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coolcutter

Why is voice acting in games rarely good?

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coolcutter    122
It seems as though when games are made they leave it up to the mail room to dub voice overs. Why do you think it's that hard to get a good voice over in a game? Check out this clip of resident evil for the ds and see for yourself exactly what i'm talking about. LOL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiXpk_hn4q8

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Talroth    3247
Wait, so you post something to complain about the voice overs in a game that has a MAX limit of 128megabytes? And chances are there were plans to have it squeezed into the 64mb card?

By the sounds of it, each word had a few recordings for each character, and they are then strung together at runtime with the best options they could.

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MSW    151
lots and lots of reasons.

1) Due to conflicting voice actor schedules it is a very common practice to record each voice actor one at a time in the studio. This can cause problems as not everyone has already been recorded, so the voice actor has little to work with as far as character conversations. At the time of a recording the first actor is told the scene is fairly intense and thier performance may reflect this...however later when another voice actor is brought in, the scene may have changed, so the new voice actor must accomidate the tonal changes while playing off the previous voice actor performance.

2) Video game developers are not by nature great at writeing dialog...and can be even worse at directing voice actors. Which is why most noteable video game voice acting is done with professional writers handleing the dialong and professional dialog coaches directing the actors.

3) Typical Developers game stories are strong in plot, but weak in characterisation...game characters generaly don't have an story development arc, little in the way of motives, and very rarely have anything human relateable that the voice actors can invest thier performance in...In terms of story, video game characters by large are very 1D...this is prolly the biggest reason.

4) Voice acting is largely a thankless task...With weak characters, generaly low pay compared to traditional (animated movies, TV shows, and commercials) venues...The top names in the field usualy have to be convinced to even try out for a part...which means that developers may seek to fill roles with B or even C-list voice actors that may largely take the job to pay thier rent.



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Palidine    1315
1) Did you buy the game despite the awful voice acting?
2) If yes, then why would the developer pay more for better since it didn't influence your purchasing decision?

-me

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JBourrie    1204
While MSW and Palidine have hit most of the points, I'll also point out that on smaller budget titles they will often save money by having developers do the voices, people who aren't trained voice actors.

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Inmate2993    222
It'd probably serve better to use some other form of audio feedback during spoken text moments. I rather liked the Beeping you'd typical hear in a Dragon Quest game.

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stimarco    1071

Voice acting is hard enough. Even with professional animation, it's extremely rare to have more than one actor in the recording studio at any one time. Often, the vocal booths simply aren't big enough to hold more than one actor anyway. And audio engineers usually prefer having as little background noise as possible, so reducing the number of script-rustling actors in the room is a Good Thing as far as they're concerned.

That's for animation. Including TV animation like "The Simpsons" or "Futurama", and even Disney and Pixar's movies. It is NOT normal to have all the characters in a scene present at the same time. (Not that it never happens, but it is very, very unusual.)

This places a huge burden on the production team -- especially the director -- to provide someone for the voice artist to 'bounce off' and act with. That director is often the only person in the recording studio who has any idea what the final result should sound like; it's up to him to ensure he gets what he's after. Unfortunately, few developers consider this aspect and they often just throw a script at the voice artist and expect him to just reel off his lines. Just because someone knows how to string a symphony together with Garritan Orchestra sample DVDs, it does not automatically follow that he's good at conducting a voice recording session.

Now consider that a game is interactive. That means the actor is not only going to have to read lines and imagine who he's talking to and how they're reacting, but he'll often be repeating much the same words and phrases over and over to provide all the various combinations the game needs to glue together the final dialogue sequence. Barring the obvious exception of linear cut-scenes, this is a hell of a burden to throw on an actor who may not even have seen a Playstation, let alone played a game on one. Games are still a relatively new thing for actors to deal with and it's unlikely many will be familiar with the notion of branching storylines, let alone the more granular techniques that require recording individual words and phrases multiple times in different ways to provide more variety. ("Sorry, I can't open that!... No, I can't open that!... No, really! I can't open that!..." etc.)

That's where the director and his coaching come to the fore. If you can't explain what you want the actor to give you and provide the necessary context, you'll never get a decent result.

In short, if you're going to record voice artists for your game, you'd better have a f*cking awesome director if you want to get the best out of the voice talent. You could get Oscar-winning actresses in the studio and still get a flat, insipid result if your direction sucks.

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Kaze    948
probably voice acting just isn't deemed high priority for a game


though im going to give 95% odds that the japanes version has more motivated voice acting
(note that this isnt capcoms worst English voice acting by a long shot)

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jbadams    25712
In addition to the above there are often problems with localising the audio from a foreign version as well - the game may have originally been produced with Japanese audio for example, and rather than re-do all the lip-synch animations the voice actors doing the english translation will often have to try to match thier english lines to the lip motions of the original version.

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JBourrie    1204
Banjo Kazooie/Tooie had some of the best voice acting I've ever heard [grin]. Gibberish noises, cleverly chosen. The toilet speaks in farts!

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Timus    100
The voice acting is terrible because you're not playing StarCraft.

Even though you only had a birds eye view of Sarah, you knew she was hot...

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Thanatos M5    164
The Brothers in Arms series is a great example of how to do voice acting right. Not only do they have a sweet director/directing staff, the voice actors themselves are top-notch, if not household names.

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