Stellaris Dev Diary #77 - Ethics Voice Packs

Stellaris Dev Diary #77 - Ethics Voice Packs

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Metal King

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Hello everyone and welcome to another Stellaris development diary. This week’s diary I’m taking charge and going to write about Voice Over’s for the (unannounced) Story Pack coming alongside the 1.8 ‘Čapek’ update! We still can’t tell you any further details about the name or release date of the Story Pack, but stay tuned for future dev diaries!

For the upcoming Story Pack we felt that we wanted to experiment with VIR, our friendly advisor, see how it would feel to have different set of VO cues depending on your Empire’s ethic. A VO Cue is a term that we use to describe a Voice Over line that triggers at a certain point in the game as for example “Hostile Fleet Detected” or “Research Complete”.

We started with a test case in-house to try it out and we concluded that it was a great experience! From then on we moved on with the process and allocated time to write unique script for each role, character description, casting, auditions and finally recording sessions. It has been personally a long and hard process but in the end I’m really pleased to finally show of 3 samples out of 10 Voice Packs!


There will be a automatic settings for the VO Packs in the game so that the VO will switch depending on what Ethic you start with in the game and also switches while you're playing if you decided with switch Ethic's in your campaign. If you're not into that you will be able to select with set of VO Cues you want to play and you will always be able to switch back to the original VO if you desire.

Now that you have heard some of the results you might ask yourself how the whole procedure works with recording VO? So I’ll describe to a certain detail how the whole process goes by. :)

First of you need to write a script and if you have talented Content Designers. and we do have in our team, there is no problem to get good a script. Once the script is complete and approved it gets handed to me and I take it to the next step: Casting!

Casting of it’s own is also a long process which takes time. With help of a Casting Director you can get in touch with several possible Voice Actors that can help you to deliver the best result out of each script. When you have picked out potential actors that you think will suit for the role, you bring them in for a audition. In an audition you let the actor read a certain part of the script which usually depict the character the most and also give the best material for the Voice Actor so that they can perform as good as possible. After all the auditions are done you pick the actor that suited the best for the role. Sometimes during auditions actors comes for a certain role to read but during the session you realize that the actor would be more fitted for another role and that happened to our Militarist! We brought her in to do a audition for another role first but while she was reading the part for the first role I heard that she might be better suited as a angry general, so I asked her to try out for the Militarist and it was a really good fit! So good that we ended up with her as the Militarist.

With all the casting/auditions done you move on to the actual recording session, get as much possible material from your actors. It is important that you’re there to act as a “director” for the actors so that you can give the instructions and guidelines so that they can give you all the right emotions and takes that you require for your character in the game.

As soon as the recordings were done I moved on to editing. There is a lot of editing when it comes to VO since it is not only about how the recording equipment sound but also the sheer amount of assets you need to go through..



While editing you usually “zoom in” really close in the waveforms of the recordings to mess around/cutting noise such as clicks and pops. So yes, we Sound Designers tend to get really nerdy when it comes to VO editing:



After you have done all the editing which is removing “clicks” and “pops”, ugly breath takes, add fade in/out, you move into adding “effects” to the VO so we can get that cool Robotic style. For each VO I gave them something else than just using the same settings as for “Default VIR”.

So in short terms that is how you record VO!

That's all for today! Next week we'll be talking about robots and robotic modification.
 

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Wiz

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I like it, but I'm worried that it will set the tone for your empire,
for instance the militarist one, she sounds like she's about to scream "blood for the blood god!", which very well might be what player has in mind when designing his empire,
but fanatic militarist empire might be much more about war, tactics and discipline than about bloody combat.

And I'm even more worried about the spiritualist one.
This is why you can freely choose which voice to use, including original one. Nothing is forced on your empire nor are the voices ethics restricted, just ethics themed.
 

Metal King

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...By the end of the day after this is released, the Steam Workshop will be filled with anime voices.
Oh yes. I'm would be suprised if there is no Anime VO Mod once this released. :)
 

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Yeah sounds too Klingon.Should be more Cardassian which would cover more play types.
Cardassians are more Authoritarian than Militarist as defining ethos. I think our Authoritarian voice will fit that sort of empire quite well.
 

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I honestly doubt Audio department will be good at this stuff. My apologies to them, if I'm wrong.
Nah, clearly everyone at the office should be fixing bugs at all time. I don't know *why* we have the cleaning staff wiping desks when they could be programming.
 

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Wiz

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I think the hate for the Militarist voice is a little bit premature it's just one spoken line.
Let's just say that having some men on the internet being upset about an aggressive-sounding woman was not an unexpected development.
 

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Let's just say that this eventually becoming Wiz's most disagreed post was not an unexpected development.
Probably. I'm still right, though.
 

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I don't think there has been even one complaint about the voice being female.
At least not here or reddit.
There has. Besides that though, we had a discussion while recording on how aggressive female voices will be called crazy or overacting because that literally always happens, regardless of context, so it's interesting to see just how much of the criticism has focused on that, with zero self-reflection on how a male voice with similar tone and style would get a pass. It's amusingly predictable, as is the offended self-righteousness upon pointing it out.
 

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To be clear, what I am saying is not that the Militarist VO is perfect and beyond all critique, what I am saying is that we had a script for the Militarist VO that called for a more 'crazy' approach, and we picked the actor (after auditioning both male and female voices) that did the role best, knowing that picking a male voice would have been a safer bet no matter the quality of the actor. So it's a bit amusing, like I said, to see the backlash and the absence of self-distance and self-reflection coming with it, because we *knew* this would happen and chose to pay that price. :)
 

Wiz

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Again, it has nothing to do with it being female or male. Why do you keep driving that point?
Because it does, in fact, have a lot to do with that.
 

Wiz

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This is very disappointing. Are you even reading and comprehending the comments. She did a wonderful blood knight, which would be good for fanatical purifiers and/or a warrior culture, but it doesn't suit a disciplined military culture. It has nothing to do with her being a woman. Get off your high horse and shift your mentality from needless feminism to a legitimate discussion about what are appropriate attitudes of different militaristic/warlike societies.
Here's the thing: No matter The validity of such criticism, if we had picked a male voice, even one that sounded far 'crazier', we would have gotten at most 10-20% of the complaining we've gotten now. I make no judgment about any individual critique but this is an observable enough fact that we literally accounted for it in our planning. That's all.
 

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@Wiz: As I'm watching this discussion, I think I'm seeing an implicit belief that might be worth confirming as explicit. If I read you correctly, and I apologize if I am totally off-base, you believe that some of the negative reaction to the militarist voice sample is because highly-aggressive AND female. That the desire for a more "professional" female militarist voice reflects a subconcious bias about how women ought present themselves. Is this a fair statement of your thesis, or do you believe we'd be having a variation on this discussion no matter how a female militarist voice was presented?
It's both. We'd be having this discussion regardless but it would not be nearly as pronounced. There's been a few comments about Xenophobe tone, there would likely have been more if we had cast a woman in the same role (but not as many, since it's a more 'appropriate' tone for a woman)
 
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GAGA Extrem

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I, for one, love the new VOs.

My favorite so far is the Egalitarian one for invading an enemy planet:
"Deploying Liberation Forces", with a very thick american accent. :p
 

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I think it's time to close this thread. I will admit my handling of it may not have been the best, but I stand by what I said and none of it was 'you're all misogynist'. My point is: there are pervasive attitudes regarding which tones are considered appropriate for women (and men, for that matter), something you have to be aware of when doing VO, and this affects how people react to such a voice in ways they may not even be aware of. If you can't differentiate that from 'you're misogynist' (which I at no point said) then that's your problem.

However, I could have handled it better and accept responsibility for causing this mess of a thread. Time for it to go.
 
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