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[Column] Elder Scrolls Online: Why Notable Voice Acting in ESO Makes Sense

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,609MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

In just a few months, players will be able to embark on a brand new, AAA subscription MMORPG with a fully-voiced central storyline adapted from a familiar IP. With the recent announcement that The Elder Scrolls Online will feature a roster of notable voice acting talent, some gamers’ sense of deja vu has been rising. The voice cast is another warning sign, some say, and has sparked a fiery debate among those awaiting the game’s release and others curious how it will perform.

Read more of Christina Gonzalez's Elder Scrolls Online: Why Notable Voice Acting in ESO Makes Sense.

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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

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Comments

  • Nemesis7884Nemesis7884 ZurichPosts: 880Member Uncommon
    Bad voice acting would kill good writing and vice verca...see skyrim
  • mCalvertmCalvert Tallahassee, FLPosts: 1,283Member
    Sounds like a way to waste money.
  • JJ82JJ82 Chicago, ILPosts: 1,177Member Uncommon

    Damage control to Major Tom. Initiate BS sequence Alpha!

    TESO is an MMO heavily focused on END GAME. Mostly PvP, but also attempting near raid/group instancing.

    The idea that spending the time and money on voice-overs for content that gets you to end game is a WASTE because its done ONE TIME. SWTOR learned this the hard way, the idea that this makes it more like Skyrim or Oblivion makes no sense since the entire defense for creating racial/faction locks and closed off faction lands for this style of PvP is supposed to be "Sacrifices need to be made to create an MMO, because some SRPG aspects cant work".

    Right, its the SRPG voice over content that doesn't work, however we have seen MMOs without racial/faction locks and closed off faction lands.

    This game is bass ackwards and is repeating the same mistakes SWTOR made. With such a weak story and base game, the time and money was needed elsewhere. It could have created a far larger PvP land along with more PvE end game content.

    "People who tell you you’re awesome are useless. No, dangerous.

    They are worse than useless because you want to believe them. They will defend you against critiques that are valid. They will seduce you into believing you are done learning, or into thinking that your work is better than it actually is." ~Raph Koster
    http://www.raphkoster.com/2013/10/14/on-getting-criticism/

  • Lord.BachusLord.Bachus Den HelderPosts: 9,065Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by JJ82

    Damage control to Major Tom. Initiate BS sequence Alpha!

    TESO is an MMO heavily focused on END GAME. Mostly PvP, but also attempting near raid/group instancing.

    The idea that spending the time and money on voice-overs for content that gets you to end game is a WASTE because its done ONE TIME. SWTOR learned this the hard way, the idea that this makes it more like Skyrim or Oblivion makes no sense since the entire defense for creating racial/faction locks and closed off faction lands for this style of PvP is supposed to be "Sacrifices need to be made to create an MMO, because some SRPG aspects cant work".

    Right, its the SRPG voice over content that doesn't work, however we have seen MMOs without racial/faction locks and closed off faction lands.

    This game is bass ackwards and is repeating the same mistakes SWTOR made. With such a weak story and base game, the time and money was needed elsewhere. It could have created a far larger PvP land along with more PvE end game content.

    If stories and lore are the star of your PvE game, choosing for full high quallity voice acting is the only smart roite to go

    Best MMO experiences : EQ(PvE), DAoC(PvP), WoW(total package) LOTRO (worldfeel) GW2 (Artstyle and animations and worlddesign) SWTOR (Story immersion) TSW (story) ESO (character advancement)

  • RocknissRockniss Youngstown, OHPosts: 1,034Member
    It's not a good selling point in video games. Music rides a fine line as well when it comes to selling points and I have loved some of the music in games. It still isn't why I play and voice acting unlike music really doesn't take a high level of talent to achieve. So when your bragging about your voice acting ESO, you might as well be talking to a wall.

    Here's what's shaping up, Wildstar has fallen off my radar, ESO is proving to be clueless, and Warlords of Dreanor is looking better and better. Who would have thought?
  • CazNeergCazNeerg Puyallup, WAPosts: 2,198Member
    Originally posted by JJ82

    Damage control to Major Tom. Initiate BS sequence Alpha!

    TESO is an MMO heavily focused on END GAME. Mostly PvP, but also attempting near raid/group instancing.

    The idea that spending the time and money on voice-overs for content that gets you to end game is a WASTE because its done ONE TIME. SWTOR learned this the hard way, the idea that this makes it more like Skyrim or Oblivion makes no sense since the entire defense for creating racial/faction locks and closed off faction lands for this style of PvP is supposed to be "Sacrifices need to be made to create an MMO, because some SRPG aspects cant work".

    Right, its the SRPG voice over content that doesn't work, however we have seen MMOs without racial/faction locks and closed off faction lands.

    This game is bass ackwards and is repeating the same mistakes SWTOR made. With such a weak story and base game, the time and money was needed elsewhere. It could have created a far larger PvP land along with more PvE end game content.

    It's a MMORPG, not just a MMO.  If you fail to get the RPG right, lots of people don't bother to stick around for the MMO.  TOR's "mistakes" have led to it being the second most successful MMORPG that offers a sub option, so if they were going to emulate someone, it's not a bad choice.

    And keep up, if you pre-order there are no race locks.

    Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
    Through passion, I gain strength.
    Through strength, I gain power.
    Through power, I gain victory.
    Through victory, my chains are broken.
    The Force shall free me.

  • TorvalTorval Oregon CountryPosts: 7,207Member Uncommon

    The author never  really made an argument why notable voice acting makes sense. They threw out a weak premise why early budgeting won't affect other systems and leveraged that to say the user should just accept it.

    Poor budgeting decisions early on in the process don't excuse poor budgeting decisions. It's that simple. If a poor budget decision was made from the get go and the money could have been better spent elsewhere, then that decision is still open for criticism.

    Then the author infers that notable voice acting will mean a quality experience and the lack of it a poor experience. That's not true.

    So I think voice acting is good (my opinion). I like it in Neverwinter and TOR. I don't think this is about voice acting adding to the immersion and polish of the experience. I think this is about touting notable names to sell game copies. Zeni should start being honest about their game. Notable voice acting is a marketing scheme. P2P + cash shop isn't about a fair "no nickel dime" experience, it's about maximizing revenue through marketing appeal. Just be honest for once Zeni and Firor.

  • SpawnbladeSpawnblade Sandy, UTPosts: 203Member
    It's no coincidence that Oblivion was not only Bethesda's first major introduction into voice acting, but also their first game that -required- a plethora of mods to be installed in order to be enjoyable.
  • JJ82JJ82 Chicago, ILPosts: 1,177Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by CazNeerg
    Originally posted by JJ82

    Damage control to Major Tom. Initiate BS sequence Alpha!

    TESO is an MMO heavily focused on END GAME. Mostly PvP, but also attempting near raid/group instancing.

    The idea that spending the time and money on voice-overs for content that gets you to end game is a WASTE because its done ONE TIME. SWTOR learned this the hard way, the idea that this makes it more like Skyrim or Oblivion makes no sense since the entire defense for creating racial/faction locks and closed off faction lands for this style of PvP is supposed to be "Sacrifices need to be made to create an MMO, because some SRPG aspects cant work".

    Right, its the SRPG voice over content that doesn't work, however we have seen MMOs without racial/faction locks and closed off faction lands.

    This game is bass ackwards and is repeating the same mistakes SWTOR made. With such a weak story and base game, the time and money was needed elsewhere. It could have created a far larger PvP land along with more PvE end game content.

    It's a MMORPG, not just a MMO.  If you fail to get the RPG right, lots of people don't bother to stick around for the MMO.  TOR's "mistakes" have led to it being the second most successful MMORPG that offers a sub option, so if they were going to emulate someone, it's not a bad choice.

    And keep up, if you pre-order there are no race locks.

     SWTOR is the second most successful sub game?!? HAHAHAHAHA.

    Its so successful that EA fired two full development groups on it, kicks out their CEO and hasn't released a single SWTOR number without combining it with other games in over a year, something they DONT do with their successful games. Also, Lineage 2 sold over 2 million copies and retained over 1.5 million of them for 4 years, 1 million of them for another 2 years and didn't go F2P until around 8 years after launch. Thus, far more popular than SWTOR for far longer.

    BTW, I pointed out race locks for a reason. They placed it because they said the MUST, for realm pride, for the lore and to shape their end game yet other MMOs have proved you don't need it. That would be the point you MISSED but thanks because it allows me to now say this!

    Now you can get around it, for money. A cash grab move that proves the games design is meaningless and un-necessary.

    "People who tell you you’re awesome are useless. No, dangerous.

    They are worse than useless because you want to believe them. They will defend you against critiques that are valid. They will seduce you into believing you are done learning, or into thinking that your work is better than it actually is." ~Raph Koster
    http://www.raphkoster.com/2013/10/14/on-getting-criticism/

  • CazNeergCazNeerg Puyallup, WAPosts: 2,198Member
    Originally posted by Torvaldr

    The author never  really made an argument why notable voice acting makes sense. They threw out a weak premise why early budgeting won't affect other systems and leveraged that to say the user should just accept it.

    Poor budgeting decisions early on in the process don't excuse poor budgeting decisions. It's that simple. If a poor budget decision was made from the get go and the money could have been better spent elsewhere, then that decision is still open for criticism.

    Then the author infers that notable voice acting will mean a quality experience and the lack of it a poor experience. That's not true.

    So I think voice acting is good (my opinion). I like it in Neverwinter and TOR. I don't think this is about voice acting adding to the immersion and polish of the experience. I think this is about touting notable names to sell game copies. Zeni should start being honest about their game. Notable voice acting is a marketing scheme. P2P + cash shop isn't about a fair "no nickel dime" experience, it's about maximizing revenue through marketing appeal. Just be honest for once Zeni and Firor.

    I care more about the argument itself than how well the author expressed it.  Good voice acting makes good writing even better.  Unless someone has proof that money was "taken away" from some other aspect of the game and re-allocated to funding the voices, there is really no rational reason to be opposed to this.

    Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
    Through passion, I gain strength.
    Through strength, I gain power.
    Through power, I gain victory.
    Through victory, my chains are broken.
    The Force shall free me.

  • Agent_JosephAgent_Joseph SarajevoPosts: 1,070Member Uncommon

    I love voice acting  in SP games,Oblivion & Skyrim are great ,but can't see sense in an MMORPG,give us players interactions,I don't care what about about NPC talking.Game companies & SP (solo players ) constantly ruining MMO genre in few last years.

    I ts why are old mmo's stil great & fun ,almost all new mmo's are bored after 1-3 months,they are asocial,too.

    only EVE is real MMO...but I am impressive with TSW

  • Azaron_NightbladeAzaron_Nightblade KingsmouthPosts: 2,641Member Uncommon
    Well said, Christina - I couldn't agree more.

    My SWTOR referral link for those wanting to give the game a try. (Newbies get a welcome package while returning players get a few account upgrades to help with their preferred status.)

  • JJ82JJ82 Chicago, ILPosts: 1,177Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by CazNeerg

      Unless someone has proof that money was "taken away" from some other aspect of the game and re-allocated to funding the voices, there is really no rational reason to be opposed to this.

     Umm, unless those voice actors, sound studio employees and coders inputting the sound worked for free, then it took money away from other aspects of the game.

    A game receives a set amount of funding that gets allocated by the producer. They don't receive funding based on each individual design aspect.

    "People who tell you you’re awesome are useless. No, dangerous.

    They are worse than useless because you want to believe them. They will defend you against critiques that are valid. They will seduce you into believing you are done learning, or into thinking that your work is better than it actually is." ~Raph Koster
    http://www.raphkoster.com/2013/10/14/on-getting-criticism/

  • TheLizardbonesTheLizardbones Arkham, VAPosts: 10,910Member

    People who earn a living through voice acting do not cost as much as a "regular" movie or television actor.  For one, voice actors earn an hourly wage, and do not earn residuals off the sales of video games.  Movie or television actors do.  They will also earn a much higher bonus than a career voice actor.  The issue isn't the money spent on voice acting.  This is an Elder Scrolls game after all.  The issue is the money spent on  movie and television actors who are going to cost considerably more than the career voice actors.

     

    How much more though?  $100,000?  $200,000 total?  Compared to the total game budget, this isn't a whole lot.  Even if it costs a cool $1M more, it's not a huge part of the budget.  It's going to bring in sales though.  Elder Scrolls players who are fans of the game and of the voice acting are going to see this as a higher quality job than career voice actors.  Whatever it cost them is probably worth it in terms of what it will return in sales.

     

    I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.

  • Dreamo84Dreamo84 Niagara Falls, NYPosts: 3,437Member Uncommon

    So tired of hearing "cash grab" on these forums. That term is becoming completely meaningless as literally every type of monetization method now is being referred to as a "cash grab".

    Yes, we have cash and developers want to grab it so they can have cash. Doesn't matter who they are, they all want to grab your cash. "I'd rather make less money" said no developer ever.

    image
  • CazNeergCazNeerg Puyallup, WAPosts: 2,198Member
    Originally posted by JJ82
    Originally posted by CazNeerg

      Unless someone has proof that money was "taken away" from some other aspect of the game and re-allocated to funding the voices, there is really no rational reason to be opposed to this.

     Umm, unless those voice actors, sound studio employees and coders inputting the sound worked for free, then it took money away from other aspects of the game.

    A game receives a set amount of funding that gets allocated by the producer. They don't receive funding based on each individual design aspect.

    Sure, they receive a set amount of funding.  That doesn't mean you have any evidence that the developer had insufficient funding for any aspect of the game to design it the way they wanted it to be.

    Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
    Through passion, I gain strength.
    Through strength, I gain power.
    Through power, I gain victory.
    Through victory, my chains are broken.
    The Force shall free me.

  • JJ82JJ82 Chicago, ILPosts: 1,177Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by lizardbones

    How much more though?  $100,000?  $200,000 total?  Compared to the total game budget, this isn't a whole lot.  Even if it costs a cool $1M more, it's not a huge part of the budget.  It's going to bring in sales though.  Elder Scrolls players who are fans of the game and of the voice acting are going to see this as a higher quality job than career voice actors.  Whatever it cost them is probably worth it in terms of what it will return in sales.

     You are greatly mis-informed.

    The recording studio alone is going to cost more than that for using its equipment. The digitizing of that much sound is going to cost more than that. Coding that sound to the game is going to cost more than that. Matching the graphical movement of the characters to the sound is going to cost more than that.....and yes, the price of the actors is also going to cost more than that. And yes, paying the people that work in the recording studio, is going to cost more than that.

    The average entry level salary of a sound engineer is just under 100k dollars a year and the major studios that work with these people are top level making double that. and that is just ONE person, there is an entire team of people for this kind of work.

    There is no way that this is not costing them upwards of 20 million. That's 1/10th the budget if its 200 million and why its one of the biggest complaints about SWTOR, it sucked up way too much of the games funding that could have gone to bringing in another small team to work on things missing from the base game. 

    "People who tell you you’re awesome are useless. No, dangerous.

    They are worse than useless because you want to believe them. They will defend you against critiques that are valid. They will seduce you into believing you are done learning, or into thinking that your work is better than it actually is." ~Raph Koster
    http://www.raphkoster.com/2013/10/14/on-getting-criticism/

  • BeansnBreadBeansnBread PshPosts: 5,501Member Uncommon
    Yeah, Lizardbones, in this case you are severely underestimating the cost of fully voice acting a massive MMORPG like this.
  • QuesaQuesa Sacramento, CAPosts: 1,246Member
    You don't need high-profile actors in MMO's at all, you need good writing and immersion..
  • JJ82JJ82 Chicago, ILPosts: 1,177Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by CazNeerg
    Originally posted by JJ82

     Umm, unless those voice actors, sound studio employees and coders inputting the sound worked for free, then it took money away from other aspects of the game.

    A game receives a set amount of funding that gets allocated by the producer. They don't receive funding based on each individual design aspect.

    Sure, they receive a set amount of funding.  That doesn't mean you have any evidence that the developer had insufficient funding for any aspect of the game to design it the way they wanted it to be.

     You love using the word evidence don't you? Guess what, you have no evidence that they money could NOT have been used to do something else!

    Actually, anyone with a brain knows that if 10 million is spent on one thing, it could have been used on something else. Like, oh hiring 50 people for $100,000 for 2 years to work on ANYTHING ELSE. 2 YEARS and 50 more people and you think they couldn't have done anything else? They couldn't have made a few more end game instances and another PvP zone? GIVE ME A BREAK.

    For a game focused on END GAME, spending a ton of money on such frivolous content that's good enough with text and is going to be blown through makes NO SENSE at all.

    "People who tell you you’re awesome are useless. No, dangerous.

    They are worse than useless because you want to believe them. They will defend you against critiques that are valid. They will seduce you into believing you are done learning, or into thinking that your work is better than it actually is." ~Raph Koster
    http://www.raphkoster.com/2013/10/14/on-getting-criticism/

  • CazNeergCazNeerg Puyallup, WAPosts: 2,198Member
    Originally posted by JJ82

     You love using the word evidence don't you? Guess what, you have no evidence that they money could NOT have been used to do something else!

    Actually, anyone with a brain knows that if 10 million is spent on one thing, it could have been used on something else. Like, oh hiring 50 people for $100,000 for 2 years to work on ANYTHING ELSE. 2 YEARS and 50 more people and you think they couldn't have done anything else? They couldn't have made a few more end game instances and another PvP zone? GIVE ME A BREAK.

    For a game focused on END GAME, spending a ton of money on such frivolous content that's good enough with text and is going to be blown through makes NO SENSE at all.

    You don't seem to understand the difference between having the capacity to use the money on something else, and having the *need* to use it on something else.  If the developers managed to design all the elements of the game in a way that fulfills their vision, they had enough money, and nothing suffered as the result of voice.  It's only if some aspect of the game lacked sufficient funding for their vision to be realized that you could argue money spent somewhere else was "harmful."

    And you can claim the game is focused on endgame all you want, but all you are really saying is that you are personally focused on endgame.  The game offers a wide variety of content, and different players will focus on different elements.

    Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
    Through passion, I gain strength.
    Through strength, I gain power.
    Through power, I gain victory.
    Through victory, my chains are broken.
    The Force shall free me.

  • JJ82JJ82 Chicago, ILPosts: 1,177Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by CazNeerg

    You don't seem to understand the difference between having the capacity to use the money on something else, and having the *need* to use it on something else.  If the developers managed to design all the elements of the game in a way that fulfills their vision, they had enough money, and nothing suffered as the result of voice.  It's only if some aspect of the game lacked sufficient funding for their vision to be realized that you could argue money spent somewhere else was "harmful."

    And you can claim the game is focused on endgame all you want, but all you are really saying is that you are personally focused on endgame.  The game offers a wide variety of content, and different players will focus on different elements.

     Wow......talk about blind defense.

    Ok, fine you believe that the game is going to be released with so much content that it will be enough so its just plain NOT POSSIBLE to be released in better condition. I get it. Cant say anything bad about the game. Not possible. Its perfect. TESO will do what no other MMORPG in history has done. Its that damn good. This time, it will be different!

    And that last comment. Seriously. Give me a break.

    "People who tell you you’re awesome are useless. No, dangerous.

    They are worse than useless because you want to believe them. They will defend you against critiques that are valid. They will seduce you into believing you are done learning, or into thinking that your work is better than it actually is." ~Raph Koster
    http://www.raphkoster.com/2013/10/14/on-getting-criticism/

  • Pratt2112Pratt2112 Posts: 1,536Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by JJ82
    Originally posted by CazNeerg

      Unless someone has proof that money was "taken away" from some other aspect of the game and re-allocated to funding the voices, there is really no rational reason to be opposed to this.

     Umm, unless those voice actors, sound studio employees and coders inputting the sound worked for free, then it took money away from other aspects of the game.

    A game receives a set amount of funding that gets allocated by the producer. They don't receive funding based on each individual design aspect.

    The budget is worked out and funds are allocated ahead of time. Before a company can even get the "okay" to spend a dime, they have to be able to give an at least reasonable looking explanation of how/where/why it will be spent for the people signing the checks. And yes, those people exist even within Zenimax. So, no "well Zenimax is the one signing the checks" doesn't make any difference. The process is the same.

    To put it another way... the budget to pay for voice actors - as with everything else the game would need - was sorted out, reviewed and approved before the game even began production. 

    If they weren't going with voice actors, and didn't need the extra funding to pay for them, the overall cost of the game could just as well have been less. It's not like they said "Well, we have all this money that was originally intended for gameplay and other areas, but we're going to take some of it and spend it on voice actors instead". Or, if their budget is already accounted for with existing projects, and they decide voice acting is something they really want/need, then they can try to acquire additional funding for it - which again, requires them to first demonstrate why spending that extra money is a good idea.

    I know people like to believe developers have no idea what they're doing, because it provides ammunition to start bashing on "insert game here", but all it does is demonstrates the ignorance of ther person saying it. To actually believe that these developers are spending 10s of millions of dollars without some kind of organization or planning is naive to the extreme.

    It's amazing how many people on these forums seem to think developers go into these things completely blind and develop by the seat of their pants.

     

  • CazNeergCazNeerg Puyallup, WAPosts: 2,198Member
    Originally posted by JJ82

     Wow......talk about blind defense.

    Ok, fine you believe that the game is going to be released with so much content that it will be enough so its just plain NOT POSSIBLE to be released in better condition. I get it. Cant say anything bad about the game. Not possible. Its perfect. TESO will do what no other MMORPG in history has done. Its that damn good. This time, it will be different!

    And that last comment. Seriously. Give me a break.

    There is a difference between more and better.  Makes more sense to do a good job of every aspect of your game and have balanced amounts of different content types that to devote all of your resources to increasing the quantity of one type of content at the expense of everything else.

    It's fine not to like the game, lots of people don't.  But the argument that it automatically must be the case that they did a poor job on something else just because they spent money on voice acting is, well, stupid.

    Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
    Through passion, I gain strength.
    Through strength, I gain power.
    Through power, I gain victory.
    Through victory, my chains are broken.
    The Force shall free me.

  • BillMurphyBillMurphy Managing Editor Berea, OHPosts: 2,360MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon
    Originally posted by Fendel84M

    So tired of hearing "cash grab" on these forums. That term is becoming completely meaningless as literally every type of monetization method now is being referred to as a "cash grab".

    Yes, we have cash and developers want to grab it so they can have cash. Doesn't matter who they are, they all want to grab your cash. "I'd rather make less money" said no developer ever.

    I think I love you.

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