MPSE Wavelength

Fall 2023

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Page 9 of 71

8 M PS E . O R G S VIDEO GAMES continue to evolve at a rapid rate, the importance of properly tailored game dialogue should not be overlooked. Game dialogue is a crucial immersive element that helps bring worlds and characters to life. Correctly implemented, the dialogue elements in video games create a more memorable and interactive experience. The way in which dialogue is presented will significantly affect how players connect with the game world and its inhabitants, as well as the overall narrative. Sound editorial is an essential part of making that experience as good as it can be. Ultimately, the quality of the dialogue will affect how players connect with the game world, characters, and story. Well-executed dialogue will enhance immersion, evoke emotion, and create a sense of trust and authenticity between the player and the game world. On the other hand, bad dialogue (poor writing, acting, direction, or editorial) can lead to character inconsistencies, awkward interactions, and breaking of immersion. To create effective, believable game dialogue, five key elements should be present: Clarity, Consistency, Tone, Pacing, and Interactivity. Clear, easy-to-understand dialogue is essential to engage players and immerse The Importance of Properly Tailored Game Dialogue them into the game environment. This can be achieved through recording in a professional environment, careful editing, and professional post-processing of the dialogue. Selecting the appropriate voice actors that can deliver lines in a clear and confident manner will also have a considerable impact on this. Consistent dialogue throughout all aspects of the game is crucial for creating a cohesive game realm. This means that regardless of whether the player is interacting with an NPC or in a cutscene, the dialogue should sound like it is coming from the same world. This not only helps make the game world more believable, but it also helps players to understand and anticipate the game's narrative. Due to the segmented nature of video game dialogue recording, it falls on the dialogue editor to maintain sound consistency within each character. This involves referencing recordings from various sessions or locations, matching EQ, and specific mastering specifications for the varying intensities of dialogue. On top of that, the dialogue editor needs to ensure that the dialogue of all the characters meshes well together. Microphone choice and placement plays an important role as you ideally want to keep the same actor on the same microphone for the duration of the project. To fully immerse players in a gaming experience, sound plays a pivotal role in setting the tone and mood. Dialogue is no exception. It is imperative that the dialogue aligns with the overall tone of the game. For instance, if the game is set in a dark and gritty world, the dialogue should mirror this atmosphere. This can be achieved with the proper voice direction, comprehensive dialogue editorial, and vocal processing, if required. A game's story and dialogue should be paced in such a way that it keeps the player engaged without overwhelming them. This means that the dialogue should be timed appropriately and spaced out in a way that allows players to take in the important information without feeling rushed or bored. Sound editors will often use a combination of editing, processing, and effects to ensure that the dialogue is paced properly. It is important that the dialogue be edited and implemented in sentences (ideally to match any subtitles), to allow the player to skip through if they feel so inclined. Removing the players' ability to skip through long chunks of dialogue will leave the player feeling frustrated or bored, especially if re-playing the game. Video games are unique from linear media in that the player is often controlling the direction of the story to some extent. This means that the writing and sound editorial team must consider the various potential outcomes of a player's choices and adapt the dialogue accordingly by creating appropriate dialogue branches. This is achieved through recording and editorial of multiple versions of dialogue or multiple versions of the same line of dialogue with different inflections and/or intensities. These additional versions can be triggered based on a player's actions and/or choices. Adaptive and reactive dialogue helps players feel like they're in control of the game world, leading to a more engaging and thrilling experience. Additionally, good dialogue editing inspires the players' imagination and allows them to identify more closely with game characters. Crafting dialogue in a way that speaks to the players enhances immersion and allows the story to be told in a more meaningful and personal way. Properly tailored dialogue is a crucial part of the gaming experience. By ensuring that the dialogue is clear, consistent, reflective of the overall tone, paced appropriately, and interactive, it is possible to create a truly immersive experience that engages players on multiple levels. The advancements in technology have made it possible for video games to become truly breathtaking interactive experiences, and I am very excited to see what is around the corner. GA M E AU D I O A BY GARRETT MONTGOMERY MPSE

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