Voice Acting-open discussion

Consider this an open discussion of any and all things related to voice acting or actors in PC games. For some games, like the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series, it plays a crucial role; they've had some of the most unforgettable characters ever created, and brought to life by the excellent voice acting (I can't hear Brandon Keener's voice without thinking of Garrus Vakarian). Those games wouldn't be the same without the excellent work of their associated voice actors.

Other games aren't so dependent upon it, and I remember many older games (as I'm sure the majority of you do) that had no voice acting at all. Then there are games with partial voice acting; for important characters or NPCs, and cut scenes or major events. I'm sure it must be a huge budget hit for a game developer to have every character voiced, especially when you're translating into various languages for a world wide release. I think all three types of games: fully voiced, partially voiced, or text only, can work well. A lot depends upon the writing.

What brought about this whole rambling thought process, was a situation with an NPC named Sir Farrara in a game I'm currently playing: Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning. When I talked to this character I was immediately reminded of Skyrim. It was actually an overwhelming feeling of being back there, as I've spent literally thousands of hours between both Skyrim & Skyrim SE. So I did some Googling, and found that this Sir Farrara is voice acted by Michael Gough. And then I understood why.

Voice Cast (Skyrim) | Elder Scrolls | Fandom

If you scroll down to Michael Gough, you'll see how many characters he actually voiced in Skyrim (In the past I'd often thought that Bethesda only had about 12 or so voice actors for Skyrim, but turns out they had over 70). Here's a couple short videos to illustrate why I had those Skyrim flashbacks:

View: https://youtu.be/SJO_D3TfFyk


View: https://youtu.be/gya8ZtPebFw

I searched a bit further to find his full list of voice acting in games (scroll down a bit), and he has done so many games, I had no idea. He also voiced Deckard Cain in Diablo 2 & 3, and that completely took me by surprise (maybe some of you already knew that, but to me it was a revelation).

Michael Gough | English Voice Over Wikia | Fandom

And a short clip of Michael Gough's Deckard Cain voice from Diablo 2 (shortest one I could find):

View: https://youtu.be/Snt334jLjQs


I also had to include this, even if it's off-topic on my topic, as I just snort-laughed out loud when I listened to it (Deckard Cain's dialogue put to Rap music):

View: https://youtu.be/7HfmB4r2Fco


So anyway, back on topic. Has this ever happened to you, where you're playing a game and hear a characters voice and are immediately transported back to another game where his/her voice was distinctive? Or: Do you have a favorite voice actor? Do you favor games that are completely voice acted (probably depends on the game)? Has voice acting ever defined a game, or has it ever adversely affected your experience? All thoughts are welcome here.
 
After reading a PC Gamer article on Crush Crush (free), I started playing it because the article had complimented the writing, and I had never played either a dating sim or a clicker game. It was made by a small studio, and I was completely infatuated with one of the voice actresses (I thought all of them did well, though), and I ended up looking it up to see who played that role and was floored to find out she was an artist at the studio who had never done voice acting before. Most all of the other voice actors were professionals with plenty of credits to their names.

I also thought the woman who was Senua (main character) in Hellblade did a nice job, and she also was someone who worked for the studio and had never done voice acting before. She did her lines with incredible emotion and had a very pleasing voice.

Speaking of pleasing voices, I like the guy (forgot his name) who plays the male lead in AC Valhalla. I could listen to him talk all day.

The majority of the time, I think the voice acting is pretty good, but sometimes it gets distracting. Whoever does the voice acting for the female in Green Hell sounds generally good, but it seems to me that she didn't understand the context of some of her lines, which probably wasn't her fault.

One game where it was definitely distracting at times was Cradle. I think this was done by a Polish studio, and they had let the writers of a local gaming magazine voice some of the parts. Some characters were borderline torture to listen to.

Lastly, I'd be curious to hear people's thoughts on this: I have a game in mind that I will probably never make, but I've got it all planned out. I was thinking of only having one voice line acted, basically the final line in the game. The point of that, as I imagine it, is to give that line more weight, but I don't know how it would be viewed by players, to suddenly have a character speak after a few hours of everyone being silent. I don't want to put the line here, as it wouldn't make sense if you hadn't just been through the story, but the sentiment of the line could be summarized as "I love you."
 
all three types of games: fully voiced, partially voiced, or text only
Add a fourth, where all the main parts are live actors in FMV cut scenes. That's died out in the 10s afaict, but was a deal in the 90s and early 00s. I'm most familiar with the Command & Conquer / Red Alert games from back then—they played it for laughs, but had quite a few name actors:
Billy Dee Williams
George Takei
James Earl Jones—one of my favs
Jennifer Morrison
JK Simmons—yep, the Oscar winner
Josh Holloway
Kari Wuhrer
Malcolm McDowell
Michael Biehn
Michael Ironside
Peter Stormare
Ray Wise
Tim Curry—the other fav

More recently, Her Story—the core plot of the game is revealed by the character, played excellently by Viva Seifert, answering police questions on screen.

Do you have a favorite voice actor?
Leonard Nimoy is likely to always be my fav Civilization VA—the venerable Sid Meier couldn't match him in the expansions—altho Sean Bean gives him a run for his money.

Otherwise, the prolific Troy Baker gets my vote.

Has voice acting ever defined a game
The biggest diff a VA made for me was Ellen McLain's exquisite performance as GLaDOS in the Portal games. She certainly defined the tone of the game.
 
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having one voice line acted, basically the final line in the game
I don't have a strong opinion either way, but I wouldn't do it unless that final scene transports us to a different environment, eg the future or another planet.

Would feel too much like a gimmick otherwise, and also probably evoke reactions of "Cheap skinflint, why wasn't the whole game voiced?" :D
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
I was playing Mad Max and, when I went into one of the hubs, one of the unnamed NPCs said something that shocked me. I don't remember what she said, but it wasn't what she said that was shocking - it's who she was! I KNEW that voice! But where from?

I thought at first that it was Jennifer "Femshep" Hale. But, come on, this was just one or two lines! It would be like Sean Connery being used as an extra! Can't be her! No, as it turns out, it was Laura Bailey from Saints Row: The Third, Blood Rayne, NieR Replicant, and a few thousand other places. Every bit as big a name as Hale!

Not sure what the deal was, but big names doing tiny parts does seem to happen at times. I wonder what's happening there? Are they cameos? Does the lack of having to mess with makeup/costumes mean they can just pop by for an hour to pick up some quick pizza money?
 
Voiced lines for enemies in Hack & Slash games can either be annoyingly repetitive or make an otherwise unremarkable enemy a lot more memorable.

I will never forget the enemies in Sacred that yelled "Burn in the fires of damnation!"
 
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Voiced lines for enemies in Hack & Slash games can either be annoyingly repetitive or make an otherwise unremarkable enemy a lot more memorable.
That's very true, as a lot of enemies just repeat the same 1 or 2 voice lines over & over & over, and it can get annoying. Can't think of any game off the top of my head, but I've definitely experienced that. Seems like bandit-type enemies often have that characteristic.

There was one game I played when I first started in PC gaming (this is like well over 30 years ago), and I can't remember the game's name, but it had a female protagonist that was some kind of spy, shooting her way into evil corporations. Once combat started the enemies would say "subdue the intruder, subdue the intruder" constantly. I think that's why it still sticks in my mind, because of that mental ability of our minds to "learn by repetition". I still hear it in my heads sometimes.

I was playing Mad Max and, when I went into one of the hubs, one of the unnamed NPCs said something that shocked me. I don't remember what she said, but it wasn't what she said that was shocking - it's who she was! I KNEW that voice! But where from?
That happens to me a lot, the most recent which I noted in my post. I've now started to track them down, like I did with Michael Gough (that guy has been in so many games). And you're right, it's not so much what they say, but the fact that you recognize the voice from another game.


Add a fourth, where all the main parts are live actors in FMV cut scenes. That's died out in the 10s afaict, but was a deal in the 90s and early 00s.
I forgot all about the FMV era, they had not only voice acting, but the actors/actress' themselves, which required not only voice acting, but physically acting with relevant facial expressions and costumes. I was really into them for a few years back in the mid to late 90's, and 3 that I remember the most were: Gabriel Knight the Beast Within, Phantasmagoria, and Phantasmagoria Puzzle of the Flesh. Those last two I remember being a bit controversial at the time for certain sexual situations.

The majority of the time, I think the voice acting is pretty good, but sometimes it gets distracting. Whoever does the voice acting for the female in Green Hell sounds generally good, but it seems to me that she didn't understand the context of some of her lines, which probably wasn't her fault.
Yeah, I've run into that too, where the voice acting, and the inflections in the tone of the voice, just doesn't quite feel real, as if the person doing the voice doesn't really understand what they're saying; like they were just handed a script without ever seeing, or understanding the game and/or the character they're voicing.

One game where it was definitely distracting at times was Cradle. I think this was done by a Polish studio, and they had let the writers of a local gaming magazine voice some of the parts. Some characters were borderline torture to listen to.
I find myself playing a lot of games from smaller European game developers like Piranha Bytes, Larian, CDProjekt (and obviously Laraian & CDProjekt aren't really small anymore, but they were when I started playing their games), and sometimes the voice acting can be a bit erratic. A lot of that I think has to do with the translation to English, and the fact that the game budget is probably smaller. Mostly it doesn't bother me, and at times I find it endearing with the odd (to my ears) voice inflections and dialogue translation. That happens often when I play a Piranha Bytes game.

Lastly, I'd be curious to hear people's thoughts on this: I have a game in mind that I will probably never make, but I've got it all planned out. I was thinking of only having one voice line acted, basically the final line in the game. The point of that, as I imagine it, is to give that line more weight, but I don't know how it would be viewed by players, to suddenly have a character speak after a few hours of everyone being silent. I don't want to put the line here, as it wouldn't make sense if you hadn't just been through the story, but the sentiment of the line could be summarized as "I love you."
It sounds risky to me, but the payoff could have a dramatic effect, a lot would depend upon the story and how it's presented. Also, would the gameplay be strong enough to keep players invested in the game long enough to see the end. Interesting idea, but I think you would face many hurdles to pull it off effectively.
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
Dragon's Dogma might be the king of that repetition.

For those that don't know the game, it includes the unique (as far as I know) pawn system. After the introduction, you make a companion character to fight along side you, called a pawn. You can also hire two other pawns, which are made by other players. When you aren't playing, your pawn can be hired by other players, too. When these pawns meet a new enemy, they fight normally. However, if they have fought the enemy before, whether with you or with somebody else while off line, they shout out tactics. Other pawns (and you, if you're listening), can use this information to adjust tactics against that enemy.

The thing is, the pawns don't check to see if the other pawns already know the tactics. Also, the game re-spawns enemies after you leave, meaning you'll be fighting those goblins (?) on the road outside of town for a pretty sizable portion of the game. And, every time you do, you'll hear they are weak to fire, from each pawn, at least once. Every. Single. Time! It's a really cool system overall, but that was annoying. (Very annoying for some people.)
 
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Zloth

Community Contributor
Second story: Starpoint Gemini 2

The game's voice acting is really terrible. The actors are hamming it up so bad! But hey, small developer, you can't expect much, right?

But then they did a strange thing: they re-released Starpoint Gemini 1 using the second game's engine as a free DLC. This one was voiced by the developers themselves. It was better! Well, sorta better - maybe "more agreeable" would be a better term. It was still bad, but it was clearly not professionals doing the work. Somehow, that made it a lot more enjoyable than the bad professionals.

So, now I'm wondering just how many local, amateur performances wouldn't have been good at all if it were coming from somebody I had regarded as a paid professional.
 
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my favourite voice actor woud be david hayter-his discography of (mainly MGS) games here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hayter#Video_games
he always had a very gruff and serious voice in metal gear solid as solid snake.
i looked him up a while ago on cameo to see if he was on there first of all (he is!) and if he is doing personal video messages (he is!) as one of my support staff had told me about that site, id love that,im going to see if my sister will get me one for my birthday next year.
 
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No One Lives Forever?
No, it was older than that. From what I can remember (outside of the annoyingly repetitive "subdue the intruder"), was that it was mostly isometric in perspective, along the lines of Crusader No Remorse, in fact it may even be from that time frame. It was a game that I didn't really like enough to finish, and ended up selling it used to Electronics Boutique or Game Stop.

The only other things I can remember, was that were some sequences that were like a side scrolling platformer, and there was one corporation that had mobs of toddlers in diapers toddling (I guess that's what toddlers do) after you carrying butcher knives. They'd eventually mob you, but if you fired your gun into a crowd of them, they'd scream & cry and toddle away. Only to return in a few seconds, with more of their toddler friends, and try to mob you again. Really weird, I wish I could remember the name of it.
 

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