Monday, November 26, 2012

Bad Voice Acting Made Me Do It

This weekend I didn't spend much time in Eve.  Most of my Eve time was spent watching the New Eden Open, listening to Arydanika's interview of CCP Fozzie on Voices from the Void #60 or doing a research project.  So when I logged into games this weekend, I chose Guild Wars 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Guild Wars 2 isn't a stretch because I've been playing the ArenaNet game for a few hours a week but I logged into SW:TOR to see if the free-to-play implementation is as bad as I've heard.  One thing they both have in common is some bad voice acting.

Why is the voice acting important?  Because I wound up playing female characters in both.  Now, I do have a history of playing female characters.  In EverQuest 2 I played a female wood elf because I really wanted to play a wood elf ranger.  But when I rolled a male wood elf, the character looked so much like a female that I decided to just go ahead and roll a female character.  When I went back to take a look at World of Warcraft, I rolled blood elf females because they looked like they could easily beat up their metrosexual male counterparts.  At least in Eve Online I didn't create a female pilot because of the way the men looked.  I was creating a CEO for my personal corporation and since the lore states that Vherokior women are very good at business I decided to go that route.

I really wanted to play a male Imperial Agent in SW:TOR.  The thought of the whole cold blooded secret agent with a British accent concept is really appealing.  Too bad that when I played a male Imperial Agent before the game became free-to-play that the actor's voice just drove me crazy.  He sounds like a giant prick.  So I currently have a level 3 female Imperial Agent with a voice that sounds the way I think a secret agent should sound.  The actress who does the voice, Jo Wyatt, also does the voice for the female Hawke in Dragon Age 2.  Maybe I should pick up that game instead of continuing with SW:TOR.

Speaking of bad voice acting, I just have to say that Guild Wars 2, while a game I'm enjoying, does have some really bad voice acting.  I deleted the first character I rolled, a male Asura Engineer, because I just couldn't stand the sound of my character's voice after 5 minutes.  I wound up playing a female human ranger because while her voice is sometimes annoying, at least I don't relate the voice as coming from me.

I really like the concept of story and voice acting in video games.  I am, however, beginning to despise voice acting in MMOs.  When the voice acting drives me away from content, that's when I start getting irritated with a game.


3 comments:

  1. I was just toying with the idea for a post on this very topic when you put this up. My initial feeling on the voice acting in GW2 was very similar - I thought it was poor, to be generous. After a lot more time with it (a LOT more...) I'd revise that to "poor in places".

    There seems to be what can only have been a directorial decision to use flattened interpretations with little affect for much of the voice-work. If you let actors have their heads you would never get the uninflected, bland, almost expressionless readings yhat are commonplace in GW2. (You'd get the original EQ2 voiceovers, redolent with ham acting, wild over-emphasis and hilariously bad accents).

    Someone, therefore, must have chosen to bleed out almost all the flavor. I'm guessing it was done intentionally to make the actual meaning of what's being said as unambiguous as possible in the expectation of a worldwide audience often hearing it in a second or third language.

    The big exception is the Charr. Whether the voicework for them was handled by another voice director would be interesting to know, because they are almost without exception more "acted" than any of the other races (I'm mainly thinking of NPC dialog rather than player character but even the latter is true also). Lots of Charr dialog is laugh-out-loud funny not because of the writing but because the actors have been allowed to play it with real feeling.

    If you want to hear some voice acting that reaches a par with a decent tv show or movie, The Secret World is the place to go.

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  2. I had a very similar GW2 experience, the Asura cut-scenes were awful. The Secret World sets the standard for how it should be done - superb, well-acted dialogue delivered consistently throughout my game experience so far.

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    1. A DUST bunny at work passed along that TSW is on sale on Amazon and Steam. I may need to pick it up. I liked the beta.

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