Voice Work

Chau chi lan tsu sun tsa!

Massively pointed to the recently released APB opening cinematic over on GameTrailers. I’ve been interested in this game since it was announced, became even more so when Real Time Worlds announced their pricing structure, and am now getting truly excited. Already pre-purchased it on Steam.

The cinematic does a nice job of showing off the game engine, and a great job of setting up some of the backstory and, more importantly, the explanation of why vigilante Enforcers have been empowered to fight crime. Violently.

When I joined up with the kinship, I bit the bullet and finally hooked up the mic on my headset, and started using in-game chat and Ventrilo. It’s made a world of difference in my level of participation in kin events and instance runs. So it occurred to me, when watching that video, that players could be in for a serious disconnect when logging into APB.

When I log into our kin’s chat server, I’m greeted by a lot of friendly people, all speaking one version or another of English. But it’s all pretty vanilla English. Though it doesn’t really jive with how I think the inhabitants of Middle Earth should sound (no English or Scottish accents to be heard, though we do have some Canadians!), it’s pretty close.

Consider the setting for APB, and listen to the voice work already in some of the APB videos. This is a cops ‘n robbers game with a decidedly gangsta influence, in an urban setting, with heavy Rap influences throughout (from the music to the fashion to the  vehicle “accessorizing”). Should I be working on my ‘gangsta’ accent?

Some people might think this plays into cliches (or worse). That may be, but not anything that Real Time Worlds hasn’t already put there themselves.

So what does this have to do with Indiana Jones on a rope bridge?

It actually plays into something I wish we saw more of in MMOs – the language barrier. Most chat mechanisms in games are built for accessibility, and to bring people together. To facilitate communication, cooperation, and teamwork. But what about that scene on the rope bridge, where Indy calls out to Shortround, telling him to hold on. Sure, a language barrier can be a deterrent. But it can also be strategic, and it certainly adds to immersion.

Besides, as most will agree, there are some people who just aren’t worth talking to.

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