Voice Acting in a Dialogue Heavy Game

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Voice Acting in a Dialogue Heavy Game

#1 Post by Neeka » Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:24 pm

Hello everyone! I am working on a future project with the possibility of voice acting. My current VN has voice snippits rather than full lines. I've played several VNs with full voice acting, with pros and cons. For me, a pro is that is rounds out the characters and makes me slow down (rather fast reader). A con is that if voice actors don't 'match' it can be distracting, and sometimes I read the line before the voice over is completed, making me want to skip to the next page.

What do you think? The VN that I'd have would be several hours long. As it's psychological, there is great importance on the characters as opposed to action. The POV also switches between each member of the cast. Is having such an enormous project fully voiced possible or asking too much?

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Re: Voice Acting in a Dialogue Heavy Game

#2 Post by Graff » Sun Jul 30, 2017 12:08 am

I would say it's only worth it if the voiceovers are competent, which presents a different obstacle: the funds and the time to make that happen.

Various demographic surveys show that most players either don't like voiceovers in visual novels or don't care whether they are featured or not. It's not something a lot of VN players really require, so that's another thing you should probably keep in mind. When the VO delivery is great, it can help with immersion, and do the opposite if delivery is poor.

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Re: Voice Acting in a Dialogue Heavy Game

#3 Post by FluffyCakeFactory » Sun Jul 30, 2017 2:59 pm

Personally I don't care for voices much. I'm a fast reader and just skip forward if the character isn't done talking. Thus I much more prefer snippets or no voice at all.
Plus, as Graff said, voice acting is time- & money consuming, so I don't think it's worth it.

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Re: Voice Acting in a Dialogue Heavy Game

#4 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:27 pm

Something to think about is that even large studios often don't choose to fully voice-act a game because it means your script has to be locked down very early in development and any changes or edits become very expensive and time consuming to make.

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Re: Voice Acting in a Dialogue Heavy Game

#5 Post by JBShields » Mon Jul 31, 2017 10:41 pm

LateWhiteRabbit wrote:
Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:27 pm
Something to think about is that even large studios often don't choose to fully voice-act a game because it means your script has to be locked down very early in development and any changes or edits become very expensive and time consuming to make.
Great point!

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Re: Voice Acting in a Dialogue Heavy Game

#6 Post by bluebirdplays » Wed Aug 02, 2017 5:04 pm

I haven't read too many vns with voice-acting in it, but I've enjoyed smaller-timed games a lot more than the ones that take hours to complete. Some voices can just get tiring to hear after too long and it's not really something I look for in a game either. It's a nice addition, sure, but as folks have mentioned above me, you need competent voices that fit well. I'll always take a vn with little or optional voice-overs any day over a full game that way.

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Re: Voice Acting in a Dialogue Heavy Game

#7 Post by Shinoki » Wed Aug 02, 2017 5:41 pm

I'm not a big fan of voice snippets as they can be kind of jarring and hard to do right. If I see a line and start hearing it being voiced but the voicing stops before going through the whole line, I'll be slightly thrown off. Even if the voicing is only grunts, if the voicing doesn't fulfill all of the text on screen at a given moment, it feels kind of jarring.
Partial voice acting is fine though. If it's expensive to voice act the whole thing, I'm okay with only having important scenes voiced. It'll emphasize the importance of a scene while also not being too strange.

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Re: Voice Acting in a Dialogue Heavy Game

#8 Post by Dovahkitteh » Wed Aug 02, 2017 6:05 pm

I'm actually a huge fan of voice acting. It's true that it can be very difficult to get right and complicates development a lot, but I honestly think it's worth it if you can pull it off.

I honestly don't think you would have to worry very much about cost. Our first project (which had partial voice acting) was VA'd entirely by amateur voice actors working for free, but we've gotten a large amount of people telling us they really liked the VA and thought it added so much to the game. There are a lot of aspiring VAs out there on Casting Call Club, BTVA, etc. looking to get their foot in the door, even if it means unpaid projects. (If your project is commercial, profit splits are also an option.) Not just kids with headset mics, either -- we got some really quality applications and carried some of those VAs over to our next project because of how much we liked them :D

However, I would recommend either going full or no VA. Partial was a pain; we had to choose which lines were "important" and which ones could just use effort noises/grunts, and then implement all of those one by one (which was hell for a 125k word game). Full VA, which we're doing for our current project, is a lot more straightforward... even if there are a large amount of lines. Just make sure you have a good idea of how many lines each char will have going in.

TL;DR -- I'd say you should go for it. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but if you get some great auditions and see the chance to really bring your game to life, you'd be surprised at how much of an awesome difference it can make.

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Re: Voice Acting in a Dialogue Heavy Game

#9 Post by Barzini » Fri Aug 04, 2017 8:49 am

Competence of the voice acting is extremely important. My own project, A More Beautiful World, only has dialogue in it, with every line voiced. I took special care to look for people who had dubbed in games and anime.
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Re: Voice Acting in a Dialogue Heavy Game

#10 Post by Kokoro Hane » Mon Sep 04, 2017 6:58 pm

As many people have stated, you need to have the right voice. You need to be able to believe that voice is coming out of their mouth. I've played games with mediocre or not very good voice over, and even though I LOVE voice it can cause even me to be reluctant in finishing it or even turning off the voice over (only exception is if the voice is so bad it's good, but sadly that's mostly not the case when voice over fails). I personally really find full voice acting adds to a project, but you gotta be up for the hard work it's going to take. Even if you're lucky to have a full volunteer cast, it's time consuming--not just on the recording end, that's actually not as time consuming as you think. From personal experience as someone specialising in voiced projects, be it full or partial, just know that even a smaller project can take quite a bit of time to cut all the lines (if they aren't sending it precut to you--but even so, you'll need to level audio appropriately--some audio conversion programs can allow this to be done in mass however), AND you have to put each voice command over line by line over dialogue. So it is something you'll really need to consider, and perhaps you should try full voice work on a smaller-scale VN first (even my first project was a small-scale done in 72 hours with only 2 voice overs to worry about, which made it easier to put together but no less tedious).

I think you starting out with voice snippets is fine. It adds a voice to each character, so the reader has something to imagine to go along. You could also experiment, rather than having full voice, with some voiced scenes. Maybe you could have very important parts contain voice acting, acting as a "cutscene" of sorts. This would be a lot easier to work with, and is a sort of in-between. More voice work than simply sprinkling snippets (though you can keep those in to add more life to non-voiced areas) but not too much where you'll go insane ('cause trust me, from personal experience, scripting stuff in line by line can be agonising at times--worth the result, but I'd recommend you become a little more seasoned before trying it).

Anyway, my 2 cents! I love the idea of you thinking about creating a fully voiced game, but at the scale you're working, you might not want to attempt that until you work on smaller fully voiced projects to know how to work with and direct voice overs and whether or not you have the patience to script line by line. Another option is if you had a voice and casting director willing to cut, level, and script in lines for you--but again, I'd try this with smaller scale projects first.
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Re: Voice Acting in a Dialogue Heavy Game

#11 Post by threebards » Mon Sep 04, 2017 11:06 pm

I think unless you have a gigantic budget and talented voice actors, it's okay not to have voice at all. Well-done voices can seriously enhance your game with character development or making a scene memorable or it can also be a turn-off and annoyance if done poorly. I wouldn't add voices just to have it as a feature, and a lot of dubbed games from overseas with low localization budgets suffer from this (especially MMOs). Maybe you could try to get a dialogue or two fully voiced and see if it feels right to you?

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Re: Voice Acting in a Dialogue Heavy Game

#12 Post by LeonDaydreamer » Mon Oct 30, 2017 1:50 pm

I think voice acting can add a lot to your project. I am aiming for full voice acting in my current game A Near Dawn (also a psychological thriller), for me it adds a cinematic quality that makes you feel like you are watching a movie. And people who don't want it or need it can just shut off the Voice volume, and you have something for everybody. Having said that, it is an immense amount of work - coaching/directing, your actors recording takes then you picking them out and giving revisions, then editing and implementing. If you have a big project, you will need very reliable voice actors, because you cannot be waiting for weeks to get back a few lines when you have so much work to do. I have had some voice actors flake out when I was putting together the Prologue for my game, but overall it was a really great experience working with them.

The main downside I have found so far is that you need to finalize all of your writing early. It's not my preferred way to work, I like to keep revising up until the very end. If you're doing voice acting you won't have that luxury (you can ask to change a few lines, but you can't record a scene and then completely change it - no one will want to work like that). And because it takes a long time, unless you want your project to drag forever, the first thing you will need to do is make a final draft of the script (99% final - you can do it in stages and schedule accordingly), and that way you can work with voice actors and artists simultaneously to build up the project.

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