Do you prefer amateur AGS games to have audio or not?

Started by Fluxpuppy, 08 Mar 2022, 23:07

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Fluxpuppy

Just wondering how people feel about audio,music, sound effects, etc in amateur AGS games.
Do you like them to have sound for emersion or would you rather they are silent so you can listen to podcasts or music while playing through them?
*quote*

Crimson Wizard

#1
I apologize for possibly misreading this, but would like to clarify: is this a kind of a general survey, or a you are wondering whether to put sounds in your game being concerned that players will not like it?

If the first, then for me personally it varies from game to game and from mood to mood. Some games just have sounds made so well that are pleasant to listen to. In horror games the sounds are part of the core experience. Point n click kind of games in general require focus to follow all the narration and dialogs, and puzzles, so listening to someone else talking would distract me greatly.
On the other hand there are games with very badly made sounds, which i'd rather not listen to, and sometimes games which don't require as much focus. If these are long and i'm getting bored for any reason, i might turn something else at the same time. Not too often too, guess i just don't have such a habit.

If this is about second, I do not think that it's a good approach to not have sounds in a game only to accomodate people who want it to be silent, because this is what in-game volume controls are for. Adding a volume slider or a mute checkbox is quite simple, and let everyone customize this to their needs.
Also, afaik, many operating systems today have an application sound mixer where you can choose volume per application. e.g. Windows 10: https://www.howtogeek.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/top_2-650x300.png

FormosaFalanster

Sounds are fine, but I just hate voices. When a game boasts having voice actors, I mute them. I hate voices in such dialogue-heavy games as adventure/point and click games, first of all because it's horrendously repetitive: you often hear the same statement and it's very cringe to hear it all the time (who wants to hear someone saying a hundred times "I can't pick that up" or "that doesn't work"?). Also, because I like to read at my pace and imagine the tone myself. Also, because (shocking, I know), not everyone is a native speaker who will understand someone speaking fast with a fancy accent.
Last but not least, voices greatly limit the possibilities of indie developpers: they are expensive to make and difficult to record, which means once they are done they will not be modified, so no text will be changed. Text itself will be limited so as not to drain too much resources in voice acting. And it prevents the use of variables withing dialogue.
Voices sucks, don't do them. It's not 1998 anymore, no one is impressed by your game having digitalized voices. Stick to text.

eri0o

I absolutely love voices. They enrich the experience a lot. I recently came across this ags game and I can tell it works great because of the voices. I don't think they are a must, but if you have it in you and it can workout in your game, just do it.

Babar

Sound in general is always a plus for me. If I'm playing an adventure game, I'm hoping to be focused on it specifically, and I'm not going to be distracting myself by listening to podcasts in the backgrounds. If I CAN mindlessly play an adventure game like that, I'd suspect it probably isn't a very good one.

Voices depend very heavily on the quality of the voice acting, though.
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Cassiebsg

Like CW says, if you include sliders for your sound types, then the player can decide what he/she wants to hear.
Personally I like voices, unless they don't feel natural (ie someone is forcing their natural voice to sound different, more theatrical, etc.). And I would only turn of voice acting, if the sound recording is so bad that it would hurt my hears (but then the game owner should have realized this and not include them).
And then, I like when there are sliders for general volume, music, voice & SFX (and ambience if you have it) as I like to customize these to my own preference levels, which might not be the same as yours.

And when you say "amateur AGS games". Are you referring to free games only, or also commercial ones?

And last but not least, voice work should always be done last, when your game is virtually finished. Same as any eventual translations.

As for SFX and Music, definitely they should be there, but take the time to make sure they sound right and are just what you want your game transmit. If you making a comedy, probably a tragic music won't work. Or if you want your game to sombre and mystic, then don't add a happy cheerful track to it (unless you have such a moment in the game)...

In resume, give the option of choice to the player, and make sure the quality of the sound is up to what you would like your game to have.  ;)
There are those who believe that life here began out there...

Creamy

Music: I always play with music. I can play my own music if:
- the game doesn't have any.
- I don't like the music of a game.
- it gets repetitive.

Sound effects: I like them when they stay discreet. However I've played a lot of good games without any.

Voices: I love them when done right, which generally means made by professionals. And even in commercial games I sometimes turn them off.

 

heltenjon

I generally play a game with all options on. Listening to something else will be massively distracting to me, so that's not really an option. I turn off music or sound if it's annoying enough, but most of the time I won't. Silent games are fine with me, as well, having played a lot of text adventures in my time. A game like If on a Winter's Night, Four Travelers is made even better by the music and sound design. (I doubt it could be done much better than that one.)

Voices. I completely understand Formosa Falanster's point of view, and I can agree that very text heavy games may not always benefit from being voiced. However, I think games with a lot of dialogue can be better from it. This is down to how well it is been done, both acting and how well the voices fit the characters. A game like Pedro's Adventures in Spanish, where the whole point is to learn Spanish while playing, needs its voices. Games with voices also will be playable to people who can't read very well, either dyslexics, people with eyesight problems or in the case of children's games. Good voice work may also add significantly to a game's atmosphere, like The Garden of Hades, or it can be used humourously, like The Detective Boiled-Hard games. But it's a good idea to have an option to toggle voices on/off, especially for quick replays of games or part of games.

Danvzare

I don't think I'd be able to stand playing a silent game, unless it was done for artistic reasons (like imitating a silent film).

Music almost always makes a game for me, and can determine how I remember feeling when playing the game.
Sound effects will always make me more immersed.
I also rather enjoy voice acting of any kind, but as someone who has spent way too much time putting in really bad voice acting in too many of my games, I completely understand why most people don't add voice acting. (And I don't recommend going to the effort of adding it.)

Besides, why would I want to listen to a podcast or something while playing a game. I play a game to play a game. If something deserves my focus, it's going to get it 100%. Otherwise, what's the point of doing that activity. You should listen to podcasts when doing something mundane, like jogging or drawing.

arj0n

You can hardly go wrong with audio as long as:

* the voices do sound natural. Then the extra effort to find voice actors, doing the editing of the voices and put all the audio correctly in the game will pay off.
* you make sure to add an option to have volume control so one can mute voices, music and sfx, but make a volume control for each category (voices, music, sfx) separately

fernewelten

#10
The trouble with voice acting is that it's expensive to produce and thus provokes cost-cutting considerations that usually limit the game.

For instance, if you have around 50 inventory items then Ego can offer any of them to any NPC. It's easy to code, "player.Say("Would you like this %s", ii.Name);", and this will work for all of the 50 items. But if you do voice dubbing, then your voice actor would need to record these 50 possibilities individually. "Would you like this old used handkerchief", "would you like this rusty screw", "would you like this fluffy duckling". Nobody  does that, and so a lot of the options will be rolled together in just one verbalized "Would you like this random item from my inventory?" Which (a) is less sophisticated and (b) gives a big hint whether this NPC might find some certain item interesting at all, even in other circumstances than the current ones (if it calls up the "random item" question then no, it won't be interesting no matter what the situation).

Also, as soon as you have called the voice actors in, your game is nearly fixed for all practical purposes: If someone finds a bug afterwards and fixing it would entail having Ego say something slightly different than what was recorded, that means arranging for a new recording. This is cumbersome and sometimes even impossible. Even if it's possible, then the new recording probably won't fit seamlessly into the old recordings due to slight changes in sound levels, accents, tone, ambiance, equalizing etc. And say goodbye to the possibility of extending your game significantly at a later stage, say three years later.

These are all problems that hamper the professionals, too; but IMHO they hamper the hobbyists more.


FormosaFalanster

Quote from: fernewelten on 18 Mar 2022, 22:36
The trouble with voice acting is that it's expensive to produce and thus provokes cost-cutting considerations that usually limit the game.

For instance, if you have around 50 inventory items then Ego can offer any of them to any NPC. It's easy to code, "player.Say("Would you like this %s", ii.Name);", and this will work for all of the 50 items. But if you do voice dubbing, then your voice actor would need to record these 50 possibilities individually. "Would you like this old used handkerchief", "would you like this rusty screw", "would you like this fluffy duckling". Nobody  does that, and so a lot of the options will be rolled together in just one verbalized "Would you like this random item from my inventory?" Which (a) is less sophisticated and (b) gives a big hint whether this NPC might find some certain item interesting at all, even in other circumstances than the current ones (if it calls up the "random item" question then no, it won't be interesting no matter what the situation).

Also, as soon as you have called the voice actors in, your game is nearly fixed for all practical purposes: If someone finds a bug afterwards and fixing it would entail having Ego say something slightly different than what was recorded, that means arranging for a new recording. This is cumbersome and sometimes even impossible. Even if it's possible, then the new recording probably won't fit seamlessly into the old recordings due to slight changes in sound levels, accents, tone, ambiance, equalizing etc. And say goodbye to the possibility of extending your game significantly at a later stage, say three years later.

These are all problems that hamper the professionals, too; but IMHO they hamper the hobbyists more.



Amen. You just summarized exactly what I thought, and why I strongly recommend against voice acting.

fernewelten

What I like doing is assigning a special loopable theme music to important NPCs. For instance, a march for a soldier or a pompous music for a pompous self-righteous gardener.

Whenever Ego starts talking to the NPC, the room music fades out and the NPC theme fades in. When the dialogue ends, the NPC theme fades out and the room music fades back in. So this helps to convey some atmosphere and/or NPC mood and still gives me the possibility to tweak the dialogues or use variables in them.

The downside of this, of course, is more music tracks to juggle around. 

cat

Quote from: fernewelten on 18 Mar 2022, 22:36
It's easy to code, "player.Say("Would you like this %s", ii.Name);", and this will work for all of the 50 items.
This will only work for a few languages like English, though. If you even somewhat consider translating your game, I strongly advise against doing something like that.

Quote from: fernewelten on 19 Mar 2022, 00:18
What I like doing is assigning a special loopable theme music to important NPCs. For instance, a march for a soldier or a pompous music for a pompous self-righteous gardener.

Whenever Ego starts talking to the NPC, the room music fades out and the NPC theme fades in. When the dialogue ends, the NPC theme fades out and the room music fades back in. So this helps to convey some atmosphere and/or NPC mood and still gives me the possibility to tweak the dialogues or use variables in them.

The downside of this, of course, is more music tracks to juggle around. 

This is an excellent idea.
Another option is to use babble language (Ōkami does this for example). Each character will have a voice sample (or several for different emotions), but it is independent of the text. For some characters they even combined it with a character music theme.

Monsieur OUXX

#14
(About voicing)

I've been giving a lot of thought to this.
Two facts :
- Silent games are more and more out of place in nowaday's "all-talkie" game space.
- amateur games can't afford to have fully voiced games.

I've been thinking of doing this :
- Voicing only introductory sentences. For example, only that one "what's up?" at the very beginning of a conversation with an NPC. And their very first, short greeting back.
- I would also voice non-verbal things : loud scream, *oumpf!*, sighs, etc.
- Maybe (maybe!) the whole intro if possible. that's already in the realm of wishful thinking.
- Putting a lot of effort in the sound design for other things : music, object interactions, white ambient noise, wind, etc.

 

Danvzare

Quote from: Monsieur OUXX on 20 Mar 2022, 13:47
(About voicing)

I've been giving a lot of thought to this.
Two facts :
- Silent games are more and more out of place in nowaday's "all-talkie" game space.
- amateur games can't afford to have fully voiced games.

I've been thinking of doing this :
- Voicing only introductory sentences. For example, only that one "what's up?" at the very beginning of a conversation with an NPC. And their very first, short greeting back.
- I would also voice non-verbal things : loud scream, *oumpf!*, sighs, etc.
- Maybe (maybe!) the whole intro if possible. that's already in the realm of wishful thinking.
- Putting a lot of effort in the sound design for other things : music, object interactions, white ambient noise, wind, etc.


I might be in the minority on this, but I personally dislike it when games only half-ass the voice acting like that. It ruins the immersion for me, due to the lack of consistency.
The only times I'll tolerate it, is when it's a JRPG and all of the important dialog is voiced, but everything else isn't. Or when it's only the main character that isn't voiced. And I only tolerate those two, because I've gotten used to them.

For example, I played an adventure game once where all of the dialog that's spoken out loud (like when talking to other characters) was voiced, while all of the internal dialog (looking at items) was not voiced. I stopped playing ten minutes in, because I just couldn't tolerate it.

On the other hand, I do like Cat's idea about using a babble. I think you could really do something good with that, especially if you messed around with the lip-syncing functionality and assigned certain sounds to certain letters (like what Animal Crossing does). It could make something quite nice.

fernewelten

Quote from: Danvzare on 20 Mar 2022, 14:09
For example, I played an adventure game once where all of the dialog that's spoken out loud (like when talking to other characters) was voiced, while all of the internal dialog (looking at items) was not voiced. I stopped playing ten minutes in, because I just couldn't tolerate it.

IMO the jarring aspect in, e.g., Unavowed, is that we are looking at the scenes in third-person view, so we are seeing Ego as well as their surrounding NPCs in just the same way. We are hearing the NPCs speak just fine, so why can't we hear Ego speak? The sound experience and the view experience are inconsistent to each other.

OTOH, when we hear Ego when they talk to NPCs, but we do not hear Ego when they look at things, well, that's something that can be repaired with suitable motivation. Give a reason why the sound is off. For instance, let Ego Think() their thoughts when they are examining, perhaps even put their explanations into white thought bubbles. Keep Ego's mouth shut. Voilá, no wonder we aren't hearing anything: Ego is only thinking.

Crimson Wizard

I once played a game where all the narration was voiced - played when describing what you see, what you take, and so on, and frankly it was driving me mad. Partially because it was done in a pompous theatrical manner.

Danvzare

Quote from: fernewelten on 20 Mar 2022, 16:21
OTOH, when we hear Ego when they talk to NPCs, but we do not hear Ego when they look at things, well, that's something that can be repaired with suitable motivation. Give a reason why the sound is off. For instance, let Ego Think() their thoughts when they are examining, perhaps even put their explanations into white thought bubbles. Keep Ego's mouth shut. Voilá, no wonder we aren't hearing anything: Ego is only thinking.

As I said, I'm probably in the minority here, but what you just described is exactly what I dislike. The explanation that "He's thinking it, so that's why you can't hear it." is exactly what I don't like. I want to hear him thinking in his head, and that explanation just doesn't justify it for me.
Rapidly switching between reading and listening is just annoying to me in general, because it feels inconsistent, even if it's done in a logical and consistent way. I just don't like it.
I'd personally prefer no voice acting than that, especially the whole "thinking = no voice". But at the same time, I'd feel as though I'd be ruining the experience for myself if I turned off voice acting.

But that's just me.

Quote from: Crimson Wizard on 20 Mar 2022, 16:30
I once played a game where all the narration was voiced - played when describing what you see, what you take, and so on, and frankly it was driving me mad. Partially because it was done in a pompous theatrical manner.
That does sound very annoying. What were they thinking?
Then again I've seen that thing work well in another game, namely The Stanley Parable. Although I guess the Narrator was kind of his own character in that.

Rik_Vargard

I personally think there's no middle ground when it come to voice acting. because to me going from listening to voices and then reading text takes me from one ambient to another and it feel quite disrupting.

When it comes to music and sounds, i like to stop whatever I'm listening to, to get into the game's ambient.
I can't imagine myself listening to, let's say uplifting music, while in the game I'm on a spaceship or in a castle and in the game there's a dramatic moment.

For the moment, I go for totally free music like "Free for commercial use"/"Public Domain"/"Copyright free"/"CC Attribution" etc.
Because for me, when I play a game, I want to feel like I'm the main character of a movie, a story, and I need to be in the ambient.

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