinking is that voice acting adds to the immersion of a game. And while that's true during certain epic, plot-centric moments, in general the voice acting can really get in the way during the 95% of the game that isn't driving the main plot. It really shatters immersion when you walk down the street and hear the exact same voice coming from a beggar, the town guards, an aristocrat, a shopkeeper, and a shiftless dock worker.
I don't really understand this comment. Yes, it does shatter immersion. But without 'background' voice acting there isn't any immersion to begin with. A silent city doesn't feel like a city.
 

dragontiers

The Temporally Displaced
Feb 26, 2009
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I fully agree. I would gladly trade in all the sound effects in a game and play silently, if it was half as epic as Planescape: Torment. In my mind, that was the last great RPG. Oh, I still like Fable and DA:O, but you get more options in character creation in Planescape than you do in the whole of Fable. Okay, maybe I exaggerate, but you get my point.
 

pinkdiscord

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Jan 11, 2010
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I also don't like a voiced player character in an RPG. I like Dragon Age because you have so many choices in how you can respond, but in Mass Effect the choices are limited to three personality tracks, in most cases. I have read that Bioware had set personalities for Shepard, whereas the Warden in Dragon Age is meant to be a blank slate, so that might be why. Still, I imagine the cost and the space needed for voice acting played a part as well.

I agree with Shamus. I enjoy coming up with different solutions, more than I enjoy hearing the character's voice. Especially when I play a game more than once, because I then do just skip through once I have read the subtitles. The first time through I might listen to everything, but the second time, not a chance. I think some games suffer because of the voice acting.
 

Uncompetative

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Jul 2, 2008
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Very good analysis, but I fear that there may be a darker reason behind this diminishing freedom of choice in games:

They cost so much to develop that publishers drive developers to make games that aren't still being joyfully replayed when the premature sequel gets pushed out just in time to capitalise on the marketing buzz of its previous, rapidly consumed, "interactive experience".
 

Necrofudge

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May 17, 2009
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I never cared much either way, but I do admit that Morrowind (having text dialog) had a more entertaining storyline for me to go by than with Oblivion and that is probably the case with most games.
 

Snacksboy

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Aug 12, 2008
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Deus Ex did both full voice-acting and multiple choice. I also think a great deal of the problem lies in the fact that every game "must" be localized into several languages at this point, and it needs to be done for the same release date. Translation is expensive and time-consuming. And having to find several sets of voice actors isn't without problems either.
 

Andy_Panthro

Man of Science
May 3, 2009
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I definitely preferred the way things were handled for Baldur's Gate and Planescape Torment.

Sarevok and Irenicus' voice acting was top notch (and for the companions - Minsc especially!), but the majority of NPCs would have a maximum of a few lines of voice acting.

The small amount of VA sets the tone for the character, and my mind fills in for the rest of the text.
 

AndreyC

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Mar 18, 2010
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It really is a dual-edged blade. In a game where FREEDOM and CHOICES are the focus, voice-acting isn't really the best way to go, unless you have loads of money. Voice Acting in Fallout 3 pissed me off. A lot. There were too little voice actor for too many people. And when the voice actors did different roles, they didn't even try to sound different, they sounded exactly the same. They should've taken the time they spent dealing with the voice-acting and invested it in level design, especially dungeon design, as they're all generic as hell.

But in a game where storyline itself is the focus, it can benefit from the voice acting.

That's the part when people say: "Storyline is the focus in RPGs!", but I disagree on the matter. Some RPGs give more emphasys to player freedom and interaction than storyline construction itself. Once again, I'll use Fallout 3 as an example. Imagine your Fallout 3 playthrough, from beginning to end, with all the choices you made etc. Now imagine that was THE ONLY WAY to play the game. Imagine there was no choices and the character would always do what he did in your playthrough. Now compare the overall storyline of that one (and only) playthrough to that of some other games that are linear, but have a heavy focus on storytelling.

Say... Final Fantasy VII for example (It's not my favorite FF, but I'm using it as an example because it's one of the most "likeable" RPGs). I've never played a RPG that managed to give me total freedom AND had an impressive storyline, full of plot twists and charismatic characters. When they give you too much freedom, they make the story less deep and more generic, because it's totally conditional to your choices. If FFVII was not linear, if it gave you choices, you could've saved Aeris. You'd never have that emotional moment when she dies. And even if you couldn't save her, you wouldn't have that emotional moment, because you'd think "dang, she died, I screwed up at some point, time to reload and do it right this time". But you can NEVER save her, and the fact that you can't just change the story as you like it makes you really get into the story and not just feel like you're "playing with it".

I'm a fan of RPGs, but I honestly enjoy storytelling more than roleplaying.

Anyway, FFVII could benefit from Voice Acting, because it'd add intensity to the scenes. But it all depends on if the voice acting is really bad or really good. FFX english voice acting is so bad, I'd rather play a text only version of the game.
 

Worgen

Follower of the Glorious Sun Butt.
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Apr 1, 2009
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Whatever, just wash your hands.
I dont really care about voice acting that much, I mean if a game has it then it better be good but its much easier to read a bad plot then hear it voice acted to me
 
Feb 13, 2008
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You can have both. Bloodlines gives numerous ways around things; even the ending has 4 different routes, with different voices.

And no-one complains about the Stop sign. It always wins. :)
 

psychic psycho

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Dec 17, 2009
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The Witcher was fully voice-acted (including the main character) yet there were many choices to make. The voice-acting wasn't great though (it got the job done), and I don't think there were any famous people so the costs were probably no where near Mass Effect's. I suppose the Witcher is the exception rather than the rule.

Hopefully, Alpha Protocol will give players as much control as the developers are saying it will.

I do agree a lot with what the article is saying. I'd gladly give up some voice acting for more control in what happens in a game.
 

Helmutye

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Sep 5, 2009
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For games like Oblivion and Fallout 3, I think voice acting is a definite minus. Unless it can be done flawlessly, it is an impediment to immersion, and unless we want to see game prices climb even higher than they are now, flawless voice acting is a long way off. Even if they manage to create a game with a million different paths and voice all of them, you also need good voice actors to make the dialog sound good, and even high budget games don't seem to be able to pull off this last one consistently. Oblivion and Fallout 3 were only able to get one prominent actor in them. You can take the Wing Commander 3 and 4 approach and hire out of work actors who are probably willing to work for less, but it's still a big expense. And like Mr. Young said, if most players skip the voice acting anyway then that's a whole lotta money for no reason whatsoever.

People say that voice acting makes a game more immersive, but there are plenty of ways to do that without it. One of my favorite games of all time, Star Control 2, did a wonderful job of this. There are a lot of alien races in the game, and each one has a distinct personality and mindset. To bring this out they had a different "theme song" that played when you talked to each alien race (they held a competition between independent song writers to write each race's theme song, and they got them absolutely perfect!), and each race's dialog was written in a different font. It seems simple, but that was all you needed to make each race feel distinct, and to immerse you in the situation. The version that is available for download now has voice acting, but it is really annoying, and the game is a million times better if you just turn it off.

I've seen other games--usually very Japanese games--that, rather than have full voice acting, they have each character say a short phrase or make a distinctive sound each time they say something. Their dialog is all text, but it is preceded by a few words or sounds that give you an idea as to their character. You really don't need much to get the idea.

In a game the emphasis is on the actions of the player, not the NPCs you talk to, and voice acting feels like the NPCs are hogging the spotlight. Instead of being able to concentrate on the substance of what they're saying and how it applies to the personal narrative that I am forging with my character, I'm focusing on the poor acting and emoting. Voice acting makes it feel more like a movie. When are gamers going to get it into their heads that movies and games are different things? The reason game publishers like them to be similar is so that it's easier to do a movie adaptation of the game later on and wring more money out of you! Stop falling for it!

With a little creativity on the part of the designers, and a little open-mindedness on the part of the consumers, we could have games with much more freedom that cost much less.
 

Eleima

Keeper of the GWJ Holocron
Feb 21, 2010
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Shamus Young said:
Shamus Young is a toothless old codger who is always muttering about how things were so much better in the old days before videogames were ruined by your newfangled joysticks and your decadent color televisions.
Ha!!! Join the club, we even have t-shirts!

It's true that I, myself, will click through voiced dialog, but only if I've heard it before. Other than that, I will go through the trouble of listening to the entirety of the voice acting. This article does raise a good point, however. Have we indeed lost some of the versatility that he had in games such as Planescape: Torment? I believe so, and it's perfectly illustrated here. Back in the old days, we had the assassin's way, the warrior's way, the mage's way, the diplomat's way, the thief's way,... we had the lawful way, the neutral way, the choatic way, the good vs. evil,... and the list goes on. Now, we have Paragon vs. Renegade. I may be oversimplify a bit, but not by much. Does this mean that today's games are less interesting? Unsubtle? Too linear? Not necessarily. We have to remember that today's game aren't necessarily better or worse than yesterday's games, they *are* different. Things change, the gameplay changes, the voice acting makes its appearance and changes how you perceive a game.
Of course, that doesn't mean that us old coots can't wax nostalgic from time to time!...