So I bought Arcanum off of GOG.com last weekend. (Blogish)

#1 Posted by mangopup (81 posts) -

I've played about 3-4 hours of the game thus far, I haven't scratched the surface of the game and I keep dying by killing myself with critical failures in hilarious ways, but I'm having extreme amounts of fun.

But that's beside the point. I've had a realization after playing this game (and Planescape Torment also), that full on voice acting in games are killing the RPGness of the RPG. There is just no way to have deep dialogue choices, not to mention many options to choose from at the moment.

I used to be on the "Voice Acting, fuck yeah!" side, but now I kinda want either no VO or reduced VO so I can have more control over a conversation in an RPG. I'm kind of disheartened by the digression of Mass Effect and Dragon Age, where they went from a decent amount of choices to the equivalent of: Yes, Maybe, No, and sometimes Fuck No.

#2 Posted by BrockNRolla (1694 posts) -

So, maybe you should have made this a blog then.

#3 Posted by Grimhild (722 posts) -

@mangopup: I agree completely, in fact I was talking about this very thing on another thread and how it prevents Skyrim from really being a fully-fledged RPG and is instead turning into more of an action-adventure game (a very fun one.) Not that I'm opposed to having voice work in games, but it limits the writers exponentially as far as character interaction, which is one of the main pillars of any RPG.

#4 Posted by Morrow (1823 posts) -

Have fun with Arcanum, I enjoyed it a lot back in the days :)

#5 Edited by believer258 (12192 posts) -

Not that I don't agree, but most people those days don't want to spend all of that time reading stuff in general, much less reading stuff on a video game screen. Which is fucking sad.

#6 Posted by Adamsons (873 posts) -

I still have my boxed version of Arcanum somewhere, IIRC there is a fan patch that fixes an obscene amount of bugs and adds a bunch of stuff that was supposed to be in the game (animations, quests etc.)

Save frequently though, I can remember killing vital NPCS quite a lot.

#7 Posted by mangopup (81 posts) -

@believer258: I can relate to that, I had a hard time getting in to Planescape Torment because there was more reading involved than there was actual input from my mouse, still loved the game for what it was though. However, Arcanum (and Fallout 1 & 2) isn't super in-depth with descriptors, so it's a lot easier to read while still being detailed.

I'm a huge fan of silent protagonists in video game RPGs, because it seems apparent that having a voiced protagonist just destroys the dialogue trees even more (Screw you Hawke).

#8 Posted by mangopup (81 posts) -

@Adamsons: I did this a lot in the Fallout games. I'm doing more killing of myself from critical failures than I am killing these rats.

#9 Posted by Tennmuerti (8174 posts) -

Fucking A, you did!
 
I still have fond memories of roleplaying a slut, whoring myself out for money and having sex with gentlemen to gain entry into their posh club. >.>
Or a tech genius rolling around with a robotic possy of robot spiders and automatons, sporting a sick power armor and a machine gun.
Or an all powerfull duche sorcerer killing enemies with a single spell, raising the dead, talking to deparded spirits, and generally bending rules of reality.

#10 Posted by Ubersmake (754 posts) -

Oh, Arcanum. I remember that one obscenely long, optional sidequest that doesn't end on a good note (or any note, for that matter). That was one hell of a ride. I remember being a little ticked off because of the lack of closure, but looking back, I'd do it all over again anyway.

, what kind of background did you give your character? And have you tried talking to people after several drinks yet?

#11 Posted by amir90 (2178 posts) -

I came to the same conclusion after playing lots of Planetscape: Torment.

#12 Posted by mangopup (81 posts) -

@Ubersmake: Child of a Hero, because it seemed like it was the easiest to start with... But apparently he is so bad a with a sword that he always ends up stabbing himself with it when he swings, though when he does hit, it's a OHKO. However, now he's extremely meek, and doesn't want to be confrontational (because I don't want to keeping dying from unlucky dice rolls D:).

#13 Posted by believer258 (12192 posts) -

@mangopup said:

@believer258: I can relate to that, I had a hard time getting in to Planescape Torment because there was more reading involved than there was actual input from my mouse, still loved the game for what it was though. However, Arcanum (and Fallout 1 & 2) isn't super in-depth with descriptors, so it's a lot easier to read while still being detailed.

I'm a huge fan of silent protagonists in video game RPGs, because it seems apparent that having a voiced protagonist just destroys the dialogue trees even more (Screw you Hawke).

Now, the silent protagonist thing I can't agree on. Yes, I understand that it's so you can better project yourself onto the protagonist. No, I still don't quite think I like it, though I certainly don't have a strong distaste for it as I number Skyrim amongst my favorite games this generation. If all of the dialogue were written, I think I would have far less of a problem with it because characters wouldn't be talking to someone who never actually spoke. For me, there's just a disconnect when my character picks a menu option and the other person suddenly hears something that I only chose and didn't say.

#14 Posted by Gargantuan (1887 posts) -

Arcanum is one of my favourite games, it's up there with Planescape: Torment and Fallout. Glad that you bought it.

#15 Posted by IAmNotBatman (656 posts) -

Will buy this game eventually, when I complete the 15-20 other games I'm yet to play from GOG. Let alone recent games like Syndicate, Darkness 2, KOA: Reckoning, fucking help me out here! I'm DROWNING.

#16 Posted by mangopup (81 posts) -

@believer258 said:

@mangopup said:

@believer258: I can relate to that, I had a hard time getting in to Planescape Torment because there was more reading involved than there was actual input from my mouse, still loved the game for what it was though. However, Arcanum (and Fallout 1 & 2) isn't super in-depth with descriptors, so it's a lot easier to read while still being detailed.

I'm a huge fan of silent protagonists in video game RPGs, because it seems apparent that having a voiced protagonist just destroys the dialogue trees even more (Screw you Hawke).

Now, the silent protagonist thing I can't agree on. Yes, I understand that it's so you can better project yourself onto the protagonist. No, I still don't quite think I like it, though I certainly don't have a strong distaste for it as I number Skyrim amongst my favorite games this generation. If all of the dialogue were written, I think I would have far less of a problem with it because characters wouldn't be talking to someone who never actually spoke. For me, there's just a disconnect when my character picks a menu option and the other person suddenly hears something that I only chose and didn't say.

I think it's a good middle ground since at least there are still choices you can make. But I see your point, it is kind of a disconnect when characters are having whole conversations with a mute.

#17 Posted by ArbitraryWater (12115 posts) -

Arcanum is an interesting mess of a game. I'm not as fond of it as some other people (I think the combat is kind of awful, I find the character progression system to be kind of jacked and I can't stand how much time you spend in Tarant before you're strong enough to even think about moving on), but it has a lot of great ideas, even if those ideas aren't capitalized on as well as they could be.

But to comment on your topic more directly, I find that full voice acting is somewhat overused, though I think the thing with text choices that people seem to forget is that most of them were redundant in that they elicited the same response. Still, I'd like to see them try to remake Planescape with some of the paragraph long dissertations both your character and others are capable of having.

#18 Posted by tourgen (4542 posts) -

@mangopup: Good point. I hadn't really thought about VO that way before. I also bought Arcanum on GOG over the weekend. It's pretty good!

I recently started playing Yakuza 4 and it does this thing where it has VO for some scenes and beepy text scrolls for other parts. At first it's a little odd but given the choice between cutting all that dialog or just not having VO for it - I think they made the right choice.

#19 Posted by august (3866 posts) -

A lot of things about Arcanum are great but the ui is horrible.

#20 Posted by mangopup (81 posts) -

The UI is very atrocious, first game in a while where I had to click on every button to figure out what menu popped up.

#21 Posted by Ravenlight (8011 posts) -

@Ubersmake said:

Oh, Arcanum. I remember that one obscenely long, optional sidequest that doesn't end on a good note (or any note, for that matter). That was one hell of a ride. I remember being a little ticked off because of the lack of closure, but looking back, I'd do it all over again anyway.

Fuck that sidequest to hell. All I think of when I think about Arcanum is blinding fury because of that stupid quest.

#22 Posted by donkeyscrotes (69 posts) -

Deviating a wee bit here from the topic, but I find myself skipping through a lot of the voice acting whenever I play an rpg a-la skyrim or fallout as I normally play with the subtitles on and can read faster than they can speak. Playing Xenoblade Chronicles recently there seems to be something different about the way the voice acting and subtitles match up, it seems to synchronise the subtitles and speech really well. I wish other games had this same sort of system (though I may be making this all up).

#23 Posted by jorbear (2517 posts) -

I should write more Blogishes (Blogi?).

#24 Posted by Ragemachine (40 posts) -

Oh man, I never beat Arcanum. I dropped the shovel you need for the important story quest involving a graveyard and something and I honestly had no idea where or if any of the npcs had picked it up and I hadn't saved in waaayyy too long, so I just never played the game again. It was pretty fun, though. The combat system was pretty rough.

#25 Posted by Gargantuan (1887 posts) -

@Ravenlight said:

@Ubersmake said:

Oh, Arcanum. I remember that one obscenely long, optional sidequest that doesn't end on a good note (or any note, for that matter). That was one hell of a ride. I remember being a little ticked off because of the lack of closure, but looking back, I'd do it all over again anyway.

Fuck that sidequest to hell. All I think of when I think about Arcanum is blinding fury because of that stupid quest.

Which sidequest is that? The altars?

#26 Posted by SlasherMan (1725 posts) -

@tourgen said:

I recently started playing Yakuza 4 and it does this thing where it has VO for some scenes and beepy text scrolls for other parts. At first it's a little odd but given the choice between cutting all that dialog or just not having VO for it - I think they made the right choice.

I just finished Yakuza 4 yesterday, and I realIy fail to see any reason for why cutscenes kept going back and forth from a regulary voiced and animated cutscene into a static text scene, and vice versa. For one thing I feel it takes away whatever emotional impact some cutscenes try to have, and quite frankly, at the end of the day I come home too tired to read badly translated scripts in a video game, so I just end up rushing through the text and while I do force myself to read it, I do so without any actual interest.

There is a point to be made for when a no VO approach works (I felt it worked brilliantly for a lot of older games), but not in this game.

Now, I'm not saying that they should have just cut all that dialog out of the game, that would take away too much from the storyline and characters, so obviously they made the right choice here if those were their only two options. But the game didn't have obscene amount of dialogue to the point that it couldn't all be VO'd, at least as far as the main storyline is concerned. So I really don't understand why they couldn't have just done it properly. But if it really was a budget thing, then easily I'd give up most of the side stuff in that game if it makes for a more focused approach in storytelling, a la Mafia 2.

#27 Posted by Ubersmake (754 posts) -

@Gargantuan said:

@Ravenlight said:

@Ubersmake said:

Oh, Arcanum. I remember that one obscenely long, optional sidequest that doesn't end on a good note (or any note, for that matter). That was one hell of a ride. I remember being a little ticked off because of the lack of closure, but looking back, I'd do it all over again anyway.

Fuck that sidequest to hell. All I think of when I think about Arcanum is blinding fury because of that stupid quest.

Which sidequest is that? The altars?

I'm thinking about the one that begins with the Siamese twins skull.

#28 Posted by mangopup (81 posts) -

@jorbear: Bloginese

#29 Posted by tourgen (4542 posts) -

@SlasherMan said:

@tourgen said:

I recently started playing Yakuza 4 and it does this thing where it has VO for some scenes and beepy text scrolls for other parts. At first it's a little odd but given the choice between cutting all that dialog or just not having VO for it - I think they made the right choice.

I just finished Yakuza 4 yesterday, and I realIy fail to see any reason for why cutscenes kept going back and forth from a regulary voiced and animated cutscene into a static text scene, and vice versa. For one thing I feel it takes away whatever emotional impact some cutscenes try to have, and quite frankly, at the end of the day I come home too tired to read badly translated scripts in a video game, so I just end up rushing through the text and while I do force myself to read it, I do so without any actual interest.

There is a point to be made for when a no VO approach works (I felt it worked brilliantly for a lot of older games), but not in this game.

Now, I'm not saying that they should have just cut all that dialog out of the game, that would take away too much from the storyline and characters, so obviously they made the right choice here if those were their only two options. But the game didn't have obscene amount of dialogue to the point that it couldn't all be VO'd, at least as far as the main storyline is concerned. So I really don't understand why they couldn't have just done it properly. But if it really was a budget thing, then easily I'd give up most of the side stuff in that game if it makes for a more focused approach in storytelling, a la Mafia 2.

I really think it was simply an issue with budget.

I understand your perspective on all of the side content but I don't agree with it. I think it's amazing that its all in there and I don't believe the game would be all that good if it was removed.

It's a matter of taste - I don't really liked "focused storytelling" in my games. I like games that can cut loose and just be a game somewhere in between the story pieces. let me wander around and have cool systems and weird one-off side stuff to do. I'm fine with both types getting made though! Some people like Uncharted. I don't hold that against them.

#30 Posted by redefaulted (2829 posts) -

Eh, instead of wanting less Voice Acting because of it's lack-luster style, we should want more, but at a higher quality. Why would we want to go backwards when all it takes is a little more effort on choices?

#31 Posted by BoG (5192 posts) -

I've dabbled in the game a but. I bought it in December when GoG was having a sale. I also bought a few other titles from GoG, and a handful from Steam. I haven't played many of them for too much time. I really love the atmosphere. The Steampunk/Tolkien fusion should have happened a long, long time ago. Honestly, I just love steampunk, and it's a shame that the setting is so underused. I'm hoping to get back into it soon.

#32 Posted by Rayeth (1071 posts) -

@ccampb89 said:

Eh, instead of wanting less Voice Acting because of it's lack-luster style, we should want more, but at a higher quality. Why would we want to go backwards when all it takes is a little more effort on choices?

The issue with voice acting is the constraints it puts on the creators to limit the game's scope and options due to the prohibitive cost of recording dialog for every single choice. This may not be a big deal for something with a very focused story, but pure Western-style RPGs are changed dramatically by it. See the differences in choice from a game like Baldur's Gate 2 to something like Dragon Age Origins. You might think the latter had a lot of choices, and it did (for a modern game), but not NEARLY as much when you compare to the sheer amount of dialog that was there back in the day. That is the price you pay to hear the lines read to you, instead of reading them yourself.

The funny part is that (at least for me) reading them myself is what I end up doing 90% of the time anyhow and then skipping the voice acting for taking too long or being terrible. At least when I was reading all that text I could imagine the characters sounded awesome all the time even if the dialogue was cheesy. The voice acting does take away some player investment IMO and I for one would like it back.

So I guess what I'm saying is that I'm going to go play Arcanum now.

#33 Edited by Brodehouse (10129 posts) -

I love when games give you the ability to say no to doing the next part of the game.  It's like "We have to get the goldsilver crystal from Deaduron, the evil dead centaur." and there are dialogue options that amount to "no, I'm just going to piss around here".  Oh wait did I say I love it, because I fucking hate it.  I bought the video game, let's just assume my character is interested in the adventure by way of 60 dollar purchase.
 
Maybe that's just an angry DM projecting.  "Hey guys, do you want to go fight the dragon, solve the ancient riddle and match wits with the evil magistrate?" "No, we want to piss around in this town and make halfling jokes."  FFFFUUUU
 
As for the game differing wildly based on your choices; that's probably never going to happen in any game that actually looks worth a damn.  It's hard enough to build 30 hours of level, art and character design.  Imagine having to build roughly three times that because the choices in your game can have the player completely bypass or never see two thirds of them.  You wind up with everything looking samey and mechanical like Skyrim.

#34 Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw (6396 posts) -

(Response-ish)

Yes! If voicework reduces the story potential in a game, i completely agree.

Moderator
#35 Posted by SSully (4325 posts) -
#36 Posted by Disobedience (35 posts) -
@Brodehouse Point :)

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