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AGDC: Krawczyk, Cooper On Getting Game Dialog Right In  God Of War 3

AGDC: Krawczyk, Cooper On Getting Game Dialog Right In God Of War 3 Exclusive

September 15, 2008 | By Simon Carless

September 15, 2008 | By Simon Carless
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More: Console/PC, Exclusive

In a talk at the Austin Game Developers Conference on Monday, God Of War 3 writer Marianne Krawczyk and voice actor DB Cooper discussed some notable changes needed to stop terrible game dialog or voice acting that might "haunt game writers for the rest of their lives."

Cooper explained to the audience, which was divided between audio professionals, writers, and voice actors, that "we want to keep your game off of," noting that it's the lack of useful direction on the character's intent or in terms of how you want the gamer to feel that can hobble things for everyone.

The voice actor, who has previously worked with publishers such as Electronic Arts and Midway, had surveyed her game-related voice actor compatriots on what they were given in terms of material to work with on voice acting. According to her, game voice actors will often get an Excel document with a referenced intonation style ("serious" or "upbeat") and individual lines to say.

Often, this just isn't enough to do the lines justice from an acting point of view, with no rehearsal, and "very little information about their characters unless they're very lucky," according to Cooper.

Chipping in, game writer Krawczyk, who is currently working on God Of War 3 for PlayStation 3, added: "I write in screenplay format [for the God Of War series]", suggesting that the Excel/intonation method seems "very limited, and out of context to any relationships."

In fact, Krawczyk revealed that for the currently in-production God Of War III, "we're going to do some rehearsals and some table reads," in order to have everyone understand their characters.

This is the first time that a TV show or theater-styled table read (with actors present and rehearsing ensemble ahead of the voice recording) has been done for Sony Santa Monica's series -- and is still extremely rare throughout the entire game business.

Going on, the writer, who has also worked on titles including Midway's Area 51, the upcoming God Of War III is "a very specific three-act experience," adding that the script is probably 120 pages in length.

Later in the discussion, Cooper gave an example of "jamming" on voiceovers to work out the context of a talk between Kratos and Athena in God Of War II -- pointing out that with a game like God Of War, "We expect Gods to have lofty language... you just want it to sound good."

But it's easy to "play it safe" by just booming those lines in an authoritative fashion, and the duo explained how working out the precise motivation of the characters beyond simply authority made the lines so much better when correctly sourced, explored, and acted.

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