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allnamestaken

A world of voice actors?

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As in my other threads I've been bouncing ideas for an open world fantasy game ... one dilemma, being that at best I'd be doing this as an indie project is that I obviously can't afford to splurge on a large cast of voice actors each with thousands of lines.

The idea struck that perhaps an easier way is to have what ever voices I can muster to say a few lines of "pseudo-fantasy" dialect/gibberish that is reused often. Conversations would than be subtitled for the character in text.

Does this sound like a reasonable approach?

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Like simlish or at lightly more surreal language like those found in some sci-fi games?

If the game is text heavy I may just become grating instead of adding anything to the game. Also plain text trumps bad voice acting (even if the voice acting isn't in a language you know) any day of the week. You could have more emotive sounds play when you talk to someone e.g. a huh? sound when you talk to someone who wonders why you're talking to them.

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I agree with Bigdeadbug -- the approach you're describing is definitely one that can work, and has been used successfully before, but could also be very annoying if there is a lot of dialogue without much variation in the audio. Depending on how much dialogue your game contains you might be able to get away with a hybrid approach; all dialogue would be subtitled, some lines would have your artificial "mumbling" used, whilst important lines would be fully read. You could also try a simple set of emotive sounds or short phrases ("huh?", "ouch!", "oh no!") in your recorded dialogue whilst having more elaborate text in the sub-titles.

I don't know what sort of characters are being portrayed in your game, but another idea might be to take advantage of text-to-speech technology to cut down on the number of lines you need voice-acting for. Text-to-speech tends to be a bit clunky and monotone, so it's probably no use for human or similar characters, but for robots or certain sorts of aliens or monsters it may just do the trick!


If you need a lot of dialogue and the above tricks can't help solve your problem, I'd personally say you're probably better off sticking to written text with no verbal component -- or at least make it very easy and obvious that your "gibberish" dialogue can be disabled.


Hope that helps! smile.gif

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I imagined it almost to be like the responses from units in an RTS ... something like Age of Kings (which I know uses actual language), the responses would be akin to a one word hello, what?, etc. A player to NPC conversation would really only have the "Hello" and "Goodbye" parts spoken, the rest would be a text display (Think Morrowind for a close analogy).

Longer lines I'd almost want more to add atmosphere ... mumbling of the general hubbub of a marketplace or tavern.

The last usage of the speech I had in mind is a locational thing ... you may overhear guards mumbling with the subtitle "Hmm, long night, when does your shift change" "Just five minutes, than I can finally hit the hay" (Basically tidbits of information that would be useful to a player).

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To me that sounds like a fine solution, and it's certainly an approach other games have used in the past.


If you have any particular examples you can point me towards that would be good :)

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1) Wouldn't you first run out of funds for gfx? I always thought the gfx is what consume the bulk of budget and voice acting is a minor expense.
2) You are making "open world fantasy game" = "no storyline". What do you need the voice acting for then?

I think the problem you are concerend with does not apply to your situation.

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one dilemma, being that at best I'd be doing this as an indie project is that I obviously can't afford to splurge on a large cast of voice actors
This thread already contains a number of good ideas, so I'd like to add something different:
If you're hesitant about using non-professional actors for the voice-acting I'd like to encourage you to try it. I've been involved in the testing of a ... well, at least double-A game ... with a lot of voice acting (the whole story of 20+ missions was presented in voice). During the development a couple of guys at the office (programmers and testers by profession) did the voice-acting in one evening (by recording each line exactly once) to be able to test the correct order of the sound files in the game and the result was honestly and objectively more serious and believable than the voice-acting the game shipped with.
Let that be an example for you how motivation almost always trumps funding.

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