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taleden
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new comm voiceovers?
« on: August 05, 2004, 01:08:27 am »

So, I was looking through the comm files today (looking for interesting comments from the Arilou and Orz about multidimensionality, but that's for another thread) and was reminded that the 3DO speech files follow a slightly different script than the PC text dialogue.  Also, a lot of the voiceovers sound kinda .. well .. hokey.  Especially the Orz.  And I know SC2 was always sort of a light-hearted scifi, but I still think it would be cool to redo all of the voice dialogue to be consistent with the text, and to sound better overall.  I bet we could find some pretty talented voice actors just within the community of this board - and of course I'd love to audition for a few of the roles myself.  Wink

It wouldn't even have to be an official project - it would be a simple matter for anybody to release a voiceover replacement archive with new voiceovers in it (either .ogg files to replace the current ones, or new dialogue .txt files which point to a new set of .ogg files, to avoid overwriting the current ones).  If people like it enough, maybe it could be made official down the line.  In fact, I think I'm gonna go ahead and start working on that - anyone who'd be interested in doing the voice for a race, pick a few of the longer monologues from that race, record your voiceover, and contact me.

Unless somebody else is already working on such a project, and I've just never heard about it?
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Re: new comm voiceovers?
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2004, 03:10:15 am »

The idea has come up before, but it is relegated to the level of "non-official add-on" at this point, due to the strict adherence to the "straight port of the 3DO version" doctrine that coredev follows.

Since it would be a ton of work (recording/editing/applying filters to several HOURS of spoken dialogue, and then synching the subtitles, for another couple hours' work) with very little official recognition, nobody has at this point publically declared their intentions of on such a labour of love, and I can fully understand why.

I for one would love to see several projects form around this game similar to the PRECURSORS project: all new voiceovers, all new graphics, all new intro/outro videos, and translations into other languages -- if only so that the new remixed music doesn't outclass every other aspect of the game.  But I think in order for that to happen, coredev would need to "bless" such efforts with promises of official distribution, so that people know that joining up would not be entirely in vain.
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taleden
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Re: new comm voiceovers?
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2004, 04:06:18 am »

Definitely understandable, and of course I understand the strict-port philosophy and think that's a good idea - finish the straight port before adding anything else.

On the other hand, it's already not entirely a straight port; elements from the PC version have been intermingled with elements from the 3DO version, and a few bugs have been fixed, so in a sense it's more of a strict-port-with-a-few-obvious-fixes.  In my mind, having the spoken dialogue actually say different words than the text subtitles is a bug, and I wouldn't mind seeing that fixed in the initial release.  This would, of course, involve re-recording all the dialogue, which is a lot of work, but so is remixing all the music.

Also, would there really be any syncing work to be done?  To my knowledge, each race has a text file which includes all their dialogue snippets, and each snippet has (in the text file) an .ogg filename associated with it which (supposedly) contains the same text spoken aloud; there is no timing information involved.  Sometimes an alien will speak for several paragraphs and this is broken up into several snippets, but each snippet has its own .ogg file, which could simply be replaced with a new one that says the right words.

As for applying filters, that would definitely be some work, but I think we could find a talented audio engineer among our ranks who could do it - I think it's more a matter of processor time than actual human work.  Each race would need at most one or two filters applied to their speech, and then it's just a matter of applying those filters to every dialogue file.

In my mind, the *real* work in such a project is finding talented voice actors to fill all the roles, making sure each of them is capable of recording their own dialogue at a decent quality in a fairly noise-free environment, and then transmitting those recordings to whoever ends up doing the mixing and encoding.
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Re: new comm voiceovers?
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2004, 05:05:14 am »

Quote
coredev would need to "bless" such efforts with promises of official distribution, so that people know that joining up would not be entirely in vain.


This problem could be solved through bittorrent.
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taleden
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Re: new comm voiceovers?
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2004, 05:22:16 am »

Quote


This problem could be solved through bittorrent.


I'm confused.. bittorrent will make people confident in joining?  Bittorrent will save the need for a nice fast host for the resulting package, but I don't think hosting is the issue so much as somebody official pointing to the project from an official place and saying "hey, check this out".  That would make people confident that joining would get them some recognition, since the project itself would have some recognition from the official blessing.  Also, such a blessing would generate enough traffic and interest that we should be able to find somebody to host the file at any rate.
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Re: new comm voiceovers?
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2004, 08:55:07 pm »

Personally, instead of completely redoing all of this due to a few superflous and irrelevant subtitle screwups is redundant and a waste of time and energy that could be put towards more (imho) fruitful work, such as including the Metachron or fixing the Mycon stuff up which has caused so much agony.

That said, i think all the voices, minus the Pkunk and the Orz, are very well done. Fwiffo comes to mind immediately, as every time he mentions The Ultimate Evil his voice changes, its hilarious =p.
If your gonna mess with this, just stick to changing the Orz and the Pkunk.

No offence intended, but personally, i think a straight port for a straight port's sake is needless beauracracy, but thats just my opinion.
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Re: new comm voiceovers?
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2004, 10:02:13 pm »

Oh, I think Hayes could use some serious redubbing as well.  I generally skip every word that guy says just so I don't have to listen to his ridiculous intonations.

But you're right, it would probably make more sense to start by replacing the more egregiously bad vocals, and do the rest later.  But I do think they should all be redone at *some* point, for simple sound quality's sake; as somebody else pointed out, it'll sound bad when we have remixed music, redone sound effects, maybe even redone graphics, and yet the vocal samples are still so low quality.
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Re: new comm voiceovers?
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2004, 11:25:59 pm »

Hope you don't kill me Smiley but SC3 (yes, that one) had much better voices than the 3DO SC2 (and thus UQM).

The SC2 ones are mostly good, except (as noted) the Pkunk and Hayes. I'm still not sure about the Orz, I preferred them in SC3, although it makes sense for such a weird race to have such a creepily nice and pleasant voice. Smiley The Yehat... are they supposed to be mostly females, like the Pkunk? Because that's what they sound like. The Dnyarri sounds like an earth trucker, which is kind of OK. The Ilwrath, the VUX and both Ur-Quan are perfect, though.

But, in SC3... remember the Mycon? Much better. The VUX? The Owa? The Xchagger? The Doog? The K'tang? The Exquivan? The Daktaklakpak?

Much worse game, but much better choice of voice actors, IMO.
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Re: new comm voiceovers?
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2004, 11:43:28 pm »

Well, if inconsistency between the voices and the text is a bug, then surely the easier thing to do is alter the text. But yeah, it would be nice to add snippets like the Metachron -- I just question whether it's worth the trouble. Finding talented voice actors is not an easy task. I've tried to do voicing for amateur projects before and it's a lot easier to criticize someone else's voice work than to actually do good voice work. Even if good voice actors could be found, there's still the problem of finding enough voice actors to have distinct voices for the different races, each of which is appropriate to the race they're assigned to..

For my part the only voice I'd really like to replace is the Syreen. I get the feeling the actress doing that part was kind of uncomfortable with the whole thing and basically made Talana sound like a crude parody of a sexy sci-fi siren. The part where Talana gets "REALLY... ANGRY!!!" is especially cringeworthy. Replacing that voice with that of someone who knows how to do flirtatious and seductive while still sounding like an actual human being would be worth it.

On the other hand, the voices that contain the other missing snippets -- the Melnorme and the Mycon -- are ones I'm especially fond of. Doing a smooth, unemotional, alien voice that still sounds believable is hard to do, and I like the way the Melnorme and Mycon pull it off. I'm so fond of the Melnorme voicework that I can't imagine it done any other way (half unctuous salesman, half bouncy cartoon). Most of the alien voices demand something quirky and off-the-wall, and SC2 made some pretty good decisions with how to do it even when some of them did come off as a bit hokey.

Okay, the Ilwrath are silly sounding, but c'mon, their dialogue itself is silly through and through. Same thing with the Pkunk. And you've gotta admit the Spathi dialogue is pure genius.

The Kzer-Za dialogue is a bit sloooww and stilted. Maybe another poster was right that speeding up the existing dialogue works well enough without having to record it with a new voice; haven't tried it yet so I can't say. The Kohr-Ah voice, however, is awesome.

And Hayes should be folksy and Midwestern, as the representative of the human race. Maybe not *so* folksy and Midwestern -- there are points where he should sound more like a gruff military officer than like my high school math teacher -- but I'm okay with him as he is. I wouldn't want to see him replaced by someone who wanted to make Commander Hayes "cool", which has just as much potential to be cringeworthy. (I picture a breathy bass voice mumbling his lines with subtle menace -- "the GLOW... of the pulsating SLAVE SHIELD... overhead" -- and I'm glad SC2 has different sensibilities from other video games.)
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Re: new comm voiceovers?
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2004, 11:48:06 pm »

It should be pointed out that the problem this thread purports to solve, namely the speech and texts not matching, has been attacked from the other direction in Bugzilla, by altering the subtitles; a much simpler task, although some of the code patches involved have been deemed "temporary hacks" (due to the fact that all the file formats are going to be changing "real soon now") and as such this will not end up in UQM in its current state.  If you like rolling your own game binaries, and don't mind the inevitability of having to fix collisions later, you can try it out.

A couple of things to think about now rather than later:
  • The game fully expects speech samples to be 16-bit, 11025 Hz mono audio files.  Attempting to feed it different bitrates will actually crash the game.  (the constraint appears to be due to using the bitrate to determine the current offset in the file, for subtitles.  I think it would be relatively trivial to expand this to allow for 22050 Hz and 44100 Hz files, but the bit depth and number of channels may be a tougher nut to crack)  So care will need to be taken when introducing new content, at least tenatively.
  • The subtitle text files have a complementary file, ending in .ts which contains all the timing information for the subtitles.  If the audio tracks are altered, the subtitles will likely need to be re-timed.  There are tools to do this in a somewhat-automatic manner, but it involves listening to each and every track in the game and "timing it out"  It is a mind-numbing and time-consuming chore, to say the least, but if you get enough volunteers it can go rather quickly.

That's really all I've got.  I think the SC3 interpretation of the Orz comms absolutely "nailed it", as they say, and would love a similar treatment in UQM.  And if the Shofixti didn't sound like Mojo Jojo, that wouldn't entirely suck.  Smiley
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Re: new comm voiceovers?
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2004, 04:02:30 am »

I am all for re-doing the voices. Some half-decent actors are important, but what's more important is a guy with an expensive sound editing program who knows what he's doing.

You all point at the Orz, Pkunk, and Hayes (who wasn't that bad), but the Syreen are seriously off as well. Remember that "sex" scene? Terrible. Really, you're gonna need three things in a woman to do that part properly: a beautiful voice, some acting skills, and willingness to act like a total slut for a moment. And while I'm venting, the Utwig are just completely over-the-top whiney.
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Re: new comm voiceovers?
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2004, 04:23:31 am »

Well, willingness to do the whole throes-of-passion thing shamelessly, yes -- like I said, the original Syreen actress seemed to be embarrassed by having to play a sex-kitten character. Too embarrassed to really get into the script and make her realistic, so she's an annoyingly fake sex-kitten even in scenes where she *shouldn't* be.

Talana spends half her time being breezily casual and debunking your silly goddess-worship of her ("What are we supposed to wear in here... parkas?"). She should be flirtatious, but not dripping with liquid sex for every damn line -- you *can't* do it that way without sounding hokey.

And she should be able to sound normal, as well, normal enough to be slightly self-mocking about her sexuality the way the lines ask her to ("We feel that in the interests of efficiency, we should keep our officers away from your crew... at least until the mission is over") and be able to get mad ("ONLY THE MYCON POSSESS THIS CAPABILITY!"), defensive and guilty ("Don't judge us, Captain. You don't know what we've been through"), and genuinely and non-sexually longing and sweet ("Goodbye... my human") without doing a bad impression of a porn star.

C'mon, she's supposed to be the romantic female lead, not a sex caricature to please the teen boys (not *just* a sex caricature to please the teen boys, anyway).

But yes, Syreen are the first priority for a re-record, *way* higher-priority than Hayes (my rec for Hayes is actually to find someone who sounds a lot like the original voice actor but who can recite science-fiction material with a little more oomph and believability). And change the Orz? That cute, chirpy genderless voice that creeps all heck out of me still every time I hear it? What are you smoking?
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Re: new comm voiceovers?
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2004, 04:25:48 am »

Oh yes, and I agree, Utwig would sound more natural with a vaguely European honorable old gentleman sort of voice, to go with the quasi-German theme and the "we miss the good ol' days" rambling. Making them sound like whiny thirteen-year-olds is just bad. And it makes their switch from depressive to manic when they find the Ultron just plain unbelievable and annoying, while the sad old man turning into a jubilant dancing old man is almost a comic stereotype.
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Re: new comm voiceovers?
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2004, 10:19:34 am »

Hmm, I will need to study the voice comm voiceovers when i get home.

I never encountered the Utwig when i played it a little to test the voices, and only tested the most controversial ones.
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Re: new comm voiceovers?
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2004, 01:09:58 am »

Someone should try redoing the Syreen with a male voice actor with the lowest voice they can find, but trying to speak with a high voice. Smiley
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