Thursday, October 13, 2005

Updates on video game voice over announcements:

(aka Video game VO gigs Adam's not getting.)

The current continuing trend in video game voice over is big-name Hollywood talent for video games.

While this has seen some good effect (Patrick Stewart in X-Men Legends and its sequel), it's also seen some bad, or at least critically under-rated (Michael Madsen in Driv3r; David Duchovny in XIII and Area 51, etc.).

And the expense! Retail prices for video games are supposed to go up ($60, up from $50), because development prices for games are supposed to go up in the next generation ($20M plus, up from $5-12M). But from at least one next-gen development insider, development budgets are "only" jumping to $12-15M.

As a gamer, I'm looking for immersion. I don't want to be yanked out of my willing suspension of disbelief by sucky VO work (it happens a lot in games). But I'm not buying a game for big-name talent.

Which makes me wonder: Are we as gamers paying for big-name talent that may not be solid voice talent?

As an Example, Activision just announced Thomas Jane will be doing the lead for their upcoming Gun free-roaming actioner for current- and next-gen platforms.

In this month's Game Informer Magazine, Jane talks about how hard the voice acting was, because he didn't have physical actors to react off of, and for the most part, didn't even have rendered sequences for context (ADR-esque style). He said for one sequence, he scheduled Lance Henrikson (who's also doing Gun), so they could do their scenes together.

I'm a professional voice actor. What I do is create a believable performance, in a booth, with nothing. I nail an audition or gig by being believable in a vacuum; I lose gigs if I'm not. Good for Jane being able to schedule co-stars for sessions, but he's big enough to be able to do that. I'm not. So I need to keep honing my traditional craft.

I'm passionate about gaming, and video games (and cartoons) are why I got in to acting. I consider myself lucky to particpate in games and cartoons (and to get compensated fairly, of course). And I save video game companies a ton of money, because I'm not Hollywood.

Anyway, given this, some video game voice over updates of note below -- I've been interacting with a number of these companies, so I'm a bit bummed that there announcements are my semi-formal "we thank you for considering us ..." ;-)

Of course, I'm persistent.

Gun -- Activision and Neversoft Entertainment's wild west got some top talent, with The Punisher's Thomas Jane (Colton White), Kris Kristofferson (Colton’s father Ned); Tom Skerritt (Clay Allison), Brad Dourif (Josiah Reed), Ron Perlman Mayor Hoodoo Brown), Lance Henrikson (Thomas MacGruder). I sent NeverSoft a voice demo and press packet for this title when it was announced, and didn't get any feedback. Might be OK, because though I'm still excited about the game, the recently released Xbox 360 trailer looks a little too current-gen to me. But if the gameplay rocks, I don't care.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion -- Bethesda Game Studios has landed an all-star cast, adding more voice to the already impressive presence of Patrick Stewart (the Emperor). Sean Bean (Boromir in The Lord of the Rings, Flightplan, National Treasure) will be the Emperor’s lost son; Terence Stamp will be the game's voice of evil, and Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman) will be lending her talents as well. I never sent Bethesday a press packet or voice demo.

X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse -- Besides Patrick Stewart, this game (and its precursor) has some decent voice acting (and a lot of it). After playing the first X-Men Legends, I tracked down the director of audio over at Raven Software and sent a voice demo and cover letter explaining my voice acting, passion for comic books, video games, and their games. I'm guessing the game shipping last month means they didn't need me this round.

Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood -- Ubisoft's/Gearbox Software's recently shipped sequel to their incredible refresh of the WWII shooter genre raises the bar again, this time with somewhere between a 6-9 month development window. These folks are outside of Dallas, and I hit them up for the original title, this one, and will be doing the same for their upcoming Unreal Engine 3 games.

Gears of War -- This is one of games I'm most excited about on the next generation of hardware. No announcements have been made, but, yeah, I sent a a href="">voice demo and press packet letting them know I seriously want to be a part of it. I thought the main character, Marcus, was voiced by Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Animated Series). But after watching some footage from Microsoft's recent X05 event, I'm thinking it may be Steven Jay Blum (or a sound alike), one of the hardest working animation and video game voice over talents out there. Getting him mixed up with Conroy is understandable, since his Roger Smith voice Japanese anime The Big O was "Batman-plus-Spike-from-Cowboy-Bebop". I'm going to have to ping Cliff "CliffyB" Bleszinski and see if he would tell me that...

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