Do you find that -- this is a loaded question -- that you get better results from voice actors, or actors?
GD: Absolutely voice actors. In general, my recommendation is to stay away from celebrity talent. My personal reasoning for that -- which I've discussed with a lot of people, and a lot of people disagree with me -- is for me, hearing an identifiable celebrity voice takes you away from the game. Instead of being immersed in this environment with these characters who are supposed to be a part of whatever world you're playing, you say, "Oh, I recognize that voice," and it brings you back into the real world. It's a very disruptive experience for me personally.
I also find, in many cases, celebrities are used to a very specific way of being dealt with and dealing with production, and voice over is very different from that. And game voice over is different from just straight animation or ADR or something in a film setting. There are some actors that can handle it very well, but I've found that more often than not, the more exposure they've had in the film world, the less they are able to cope in these situations.
Yeah, I agree with your assessment myself, partially because I wonder how seriously film actors will approach being in a game. Will they think of it as something to just bang out in a day, or is it more like, "Okay, I've got to get into my character?"
GD: Yeah, I think it's hard for someone who's done a lot of film and isn't really mentally willing or able to make that shift over to games, because they just aren't as invested in the character as they would be in the film. They're not in-costume. They're not on-set. They have to get into the character in a very short period of time, and without the weeks and months of rehearsals and preps and script-readings, it's a very difficult thing to do.
You need to have that very specific mindset to do that, and someone who is a professional voice actor, who basically does most of their work in games, is going to be much better at doing that.
I'm curious to know your opinion of finding an actor and then saying, "I want you to do this kind of voice," versus finding the person who has the kind of voice that you think is fitting the character already. Where do you fall on that?
GD: Are you talking just in terms of casting?
In terms of casting, yes.
GD: I'm always for having an extensive casting for any of your characters to bring in, because you just don't know who's out there. Working with a casting director, or working with people who are up-and-coming in the industry... there's always people working, or coming out of school, or training or whatever they're doing, and they're trying to break into the industry.
And sure, nine times out of ten, they're not necessarily ready for prime time, but there is always that one-out-of-ten actor who's just going to be something you've never heard before, and if you can find a person who hasn't been in any other game, you'll have a unique sound to your game, you know?
It's pretty amazing how people have these ideas in their head of what they want from the character, just because it's in the general game gestalt. We'll do a casting session, and they won't necessarily look at the cast list from another game, but we'll end up with the same people in the game, because they have this stereotype in their head. Most of our games have maybe a 50 percent overlap with another game's voice actors.