Darth Maul But Welsh: The Old Republic’s Voices

By John Walker on July 20th, 2009 at 12:00 pm.

The LucasArts peeps reveal the motivation to have Star Wars: The Old Republic be a fully voiced MMO, in a video below. None has done it before (although it’s not the only MMO in development aiming to do it), and it’s a huge task. Especially in a game that’s essentially two games, since there’s no shared quests between Republic and Sith campaigns. It’s hundreds of thousands of lines.

It’s interesting that they’re voicing the player character. There’s pros and cons with that. Obviously a massive pro is that your character doesn’t stand stupefyingly silent while people shout insults at him, while it does of course reduce the sense of uniqueness about your customised character when he talks with a prescribed voice.

The video shows lots of clips of the game, and gives an idea of the style of voice acting. Well worth a look.

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105 Comments »

  1. Daniel says:

    Interesting! I’m not sure about the art direction- nor how this will work when grouping with people. Are all quests going to be solo experiences, or will we have some manner of group conversation system? Definitely watching this with interest, though. If they pull this off well, this could verily change the nature of the game. Still, it could all end in tears. We’ll see.

  2. Novotny says:

    God I hate that ultra-macho voice-over being used by one of the main characters.

    Does anyone actually speak like that outside of a Hollywood film/trailer? Total immersion breaker for me :(

  3. Daniel says:

    Wow. I just read that both characters displayed were players. Very interesting, very interesting indeed.

  4. Ian says:

    Don’t know that I’d have chosen to have player characters voiced too. Might have been jarring to have them be silent and represented by text, but it’s better than potentially having a group full of folks with the same “voice”.

  5. 9of9 says:

    No one has done it before? I think not.

    Everquest 2 was the first fully-voiced MMO, coming out quite a long while ago.

  6. Kadayi says:

    @9of9

    Did they voice the main character and their companions in Everquest 2?

  7. Max says:

    How is this going to be done? Will the sound data be stored online or will I have to buy a new hard drive and take a week off work just to install this monster!

  8. unique_identifier says:

    fully voiced star wars mmo? text-to-speech with extra breathy effects.

  9. Lobotomist says:

    Looks great… just not sure its a MMO

  10. Dante says:

    I think they’ll employ KOTOR’s ‘looped alien gibberish’ dodge to cut down on the amount of voicing a bit. Nonetheless that’s still way more immersive than just text.

  11. Biscuitry says:

    So they talk about varied, high-quality dialogue, all well and good, but still use the Generic Growly Protagonist Voice? Double standard, much?

    That said, I loved both KotOR games, so I’m still looking forward to seeing how this comes out. They’re ambitious, you’ve got to give them that.

  12. Quests says:

    Will the madness EVER stop?

    We don’t care that this game got fucking voices, can they talk about what one does in it?

  13. .backslash says:

    Damn, that guy really needs a cup of tea. And to quit chain-smoking.
    Also, it looks like they’ll be using the Mass Effect dialogue wheel, and I’m one of the few people I’ve spoken to, that don’t like the bloody thing. Ah, well, at least the welsh Maul got me intrigued.

  14. Nero says:

    So, will every player created character have the same voice? Kinda odd. Also, it sound like Steve Blum which has a voice in damn near every game released right now.

  15. Spiny says:

    tsk, & I thought this ws Taff Wars :)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXCkybuziIc

  16. Premium User Badge

    Sagan says:

    I just watched that entire thing, and I still have no idea how they talked for over five minutes about a single feature in the game.

    And as several people have pointed out before me: Those characters don’t sound very convincing. Especially the guy at 2:46: “Our MISSION would GREATLY benefit from YOUR ASSISTANCE.” Nobody talks like that.

    Also: “We have over a dozen writers making sure that every piece of dialog really is a living, breathing thing.” – Daniel Erickson, Principal Lead Writer, Bioware. :D

  17. Bobsy says:

    Alright, I guess I’m in. But I have one important question that needs to be answered:

    In the clip it appeared that two seperate players (growly armour guy and effeminate lightsabre chap) were delivering dialogue in the same scene. Are they players, or is one of them a party NPC?

    The former will win my loyalty, because I know of certain people I’d like to Sith it up with. The latter would reaffirm my belief that this will be a good RPG, but an awful MMO.

  18. the affront says:

    FULL VOICE. FULL VOICE. FULL VOICE. AWESOME. NEXT-GEN. IMMERSION. CINEMATIC. EPIC. RICH. DEEP. EMOTIONAL. WORLD-WIDE. DRAMA. TENSION. YOU’RE THE STAR! THE INFINITE EXPERIENCE!
    So, yeah, I might have made some of those up, I’m not sure. They just felt right being there, because I do so love meaningless buzzwords. May the hype be with you, young customer!

    “None has done it before”
    Because it’s stupid. New content already takes long enough (too long, really, story driven instead of grind content isn’t feasible as of now without the player being bored as fuck for weeks/months in between patches, if one plays more than 3 hours a week) to release without having to voice every little thing after testing is done and you can be sure it won’t change so you’ll not have to re-record some of it.

    Also your usual MMO player doesn’t give a shit, at least if it’s not exclusively solo content (why play an MMO then?) where you’re at leisure to wait for the cutscene to finish without pissing off your group. Many people I know even skip quest text the first time they see it and just have a glance at the objective, so you actually get to the real content (PVP, achieving PVE goals as a group, socializing) instead of listening to an audiobook. Also reading is probably 2-3 times as fast as waiting for the voice actor to finish. ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    So all I can see this as is an attempt at reeling in singleplayer players that have never played an MMO before at the cost of slower content release for everyone else.

    Anyway, should be hilarious playing this with mates on VOIP and making fun of the dialogs. If I should cave to peer pressure / boredom sometime, that is.

  19. CMaster says:

    @9of9 – Although I’m not sure about whether any other MMOs have been fully voiced, RPS does seem fond of making false claims of “firsts” for SW:TOR – in an earlier article, they claimed that it was the first MMO with dialog choices…

  20. N-Al says:

    Incidentally, I just watched a performance of Shakepeare’s Troilus and Cressida at the Globe Theatre this weekend where the actor playing Achilles had a distinctly Welsh accent. Took some getting used to, I have to say.

  21. damien says:

    while i find the technical accomplishments involved in writing, recording and editing / mastering that MUCH spoken word impressive on some level, i’m unsure if any of it will be any good.

    i suppose i get the same amount of enthusiasm from this trailer as i would if a film director announced that he was making the longest, “most epic” and compelling film experience in the history of the entertainment industry.

    is “moar!” really what gamers want?

  22. Nafe says:

    So this game seems a lot like a very big follow up to the two KoTORs but what exactly about this is an MMO? Presumably other people are doing the same campaign as you, will there be people queuing up to do quests like in WoW or some sort of phasing system?

  23. Jason says:

    Well the voice acting sucks

  24. damien says:

    hrmmm. in the article about Galatea posted earlier today, i think Lewis Denby said what i was attempting to say better than i said it:

    “This is the thing. We’re often guilty of looking at it from the wrong angle. All the cinematics in the world, all the fabulous cut-scenes, high-budget voice acting, huge, expansive, conspiracy laden plots – they’re all getting tiresome, and not evolving the videogame in any meaningful way. Quizzed about their choices by a clearly bemused pair of podcast hosts, Reid and Orland both agreed: the strength of the videogame is not in telling complex, confusing stories. It’s in showing simple ones.”

    i can’t help but watch this trailer and think that all of it’s voice acting is going to amount to very little narrative.

  25. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    One of the big issues with having the player character’s voice being.. voiced, is that one has to offer enough voices to satisfy most player or basically force the voices on them.

    Really, unless it’s a game where the character’s not (made by) the player (like in, say, Halo or Monkey Island), it’s usually better not to have player character voices at all.

  26. Larington says:

    I’m not yet convinced they’ve found a way to defeat the ‘skip through all dialogue’ attitude found in many MMOs just yet.
    Aside from that, I’ve read in a recent PC Gamer UK that the combat is going to be properly synced up using a choreography system so that players aren’t waving weapons in the air useless, so that should make the combat much more interesting to watch as well as play, if they get it right of course.

  27. BrokenSymmetry says:

    Jennifer Hale was glimpsed in this video. Everything will be good.

  28. Tei says:

    Age of Conan first 20 levels are voiced. And Is awesome.

    One of my favorite characters is “Captain Pedro” (or something like that). is a witty character, and everything he say must be interpreted as the reverse, If he say “Thanks!, very good work!”. Is something almost imposible with text, and fun, really very fun.

    Of course, voices are like textures, and models *SHOCK SURPRISE*, If you have poor textures or poor models, the game looks like crap. If you add voices, should be good, if the voices are bad, the result is worst. Is this simple. No ifs, or buts.

  29. Tei says:

    AION has small cutscenes and is great. One of my favorite features of AION.
    These cutscenes can helps you understand what you have to do. Why you failed, or reward you.
    It seems (I have not played it long enough) Final Fantasy MMO also have cutscenes.

    The way I understand TOR, it will be really nice.

    In AION a cutscene feel like a reward. Much like in a adventure game like “The Day Of The Tentacle” once you do something right, you start a animation/motion that is funny/interesting.

    And theres another reason why is interesting: another step outside the mold. MMORPG games are stuck on a obsolete design, and need a huge /unstuck command to move the genre forward. Anything can helps, really, even incremental enhancements. We are this stuck.

    *mind explode with ideas*

  30. Premium User Badge

    Vandelay says:

    It seems like MMO fans don’t think this is MMO enough, whilst fans of the Knights of the Old Republic don’t want it to be an MMO (I’m in the latter group). Why not just drop the MMO stuff and make a huge singleplayer RPG? Everyone can be happy then.

    Ignoring that, looks interesting the more I see of it, but the purpose of the video wasn’t carried off very well. The voice acting I heard there all seemed fairly standard video game quality, i.e. bad. They also didn’t seem to demonstrate the consequences of your actions after someone stated the feature. Betraying that guy didn’t seem to have much affect at all.

  31. Dave says:

    I’m hopeful that once all this comes together it’s going to be worth the ridiculously massive effort.

    I also suspect they have a HUGE HUGE HUGE HUGE budget and are determined to spend it all. Full voice-overs probably don’t add to the total length of the development cycle, but it’s a parallel effort to everything else.

  32. cyrenic says:

    It looks like they’ll cut down on budget by having Steve Blum voice half the male characters.

    Seriously, though, is full voice over really worth it? I think they could probably do much better things with all that budget. Like hiring decent writers. Some of that dialogue was awful.

  33. TooNu says:

    This game is really going to shine when you can take the piss out of what is happening.
    Example 1.
    You make a character, give the female body that deep bounty hunter voice.
    Example 2.
    give every member of your party that deep bounty hunter voice.
    Example 3.
    get your RL friends to give their characters that deep bounty hunter voice.

    Or simply, do what you can in most other Bioware games, use thet alk function at range and then simply fight instead and have the NPC standing their waiting for the conversation whilst taking the punishment.

    Truthfully though, this will be rocking awesome.

  34. Lambo says:

    @Vandelay, PC Gamer did a preview of this last month. The guy did the exact scene as was shown here. Basically there ARE consequences. If you pardon him, he commands the ship and gets all our fellow NPC characters on the ship healed by sickbay and most of the enemy are destroyed before they land. If you kill him, his arrogant second in command gets the job and the fight is much harder with more enemies and none of the soldiers on your side get healed or revived. So I expect your choices in game to have a actual gameplay effect, as well as simply changing the story.

    I remember reading that there will be pretty much all of the regular MMO stuff in the game, its just that they are waiting to show it. As far as I can tell though it seems like for the most part it will play as a regular KOTOR game, but if you want your friends with you they can hop into your story. Its probable that the usual MMO staples will be in a place in-game where you can go when you want to use them and socialize or whatnot. But when your on a mission its basically a instance.

    Lambo

  35. Bhazor says:

    “The reason Star Wars is so popular is because of those great deep characters and those emotional stories”

    No it isn’t. It’s because the entertainment industry and pop cultures is controlled by nostalgic basts in their 30s who remember the lasers and explosions from when they saw it as kids. Don’t get me wrong, Star Wars is the best family action series ever made but it’s pure nostalgia that keeps it going. KOTOR 1 & 2 would have been as good without the license.

  36. Tworak says:

    fire the art director

    I’ll be spamming escape throughout this whole voice acting bullshit like a normal mmo player. stupid fucking gimmicks go end yourself out back behind the sauna

  37. Shane says:

    I hope they don’t voice eating and drinking, you know what I mean? Like when someone is sitting behind you chewing their Wheaties. There’s nothing I hate more…like fingers on a chalkboard.

  38. Lambo says:

    I don’t think people realize that this game isn’t really being aimed at the usual MMO crowd. I think its funny that people see that just because a game is in a online persistant world it BELONGS to MMO gamers and so its their property and everything in it should be a simple variation of what they have at the moment.

    I remember reading in some dev interview that this is a game fans of Bioware want as well as it being the ultimate experience for Star Wars fans. Its a game for both those demographics, and the reason that the game is mentioned as a wow killer is because with both of those groups behind the game it might just build up a player base to rival WOW’s. So far it has never said its going to be the MMO players paradise, so why are you all so god damn angry at the cutscenes that were implemented to please the Bioware/Lucas fans. You might as well just be ranting on about how Counter Strike had no quest givers.

  39. Doug F says:

    @Bobsy:

    Those are both players – I saw a ridiculously detailed dissection of the video that showed what looked to be some sort of dice-rolling(maybe) mechanic that seemed to determine which player got to respond at each stage of the dialog.

    As for the prescribed voice making your character feel less like yours, I believe there are at least going to be multiple voice tracks recorded for each class/race/gender/whatever so that you can pick which one you prefer.

  40. Doug F says:

    @Bobsy:

    Those are both players – I saw a ridiculously detailed dissection of the video that showed what looked to be some sort of dice-rolling(maybe) mechanic that seemed to determine which player got to respond at each stage of the dialog.

    As for the prescribed voice making your character feel less like yours, I believe there are at least going to be multiple voice tracks recorded for each class/race/gender/whatever so that you can pick which one you prefer.

  41. Dave says:

    Some of that dialogue was awful.

    True to the Star Wars legacy, then?

  42. Tei says:

    Doug: haha.. great photo-article. I love the part of “Confirmed sith=rogue”. Made me laugh.

  43. Arturo says:

    This still looks like a cartoon. I can’t get over how absurd it looks to see a character with a light saber have his strikes harmlessly bouncing off of enemies. Big Glowing nerf-bats, those are. The should have incorporated some dodging animations and parrying, it looks silly at current.

  44. bill says:

    I’m beginning to feel that the more graphics, VO, etc.. improve, the more IMPRESSIVE it is… but the less you use your imagination. So it actually ends up less immersive in the long run.

    But we are way past that point by now, so i guess i should stop worrying…

  45. Caiman says:

    Sometimes I wonder if these developers really think about whether these features are actually what people want. Everyone I know always skips the long, drawling voice-overs after they have quickly read the text. Me included. Voices are a huge immersion breaker in video games for the single reason that the acting is universally totally awful. Dragon Age now has me on the fence instead of the “must buy” that it once was purely because of the truly abysmal voice acting which the developers seem to think is astounding and emotional. How they hope to maintain any consistent degree of quality voice acting with so much dialog is, well, frankly impossible. What a complete waste of resources.

  46. xtinctionevent says:

    I don’t mind voice-overs, as long as subtitles can be disabled. That drove me crazy about NWN2.

    Also, whilst I appreciate that developers have to consider lower-spec systems when creating the art for any game (especially an MMO), is anyone else utterly underwhelmed at the graphics we’ve seen in videos so far? Obviously we’re a long way off completion, but surely they could add a little more polish to material deemed worthy of pre-release promotion? For such a high-profile title, I’d expect some serious improvements to the art before I start getting excited.

  47. Backov says:

    Don’t really care about the voice, it’ll be skipped like crazy.

    However, the game itself looks like WoW with Lightsabers. Same bar of actions with global cool downs, same ineffective weapons (even when it’s a lightsaber!), etc..

    Disappointing, but to be expected I guess.

  48. Nighthood says:

    Is it just me that would prefer a Mass Effect MMO? I find the story much more rich and interesting. Each race is different enough that they could all do huge amounts of different things, and it means we don’t need to faff on with who gets lightsabers and who doesn’t.