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Something I noted while scrolling through the pathfinder/bg3 thread were a couple comments mentioning the voice acting. I found it interesting that some of them were dismissive of its importance. Maybe it's just my inner theatre nerd background speaking, but good voice work elevates character performance in ways few things can manage, and bad voice acting really breaks my immersion. (I do feel like when people on here talk about immersion they more mean verisimilitude of gameplay components--pedantic, sure, but an important distinction.) I can't imagine a character like, say, Morrigan being as iconic as she is if not for Claudia Black's stellar voice work.

And that's not even getting into the nonverbal flair given to the characters. People seem to treat these aspects mostly as spectacle and production value, but in an audio visual medium I consider them just as important as the words coming out of the characters' mouths. Or to put it another way: no one would say a good musical score is a matter of good production value, even though in many ways it is, so why should we treat voice acting any differently?

Kind of curious to hear where others fall here.

Last edited by MyriadHappenings; 14/09/21 06:08 PM.

“But his mind saw nothing of all this. His mind was engaged in a warfare of the gods. His mind paced outwards over no-man's-land, over the fields of the slain, paced to the rhythm of the blood's red bugles. To be alone and evil! To be a god at bay. What was more absolute?”
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The answer is: it depends. I like a good VO, and writing (be it good or bad) can be elevated to another level when matched with a great performance.

VO in RPGs tends to be weird, as unlike other games we have control over how narrative proceeds.

First of all, I don't like when my PC is voiced. Or it depends. It's fine, when the character I am playing is predetermined - like Geralt. Then again, I don't really consider Witcher3 to be RPG - more of an action game with RPG elements. Giving voice to PC, is definining them, and therefore taking away my choice as a player - it's a bit like cutscenes taking away my control of the character. It is great is some instances, but inappropriate in games that prioritise immersion and player imput - like immersive sims. So if game asks me to create my own character, I don't think it should force a voice on this character. Giving voice to my PC automatically creates a barrier.

As to other NPCs - I don't find reading to be an inferior experience to listening or films. It's just a different way of engaging with content. In RPGs especially, VO further defines characters, and as such limits our possible reading on them. Same line can be interpreted slighly different if read with a different tone and attitude - and while it could be smoke and mirrors, it is a way of allowing "player perceived reactivity" where none exists. And I think it is desirable.

Gaming to me is at it's most fun, when it's interactive - and VO is not. VO is at it's best when player's imput is limited. RPGs are at their best, when as the player you feel like and active participant (be it with actual actions or imaginations), and not that you are watching a bad movie.

EDIT: Giving it a bit more thought - when it comes to RPGs there is also this problem: there is a lot of talking. Like a lot. And not all of it is worthy to be acted out, but is necessary for a medium of games. That's why, I think I enjoy partial VO the most - it is nice to have key interactions voiced - and characters having voice or barks does help to bring them to life, especially if it's a top down perspective. But voice everything, in a game when you talk a lot, about not particularly interesting things (like shopping) and it starts missing the point. And sure I can skip dialogue (which I eventually do), but then it's kinda missing the point at that point, isn't it?

Production value adds to the experience, but production sake, for production sake is silly. Yakuza games used to have tiered interactions - fully animated fully voiced cinematics, voiced interactions and silent interactions - and it worked really well! The newer titles strive to add mroe VO - and frankly I find myself skipping it, as those interactions aren't deep enough to make VO worth it.

Last edited by Wormerine; 14/09/21 10:54 PM.
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I guess it depends . As long as it's not terrible I don't really pay attention. I don't go into a game expecting a character to have a certain voice. But a lot of games have many choices and some sound off.

For example a few in WOTR are just bad. Like I had to restart it when I heard certain lines. Or I don't like how some games have a "gruff" voice and it just sounds funny. Black Geyser is guilty of this.

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Originally Posted by Wormerine
The answer is: it depends. I like a good VO, and writing (be it good or bad) can be elevated to another level when matched with a great performance.

VO in RPGs tends to be weird, as unlike other games we have control over how narrative proceeds.

First of all, I don't like when my PC is voiced. Or it depends. It's fine, when the character I am playing is predetermined - like Geralt. Then again, I don't really consider Witcher3 to be RPG - more of an action game with RPG elements. Giving voice to PC, is definining them, and therefore taking away my choice as a player - it's a bit like cutscenes taking away my control of the character. It is great is some instances, but inappropriate in games that prioritise immersion and player imput - like immersive sims. So if game asks me to create my own character, I don't think it should force a voice on this character. Giving voice to my PC automatically creates a barrier.

As to other NPCs - I don't find reading to be an inferior experience to listening or films. It's just a different way of engaging with content. In RPGs especially, VO further defines characters, and as such limits our possible reading on them. Same line can be interpreted slighly different if read with a different tone and attitude - and while it could be smoke and mirrors, it is a way of allowing "player perceived reactivity" where none exists. And I think it is desirable.

Gaming to me is at it's most fun, when it's interactive - and VO is not. VO is at it's best when player's imput is limited. RPGs are at their best, when as the player you feel like and active participant (be it with actual actions or imaginations), and not that you are watching a bad movie.

That's fair.

I tend to prefer silent protagonists as well in RPGs. Although people have complained in the past about these characters often feeling unresponsive within the text itself on an emotive level. The problem is you can't possibly code every emotional reaction a player might have in mind, so it's often better--or at least, easier--to leave it blank and let the player project onto the character instead. One thing I liked about Dragon Age II was that you could define your Hawke by the emotions of their response. It would be interesting to see iterated versions of that implemented into more RPGs. For example, in Pathfinder, if you selected the pragmatic voice, your PC had an idle animation that matched the emotional concept behind said voice.

While I don't mind reading, either, I'm not sure it's taking full advantage of what video games as a medium have to offer. You can just as easily argue you're reading a bad book as you are watching a bad movie. Like I adore Planescape Torment and Disco Elysium, but they don't come close to touching the hallowed pantheon of Gormenghast or American Gods or Orlando or Gloriana (or, if we're including magical realism, 100 Years of Solitude and House of Spirits) for me on a purely written level. What allows them to transcend is the elements outside of the writing, such as art style or music or player agency. The only game I've played that managed to come close is barely a game at all in the form of Kentucky Route Zero. And I also feel like if you want to tell a good story there have to be restrictions placed on the player in some form or another.

Last edited by MyriadHappenings; 14/09/21 07:11 PM.

“But his mind saw nothing of all this. His mind was engaged in a warfare of the gods. His mind paced outwards over no-man's-land, over the fields of the slain, paced to the rhythm of the blood's red bugles. To be alone and evil! To be a god at bay. What was more absolute?”
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Well speaking for myself the evolution of gaming as an art form has been amazing. I'm in my mid 30's and have grown up on NES and Amiga Computer. Now a days I tend to prefer not to have voice acting at all if it's bad, but growing up and watching this evolution from Number Muncher to BG3 to mind-blowing to say the least.
Even the cheesy RE1 voice acting was amazing back in the day, and if you compare Final Fantasy IV on the SNES to the 3DS remake there is no contest. I would take the 3DS remake any day, but looking at Final Fantasy X (which is 20 years old BTW if some of you guys don't feel old already) I think I would prefer them not to speak (or at least speak Japanese). Voice acting can be really hard to pull off, and can break immersion especially the more high tech games start to get. Seems to be doing really good in this game though. Also let's not forget there are people that skip through all dialog. For me it is nice to have a voice for your favorite characters especially when it matches what you imagined it would be.


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Originally Posted by Wormerine
First of all, I don't like when my PC is voiced. Or it depends. It's fine, when the character I am playing is predetermined - like Geralt. Then again, I don't really consider Witcher3 to be RPG - more of an action game with RPG elements. Giving voice to PC, is definining them, and therefore taking away my choice as a player - it's a bit like cutscenes taking away my control of the character. It is great is some instances, but inappropriate in games that prioritise immersion and player imput - like immersive sims. So if game asks me to create my own character, I don't think it should force a voice on this character. Giving voice to my PC automatically creates a barrier.

I agree with you, but I think if games continue to progress sooner or later they will have voice sliders and lots of options for the player character, so they will only need a few people to voice your PC, but you can make the voice sound the way you want. I don't think your PC will go into a full blown speech by any means, but I think maybe devs will want it to feel like you are interacting with companions and other NPCs a little more.

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Good voice acting adds a lot to a game. I love it! smile

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I know this might make me sound like a BG:I/II grognard but I still like the way dialogue would be 'half-voiced', the first line of dialogue would establish the character and the tone, and then sometimes again to underline a dramatic point or important information. I feel like this could allow a lot more dialogue to be added as well as sidestep the issue of consistent acting. Of course playing Wrath of the Righteous right now, which does this, and it's not exactly perfect either.

For the MC it's different, because how important the voice of the character is can depend on how much they have establish characteristics. Like the difference between Commander Shepard and Gordon Freeman.

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I like initial voice followed by reading for games with lots of text on the screen (like Disco Eleysium and DOS2), as I read instead of listening anyway. In cinematic games like TW3 and DAO, good voice acting is essential.

I despise voiced protagonists in classic rpgs, but enjoy them when I play a predefined character. They have to be excellent tho. M and F commander Shepherd in ME, Geralt in TW3, and male Eivor in Ass Creed Valhalla were all exceptionally good. M and F Hawke in DA2 were both cringingly bad. It makes a difference for sure.

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I'm not playing games in EN so to be honest, if voice acting is important to give life to characters I don't like much when too much dialogs are fully voiced.

I really like how it is in WoTR (or PoE) because EN voices gives a lot of personnality to characters but I'm not listening to the content... I'm reading it in french listening to the tone through short voiced sentences.

In BG3 I always skip dialogs because they are way too slow / too long. I read faster than they talk and they're talking a lot... It does not increase the value of the game compared to what is done in other games these days for players that doesn't play in VO imo.

But I really really really miss french voices we had in BG1/2. Short sentences like in Pathfinder but translated... It's NEVER gonna be possible in BG3. It could have been if dialogs were not all fully voiced in EN.

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Originally Posted by Sozz
I know this might make me sound like a BG:I/II grognard but I still like the way dialogue would be 'half-voiced', the first line of dialogue would establish the character and the tone, and then sometimes again to underline a dramatic point or important information. I feel like this could allow a lot more dialogue to be added as well as sidestep the issue of consistent acting. Of course playing Wrath of the Righteous right now, which does this, and it's not exactly perfect either.

For the MC it's different, because how important the voice of character is can depend on how much they have establish characteristics. Like the difference between Commander Shepard and Gordon Freeman.

I still need to beat BG1/2. I bought the enhanced edition and keep getting sidetracked by irl issues LMAO.

That's not a bad compromise. I feel like consistent acting can be a problem, but also dialogue in these games can sound kind of bad when performed by an actual human being, haha. I get that exposition is just an inherent part of the high fantasy genre but boy can it get grating at times. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but I would love it if more metered dialogue existed, especially in games with a focus on voice acting. There's a lyricism to it that sounds so good when read aloud.

Although in the case of WoTR, I do wonder how much clunkiness revolves around translation issues. I know the studio is based in Russia but I'm not sure how much effect that has on their writing process.

The cost of VA work is probably the most compelling reason to keep it at a minimum for me. But I'm not entirely sure how their contracts work--are they paid per line voiced? I heard vague rumblings about the voice acting union a few years back but regrettably never tuned into the conversation.

Originally Posted by timebean
I like initial voice followed by reading for games with lots of text on the screen (like Disco Eleysium and DOS2), as I read instead of listening anyway. In cinematic games like TW3 and DAO, good voice acting is essential.

I despise voiced protagonists in classic rpgs, but enjoy them when I play a predefined character. They have to be excellent tho. M and F commander Shepherd in ME, Geralt in TW3, and male Eivor in Ass Creed Valhalla were all exceptionally good. M and F Hawke in DA2 were both cringingly bad. It makes a difference for sure.

I haven't played an AC game since Black Flag so can't really comment there. I've never been a fan of Mark Meer's Shephard, personally. He isn't outright bad but I find him a touch bland. Shepard strikes me as more of an in-between type of protagonist than Geralt. Geralt feels really, really defined as a character in terms of backstory while Shepard is a lot more malleable and open-ended. Although I've read the Witcher books so that might be biasing my perspective a bit. Mostly agree otherwise.

Originally Posted by Maximuuus
But I really really really miss french voices we had in BG1/2. Short sentences like in Pathfinder but translated... It's NEVER gonna be possible in BG3. It could have been if dialogs were not all fully voiced in EN.

I feel a bit stupid for not considering perspectives outside an English one. Good point.

Last edited by MyriadHappenings; 14/09/21 10:00 PM.

“But his mind saw nothing of all this. His mind was engaged in a warfare of the gods. His mind paced outwards over no-man's-land, over the fields of the slain, paced to the rhythm of the blood's red bugles. To be alone and evil! To be a god at bay. What was more absolute?”
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Bringing up Disco Elysium is particularly good here because it is an example of both ways being done excellently, there was only one or two minor places where any part of the final cut felt 'out-of-character' to how I had initially read it in the initial release.

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Voice is completely unimportant to me. In most games I have voice (and the immersion breaking repetitive music and interface noises) on mute and just have environment sounds with subtitles because there is always at least one character that has some rage inducing overly dramatic and fake sounding voice. Don't like voice "barks" either in these types of games because I tend to play stealth characters in everything, and anything other than imaginary hand signals is annoying.

Voiced protagonist is something I really despise. None of the voices ever sound like how my character should sound and it is irritating and immersion breaking. A good part of the time, the dialogue options are not what I would ever say, and not having to hear the words makes it a lot easier to rp in my head what I would actually have said. Something I wish games would do is have the protagonist on a separate sound slider in menu options so it would be easier for everyone.

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I think that all aspects of sound design are important in a game. Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines, which is my favorite game of all time, has a brilliant soundtrack and amazing voice acting where it counts. The characters in Vampire are some of the most charismatic out of any game I've ever played, and it's in no small part due to voice acting. Sure, the game failed at launch, but it still has a strong cult following. The music in BG3 is great, and the acting has been very entertaining so far. I have high hopes for the finished product.

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Of course good voice acting adds to the game, I can't imagine anyone honestly saying it doesn't. that said, there are a lot of other issues around it (for me at least). First, the protagonist. with a voiced protagonist, you have to be very careful how they're voiced. If it's not done well, it can lead to people hating their own character, which is about one of the worst things you can have. Well it's done well it can work, but again, it limits role playing options. As GM4Him was saying in another thread, when your main character is reacting a certain way to a situation either by voice or expression, it limits how you can interpret their response. if my character sounds scared but i want to role play them not being scared at all, it takes more effort.

Second is the amount of dialogue. Despite the modern trend to think that all voice all the time is the only way to go, i think it's very clear that for anyone other than the biggest studios, having hundreds of thousands of lines of dialogue and having them be entirely voiced well is a massive undertaking and could increase the budget of a game many times past what they were hoping for originally. You can see the different if you just look at BG3 and WotR. in BG3 voice acting adds a lot, but the conversations are often quite brief. In WotR, you'll have key moments and conversations being voiced, but a lot of the extra information gathering bits are not, and that leads to a massive amount of extra information that can be given to the player.

For me, I'd much rather have a game where the important parts are voiced but there is still a ton of non-voiced text over a game where it was all voiced, but there was a noticeable lack in the length, variety, and number of conversations

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Originally Posted by Blave_Kaiser
I think if games continue to progress sooner or later they will have voice sliders and lots of options for the player character, so they will only need a few people to voice your PC, but you can make the voice sound the way you want.
Watchdogs: Legion tried something of that sort, with mixed result from what I heard.

Still, that is simplifing voice actors' job quite a lot - they provide far more, then just reading hte lines. Performance is interpreting - timing, putting stress on words, convaying thoughts and emotions. That's the value of VO. You can electorically modify the voice (horror, horror) but the performance will remain the same. You can make a chipmunk out of Geralt, but that won't change the delivery of his lines.

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Originally Posted by Boblawblah
Of course good voice acting adds to the game, I can't imagine anyone honestly saying it doesn't. that said, there are a lot of other issues around it (for me at least). First, the protagonist. with a voiced protagonist, you have to be very careful how they're voiced. If it's not done well, it can lead to people hating their own character, which is about one of the worst things you can have. Well it's done well it can work, but again, it limits role playing options. As GM4Him was saying in another thread, when your main character is reacting a certain way to a situation either by voice or expression, it limits how you can interpret their response. if my character sounds scared but i want to role play them not being scared at all, it takes more effort.

I tend to prefer a non-voiced protagonist as well, so no argument there.

My only issue with this is that, while I can interpret delivery, tone is often inherent to the actual diction and connotation of the responses. Like Zarna, I’ll often find myself staring at options and find myself thinking that none of these responses fit the character I had in mind. Especially if I want to play a meeker character… most of the dialogue options imply the character is naturally confident. I could ‘interpret’ the responses as meek, but that feels less like interpretation and more like willfully ignoring the text and substituting it with my own. If you’re going to forgo voice acting for more dialogue options it would be nice if the dialogue options actually felt varied and distinct. (Which is a criticism applicable to BG3 as well, to be clear.)

A good example of a wasted opportunity is how, early on, WoTR has a dialogue option asking who Deskari is. Which is strange because the game specifically employed a Tyranny-style mouse over option for world building. While there’s an argument to be made that it’s to allow you to play an amnesiac if you like, the amnesiac route has been done so often in games it feels like a complete waste of a slot. Not to mention there’s only so much you can interpret when the dialogue often has all the subtext of a block of wood.

Originally Posted by Boblawblah
Second is the amount of dialogue. Despite the modern trend to think that all voice all the time is the only way to go, i think it's very clear that for anyone other than the biggest studios, having hundreds of thousands of lines of dialogue and having them be entirely voiced well is a massive undertaking and could increase the budget of a game many times past what they were hoping for originally. You can see the different if you just look at BG3 and WotR. in BG3 voice acting adds a lot, but the conversations are often quite brief. In WotR, you'll have key moments and conversations being voiced, but a lot of the extra information gathering bits are not, and that leads to a massive amount of extra information that can be given to the player.

For me, I'd much rather have a game where the important parts are voiced but there is still a ton of non-voiced text over a game where it was all voiced, but there was a noticeable lack in the length, variety, and number of conversations

I would like to point out conversations are probably also briefer because long blocks of woolen, expository dialogue would result in marble mouthing from all but the best VAs… and perhaps Jonathan Majors. (Seriously, though, I’m replaying the opening and the dialogue is somehow even more grating than I remember.)

That said, if we compare the opening act of BG3 (which isn’t even complete) to the opening act in Kenebras, I’m not certain there’s really that much of gap in the amount of dialogue. The only area where WoTR was superior to BG3 in that period was in the conversations between companions during camp as well as the amount of companions. I do think it’s a lot easier to miss a lot of the dialogue in bg3, which is extremely irritating.

Last edited by MyriadHappenings; 15/09/21 05:48 AM.

“But his mind saw nothing of all this. His mind was engaged in a warfare of the gods. His mind paced outwards over no-man's-land, over the fields of the slain, paced to the rhythm of the blood's red bugles. To be alone and evil! To be a god at bay. What was more absolute?”
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Voice acting for me is not a must, in any game, but it can add some flavor, sometimes a lot. I like how it is in BG3, a silent PC and talking in 1st person to other chars. Companion talk during the walk sounds as if you hear people walking along you chattering, it's ok. I don't like the voice acting in PoE 2 or P:WotR.

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Voice acting doesn't really matter to me, but I like it well enough when it's there. I like how Pathfinder approaches it, where you get some major moments and story beats being voiced but the majority of the game being unvoiced. It lets you know what the other characters sound like, it can add some extra punch in big moments, but it doesn't create a situation where it would feel weird for your main character to not be voiced. I think that's the best of both worlds honestly.


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