7DS: Player Character Chatter

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    I enjoyed today’s email update. One thing struck me in particular:

    The party should have a bit of chatter, and bring color to the individuals, but we have no plans for any player characters to leave the party in disgust, or profess love to another.

    In the RPG Codex thread about the game, my buddy SausageInYourFace responded with great wisdom:

    I hope these guys take hints from Wiz8 and JA2 on how to do this right.

    As far as I’m concerned, Wizardry 8 is the gold standard for PC voicing. If you haven’t played it lately, do so. Just 20 minutes in the starter temple with premade characters will give you a strong sense of the group’s personalities and how the system works there.

    Critical points:

    * MANY voices to choose from.
    I know this is asking a lot. VA is expensive. Do what you have to do. Crowdsource the voice work if you must. 30 mediocre voices to choose from is better than two professionally acted ones. W8 has <i>thirty-six</i> full personalities to choose from (18 for each gender), even though the party only holds 6 PCs. Make this your number to shoot for. (Make sure each voice is done by a different actor if at all possible – no matter how good an actor is, we can tell if it’s the same guy doing two voices.)

    * Strong characterization.
    Don’t just have “Male Voice 1”, “Male Voice 2”, “Male Voice 3”, all blandly heroic. Write strong characters and have your actors go for it. Have “Perpetually Depressed Guy”, “Power Crazy Guy”, “Sexual Innuendo Guy”, “Excitable Swashbuckler Guy”, “Overly Cautious Gal”, “Super Verbose Gal”, “Monotone Gal”, “Dumb Barbarian Gal”, etc. You’ll notice that most of my examples are best described by negative personality traits. Don’t be afraid to go in that direction; that’s what makes them memorable.

    It’s OK if some of the characters seem annoying or unlikable. Remember, you are going to have a lot to choose from, so if a player hates one, he can pick something else.

    * Unique situational lines.
    There don’t have to be tons of these – that could get really expensive – but in addition to repeatable combat chatter and whatnot, have at least a few lines for every voice that only play once each during key plot points. You’ll notice at the very beginning of Wizardry 8, the party crash-lands their spaceship and finds themselves stranded on a beach. Every personality type has a unique reaction to this, and only one character speaks at the beginning of the game. Seems like not much payoff for a lot of work, right? But it’s actually a huge payoff. These unique lines help to really put the characters into the gameworld. Lines that get used over and over are okay, but those one-time, off the cuff responses to something specific that’s happening really, really bring the characters to life. Even one or two of these per major quest will go a long way. (Though if you can do more, please do!)

    * Motivation-related chatter.
    Wizardry and Jagged Alliance didn’t have the Motivation system that 7DS has, so this will be new ground, but not tying the two systems together would be a crime. These need not be quest-specific, but each voice needs two lines for each Motivation: one for “fulfilled” and one for “unfulfilled”. Let’s say that Perpetually Depressed Guy is motivated by Greed. The party performs a quest and chooses to steal all the treasure. Perpetually Depressed Guy needs to be able to weigh in approvingly, saying something like, “Money is the only thing that blots out the emptiness in my heart.” But suppose the party gives the treasure to the villagers instead – he’ll have to be able to say, “Money can’t buy happiness, but it wouldn’t have hurt, you jerks.” Have each personality be able to do this for each Motivation. Again, a lot of work, but it will pay off – having just one character make a remark like this at the end of each quest will add so much.

    On a related note, be careful when creating your personalities – you want each one to work at least marginally with every Motivation. Power Hungry Guy may seem like a bad fit for Serenity, but with good writing you can make it work. Don’t lock personalities to specific Motivations. (Try mixing and matching voices and character classes in W8. Use the “dumb” voice for a wizard, or the giggly voice for a fighter. It works!)



    I agree with what Zombra posted. Wizardry 8 should be the blueprint to follow for party member personalities. Well worth firing up the game, to see how the various character types would respond with comments to a wide range of situations and events.


    When TSI mentioned “bit of chatter” I wasn’t even necessarily expecting it to be VA chatter. And really I would be totally fine with an all text dialogue; I can imagine the voices in my head just fine. Indeed, most of my favorite recent CRPGs (e.g., Age of Decadence, Shadowrun: Dragonfall, Dead State, etc.) are entirely devoid of voice acting. I’m looking forward to T: ToN, which I understand has some VA, but then it also has a considerably bigger budget than most CRPGs.

    Of course, I don’t know what 7DS total budget will be like; it’s not even clear whether they have found an investor/s, a publisher, or whether they will attempt another Kickstarter, go the Early Access route, or all of the above. But I would be concerned that any VA would consume limited resources that could be better spent… I’d rather have several well written lines of text dialogue, than a couple VA ones.

    Totally agree with Zombra on the motivation-related chatter. I would hope that the goals will be a well utilized aspect of 7DS.

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