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The Problems With Video Game Voice Acting

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the who-called-in-de-fleet dept.

Games 251

The Guardian's Games blog explores the tendency of modern video games to suffer from poor voice acting, a flaw made all the more glaring by increasingly precise and impressive graphics. Quoting: "Due to the interactive nature of games, actors can't be given a standard film script from which they're able to gauge the throughline of their character and a feel for the dramatic development of the narrative. Instead, lines of dialogue need to be isolated into chunks so they can be accessed and triggered within the game in line with the actions of each individual player. Consequently, the performer will usually be presented with a spreadsheet jammed with hundreds of single lines of dialogue, with little sense of context or interaction. ... But according to David Sobolov, one of the most experienced videogame voice actors in the world (just check out his website), the significant time pressures mean that close, in-depth direction is not always possible. 'Often, there's a need to record a great number of lines, so to keep the session moving, once we've established the tone of the character we're performing, the director will silently direct us using the spreadsheet on the screen by simply moving the cursor down the page to indicate if he/she liked what we did. Or they'll make up a code, like typing an 'x' to ask us to give them another take.' It sounds, in effect, like a sort of acting battery farm, a grinding, dehumanizing production line of disembodied phrases, delivered for hours on end. Hardly conducive to Oscar-winning performances."

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Like the games themselves (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506430)

Who would have thought it?

Rush jobs typically exhibit signs of low quality and lack of attention to detail.

Re:Like the games themselves (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31506488)

and you're missing the other cliché, high offering means that the one that actually get the work are treated as stupid monkeys (which coincidentally are, there are 6billions of other people that may do that same job, it's not like it requires high degree of competence)

Re:Like the games themselves (5, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506548)

It takes some talent, but if you have played Bad Company 2 you know how great the sound environment is. Voice acting doesn't sound as bad when rest of the sounds are done correctly [youtube.com] and when having a dynamic sound world. It's amazing how good it sounds in BC2 - you hear close things like team mates talking, huge explosions and everything happening around and in distance, and voice and gun sounds sound different inside and outside buildings.

If you're only listening to talking, even mediocre voice acting will sound bad. Surrounded with all the other sounds in the world and it doesn't sound so bad anymore. However, it doesn't mean it all has to be explosions and high volume - while sneaking in a jungle you could hear the grass you're walking on, leafs, bugs, and your team mate whispering to you while at the same time hearing distant sounds. It takes the whole thing to make one part of it to feel good.

Re:Like the games themselves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31506910)

Bad Company 2 needs some improved voice acting for multiplayer. Specifically player requests for ammo and health packs to be dropped. Right now it's a fairly simple request in English and Russian (depending on what side you play) that gets ignored most of the time.

I'm thinking the diction and volume of the requests needs to be altered somewhat. Something more along the lines of "HEY FUCKHEAD!!! YOU!!! YES YOU!!! I'd really like some ammo RIGHT FUCKING NOW!!!"

Re:Like the games themselves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31507460)

Changing the sound option to "War Tapes" seems to make the experience even better, too!

Re:Like the games themselves (1, Insightful)

The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506944)

On behalf of "stupid monkey" actors everywhere, allow me to invite you to bite my... you know what? Forget it. You typed exactly one sentence and made about 48 errors. Anything I say is just going to be as pointless and unhelpful as your post.

Re:Like the games themselves (3, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506622)

Brutal Legend was one game that I was thinking recently had some great voice acting, and it seems this guy was one of the voice actors in it :)

Voice acting is a very important component for making an immersive game, but you also have to have a good script. Was playing through Bad Company 2 in the last week and the script was awful compared to the first. Same great voice actors, but there was a sudden injection of swearing into every cut scene, and slightly less humour. I don't even have a problem with swearing in general (see Brutal Legend for details :) ), but after the first game having little to no swearing IIRC, it was out of place for those characters to be swearing like troopers all of a sudden. Despite being troopers.

There are a few games where you can tell that the actors had to record masses of dialog completely out of context - Oblivion for example has a lot of interactive voice dialog and the inflection in some of it can be rather iffy.

Re:Like the games themselves (4, Insightful)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507056)

I don't understand people who say "This voice acting is terrible". Sure if I play something like Mario Sunshine, which has atrocious voicing, then I'll notice but for the most part I don't. It's just vocalized reading of the words on the screen.

Of course I also don't understand people who say "Babylon 5 has lousy acting" or "Japanese anime sounds better in Japanese". To me B5 acting is no worse or better than Star Trek stiltedness. And my copy of Love Hina (old but a classic) is just as funny whether I watch in Japanese or English.

Maybe I'm just not as picky or sensitive to voice nuances.

Re:Like the games themselves (1)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507138)

Sure it doesn't matter for a Mario game but when the game is supposed to be an immersive storytelling game then it stands out.

In Max Payne the voice acting was mostly good (if a bit cheesy). There was one voice clip that grated every time I heard it. When the baddies spot you they sometimes say "what the hell?". Except that it's said in a tone of voice which makes it sound more like a relaxed "yeah, what the hell, I'm game" than a tense, surprised "what the hell is that?"

Re:Like the games themselves (2, Insightful)

Psmylie (169236) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507278)

I almost always watch my Japanese animation in Japanese. There are a couple reasons for this, starting with the fact that sometimes awkward phrasing is needed in English to match the mouth flaps of the character. Also, I don't speak Japanese, so if the voice actor is horrible, I won't know it :P

It's more important to me that the voice fits the character, that it sounds right. And, often, the Japanese seem to do a better job of that then the Americans. Just my opinion and preference.

Re:Like the games themselves (1)

dougisfunny (1200171) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507714)

That's completely besides the point.

If you have to deliver a line and you're given:

'You betcha.'

In a spread sheet, its hard not to do a 'crappy' job. In a cartoon, there is a script that flows progressively. The article is saying that the games don't. So the line could be responding to "So do you want to go to a bar after work?" or "This bowl of rancid meat sure looks appetizing huh?" and there is no context, and either could be menu choices the NPCs need to respond to. If they do it wrong, they get told 'x' to indicate they should do it again.

Honestly? Bringing up the argument of subs versus dubs? I suppose it is almost fitting though, given how the article is about things out of context.

Re:Like the games themselves (1)

trurl7 (663880) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507310)

You've not said anything that one could disagree with. "To you" there is no difference. Ok. To me there is.

I won't comment on the B5 point, but as far as anime goes....do you know Japanese? Do you know anything about the culture, and how the voice acting style, word choice and pronunciation affect the viewer's perception of the character? Love Hina is funny in both versions, it's just that the English one is missing much of the context. Oh, and the implications of the English voice actors screws up the character dynamic. But, hey, if it works for you...

Re:Like the games themselves (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507496)

Same here. The trouble most of the time isn't the voice acting, but the technical side of stuff. Having the same lines repeated over and over again gets annoying and breaks the immersion, no matter how good the acting on that specific line is. Having a mute hero and talking NPCs also leads to very unnatural dialogs. Overuse of the same voice actor with the same voice in different games or using the same voice for different characters in the same game is also a thing that should be avoided.

Another very annoying thing is inconsistent dubbing. For example the voice acting itself in both The Longest Journey and TLJ:Dreamfall was very good, even the translation when taken on its own was good. Where they failed is in making the translation match. Key concepts of the game world are described by difference words in both games (Balance vs Gleichgewicht) and its extremely annoying, as you notice that error a lot and it wreaks the immersion each time.

But again, all this is technical stuff that could be avoided with better planing, not something that is the fault of the acting itself.

Re:Like the games themselves (1)

paziek (1329929) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507112)

In Polish version of Bad Company EA hired good actors, that did excellent job. Its one of those rare things that EA actually have well done.
I guess it all depends on how important voice acting is for the game, and how much budged you spend on it. I guess there wasn't all that much voice acting in BFBC2 comparing it to some RPG game, but its obvious that this had some effect - I installed EN version and got English voices, but my friend keeps nagging me to switch to PL and check out its awesomeness! I only saw samples during production, but can agree on this.

Re:Like the games themselves (1)

durrr (1316311) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507520)

You mean it's not a lektor dub? So that would mean there's more than one person in poland doing voiceovers?
From my experience with polish television i had the image of a communist remnant, a Minister Of Voice that was personally responsible for all localization of voice content.

Re:Like the games themselves (1)

jockeys (753885) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507552)

totally agree. I was going to post something up and saw your post.

Brutal Legend has some of the best voice acting I've ever heard in a game (not surprising from the same dude who brought us Full Throttle back in the day) and a famous cast. (Jack Black, Ozzie Osbourne, Lemmy Klimster(sp), Lita Ford, Rob Halford, Tim Curry). They all did a good job and recorded enough dialog that even during the grind, there wasn't a lot of repetition, it really kept the game fresh on subsequent replays and during multiplayer.

Re:Like the games themselves (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31506752)

just like software translations. Sames process, same bad quality!

Re:Like the games themselves (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506822)

Rush jobs typically exhibit signs of low quality and lack of attention to detail.

And also attention and preserverence..

For a PBX project I had a friend speak about 40-50 phrases.
The pace went really good to start with, but slowed down to the end and quality went down signigicantly where I had to really motivate her to keep on going. Even though the first 10 sentences she wanted to "perfect" them with nuances and redo them, I urged her to just get as much done and have it reviewed after, which proved the best tactic as she progressively got more worn out and moved to an attitude of "I want to get this over with, this is very tiring", as she got progressively more drained.

Re:Like the games themselves (3, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506950)

Yup. There's nothing stopping developers from doing it well - look at the GTA3+ series games. Even after completing San Andreas multiple times, I still laughed milk out my nose when CJ unexpectedly blurted out "I hate gravity!" on what must have been the thousandth time I cycled him off a cliff. Sheer class.

The direction sounds like it needs work (3, Funny)

myocardialinfarction (1606123) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506472)

As the legendary tape of Orson Welles walking out of the 'All Your Base' recording proves.

Left click (2, Insightful)

Threni (635302) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506482)

solves that problem. Left click...left click...left click.....ooh, I can play the game now - cool!

Note to developers: I play games to avoid having to watch tv (along with all the hackneyed plots, poor acting, terrible dialogue etc), not so I can experience more of it.

Re:Left click (3, Insightful)

bheekling (976077) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506536)

I think they're talking about in-game interaction with NPCs, not cut-scenes. In Modern Warfare for instance, you *need* to listen to your friendlies or you won't get anywhere.

How is this different from a cartoon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31506486)

How is this different from a cartoon? In my experience, even the worst cartoon voice acting is still a shade better than the average video game voice acting.

Re:How is this different from a cartoon? (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506558)

Likely because cartoons have a defined narrative flow(even the ones where coherence between episodes is considered minimally important).

Unless the game is totally on rails, a fair bit of the voice acting will basically consist of delivering lines used to fill out obscure corners of some dialog tree, or to be shouted pseudo-randomly by NPCs of various flavors. Cartoon voice acting may well, particularly in lower budget stuff, be done on the cheap; but it is much more likely that the voice actor(s) will have access to something resembling a script, which will allow them to inject some degree of plausibility into what they are doing.

Re:How is this different from a cartoon? (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506606)

What REALLY annoys me is if they get more voice actors than lines. When you hear the same exact sentence repeated by three different people.

"You seem to be wounded. You should see a healer" delivered by a female orc husky voice, a stern guard, and a singing elf female, this is really horrible. Why can't they come up with some variations that would mean the same, or even ask the voice actors to improvise a little? How hard would it be to write variations of these lines, one per voice? I thought writing random dialogues for the characters is the cheapest part, and since each voice actor needs to read his/her sheet separately, why can't they be provided with different sheets?

Re:How is this different from a cartoon? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506656)

Or even worse, when one NPC has different voice actors or personalities depending on which dialog flow you choose.. the beggars in Oblivion sounded all crotchety and old for their own dialog, but ask them for some gossip and suddenly they're speaking with a perfectly enunciated middle class accent.

Re:How is this different from a cartoon? (3, Insightful)

ZosX (517789) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506986)

I think morrowind went the correct route and just used text versus stilted dialog. I think bethesda though that with the greater budget for oblivion they could do the same thing with speech and it sounds awful and disjointed. Freelancer had the same problem with terrible pauses between the segments of speech.

Re:How is this different from a cartoon? (2, Insightful)

MSojka (83577) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507348)

Daggerfall also had great voice acting. Too bad Bethesda dropped the ball while creating Oblivion ...

Re:How is this different from a cartoon? (2, Interesting)

Logical Zebra (1423045) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507306)

... Unless the game is totally on rails, a fair bit of the voice acting will basically consist of delivering lines used to fill out obscure corners of some dialog tree, or to be shouted pseudo-randomly by NPCs of various flavors. Cartoon voice acting may well, particularly in lower budget stuff, be done on the cheap; but it is much more likely that the voice actor(s) will have access to something resembling a script, which will allow them to inject some degree of plausibility into what they are doing.

That's why Final Fantasy X had decent voice acting. It was, perhaps, the most linear of all the modern Final Fantasy games.

Wing Commander II (3, Interesting)

tangent3 (449222) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506506)

Wing Commander II was the first game I recall that had some sort of voice acting. Now that I think about it, the voice acting was crap... but back in those days where most PC users were probably still using PC Speaker and do not have Sound Blasters, having voice acting in the first place was consider OMGWTFBBQ awesome.

How times have changed.

How about just not having voice acting? (1)

MGRockwell (1731924) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506508)

What is the problem with reading the text on the screen? I remember characters "sounding" a lot better in my head before voice acting started. This is especially relevant for RPG's. I guess I don't mind in an action game if the characters are voice acted so that it doesn't tear you away from the action but for RPG's and slower games I'd much prefer to just read the script.

Re:How about just not having voice acting? (1, Insightful)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506542)

Except that surely it would be jarring in a different way to have all of this background noise but then not have the characters speak?

I do agree that the voice acting can be terrible in RPGs, though. Oblivion and Fallout 3 sounded very "samey" with a lot of characters, even if you've walked miles to get to them. They also didn't always match the character that well.

Re:How about just not having voice acting? (3, Insightful)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506576)

Except that surely it would be jarring in a different way to have all of this background noise but then not have the characters speak?

Not at all, you get used to it pretty quickly. What you can do is replace the voice with some gibberish noises. For example, Zelda games tend to use vocal "calls" (think "hey!", a laugh, or some other attention-calling noise) but then the actual dialogue is text. Quite a few RPGs just make some sort of semi-random gibberish noise as the dialogue text is being scrolled onto the screen. It all works pretty well. You don't have to hear actual voices to convince yourself that the characters are speaking.

Re:How about just not having voice acting? (3, Funny)

crocodill (668896) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506616)

What is the problem with reading the sub-titles on the screen? I remember silent film characters "sounding" a lot better in my head before voice acting started. This is especially relevant for the teletubbies. I guess I don't mind in an action movie if the characters are voice acted so that it doesn't tear you away from the action but for the teletubbies and slower programs I'd much prefer to just read the script.

Re:How about just not having voice acting? (1)

illaqueate (416118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506618)

yes, the pool of voice actors for games is also shallow, especially for localization of japanese RPG games where the actor will put on a ridiculous high pitched voice or try too hard to sound like a badass. I wouldn't necessarily blame the actors alone in this. There's something wrong with the casting process. For example Final Fantasy XIII several of the actors were putting on a bad accent or sound like a Japanese person picked the voice actor because their voice sounds like they should be reading the dictionary.

It isn't only the line reading process. Many of these people are not very good actors and their range is constrained by putting on a voice; it doesn't sound natural if the actor hasn't put in work to develop that character and the blind reading makes it that much worse. If they went with a live recording with the actors in the same room like in the Uncharted series it would turn out quite a bit better and some of the characters putting on absurd voices would be filtered out because it wouldn't sound natural.

Re:How about just not having voice acting? (2, Interesting)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507048)

XIII is a great example of why TFA is wrong - it contains hours of dialogue where your characters are completely on rails, they know exactly what level you will be, what choices you will have made, who is in your party, what interaction you've previously had with the NPC, etc and yet it still sucks. Considering how much effort they put into the visuals it just shows up the voice acting even more, what they need is good actors (not necessarily expensive actors) a solid casting process and most of all a director who knows the format and how to get the best from it.

Re:How about just not having voice acting? (1)

TiberiusMonkey (1603977) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506710)

You can't have that these days, it just wouldn't feel right having amazingly real visuals and sound effects, and then not having any voice. That said, Monkey Island 1 and 2 was a lot funnier to read than the later (and remixes) games that had voice overs.

Re:How about just not having voice acting? (1)

MGRockwell (1731924) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506744)

It would feel right to me, better than having to listen to half the males sounding like 9 year olds and having to listen to horrible forced laughter and giggles from the females.

Re:How about just not having voice acting? (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506790)

Dragon Age Origin was all voice acted, and it was amazingly well done.

Reading text on a screen tends to kill your immersion, I guess that would be one of the big reasons for voice acting.

Re:How about just not having voice acting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31507162)

It was kind of weird though not being able to actually speak back like in Mass Effect, it felt too one sided.

Re:How about just not having voice acting? (2, Informative)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507508)

No, not catching what a character said because of their stupid, highly affected accent and not being able to ask them to repeat it kills immersion. Not being able to interrupt the cliched wised old man character and tell him to cut the exposition and just get to the fucking point kills immersion. Just turn the subtitles on and let me read it instead, or skip it altogether, especially if this isn't the first time I've play through this part.

Re:How about just not having voice acting? (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507014)

Alternatively have them record their lines then play through the key scenes so they get a feel for how their character should be emoting and re-record where necessary (and usually it's only one or two places where the emphasis is placed on the wrong word). The reality is that this all comes down to money - the reason voice acting in games sucks is that actors are brought in, they sit in a booth and read ten pages of lines then they go. If they had to be properly directed or involved or rewored their lines it would cost a lot more which means you can't afford to have $CELEB_A_LIST plastered on your marketing. There are enough total on-rails games with sucky dialogue to instantly disprove the "alternative interactions spoiling the acting flow" excuse.

Re:How about just not having voice acting? (1)

illaqueate (416118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507092)

The games with celebrities doing voice acting like Mass Effect and Dragon age tend to turn out pretty good which is a credit to them because they use a traditional process although Bioware pays more attention to getting the performances right than some of the other game studios. The actors are allowed to improvise somewhat and the writers will change lines that don't sound right.

Re:How about just not having voice acting? (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507266)

I remember characters "sounding" a lot better in my head before voice acting started.

I don't. Everything I read happens to sound kind of like myself, my imagination isn't quite up to matching the cast of dozens and dozens of talented voice actors. On top of that text just can't replace voice, sometimes you want to have your teammates shouting out meaningful dialog within a fight, you can't really do that with subtitles, as you are way to busy to keep track of them in the mid of a firefight.

Want to pay $100 per game? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31506520)

That's what it's going to cost to deliver across the board AAA assets consistantly in games.

Re:Want to pay $100 per game? (2, Informative)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506554)

Mass Effect 2 has outstanding voice acting, performed by quite a few well-known SciFi actors. That game doesn't cost $100.

Re:Want to pay $100 per game? (1)

OMFG it's Rici (1564141) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506676)

You are talking about Bioware, they are masters at what they do and the reference point for the industry. And I believe they rarely use the single line method for recording the voice for the characters, you can find a few videos about their recording sessions on youtube and see how they do it.

Re:Want to pay $100 per game? (3, Informative)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507070)

Clearly further evidence then that the issue isn't the format, nor is it the money that's thrown at it, but rather the way it's carried out. If one company can manage to do this consistently well without charging a premium then others should be able to do the same.

Re:Want to pay $100 per game? (1)

Enry (630) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507454)

One of the Command and Conquer games had James Earl Jones. It didn't cost $100. Now that I think about it, most of the games in that series had someone from TV or movies doing the cutscenes.

It's not just the voice acting (3, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506534)

Decent writing might help as well. In my experience, dialogue is written by game designers. Writing dialogue is not always their main talent.

Re:It's not just the voice acting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31506762)

Decent writing doesn't help. At least, I consider Bioware's stuff to be head and shoulders above most other games (yeah yeah, the bar is pretty low), but the voice acting is terrible in most of their games. There were some moments in KotOR that made me physically cringe, because it was obvious the actor had no idea what was going on. An urgent line delivered in a monotone just before an explosion can completely detract from the story you're trying to focus on.

Re:It's not just the voice acting (2, Insightful)

grumbel (592662) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507176)

If I remember correctly KotOR, along with some of their other earlier games, suffered from having a mute main hero. You select lines, but they never say them out loud, thus you end up with a very unnatural dialog flow in the game. That kind of high level game design stuff bothers me much more then any lack of voice talent when it comse to individual lines.

Re:It's not just the voice acting (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506920)

Writing helps, so does good talent. Silent Hunter IV kept pissing me off when the American sailors kept speaking with European accents, almost like the used the same talent from the previous U-boat games.

barrrrieeeeee! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31506570)

Oblig: Wohhhh, Sorreeee about that! I thought....you were....one of the them!! (resident evil)

Please, please, always have dreadful voice acting in games. makes any game hilarious and memorable, and doesn't take anything away from it.

Final Fantasy XIII (2, Interesting)

My Iron Lung (834019) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506584)

For a game that was out in Japan 3 months previously, I am astounded at the quality of the dubbing and voice acting of FFXIII. Even previous titles in the franchise had acting that made me wince (FFX most of all, the first in the franchise to attempt it). There's a heavy cost for this sort of quality, however, and if anyone has the money to throw at this kind of thing, it's Square-Enix on their flagship franchise.

Re:Final Fantasy XIII (2, Interesting)

illaqueate (416118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506720)

They spent an extra month recording and re-recording voices but even then I'm not too impressed. It's nowhere near as good as the Uncharted series which has a fundamentally better process, including the casting. Bioware uses a traditional process afaik and it turns out decently but they are spending money to hire working actors who are quite good at acting in tv/movies and have a range, not just voices who go way over the top reading lines.

Japan begs to differ (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31506588)

Then why do the Japanese manage to get it right in every single hentai game?

Re:Japan begs to differ (2, Informative)

nicodoggie (1228876) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506792)

It's basically because Japan has a HUGE pool of voice talent. They make hundreds of anime and interactive novels every year, it makes sense that they'd have decent voice acting.

Plus, how hard is it to say "ahn ahhhn, yamete kudasai!!" a hundred times over?

Re:Japan begs to differ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31506818)

don't know about hentai but the same people also act in anime and games. the pool of voice actors is larger than it is in the states.

Jason? (1)

feepness (543479) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506592)

JASON!

Re:Jason? (1)

biscuitlover (1306893) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506734)

Shauuuuuuuuuuuuuuun!

How about fixing accents? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31506604)

Getting voice over artists who understand the accents they're meant to be using would also be nice.

Having CoD4 ruined by the "British" voices pronouncing "depot" and "missile" in the USAian way (DEE-pot and MISS-le; rather than DEP-ot and miss-ILE) and using "cellphone" instead of "mobile". Five minutes work with a British person would have highlight this and minimised that ranting that I shouted at the computer screen.

Re:How about fixing accents? (2, Funny)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506682)

Or better even: claiming that someone is British and then letting them refer to someone's butt as her "fanny". That doesn't mean what you think it means, Americans.

Re:How about fixing accents? (4, Funny)

feepness (543479) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506766)

Or better even: claiming that someone is British and then letting them refer to someone's butt as her "fanny". That doesn't mean what you think it means, Americans.

It's where you might keep a pack of fags, right?

Re:How about fixing accents? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31506772)

It's where you might keep a pack of fags, right?

If you're Bill Clinton.

Re:How about fixing accents? (4, Funny)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507228)

i checked the wikipedia entry for fanny (as Brit slang), which linked to vulva. i've forgotten which part was the vulva so i clicked.

That page is NSfW!

And not a bookmark.

Re:How about fixing accents? (2, Funny)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507370)

i've forgotten which part was the vulva

Only on Slashdot...

Re:How about fixing accents? (4, Funny)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507582)

i've forgotten which part was the vulva

Only on Slashdot...

Now now, to be fair... he could just be married.

Re:How about fixing accents? (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507708)

i got married on Sunday (3.14).

i know which parts are the labia and the clit. The vulva wasn't mentioned in my health class i think. *shrugs*

Re:How about fixing accents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31507314)

First Aid Nursing Yeomanry? Now THAT was an unfortunate acronym.

Re:How about fixing accents? (4, Informative)

HopefulIntern (1759406) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507140)

What really threw me is the word "lieutenant" which in US english is pronounced lew-TEN-ant, but in British english "leff-TEN-ant". When one of the british guys in COD4 said it the latter way, the subtitles actually wrote out "leftenant" complete with the quotation marks. A similar thing happens in Need for Speed Shift. The "coach" which appears simply as a voice instructing you, is British. The courses you drive are also mostly British. And yet, instead of driving a "nis-san three fifty zed" he makes you drive a "nee-sahn three fifty zee".... On a similar note, can Seth McFarlane please learn british words/phrases properly, rather than just putting on a faux accent?!! Case and point: "fanny", "sweater", "sneaker" (words americans use, or have a different meaning for).

Re:How about fixing accents? (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507664)

On a similar note, can Seth McFarlane please learn british words/phrases properly, rather than just putting on a faux accent?!! Case and point: "fanny", "sweater", "sneaker" (words americans use, or have a different meaning for).

I can't speak with absolute certainty on this one, I've noticed these as well and my thought has always been that it is intended to be satirical. Americans have stereotypes of Brits that we like to see confirmed, little pretentious Stewie is one of them.

Award for all-time worst voice acting goes to... (1)

biscuitlover (1306893) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506690)

...the actor playing Sheogorath in the Shivering Isles expansion pack for Oblivion, purely for the comically bad accent. Was Sheogorath intended to be someone who spent equal amounts of time living in Scotland, Ireland and America? Or did Bethesda just decide that one of the pre-existing cast of 4 voice actors was probably good enough to pull off an additional regional accent, seeing as the same person had already voiced half of Oblivion's population of NPCs?

Re:Award for all-time worst voice acting goes to.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31506810)

Yeah, it is absolutly stupid to not stick to real accents in a fantasy game. Whats next, invented factions, weapons, history or even species? Hell, if they don't stop at unrealistic accents whats stopping them to include magic?

Re:Award for all-time worst voice acting goes to.. (1)

biscuitlover (1306893) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506970)

I think you're being a bit too kind here. A made-up accent is one thing. A performance that sounds like someone with one accent doing a laughable job of a completely different one is something else. Doesn't really help with immersion when all you can concentrate on is how badly they're mangling the dialect.

Re:Award for all-time worst voice acting goes to.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31507424)

Considering he's supposed to the the daedra prince of madness, I'd say it was probably deliberate. That doesn't excuse the bad voice acting in - well, pretty much all the rest of Oblivion, really.

There are exceptions... (2, Insightful)

Ransak (548582) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506696)

... Mass Effect or Dragon Age: Origins (the latter more so than the former). They tend to use real actors, [rpgfan.com] not just students or developers that want a shot at it.

Of course this works under the premise that acting is a profession, which some disagree with.

Hey now... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31506704)

I see Mass Effect 2 has been listed as a game with good VA, which is cool; how about The Legacy of Kain series? Without a doubt, that's the bar for voice acting-- possibly even storytelling for the interactive medium.

I'd be interested to hear Cam Clarke's take on this issue (primarily known as the voice of Leonardo).

Re:Hey now... (2, Informative)

illaqueate (416118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506988)

Amy Hennig who wrote the Legacy of Kain series is also director of Uncharted. She has a film degree and the good voice actors in Legacy of Kain come from a theater background.

Oblig Notable Exception (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31506732)

Cover your nose, Boo! We will leave no crevice untouched!

You will suffer! YOU WILL ALL SUFFER!

The "True irish" problem (1)

Tei (520358) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506756)

The real problem with voice acting, is that most people don't really know how the voice of a irish, dwarf, russian, french, spanish, etc.. guy sounds. So you can get a irish actor acting with his real irish accent called fake.

Another problem is economical. English voices are usefull only on a subset of the users. All your users can share the models and textures, music and sound effects, but voice is only user for english people and the like. And this thing get aggravated wen you hire "know actors". Maybe I know the face and the name of a actor, but I will not know his real voice, because here in spain all movies are translated to spanish, so all I know is the spanish translator voice, that can be poor compared to the original one (or better... you never know).

And we all know that MUD's are superior to all that newfangled "MMORPG's" thing.

Re:The "True irish" problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31507156)

Most countries don't dub, specially not to Spain's extent, heck, here in Latin America we prefer English to Spain's dubbings (Mexican dubbings are popular, though).

Finess hates speed and vice versa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31506802)

The Half-life series seemed "intelligently" voiced.

Also, but not actually part of the NPC system, Max Payne had great voice acting.

But i understand the point the actor makes, if all you care about are the raw stats. (lines per hr @ $x/hr studio fee), finess is really hard.

Re:Finess hates speed and vice versa (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507604)

The Half-life series seemed "intelligently" voiced.

I wouldn't say Half-Life one has the best voice acting. Although it's not really bad.

Valve did a pretty good job for all their Source-based games, though.

(OK, yes, the voices in Team Fortress 2 are a bit comical, but they fit the various class' personalities.)

Voice acting as a bullet point in marketing (1)

Vaphell (1489021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506808)

i absolutely hate that

one example i really can't get over with is Starcraft 2 and the change of Kerrigan's voice. Blizzard replaced relatively unknown voice actress who did magnificent job at fleshing out the character with Tricia Helfer (Caprica Six from BSG) for her sex appeal. She sounds god awful and nothing like the original.
Blizzard simply had to fix what wasn't broken. Earlier they tried to replace Raynor's voice but due to serious backlash they reverted back, only to change Kerrigan who was so good in sc1 that everyone thought she is safe. No amount of whining on official forum can make them change their mind. They only pretend to listen when they expect that players pretty much agree with them on a given matter, if there is a serious criticism - people meet complete silence, no comments.
Apparently showing piece of famous ass in marketing campaign > consistency and feel of the key character. All other VAs are there.

This will greatly reduce my pleasure of experiencing single player campaigns, i don't need to give Helfer a chance, i know it. Old voice is too entrenched in my brain, cognitive dissonance is a given.
God damn it...

Re:Voice acting as a bullet point in marketing (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507126)

The problem here is that people who were planning to buy the game likely won't change their mind because one of the VAs changed, while a few people who otherwise might not be buying the game might be enticed in by it being linked to a known name. Another example where the real fans get screwed in the name of a few extra dollars.

Re:Voice acting as a bullet point in marketing (2)

HopefulIntern (1759406) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507164)

I was pleased to hear Keith David's voice as Sgt. Foley in MW2. He is iconic for that role, since most of his best roles are just this; an angry big black guy screaming orders at soldiers. This persona was only slightly ruined by the fact that MW2, despite being an 18 and controversial for its adult content, has no swearing at all. Which makes the soldiers' discourse seem less than credible.

Starcraft will be better (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507474)

Well, its odd they replaced the actress playing Kerrigan 10 years ago - guess we'll never know why - but I doubt it matters than much.
And Starcraft 2 so far shows signs of being very well done.

Check out the Starcraft 2 lore panel from last years Blizzcon, where they have several of the actors on stage. The voice director Andrea Romanov (who has won SEVEN Emmys for voice directing) was very enthusiastic and talking about how much TIME they had to do this. They edit it all together and if they felt it didn't work they could call in the actors again and do things over.

And Blizzards director in charge of creative development, Chris Metzen, has planned the story in detail - he briefed her about where they were going. And they where there when the actors came into record their dialog, so they could tell the actors all the needed to know about the characters (this from the actors themselves)

Seems the whole Blizzard bit is up on .. well where else

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfD7kz6ZtZc [youtube.com]

And yet... (1)

Viredae (1663917) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506814)

It doesn't explain why JAPANESE voice acting trounces its English-speaking counterpart so easily, maybe the English VAs are hacks? Proof of that is Atlus and the Persona VAs, they're actually good, aren't they following the same "awful" system?

Re:And yet... (1)

illaqueate (416118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507248)

yes, I do think the quality of the talent is a problem. CAPCOM has always had actors who have a good voice but little acting ability and many of those bad actors are recycled into their various games. In the last years they have gotten to a point where the acting is pretty good even when the lines are still over the top e.g. Devil May Cry 4, although the writing has also improved.

Re:And yet... (1)

illaqueate (416118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507346)

although, one point to add to that is the limits of budget. Devil May Cry 4 has English voice acting only, as is the case with Demon's Souls. The English is frequently an afterthought for Japanese developers but when they do an English only title it ends up being pretty good.

Honorable mentions (1)

Bluebottel (979854) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506918)

It would be a shame not to mention Call of Duty 4 and its clever system. Your team actually shouts usefull things when in combat such as "RPG on the balcony second floor to the left!", at least i found it both accurate and useful.
The monkey island games are excellent examples of voiceacting and portal should be mentioned too. Who doesnt love glaDOS?

Why not put them in a story (1)

g00ey (1494205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506980)

Instead of a list of spreadsheet lines, why not put together the lines into acts with continuous story-lines that give support for interaction and context? The acts may even be lined with content that may not be used in the end product just to make it easier for the actors to enter into the plots. Letting the actors interact with each other during the recording sessions may also be a way to improve the acting. That together with good direction ought to improve the results. Of course it requires good script writing and more time but I think it would be worth it.

start with the basics (4, Interesting)

fish waffle (179067) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507322)

Games have improved tremendously in this respect over the last few years. Using the narrative context more so it's not just a collection of spoken phrases cut-and-paste together would help a lot. But you know, there's some even more basic problems remain:

1) Use the same actor for the same character. Always. If you need to re-record or add more dialogue, and your original actor isn't available, then live without or re-record everything.

2) Record the sound in the same place, or use a standard background sound. It is disconcerting when the recording quality and background noise changes between sentences.

3) Tell your voice actors not to replicate the errors in the text. Convince them they are voice actors, not just fleshy text-to-speech translators.

4) If your voice actors attempt to mimic strong accents of any form, beat them.

Instead of whining (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507468)

Let's talk about some voice acting we liked.

My favorite example of voice acting is Bioshock. Withing that my favorite is Armin Shimerman.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001734/ [imdb.com]
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1094581/ [imdb.com]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEjqY3_bCDk [youtube.com]

His speech at the beginning of the game gave me chills.

Re:Instead of whining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31507594)

Let's talk about some voice acting we liked.

None. Ever. It always stinks.

I prefer the nonsensical burbling noises the characters make in Nintendo games when they are supposed to be speaking; and I can read their speech bubbles far faster than any actor can voice them.

Decent voice acting (1)

autoevolution (1519077) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507470)

Freespace 1 and 2

I've notice this. (1)

orsty3001 (1377575) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507638)

Belmont: Die monster you don't belong in this world! Dracula: It was not by my hand that ... You steal men's soul and make them your slaves!

Not convincing (1)

Inconexo (1401585) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507668)

It doesn't explain why cutscenes, as static as movies, are equally bad dubbed. At least in spanish dubs, I am not usually able to distinguish an English bad dubs.

Legacy of Kain (3, Interesting)

MoNsTeR (4403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31507692)

Which of course is why basically linear games can have excellent voice acting. And by this of course I mean Blood Omen, Soul Reaver, and their sequels, which to this day have the best voice acting in any game ever made. I mean, just watch the intro to Soul Reaver, and play the first 10 minutes of the game, and compare that to more recent rot like Final Fantasy 10 and up, the Metal Gear Solid series, and even Modern Warfare 2 (which is good, but not the equal of, say, SR2).

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