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One problem with voiceovers is that NPCs don't know who you are

QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon

If NPCs talking just consists of text, then it's easy to fill in your name.  NPCs can say stuff like, "Quizzical, I need you to kill ten rats for me," and fill in your name as if they're actually talking to you.  Without thinking too hard, I know that Zelda 3 did this in 1991; there are probably quite a few games that did so years earlier.

But with voiceovers, NPCs can't say your name anymore.  Game writers try to get around this by referring to you by some title rather than your name.  In Champions Online, you're typically "the champion".  In Guild Wars 2, you may be "the hero of Shaemoor", "the slayer of Issormir", or whatever.  But they constantly talk as if they're trying to avoid saying your name because, well, they are.  And it's grating.

When voiceovers are used sparingly, this isn't a problem.  Lots of NPCs know your name just fine, and some big bad boss who has never seen you before can be excused for neither knowing nor caring that you have a name.  But when there are voiceovers everywhere, it gets really obnoxious.

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Comments

  • Loke666Loke666 MalmöPosts: 18,000Member Uncommon

    Agreed. I guess one fix would be giving the players military ranks, having someone calling you "Captain" actually sounds right if you are captain of the Queens guard. It would of course not work in all games and it would take a little more space since some sentences would have to be recorded a few times according to you rank (or whatever you use) but if the game devs think a little they can easily add a lot to the game.

    I also think that MMOs miss a lot of the attitude npcs should have to the player. The sheriff would talk very different to a knight than a thief and at least some NPCs should have a few different moods towards different players.

    I think Voice overs can be a great tool to make the main story more interesting and setting the mood of the game but I also think that they are wasted on side quests. Having every farmer whine about rats and why he needs me to kill 10 of them gets annoying fast but a well written main story with actual choices and good VOs can make things really fun.

    I think my main problem with VOs actually is that some games use it too much...

  • RhinotonesRhinotones BenowaPosts: 238Member Uncommon

    In WoW your character has titles they receive from obtaining various achievements. A player may have dozens of titles but selects only one (usually the most prestigious one) to wear as a badge of honour. 

    Naming the player by said title may be a reasonable way around this and is simple to implement.

    I also like Loke666's suggestion if it fitted in with the game in question. It wouldn't necessarily have to be of a military nature, it could be a religious, political, guild or other type of structure.

    image
  • KyleranKyleran Tampa, FLPosts: 19,998Member Uncommon
    Totally agree, became annoying in both SWOTOR and TSW to have so many npcs refer to me generically, focusing on the main storyline is probably the best solution.

    In my day MMORPG's were so hard we fought our way through dungeons in the snow, uphill both ways.
    "I don't have one life, I have many lives" - Grunty
    Still currently "subscribed" to EVE, and only EVE!!!
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  • centkincentkin Asbury, NJPosts: 944Member Uncommon

    There would be a way to encourage pre-orders.

     

    Pre-order people get their names said by the NPCs -- others get the generic.

  • mmoskimmoski plymouthPosts: 282Member

    Yeah this has annoyed the hell out of me for years, ok so its nice to have cool sounding npc's, but the only way forward for this is text to speech synth's (not pre recorded stuff), I haven't done any research in this field yet, so I'm not sure if there's a really good system out there, if there's isn't then someone needs to design one, there's a killing to be made on that, not only in games but in many different applicable systems.

  • JemcrystalJemcrystal Champaign, ILPosts: 1,552Member Uncommon
    I'm happy to get any voice at all.  What bothers me is if it is always the same four voice actors.  Are they really that expensive???

  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Sioux City, IAPosts: 3,828Member

    In agreement here. This is just one of a few reasons I dislike voice overs.

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR

  • TheocritusTheocritus Gary, INPosts: 3,752Member Uncommon
    Voice overs are fine for single player games but have no place in a MMO.....
  • mmoskimmoski plymouthPosts: 282Member

    Wow, this is pretty cool for a recorded system, but its far from what's needed to apply emotion & character to NPC's.

    http://www.oddcast.com/home/demos/tts/tts_example.php

  • ShauneepeakShauneepeak Biddeford, MEPosts: 421Member

    I don't see why they can't have voice actors spout off a few dozen common names and plug those into the dialogue. For example my name is Shaun which is a fairly uncommon spelling but Sean on the other hand is common enough I would even be fine with my character being referred to as John.

    Or the game's story could refer to us by a separate name and then we can still keep our character name for everything else could be another way of going about voice acting in MMOs.

  • ShauneepeakShauneepeak Biddeford, MEPosts: 421Member
    Originally posted by mmoski

    Wow, this is pretty cool for a recorded system, but its far from what's needed to apply emotion & character to NPC's.

    http://www.oddcast.com/home/demos/tts/tts_example.php

    Lol that is still pretty crappy and sounds like a computer talking, however the Indian voices actually do sound human so if an MMO was based on  Indian culture we would be good to go.

  • HokieHokie Vancouver Wa.Posts: 1,063Member Uncommon

    I have to disagree. Its no more immersion breaking than reading text.

    As a matter of fact reading text is one sided, cant think of a MMO where I got conversation options. Hell just the fact that I just saved the village from the raging T-Rex and the village elder walks to yo me and hands me a note saying -

    "By the Gods old and new, that was a stupendous fight <Ipwnurfacebioch>. We are in your dept. Please feel free to talk to our vendors and smiths.

    <Ipwnurfacebioch>, I cant express how much this has done for our village. We can now tend our crops without fear of being devoured by that best.

    Please take this humble heirloom as reward. And know that <Ipwnurface> will be remembered as a hero in Coconut village for many, many years to come!"

     

    I mean the fact that the viallage elder is handing a note is worst by a factor than any voice-overs thats shading and slipping past saying your name.

    Thruth be told, I cant tell you the last text quest I read. I would just "accept-close", "accept-close". Most text based quest seem to, or maybe have to be written, for a 13 year old to understand. And for the most part I found it childish, stupid, and somewhat offensive tohave to read that over and over.

     

    I say give me voice-overs for every quest. It does add immersion, emotion, and depth that text just cant do.

    And implying its immersion breaking that the the technology of our time doesnt allow the game to say your name, and somehow text is better because it can <insertplayername> is better is just...stupid, in my opinion.

     

    "I understand that if I hear any more words come pouring out of your **** mouth, Ill have to eat every fucking chicken in this room."

  • jpnzjpnz SydneyPosts: 3,529Member
    Do not agree. I think not having VO makes the world less fun and less real.

    Gdemami -
    Informing people about your thoughts and impressions is not a review, it's a blog.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by centkin

    There would be a way to encourage pre-orders.

     

    Pre-order people get their names said by the NPCs -- others get the generic.

    And you're going to hire voice actors to say hundreds of lines just for you, and do that cheaper than the cost of a pre-order?  Right.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by mmoski

    Yeah this has annoyed the hell out of me for years, ok so its nice to have cool sounding npc's, but the only way forward for this is text to speech synth's (not pre recorded stuff), I haven't done any research in this field yet, so I'm not sure if there's a really good system out there, if there's isn't then someone needs to design one, there's a killing to be made on that, not only in games but in many different applicable systems.

    There are a few problems with using the text to voice approach.  First, it's hard to do.  Second, if you try to splice the generated text into a sentence, there will be obvious breaks, while if you don't, then the whole sentence will sound stilted.  Third, some people pick unpronounceable names, or the game may merely be unaware of how you want your name pronounced.

  • PurutzilPurutzil East Stroudsburg, PAPosts: 2,924Member Uncommon

    Thus the problem. While there might be solutions to this in the future, the effort it would take for each individual voice to be able to say any name AND have it sound smoothly, is quite a lot of work. Even IF this happens, it wouldn't help with different possible annunciation being possible for the same spelling. 

     

    The best bet for this would be once computers can do voice acting for us... which means Voice actors would be likely out of the job and Skynet probably will be to busy raining destruction on our asses to really bother putting it in our games.

  • RynetRynet New Haven, CTPosts: 89Member
    ESO has a system like that. In ESO depending on how you progress the world around you changes and you can see NPCS that others cannot. The world evolves depending on your choices.
  • free2playfree2play Toronto, ONPosts: 1,868Member Uncommon

    They usually refer to you by class. It's not really unrealistic either. Do you ask the Bus driver what his name is or do you just say excuse me, driver? Just look at last names in general. Smith, Tailor, Fisher. The real problem with voice over is it adds a lot to cost and it could be debated the content level it provides.

  • AxehiltAxehilt San Francisco, CAPosts: 8,744Member Uncommon

    Small price to pay for a much more immersive overall storyline.

    And SWTOR already uses Loke's suggestion (which is a solution Bioware has used for many different games over the years.)

    I love reading books, however NPC interactions inside a completely visual virtual world is not where I want to be reading books.

    If your game world also has literal books within it (like Skyrim) then that's fine.  

    Similarly if you want to point out that voiceacting in MMORPGs could be implemented in a more streamlined way than SWTOR's clunky dialog cutscenes, I'd agree with that too.

    But overall voiceacting is a big improvement to a game.

    "Joe stated his case logically and passionately, but his perceived effeminate voice only drew big gales of stupid laughter..." -Idiocracy
    "There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance." -Socrates

  • centkincentkin Asbury, NJPosts: 944Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Shauneepeak
    Originally posted by mmoski

    Wow, this is pretty cool for a recorded system, but its far from what's needed to apply emotion & character to NPC's.

    http://www.oddcast.com/home/demos/tts/tts_example.php

    Lol that is still pretty crappy and sounds like a computer talking, however the Indian voices actually do sound human so if an MMO was based on  Indian culture we would be good to go.

    This is the uncanny valley in action once again.  If you have an accent that is familiar, you have to be spot on perfect or you see all of the little flaws.  If you have an accent that is mostly unfamiliar (like an indian accent etc) then you have a lot more leeway as you are now to the left of the uncanny valley. 

    What this means practically is that yes you could use a voicing system but you would have to use stylized caricature voices rather than realish sounding ones. 

  • centkincentkin Asbury, NJPosts: 944Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    Originally posted by centkin

    There would be a way to encourage pre-orders.

     

    Pre-order people get their names said by the NPCs -- others get the generic.

    And you're going to hire voice actors to say hundreds of lines just for you, and do that cheaper than the cost of a pre-order?  Right.

    Actually no -- you collect all of the names of people who have pre-ordered your game by a certain date and the voice actors are given the list.  They run through the list with say 4 different inflections and it pulls that into the program if your name matches one of the names on the list.

  • Haven't anyone really complain over this sort of stuff before, so I find it a little surprising anyone's actually annoyed by this. The workaround of addressing the hero as a title or simply "you" is a small price to pay for having voiceovers.

    What annoys me though is when there's monologues instead of dialogues. Whether it's text or voiced, I tend to skip it since there's no interactivity required on my part. I think SWTOR is a game that did NPC conversations really well. The voiceovers were good and made the player an active part in the "quest text."

    While text-only dialogue systems could also be made to be interesting, it wouldn't be quite the same.

  • HomituHomitu Hometown, HIPosts: 2,030Member

    They should just insert a Microsoft Sam phonetic reading of everyone's name.  That would be totally immersive!

    Kidding aside, I really don't mind the use of titles in lieu of my character's name unless it becomes ridiculously overused.  There were definitely times when it would stand out to me in GW2, but never enough to really annoy me.  I also liked the progression of your titles as you advanced through the story, from local hero to order recruit to high officer in your order (although I felt the progression to this title was rushed in all 3 scenarios) all the way up to commander in the war against Zhaitan.  It should be noted that there is also plenty of text conversation that occurs in GW2 as well, where NPCs address your character by name.  

    This problem isn't new though.  It's something the industry has been dealing with since the inception of voice overs.  One of the most jarring aspects of Final Fantasy X - the first FF game for the PS2 and the first one with voice overs - was that you couldn't name your characters for the firsts time.  This was, of course, because they all referred to each other by name in the voiced over dialogue.  They did allow you to name Tidus, the main character, however.  As a result, you were only ever referred to directly in the 2nd person as "you."  You were never talked about.

  • IcewhiteIcewhite Elmhurst, ILPosts: 6,403Member
    They'd only mispronounce it anyway.

    Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.

  • gylnnegylnne South Hutchinson, KSPosts: 320Member

    Hmm very interesting point.

    I enjoy immersion in an MMO and this type of thing does cut down on that aspect some what.

    Wonder how this can be improved as I do like having voiceovers on NPC's.

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