RPS Wireless Show Ep6: Erik Wolpaw Speak-O-Chat

Clear as a bell!

In a very special sixth edition of the very “special” Rock, Paper, Shotgun Electronic Wireless Show, not only are all four overlords of RPS united, but also joined by a proper important guest. Mr Erik Wolpaw was lovely enough to join us in one of Valve’s echoey metal rooms, so we could discuss co-op gaming memories, Left 4 Dead, and the trick behind decent voice acting. Along with all the usual excellent distractions and nonsense. Details below.

You can get the mp3 directly from here, subscribed to from here, or found on iTunes. We owe a massive debt of gratitude to Murray for his superb help with the audio in this episode – thanks man. Kieron’s comprehensive running order follows.

Episode 6 Running Order

00:01: Introductions! The Gang’s all here.
00:30: Plus Erik Wolpaw of the Valve Software Company.
00:50: Tekken and Erik’s wife. We’re off topic already.
01:42: Kieron may mis-use the word Egalitarian.
02:00: And the first proper topic – co-op games, where they came from, etc.
02:37: Which obviously leads us to Gauntlet.
02:56: Alec’s favourite thing in Gauntlet is Bracken. Br…acken? We discuss Bracken.
03:56: Two player versus Co-op.
04:11: Jim brings in Doom. Walker gets all teary about the wonders of serial cables.
04:40: Alec starts talking about bandwidth. Man!
05:20: Unreal Tournament was Alec’s first multiplayer experience. Alec’s friend is on the strong Ribenna.
6:29: Erik on his first co-op experiences. Gauntlet and Double Dragon. PUNCH! KICK!
8:30: And the wonder of Hired Guns. Erik brings up the Chaos Engine too.
9:33: The Chaos Engine mod for Left 4 Dead. Go and make it.
9:40: Erik gushes about Left 4 Dead.
10:05: And Aliens Versus Predator’s skirmish mode. And AvP1 vs AvP2. And then we have a ramble about AvP a LOT.
12:10: Jim misses really hard games.
12:54: Left 4 Dead’s Versus mode and Erik being not very good at it and RPS being even worse.
17:00: The see-through-walls mechanic and why it actually works.
20:12: Who has startled the Witch? Monster discussion.
24:25: The growing sentience of the Director. Fear it.
26:00: The flesh of the walking dead examined.
26:50: Influences on the writing of Left 4 Dead and it being a hyper-violent Mario-Party.
29:20: On the changing of the character designs.
30:14: Erik quizzed on the general writing process at Valve. Plus the joys of swearing.
33:20: The voice-acting in Left 4 Dead. Mike Patton’s odd career progression discussed.
35:50: TF2 Voice-actor crossover. And the mysteries of TF2’s accents debated and mocked, much to Erik’s chagrin.
39:00: Voice-acting in Valve in general. How does it work, eh? TELL US.
42:53: Favourite moments in terrible voice-acting.
43:43: And, inevitably, Hellboy. Nice Rice Hat.
46:00: And wrapping up and similar, including Erik mocking us for our weakness.


  1. Tannrar says:

    This is definitely the best one yet.

  2. TheDeadlyShoe says:

    Weird metal echos. I think you were in the accent containment chamber.

  3. James G says:

    Yay! That gives me something to look forward to this evening. A shout of joy which makes me sound terminally sad, but what can I say RPS, you bring magic to my life.

  4. Mal says:

    Great stuff, thanks guys!

  5. Bobsy says:

    Ah! And here I was bothered that by listening to the Bugle over lunch I’d have no audio-blather to keep me company while I miserably trudge to Argos tonight. Hooray!

  6. sbs says:

    That’s because RPS is made entirely out of magic and imagination.

  7. Dug Briderider says:

    Very good, I think you should have guests more often.

  8. Ben Abraham says:

    Wow the filesize is absolutely tiny this time. For 40 minutes it’s squeezed into only 21mb! My intertubes thanks you, merry gentlemen.

  9. Pags says:

    Holy crap, I can actually hear you. Blasphemy! RPS Podcasts must not be intelligible. Or intelligent. Or other words with ‘intellig’ in them.

  10. cheeba says:

    And to solve the Toshinden argument: link to the-underdogs.info

  11. Magic says:

    About the Voiceacting:
    I really like the original english voices. The german version is another Story (in hl2 too btw). For Bill they hired the same guy who voiced the “german” Dr. House.
    OK its fun for about 15 Minutes (just imagine a Zombie Ep of House). But the other three voice actors are not as good so I swiched back to the english voices.

    (There really should be a zombie episode of House…)

  12. Alec Meer says:

    Any episodes Cameron’s in, surely. ZING.

  13. Pags says:

    Also, I was surprised not to hear “what a shame” mentioned during the bit on terrible voice acting.

  14. James Brophy says:

    Excellent stuff, really good to hear AvP get a mention. Great guest. The voice direction stuff is good too. I wonder how modable the director will end up being…

  15. Radiant says:

    I love at the beginning how Wolpaw is desperately trying to work in Left for Dead into the conversation and the rest of you are like “nah nah we really are going to talk about Gauntlet”
    That was a really enjoyable podcast.

  16. Radiant says:

    Also in regards to co-op in games I think after gauntlet came out nearly everything in the arcade was ‘co-op’ [or two player] Ikari Warriors… Operation Thunderbolt… Double Dragon…Bubble Bobble.
    It was only when Street Fighter 2 came out that it changed to ‘Vs’ and then got overly gimmicky “this cab spins you around 360 degrees! It costs 6 pounds and the use of one arm to play!”

  17. Kieron Gillen says:

    Radiant: You have a point.

    EDIT: While there’s Vs modes before that and during the period, there was definitely a period when Co-op *was* it.


  18. cyrenic says:

    Describing L4D as a hyper-violent mario party is more accurate than I first thought. L4D is a more social game than most online FPS’s, and I think that’s the aspect of the game I’ve been enjoying the most.

  19. Kadayi says:

    Good stuff, but I’m surprised when you were discussing co-op gaming you never mentioned Hidden & Dangerous, Which was ace if a little buggy in places.

  20. matte_k says:

    Fantastic stuff, having the occasional guest in is pretty interesting, none of the usual PR gubbins you get in the usual video interviews. No mention of some of Deus Ex’s NPC voice acting (yes, Hong Kong barman, i’m looking at you) though :D

  21. hungSolo says:

    It’s aw shucks cute that Wolpaw feels he needs to remind you that Chet is an employee of Valve and they’ve been friends forever. I can only assume that most every person reading this site has fond memories of OMM and has the words “Chet and Erik” burned into his or her (probably his) hippocampus.

  22. PleasingFungus says:

    I generally don’t get complaints about voice acting. I was fine with Oblivion and I’m fine with Fallout 3!

    Then again, I generally read the subtitles more than listen to the words in both games, so who am I to talk.

    (Oh my god! J.C.! A bomb!)

  23. Bhlaab says:

    I noticed in Fallout 3 the biggest problem voice actors had was the line: “What!” which never ever seems to fit the context appropriately.

    One more thing, it’s probably not wise to record your podcasts inside of a timpani drum.

  24. Bidermaier says:

    has the audio quality improved? I am not a stupid audiophile but English is not my mother name and i find hard to understand what you say.

  25. Muzman says:

    If you didn’t like the last one’s audio quality you won’t like this one.
    re: the show. Someone pointed out elsewhere that the Heavy certainly doesn’t have a real accent from any one place either so it’s not so bad that the demoman and the sniper are a bit hyper real (and I think Alec Meer says the same more or less in the show). And I guess the soldier is fairly absurd too. The engineer is treated fairly well though, voice wise, which is funny.
    If it’s sort of hyper/generic accents across the board it’s hard to get too annoyed. I dunno if people watch Eureka (the TV show); Matt Frewer plays this game keeper survivalist nut with this bizarre accent. They didn’t spell it out from the start where he was supposed to be from, but it’s that typical Australian impersonation that shows up whenever yanks try this stuff and sounds like South African-meets-New Zealand-Cockney-Crocodile Dundee/Hunter and mixes and matches features from all those pretty much at will.
    It’s actually funny for a while as they hint he’s got absurd experience in the wilds of all kinds and so this ‘colonial accent’ works as a meta joke about those sorts of cliche characters. But then they eventually spell out that he is supposed to be Australian and ruin it, darn it all.

  26. Radiant says:

    Ahh if only there was a Crocodile Dundee Hunter.

  27. Dinger says:

    So they allow smoking Valve’s conference rooms?

    Hey, the accents they use on Looney Toons ain’t exactly realistic either, but they have me in stitches every time.

  28. terry says:


  29. TooNu says:

    Great podcast guys. Gauntlet was the first RT multi-player game with over 2 players. I played it in an arcade with my dad when I was 4 years old then we bought it on the c64 and I completed all the levels only for the ending to appear as a black screen that I could move around in BOOOO!!

  30. sbs says:

    Kieron has an edit button! The Bast!

  31. Gap Gen says:

    I remember playing co-op Warcraft II on skirmish with a friend against about 5-6 enemies. We were fighting a desperate defence, holding off wave after wave of ogres, and had almost crumbled until the waves of enemies finally stopped. The enemy had run out of resources. Probably the most cathartic gaming experience I’ve had.

  32. Pod says:

    Is Alec “Bracken” Meer sounds like he’s from Stockport…. is he?