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Author Topic: Voice acting or not voice acting?  (Read 6377 times)

Voice acting or not voice acting?
« on: 01 Jul 2004, 21:07 »
For the last couple of months I've made up all kind of excuses why I wouldn't bother with voice acting in my game - first of all, the amount of dialog. Second, the difficulty in finding the right actors for the parts and to get good line readings. Third, the matter of file size. I've been making up excuses, as if it was preferable to have voice audio if at all possible. But replaying the GK1 cd-rom version as well as playing newer games like Syberia II and Black Mirror made me think otherwise:

I don't actually enjoy voice acting in games. In fact, most of the time it detracts from the gaming experience, because it's so much more annoying to hear the characters repeat themselves in audio than in text.

I grew up with pre-cd-rom games like Police Quest, King's Quest IV. I even played Sam & Max, DOTT and GK1 in the floppy disc versions with no voices. And I actually prefer those versions! I was really looking forward to play GK1 again with voices, but it was such a disappointment. First of all, I turned off the narrator voice right away - she annoys the hell out of me, and even the simplest descriptions take forever to convey. Then, after hearing Gabe ask "What do you know about voodoo?" in the same voice about a hundred times, I went back to playing the floppy version (which doesn't have as many bugs either).

It's really difficult to find a game WITHOUT voice-acting these days - if you search hard, you might find an RPG, where the dialog uses text, but that's about it. But is voice acting really all that necessary? I mean, maybe it's just me. I'm the kind of person who actually prefers reading screenplays to hearing the dialog spoken in the films - mostly because I really notice what's being said and what the words signify when I read it.

I think that possibly voices are good for dramatic cutscenes, where you can do some things with timing and delivery, which is difficult to convey in writing - but in basic "information" dialog, it isn't really all that necessary.

What are your thoughts? Is voice acting overrated, does it even detract from the game (somebody, give me a text-only version of TLJ please)? Or has it actually made games better an more immersive?

Re: Voice acting or not voice acting?
« Reply #1 on: 01 Jul 2004, 21:12 »
It depends.  Sometimes it's overrated, and I feel there are certain types of games where voice acting is NOT a good idea no matter what.  I think if even a single voice in the cast isn't good, it can ruin the entire game.  On the other hand, if done well and depending on the type of game, it can greatly enhance the playing experience.  It's really something you'll have to evaluate for yourself, I think.

I played TLJ without the voice acting, and it was great.
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Re: Voice acting or not voice acting?
« Reply #2 on: 01 Jul 2004, 21:20 »
I think your absolutely right. Don't use voice acting unless it adds to the game experience. Problems such as bad voice acting and such would not be present if there is no voice anyway. I used to like the voice acting in the old games I played because it was such a novelty. Now it is not. Voice acting is just as likely to cheapen the game as it is to make it better. Of course, if there is a reason to have voice acting, and it is good quality, that would be great. Stuff like the voice acting in Space Quest 4. The narrator was very funny and the voice added to that. Of course, if the voice acting is just for the sake of it is no good. I played Monkey Island 3 recently, and hearing Guybrush say "umm..nah" 50 times was really annoying
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Re: Voice acting or not voice acting?
« Reply #3 on: 02 Jul 2004, 03:23 »
Yup, I'm with you. Voice acting in more cases than not annoys the crap out of me. In things like Grim Fandango, it was fine, it was fantastic, it completely helped to make the game great and I (rarely) got annoyed with it.

In games that didn't originally have voice acting, it hardly ever works to remake it with. Monkey Island? Noooooooo. The experience is completely ruined with voices (and cartoony characters, as far as I'm concerned). I like games that leave details up to the imagination. If a game is dialogue heavy, I treat it more like an interactive book than a ... film. I have an imagination, I can use it if I like. I love games with just written text.

Mario games shouldn't have voices either. My god, that gets annoying. Mario was NEVER than annoying when I was growing up. Now, all the magic has been taken from him and he's just a little bitch.

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Re: Voice acting or not voice acting?
« Reply #4 on: 02 Jul 2004, 05:23 »
I think the complete opposite of you..

Yes.. Voice acting can be irritating if it's not done right ...  But when it's done right, it really helps along the story.. I'm sorry, but TLJ w/out dialog would be quite a different experience. To me, the voices give the game a more cinematic feel, and sometimes (usually) draw you into it more.. It's easier to identify with a voice then a bunch of text on a screen.. Unless your some sort of computer zombie.

Personally, I think voiceacting is great.. Maybe I'm biased, because I am somewhat of a voice actor.. But still, it IS different.. Adds dimension, character, and is just a plain novelty to have..

But I do agree.. Mario should've never been given a voice.. "Itsa mee! Marrioo!"
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Re: Voice acting or not voice acting?
« Reply #5 on: 02 Jul 2004, 05:37 »
I think voice acting makes a good game more like a good interactive movie. I'm currently playing Runaway, and even though the voice acting isn't that great, I still enjoy it. If it's available, I use it AND captions, because I tend to have a low attention span, and both keep me interested.
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Re: Voice acting or not voice acting?
« Reply #6 on: 02 Jul 2004, 16:10 »
I've noticed the opinions here often differ according with age.  Older players bought the disk versions of the games.  Younger players started playing adventure games during the dawn of the CD-ROM era, when games were being released with voices.  I imagine for younger players, it's harder for them to conceptualize games without voices, and since they grew up with it, it seems like more of a natural thing to put voices in games, whereas older players tend to be somewhat indifferent.
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Re: Voice acting or not voice acting?
« Reply #7 on: 02 Jul 2004, 16:35 »
Migs, it's funny, I actually hadn't thought about the age thing, but of course you're right. To people who didn't grow up with them, playing text-only games must be like watching a silent movie.

Perhaps the main issue is distinguishing somehow from what you're used to seeing - I mean, if a game looks and plays like Syberia but only has text, it is somehow disappointing. On the other hand, people love things like Broken Saints, because it looks like a comic book, and you're not used to comics with voice audio.

But if games become too cinematic, they tend to need voices to keep up with the style. Aside from FMV-games, there's one single adventure game, I can think of which I really don't believe would work without voices: Full Throttle. I see no way how that game could be as exciting and fun if it wasn't for the awesome voice acting. Ben, Ripburger, old man Corley, and my favorite female voice ever, Maureen.
« Last Edit: 02 Jul 2004, 17:31 by GarageGothic »

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Re: Voice acting or not voice acting?
« Reply #8 on: 02 Jul 2004, 16:42 »
No, he's not right. I'm 22 and was raised on the old adventure games without voices. I can appreciate a good non-voiced game. I LOVED Space Quest 3. I'm just sayng that if done right, voice acting can be good.
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Re: Voice acting or not voice acting?
« Reply #9 on: 02 Jul 2004, 17:12 »
I much prefer games with voice acting, I've finished every game I've played that was a talkie, it can really help hold your attention having something to listen to and makes the characters feel less like small 2d sprites, the acting can infer as much personality as the animation and words.  But poor voice acting ruins a game, I wouldn't recommend amateur adventures going for it, unless they can find really great people.
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Re: Voice acting or not voice acting?
« Reply #10 on: 02 Jul 2004, 17:42 »
It's better to have voices I'd say, but only if you find the right voice actors. I can't imagine a gmae like GK3 without voices - it was just so well done. It could add much much atmosphere to a game, but it could take it away also. Just look at the black mirror, for example.

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Re: Voice acting or not voice acting?
« Reply #11 on: 02 Jul 2004, 18:43 »
I like voice acting if done properly, if it annoys you when the speech is slower that the test turn it off ;P
Games like Shenmue 2 ( go Japanese Seiyuu!), and the later Monkey Islands really worked because they had some really good acting .

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Re: Voice acting or not voice acting?
« Reply #12 on: 02 Jul 2004, 20:37 »
No, he's not right. I'm 22 and was raised on the old adventure games without voices. I can appreciate a good non-voiced game. I LOVED Space Quest 3. I'm just sayng that if done right, voice acting can be good.

I wasn't making any absolute statement, and I agree that voice acting can enhance a game if done right.  I've just noticed that the common trend is that people who think voice acting is tremendously important in a game tend to be younger than those who don't.

If you can find talented enough voice actors and you feel your game will be enhanced by voices, and you think it's worth the extra effort, by all means do it.
« Last Edit: 02 Jul 2004, 20:40 by Migs »
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Re: Voice acting or not voice acting?
« Reply #13 on: 02 Jul 2004, 20:57 »
Wasn't SQ4's voice acting great?

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Re: Voice acting or not voice acting?
« Reply #14 on: 02 Jul 2004, 21:16 »
I think Calsoon 2 was a nice example of voice acting in AGS.

Wasn't SQ4's voice acting great?
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Re: Voice acting or not voice acting?
« Reply #15 on: 03 Jul 2004, 08:33 »
Well, I'm 18 but was raised with non-talkie games - my first 20 adventure games came in a collection which only sold the floppy versions, and any way, most of those games never became talkie.

But I prefer voice acting. Not that I find it necessary, I actually get a kick out of reading the lines aloud, but if done right, it can do wonders. Trust me, I've played LOOM with voices and LOOM without voices, and I've also played both versions of SAM AND MAX, and I'm here to tell you LucasArts made some of the best voice-overs, it's AMAZING how much those games got better with that superb voice acting. REemember Full Throttle? WOiuld you like to play it without Ben's voice, or Maureen's, or even Ripburger's?

Although, Indy and the Fate of Atlantis doesn't have very good voice-over. BUT I still find it very pleasant to play with the voices turned on - it shapes the characters. As in, I don't have to shape them or thgeir intentions myself, they are shaping themselves through their voice - IF VOICE ACTING IS GOOD of course. But even if it ain't... aw heck, it always adds another dimension to the game.
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Re: Voice acting or not voice acting?
« Reply #16 on: 03 Jul 2004, 22:43 »
The trouble is, most game creators think they need voice acting, but don't think they need GOOD voice acting.

It's great in games like CMI where as much talent and work goes into the acting as it does with any TV cartoon...bubut not so great in most games where the actors get in, say the lines, take their money then go off to try and find some other project.
Also, if you play a game without voice-acting then play it with voices, it's obvious you're going to be dissapointed because you've formed your own ideas about how they sound.

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Re: Voice acting or not voice acting?
« Reply #17 on: 04 Jul 2004, 08:50 »
Quote
Also, if you play a game without voice-acting then play it with voices, it's obvious you're going to be dissapointed because you've formed your own ideas about how they sound.

Not necessarily. FoA DID disapoint me, but I played the non-talkie versions of Loom and Sam and Max first. The voices actually added to the fun I had, even though I was replaying games I'd already completed.

On a side note - do people know that Loom was orinigally shipped with a 30 minute audio tape intro? I downloaded it at the underdogs... man, that intro has got to be the best audio drama I've heard till this day. And I'm not even talking strictly gamewise anymore.
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Re: Voice acting or not voice acting?
« Reply #18 on: 04 Jul 2004, 08:56 »
Not really bothered either way, as a kid i absolutely loved making up voices for the people :D

ofcourse, if you go for voice acting, it's gotta be good, the worse thing is when some are good and others awful, you don't know whether to love or hate 'em :)

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Re: Voice acting or not voice acting?
« Reply #19 on: 07 Jul 2004, 06:43 »
Voice acting, of course (as people have said) can be good or bad. Yes, Sam & Max, and Full Throttle, and Grim Fandango were examples of great voice acting, but take something like the original Resident Evil, for example (not the remake), and you have a perfect example of how voice acting can be downright painful to listen to.

That having been said, I still like voice acting a lot (despite the fact that I was playing games before talkiness came along). Even the "cheap" examples of it (including some of the AGS games that have included bits of voice acting). Heck, despite the pain, I even enjoyed Resident Evil's talking cutscenes to some extent.

For me, it's all about that extra element of personality.

So here's my suggestion, GarageGothic, based on my experience playing Planescape: Torment -- if you're worried aboutthe amount of dialog, consider using voice acting for important characters' first lines in the game and for some of the key or more dramatic lines the characters will say. I thought that Planescape: Torment did this with a good deal of success: you got a better idea of the main characters' personalities this way, and it made it easier to voice them in your head for the non-voiced lines.

HOWEVER, I'd also say that it may not be worth your while if the characters you've built up aren't real big on personality (see the Mario example, for instance). But maybe that's just me.