Guild Chat - Episode 61
From Guild Wars 2 Wiki
Guild Chat - Episode 61
- The following is an unofficial, player-written transcript of the episode. The accuracy of this transcription has not been verified by ArenaNet.
The episode of Guild Chat aired on May 4, 2018. Host Rubi Bayer interviews members from the Guild Wars 2 Narrative Team to learn about how they bring stories to life.
hi guys and surprise so back before episode 3 when the trailer for living world episode 3 came out we included a short version of a redo of fear not this night by MacLaine you guys really loved it so MacLaine got to work fleshing that out and it is ready now you guys just got here for the very very first time and by the end of this episode it will be available for all of you on our soundcloud so keep an eye out for that but for now we have a couple things I'm going to talk to a couple of our devs first though we have one little thing here if you guys remember the blue quaggan mug from the holidays for fans by fans made a little pink version here's your blue versions friend and that is coming to their website soon this thing is enormous I'm so happy about that but yeah we have we have the little pink quaggan girl now with her little hair bow I don't think I have that just don't think about it too hard it's fine and it's glue I can still drink out of it so I'm happy so alright so that was our that's our new for fans by friends mug that I kind of dig and today we're going to be talking about the narrative process getting the story from our heads into the live game for you guys and I'll let our two dev guests introduce themselves talk about let us know who you are and what you do here I am Yvette Barker I am the voiceover lead I'm Tom Abernathy and I'm unsure which camera look at that studio narrative director this is you guys this is me that once all three of us okay we're doing it live a quick note if you guys have questions just drop them in to chat and we're gonna try to answer a few of those at the end today so alright well let's get started let's kind of talk about how the process goes from beginning to end where do you start when all of this begins to get it into the game okay so yeah because because obviously or maybe it's not obvious but but we have to write things we have to make a story before we can record a story so what's interesting about our process here is is that because we put out content every two and a half or three months you know it's it's an there's an assembly-line aspect to what we do that's not necessarily true in all kinds of games and so we're constantly able to refine our process and make adjustments each new episode and so that's awesome and and we're constantly trying to do that I'm so the process that I'll describe is mostly what we're doing now to some small degree it's what we are intending to do as we continue to refine but basically the way that it happens is we start breaking a season of content breaking means sitting down and talking about what we think the season should be about and that group involves various people but as you know usually the constants right now or me and Jessica price who's story editor for Guild Wars 2 and Lindsey Murdock who is the content lead designer and Jason Vandenberg whose design director and and and Mike Z's in there and various other folks maybe as well and and when we start talking about story we actually really like like we're breaking stuff right now where we're talking about themes we begin with themes what do we want it to be about in a sense of meaning right because because narrative and games I think the role of it is we're that we're the discipline that answers the why questions where the the discipline that imbues the experience with meaning the example that I like to give is that you know if someone gives you a white box you know on a screen and a sphere which you can sort of throw against things or the floor whatever and stuff that could be fun for a while but if I say to you okay now you're you know LeBron James and it's Game seven of the NBA Finals and there's two thirds of a second left and you're at the free-throw line and the Cavs are down by I am suddenly so stressed down right right there's some you know a thousand people or whatever screaming their heads off and waving sure I mean you know obviously suddenly that context changes everything about that experience right and that's our job is to provide that kind of meaning so we start out talking about that stuff you know each season at this point has its own set of themes we're dealing with each season has its own set of character arcs that's the next thing that we bring in is is what's going on with the characters we believe strongly that all story comes from character and so so what's going on with them how are they evolving one of our big focuses this year has been to make characters to have characters evolve over time to have things that happen to them and the emotional effects of that stuff be persistent and we talked last time we were here about bit about timey for episode 1 and yeah um how we're doing that with her and she's certainly not the only character that's true of so you know we'll we'll sort of get all that stuff down and and once we understand what the needs are we're trying to fill then we'll start to say okay so what needs to happen plot wise for these things and there are lots of questions that come in there are there certain areas of the world that we want to go to for the first time or do we want to go back to where do we think we're going in a longer term sense and we will come out of that process with with a reasonably strong sort of high level bullet point outline of what's going to happen high view thirty-five thousand foot view of the season and then we bring more designers into the room obviously Lindsay's been there and Jason the whole time but we bring more designers in and we start saying okay you know talk to us about what your ideas of gameplay you'd like to do or and how we can make those things work together right because you know we can't talk about I you know if I'm a gameplay designer and you've turned to me and say okay you know this season um arenas you know she's kind of a teenage dragon now and she's going through teenage stuff right and you know you know and I'll be like okay how do I make game play out of like like you know that's that's a challenge for sure so it's a it's a sort of ongoing collaboration in that way and designers will come up with all sorts of awesome stuff till they basically have their pitch presentation for what they think the the gameplay of all that should be and they Jason now and Lindsey are having them make these amazing presentations power points where they chart the intensity both of gameplay and of narrative across each chapter and all this kind of stuff and it's really cool and that's a fairly new addition to the process really yeah Jason has brought that in and I'm gonna want to talk about that at some point in a future episode okay cool that's amazing right and then so so so now everybody sort of has a large sense of what we're doing you know broad strokes and then we have 3 episode content teams of course and various writers assigned to work with them on various aspects of each episode and then people start breaking it down I mean you go from the macrocosm level to the microcosmic alright and they start breaking it down in terms of okay what's the actual outline of the chapters in the thing what's that outline within the chapters what's gonna happen plot wise gameplay wise character wise all of that stuff and when you've got a pretty good outline of all that the designer can can begin to do their work in earnest and the writer can begin to do their work in earnest and they sit near each other and they you know will sit together and like play through with designers building and or read through what the writers is doing and that's all you know it's it's at its best that's a really like intimate collaboration that really knits the gameplay and the narrative together and it's important to do that because if they're not working together if they're in any way not synched up much less at loggerheads with each other then you're not going to get a very fun experience so that's when you start iterating and figuring out what's going to work and what's not gonna work very beginning it already seems such a huge process well yeah it's months out and for people who maybe have some knowledge of how that the TV production process works which is somewhat analogous to what we do but because we have to build everything that you see right in in a virtual world every visual asset has to be created from scratch so so a TV show can actually get made in a much shorter amount of time they'll start breaking story for a season of a television show if it's a normal one that starts in the fall they'll start like they take their hiatus before April and then and then around late spring they'll get back together and the writers will spend about three weeks doing their version of what I just talked about bringing the story and then they'll start they'll go away and they'll all start writing episodes and and those episodes the outlines for them and sort of the locations will get handed out to groups of of crafts people who make sets or design costumes or that kind of thing but it's it doesn't take them as long it takes them a while but it doesn't take them as long for us the process of going from the beginning of dealing with a single episode in earnest to that episode being released is probably it's it's six months at least I would say and each of our episode teams that three of them generally we have done six episodes season so they're each responsible for two historically I'm not making any promises and it is it's just a long long process and from the narrative point of view then what we'll do is as the writer iterates in response to the collaboration with designer in response to feedback that they're getting from Lindsey and from Jason we will pretty quickly sit at a table and with with a bunch of narrative team folks and whoever wants to participate and will read those things out loud because this is not fiction writing this is not writing for the written word it's writing for people speaking out loud it's dramatic writing for it's meant to be spoken right so we want to get it up on its feet so to speak as quickly as possible so that we can hear how it sounds and we actually end up doing that several times through the process the first few times we're doing it primarily for writing purposes and but once once the design designers are basically pencils down and and mostly they've done the iteration they're gonna do and we sort of settle that script at that point it goes off to editing and they go through it and then we begin the vo process that's where I grab tell me tell me about table reads like and casting to talk about yeah yes so casting roughly two to three weeks before the episode is is supposed to be passed off to editing I sit down with the writers and the designers and say okay what have you created you know what you've done yes yes sometimes that so we I get a list of all of the all of the named actor or all of the name characters we need to bring back in you know we've got the PCs on there and then how many generics they need and sometimes I have to you know - their dreams I said you know I was I'm sorry we can't have 20 different you know human character 20 different human voices I can give you you know 10 12 because the SAG contract says that each actor can do three voices yep right if we want them to do more than that we have to pay them extra but the problem is for example if you are in a place let's say where there are lots of humans like Ilona lately right you are at you're potentially asking an actor to come in and give you three different human voices which some actors can do and you'll never know it's the same one but not that many of them can that's a tough order and it's easier when some are when they're coming in they have one human voice one char voice want to serve voice different kinds of processing that'll go on and change it it'll be easier to sort of not let the player know that that's the same actor doing all three you can put them in different places on the map sometimes for episode three we had 27 different actors come in you know the ten player characters plus seventeen more people so it's it's like throwing a giant party every couple well the ten player characters especially that's really unusual and it's an enormous amount of overhead I love that we do it because I think the value of the players is huge but I'm not gonna lie it's a big it's a choice to make yeah so you put it all up on the board we ascend voice roles out get everybody listed you know off to back to the the writers and sometimes I've had to say like I'm sorry I can't give you you know I can't give you this but I can give you just two hundred in fear yeah right human male voices or I mean I want six generic in this place and evil say I'm sorry I can only give you two yeah so figure out how you can do what you want to do with you and so sometimes some adjustment needs to be made or you know we'll figure out how to to make that work compromise and and creativity thrives under hunter restrictions I feel so the budget to the budgeting process for this stuff is tough that you've been doing it for several years now she has a tremendous hold on it she has a great knack for economically giving us what we need and and finding ways even to save money at times which is awesome but you know it costs money to hire actors and a studio and and we have a company that sort of runs the process for us called line light and and we get our directors to them we we hire so young engineers through them and all of those supposed we'd then we go down yeah right some of us have to be in the room so we've jumped a couple of steps here okay sorry and huge thank you to Blaine like by the way yes I wanted to get that in so let's back up yep two stars that we table reads so yep once once we've hit editing paths or was we've hit the handoff to editing editing does a proofreading pass and then we get into table reads where the the narrative team loke designers audio team we all sit in a room and read it out loud we make sure that the script is exactly as we want it that it's easy to say that it's not you know people tripping over over difficult difficult words you know because if we're tripping over the words in in the table reads maybe the actors will trip over it right in the studio so we think about you know can we can we rewrite this line slightly because it's difficult to say you mentioned localization being a part of the process that was kind of recent so I wanted to touch on that we started bringing localization into the table reads so that they could get the context of everything that's going on in the episode and and you know how how things fit together so they could start thinking about how they would translate things we were getting comments from them that you know it's it's nice to coming from below background myself it's nice to hear them say like you know you you called out for example s'mores and in a line we don't have s'mores in Spain so I'm sorry that's distracting so so you have to think about the line speaking on a low-key I'd here you have to think about a shin by the way sorry localization translate into other languages and so you you wouldn't specifically just say s'mores and hope that your your players can figure it out you might think of you know well what's a dessert that's kind of like it that I can substitute here that still makes the line make sense Wow no idea and I'm thinking back like one doing blog posts on our side and we're talking about that a lot of times there'll be a pun or something and that's a question does this pun translate absolutely we want them to adapt rather than translate directly right we want it to like like our goal is not that it be a literal translation into the languages that we that we do localize into but rather that it's it's a similar kind of experience right so as you said I mean sometimes that means finding an analogue for something rather than just the exact same what the word means all right we have proceeded to bring it's just those little things that you wouldn't think of yeah it's it's so ingrained in your culture that you don't think about the perspective from the other culture until they start bringing things up up to you but yeah we've gotten localization into the table reads they can see the context they can ask us questions we've we've we've we've worked on that process and where we're working to make it even better after the table reads we get our changes in we pass our scripts on a blind light blind light we have books all of our actors in our studio time they're there our vendor and then you know there's the the time in Burbank so we fly down and we sit in the studio with the actors and the directors the sound engineers giving them the context giving them the background explaining the scene what's going on you know sometimes occasionally rewriting things on the fly which and very occasionally you're writing things on upon request from up here we try to have one vo specialist which is right now either Eve or Marissa and one writing sort of representative which most of the time is me if we're running two studios then it could be Jessica price or it could be Armen Constantine or or it could be the if it's not one of them already with a writer who played the most prominent role on the episode we usually have about four or five writers all told getting their hands on on any given episode so one person originates the early drafts of stuff whether it's golden whether it's open world whether it's non vo text and also raids and fractals and stuff like that events like like one that's coming but so so by the time it gets to the studio it's had hopefully the best contributions of everyone who was around contributing to making it better and and n plus I've seen it and and we worked there when I started here there would be things that would not get past me now I get not get in front of me until we got into the studio which is very frustrating because that's not the time you want to introduce any kind of randomness or or disorder in the process we're getting pretty good at this point at buttoning most of that up just so that I can make it sure make sure that that everything is is to the quality bar that we're sort of aiming for right well and I wish we had we can't show call sheets right now because they're super super spoilery true but how specific the call sheets are and like you were saying how button-down that process is we go in there and it's this actor here is the three people that she's doing and here are exactly their thirty three lines eighty seven lines nine lines and I can see how throwing something in at the last second by the way can we just add six more lines onto that rubbery right it's a time crunch exactly I mean because because so so the easiest thing to do is is is when we rewrite in the studio on the fly so even though we've heard it out loud numerous times maybe the actor is still stumbling on it and it's hard to say maybe we just hear it in their voice and we realize it doesn't work as well worded the way it is as we thought it should maybe we not very often but but occasionally we may catch that there's a logic problem or or or something that's implied by the line that we hadn't thought of and we have to change it so that we don't violate something that else that's happened or something like that those changes I mean it's not super easy but particularly if I have another writer in the room and I can basically have them like do the grunt work on on on doing the rewrite and then showing it to me we can get that done and it's easy to sort of capture what's harder is if we have as we do after the designers been pencil down after we've had our vo deadline and we've done our table reads if stuff comes in very late and people are go we have to change the thing now they're always changing it for good reasons they're changing it because they've gotten feedback that it can be better or because they themselves have realized they can be better right they're not really supposed to be changing it at that point but we want to be flexible we want to make the thing as good as it can be and so you know three days before we go down two days before we go down they'll send us an email and say oh can we please do this read this change but this thing it would be like okay we'll do our best the problem is once we're in the studio we're going 90 miles an hour and and everything is is already organized so that all we have to do is do the next thing at every moment right okay so we can forget those things we can we can forget those kinds of late kind of impromptu changes which makes us feel terrible and then we have to figure out how to cover for it later but it's a it's a very intensive as you found out you know I mean you're sitting there for for eight or nine hours a day it's 9:00 to 6:00 oh maybe yeah focusing so hard on everything you're hearing and everybody's got a different job and one of the things that I love about the folks that we work with right now we tend to work with the same people so Mark DeRosa is our main engineer sorry yellow Fuente different del Fuente sorry Phil Bock and Chris var main directors they're awesome Kimber Rose Williams is one of our main script coordinators from blind light and we also have Tommy and and client and other people and what's great is we've done it together enough times now that we all know our role perfectly so that if someone has a question and asks it or or makes a statement they don't have to say who it's meant for cuz the person who it's meant for knows that it's for their role and responds in whatever way is appropriate and so there's a minimum of chaos in that way which is kind of amazing to watch it's almost poetic I think it is I'm having that rapport built up over a period of years is exactly amazing because I was sitting here while you were talking I was like mental counting you've got one two three four five six seven like eight people in that in the bigger studio and they're focusing so hard on every single line to make sure make sure the inflection everything is perfect and it is it is balletic is a really good and i'll watch a little bit of that here in a little bit we've got some video from that that we can share a very little bit because again it was so incredibly spoiled all right so we're down there and do you guys want to talk a little bit about giving direction to the actors and how that works and I mean I know a lot of that is like Phil and Chris but yeah you guys have a huge hand in that so you know I have I'm a recovering child actor and many many years ago I started at the age of eleven as a professional actor on stage and later will stalk you and although I mostly was done with that by the time I was through with college but it does I became a director I became a theater director 9:01 following a filmmaker and screenwriter but but it does give me insight into the acting process which is very helpful one of the things that I know as both an actor and director is that actors there there are many different kinds of acting training and technique out there every actor has their own sort of vocabulary that that they need you to be able to learn to to speak to them in to be able to give them direction in a way that will be meaningful for them and so part of your job as a director is is to learn what that vocabulary is for everybody and use it and I've had been like my favorite example elective is is one woman who was auditioning for a film that I made told me in the audition that she was taking painting lessons and she asked if if maybe I could give her direction in sort of visual art terms and I was like I'm not sure what that really means but I'll give a shot and so I was like she'd do a line and I'd say can you give me a little more scarlet in that and she would make an adjustment and it really was what I was wanted always incredible is incredible now that's an extreme example obviously right I'm so glad you told that's that's a more beautiful yes I've directed the studio but I'm thinking back I'm remembering last week there was an actor and I'm I'm like scared to even say who it was but there was something generically bad going to happen to this actor and we talked later and she came out of the studio looking a little stunned and she was like they asked me if I was interested in method acting sorry they didn't do that to you right I can tell you more about that later well have different approaches - right like like Phil's a bit method II and and Chris much like me when I actually direct is a little less that ways a little more outside in is that as the Brits would say and but it is important to in a general sense you want notes always whether they're notes coming to a writer during the development process or whether they're notes to an actor in the studio you want those notes to be coming from one place because it can be confusing if they're not because of the fact that that many of our actors have been working with us for so long and know all of us so well we fudged that a bit sometimes sometimes Phil and Chris will go ahead and let them hear directly from me or for me or for Marissa or whoever else because it just saves time and they have confidence that we're not gonna say something that is gonna randomize the actor entire you know so we try to keep as orderly as we can just remembering like one of Phil's favorite directions is okay you're talking to the villain so be defiant and then they'll give the line and he goes bigger middle finger that's good you were talking about you directly sometimes giving the actor direction I want you to tell the story about how you had to do that last week okay cuz it is an awesome story yes well I got like I was confused because she wasn't actually even in the room yeah she was sending me emails I was I right yeah the bathroom how far back do we start this so we have well we could say we have yep the character of course is played by who's a fantastic actor when we when we originally cast him for goreck I wanted to make sure as we were getting more named characters I wanted to make sure we got more actors of color because in into our name characters not just play engineers and so II Ches name came up and I I thought he he could do an awesome Asura I've worked with him a few times he was here surprised I'm sure by Israel I was stunned when he started normally talking I'm sorry because he's amazing so I was like I think he can nail this voice we got him into the studio and he nailed this a service roaring for episode two and then as Tom and I were talking between episode 2 and episode 3 development Tom said you know I want I want gorrik to be on the spectrum you said you told me yeah that you had already that you had seen him as being on the spectrum okay I didn't remember that that was me who originated that idea but that's cool that particular conversation you told because there was there was I mean the thing was there wasn't that much court dialogue in - right my only show up at he and Blish at the end and so he had talked about a bit but there wasn't that much and but but in 3 not to get you know too much into it but there's there's more gorrik in 3 and I know yep yeah and and and so so the character evolves right I mean we learn more i what it should say is we learn more about the character as we're writing more of them and and I think it did become originally you know time Ian episode 2 headlines about court there so like he's he's really kind of weird and annoying and like all this kind of stuff and and I didn't like my note to the writer about that stuff was was let's not do that let's not tell the player what to think about this person let's write the character and so we backed off some of that a bit but but I guess it must have occurred to me at some point that actually the things that that that people were perceiving as odd about him actually could be reframed as him not being a jerk but rather him not being fully aware at all times of social cues of how he's coming off and and yeah I mean that that started to sound like like someone who's on the spectrum to me I am NOT an expert in that though and Eve is because she's on the spectrum and so so that's why he was like super resource for this yeah we're sitting having this conversation and I was so excited I'm like yes I want this to happen because you know more representation is great and and being on the spectrum myself I could be like let's let's do this and and I want to you know have good representation for this so we talked about it a little bit you know getting in during the development for episode three and when we got down to Burbank for episode three I said you let do we want to lean into this on the on the performance do we absolutely want to make sure that this comes through the performance and Tom said yes let's do it you know we're committed to this which made me very happy so when Gore X actor came in ek came in I was supposed to be in the other studio you know working with Matt Mercer that day and I you know politely told Matt I'm sorry I have something I need to do for a few minutes you know this is something I need to do and I can't just hand it off to somebody else but we're gonna start a few minutes late he was given he's the sweetest dude on the planet so sweet and a real pro he could get through oh yeah but I was like we're gonna start a few minutes late just so you know I have to run over the other room for a minute and I you know found ek and said okay this is what we're doing with your character cork is on the spectrum and since I am on the spectrum I want to give you a few notes about how how that performance would come through how he would how he would sound a little bit different you know without being like you must read the line like this because he's a professional he knows how to do it but I just wanted to give him that little background very foreboding by the way to get Lecter actors actual line readings unless they tell you to do that yes so so I I said you know being on the spectrum it's you know we're not emotional as robots where we're not you know just like going to be angry or or flat all the time it's more that we don't pick up on social cues we don't realize that there is hidden meaning to what we say or subtext to what we say or what other people are saying so it may take you a moment you know if you brain cycles to get to that before you go oh yeah okay I get it now and you're you're going to be focused on things because it's something that you're excited about but not in that can kind of make you oblivious to what's going on around you if you get really excited about something or you know if you're upset about something it's gonna come through but you may not realize that the words you are saying can be can be read a different way by somebody else in the room until they react and then you go oh you know whoops yeah so I gave him that note and I said you know I really appreciate you doing this and now I have to run and just do that his lap and ran off but he is he is amazing he nailed it you know III I think it probably helped in a little in a way that I wasn't there for all of its okay maybe but but so like I said I mean what she was doing though and it was helpful because she was he was working with Matt on a PC yep we were working with UK on on Gork and and we were moving through the script at roughly the same pace so Eve would send emails because she would see a line coming up and say tell him this this and this as sort of the subtext for it and she would be almost really reliably by about 2 or 3 minutes ahead of us hello so that I could be prepared to actually and I would read him the email and you know thing to understand about both dramatic writing and acting from a craft perspective both of them are really all about subtext and in games this is the thing that gets forgotten all the time but you know most time in games you don't even like subtext is not saying people even are thinking about but for us it is for us we really it's important for us to focus on it because it's again it's the thing that gives words actual meaning right so you can have a line as an actor that was written for you which you can interpret any number of ways and say any number of ways sometimes you can say it in a way that makes clear that the meaning that you're you know transmitting is virtually 180 degrees opposite of what the text actually seems to say right so ek isn't amazingly skilled and an agile actor and I would read him these emails that Eve was sitting what was sending and and whereas his his first read if we'd already done a take of the line might have been like say the line could be read in a way which makes it seem like you know one interpretation is gorrik is is being callous right and and and focusing on the thing that he cares about the science thing whatever it is rather than the thing that's dramatic that's happening in the route that everybody else in the room is thinking about right so you could play it as just he's a callous kind of creep an occasion occasionally that might be some of that might be the first take that would come out of BK and then I would read him the emails that he would send and he would go he would think about for a second to go okay and and you could seed them minut calibrations going on in his head and and suddenly he would do the line again in a way that made it clear that gorrik simply wasn't aware that he that he couldn't perceive what everybody else was perceiving and and that if they call him on it which at times they may he's genuinely confused and and and sorry contrite he doesn't mean to be offensive right he's not callous no no he's a sweet guy actually right who gets misunderstood because of the spectrum stuff and ek would make the most amazing adjustments to dial that in very specifically and I told Eve we were you know each of each time he'd do it I'd write her back and I'd say oh I think you're really gonna like what he did here and and when she listened to it she was like oh yeah he nailed it completely I'm so excited there's an interview with ek that we will air later and I had told not later today I'm sorry I know I need to find it for you I'm still sorting through files because there are literally six or seven hundred files I'm working on it yeah I was telling Eve that when I talked to ek later I was one of the things that I was asking him was tell me about that challenge and portraying a character on the spectrum and he said I had so much help and he said it was it was you and you conveying it that made this work for him so it was that and that's an extreme example excuse me there goes my voice that's an extreme example but giving that direction like you said helps them dial it in very very specifically without giving line reads I hadn't considered giving line reads but it's good to know that it's what a bad thing to do yeah that's that's what a director who doesn't know what they're doing they will do and the actor will generally find it offensive just in the same way that a director will find it offensive if a screen writer writes shot descriptions overtly explicitly into into a screenplay yeah because you're stepping on somebody else's professional toes they have a job to do there's an area that is theirs you need to give them room to do their job it's like if I if I looked at you for Ruby and I said well you need to write this forum post like this what do I know right manager why don't ya I give you I give you the slight notes about what I need out of you and then you step back to lay I don't collect you don't your magic the editing telling you exactly that is an interesting point it's something I've not had a reason to think about before but when you yeah well and I mean to be frank we're sensitive to it because I don't think it will come as a surprise to anybody that a lot of times what we do looks deceptively easy to people you know they figure I watch stories on in movies and then read and play games and I I write emails and stuff and how hard can writing be you're just making stuff up right you said just and that's exactly it that's all right yeah why don't you just yeah yeah and it's you know let's let's just say that's not the case we we may not will like work in a different you know language like code or whatever but but there are a huge number of skills that are required for one to be proficient in to do what we do well so well I'm just going through the process here I think gives a good example I mean and we're not even done this is just getting it recorded I feel like I'm in the game alright so we get all of that we bring it back here apparently in a handbag or something and suddenly handbags and just if it is anything that you carry in and I was just baffled like there's so much jargon I don't know it's yeah we get we get hand backs of polished cut named files which I then used to import into our tool and then run processing on so for a couple of weeks it the the audio that our devs our designers our QA team are listening to sound like just the actors performance the chart don't sound like Chara they sound like right the regular actors while I get everything together and run the processing and get it reinforcing basically does what the processing ad pitches you know for for the chart pitches it down and adds those those mouth noises yeah yeah the rougher tones she's not wrong no no I mean drew drew on the audio team made made these processes I just push a button for that for that part I mean I do a lot of I do a lot of stuff over there but when it comes to the processes I push a button and let Drew's magic run so who doesn't is what races do do not get processing charm nor and get processing down yet processing pitch down and and for the charge additional textures added the away can get processing Joko gets processing ghosts get processing cost yeah cost gets processing because you know weekend I had this panic moment trying to remember if we had introduced oh yeah he was in episode 1 yeah and but like Asura Suvari human those are just the straight actor performances none of those which surprised me actually I assume disorders yeah and yeah I didn't think about joke oh I mean nolan north is good but yeah when we when he comes like the process nolan north as Joko sounds basically like this it's about this pitch which is amusing right totally very funny very arched sort of I like to describe him as a cross between cue from Star Trek next generation and King George the third from Hamilton but but then of course he gets process and there's a whole dimension down here that gets added to it so it's much fuller yeah it's a little scarier it's how we can have nolan as the player a human male pc human male talking to Nolan as Palau Joko without it being really obvious and it's a versus right yeah or as mordremoth that's right yeah does like I said there there are actors that you know they're they're not a dime-a-dozen for sure but there are voiceover actors who are have so much range that they can do what we call a be a scene which is play two characters a scene and you don't know it's the same actor or even some of them in Nolan is one of these can ABC is seen um and have three characters and you don't know it's all the same it's a it's amazing to watch them do what they do it's a very specific set of skills actor wise and and similarly what I said a few minutes ago about narrative I think having voiceover actors and those of us who work with them sometimes get a bit put out at the way in which big-name like like animated movies and stuff will take big-name stars as voices for things who maybe don't have any voice over experience at all and sometimes it works out fine but sometimes it doesn't because the skills needed to give an effective performance on camera are not the same skills as those needed to give an effective performance that is all in your voice in other words you can't rely on face body language anything any kind of physicality it's got to all be put into this right and and that is not easy it's a it's a very elite set of skills that these people have well that's it's hard on their voices to I mean you're taking breaks you're making sure that yep we will delay like screams or all that stuff if we have any to the end so that we don't blow them out early we fortunately we don't have as much screaming as as some other some other games - such a great point right there we don't have as much screaming or shouting as other games - so there's it's not a huge portion of their performance but we'll still delay it to the end so that they're not trying to you know scream and then whisper yeah because then you can hear it in the whisper afterwards the other voices has taken some strain yeah all right so we get all the processing done and then you just stick it in game and it's over so we skipped over doing taffy over cinematics which which sometimes even I'd dropping lines for cinematics we have to do cinematics an episode ahead of time so we will record them like Cinemax for episode 4 we actually recorded with episode 3 this time but the Cinemax folks need more lead time than that because it takes them a long time to do so so sometimes even I and Jessica whoever will hop in the booth and and give them really terrible temp vo to try to work with but so so at this point then the vo is in the game it's implemented but it's just I mean the best way I can express it is it's kind of just been tossed in in the general place where it's supposed to be right and we don't want it in general place we want it to be tight we to have good timing we want things that are funny to be timed properly so that they will make you laugh we want things that are scary to be timed properly so that they will make you afraid etc and so at that point the one of the writers will sit down usually the the principal Golden Path writer will sit down and and play through and and listen to the way the dialogue is firing and move it sometimes in minut you know bits of seconds one direction or the other earlier or later and until it sort of plays the way that we want it to editing is both visual editing and and and sound editing are aspects of an entertainment experience that people maybe aren't always aware of what an incredibly huge impact they have on things but you know if you have us if you have a sequence where you have a bunch of lines that are not where nobody's really taking a hand to trying to place them properly it can feel very slack like there's no energy in the thing conversely once you've when somebody's gone in and adjusted that stuff and it feels tight and snappy and and like there aren't a lot of pauses or dead time and that kind of thing it just the energy returns and fills up the experience and its really cool so they'll do that and then they'll usually like collect the the big narrative moments and they'll they'll sit down with me and show this to me and I'll give them any feedback that I may have on it so that improves the timing of everything and we're focusing entirely on English here at the moment oh my gosh right loke is running in parallel with us can't start on each stage until after we've done ours so once I've handed the scripts off to blind light which is backing up a little bit in the process I also hand the scripts off to Luke who passes them off to their localization partners in in Europe where they record I believe French is recorded in Paris German is recorded in Homburg and I'm not entirely sure where our Chinese video is recorded I apologize so anyway you just don't know more than we do so but they passed it off to their Studios for translation we get you know queries back and forth like what about more yeah what are s'mores what is what is this in context - can you give me a little more information about this you know if we we use a chart a phrase it's a little bizarre to them idiomatic they'll ask us about it and we try and explain it so that they can get the best the best translation into their language that it makes the most sense in their language and then this is an area that we're working really hard right now we talked a little bit before um to improve because at some point we realized that half our players play this game in a language other than English and that we had virtually no visibility into what was going on with that right and that's not to impugn the folks that we have here work on low because they're terrific yeah but but we realized that in talking to bash Kim who's the head of the Loeb team we realized that that that the best way to ensure that that the narrative experience for players and other languages was you know at the same standard as what we want it to be for English since we don't speak those languages was to actually invite the local team to assimilate more into us into our team so that they don't necessarily have to ask so many questions about context because they've been there for table reads they've seen scripts they know they have a sense themselves of what some of the answers to those questions are and it's fairly early in our attempt to do that but I think already my sense at least is is that it's had a wonderful effect I know the low team loves it and as we've said they're starting to adopt some parts of our process and do them themselves for their part process and they're in their languages and you know it's just I mean we need to make sure that we're always trying to get the best possible experience for players that we possibly can and this was an area where we could make improvements and we are well and that's that makes me go back to what you were saying about adding vo lines while you're already down in Burbank in the studio it's a ton more efficient if you get this done earlier in the process and everything is ironed out and everybody knows what's going on yeah because if not then Eva Marissa has to make sure they catch all of those things and then give them can say here are changes here things yeah way redo all that work yes which look loves they love it as much as we love it having an antidote which we have our English audio hand backs of the actor performances not the process but the actor performances I pass those on for Lok to pass along to their studios they use them as guide tracks okay so they can since we don't always have representation in the studio they can listen to the English and be like oh this one's supposed to be angry this one's in combat you know we can they can get that extra context right from the English performance so that they can have theirs their content or their vo ready and that gets imported after the English you know another processing pass timing QA all of that fun stuff so those can only raise the quality that we hope and we've also told them you know a lot of animated things get when they get localized into other parts of the world they go to great lengths to find a voice that sounds a lot like the voice in the original language or whatever and and one thing we've been clear on is let's not do that you guys cast the best actors you know your your your time ii does not have to sound like Debi Derryberry I'm not sure anybody in the world sounds like Gary gift right music they can use it as a guide but it does sure would be it exactly exactly you don't have to be slavishly bound to it right and find the right actor for the role in your language and what the the thing that pops into my mind at this moment is Kingdom Hearts in Japanese because my background in localization is in Japanese to English localization and listening to Kingdom Hearts Donald Duck in Japanese sounds like Donald Duck in English like they do the voice and it's almost unintelligible because wow he's got that you know weird young boy voice I mean he's almost an unintelligible that's that's Disney's called it's not mine but it's just an example of like slavish Lee sticking to a performance and making sure it's exactly the same in all languages maybe that isn't the best way to do it I need to hear this well um we have a little bit of footage from our last video session and then I want to take some questions you guys are still up for that please don't change your bikes I already told them yes I do have one question that I noticed yesterday that I didn't have a good answer for we've covered a little bit but somebody was asking if we always have recorded our vo in Burbank in English in English to my knowledge and there's been a couple we've been a couple times where actors couldn't make it in right I guess I should say we've been centered in Burbank for all of our recordings but we have had a few instances where an actor was elsewhere in the world on set for something that they needed to remote in and record we've had actors remote in from Austin from New York and from Budapest yeah that was that was weird because of the time change so that was Ron you on our previous PC charm male he was he was filming Marco Polo during heart of thorns recording oh wow and so we had to get to sessions with him from Hungary remotely so he was in a studio in Hungary where we were getting the audio and then we I was Skyped in there was because the 9:00 hour time difference at the time it was here in the US in Pacific time it was a 9:00 to 9:00 to 1:00 session 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. session and then a midnight to 4:00 a.m. session Oh which he had sleep in between but I had a nap okay well cool that's interesting I'll tell you what why don't we take a look at our vo footage and then we'll let you guys answer some questions from people watching all right we'll be right back that's enough of that that's enough of that this is like the cops are gonna figure out what to do with you so this whole thing is like don't go anywhere like stay here the cops are coming right I'll deal with it don't go anywhere the sunspears will decide what to do with you now I'm liking where this is but now just to say that you more to separate out those sentences I'll deal with it don't go anywhere the sunspears will decide what to do with you Oh more like it by the way that breath in between 2:00 and 3:00 that stuff so good okay keep that in there all right I'll deal with it don't go anywhere the sunspears will decide what to do with you here's why yeah someone's like oh no this is what you say here's you quiet what if he hears you one more for me you had it right there the idea of this it's kind of dual it's like you're saying yes absolutely not but then also you're gonna reassuring yourself because that idea for you and equally to any two-bit ibly indubitably something here the indubitably indubitably see this is just pre-recorded for here access denied access denied access granted access granting can we get sorry I swear I had a note about this and it apparently didn't make it in I can't we get a alts for line three where you just kind of giggle a little like you you personally program this and maybe you're having a little bit of fun with it sure take six access denied even a tighter care gopher nailed it access denied that's an alt tell him to sit tight nice I like that and so down just a bit in the sense of you don't know you know he's a bumbling idiot you don't want to get hurt and you're kind of like tell him to see tight me too gross me too I think the words you're looking for are thank you I think the words you're looking for are thank you I love watching them emote as there is they're doing this yep no I don't want to say the energy because I didn't mention her name before the engineer in that last shot was Bree she's the other engineer she's terrific yeah yeah the blame like Kurt is amazing they are also so good all right so why don't you guys take some of these questions and knock these out okay so someone who's definitely not Cory from blind light says is there an influence from real-life situations in guild wars or is it imaginative fantasy do we have to choose I mean really you know I think it's it's actually both for sure so so here's the thing I think anyway if you if you want to make John Romo Tyrael like fantasy or science fiction really come to life it has to be first and foremost about real people it has to and then those people can be robots or they can or golems or whatever you write that I mean they you know I'm using people in a very broad sense but like I said before story comes from character story comes from the fact that every character every because it's true of everyone in the world has things that they want you know an acting that's called objectives and things that they need and there's generally if you're doing it right there's a difference between those two things and the difference between those two things what you need and what you want is the thing that creates conflict within the character and sometimes conflict without the character and creates the sort of thing that the story is about now in that sense that's real world psychology you know for sure that is so our character is we very much think about them in those turn we're also absolutely influenced by things that go on in the real world and I'm talking about you know when we make video games in general broadly and and those things will have an impact and I think there are times when stuff that we're talking about writers especially will we'll talk to each other in a shorthand often of references to actual things or occasionally to other stories because we know sort of what that means so so if we say you know something like oh it's a Rapunzel situation than you know the other person will know a meteor talking about someone who's stuck in a place that they can't get out of and you know but by someone who's supposed to love them or something like that and and we've definitely we've definitely done that with with this stuff I mean for example the the best one I could think of is the situation in Ilona with Joko and and his having sort of had his you know bony foot on the throat of the entire area for quite some time at this point you know and as of episode two we've got sunspears who are now fighting back against him and are trying to retake parts of that and deal with the people who live there who are starving and and have no water and stuff because Joko is sort of like kim jong woman and and you know cuts off resources to his own people and the sunspears and i actually used this terminology at times and talking to both writers and actors about it very much I think at times are reminiscent of of you know our allied military forces in places like Afghanistan where where they're there to work with a population that maybe doesn't trust them entirely or that certainly at least is is beleaguered and and you know I think we're all unfortunately familiar from the last 17 years of what those kinds of environments look like what the dynamics of those situations are we on the news so many times and so it's very easy to use that as an analogue and turn into an actor and say this is sort of what you're doing there and they go okay great I got it so so it's I mean we use it we use it for inspiration but we also use it as a as a shorthand way to communicate about about the work itself because everyone has that context yes yes all right what else do you guys get all all excited when certain voice actors show up we get excited for everybody we do we love our cast they're amazing yeah our cast is amazing we get to see them every couple of months and is fantastic it's it's a joy when they walkins it's really funny yep and some of them worry I mean you know we're we will sometimes some of them will go out with us and evenings we'll have dinner together will we'd go do karaoke together sometimes you know we have a great relationship with them and and some of them because because even I've both been doing this quite some time some of them we've known for 10-15 Jocelin blue I've known for gosh 20 years I think maybe ish are almost before I even knew she was so you know it's yeah that's a great part of our work life for sure I worked with Yuri Lowenthal and Steve bloom and Nolan North on my first voice acting project back in 2005 at a translation company I worked at in Tokyo and so when when we when we came down once for uh for Guild Wars and I got to run into URI for the first time in like ten years he's like oh my gosh thought I'd see you again Jota thing that's so cool hey-oh so bin Lubar says wait wind and Nolan appeared three times in one scene to clarify didn't say he had I said he appeared twice he's gonna be er has appeared as him as himself as the the human male PC and also as Joko I don't know that he has appeared three times we've done but he could is the thing he's that good I think if if it's a goal now yeah the PC was talking to mordremoth and joko at the same time or yeah that would be a situation which could happen rain arctica says did any of the a net staff do some voice acting for random NPCs or is everything from actors so here's the thing since we are which my camera so we are signatories as are most of the game companies if not all that you know about to the contract that exists between the Screen Actors Guild and the major game companies and part of what that contract says is is that no one who is not a member of sag can do voices in a video game made by a company that's signatory to it so the answer to that is no in the old days in the Wild West absolutely like I you know on the first few games that I wrote on destroy humans the director Carrigan and I would like we would realize on the last day that they were you know things that little things we had missed and we needed to record and there was nobody there but us unfortunately we've both been actors so we just happen to do it but not allowed to do that anymore we we do occasionally do scratch audio but it does not leave this office it does not make it into life and you wouldn't want it to it's for dev purposes only just so that there's something other than robo voice or or so yo for rough timing or its own joy but yes yeah I'm personally I'm not a fan of Robo voice but but if it works for people that's cool tell us ask to do all the choices have processing female voices sound less I don't know how to say beastly I believe they sound cool to be honest the charm male and female do have separate processes so they they get slightly different adjustments to their voice and pitch and things but the female charge still does have process yes the female char has processed the dil char has processing it's just slightly different yep interesting result says when writers introduce new narrative and game assets what are the type of discrepancies or challenges the designers have when collaborating with artists and programmers how designers introduce a new idea to be implemented and have the process developed with artists and programmers in general it's a very collaborative process it is very collaborative that's right I have to work with a lot of people that's right I mean you know the writers and designers will be in contact frequently with art about assets that they're going to need for four things they're doing or new characters or new characters outfits or stuff like that the process for for this sort of writer designer interaction once once we've done the story breaking that that I talked about earlier basically is in the designer whereas the writer starts writing drafts what the designer does the designer starts building in a sense in essence a draft of the the chapter that they're going to make and that means you know putting environment together placing props and characters in that environment you know may having having characters do certain kinds of mechanical or movement oriented things to do what they want to do and in terms of script most the time what happens is the designer once we've got all of that stuff outlined and that's why it's important to have it outlined so everybody knows whatever I was doing the designer will is essentially taking the first pass frequently at at sort of dialogue that will go with game play and they will give the writer or what we call a stubbed in version of the script and it could be and frequently is and probably should be really limited like it's it's like you know PC where are you going timing I have no idea but you know like it's not supposed to be good it's just supposed to be it communicates in a clear enough way sort of what's in designers head about house how they see the stuff that's in the outline kind of playing out in that moment and the writer then we'll take that stubbed in conversation and and iterate on it oftentimes a bunch and it may it may bear very little resemblance at the end of the process to what it started out as other than sort of getting the most important bits of information across that supposed to but again that's a back-and-forth constantly this is the most so I've worked in theatre i've worked in film and TV a little I've worked in games now for twenty years and and and video games are without question the most collaborative art form they make film look like a one-man show which is crazy yeah it's it's really like like like nothing happens the idea idea of tourism in in video games is just ridiculous because nothing happens without dozens if not occasionally hundreds of incredibly talented skilled experienced people bringing everything they've got to bear on the task that is they're part of what they're doing and and therefore the communication between all of those different parts has to be frequent and and regular and and open for it to work I'm gonna grab one here on the bottom denarii de bet says question there's been some bits of voices talking over each other like The Shining Blade oath how hard would it be to have the first bit of an interruption laid over the last bit of what's being interrupted rather than the interrupts II pausing as if cut off but the other line waits a second to commence that's one of those moments you don't realize how much your texture goes into that exact moment because that's a that's the game engine the programming telling which file to play when what to do if a file gets cut off without time a file overlaid over another file it's it's one of those things you just think happens naturally because you do it in speech so much that you don't realize that there is a whole like structure behind all of that in every game you play that dictates how the game engine handles it so cuz that goes back to what Thomas say yeah I'm sorry about it seems deceptively easy yeah and it can appear like well why don't you just tell that why don't you just tell him to say something a second sooner and and if I I can do that and think okay I can have my actors deliver these lines as if you know this person's being cut off yo so cut yourself off and in delivering this line and you know this lines gonna play overtop of it but then I actually have to get into the game engine and tell it to make that adjustment and and depending on you know which game engine you're building you know I'm not specifically talking about goers I'm talking about all games in general at this moment the game engine itself and how it runs those files it may have code that says stop playing an audio file or it may have code that just says no this audio file plays until this audio file it's done and we don't know how to handle it any other way and so like as a player you don't realize that there's that much going on in the background and for every second of every audio file that you hear and we're so we're trying another area we're trying to improve is our interaction with audio this season players have already seen in episodes 1 & 2 a number of moments that we're basically a combination of narrative and design and an audio came up with ideas for doing things with audio that would be really cool that we haven't tried to do before and things like for example you know we have Joko speaking through characters and in that specific instance there was referred to speaking through like a roomful of characters right so you hear their voices and you have to hear djoko's voice and we have to record all those people doing that and we have to know about what we want the timing to be so generally will record Joko first in that situation then we get everybody else to kind of match the timing roughly but not exactly because we don't want it to be like you know the stuff with joko and tie me over the comm in episode 1 in the middle at the at the prison where you hear him killing and awakening people and you hear her you know reacting to that I mean you know was creating a whole it was like an audio play right creating a whole sort of soundscape that was going on that hopefully if we all did our jobs right the idea was like it makes you crazy because you want so badly to intervene and you can't there's nothing you can do you don't even know where she is in the world right and so I mean you know Audio loves giving opportunities getting opportunities to do that kind of stuff and really show what they're capable of and so we were trying to keep pushing each episode and come up with more and more interesting things for them to do we're working we bring the audio team in on the table reads as well and and discuss with them like this is this is a moment that we see coming up you know can you think about how we can do this how we can you know not just on the performance side like the the moment where Joe Cota starts talking through the inquest asura and I believe it was episode 1 tears I mean it was absolutely yep yeah but he keeps doing it I mean he does in every episode where you know you're hearing these layered voices like on our end you know we had we had Nolan do it first and then we played the audio back as the other four voices were we're delivering those lines so that they could hear it and match the rough timing but then we had to hand it off to the sound designer in and the audio team to add more layers on top of that and processing on top of that to add you know to make it that moment because it wasn't just the performance it wasn't just dumping the file and the engine and hoping it was price you know making it making it work and building and adding all of this groundwork and and in layers of work and polish to make it that moment and again I point out we do this every two and a half to three months this kind of work goes into every single episode that comes out every two and after three months and yeah there's nothing easy about it god are you kidding yeah so well thank you guys very very much I appreciate you answering all the questions that you could write right yeah and we the ones we didn't answer me lose because we already addressed them so we looked at them for sure yeah it's not that we're mean well I will let you guys get back to work thank you so much for your time this was really really fascinating there was a lot that I didn't know even after talking to you about it earlier this week so and thank you guys very much for coming and hanging out with us today we all appreciate it if you want to read a little bit more from the lower side than the narrative process I'd in our forums the last ArenaNet forum chat was more on the narrative that's right so check that out and otherwise we are good and I will see you guys back here next week on Gil jet thanks guys fear not this night