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Xbox - Past, Present, And Future

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the and-present-past-and-future-present dept.

Microsoft 105

Thanks to EGM for their interview with Microsoft's Ed Fries, discussing the state of the Xbox. He talks about the specialization of Microsoft's first-party Xbox publishing efforts, saying: "When we were starting, not only were we learning about how to be a console publisher, but we were also trying to make sure we had games in every genre because we really didn't know what kind of third-party support we were gonna get." Fries also quibbles with Nintendo's lack of voice acting in their games, mentioning: "someone asked [Miyamoto and Iwata] why none of their games had voices. And they talked about cost and the time and trouble to localize it... and I just felt like I was listening to silent-movie directors talking [about how films work fine without sound]", and arguing: "I feel like that's just part of the price of doing business nowadays, and it's something everyone should be doing."

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69 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366335)

Jesus fucking Christ. I nearly died today on the highway. Kansas City drivers are terrible anyway so I am always aloof when I drive. But today was something a little more than careless drivers. Someone was out to kill me.

I started off today late. Work starts at 8:00 sharp and I had just crept onto Route 69 South at 8:02. My truck was freezing. I had a minute and a half of 75MPH travel before I hit the I-435 East and West exits, which are a big slowdown. So I was trying to make good time before I got locked in traffic.

Well, just like every other day, everyone slowed to about 45MPH at the I-435 exits. As I was sitting there eyeing the cars around me for hot girls (there were none, it was a bunch of ugly office bitches wearing sunglasses and yuppie faggots with their little spiked-forward haircuts and Honda Civics) when I saw this atrocious car enter Route 69 from I-435. It was a very old Dodge Omni and it was blowing smoke all over. Laughing out loud, I watched as it merged with traffic and stunk out the person behind them. Oddly enough, the windows were tinted on this car too. What the fuck?

After another false start and subsequent halt, I noticed the smell carrying from this offensive little car. Whoever owned that piece of shit needed to change their oil. Badly. That and their fucking breaks, which were making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. God, what kind of moron can't take care of simple maintenance on their car? The thing had gone from funny to annoying at this point, between the sound and smell, and it was then that I noticed the stickers.

The back end of this idiot's car looked like a small billboard. It has sticker upon sticker upon overlapping sticker piled across the back. The only thing not skinned by the stickers was his license plate (oddly from Pennsylvania, I noted), which read "LNUX!" What the fuck!? Darting my eyes over the stickers I noticed there were several "LNX" and "Open Source: Love It or Leave It" bumper-stickers, as well as a "America = Gun Ownership" and "WILL ROLEPLAY FOR FOOD." Whoever was in this car was clearly-- between the condition of the vehicle and their fascination with role playing, guns, and Linux-- disattached from reality. Someone else who shouldn't be on the road.

Traffic started moving again and I revved my V6 into gear in the far left lane, trying to make up for lost time. It was already 08:08. Then I heard a bunch of honking beside me and off to my right. Had my bed's gate come open in the back? If it had I'd be spilling garbage all over the highway (LOL!). Glancing around, however, I saw there was nothing wrong with me. Then I caught what the commotion was all about-- it was that God-damned little Omni, weaving in and out of traffic, cutting across three lanes, and heading straight toward me! I'd seen this happen before, when some hapless loser wants to make time and charges into the passing lane, but this guy seemed not to even notice any traffic around him at all!

In a split second the Omni was next to me. Traffic was in full motion now, so I lead footed it and climbed to 70MPH. Whatever this guy was up to he could be up to it 50 feet behind me. Then I hear this terrible sound like a tricked out Civic exhaust system with bronchitis and the guy's next to me again. His car is shaking like it's gonna fall apart too. I pushed it to 80MPH and the same thing-- the car shook harder and it sounded like the engine was gonna blow, but he was up beside me again.

I tried looking through the tinting on the Omni's windows but it was no good. For all I knew this Omni could be a driverless Transformer drunk off of bad energon cubes. So I braked. He braked. Everyone behind us was keeping their distance by about 15 cars. I began reaching for my celphone in case I couldn't get away from this guy and needed to call the state police when the window began rolling down. Then I saw this dickhead.

The man behind it was short, stout, had a mess of greasy red hair on his head, a drooping red mustache, and was yelling what looked like a string of emotionally charged profanities at me. He also had some sort of dark brown liquid dribbling from his lower lip off of his chin. He looked drunk to me, and I figured the brown stuff was Jgermeister. He started swerving wildly in what I took as an attempt to crash into my side and push me off the road. Right as he was about to ram me I floored it and punched ahead just in time.

My needle was buried now and I was putting distance between us. That's when I saw the guy's window fly out of his door and his exhaust system drop in the road. The black smoke was now coming from the center of his car's underbody and it was making the air grey all over 69. I slowed to 70MPH again as I thought the ordeal was over, his car literally falling apart. And just as I took a breath of relief, the dying automobile jerked, wretched, and wobbled violently up next to me again.

A hand shoved the sun-roof off of the Omni, and the driver stood up through it with a shotgun. As he took aim I heard him shout, "You son of a bitch! I know who you are, God dammit it! I came all the way from PA so I could put a stop to your trolling, you motherfucker!"

A look of pure hatred then came over his drunken, ruddy face.

"I'm gonna have your dead ass, Trollaxor!"

I froze. But just as he was going to take his shot both front tires blew out and his transmission dropped. He was propelled forward from where he stood and I saw his body hit and crumple on the unforgiving concrete of US-69. His car swerved 90 degrees to the left and hit the impact wall, and the resulting explosion billowed into a thick black ball of flame and smoke.

I winced as I imagined the broken mess the EMTs would have to scrape off of the highway a few minutes from now. The police would have quite a story to put together too, explaining why a drunken man from Pennsylvania had ended up dead after wrecklessly chasing someone.

I knew I'd been very lucky today.

Re:69 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367141)

getting stoned + reading slashdot trolls = laugh till i cry

it's just about look and feel (1, Insightful)

Althazzar (313749) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366345)

Games without voice acting can be cool too ofcourse, it's just that in some games it adds up to the action. When you're making millions on a game, i'm sure you can fit in a few people to say something...

On the other hand, my game experience is not dependent on voices, it's dependent on the look and feel of a game...

Re:it's just about look and feel (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366361)

There are pros and cons to voice acting. Yes, it can add to the experience. But it also takes up more room on the disc. There is also risk that the voice acting may not be very good and actually detract from the game. With text only, the player uses their own understanding of the speech to make it sound appropriate (in their heads).

Re:it's just about look and feel (0)

Althazzar (313749) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366371)

True, but as game makers are artists, they might want to bring over what kind of speech they had in their head when thinking of a certain scene...

Re:it's just about look and feel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366791)

I agree completely. I only own a dreamcast, and I use it for playing NES and SNES more than anything else. Ocassionally I get into the mood for newer games and play them. Sonic Adventure was neat. It has voices all through it, and I think it helped. The camera angles were pathetic, but that is another story. Recently I bought Grandia II used, and the main character's voice is the same as Sonic's! AHHH! Can't they find a different human being with the ability to speak? All I can think of now is Sonic when that guy talks. It is really annoying and unnecissary.

Also in the game voice isn't constant, it is only used for important dialog. That is OK as long as there is still text on the screen all of the time, but sometimes there is only voice and no text, leaving deaf people in the cold in an otherwise playable game for them. Luckily that isn't common, but it happens.

System: Shocking (1)

t0ny (590331) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371054)

Just remember to salt the fries.

Speech Stuff (0)

Mike Mentalist (544984) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366372)

I pretty much agree with the speech issue.

If a game has a lot of people saying things, then I want either of two things - 1) Have everything spoken like in KoToR, Baldurs Gate 2 and Shenmue or 2) Have no speech, but make it so I can skim read and skip ahead as I want like in Baldurs Gate 2, Morrowind or Neverwinter Nights.

In something like Zelda, you can only read a couple of lines at a time and it is far too slow to try and skip ahead with what they are saying, especially if you didn't mean to talk to that person again.

Re:Speech Stuff (2, Insightful)

Snowspinner (627098) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366451)

OK, this is a new one. I mean, I've read more anti-Nintendo stuff than anyone sane should have to read, but I've never heard Nintendo criticized for their lack of voice acting before.

On top of that, I have trouble thinking of a game that anyone ever said "Yeah, the voice acting on that game was great! Buy the game for the voice acting!" Kingdom Hearts is the closest to that I can come up with.

And why is Microsoft doing the criticism? DO they really think they have more to gain by attacking Nintendo than by going after Sony? Sony is at least pursuing the same market they are - Nintendo is not. If they manage to get Nintendo out of the business, it will probably not substantively increase their sales.

Some days, I think small niche products offend Microsoft more than actual large competition. I wonder why that is.

Re:Speech Stuff (1, Interesting)

Mike Mentalist (544984) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366524)

OK, this is a new one. I mean, I've read more anti-Nintendo stuff than anyone sane should have to read, but I've never heard Nintendo criticized for their lack of voice acting before.

He is not bashing Nintendo, he is just disagreeing with their attitude towards voice acting.


On top of that, I have trouble thinking of a game that anyone ever said "Yeah, the voice acting on that game was great! Buy the game for the voice acting!" Kingdom Hearts is the closest to that I can come up with.

And your point is what...?


And why is Microsoft doing the criticism? DO they really think they have more to gain by attacking Nintendo than by going after Sony? Sony is at least pursuing the same market they are - Nintendo is not. If they manage to get Nintendo out of the business, it will probably not substantively increase their sales.

This isn't MS attacking Nintendo at all, and you seem to be reading far too much into it. He just disgrees with their attitude towards voice acting.


Some days, I think small niche products offend Microsoft more than actual large competition. I wonder why that is.

And some days I think that people get far too het up about such small things.

Re:Speech Stuff (1)

Snowspinner (627098) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366556)

Almost every interview with XBox people that makes it onto /. contains a few lines in which they make comments about how Nintendo is hopelessly behind the times, doomed, unworthy, etc.

This is a pattern with them - they trash talk Nintendo. They do it professionally, but it's still clearly trash talk.

And, I mean, really, the silent-movie directors analogy seems to pretty clearly signal a "They are going to get left behind because of their lack of voice acting."

And that's just ridiculous. Nintendo got left behind because of a bad decision on hardware. They will remain behind because they are not altering their software design to compete directly with Sony.

They will not care, because they are capable of looking at the other tech company that has any sort of obsession with multiple colors of cases, and realizing that, hey, maybe being a niche product isn't all that bad.

Re:Speech Stuff (0)

Mike Mentalist (544984) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366698)

Almost every interview with XBox people that makes it onto /. contains a few lines in which they make comments about how Nintendo is hopelessly behind the times, doomed, unworthy, etc.

This is a pattern with them - they trash talk Nintendo. They do it professionally, but it's still clearly trash talk.


Well, that seems pretty normal to me - after all, they ARE a competitor.

Re:Speech Stuff (1)

Snowspinner (627098) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366825)

And that was my point - aside from the way in which this particular bit of trash talk is utterly illogical, I don't understand why they're going after Nintendo with such vigor - it's far from their major competitor, and it's not as though Nintendo's audience is going to go XBox anytime soon - XBox has very little to offer the gamer who really enjoys Metroid Prime, Zelda, and Eternal Darkness. It's riding on Live. And Nintendo is so far from similar to that strategy that I fail to see why Microsoft would think it's customers are "in play".

Re:Speech Stuff (0)

Mike Mentalist (544984) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367028)

And that was my point - aside from the way in which this particular bit of trash talk is utterly illogical, I don't understand why they're going after Nintendo with such vigor - it's far from their major competitor

Did you actually READ the interview? Fries was asked about the voice thing, and he gave his answer. There is nothing illogical about it all, and he isn't going after Nintendo with any vigor at all - in the very next sentence he says his most played game is Pokemon.

I suggest that you try not to look at every single bit of critisism to Nintendo as being Ninty Bashing. It is getting very boring.

Re:Speech Stuff (1)

mattACK (90482) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371441)

I disagree. This is very entertaining reading; like a sub-intellectual train wreck. :)

Re:Speech Stuff (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 10 years ago | (#7377149)

And that was my point - aside from the way in which this particular bit of trash talk is utterly illogical, I don't understand why they're going after Nintendo with such vigor - it's far from their major competitor, and it's not as though Nintendo's audience is going to go XBox anytime soon

I think it's because, when it all comes down to it, Nintendo are the only ones Microsoft is really competing with, even though their lineup targets Sony more than Nintendo.

The fact is that Nintendo's outselling Microsoft worldwide, and that Nintendo's recent price-drop means they could start outselling Microsoft in the US, as well. This puts Microsoft in direct competition with Nintendo, rather than Sony, which is far ahead of both companies in terms of sales (though Nintendo occasionally passes Sony in home console sales in Japan).

The XBox and the Cube are squaring off for the 2nd console slot, but Microsoft is trying not to give people that image (with their pricing and by aiming their titles towards Sony's user base, though the latter gives it away pretty well). People that already own a PS2 are a much larger market than people that don't own a PS2 but are currently interested in a current-generation console. Nintendo might be pulling in a few customers that haven't bought a PS2 just because of their price, but overall the majority of their customers already own a PS2. The number of people willing to put down the money for an XBox that don't already own a PS2 is dwindling daily, and has been since the box was released. The XBox is riding on a handful of exclusive titles and it's Live play, and this differentiates it from Nintendo much more than Sony. Both Sony and Nintendo have more exclusive titles than Microsoft, and Sony's getting advertising from EA just because EA won't go online with anyone but Sony (and they mention it in all of their ads for their online games now). Therefore, Sony and Microsoft are clearly slugging it out in the online space, which is an even smaller market (the segment of people that own consoles that want to play online), but the online angle is really what would bring players to XBox over the Cube as a second console, because based on exclusive titles, unless you're really hurting for Halo, KOTOR, and Crimson Skies (1 of which is and 1 of which will be a PC title), you'll probably have a better selection on the Cube, and the multi-platform stuff from EA is only online on the PS2 (negating the Live bonus for EA fans).

If Microsoft was even close to the sales numbers of Sony, it's much more likely that Sony would get a mention on every one of MS' interviews, even if it seems fairly innocent the way this one appears to be on the surface. MS knows that as long as Nintendo's in play they won't have much room to compete for the #1 spot, because Nintendo's the type of company that can pull themselves back up to #1 if they get things right, and they are making money on their system, which gives them a leg up with shareholders that Microsoft isn't going to have for some time.

Re:Speech Stuff (1)

Mrstupid7 (719957) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366867)

I don't think Nintendo got left behind by bad hardware at all, they just failed to release enough mainstream (aka mindless cookie cutter games), unless you're talking about the N64. That thing was plagued by both cartridges and not enough mainstream games.

Re:Speech Stuff (1)

Snowspinner (627098) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366898)

I was referring to the utter disaster of canning their planned CD-based ad-on to the Super Nintendo that they were developing with Sony.

Sony released it anyway. You may have heard of it. It was called the Playstation.

Re:Speech Stuff (1)

DeadScreenSky (666442) | more than 10 years ago | (#7370437)

It is hard to take a serious, fair look at Nintendo and comment that they aren't behind the times when it comes to gaming. The best you can do to defend them is to argue that it makes for better games, or that the old games were better, new features like online gaming aren't fun, etc. I mean, why isn't the new Mario Kart playable online? Nintendo has the hardware to do so available. Do you know how many people would buy a GC just for that? Just the network effects of online gaming alone can boost game and console sales massively.

And the reason this type of stuff keeps coming up in MS interviews is because the media ask MS about this stuff - the controversy is good for pagehits. You don't see Ed Fries bringing it up first, do you? And every MS interview I have seen is overwhelmingly respectful towards Nintendo, even if they do disagree with them (which is still allowed, right?).

Re:Speech Stuff (3, Interesting)

Snowmit (704081) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366558)

And why is Microsoft doing the criticism? Do they really think they have more to gain by attacking Nintendo than by going after Sony?

If you were to actually read the article you would learn that he has a lot of respect for Nintendo.

Here, to save you some clicking:

EF: [But] you asked me before what's the last game I spent a lot of time on--that'd be the new Pokemon.

EGM: Pokemon?

EF: Yeah. But then, you know, I've been playing games forever, and some of my favorite games of all time are Nintendo games. I have no problem loving a Nintendo product, because there's a lot there to love. But when you ask me about the future and where things are going, maybe [Nintendo and I] don't agree on that.


See, in the real world, it is possible to both like and dislike aspects of something. All in all he comes accross as a thoughtful, reasonable person who is very interested in pushing games as an artform. It was pretty interesting.

Re:Speech Stuff (1)

Jarlsberg (643324) | more than 10 years ago | (#7368167)

On top of that, I have trouble thinking of a game that anyone ever said "Yeah, the voice acting on that game was great! Buy the game for the voice acting!" Kingdom Hearts is the closest to that I can come up with.

I can think of lots of games. When the CD ROM was new, having a talkie on your label was a major marketing and selling point. I remember buying Sam & Max and MI2 on CD ROM just to hear the voice acting, even though I already owned the games on disk.

Re:Speech Stuff (1)

DeadScreenSky (666442) | more than 10 years ago | (#7370415)

On top of that, I have trouble thinking of a game that anyone ever said "Yeah, the voice acting on that game was great! Buy the game for the voice acting!"

I think you need to play more games, ASAP. Sure, most gamers don't buy a game specifically for the voicework. Contrary to popular 'hardcore gamer' opinion, the same is true for graphics. But like great graphics or great music, great voice acting adds immensely to the experience. That you haven't encountered many games that exhibit this is rather frightening. Get out of Square-country much?

And like many others noted, RTFA next time, please. Fries is very willing to give Nintendo props.

Re:Speech Stuff (1)

TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366924)

If a game has a lot of people saying things, then I want either of two things - 1) Have everything spoken like in KoToR, Baldurs Gate 2 and Shenmue or 2) Have no speech, but make it so I can skim read and skip ahead as I want like in Baldurs Gate 2, Morrowind or Neverwinter Nights.

In something like Zelda, you can only read a couple of lines at a time and it is far too slow to try and skip ahead with what they are saying, especially if you didn't mean to talk to that person again.

You're complaining about Zelda, and then you defend Morrowind? In Zelda, you just push the A button a bunch of times and they shut up. Maybe B shuts them up immediately, I dunno, but in any event I do not remember ever being annoyed by the conversation system of any Zelda game. (Sailing around empty oceans in wind waker or building experience in zelda 2--okay that sucks.)

Morrowind, on the other hand, was a nightmare. They had that terrible "question" system, so that you could ask every single person about every single stupid thing your avatar had ever heard in the entire universe, but 99% of the time every character would say the exact same text that every other character in the universe would say.

In fact, Morrowind, and Neverwinter Nights actually vindicate the stance of Miyamoto et. al.. I own both of those games, but I've played very little of them, because I was completely put off by all the meaningless text, cookie cutter plots, and general busy-work philosophy of gaming and narrative design that went into making them. (I also own BG2, and never finished it, but the dialogue in that game actually seemed interesting).

It's true that if you take a great game and add great voices to it without making it any more cumbersome than sure that's just dandy. (I can't think of any examples of that happening, but perhaps you can.) But Nintendo is correct to realize that voice work is a massive new cost to a game that doesn't automatically increase the quality of the final product.

This whole discussion shows me why Microsoft is dependent on second and third party developers to make good software for it (which is no big deal, Sony is too.) Microsoft has a typical business mentality that it can just throw money into a process and expect better quality products to result. But Art and Games are differnt from Operating Systems. The more money and investment you throw into a project, the higher the risk involved with making it, and therefore you become less willing to allow your staff to be creative and take the risks necessary to produce a truly ground-breaking game. Nintendo has been around the block a few times, and wisely understands the tradeoff between willingness to take risks and an emphasis on shiny graphics technology and voices.

Re:Speech Stuff (0)

Mike Mentalist (544984) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367075)

You're complaining about Zelda, and then you defend Morrowind? In Zelda, you just push the A button a bunch of times and they shut up. Maybe B shuts them up immediately, I dunno, but in any event I do not remember ever being annoyed by the conversation system of any Zelda game. (Sailing around empty oceans in wind waker or building experience in zelda 2--okay that sucks.)

Morrowind, on the other hand, was a nightmare. They had that terrible "question" system, so that you could ask every single person about every single stupid thing your avatar had ever heard in the entire universe, but 99% of the time every character would say the exact same text that every other character in the universe would say.


As I said, in the likes of Morrowind, BG2 and NWN I can skim read the text and exit it all by clicking the 'Cancel' button. In something like Zelda I cannot - they have to finish their little speech first, and even then that requires me to keep pressing the A button to scroll it two lines at a time.


In fact, Morrowind, and Neverwinter Nights actually vindicate the stance of Miyamoto et. al.. I own both of those games, but I've played very little of them, because I was completely put off by all the meaningless text, cookie cutter plots, and general busy-work philosophy of gaming and narrative design that went into making them. (I also own BG2, and never finished it, but the dialogue in that game actually seemed interesting)

It doesn't vindicate anything, it just means you do not like more open and non-linear RPG's.
For me, the sheer size and non-linear aspects of Morrowind/BG2/NWN is superb and has put me off many Japanese RPGs because they are so linear.


This whole discussion shows me why Microsoft is dependent on second and third party developers to make good software for it (which is no big deal, Sony is too.) Microsoft has a typical business mentality that it can just throw money into a process and expect better quality products to result. But Art and Games are differnt from Operating Systems. The more money and investment you throw into a project, the higher the risk involved with making it, and therefore you become less willing to allow your staff to be creative and take the risks necessary to produce a truly ground-breaking game. Nintendo has been around the block a few times, and wisely understands the tradeoff between willingness to take risks and an emphasis on shiny graphics technology and voices. Your last sentence emphasises why MS has to rely on 3rd party so much - because they are just starting out. Nintendo certainly didn't have such a pool of development talent when they started out.

I don't really understand what you are trying to say with your comment on shiny graphics technology and voices, though.

This whole thread needs to be deleted (1)

t0ny (590331) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371039)

The first rule of Slashdot: Nothing good regarding MS can be mentioned on Slashdot.

The second rule of Slashdot: Nothing good regarding MS can be mentioned on Slashdot.

That INCLUDES the XBox, people!

Voice acting! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366374)

Voice acting is great! - *IF* you can skip it ;-)

Past, Present and Future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366379)

PC Games, PC Games and PC Games

VO (4, Informative)

MichaelKVance (1663) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366383)

Fries also quibbles with Nintendo's lack of voice acting in their games
If only more people had the sense that Miyamoto has. Cost aside, most VO is so terribly done that I'd almost always prefer to have plain text. I was playing Vampire Nights the other day, and the VO is so horrible, that it would have needed to be intentional to reach that low, low level of quality. But I'm sure it wasn't.

Compare this with some of the excellent writing on Animal Crossing. I'm 100% behind spending that money on good writers and not on mediocre voice talent.

m.

Re:VO (1)

EvilSporkMan (648878) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366390)

Also compare with the excellent voice acting in Halo. I will concede that the lip synch looks a bit awkward, but how often do you really have time to run up to whoever's talking and watch his mouth in the middle of a firefight?

Re:VO (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7368151)

I've just played Halo (the PC port), and have to agree that the voice acting was great. Cortana was especially good - at one point she goes from 'sinister AI' to 'chirpy and smug' in the space of a single sentence in a way which was just perfect at defining her character. The stuff that other characters like the marines and alien grunts come up with is also great, especially as the PC version has everything done with beautifully clear Ogg Vorbis. :-)

Another game with impressive voice acting is System Shock 2, where characters are also defined by the way they speak, not just what they say.

Text bubbles over characters can't convey a lot of the potential depth...

Re:VO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366682)

Uh, generally only Japanese games have terrible voice acting. See Grand Theft Auto 3, Halo, Grim Fandango, No One Lives Forever, Legacy of Kain series, etc. etc.

Re:VO (1)

Psx29 (538840) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366969)

Actually I believe you are refferring to the English dubs of Japanese games. That is to say, the original Japanese version of these games have fine voice while they just can't seem to find good English voice actors. I think they should just subtitle when they bring games over to America, not that it really affects me anyway...

Re:VO (1)

Mike Mentalist (544984) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367093)

I always hear this being said, but how do you actually know that the Japanese voices were well acted?

Re:VO (1)

Psx29 (538840) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367239)

I always hear this being said, but how do you actually know that the Japanese voices were well acted?

Well I can understand the language pretty well...I did just take the SAT II in Japanese today(US/Canada only test I believe) so I hope I can tell bad acting from good acting

Re:VO (1)

DeadScreenSky (666442) | more than 10 years ago | (#7370428)

Watch a few films, games, shows, etc. in Japanese. You will quickly pick up an ear for good Japanese voice acting (though honestly you probably won't encounter too much bad voice acting). You can tell when the emotions are coming out strongly, when someone isn't too over-the-top to be silly (using a silly voice, for example), when something sounds too stilted.

If you have access to a game with both languages that features a poor English dub (pretty common if it has both), experiment with it for a while. I am sure you will notice it quickly enough. I hear (ha ha) that a good example is DOA2: Hardcore. Soul Calibur II is more common, but it actually doesn't have a very good Japanese dub, either. Compare the voicework of some of the voice actors in it that also do work for the DOA series and you will see the difference (IMDB.com is your friend). I suspect Namco didn't spend enough time on the voice work, though maybe money was another factor. Lack of skill on voice direction is very likely, too.

The fact that Japanese voice actors are usually very well educated (by schools that specialize in the field) in voicework helps, too. You don't have much of that in America, unfortunately.

Re:VO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7376233)

I am also quite proficient with the Japanese language. By the tone of your question, it seems that you assume that distinguishing between good and bad voice acting in another language is difficult, which seems incredibly naive to me. Have you never played any Japanese-language games, or watched any foreign-language films or television?

Japanese games that feature voice acting are granted the same type of attention as films: Producers get the best talent available. In Japan, voice work is a very highly-regarded occupation, so the voice acting in Japanese games, as with most Japanese medium- to high-budget animated media, is relatively very high compared to in the West, where voice work is typically relegated to advertisements and low-budget animation.

For every David Hayter, there are dozens of respected Japanese equivalents. * With such a larger and more highly-regarded talent pool, the typical quality of work is much higher.

* I bring up Hayter's name because he possesses great acting talent and has many Western fans, but really, he has no versatility. Solid Snake may as well look like Spike Spiegel, because he sure sounds like it already.

Re:VO (0)

Mike Mentalist (544984) | more than 10 years ago | (#7376590)

I am also quite proficient with the Japanese language. By the tone of your question, it seems that you assume that distinguishing between good and bad voice acting in another language is difficult, which seems incredibly naive to me. Have you never played any Japanese-language games, or watched any foreign-language films or television?

I don't see how you could tell good and bad voice acting in another language, because how they pronounce their words will be vastly different to how we do it, especially Japanese.
To me, a Japanese person may sound angry when in fact they are not.

Re:VO (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 10 years ago | (#7376741)

I don't see how you could tell good and bad voice acting in another language, because how they pronounce their words will be vastly different to how we do it, especially Japanese.
To me, a Japanese person may sound angry when in fact they are not.


I don't speak a bit of Japanese, but I can usually tell whether or not the voice acting is good. It only takes a short while to be able to distinguish emotion from voices, and there are always context clues that can be picked up from the combination of the subtitles and the characters on-screen.

The best bet to really get a good idea of what good voice acting sounds like in Japanese, though, is to pick up some of the better anime and watch it sub-titled rather than dubbed. I learned this fairly early on because the dubs seem to be particularly bad with some anime (probably due to American disregard for animation in general, despite shows like the Simpsons being on the air for so long), and the Japanese is much easier to listen to once you get used to reading subtitles.

The .hack series of games is very similar in this regard, as the English voice acting seems fairly terrible, yet the Japanese is much easier to listen to.

Re:VO (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 10 years ago | (#7376750)

I think they should just subtitle when they bring games over to America, not that it really affects me anyway...

Or at least give the option to the player. I know a handful of people that can't stand being in the room when I'm wathing anime or playing Japanese RPGs that allow this option, but imo the English dubs are usually so bad that I only give them about 15 minutes to prove their worth before switching to Japanese w/ subtitles.

Re:VO (1)

AllenChristopher (679129) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367951)

Which is exactly the point Miyamoto et al. were making. That's the result of localization trouble.

Re:VO (1)

superultra (670002) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366746)

In regards to voice acting, I think he's talking specifically about KOTOR here, which is quite possibly one of the best voice acted games I've ever played, and I'm not a huge fan of voice acting. The scene in which one of your shipmates catches up his prodigal son was riveting to say the least.

Maybe I didn't catch the sarcasm, but are you serious about the writing on Animal Crossing? Don't get me wrong, I love the game and think it's one of the best games I've ever played. I just don't think it's a testament to writing skill, that's all. The animals are terribly repetitive and predictable in what they say, but I think that's the point.

Just off the top of my head, I'd also throw in Mafia, Simpsons: Hit & Run (surprise), and the Monolith trilogy (NOLF 1&2, Tron 2.0) as fine examples of voice acting.

Re:VO (1)

edwdig (47888) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366930)

I doubt he was talking about what the animals say in Animal Crossing. The puns in that game when you do something like catch a bug or a fish were well done. The non-villager animals also were well written.

It's only the animals that have houses in your town that are dull.

Re:VO (1)

MilenCent (219397) | more than 10 years ago | (#7368840)

I've played a lot of Animal Crossing, and it has excellent writing. Go to GameFAQs (www.gamefaqs.com), search for Animal Crossing FAQs, and find the Mr. Resetti script. There is some damn funny stuff in there you get if you dare to turn off the game without saving....

THE LIGHT'S SO BRIGHT IT HURTS MY BRAIN!

Re:VO (1)

TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366944)

Voice is the enemy of good writing. Think how much more politics and negotiation are involved with adding a line to a voice-acted game--in Animal Crossing, just give the programmer the text file.

Re:VO (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367128)

Try playing Disgaea for the PS2 - it has voice acting and it's done EXCELLENTLY. Good voice acting really adds to the personalities of characters - Etna has a more devious sound to her, Gordon sounds like an obsessed superhero, Flonne sounds like a naive angel. Sure, this can come through with the text alone, but the characters are a lot more convincing with good voice acting.

Voices not always needed (5, Interesting)

Echo5ive (161910) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366388)

Nintendo has quite a lot of niche games like Zelda and Metroid -- neither of these has any voiceovers (apart from a few sentences in the intro to Metroid Prime), and they work just fine without them.

Many would probably think that Zelda was just plain wrong if it had voices. Zelda has such a long history that you've made yourself a picture of Link in your mind, and a voice would disturb that picture. The Wind Waker works just fine with just grunts and shouts for expressions, since the faces of the characters are incredibly good at showing emotion.

And in the Metroid games there's never anyone to talk to anyway. :-)

A very underrated game is Eternal Darkness for the Gamecube, witch has voiceover. And it's not crappy Resident Evil-style voices either, it's real good. Characters actually sound like they care for what they are doing, though the main bad guy does get a bit over the top sometimes...

Re:Voices not always needed (1)

chrismcdirty (677039) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366509)

That game has some of the best video game voice acting, period. I agree with you completely, especially with the main bad guy going over the top. But I think that adds a little to the appeal of him. He was the over the top, crazy, demon guy [whose name evades me].

Re:Voices not always needed (1)

p-p-pom (716823) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366643)

Are you kidding? The voice acting in Eternal Darkness is atrocious. When I first played the game and heard the acting in the intro sequence, I feared that it may not be as good as the reviews inexplicably made it out to be... and unfortunately it turned out that horrible voice acting was just one minor problem in this pathetic excuse of a game; including but not limited to the abysmal animation and the mind-numbingly boring and repetitive gameplay.

If Eternal Darkness is an example of state of the art voice acting in video games, then let's be grateful there are so few voices in Nintendo game.

Re:Voices not always needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367113)

You really need a taste check. The voice acting in Eternal Darkness is top-notch. Especially... shit, what was that guy's name? Maximillian Roivas? The doctor in the 1700's. His autopsy descriptions of the monsters you encounter were excellently voiced. Just the right glint of madness :-)

Re:Voices not always needed (2)

Yorrike (322502) | more than 10 years ago | (#7368413)

Did you actually play the same Eternal Darkness as the rest of us?

I'm just wondering since your opinion seems to [ign.com] be [planetgamecube.com] somewhat [planetgamecube.com] askew [gamespot.com] from [nintendojo.com] everyone [gamesdomain.com] else's [gamerankings.com] .

Re:Voices not always needed (1)

MilenCent (219397) | more than 10 years ago | (#7368861)

Here's a question: If the voice acting in Eternal Darkness is bad, then what game do you consider to have good voice acting?

Re:Voices not always needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7370012)

The robots in Bezerk that said INTRUDER ALERT!! STOP THE HUMANOID!!! were great. All other video game voice acting sucks.

Re:Voices not always needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7370635)

Deus Ex had excellent voice acting.

And oh, as to Eternal Darkness, this review [gamefaqs.com] says it all.

Re:Voices not always needed (1)

MilenCent (219397) | more than 10 years ago | (#7374200)

Well I have to disagree with this GameFAQs user review, the voice acting in Eternal Darkness was top notch, I can't imaging how it could be improved. It's very difficult to prove points like this in a message board, though.

Re:Voices not always needed (1)

kisrael (134664) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366932)

Conker 64: terrible voice acting, though a truly surprising amount of it for a cart. Still, it reminds me of my middle school plays, and when they decide to break the '4th wall' (or at least admit they were following the cliches of gamedom) they could have done it so much better.

Re:Voices not always needed (1)

superultra (670002) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366989)

I won't argue with the whole Zelda non-voice legacy. However, Zelda hasn't always been cell-shaded either. I personally think that while the whole text thing worked just fine for previous Zelda's, Windwaker was different. It was far more cinematic than any other Zelda game, and I felt the only thing that was detrimental to this feeling was the lack of voice acting.

Re:Voices not always needed (1)

Boglin (517490) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367155)

I always find it funny when people talking about Cel-Shading being new to the Zelda series. The SNES Link to the Past and the (attrocious) Zelda games for the CD-i were all cartoon style. The original NES games are pretty hard to categorize, since it's NES sprites, but they could be called cartoony. Really, Orcina of Time and Majora's Mask are the only two which couldn't be called cel shaded.

Re:Voices not always needed (1)

superultra (670002) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367738)

Now now Boglin, be fair before prejudging and classifying me as one of the few who whined CELDA when screenshots first appeared. I was all for the cell-shading - and yes, it is cell-shaded while the others were not - from day one. One of my arguments for this was that the series had always been "cartoony" and the only thing contrary to this was one single E3 screenshot.

That said, Windwaker is by far the most cinematic of any of the series. Secondly, nearly *everything* on the NES/SNES was cartoony because realistic graphics were impossible. I think Nintendo would very much argue that they are still not, and hence Windwaker.

So, that's why it felt like voices were "missing" from Windwaker. It was all there; the presentation, the story, the cutesy carryover characters...everything except the voices.

Re:Voices not always needed (1)

DeadScreenSky (666442) | more than 10 years ago | (#7370432)

I know some of its proponents try to blur the differences, but cel-shading isn't just 'cartoon style'. It does very different visual things with light and movement that you just didn't have in the 2D S-/NES days (you couldn't even do it if you tried). The Wind Waker style is a massive departure for the series, which previously featured none of the serious Miyazaki/Samurai Jack visual elements that WW takes from so liberally.

Re:Voices not always needed (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367135)

Zelda has such a long history that you've made yourself a picture of Link in your mind, and a voice would disturb that picture.

Well, considering that Link doesn't even talk at all, I don't think having voice acting in the game would really ruin that impression much.

Actually... (1)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367585)

Heh, I can't believe no one's pointed this out yet (maybe everyone's forced themselves to forget), but Zelda HAS had Voice Acting!

Anyone recall a little defunct system called the CD-i (IIRC) made by Phillips? It had not one, but THREE Legend of Zelda games, all of which were apparently quite bad. I know one, and I think another, had voice acting.

Or maybe we should just sweep that one under the rug and pretend the games were meant to be fire fuel.

Re:Actually... (0)

zonker (1158) | more than 10 years ago | (#7374432)

while you are correct in saying that there was voice acting in those cdi games, you might want to read the credits again as to who made those games. you won't find nintendo on the list...

Re:Actually... (1)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 10 years ago | (#7375337)

Ah, correct. I forgot to mention that in my original post. Thanks for the reminder.

Localization is tough (1)

rs6krox (630570) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366531)

Localization is difficult and expensive to get right. The only real way to do it is to get someone who's very fluent in both languages AND regional dialects and get them to translate. Then, if your not using synthesized voices, you have to hire voice artists (who also speak the target language and possibly the dialect so you get the pronunciation right) to re-record every line. Some of these games have HUGE voice files. Thankfully, software to render voices in real-time is comming along pretty well.

Oh, and All Your Base Are Belong To Us!

What you say!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7366607)

You have no chance to survive make your time. ;-)

Re:Localization is tough (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366622)

The budget for voice actors for the english version is going to be a lot higher then say for the dutch or german language version. This then leads to extremely poor voice acting leading to consumers like me to stay well clear of localized versions and hunting instead for imports.

This has become big enough that disney movies are now shown in two versions in holland. During matinee the dubbed version. Later in the day the original version with subtitles.

Movies like Shrek and Fievel are really a lot better with the original voices instead of some dutch halfwits who think funny voices are required for all parts.

No voice is better than bad voice (4, Insightful)

edwdig (47888) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366630)

Play a Sega game that has voice acting. Say a Sonic Adventure game. You're going to cringe every time someone talks.

Sega's hires two types of voice actors: those who do not know what inflection is, and those who use it in all the wrong places.

I will say though, the House of the Dead games wouldn't be as fun without the really bad voice acting.

As to voice acting and Nintendo games, I think a large part of the problem is if Nintendo did give Link a voice, if it came out any less than perfect, the bitching they'd hear would make the cell-shading complaints look like nothing.

The reviews that said Samus needed a voice are just plain stupid. There isn't anyone she could possibly talk to.

I think whenever Nintendo finally gets around to making some new characters, that's when they should go with voices - if it fits the game.

Re:No voice is better than bad voice (1)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367564)

Sonic Adventure did have some bad VA, but it didn't make me cringe. Much.

Sonic Adventure 2 did much better, but they apparently never figured out how to make the sentences they spoke short enough so they didn't overlap with someone else's.

[172 emblems and counting in SA2]

Re:No voice is better than bad voice (1)

DeadScreenSky (666442) | more than 10 years ago | (#7370450)

The Japanese voice acting for the Sonic Adventure games is pretty decent, though a little too 'cool' in many ways.

And Sega's Panzer Dragoon series has featured some awesome voice-work, in every game. Same with the Japanese Shenmue voice-acting. Sakura Taisen features some very good voice work!

Really you are blaming Sega of America, which probably deserve the scorn. With stuff like Otogi they do seem to be massively improving, however, so let's hope for the future! :)

PSP (1)

Mrstupid7 (719957) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366892)

"The question for me is how much are Sony and Nintendo really going to be [competing] head-to-head. Because the more and more I hear about [the PSP], it sounds like a [more] expensive machine. They've gotta spin that disc [media], which means they've gotta have good battery technology. They're gonna have [wireless networking], the screen, and everything else...it sounds like an expensive device." Sounds like this guy doesn't think the hand warmer is going to be very successful against the GBA.

Re:PSP (1)

shione (666388) | more than 10 years ago | (#7370190)

Sony's minidisc walkmans have about 50+ hours on one charge. I think good battery life will be one of least worries for Sony.

Re:PSP (0)

Mrstupid7 (719957) | more than 10 years ago | (#7373723)

And all it does is play music, it doesn't power a screen, back light, speakers or anything except to spin the disc.

Re:PSP (1)

shione (666388) | more than 10 years ago | (#7375782)

um... its a far cry from just spinning the disc. Their walkmans have 2 screens, one on the remote and one on the unit. The remote is backlit and in some models so is the screen on the unit but for some reason Sony decided not to put it on their lastest top of the line model.

LCD screen technology? Their 5inch PSOne screen only consumes 350mA when the light tube is replaced with LEDs. It shouldnt be too difficult for them to integrate that into a handheld while at the same time keeping power requirements low.

Speakers... well their walkmans are outputting sound through the earphones when they're giving 50hrs playback time, that means something right? Personally I'd rather use earphones anyway as I find the built-in speakers on handhelds less than adequate. Plugging in portable beach speakers won't sound very loud, but it is as loud as the music from the GBASP turned all the way up. When I bought my walkman I did such a test and had it on continuous play on a pair of cheapish unpowered speakers. I was surprised when I got ~10ish hours playing time on the MZ-N10 before the internal battery went flat.

I don't have the dimensions for the internal battery as its sealed inside the unit but take a look at this pic. MZ-N10 battery [minidisc.org] The smaller battery is the one used in the MZ-N10. To get an idea of its size the bigger battery in the pic has dimensions of 67x25x6mm. The only thing I could find on the MZ-N10 battery is that it's only 3mm thin. 3mm!! And that gives 24 hrs playback time (58 if you use an AA battery as well). That's a incredible running time on a battery that small.
While I don't doubt the PSP will draw more power than their walkmans, I think Sony will be able to get good running times out of the PSP.

On the price, Sony have already said it will cost 19,000 to 30,000 yen (USD 159 - 251) at launch. Much higher than the GBA but as production ramps up so will the cost to produce it fall.

Not blatantly commercial (2, Insightful)

Snowmit (704081) | more than 10 years ago | (#7366953)

The part of the article that grabbed my attention was when he was talking about Psychonauts. Here is what he said: "...it's great to have something in our portfolio that's just really unique and artistically challenging and not so blatantly commercial.".

This is an attitude I would like to see expressed more often by the people holding the purse strings. One of the ways that Hollywood maintains legitimacy and dodges censors is by having some portion of its annual output be more 'artistic' films. It gives the medium legitimacym and you never know when one of the art films will become a blockbuster.

It would be nice if the majoy games studios took a similar attitude and funded a certain number of art games a year. It would help in the arguments about whether or not gaming is a legitimate artistic medium, for sure.

Re:Not blatantly commercial (1)

MilenCent (219397) | more than 10 years ago | (#7368792)

Oh brother. Even Sony releases more artistic games than Microsoft. There's only I can think of that made artistic choices as opposed to marketing ones: ToeJam & Earl III (highly underrated and very unsuccessful) and Shenmue II (less underrated but also unsuccessful). Sony's got Ico, Mister Mosquito (which is a cool concept), Mad Maestro, PaRappa 2 and, if you go back to the PS1, UmJammer Lammy (which is mind-blowing), and that's just off the top of my head.

Nintendo, dammit, most things they do first-party are artistic. Wind Waker is the prime example. They've even been artistic where it hurt them (I wish they put a little more effort into Yoshi Story's gameplay than its graphics, which rocked).

Re:Not blatantly commercial (1)

DeadScreenSky (666442) | more than 10 years ago | (#7370469)

I don't think you understand what the parent post meant when referring to 'artistic' films, or how Psychonauts fits the subject, for that matter. The key phrase is "not so blatantly commercial".

I suspect Ed Fries is talking about stuff like the films (random examples) Memento, Donnie Darko, or Dead Man. I think Psychonauts is just not going to click with a lot of people, especially people who aren't into psychology at least a little. You are talking more about 'art games' that are more like Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, etc. (Actually, those are rated R - pick some examples that are G rated.I can't think of any offhand, though I know they exist - time for bed.) Not even remotely the same thing.

I agree that Sony has made some games that fit this criteria, but to be fair they have had many more years to do just that. Naming several sequels doesn't help your case, though. Sequels are pretty "blatantly commercial", as they work off a preexisting market.

Nintendo, on the other hand... Creating nothing but games that are inoffensive, aimed at all audiences (ie lowest common denominator), feature low difficulty levels, have some lazy art, and based on a preexisting popular franchise if not a sequel itself is probably the definition of "blatantly commercial gaming". The only thing that would make it more blatantly commercial is if they did major cross-marketing with pop idols, maybe. (This is the major reason I am so sick of recent Nintendo of Japan games, BTW.)

The only recent Nintendo game I can think of that might fit what Ed Fries is talking about is maybe Made in Wario, though you could also argue the opposite pretty easily (franchise characters, features a LOT of nostalgia, pretty easy to learn, simple storyline even if the irony and parody will be lost on the young gamers, etc.). There seems to be some actual crazy artistic passion behind the game's design, which is gonzo enough that many gamers simply won't get it (and it is really difficult to 'sell' to people without them actually playing it themselves).

Of course Nintendo has already churned out a sequel. :(

Re:Not blatantly commercial (1)

MilenCent (219397) | more than 10 years ago | (#7374173)

Sequels are not necessarily blatantly commercial. (And I would reject that I consider Gladiator to be an art movie, I mean, puh-leeze.)

What is a sequel? If it's exactly the same as the old game then yes, there's no originality there at all. But, excepting the recent GBA adaptions old SNES games (which isn't too original, yeah, but there's other things out for the system too like Advance Wars, which may not be original in Japan but is original as hell here), Nintendo at the very least seriously messes with their formulas when they make new games.

To consider my point, let's look at what might be the most problematic, to my claim, recent Gamecube title, Super Mario Sunshine:

When people refer to Mario Sunshine as being too much like Mario 64... well, there's a lot of that that's undeniable, certainly, in the play style. But there's a lot that's different too, and I don't just mean the water pack. While there's still the star/shine collection objective, the levels themselves have a much better feel of being a real place that the objectives just happen to take place in, than being designed solely with the objectives in mind. A 3D platformer (a stock one at least) is basically about travel and combat, and there is a lot of that, but I think the water pack does a good job as a further variation on the theme.

On the other hand, original games for other systems tend to look more like sequels than Nintendo's sequels. FPS shooters, for example, I've always seen them as being almost identical. Maybe I have a blind spot, but I just don't see what Halo *has*. I'll admit, I played a metric assload of Goldeneye, but that was because it was the only good shooter for my system, it's really not all that different from what we saw in DOOM years earlier.

Offensiveness, inoffensiveness... these are terms that are not usefully applied to the game industry at this time. The Satanic Verses got Salman Rushdie on a death list. Now that was offensive. Good offensive! There is nothing like that in computer or video gaming. There is only shallow offensiveness, there merely to shock, or titilate, or provide fodder for Leiberman to fuel his presidential bid. The world will not be better for BMX XXX being on store shelves, and there is a Nintendo version of that, dammit. That is what is meant by lowest common denominator. Appealing to the baseness of human kind that is all too often exhalted these days, as opposed to the sense of wonder that is commonly buried.

And Nintendo does make new franchises, which is the entire point of Pikmin I believe, which wasn't a big seller in the States at least but I played so much that I eventually got my score down to nine days. And Eternal Darkness, which has one of the best stories in gaming today. But they are, indeed, only one company. I agree, they should do more new things. But coming up with something truly new is one of the hardest things a human being can attempt, and even geniuses cannot do it every day. I'd put Nintendo's record up against any three other companies (so long as you don't include Sega, or Atari Games before they got devoured).

Made In Wario (known here as Wario Ware) was incredibly original and cool. But the Gamecube sequel doesn't have the same focus, it's more about multiplayer gaming, which by itself is a major change.

I think at the core here is the fundemental nature of originality, which is this:

There is no completely new thing in existence. All there is is the combination of previous ideas in new ways. What matters is the pool of ideas you are willing to draw from, the ways you're willing to put them together, and the will to see it done. This is what I see Nintendo doing right.

And dammit if I didn't write another rah-rah Nintendo rant. Someone shoot me.

why not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367280)

just call this site nintendo games? does every submission have to have some kind of nintendo tie in or what? enough already. you do know nintendo doesnt even make the gamecube anymore right?

The perfect solution... (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367336)

...for voice localization: translate the subtitles, DON'T CHANGE the japanese voices. Not only it's cheaper, but it also keeps purist h4rdcore gam3rz happy!

Re:The perfect solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7368031)

Depends on the game, I guess. I'd much rather hear David Hayter when play a Metal Gear game as opposed to Akio Otsuka (Solid's Japanese VA). Same goes for other games like Kingdom Hearts and such. Yeah, it would be fun to play it with the Japanese actors (at least on the Square side), but I'd rather hear the original English-speaking actors for the Disney characters.

Personally, I wish more games were like DVDs, allowing the user to select their preferences in these areas. A few games allow that (such as Disgaea), but the vast majority don't.

Re:The perfect solution... (1)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 10 years ago | (#7377800)

Besides, you'll often get better results. In Japan, voice acting is a career all it's own; in the States, it's generally considered something you do when you can't find 'real' acting work.

And lets face it, Megumi Hayashibara doing Lime sounds different than Megumi Hayashibara doing, say, Faye Valentine. But Cam Clarke always sounds like Cam Clarke; Max Sterling. It's jarring to hear Max Sterling in Metal Gear Solid, Max Sterling in He-Man, and so on.

On the VA... (1)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367515)

Some games make good use of VAs, most don't. I really don't find VAs to be a selling point of a game. I'm prefectly fine with just hearing Link scream as he races towards the bottom of a canyon in OoT.

And if there's voice acting, how can I quickly get through the scene if I'm playing through again? In Zelda games I just press A or B repeatedly so I can continue playing... will that end if it starts using VAs?

(Slightly OT: I've found that if you hold R + B (could be A, I sold my copy a while back) and using the alternating button to move while reading text in OoT, the text pops up a lot faster. Or maybe I just got bored waiting for it to do that and I forced myself to believe that.)

Question (0, Redundant)

n0wak (631202) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367595)

Has there ever been an interview with a Senior XBox staff member in which that member didn't take some pot-shot at Nintendo? Seriously, is the XBox staff more obsessed about Nintendo than its own product?

Re:Question (1)

Mike Mentalist (544984) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367652)

If you would actually read the interview, you would see he is not taking a pot-shot at Nintendo.

Re:Question (1)

superultra (670002) | more than 10 years ago | (#7368370)

Actually, in nearly all the Xbox staffer articles I ever read, many completely admit to owning multiple systems and playing games on those system (particularly Ken Lobb). Moreover, while many of these guys will quite gladly point out sales figures, many of them also seem to really admire Nintendo. I can't say they have the same respect for Sony, but I don't think they've ever really "badmouthed" Sony or Nintendo in the sense that they are competitors.

Since we're english-speaking, we see many more articles and interviews with Xbox officials. The ones with Nintendo's in a post-Peter Moore world are little more than press releases. I would venture to say you can't find one interview in which a Sony or Nintendo rep admits to playing one of their competitor's systems or games.

Re:Question (1)

MilenCent (219397) | more than 10 years ago | (#7368761)

Actually, I remember reading once that one of the Nintendo inventor types really admired the Eyetoy. And I think I heard Miyamoto say he liked Ico.

That's silly. (1)

SpookWarfare (691536) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367605)

Nintendo is right. Most of the voice acting in games is terrible. I'd rather have none than have to listen to half-assed voice over. Look at anime. 99% of the dubs are terrible, grating messes. Even Disney has a hard time creating a good anime dub. Until people are willing to take the time and spend the money to create excellent vocal tracks, they should just skip it.

Re:That's silly. (1)

Mike Mentalist (544984) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367671)

Nintendo is not 'right'. They are clearly able to get some decent voice actors to do the work, but they just don't want to.

Re:That's silly. (1)

DeadScreenSky (666442) | more than 10 years ago | (#7370410)

Nintendo is saying that cheap voice acting in games is terrible. In this they are certainly correct. If you aren't willing to spend the money on quality, you probably shouldn't bother (see also Nintendo's recent Japanese texture work - a shame they can't skip out on that too). Look at many of the best-sellers on non-Nintendo systems, for example Vice City or Halo, and you will see truly excellent voice-acting that elevates the game it belongs to.

Re:That's silly. (1)

SpookWarfare (691536) | more than 10 years ago | (#7370447)

I agree. I also feel that it's difficult to add a voice to a character that has already lived in peoples imaginations for years. Many were disappointed when Charles Shultz's Peanuts characters were given voices that were different than they had imagined. Today, many companies feel that hiring hot, young celebrities adds star power to their games (or animated films). But this doesn't always equate into better voice acting talent. Look at the disappointing dub of Princess Mononoke (for which Disney courted Puff Daddy) or the characters in Kingdom Hearts. Does Mandy Moore really bring anything to the table? Of course good voice acting is needed in video games. Sadly, you're not always, or even once in a while, going to encounter it. I think that Nintendo isn't really doing anything incredibly stupid by resisting entering this potentential mine field.

Fries is an idiot. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367672)

(1) Them attempting to have Xbox games in every genre is *driving away* 3rd party publishers. There's no incentive to develop a type of game for that platform if Microsoft already has it covered. A competent game development team would probably be able to make a better *game* than a Microsoft internal team (who are a bunch a monkeys, I tell ya) - but they have no hopes in competing based on the *marketing* and money that MS likes to throw at their own titles. 3rd parties can't even compete on the branding: for example, Microsoft's "Xbox Sports Network" titles. At least Sony had the decency to separate theirs ("989 Studios").

What's worse is that Microsoft games are notoriously bland. Everything's "okay" about them. Graphics, sound, gameplay - nothing special, nothing that would offend *anybody*. Nothing that would be funny either.

(2) Microsoft's Xbox team repeatedly and consistently ignored 3rd party developer input when they were designing the Xbox. Witness - the Xbox controller. Nobody outside of Microsoft liked it. Microsoft asked developers repeatedly, developers repeatedly told Microsoft that it sucked. And they were completely ignored - probably because some high up egomaniac like Ed Fries greenlighted it and their underlings were all "yes" men and didn't want to say that it sucked.

(3) Xbox Live. You have no option of ignoring Microsoft's "Live" system if you want to make an online game. Everything *must* go through Microsoft, and gamers must pay Microsoft $5 a month for the ability to play online. Which immediately makes trying to develop or sell an online game far, far worse for a developer. Doubly so for a persistent online game or MMORPG because MS scalps $5 a month before you get a chance to ask customers to pay for access to your game. And Xbox games aren't allowed to talk to other systems. Which means no cross-platform Xbox and PS2/Gamecube/PC games to boost online population.

Oh, and have you played Xbox Live with the headset? A great idea - in theory - but in every game I've tried so far it's either total silence or a bunch of 9 year olds swearing at each other.

(4) Voice acting. In multiplayer games there should be no voice, other players is all you should hear talking. In single player - fine, whatever. I don't hate it, but don't care for it either. I don't care what language it's in (with subtitles), so long as it's not *bad* acting and I can have them shut the hell up when I'm tired at the end of the day and just want to kill something.

I'm sure that no developer has faith that Microsoft cares for anything but their own success.

Re:Fries is an idiot. (3, Insightful)

Mike Mentalist (544984) | more than 10 years ago | (#7368166)

(1) Them attempting to have Xbox games in every genre is *driving away* 3rd party publishers. There's no incentive to develop a type of game for that platform if Microsoft already has it covered. A competent game development team would probably be able to make a better *game* than a Microsoft internal team (who are a bunch a monkeys, I tell ya) - but they have no hopes in competing based on the *marketing* and money that MS likes to throw at their own titles. 3rd parties can't even compete on the branding: for example, Microsoft's "Xbox Sports Network" titles. At least Sony had the decency to separate theirs ("989 Studios").

You are talking out of your arse. Making games in all the genres wouldn't drive anyone away at all. The PS2 has a game in every genre, and that has the biggest 3rd party support out of all them.

And your marketting comment is stupid, as it is the same for ALL the console makers.


2) Microsoft's Xbox team repeatedly and consistently ignored 3rd party developer input when they were designing the Xbox. Witness - the Xbox controller. Nobody outside of Microsoft liked it. Microsoft asked developers repeatedly, developers repeatedly told Microsoft that it sucked. And they were completely ignored - probably because some high up egomaniac like Ed Fries greenlighted it and their underlings were all "yes" men and didn't want to say that it sucked.

That's probably why they developed the Controller S.


(3) Xbox Live. You have no option of ignoring Microsoft's "Live" system if you want to make an online game. Everything *must* go through Microsoft, and gamers must pay Microsoft $5 a month for the ability to play online. Which immediately makes trying to develop or sell an online game far, far worse for a developer. Doubly so for a persistent online game or MMORPG because MS scalps $5 a month before you get a chance to ask customers to pay for access to your game. And Xbox games aren't allowed to talk to other systems. Which means no cross-platform Xbox and PS2/Gamecube/PC games to boost online population.

The reason is MUST got through Microsofts system is so everything works together. The Friends List is universal and so is your Gamertag. The XBL fee doesn't make it worse for a developer to sell a game, because the games have significant offline content to them. If anything, they will sell more because those with XBL tend to buy most of the XBL games.

The chances of compatible cross-platform online titles are extremely remote anyway. And your comment about the people online pretty much proves you haven't even got XBL.


(4) Voice acting. In multiplayer games there should be no voice, other players is all you should hear talking. In single player - fine, whatever. I don't hate it, but don't care for it either. I don't care what language it's in (with subtitles), so long as it's not *bad* acting and I can have them shut the hell up when I'm tired at the end of the day and just want to kill something.

Erm, and what online games have this voice acting you are going on about? The only one I know of is Ghost Recon where the soldiers might quietly say "Got him!" when they shoot someone.

Re:Fries is an idiot. (1)

tc (93768) | more than 10 years ago | (#7369061)

1) What Fries is saying is that was a necessary hedge strategy at launch, because they weren't sure how much 3rd party support they would get, but that it isn't necessary any more and that they're changing direction. Doesn't sound like idiocy to me.

2) The controller was certainly the cause of much mirth among the press, but I think the level of vitriol was out of all proportion to the actual weakness of the device. Believe it or not, there are some people (myself included) who prefer the bigger controller, and yes, I own all three major consoles, and have both the original and (smaller) controller-S for Xbox - I choose to use the bigger controller when I can.

3) That cost is amortized across every Live game you play, of course. So unless your customer is going to be buying Live just to play your game, it's not really a factor. Most game developers I know (and I know quite a few) like Live quite a lot, because it handles a whole bunch of stuff for them. It's easier to bring an online title to market, because you don't have to worry about matchmaking and voice-chat and cross-game invitation, because it's all handled by the Live service. Now, maybe if you're EA you have a different perspective, because you pissed hundreds of millions of dollars down the tubes on EA.com and probably think that should entitle you to some kind of competitive advantage for having shelled out on that infrastructure, but for other developers Live is a pretty good thing.

4) Voice acting should be used where it's appropriate, and hopefully done well when it is used. I think proscribing that it's okay in this genre but not in that one is a bit too rigid. Fries's is bemoaning the fact that quite often the decision is not based on whether it's right for the game, but on cost.

Microsoft, like all businesses, cares about their own success. Just like Sony. Just like Nintendo. What's your point?

Re:Fries is an idiot. (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 10 years ago | (#7377002)

2) The controller was certainly the cause of much mirth among the press, but I think the level of vitriol was out of all proportion to the actual weakness of the device. Believe it or not, there are some people (myself included) who prefer the bigger controller, and yes, I own all three major consoles, and have both the original and (smaller) controller-S for Xbox - I choose to use the bigger controller when I can.

Exactly. I get sick of people assuming that everyone's hands are the same size, that I, for some reason, would want to play games with a controller made for a child's hands. I had to buy the larger controller for my XBox because it came with the controller-S. Thankfully, I had already played co-op Halo with a friend of mine, and used the full-sized controller (because he, unlike most men I know, has very small hands and prefers the S), and knew that I would prefer it. If I hadn't, I'd be complaining about the S to no end, which has some really poor choices for button placement.

3) That cost is amortized across every Live game you play, of course. So unless your customer is going to be buying Live just to play your game, it's not really a factor.

Exactly (again). I don't have Live for pretty much this reason, as I have few (or no) games that use it. On the other hand, MS seems to be willing to bundle trial subscriptions now, so when I pick up Crimson Skies it may be time to put the consoles on the network to give it a try. Since I plan on getting a 2nd GameCube if/when the Zelda bundle comes out (I wanted a 2nd Cube for the bedroom anyway, Zelda only sweetens the deal) I'll have another reason to put the consoles on the network (can just see it now playing Mario Kart over the network for more players or just to get away from split-screen).

As for voice acting, I see it as a simple matter of the two companies (MS and Nintendo) looking at it differently. MS may see it as necessary for their titles, and in many ways they might be right. Nintendo probably sees more of the bad side of voice acting, and realizes that there's a significant cost to doing it well. Additionally, look at how many titles MS didn't even bother translating for Japan. It's not like MS is actually bothering with the cost of translation, let alone Japanese voice acting, for all of their games, so they shouldn't expect someone else to do the same for MS' native market. At the very least, Nintendo has been doing a great job on their translations, regardless of whether or not their games have any voice acting (and as has been said many times, who really thinks putting voices on classic characters is a good idea?).

MS is in a unique position (2, Insightful)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 10 years ago | (#7368174)

Among game manufacturers, MS has the unique position that several of their top tier developers and titles were envisioned in English. They can begin development of the game in English, and not have to worry about alienating a significant number of game players who they could otherwise easily reach, nor do they need to worry about staffing people proficient in english. This comes at the cost of ignoring markets like Japan, which are smaller and have protective tarrifs in place.

Contrast this with Sony and Nintendo. They have a solid market in Japan, which they cannot simply ignore. There's less taxes, less headaches, and they have far more public access. But they cannot ignore the world market as much as the American film industry does. So they can either make the voice acting in all Japanese and leave it up to their foreign subsideraries to localize, they can alienate their home market and start out in English and do english only, or they can design to reduce the amount of localization needed.

This isn't just about voice, its about affordable universal appeal. One of the best movies ever was made in Japan, but the language in which it was filmed has certainly harmed its marketablity and audience appeal.

Re:MS is in a unique position (1)

DS-1107 (680578) | more than 10 years ago | (#7369648)

that said I asume you are taking in german, french, and other european localizations, besides possible korean. for more kid friendly games in europe you better change the language for each country. sure you could only do games for the us and uk market, or hope that people can accept english even in places like germany, or france. to contrast this Level-5 did an excellent english and jap version of their game dark cloud 2/dark chronicle.

BWHAHAHA THAT'S RICH!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7368462)

"we were also trying to make sure we had games in every genre because we really didn't know what kind of third-party support we were gonna get."

I guess that explains why every game involves either throwing a ball around or shooting stuff!! Every genre my ass.

To speak or not to speak (1)

curtlewis (662976) | more than 10 years ago | (#7368662)

For games that need it, voice overs really help lend to the immersion. While there is a prevalence of bad voice acting in the industry, I think that will change with time as it becomes more commonplace.

For a game that needs it, to avoid it because of the hassle is stupid. There are plenty of talented amateur and professional actors that can do this work for much less than the cost of hiring some big name movie star. Local theatre groups or college drama departments are good places to look.

I'd love to do voice over work, but I have no contacts in the game industry nor a resume of voice work. I do have a great deal of stage experience and a voice I'm told records well. I don't really know where to start to get into this kind of work, though. I'd certainly work for less than Dennis Hooper!

Re:To speak or not to speak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7376327)

"For games that need it, voice overs really help lend to the immersion."

I think you meant to say,

"For gamers that need it...."

Also, I think your approach to voiceover work is what's wrong with voiceover work in games. "I can show you how to do this real cheap, you idiots! Local talent is key!!!!" Tell that to the guys who localized Last Alert and Mega Man 8 for the big dumb American market.

I played through MGS2 three times... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7370027)

...and still don't know what they're talkin' about. I skipped all that blabla crap because it reminded me so much on boring TV.
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