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EverQuest Sequel Gives Voice To NPCs, Original Turns Five

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the crack-is-back dept.

PC Games (Games) 30

Thanks to GameSpot for its feature discussing plans to give full-audio speech to non-player characters in PC MMORPG sequel EverQuest II. The article points out this is "a first for online role-playing games, which have previously only featured silent characters that interact with players by sending them text chat messages", and elsewhere, a Grimwell Online article mentions a new PC Gamer magazine article specifying "an expected 130 hours of speech across 70,000 lines of dialogue", and revealing that "EQ2 is a $25 million dollar project." This new information comes as EverQuest celebrates its fifth anniversary with a multitude of developer interviews on the official site, as well as the re-activation of all old accounts until April 15th.

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Annoying (2, Insightful)

krymsin01 (700838) | more than 10 years ago | (#8735295)

Is it just me, or does this sound like on of the most annoying ideas put forth in a while? Maybe I'm too slep dep'd, but the idea of hearing some annoying NPC saying "Maybe you can help me!?" over and over again would make me want to shoot my machine after a while...

Re:Annoying (1)

juggleme (53716) | more than 10 years ago | (#8735349)

You'll just ignore it after a while. Trust me. I play Diablo II.

"Stay awhile and listen..."

Re:Annoying (1)

ggwood (70369) | more than 9 years ago | (#8741769)

I totally agree - most of it will be repetitive and thus turned off. However, it would be cool if, at some epic moments, the sounds could be on.

I wouldn't mind if, say, when I finish my "epic" quest which I may have spent 40 hours on, I get the 30 seconds of speach. And obviously, if there is just an on/off button I'm going to have it off.

So if anyone is listening, you may want to put a slider in:
All speach
Some speach
Only really important speach
No speach
Or something like that.
___________________________________________ ____

It might be annoying if... (1, Informative)

*weasel (174362) | more than 9 years ago | (#8735530)

...They figure out a way to make it worthwhile to talk to NPCs in the first place. Sony's NPCs don't have anything interesting to say in text, and spending resources pumping grade-C voice acting out of my speakers isn't going to change that.

Everquest's quests are a joke, and their vendors are largely ignored. Adding voice is just throwing more money into development, in an attempt to make its competitors seem less up-to-date.

It'll be interesting to see if they are spending for the kind of voice talent that they managed for Lords of Everquest [] , or if they're just doing it half-assed to say they did it.

Re:Annoying (2, Funny)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 9 years ago | (#8737475)

No it's far worse if you've played EQ:

Skeletons will now have voices to say: "Aarrreeeeeewwwwwwwwww!"

and almost every single other NPC in the game:
"You have ruined your lands, you will not ruin mine!"

It's their latest xp nerf, no one will get past character select for fear of the voices. I'd be happy if they could just get some background music that didn't make me want to hurl my speakers out the window.

Re:Annoying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8795980)

Ok guys, get real...repetitive voices? Is the text that the 1000+ NPC's all so repetitive that you need to turn the text off also? The voices are saying what you read, and I think its great to be *finally* moving away from having to read _everything_ in these games anyway - would we all want to be reading everything in games for the next 100 years or what? This is a welcome improvement for me!

Que ?? (2, Insightful)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 10 years ago | (#8735311)

Will they ship this with the game or will the speech be residing on the EQ servers.
If the latter is the case, you might need a faster version of broadband, right ??

Re:Que ?? (0)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 9 years ago | (#8735502)

yeah, just like they send you the images for rendering every polygon


Re:Que ?? (1)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 9 years ago | (#8736132)

When you get new quests, you get new texts for the NPC's, so it sounds plausible, doesn't it ??

And if I'm a muppet, I'd be Animal


Re:Que ?? (1)

ggwood (70369) | more than 9 years ago | (#8741743)

I imagine it will be on the media.

They did a poll for us a while back which asked if we wanted Eq2 on something like 2-3 DVD's or just a bucket of CD's (I don't know 20-30???)

Even with all the graphics, I had no idea what they could be planning to stick on *that* much media - but with voice acting it makes more sense.

Only reason to send it over the internet is to protect those sounds from piracy, but I just can't imagine why they'd bother. Who would want a bunch of "I see you have collected the five bone chips. Here is your reward" type clips.

Hey maybe someone will sample them and put them in house music LOL. (ps - anyone else see that SNL where they played the little Everquest fanfaire?)

If they did want to (moderatly) protect it, could they just send a little decoding key?

That's cheap! (1)

Wuukie (47391) | more than 10 years ago | (#8735335)

25 million dollars? Hah! That's nothing...

Stole this one from a interview with Gabe Newell from

Q - Just how much does it cost to produce a cutting edge game like Half-Life 2?

A lot. Last time I checked, we were about $40 million into the project. Yikes, that's a scary number.

Shhyeahhh... Rrrrright.... (1, Insightful)

CaptSisko (56435) | more than 10 years ago | (#8735336)

Posted on April 1st. The sheer amount of data that's going to be traveling over your internet connection to do this kind of in-game speech makes it seem a little bit 'fishy'.

Re:Shhyeahhh... Rrrrright.... (3, Informative)

EvilDonut (164879) | more than 10 years ago | (#8735367)

The GameSpot article linked in the story was posted yesterday, not april 1st.

Re:Shhyeahhh... Rrrrright.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8735393)

Uh...the samples would come on the install disk, and the only thing that would come over the net would be a "NPC #4732 play speech sample #11235" instruction.

Re:Shhyeahhh... Rrrrright.... (0)

Neck_of_the_Woods (305788) | more than 9 years ago | (#8735482)

Come on dude. Think about what the game is doing. Do you really think that the game will stream the audio. A more realistic approach would be to have this in the full install and just load it up on a trigger command from the interaction with the NPC(non player character or MOB from the old mud days). Much like the music you start to hear when you enter a town, or the chirp of a bird, of the grunt of a peon.

They don't stream the voice overs, I am sure it is just a file like any other music source that it just tied to the encounter. Nothing new to see here, move along....move along.

The problem with local files... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8738760)

I'm not certain of this, but it seems to me that if the NPC speech was sitting around in a bunch of files in the local install directory, it would be possible for players to extract the sounds from those files. That is, they could hear about epic quests, or secret lore, or the rediscovery of a lost city before anyone had ever played the game.

How this would affect the game, I'm not sure. There are spoiler web sites for every game, including EQ1, but usually somebody, somewhere has to have actually experienced the content before they can post about it. (Some exceptions are things like spells in EQ1, since the spell data is stored locally.) I suspect most players would argue that by giving them access to such a wealth of information, those sites actually enrich their gameplay experience.

However, I still think that getting a key piece of information too soon could mess things up. I guess it all depends on what the NPC's have to say. Say an NPC gives you a quest: "...To imbue your helm with magical protection, I will need a faerie spirit stone. Alas, the fae left here long ago, and I do not know where they have gone."

Say the faeries have gone to a place called Foo, which is where you will find the stone. The NPC's answer text upon successfully bringing him the stone is, "That you for the stone. ... Here is your helm as I promised." That's certainly no big deal. Knowing that before completing the quest doesn't tell you anything.

Say, however, that the NPC's text was, "Thank you for the stone. I never would have thought the faeries would take up in a place like Foo, but ..." Now cracking that file would give you an unintended advantage, at least in the early life of the game. The effect this would have could vary greatly with the scope of the information revealed.

"Who would've thought that the Vah Shir had been blasted into space, handed technological secrets by an all-powerful alien race, and would one day return in their spaceships to save us all..."

Re:The problem with local files... (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#8740441)

You could also substitute your own files. That might be even better than Monty Pythonized Doom.

pc speech (1)

Apreche (239272) | more than 9 years ago | (#8735457)

NPC speech? big deal. In puzzle pirates my flag uses Teamspeak. All the pcs have voices. It's funny how sometimes the lag of the game is slower than the lag of the teamspeak. People will yell out how much booty we won while on someone elses screen it is still counting up.

Oh yeah, EQ and all similar MMOs suck. Whoever plays the most is the "winner" not the person with the most skill. Progress quest, etc. etc. Puzzle Pirates is the only mmo worth two craps because it is skill based, you know a GAME and not just a glorified chat room.

Re:pc speech (0, Troll)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 9 years ago | (#8735512)

j00 suck0x

the winner is the one that has the most fun, moron

perhaps EQ was a bit too hard for you, putting shaped blocks into holes sounds much more your thing

He's just jealous. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8736827)

"perhaps EQ was a bit too hard for you, putting shaped blocks into holes sounds much more your thing"

Don't mind him, he's just jealous you can do that, people who play Everquest have problems putting anything in a hole, let alone finding a hole. And when they find one, rest assurred they'll camp it for all it's worth ;) (For those geeks out there, yes I was referring to the opposite sex. Now stop crying.)

*bzzzt* wrong (5, Informative)

Kaashar (738775) | more than 9 years ago | (#8735539)

a first for online role-playing games, which have previously only featured silent characters that interact with players by sending them text chat messages" Excellent research there bosco, unfortunately it's wrong. Earth and Beyond had many NPC characters that spoke to players. The only problem was with a MMOG bringing the voice actors back in every few months to re-do changing lines gets expensive.

I am looking for Bonechips (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8736123)

"I am looking for Bonechips to lift an ancient curse"...
"thank you for the [5] Bonechips"
"I am looking for Bonechips to lift an ancient curse"...
"thank you for the [5] Bonechips"
"I am looking for Bonechips to lift an ancient curse"...
"thank you for the [5] Bonechips"

30 seconds of that and my wife would be out the door. 90 seconds and I'd be going nuts. More than that, I'd delete it.

Now, all they need to do (2, Insightful)

kapella (3578) | more than 9 years ago | (#8736953)

is start hiring ractors to play the NPCs - who wants to listen to the same pre-recorded dialogue bits over and over again, anyway?

Re:Now, all they need to do (1)

cyrax777 (633996) | more than 9 years ago | (#8737360)

well who would have thought people would shell out 10 bucks a month to play a game that never ends then antoher 40 bucks every couple months later to buy a expansion?

Actually this isn't a joke (2, Informative)

Tarindel (107177) | more than 9 years ago | (#8737464)

The was announced yesterday, and there's a movie at Gamespot []

You'll have to be a member (free membership) to get it there, but it's mirrored at other places around the web, including a few fan sites (such as [] ).

I watched it yesterday -- it's quite excellent.

A Mighty Spell (1)

AnyNoMouse (715074) | more than 9 years ago | (#8738628)

"A Mighty Spell" Clink!
"A Mighty Spell" Clink!
"A Mighty Spell" Clink!
For those of you missing the reference, "Record of Lodoss War" for the Dreamcast had a feature where you could buy runes to add to your weapons. You went to a smith, bought the rune, he would exclaim "A mighty spell!" and add it to your sword. Not too bad at the beginning when you could barely afford it, but near the end, when you had the gold to buy 20-30 in a run... and you could literally add hundreds of them. It made a cool RPG quite annoying at the end.

You wouldn't need sound files (2, Interesting)

dauvis (631380) | more than 9 years ago | (#8738918)

If you include a text to voice synthesizer in the client. For example, AT&T has a good demonstration of their technology at . Maybe EQ2 will have something similar.

Re:You wouldn't need sound files (1)

jjhlk (678725) | more than 9 years ago | (#8739941)

The Natural Voices take over 400 megs of hard drive space (it seems to vary with which version you get). And while the actual voice sounds Ok, the intonation is still unrealistic.

Of course, a Far Cry install is a couple of gigabytes...

US$25 million is that much... (2, Interesting)

ggwood (70369) | more than 9 years ago | (#8741683)

...when you consider they have over 400,000 subscriptions each at about US$10/month that is US$48 million per year.

Of course they have expenses, but MMORPG's can be run at big profit margins (thus the flood of new titles) if the economies of scale work well enough.

I'm just saying they probably didn't have to run out and get any investment capital for Eq2 as they are taking in so much money.

Lastly, I'm just giving a very rough estimate of the money. Many people pay per month at US$15/month but if you pay in, say, 2 year intervals you can pay only US$8.30 per month (IIRC). Heck, they have people on a special server paying (IIRC) US$30/month! Also, the 400,000 figure for accounts is rough, also. They claim to have over this number for years now, but it is well known they have a large quantity of comped (free) accounts. How many I cannot estimate. Further complicating the issue is their "all access" pass. I bet they count that one person paying the fixed ammount as one account on each game, but the money (roughly $20/month but you can get down to $16.67 by the year) is less then the sum of the 3 (4?) subscriptions together.

You are off by ~ 30% (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 9 years ago | (#8742080)

EverQuest's Price Increase FAQ

What are the new EverQuest subscription rates?

* $12.95 per Month
* $21.99 per Month SOE All Access Plan (EQ is included)
* $35.85 for 3 Months
* $65.70 for 6 Months
* $119.95 for 12 Months (a 23% discount off the monthly rate).
* $199.95 for 24 Months (a 35% discount off the monthly rate).
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