In This Chapter
Planning for Voiceover
Choosing a Sound Studio
• Casting Actors
• Recording Voiceover
• Voiceover Checklist
10.1 I
uality voiceover in a game is becoming an expectation of players. Players
want to be immersed in a game world, and that means the charac-
ters must be believable and speak in a way that fits the game world.
Great voiceover work adds to a game’s appeal and makes a good game better.
Conversely, poor voiceover work detracts from the game experience and makes
a good game seem below average.
Because of this desire to fully immerse the player in the game world,
voiceover work is also becoming more complex and, thus, more challenging to
manage. There are more characters, more lines of dialogue, and more diverse
uses of dialogue within the game. For example, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon had
about 600 lines of dialogue and about five unique voices, but four years later Tom
Clancy’s Ghost Recon 2 had more than 2500 lines of dialogue and more than 15
unique voices. These days, a games such as Mass Effect and Grand Theft Auto
IV have even more complex and challenging voiceovers to manage—hundreds
of characters (some voiced by celebrities), tens of thousands of lines of dialogue,
Chapter 10Chapter 10
and dynamic voiceover systems so that the player doesn’t hear the exact same
voice cues over and over again.
If your game has thousands of lines of dialogue with numerous characters,
work must start months in advance to write the script, secure a recording studio,
audition actors, and record and process the voiceover files. As with all the other
aspects of game development, if these tasks are carefully planned for, the more
successful you will be during the voiceover process.
Initial planning for game voiceover needs to happen in the pre-production phase.
In this phase, the goals of the voiceover design can be defined, and any techni-
cal considerations for reaching these goals can be explored. If voiceover is an
afterthought in the development process, it is more difficult, time consuming,
and costly to implement.
One thing to keep in mind when planning for voiceover is that you want to
wait as long as possible before actually recording the final voiceover. Voiceover
dialogue will change during the course of development. For example, during
play-testing, the designer might decide that adding a line of dialogue is necessary
to make the mission objective clearer. This addition can be done more easily and
cheaply if the final dialogue has not been recorded. However, having the basic
plan outlined in advance, but not implemented, allows the team the flexibility to
look for opportunities to improve the script with such revisions most efficiently.
So even though you will not need to record the final voiceover until well after
alpha, you must have the basic plan outlined to accommodate any last-minute
voiceover changes or additions.
Voiceover Design
Voiceover is one of the primary ways to bring the game characters and story to
life for the player. For example, a good voiceover actor will be able to convey
whether a character is human or alien, and uptight or carefree. Voiceover com-
municates information about a character’s state of mind or a situation to the
player. Is the character afraid, sad, in danger, or confident? Is the voiceover
coming from a television broadcast or from another room?
Additionally, the voiceover design is the biggest determining factor of how
much it will cost to get the desired voiceover effects. The design details how
voiceover will be used in the game, how many lines of dialogue are needed,
how many characters will have spoken parts, and which dialogue will have ad-
ditional processing and effects. Usually the game designer and sound designer

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