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Text Vs Voice acting


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#1 Abort Fail Retry   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 17 May 2000 - 01:15 PM

In an RPG which do you that voice acting would be more effective than text for dialogue? I realise that using voice acting would be vastly more expensive and take up a lot more memory, but do you feel that it would make the game more involving & enjoyable for the player? I think that it would be interesting as long as the voice acting was of a better level than u normally find in games today. Also the voices would have to suit the characters or it could have a negative effect on the game. What r your thoughts on this?

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#2 Landfish   Members   -  Reputation: 288

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Posted 17 May 2000 - 01:42 PM

I think this one needs to be weighed carefully. First of all, voice-overs are more expensive, requiring a sound technician, voice director, performers, casting, etc. Text is dirt cheap, which is why it is the standard.

Also consider that voice acting is most effective when combined with motion capture technology, a simple job of which costs about as much as the sound itself, a quality job is WAY more.

I think that voice acting is really cool in some games, cheezy in others. Do it right (Panzer Dragoon Saga) and you''ve got a Badass game. Do it wrong, and people will be mocking it as long as Resdient Evil ("Here, Jill, take this lockpick... It may be useful to you, the master of unlocking...")

Either way, remeber to include subtitles anyway. Make them optional if you can.

Also, the kind of game you are making makes a difference, too. In a game with many branching paths and speech options, you may find you have a LOAD of script to record, big memory hog. If you are going for a cinema-type RPG where the character''s speech is not changeable by the player, this is very effective.

I''ve heard that the dreamcast game ShenMue has incredibly believable voice acting. Take a look when they release it, if you can.

#3 SonicSilcion   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 17 May 2000 - 04:43 PM

Landfish is right; it costs BIG BUCKS to get even a decent voice-acting job done.

I''ll have to disagree with his assesment of the memory expenses, though. He gives examples of of action and action/adventure games. These typically have MUCH less dialog in them. I''d estimate maybe a fifth.

So, even if your story was pretty much locked-down and linear, you''d probably need more than one CD-Rom to store it on. Compression might help.

As for impact, it can usually be conveyed fairly well with typography. That is, you carefully place almost every letter on screen for maximum effect. Simple dialog boxes deliver the words, but, personally, I think they''re a bit lacking, especially for the oughts.

One other idea; incorporate a text-to-speech syntesizer into the program. Today''s are pretty powerful {I was a bit dazzled by what some of the G3 Macs can do.} You can make them sing, hesitate, gasp. You might be better off making a phenome recorder {a program that records the different syllables you pronounce} and doing the voice-acting yourself.

Okay, maybe that''s a bit much.

{By the way, it''s Abort Retry Fail, unless you''re being funny }

#4 Paladin   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 18 May 2000 - 04:20 AM

In my opinion text is much better for RPG. For developer it''s easier to just write everything, and stuff doesn''t take any space. For user it''s much better because he can *THINK* how he''s character speaks. For action/other game types I would prefer voice acting. Adventure games should have voice acting, but only if it''s good quality
For an example, "DIG" was great game with great voice acting. In other hand, Crusader No Remorse (while it had only video clips anyway) featured some of the worst voice... hmm... no, ACTORS- ever seen on games!

#5 Domini   Members   -  Reputation: 126

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Posted 18 May 2000 - 06:00 AM

If you are not careful, using voice instead of text will really mess up the game. Sometimes, in your mind, you imagine what you think a character should sound like, and then, the character talks and the voice just doesn''t fit. On a lot of games with voice instead of text, the voices sound as if little effort was put in. You have to be really careful when using voices. Text is always good, but bad voices can kill a game.

Domini

#6 nicba   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 18 May 2000 - 12:30 PM

quote:
Original post by Domini

...Text is always good, but bad voices can kill a game.

Domini


I disagree with that last sentence. Text is *not* always good. In my opinion you have to be just as carefull with text as with voice.

First you must hit the right amount of text to use. Second, you have to use the correct writting style and wording. Since you don''t have the audio of a voice to set help the users imagination, you must have a really good writer (who can use archaic language or something else).
Third, you must present the text properly using fonts and colors that match the game setting, but are still easy to read. And you must decide on using combo-boxes, seperate dialog areas, subtitles or a combination of these.

Ideally I think a game (at least an RPG) should use voice in cut-scenes/between chapters to set the mood and use well written, well presented text in the rest of the game (for dialogs and other ''branching'' stuff).

Regards

nicba


#7 Etnu   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 880

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Posted 18 May 2000 - 12:43 PM

I just hope that the people who post on these message boards wont be the ones doing the text. ( I like to be able to read it you know!).

Etnu

What is a man without goals? A dead man.

#8 felonius   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 20 May 2000 - 08:51 AM

This discussion seems to focus on the fact that speech in a game must actually be was is said in English. I my current project I am using the scheme from the Sims where conversations uses some nonsense language.

If you record som different voices in some nonsense language but which clearly conveys some meaning (just like "R2D2 speech" in Star Wars) then it can be used as a supplement for text. The advantage of this scheme is:
1. No expensive actors are needed.
2. The exact wording of the text (including international versions) can be changed without changing the voice overs.
3. You can make parameterized text, so it can be more intelligent than that possible with voice overs.

By using a nonsense language you can also make characters more distinct and even give the game a more outlandish feel (like a Sinbad game where everybody speaks something like Arabic). The user cannot understand the language and have to read the text but feeling can be conveyed anyway.

By the way, text-to-speech synthesizers are a bad idea. I have a minor in linguistics and I must say that text-to-speech synthesis is possible to do good but it is very hard to do so, especially if you need several voices.

#9 Domini   Members   -  Reputation: 126

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Posted 20 May 2000 - 04:28 PM

I forgot about using a nonsence language. I believe Panzer Dragoon 2 for the Saturn did this. It was a nice effect. I''m not sure if it can be used in all situations though, and anyone that uses it has to make sure that the language is more than just "blah blah blaah, blah blah blah." Time will still have to be put into making the nonsence language fit.

Domini

#10 Seigfried   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 20 May 2000 - 04:34 PM

Well, actually, if you ask me, voice acting isn''t really a good idea... It takes up a LOT of extra space, if it''s done badly, it can really hurt your game, and if it''s done well, it doesn''t add all that much to a game, either.

The problem with voice acting is that if it''s done badly, it''s REALLY bad- if you don''t believe me, try watching an episode or two of Dragon Ball Z on the Cartoon network ("Hey, Goku! Can I have some ex-lax?" -Krillin"). And, unfortunatley, unless you''re working on a tremendous budget, it''s simply hard to find a good voice actor in the US... I could name all the games I''ve played which I feel have decent voiceovers on one hand

Also, I think that if you''re working with something that has a LOT of text, completley replacing it with voiceovers could actually be kinda dull after a while... You have to remember that voice scripts are often completley different than text scripts (mostly in that they have less dialog) and write accordingly. Taking an existing RPG script and voicing it doesn''t neccecarially make a good game; can you imagine playing Xenogears with full voice acting? Ouch.

On the other hand, a few well-placed voice clips can help add to the mood of a game... I did appreciate the small but relativley well-acted clips in Baldur''s Gate, and the voice-acted cutscenes in Metal Gear Solid were nice. MGS also managed to only hire one voice actor who really annoyed me... Other than Nastasha Romanako (whose name I probably just butchered), they were all pretty good.

In the end, while voice acting is nice, I think that text is a more reliable medium. Remeber: with text, you just have to write a good script... With voice actors, you''ve gotta write a good script, have good people read it, and then find space to store the data.

--{-Seig----

#11 Glandalf   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 20 May 2000 - 08:01 PM

If you really want to use voice acting, a good way of doing so would be to impliment just a few characters with voices. I''m not talking about shop keeps telling you the names of all their products (played a game that did that ended up turning off the voices), but putting in voices at vital times in the story. This will not only be easier to do than an all voice dialogue, but will cue the player on when he/her needs to pay attention to the game. Other than that way of doing it, unless you have a big buget, or alot of friends that are good voice actors, I wouldn''t attempt it.

Glandalf

#12 SonicSilcion   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 22 May 2000 - 06:21 AM

felonius definately has a good point All that voice acting truly adds is the infelctions which act as emotional cues. If you just put the tones in it should help tremendously.
I wouldn''t bother with recording each one out as complete audio files, though:
1) Make a list of the emotional reactions you''ll use most often.
2) Assign an utterance to each emotion.
3) Get a few people to do different characters {some can double or triple for multiple characters} and record a range of each utterance.
4) Process each line as a bunch of tones of respective utterances stringed together. {You can mix different utterances together to indicate changes in tone.}

Now you can include these "utterance strings" with the dialog and just playback the different samples in order. My guess is this should add a few meg to the game at most.

FOR A GOOD EXAMPLE: Study "The Sims" as they implement utterances in a similar fashion. Just, DON''T PLAY IT!!!! If you do you will be sucked into micro-managing personifications of yourself and forget to eat, sleep, groom, wash, and get out of your house.

---Sonic Silicon---




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