Voice your Narrator or not?

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wyverngem
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Voice your Narrator or not?

#1 Post by wyverngem » Thu Jun 11, 2015 12:33 pm

I'm curious on people's preference for voicing the narrators. Is it expected in first-person or is more of an internal speech and expected not to be voiced?

Example Idea:
"It's another boring day in study hall. Typical, I could have taken drama if I hadn't slept in Monday."
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"I look behind my desk and see Jessica and her 'clan' giggling besides my desk there's a crumpled up piece of paper there."
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"I pick up the note anyway, glaring at Jess as I do."
j "HEY! DON'T READ LOVE NOTES NOT MEANT FOR YOU!!! IDIOT!!!"

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Re: Voice your Narrator or not?

#2 Post by trooper6 » Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:52 pm

Depends on the genre...and how good the voice acting is.

If the voice acting is great I'll take it no matter the genre.
If the VN is in the noir genre, which is a film/book/radio genre known for 1st Person voice over narrations, I'd be happy to hear voice over.

But in the end, you do what you want to do as a creator.
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Re: Voice your Narrator or not?

#3 Post by Katy133 » Thu Jun 11, 2015 2:38 pm

For some reason, most VNs that include voice acting will not have the narration/inner thoughts voiced. I've always found this odd, because narration is inherently (usually, anyway) the least interesting part (and therefore, slowest) to read in a VN. Usually, people prefer to read dialogue over narration.
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Re: Voice your Narrator or not?

#4 Post by Mad Harlequin » Thu Jun 11, 2015 4:09 pm

As trooper6 said, it largely depends on the kind of story being told, and on the quality of the acting.

I don't consider it a must. I'd rather read something written well than have something poorly written read for me.
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Re: Voice your Narrator or not?

#5 Post by SundownKid » Thu Jun 11, 2015 8:59 pm

There are a few reasons why narration is usually not voiced. For one, it would require the main character's voice actor to read a huge amount of text. Second, it's annoying for the reader to have to sit through lengthy voiced narration that takes as long, if not longer than the dialogue. Third, it sounds plain awkward and comedically ridiculous when you are trying to create tension since it feels like the main character is talking to themselves. There's basically no legitimate reason to read out the narration out loud unless it's a fairy tale or tall tale that would make sense to be read out loud (or as previously mentioned, noire style stories)

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Re: Voice your Narrator or not?

#6 Post by Mad Harlequin » Fri Jun 12, 2015 9:55 am

SundownKid wrote:Third, it sounds plain awkward and comedic and ridiculous when you are trying to create tension since it feels like the main character is talking to themselves. There's basically no legitimate reason to read out the narration out loud unless it's a fairy tale or tall tale that would make sense to be read out loud (or as previously mentioned, noir style stories)
I think there's an episode of Family Guy that makes this exact point. (Peter narrates his every action and thought in at least one scene.)
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Re: Voice your Narrator or not?

#7 Post by Kailoto » Fri Jun 12, 2015 11:14 am

I think the lack of first person narration is ubiquitous for a variety of reasons... as others mentioned, it tends to break immersion and costs a lot in voice acting work, and there's no real need for it. Heck, sometimes the POV's spoken dialogue isn't even voiced, simply because the character is meant to be a vessel for the player, and having an established dialect and tone can limit the effect. Whether or not you agree with doing so is one thing, but it's undeniable that voiceless protagonists still exist, while voiced inner narration is exceedingly rare.

Third or second person narration, however, certainly has potential. Since it's not the protagonist's thoughts, but rather an unacknowledged narrator or another character in the story, it sounds a lot more natural and believable (if done well, of course.) It allows for the narrator to have their own established voice and identity, which lends a lot more potential for creating tension, drama, or humor. Games like Bastion or The Stanley Parable execute this to an exemplary extent.
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Re: Voice your Narrator or not?

#8 Post by trooper6 » Fri Jun 12, 2015 1:12 pm

Kailoto wrote:Heck, sometimes the POV's spoken dialogue isn't even voiced, simply because the character is meant to be a vessel for the player, and having an established dialect and tone can limit the effect. Whether or not you agree with doing so is one thing, but it's undeniable that voiceless protagonists still exist, while voiced inner narration is exceedingly rare.
I think these things are rare because creators/players default to the idea that the character is meant to be a vessel for the player's own identification. But it doesn't have to be that way, and there are a lot of literary genres that don't make that assumption. Pulp crime (which has a lot of first person, inner thought narration) is one. I mean, I read a novel recently where the entire time I was thinking--this first person narrating protagonist is a terrible person...I hope he fails in all his endeavors!

I think more video games that play with distance between player and protagonist would be awesome!
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Re: Voice your Narrator or not?

#9 Post by Kailoto » Fri Jun 12, 2015 2:33 pm

trooper6 wrote:
Kailoto wrote:Heck, sometimes the POV's spoken dialogue isn't even voiced, simply because the character is meant to be a vessel for the player, and having an established dialect and tone can limit the effect. Whether or not you agree with doing so is one thing, but it's undeniable that voiceless protagonists still exist, while voiced inner narration is exceedingly rare.
I think these things are rare because creators/players default to the idea that the character is meant to be a vessel for the player's own identification. But it doesn't have to be that way, and there are a lot of literary genres that don't make that assumption. Pulp crime (which has a lot of first person, inner thought narration) is one. I mean, I read a novel recently where the entire time I was thinking--this first person narrating protagonist is a terrible person...I hope he fails in all his endeavors!

I think more video games that play with distance between player and protagonist would be awesome!
Same here, the whole "the protagonist must be an avatar for the player" thing feels really limiting to me, both as a storyteller and as a player... it's why I tend to prefer JRPGs over their Western counterparts, as the latter tend to focus more on customization and freedom of expression, whereas sometimes I just want to settle in on a nice story and not worry about establishing and maintaining an alternate persona.

There's some genres in VNs you can't split that from, though, like galge and otome. And to be fair, some stories are just told better that way. But visual novels, and games in general, have a lot more to offer than just wish fulfillment, roleplaying, and escapism. I think a lot of people look at games as a medium and deny any semblance of art because those aspects are all they see... but that's digressive. VNs are great because they have such a low barrier for entering, development-wise, that it's a lot easier for people to produce some really avant garde concepts without dedicating years to learning how to program or use a game engine. I'll still take my run-of-the-mill love stories, but every so often something surprises me.
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Re: Voice your Narrator or not?

#10 Post by trooper6 » Fri Jun 12, 2015 2:36 pm

^^ I agree with everything in Kailoto's lovely post.
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Re: Voice your Narrator or not?

#11 Post by Chocopyro » Sat Jun 13, 2015 4:05 am

Self insertion only worked in a few cases for me. With legend of zelda, I always saw Link. The silent protagonist thing never changed that. With Persona 3 and 4, strangely, self insertion worked to a small degree. Though it led me to create more of a separate character based off of me. With skyrim, I completely insert my own character personalities and mindsets over me and focus on telling their story. That to me is more fun than raw self insertion. I guess thats RPC insertion? XD

Meanwhile there have been games where I would have preferred to have self insertion. I dunno, I always thought Mass Effect and The Witcher could have benefited from having a full character customization sequence, but that may just be because they give you so many dialogue options, and yet someone else's character is saying them all. But for the majority of visual novels, I'm fine with that, since the decisions come at pivotal points and not every time you wish to respond to someone asking you if you would like to by a sweetroll with five contrasting options. Just give me a fun, proactive protagonist, and let me enjoy his/her point of view. In fact when I think about it, a voiced protagonist in VNs might actually be preferable, though voiced narration would really be kind of tricky to do right without grating on my nerves. It would require some synthesis on both the writer and the voice actor's part. But voiced dialogue is far more preferable to games that have an actual character as their protagonist, and not just some sort of blank faced "Hi, I'm plain as f*ck. Be me and live out your galge desires!"

Well jeez, my opinions are really all over the place there, aren't the? :|

To sum it up, I guess:
The more options I'm given in dialogue, the more I prefer a degree of self immersion.
The more freedom I get to explore the world, the more I prefer to insert a character of my own device there.
And for heavy story centric games, with choices only popping up at certain points in the story, I prefer a character with a strong personality to, and I'm there to watch their story. And in this case, I'm perfectly happy with voiced dialogue, but a bit apprehensive on voiced narration. Open, but wary.
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Re: Voice your Narrator or not?

#12 Post by Saitoki1582 » Sat Jun 13, 2015 10:57 am

I think Japanese VN only voice dialog because it is the medium used to emulate anime without the expense of animation. Narration is usually what replace animation/action scene so it's not meant to be voiced. To be honest, when reading VN, I usually just skim the inner thought because I find them boring to read, but will read carefully when it come to action or interaction scene.

And then there is budget: Voiced narration -> a lot more lines to read -> the more you have to pay the VA. Famous Japanese VN usually sell drama CD, usually a re-cap of the VN scene with voiced narration from a character. And these disk are not cheap. If they can sell CD with voice as extra merchandise, I don't think it worth it to pay more to put voiced narration inside the VN itself.

Edit: As for OELVN... Well, having voice acting is already a blessing, I think.

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Re: Voice your Narrator or not?

#13 Post by wyverngem » Sat Jun 13, 2015 12:15 pm

Well, this was interesting to read. I'm hearing a strong no when it comes to voicing the narration because of cost or how it's perceived. I think it's actually a better option then having the self-voicing do the work for you. It's what was driving me to post about this. I'm not thinking about those who can read the lines themselves, I'm thinking of how distracting Zira is when it comes to the game. Nothing like an artificial intelligence to take the life right out of your story.

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