Voicing Oceanhorn 2
We've all grown up with RPG games where dialogues were limited to a tiny text window with an arrow at the bottom and, in the best case scenario, a blippy SFX when the story unfolded. It's 2019, and excellent voice acting is now a fan-favorite feature. Some voice performances, like Ray Chase's (check out this video interview), are so iconic that they can be instantly associated with the most beloved RPG characters and, by the transitive property, the best sagas on the market.
We want the Oceanhorn series to rise to that category, and for Knights of the Lost Realm, we decided to expand the number of dialogues recorded, including a lot of non-cinematic exchanges taking place during gameplay (we discuss the reasoning of this design decision in the 3rd part of our Inspirations series).
We had the chance to discuss with Kevan Brighting and Joe Edwards, voicing Oceanhorn 2's Master Mayfair and Gen respectively, to find out how they started and what will they bring to our new title.
"The first game I've worked on was called Caesar, I had a small role, something akin to '3rd centurion from the right' if you know what I mean", says Kevan, "I was mostly doing grunts and noises. It wasn't fun, and because of that I didn't take gaming jobs for a long time."
Kevan ended up, years later, as the star of The Stanley Parable (2013), playing the eccentric narrator of the story. "The Stanley Parable started as an open audition. At the time, I thought it was an audition for an American Baptist Church – in their mind, God has a British accent. The audition was the first paragraph of The Stanley Parable as you hear it in the game. At that stage, I didn't even know if there were other characters, and that made it strange and unique. I actually never played the game, because I know all the possible endings, but I watched quite a few playthroughs on YouTube."
For Joe, this is a brand new assignment: "My background is mostly promo, radio imaging, and commercial work. Oceanhorn is my first dive into gaming. I'm always playing a part, whether it's an announcer, a narrator or whatnot. In some projects, a random character voice might pop out; with Gen, I got to stay in the role and playing it all the time. Gen is steel and magic, and magic is where his personality lies."
"I've been in the first Oceanhorn as the Hermit, which didn't have many lines, but it's a similar role to Master Mayfair. Right now, I go for bigger roles, and it's not really that different from any other acting role. You're not doing one-liners,"explains Kevan, "you're part of the plot, that's why I like to read the whole script; I need to understand how Master Mayfair interacts with the other characters, and also how the game pans out."
As for how to approach an older character, Kevan thinks he owes a lot to Ian McKellen. "He is such a good performer. With his role as Gandalf in Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, he created new roles for older actors. In most games, characters tend to be young, but the fantasy genre is one that is especially keen on older, wiser figures. People expect gravitas in your voice, and someone considerate in the delivery. That suits me just fine... but I want to point out that I'm much younger than Ian McKellen!"
Both Master Mayfair and Gen will be at the center of Oceanhorn 2' dramatic storyline. "It's rare to have the luxury of going into a room with other voice actors. Not long ago I've been in a situation where we were recording in a studio in London, and about half an hour after I've finished doing my lines another actress came in and did hers. I thought 'that's a bit strange' because we could have been there at the same time, feeding each other. So what I mean is that as a voice actor, you have to lift the lines from the page and deliver them, no matter what. The character's personality lies within the lines themselves, and in the end, you're just a storyteller, surprising people with something they didn't know. The camaraderie Master Mayfair has with Gen, for example, is communicated only with the tone of voice and the delivery. It's subtle."
"I tried to make Gen worldly, not easily shaken, and I added a little age in there. I don't see a knight being some nervous, easily frightened fellow. Plus there's a touch of aristocrat… not snobby… but then again, maybe a bit snobby", says Joe, wrapping up the discussion. "I appreciate being trusted with the role. I loved the storyline, and I'm dying to see how things turn out in-game!"