Plates clinked in the diner. My footsteps thumped on the concrete. The dog padded along behind me, panting softly, while frogs croaked and crickets chirped. The dame looked up from her full plate of sadness with those mournful eyes.
And I said nothing.
It’s been a fairly common refrain since we started giving demos of Knee Deep, Act 1: Wonderland at EGX Rezzed that some players really would’ve liked voice-over for the many characters who populate the mystery in Cypress Knee. If you’re in this camp, we hear your voice.
Certainly, it’s an option we considered. We decided against it (at least for now) for a few reasons:
- Budget – Perhaps the most compelling factor from a practical standpoint, it simply would’ve cost too much. We’re a small company without the budget of a Telltale, Bioware, or Blizzard game (although we dare to dream). It just wasn’t feasible to make it happen without sacrificing in other areas. Knowing this, we elected to focus on an original soundtrack with the brilliant crew at SkewSound. Given that we couldn’t do everything we wanted in terms of audio, the richness of the music is something for which we’re proud.
- Timeline – We wanted the first act of Knee Deep to launch in 2015. Adding voiceover to the game development pipeline would’ve required actor auditions, script rewrites, production time in a sound booth, additional mixing, and probably the extra expense of dubbing in foreign languages should the game become popular on an international level. We’re also working on Acts 2 and 3, and we’d prefer to keep the intervals between episodes as short as possible.
- Aesthetic – Sometimes, you ought to listen to the voices inside your head. What I mean by that is: you don’t always want to rely on a game developer’s vision of how a character should sound when they speak. Maybe my version of Romana sounds like Janeane Garafolo, while yours could be more like Anne Hathaway. Could be my Bellet sounds like Jeff Garlin, while yours sounds like George Carlin. My Gaddis might sound like Don Cheadle, but yours is Samuel L. Jackson. There’s some benefit to leaving the characters mute in-game, but letting your mind fill in the nuances and rhythms of their speech patterns. Let’s also keep in mind that there are worse things in this world than no voiceover – such as bad voiceover that snaps you from the moment and makes you think about nothing but how much you hate the acting. An actor might have a bad night during the run of a live theater show, but recover in future performances. In a game like Knee Deep, that performance is set in stone.
All that said: we’re not shoving a gag in the mouth of voice-over as a possibility in future versions of Knee Deep. Given a bigger budget and more time, we could see a remastered update of the game with fantastic voice actors to go with the great music from SkewSound.
Thanks so much for the passion and support you’re showing for our ambitious little swamp noir experience.