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Sozz Offline OP
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This was getting a little too off topic for the Dragon Age - NextGen thread. Tuco and Lester where talking about the difference between a silent and voiced protag and over all the presentation of the custom character in the EA

Originally Posted by Uncle Lester
Originally Posted by Tuco
I've never been particularly bothered by the silent protagonist mechanic, and I realize it may be basically a necessity in any game where there are simply too many possible permutations for the "main character", but at the same time I've seen very few cases that manage to make it feel jarring as BG3 does currently... And I think after a while I even understood why.

It's mostly because of all the unnecessarily long and awkward shots at our main character:

- not saying a word for seconds
- being framed by the camera for way longer than he really needs to.
- being overly expressive and having way too pronounced body language, to the point of looking like a mime/parody.
- also, quite frankly, being a bit of a wimp. Constantly acting squeamish and/or scared like a kitten at any given chance.


I've been thinking about it as well and arrived at the same conclusions. You hit the nail on the head with all of these points. (This should go to some thread on this topic, tbh. Larian should see this.)

The easiest way to fix it would be to just keep the camera at the NPC we're conversing with most of the time and only include short shots at our PC from time to time. If that. That would solve like 90% of the "silent protagonist weirdness", I think.

Your point about overacting is a very important one and unfortunately not as easy to fix - but imo it very much should be addressed. Characters acting theatrical might be ok with isometric view, but it's terrible in cinematics. Cinematics mean we DON'T need overly obvious visual cues. We can see the characters very well and everything unnatural/jarring is painfully apparent.

And yeah, about being a wimp... It would be great to be able to choose "demeanor" (sensitive, stoical, aggresive, fearful...) in character creation, but I'm not sure how feasible it would be.

This is actually how I stress test a game, I try to play a shrinking violet, refusing at every turn the burned of narrative agency and how well the game deals with this is how I judge if it's really serious about giving you choice in how your character is played.

Except for one instance on the nautiloid where you literally fall over from seeing a dragon for the first time I haven't been too bothered by the silent film acting from the character, I heard Larian say that more lines would be voiced but so far when one is voiced, it's still pretty jarring because of how rare it is.

What I really see as the issue here is the question of demeanor, if your character is going to react a certain way to a situation then that should inform you about the demeanor of that character if it's out of your hands then you should make us play the character that way or build a narrative where changes aren't completely dependent on the random whim of what choice we decide.
I don't like conversation systems that if viewed in retrospect make your character into a sociopath that can vacillate wildly form kind-hearted to cynical mercenary to violent maniac without any consideration that acting this way in real life would make you look like a lunatic.

When in the final game you get to play the origin characters I don't see this as being quite so much of a problem simply because the origin characters will be more fleshed out from the start so you won't be fighting the game in their presentation.

Last edited by Sozz; 07/11/20 09:37 PM.
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'Tis disturbing to my demeanor!

I don't usually see my own face when I am engaged in a dialog with a real person, so I don't think I need to see myself in a computer game, either. Dragon Age did this to a degree, and I guess now that I think about it, this is one of things that broke my connection with that game. Likewise, I have very little interest in playing a pre-formed origin character. I'd rather read the book at that point. I am usually not so opinionated on things ... maybe I am not thinking clearly ... aagh, the Mists of Unknowing again! By Leira's heart, what am I really talking about? ... how could Larian possibly write & present my PC the way I imagine it to be?

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I'd rather give a part of my PC over to Larian and whoever they hire as voice actors with the trust that they'll convey them alright. Too much disconnect for me when the PC isn't voiced but everyone else is.

When my protagonist isn't voiced but everyone else is, they feel more like a force of nature or another observer of the story rather than a character in it. Voicing the protagonist allows Larian to give said character personality during dialog; which in turn allows NPC's to be able to react to what's present on the screen, rather than trying to predict what's in the player's head. So that issue exists whether the PC is voiced or not as long as everyone else is voiced.

And for note; I'm fine with the MC being unvoiced, so long as everything else is. Morrowind was and still is my favorite Elder Scrolls game because almost all the game's dialog was delivered through text, so there wasn't much of that disconnect. Though it was still jarring in the few scenes where there was voiced dialog. Except for that last scene where the jarringness actually fitted to get my attention. "Welcome, Moon and Star."

It's not a deal-breaker for me, I've grinned and bared many games with silent protagonists and managed to come out with an overall positive impression, but it's never overall served to help my view of the game and only ever damaged my immersion.

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We will see what it will look like in the full game. I don't expect everything to be fully voiced (though I'd like to), but I hope the character will speak more than once every 20 hours.
Nothing kills dialogues like being the only person with no sound in games. In that respect DA:I was almost perfect. I also never understand the argument about immersion, I would say that the lack of sound kills it much more.
The ME series would never be so good if Shepard didn't have a voice.

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Shepard also came in two variants: male or female thirty-something human officer. Period.

People should realize what they are actually asking for and get a bit more realistic with their expectations.
In BG3 you'll have at least six-eight origin characters, 4 voices currently available for your custom main character and a lot of users are already asking for a lot more permutations on top of these, because they don't like how the available range of options fits their Scottish dwarf or their upcoming Dragonborns/Half-orcs.
Basically to have the "fully voiced MC" for each one of these options we are talking about an amount of work comparable to fully voicing the equivalent of AT LEAST 8-10 Commanders Shepard, in a game that could arguably be even bigger than Mass Effect in the end.

I won't pretend to talk for Larian and say it's impossible, but let's just say I'd be pretty damn impressed if they actually achieve it. And maybe even a bit disappointed that we can't have a proper day/night cycle but we can blow a truckload of money in redundant voice acting options.


P:S. About the thing this thread is actually about, I don't have much to add at this given moment over what was quoted in the OP; I'll lurk and wait to see what people think about it.

Last edited by Tuco; 07/11/20 12:09 AM.

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I absolutely do not want my protagonist to be voiced. The current two male voices sound nothing like how my character sounds in my head, and whenever I play a game with a voiced protagonist I immediately stop feeling like he is MY character because he will sound different and have different inflections and thus vocal reactions to what I hear in my own imagination.

On top of that the more voiced dialogue the fewer options in the dialogue we can expect. We already had tags for race and class as well as different dialogue options for persuasion, intimidation, and deception checks. ALL of that would need to be voiced by every single voice actor, and that gets expensive fast.

If we get fully voiced protagonists we can pretty much give up on sub-class tags, background tags, god-related tags for clerics and paladins, patron tags for warlocks, and just all around more branching paths we can choose in the game because the more dialogue options they add the more expensive fully voiced protagonists become.

As for general demeanor? I'd honestly love it if we could get like... "Confident", "Kind", or "Cruel" tags that determine our character's expressions and general body language. Playing an evil Githyanki was awkward when he struck a Superman pose and smiled every time he met a new person.

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I guess this is where I'll bring up the elephant in the room. A lot of the shorthand for these concepts in D&D is the alignment system; in other games your actions fed into this abstraction of personal morality principles and philosophy, in better games it could also feed into how your character behaves. I think alignment should be in D&D but I like if it's kept under the hood, if people aren't told what their alignment is they can't min-max it as easily, and you can end up with a character who's alignment and behavior are the result of roleplaying instead of the other way around.
Originally Posted by SaurianDruid
As for general demeanor? I'd honestly love it if we could get like... "Confident", "Kind", or "Cruel" tags that determine our character's expressions and general body language. Playing an evil Githyanki was awkward when he struck a Superman pose and smiled every time he met a new person.

I like the tag system from, I think it was in Pillars?, where you gained traits through repeatedly acting certain ways, I respect the attempt to incorporate a way to develop your character's personality this way; I wish more extensive systems like that were developed.

I also think that something terribly lacking in every RPG is how asymmetrical and idiosyncratic interpersonal relationships can be, but that's another topic all together. SaurianDruid's comment about Githyanki made me think of this, a Githyanki should behave very differently to other Gith than to anyone else, something most personality systems don't handle well.

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In all fairness, I never liked the voices in the Baldur's Gate series. it was always the most agonizing choice in character creation. I like voice with a little bit more grit and bass. Someone who sounds like alcoholism and chain smoking has nearly destroyed their voice. Like Kris Kristofferson or Wade Williams.

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Yeah I significantly prefer silent protagonist as well. Voiced protagonist are always American and European and it completely breaks the game for me since I always make caramel and chocolate characters and imagine deeper voices closer to my own. The demeanor personality tag could solve a lot of problems. A voice and body editor could go a long way as well. Instead of extra VA's we can keep the ones we have and alter tone, pitch, inflection, etc. Then attach it to a personality/ gesture tag. While origins would remain set in stone. It would make custom protagonists feel more on even ground.

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Only vaguely related, but I wonder if the game industry is already experimenting with Deepfakes and similar stuff.

Theoretically we already should have the technology to pick recorded lines, choose a new vocal timber and let an AI rework all your audio files.

Sure it probably won’t be perfect at every moment, but it could save an insane amount of money if refined over the years.


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Originally Posted by DistantStranger
In all fairness, I never liked the voices in the Baldur's Gate series....

Heresy!
Get Me Out of This HELLHOOOLE!!
I can dance on the head of pin, as well!!!

But in all seriousness the MC voice acting in the old games was more utilitarian than anything else, a verbal queue to let you know if something was happening, like a critical hit, fatigue, an ineffective weapon etc. I can't really judge its acting too much

Originally Posted by Tuco
Only vaguely related, but I wonder if the game industry is already experimenting with Deepfakes and similar stuff.

Theoretically we already should have the technology to pick recorded lines, choose a new vocal timber and let an AI rework all your audio files.

Sure it probably won’t be perfect at every moment, but it could save an insane amount of money if refined over the years.

That's interesting but from what I understand the voice is the one thing they can't deepfake yet. using machine learning to mess around with a voice should be easier, but might get into Watson territory.

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I think a whole ton of full voice sets for every possible PC would be cool . . . but probably not practical. I think it would be best, for a game in which you are not playing a fairly specific character (Commander Shepard, Geralt of Rivia, Mike Thorton, Hawke, etc.), to keep the protagonist silent. There would have to be too many variations in a game like this, and trying to make them all fully voiced would ABSOLUTELY reduce the number of actual dialogue options we'd have in the game.

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Originally Posted by SaurianDruid
I absolutely do not want my protagonist to be voiced. The current two male voices sound nothing like how my character sounds in my head, and whenever I play a game with a voiced protagonist I immediately stop feeling like he is MY character because he will sound different and have different inflections and thus vocal reactions to what I hear in my own imagination.

On top of that the more voiced dialogue the fewer options in the dialogue we can expect. We already had tags for race and class as well as different dialogue options for persuasion, intimidation, and deception checks. ALL of that would need to be voiced by every single voice actor, and that gets expensive fast.

If we get fully voiced protagonists we can pretty much give up on sub-class tags, background tags, god-related tags for clerics and paladins, patron tags for warlocks, and just all around more branching paths we can choose in the game because the more dialogue options they add the more expensive fully voiced protagonists become.

As for general demeanor? I'd honestly love it if we could get like... "Confident", "Kind", or "Cruel" tags that determine our character's expressions and general body language. Playing an evil Githyanki was awkward when he struck a Superman pose and smiled every time he met a new person.

Agree with all of this.

Most of the time I have sound turned off in games with voiced protagonists because they sound so fake. Even then the subtitles still make me cringe because most of the time my character would never say whatever is being said. There are way too many races, classes, backgrounds, practically everything that would affect the way someone would sound, these will be impossible to get right for everyone.

Demeanour tags I would like to see to help with the facial expressions and poses. This should be separate from alignment tags, being forced to be a perky light hearted "good" character or a scowling "evil" character all the time would be lame and unimmersive.

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Originally Posted by Aishaddai
I always make caramel and chocolate characters and imagine deeper voices closer to my own.


I would easily choose Keith David, Ving Rhames, Michael Jai White, or hell anyone with a timbre lower than Chris Rock without any hesitation over either of the voices offered now. This would totally be worth pushing for

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Now GW2 might not be a proper example, but I can't bring myself not to think of how extremely awkward the voice acting is for the PC... 95% of the time it just does not suit at all what I'd want my character to sound like (ignoring the fact that GW2 does not let you choose your voice lines at all but just focusing on the voice itself).

Personally, I don't really mind either way regarding BG3. If they would find a way for the character to use their voice selected in the character creation for all, or most, of their lines. Great. However, if I got to choose voiced lines - but less options, or a silent protagonist but more options, then I choose the later.

HOWEVER!

I absolutely do agree that there should be some way that we can actually affect the way our character presents themselves in body language, facial expressions etc... Whenever it is something you select in character creation or develop overtime is less important imo.

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I think the voice/silent protagonist debate already has its own mega-thread, suffice to say people make the voice unvoiced main character a matter of self-insert when it's as much a matter of narrative freedom and the illusion of choice that all prewritten computer games have. If you're only interested in a blank slate to self insert on then you'll also have to accept that the game world will always have an unfocused view of your character because they can never be interacted with the same kind of depth a fixed character will have. I think this happened to a lot of DOS:II players because you had examples of both kinds of MC, if you played a premade character you were the focus of a whole storyline (quality not withstanding) if you made a custom one, you sometimes were a vaguely gendered person of indeterminant race who stood in the background of everyone else's sidestory.

So far in the EA we're only been given access (officially) to custom characters. The thing Tuco and Lester were talking about is how even though we've been given a (nearly silent) custom character, certain dramatic liberties are taken with the presentation of that character that bely character traits, traits that were this a premade character we'd expect, and would role with, but with a custom character make us wonder to what extent this character is our own creation. I'm fine with either case but if you mix them together you have to write around that.

Last edited by Sozz; 07/11/20 07:07 AM.
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It's odd that we don't have the custom character voiced in dialogues, but they are voiced in interactions with the world, perception checks and the like... why get to chooise a voice option if it's not gonna be used in dialogue?!

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Originally Posted by GloriousZote
It's odd that we don't have the custom character voiced in dialogues, but they are voiced in interactions with the world, perception checks and the like... why get to chooise a voice option if it's not gonna be used in dialogue?!


I imagine it's similar to BG:2, your companions had blocks and blocks of text with you but only the first line every so often was voiced, so you knew what they sounded like, to set the mood, and to add to especially dramatic moments. ....Also to save all that time and money on all that VO !!
Especially with all these people complaining about there only being two voices for each gender, make what there is sparse and you don't spoil the immersion. At least in theory

Last edited by Sozz; 07/11/20 07:13 AM.
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Firstly I like to read. Imagination is a wonderful thing.
Voice acting is good for some stuff, not everything.
There is no way Larian can properly fully voice a DnD character YOU imagined and created.

This isnt The Witcher, Mass Effect etc..But it probably will be next game ...sigh.

Last edited by mr_planescapist; 07/11/20 07:52 AM.
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I am against our characters being voiced too, it will be a near-impossible task too that is just not worth it, all origin characters will have unique voices, and we will surely have more preset voices than we currently do down the line. How the hell would manage to give a good voice for every single race we can play in the game?

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