In 1998 Blizzard entertainment… makers of Warcraft, a computer based roll playing strategy game. Decided to release a variation of their warcraft game to the Sci Fi Masses. War craft was geared more toward the Fantasy geek and blizzard (probably the most business savvy game developer on the planet) decided that it wanted to corner the geek market by making something for the sci fi geek.
Ironically I was both a fantasy and Sci Fi geek so I didn’t need much convincing to play both warcraft and starcraft and get hooked.
The Blizzard Phenomena
Of you still don’t know who I’m talking about… then I’m sure you or someone in your family has a subscription to Blizzard’s current cash-Cow “World Of Warcraft” or WoW for short. Blizzard apparently makes 300 million USD from its WoW subscriptions alone.
The idea is simple… or at least it used to be simple. For Starcraft at least you purchased the software and registered on their site Battle.net, the game required that you strategically beat another player (be they artificial intelligence /computer or human). For you to play another human you have to have two people with the same software… an internet connection and a place to host the game… the blizzard servers.
Things have changed and now instead of being in control of a squadron of characters… you just play one… with the option of developing other characters (this is WoW I’m talking about now.)
Back To StarCraft
Starcraft became a phenomena … especially in South Korea where due to an economic crash back in 98 the whole country was out of a job and at home playing starcraft… eventually they will hold tournaments the thousands of people will pay to attend and watch… in fact Starcraft is such a phenomena in South Korea that Korea air helped in the promotion of the new StarCraft II game by putting images of the game characters on the planes… don’t believe me? Check this out:
So yeah… the whole country of South Korea is a bit obsessed with StarCraft. Which must be brilliant for the guys at Blizzard.
Why Are We Discussing This?
Isn’t it obvious yet? I’m just bought the game and am currently playing it! I played the first one when it came out 12 years ago… and now 2010 (bout frikkin time) I’m back to playing its sequal… and I have to tell you so far it’s sa-weeeeet!
But I also wanted to talk about the Voiceover element of the game.
Recently I watched a video which was a discussion panel set up during Blizzcon (the official blizzard convention) that featured all the Voice Actors that played major roles in the story.
The game VOs were directed by Andrea Romano (famed vo director extraordinaire). Blizzard was able to hire back all of the original cast except for one who had passed away during the years between StarCraft and the decision to make StarCraft II.
Most of them were VO chameleons that played several characters during the game… and much of what they did on stage was both impressive … and as a voice actor… a little embarrassing. Especially that whenever I meet someone new and they find out that I did cartoons at one stage of my life… they always ask me to do the voice, that never really works out for me.
Last to the table was Canadian model turned sci fi staple Trica Helfer (the leggy blond from Battle Star Galactica) . That was a bit of a surprise… but ultimately it was a calculated move by Blizzard to capture the male demographic that would constantly get excited by the fact that a Cylon is voicing Kerrigan.
The VO Work
Bloody brilliant is all I can say… So far I have issues with the sound quality of just one unit. The Marauder… For some reason that unit’s VO sounds like it was done back in the 90s with a microphone that had a cracked ribbon (or something).
The difference in clarity betwen the Marauder and everything else is staggering.
I can’t really comment about the issue of lipsyncing … all the characters are Cgi and the lipsynching is no where near the quality of 3D animated movies like shrek … but with the juxtaposition of all the different forms of media… I don’t think that it is excusable for Blizzard… which has been working on SCII for over 4 years (possibly more) to make the lipsynch seem passable… rather it should be essential to build character believability.
The Taji Experience
I can’t really complain though… I’ve just bought the game and I’ve been playing the Single Player Campaign and savoring every moment.
It’s harder than I expected.. There are many new elements… but thankfully those business Gurus at Blizzard were smart enough not to mess with the mechanics of the game.
It’s StarCraft… but Awesomer.
If any of my readers knows any of the VO Artists that worked on StarCraft and could hook me up with a number… I would love to interview them.
Thank you for the backstory (on South Korea – wow, on planes!! I would have loved to see one of those pulled up on the tarmac) in addition to your acknowledgment of the voiceover talent on this project. I don’t know anyone who contributed to the game, but as a lifelong gamer and huge fan of the original, I’m really enjoying playing SCII in my down time. This go ’round, I can really appreciate the quality of the voice talent in the project and just how important they are to keeping you in the moment with the game. While I haven’t made it through the whole single player game yet, every character I’ve encountered has had great voice talent giving it life. I chalked the Maurader VO sound up to the bulk and seemingly outdated and not-so-sleek technology of their large suits, in comparison to the streamlined and sleeker marines, reapers and medics.
No I did consider that… maybe it’s the confined space of the suit they’re in… but honestly they have similar suits to the Firebat and to be honest the Firebat is my favorite VO work in SC. It’s clear.. gets the right impressions across and maintains itself… The Marauder just sounds like he was recorded through a blanket.
I didn’t even get into the pronunciation issues. Almost half the characters would say Protoss one way in a take… then try to eat the t in the next… its quite irritating… but that’s just me being a VO… it doesnt deter from the overall experience. Robert Clotworthy was bloody brilliant… just really good work and his voice is like an old friend since I’ve played StarCraft since 98 on and off several times.
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