IRE Asks: Should MMORPG quest NPCs have voice actors?

SWTOR parody lol

Voice acting in the MMORPG industry has never really received much attention; that is, until Bioware's Star Wars: The Old Republic went the full voice acting route, leading many SWTOR fans to be divided over the issue. While some fans are embracing the fact that hundreds of voice actors were recorded for every quest denizen, other fans are complaining that voice over dialogue hurts game immersion. They prefer being able to choose responses to form dynamic conversation, instead of watching cutscenes.


It's an interesting development in the MMO community as it has the potential to become one of those genre-splitters. Don't be surprised if in the future you see MMORPGs categorized by those with voice over cutscenes, and those with a wide variety of conversation options presented in text. We can't help but wonder how voice actors would have impacted Iron Realms games early on. Imagine if you greeted Vellis, and he began talking to you through your speakers. Would that have been immersive, or would you have quit the game?


Share your comments below!



Too much stuff to do, don't want to hear it half the time. Us IR gamers are too busy to sit and listen to how upset quest denizens are at so and so for doing who knows what.

apples and oranges. SWTOR - the quests are disposable. IRE, the quests are repetitive.


And again.

Ah. True. That'd break it for me.




Just this



Seriously, though - voice acting in a MUD? That'd be silly

oh yeahhhh

Apples yes, no voices for oranges!

Otherwise my immersion will be destroyed

eww. apples.









Just cuz!

Because God wants it that way. Voice actors are of the Debble!

Debil, actually!

Denizens are spammy enough already. Imagine hearing them and not being able to ignore it EVERY single time


yes, I have to agree with this.




don't likey voicey actors.


Ask any mentally handicapped WoW player, you're not there to read the text or hear someone ramble on their life's story....Its like any good b-movie action flick....when to skip to the action scenes of the movie and fast-fowards though all the boring stuff.  Voice acting has its place when its put to use at pivitol moments, but if anyone here has played everquest 2(origional release) which did the ENTIRE game with all voice acted npc's its a big waste of time when no-one wants to listen to dialogue choices. 


However....there will be some players expecting such quality out of such games/stories/what have you.  Expecially with how well and lovingly crafted the story is about getting every team of players into situations which promote working together to all make decisions at pivotal moments weather to sacrifice the lives of some just to get something "Done" or take the effort and kill more stuff for a more positive outcome.


The best answer?  None there really isn't a good or bad because everyone has differing opinion on the matter. I personally feel that really best phrase is "A painting's worth a thousand words"

This is effectively what I was going to comment and say. There's no black or white answer to this, there's perks and downsides and too many variables for when it should and shouldn't be used etc.

That is very true. Either way you would have someone on both sides that loved it or hated it. People are fickle, what makes them happy one minute may drive them crazy the next. Stick with what works most of the time and you're going to have a winner.

I agree. I'd hate to have voice acting come to achaea.

I agree. Definitely.


I agree with it.


my question is, why are WoW players mentally handicapped?

WoW WOntreadWords.



It's just too much.

Well yeah.. it wouldn't fit in a text game, obviously

Why not, if you can get them? Cameo's are always kind of fun, you don't need to be explicit about it, but people who catch on and look a bit deeper might enjoy it.

I often listen to my own playlists while playing games, unless there isn't an option to turn off in-game music, unles it's a game with well implimented dynamic musical cues, and it's a pain to balance the levels between game sound and iTunes, especially if the game sound effects and voice have a wide dynamic range.

It would be nice for an MMO, but I can barely even stand skype during my MUDding. Need my ambient music in the background but don't like concentrating on sound beyond that.

MMO's that are graphical need to have voices at some places. I haven't bothered with many of the current PC MMO's but I still hear Deckard Cain saying, "Hello!" every time I passed him in Lut Golhein. I still laugh at thinking, "He sounds like Sean Connery."


I found it was a treat to hear a voice and wondering if he or she was voiced by a known actor (see: Ray Liotta for GTA:VC). In a MUD, I don't think I could handle voices popping up when I least expect or don't want. I like a little Bassnectar or Sklarbro Nation in the background as I tip-tap away through Achaea.


sean connery? i disagree, sir!

That would be...awesome

I quite liked the voice acting, when there was some, in WoW, although some of it was horrriiidd.

Voice actors sounds great in a graphical MMO, I guess. But one of the reasons I prefer text games is that I prefer to fill those things in with my imagination.

 ^ is one of the advantages of text games imo.


I second that motion

you took too much. agreed.


I gotta listen to Jeremy Soule and Hans Zimmer while playing Lusternia, maybe Ozar Midrashim by Information Society when I'm feeling Nostalgic. Hearing quest-givers in Lusternia, or any MUD in general at that would make me pull my hair out looking for an in-game mute option.

Right on the mark. Having voice actors would be similar to having pictures.

A number of interactive fiction games had/have pictures for scenery and the like.  It would be too limiting for a MUD though.

Even the pictures by Chris Bourassa?


Limiting in the sense that it limits the flexibility that pure text provides. With an image in place for a room it becomes harder for admins to change things to suit a situation during an event or for a room to be modified through skills or combat (Achaean examples of extermination and room destruction in the war system spring to mind).


yes to voice acting!

Doesn't fit!

adds a lot to normally boring quests.

Maybe if you could do it like you can in a console video game, where there's a few different diaglog options, and then with a click of the button, you can shut them up and move on...

lol. no.



Only if it's done well.

In text games voice overs for npcs would confuse me more then help with immersion as player characters are text only.

Yeah... having voice acting in a text game seems pointless to me as well.


Would get old fast, even when well done

I don't want to have to hear the denizen talking when I spam greetngs to figure out what he wants, I'd just mute the sound anyway

Good point, I'd forgotten about all the attempts we make when trying to figure things out.


I dont think so

Interesting concept... I wouldnt mind it. I mean it would make questing interesting and possibly more immersive?


in agreement with the above. immersion would be the only reason i want voice actors and half the time they just end up muddling it up worse then me reading it for my own immersion.


If we have the option to mute the sound I dont see why not.

I really doubt IRE will embrace that concept. On the practical front, as is, it's expensive to just have full-time staff to help run all the platforms. They would be scrambling further than Vegas to try and get the funds for such an adventure, and I seriously would hate second rate voice overs.


So warm your hands in front of the keyboard and switch on your favourite music.


I play it muted most the time, and in most conversations the actor would just get overwhelmed.

Would have quit in a heartbeat.  That being said voiceacting certainly has its place.

if it's done well

Unless you skip the voice stuff. Hearing the same words over and over in a persistant world is grating.

oh lord NO. First it would be disgustingly expensive for IRE, and second it's annoying enough trying to have a conversation in Thera with the kid bragging about ditching school. I could only IMAGINE him with voice acting.

Part of the fun of these games is that you have to uncover a lot by yourself. To me, having to read enhances that experience.



I do think it is a very good idea. In my opiion adding voice actors would be a waste of time as to mudding and, besides, I can have my client talk at will. I experimented and it is fun for a while, but it can get boring pretty fast if you overdo it, I assure you. It is better to put some click for drinking health.

Most of the magic in mudding relies on the fact that the founding brick is text only, and it should remain so. What if after listening to Vellis I "hear" someone yelling with the speakers mute! That would be pretty wierd. I think that part of the immersive experience the mud has to offer is moslty cause by the fact that your mind wants to merge with the text, it wants to go deeper and float there. Stimulating another sense as hearing could be perceived by the mind as a distraction and could drive the mind off. Just my opinion.  


Should be able to do it already using MSP

In other graphic games, sure why not. For Iron realms games I don't see a need, the immersion is done by reading the text and using our imagination.

I concur.



As above, so mote it be


Well said.

HOW can a text game get voice actors anyway? o.o

Having lines read aloud in addition to being subtitled is redundant. I tend to read faster than they're spoken, so I'm sitting there clicking skip, skip, skip, paying no attention to the voice actor. I prefer disabling substitles in voice acted games for that reason.

Plus, MMORPG dialogue is often barely worth reading. If the quests are just a vehicle to stretch out the grind, and their dialogue has been slapped together by a programmer, rather than a writer, it doesn't really matter how you're telling me to kill all the goblins in this area before I can advance.

TOR seems to be going for the full cinematic experience though, with cutscenes, fully scripted dialogue trees, all that. I approve.

The idea of voice actors in Achaea is hilarious. One of the few assets a text game has over a graphical MMO is spontaneity. Having to delay for an additional two weeks to book your voice actor into a studio before you can roll out a quest kills that. And imagine realising that you used the same word twice less than nine words apart, or you accidentally said "Moghedu" instead of "Arcadia", or you wanted to change some atavians to xorans. You can't quickly fix it, you have to call the voice actor back in, at whatever their hourly rate is.

If MMOs go the voice acting route, then they need to ensure they pick talented voice actors. Nothing is worse than poor voice acting.

No, they shouldn't.

It might be good if it were not put in a place that would spam you in anyway. Llistening to the same thing over and over would be worse than a bad thing. If I had to listen to vellis explain to me how to turn in butterflies every time I saw him it wouldn't be long before I didn't want to see him. 

If done well, yes. Also, it's not terribly expensive to hire quality voice actors unless they're already of the big bucks/studio with agent ilk. There are plenty of voice actors just like regular actors out there looking for work who do smaller jobs now and then to start out and add to the resume. Studio time can be expensive, yes, if you and the client don't have one of your own, but nowadays voice actors do their recording remotely with their own setup (also relatively inexpensive when comparing to sudio time, since all you need is a good mic/quiet room/basic recording software) and send it out to be edited/spruced up as needed to the client's sound techs if they haven't learned to handle it themselves.


The voices in my head are much more entertaining. :-)


I would love this if it was something that could be toggled on and off. Because to be honest sometimes i am just in too much of a rush to care.

Make sure that the voices are cool!

Some should be warm.

voices give it that extra something, you can turn them off in games too or turn them down, you don't need to listen to them if you don't want to,  but for those who do? amazing.



I think having voice audio during a text game would break the immersion.  It seems like a more natural extension for graphical mmo's that have overlap with other media that feature audio (video games, animated films).

I see your point


I long for the early SWG days...




Doesn't apply to MUDs

I can see the aspects of both sides.  I enjoy the fact of Achaea over WoW because I get to picture what I want the the stuff to look like, not the other way around.  But at the same time, sometimes what others come up with is a better idea than what I have.  So it's a 50-50 for me

Only Gods should be able to talk! That's the maximum I am willing to support! No voice actors please!


It would annoy me having to mute the tv or music to listen to stuff. Part of the reason I love Achaea is that I can multi task. Also...people play graphical games pretty much until they complete it. I've played Achaea for ten years. Imagine hearing the same voiced sentences over and over for a decade?! No thank you!

Voice acting is fine as long as there's an option to disable it and just click through text dialog boxes. Usually with games I prefer to have text boxes because what I can imagine is better than the voice acting.

Yeah it would be weird to have people talking completely differently that how you imagine it.



Jar Jar Binks when you speak to some sexy quest giver...

making that work out without seeming scripted

Normally I'm fainting at the blob of text before I read it at times. Maybe like the Collegium history quest! 

I thought the point of these games was to be text-based.

They are just setting the cats free amongst the pigeons. It's a metaphorical concept.




I'd try SWTOR to find out but they're not releasing it here until next month and I'm not buying an overseas code.

It isn't worth playing. It is basically a massive single player game with horrible UI and stupid bugs that wont go away. The only way you will enjoy it is if you are a massive Star Wars fan and love repetitious "quests". Yeah, they are all voiced but that gets old really quick and some of the voice actors are absolutely awful.

Heard a lot of comments like that. Oh well, back to waiting for the secret world.

And guildwars 2!

That Elder Scrolls MMO

I am a fence sitter with this topic :(

I am pretty sure jaba the hut never loled.


Ho ho ho...<gibberish>

This is a -terrible- idea

I would totally dislike it if Eventru was a voice, just imagine the rambling...

This has got to be one of the stupidest articles I have ever read. It seems that as of late. (about 16 days since I started playing my first IRE game) that the articles are getting shittier and shittier. This is by far a B rated article! The answer is HELL FUCKING NO. MUDS are not supposed to be mingled with MMORPGS. What do you get when you breed a MUD with an MMORPG? You get SHIT! 

If they keep adding things or comparing things etc, there will be no use to even play a MUD anymore. 





And clearly only knows how to express itself with foul language. At the end of the day, one doesnt need to read it if one doesnt like it

If I could go back and unread it, I would...but...

I don't speak Achaean so it would be really hard to understand.


@Sebaste: Its better than the "addicting games" track they were on for a while...just sayin' 

Yes I will have to agree on that. I would have had a nicer post, but then again it was before my morning doobie. 

I'm not to big of a fan of  voice actiong in a text based game.  I like to have my own opinions about how people sound without some voice actors  rendition on it, especially if  it conterdicts my own view of how they sound.  It's like audio books for me.  I buy a book to read, not listen to someone else read it to me.  If I wanted that, I'd have rented the movie.

Sure, as long as there is an option to turn them off. Everyone happy. And toss in toggable subtitles while at it. Not an issue in text games though ;)

Why not :)

This would not be good for me. I have sund triggers so that I can react faster than my screenreader can read. 

I do like the idea of adding sound effects to text based gaming. It'd bring an entire new idea to gaming. Or at least have the option of turning sound effects on.

sound effects would be nice! no need for voice actors.  Birds in a forest, creepy sounds in Azdun..etc

I don't think this would work, no matter how good the voice actors were. I read way faster than people talk, and I'd be out of the room before they would have finished speaking.

Hearing voices would be cool!

It would be a waste of music listening time.

I would rather listen to music yeah...

Seems most of the regular players are like 'nah im too cool for that, nah I listen to music instead, nah Im too busy to listen' etc. But I think it would increase ambience in the game for new players, it's a neat idea. If technology permits, take advantage.


Yes, since if you've ever played RIFT and heard some of those voice acting.... you can't take them seriously without laughing.

Yeah, bad voice acting is really immersion breaking.

I don't think it helps the immersion at all. It's more likely to just break the flow.

And I am so sick and tired of the game accents in any case

Would be a bit weird to have voice acting in an IRE game at least. 

I mean, how would you like it if you were trying to read a book and the words just started to speak themselves, at their own pace?

Choices instead of voices!




it wouldn't make sense

Voice Acting has its times and places. Usually those "places" are in key battles or important moments, such as cutscenes or similar. Using Voice Acting for quest NPC's detracts from the enjoyment factor to an extent, simply because you want to get moving and do your quest, while when you are battling you sometimes want to hear the enemys tone of voice, be it anger, insanity or similar.

Yay voices!





Not really a fan of getting voices into the game, and as always better fix what's needed first before adding tons of things like these.

Part of the nature of a text game (such as IRE's games are) is that your imagination turns the words on the screen into the experience.  If a text game were to have voice acting, it would break immersion by creating a contrast between speech (not done through text) and everything else (done through text).  It would be as absurd as having books read dialogue out loud just because movies with sound came out.


For MMO's, it really depends on the circumstance.  Overall, it would probably be a good idea, although it would usually be done as an in-game effect (allowing for choices) rather than a cutscene.




















Also, I don't see why people are having such a hissyfit over MMORPG vs Mud. You know... a Mud /is/ an MMORPG right? Just not so 'massive' as it might have been in its heyday. And there still are/were  Muds that support MSP (Mud Sound Protocol) that could be any sound effect/music at all not just voices (Ie if you wanted to make your own soundtrack while fighting the big boss, or hear your bardy friend's latest composition [if they were talented enough to record their own songs for your use] and everyone else screaming in agony you could) XD. It's good in small doses or for special things. Also a good potential thing for those who may be vision impaired.


' The history of modern Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) like World of Warcraft, and related virtual world genres such as the social virtual worlds exemplified by Second Life, traces directly back to the MUD genre. Indeed, before the invention of the term MMORPG, games of this style were simply called graphical MUDs. A number of influential MMORPG designers began as MUD developers and/or players (such as Raph Koster, Brad McQuaid, Matt Firor, and Brian Green) or were involved with early MUDs (like Mark Jacobs and J. Todd Coleman).

However, with the increase in computing power and Internet connectivity during the late nineties, and the shift of online gaming to the mass market, the term "graphical MUD" fell out of favor, being replaced by MMORPG, Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, a term coined by Richard Garriott in 1997.'


That's right, the horror of it all. WoW which Text-gamers may or may not despise/hate is a Mud too in a sense.

Obviously one of the attractions of IRE games is how it manages to keep a classical mudding feel without adding on things like sounds and voice acting. Though I do like the idea of denizens that speak more about themselves or their lives in a context sensitive way. As long as this does not obstruct questing or make it take longer, I only imagine this could actually help immersion more than hurt it.

But really...nah. Save like...MAJOR plot point quest giving NPCs

will be interesting to see how it is implemented..



I don't mind some. It gets annoying when the game is put on hold over and over and over for cutscenes.

Voice acting is cool!


My character's voice actor would be Alec Baldwin or Jason Momoa.

Maybe I'm missing something but with the availability of the Skip ahead button a lot of games have, the player is then able to choose to listen or not

Denizes do not have a great set of answer that justifies voice acting. Turn the into better interactive figures, voice acting in a mud sounds lame. 

yes yes yes


No, I like to imagine what the denizens sound like, and I can have them as I want them. Bad voice or accent (bad in the way of I don't like it) would be a turn-off.


Also, I think it would create more lag...


That is a tricky one. I think some places they could be fine but then again if they are done poorly for a character that everyone knows it could be a bad thing.

Sort of a cinematics option? LOL

yes to voices!



 This might sound stupid but, would if implimented all these voice blepes bog down the mud as  they're each  accessed repeatedly?  I mean enough at one time or close togher.

From memory I think MSP downloads a package at the start and as long as you don't delete it it should only need updates with new bits. Same thing as downloading a client for a MMO.


definitely not, the lag as of late has been horrid enough as it is


It will make the game tardy.


Money best spent elsewhere.  But if you can budget full voice acting by all means do it...

it will just make the game more expensive.

The problem with voice acting is it is often a hit or miss.  If you do not do it just right the game will have less immersive qualities...  Just my take on it...  Feel free to disagree!


are we not done with this article yet? :)


From the head :O

But maybe we're hitting on a new genre.


Graphical MMOs, text games... where's the fully audio-based RPG?


You say, "What is the weather like today, Siri?"

Siri says, "Why don't you look out the window?"

While I hate the voiced NPC idea, a voiced narrator like in Bastion would be awesome.

Wow this is amazing.


I...I would love the game forever if this happened. Then you'd really get value from seconds and alts, if the narrator commented on things like your guild and your class.


Also, it'd make me feel so much better about dying. Bastion has the best death commentary.

The only voices that I like to listen to are the ones in my head.


Just no.



But not so much to be annoying

As long as no guards have taken arrows to the knee.


get them out of my head!

it's really time for a new article someone!


Yes, talk dirty to me

You get him to do voice acting for Achaea and I will NEVER logout.  Ever.

yeah...KOTOR i just read the subtitles and then skipped the rest of the dialogue >.>

Talk to me baby

It's all about your imagination.

It would save lots of keystrokes if we could talk to each other. We could do our own voice acting.


They shouldn't

I am glad to see that the idea has been moslty rejected by the community.

No thanks.

sure!  i would have been super into it. but I think the best way to do it in IRE would be to keep the general set up we already have, just instead of having to read the text the NPC puts out in response to being greeted you could hear it. or better yet see the text and hear it. that way anyone who doesn't have speakers could still enjoy the game, even if not as much.

seems like a gimmick

say no to the voices!

Great voice work makes for a much more immersive play.

My speakers stay muted, I wouldnt notice.  Too many chances of me running across a site with music or something.  I'm used to silent computers.

Ugh, I hate those. Or these ads that talk when you mouse over them. Adblock and Noscript solve a lot of that annoyance though :D

If NPCs started talking at me in my text based games I wouldn't play them. The beauty of text is that I'm a fast reader and don't have to wait for the voice actor to finish speaking.

Voice acting is an integral part of linear rpgs, which I think makes them feel more like movies and less like games. I heavily oppose it.


If my speakers were spammed with constant voice acting from NPCs, I might be inclined to turn off the volume. Voice actors are great during cutscenes, but I think having them for NPCs would be excessive.

Listening to npcs speak more than the token phrase (if any) helps immersion.

I dunno about SWTOR dialogue hurting game immersion, especially when the logic is that people would prefer branching dialogue. Haven't really played the game myself, but I believe SWTOR is way MORE about dialogue choices than any other graphical MMO. And I can't see how, if you're already going the full graphic route, immersion would actually be hurt by having the characters voiced. Though the same doesn't hold true for MUDs. The great thing about MUDs is, as I believe others have said, that it's all imagined by the players, and therefore player character representation is incredibly flexible and content can be created and changed much more easily. So no, have voice-overs in IRE games would not only be more expensive, it would be terrible.

that depends on their ability to fake it




As long as it can be skipped through. Nothing annoys me quite like voice scenes that do not let you skip.

+1 (Mass effect 3 is annoying when you can't skip the boring bits)

not really

I'd rather see graphically-enabled muds first. The future is near!

Voice acting can be nice in some instances, but I think it should still be mostly text based.








I make up the voices in my own head. Besides, I don't want to hear someone babble over and over the same thing when I turn in all my corpses. Besides, would you really want someone like Globglob to have a voice actor? He's irritating enough in text. So no. Just no.

we all play text based games. Clearly they are, if nothing else, entirely unnecessary.


They should not





please, no


I have no idea where those articles are coming from and what is their purpose.


Why would I want to take my time from the game and speculate what would I do if Vellis greeted me over my speakers?





Nej (to cower it in swedish)

On visual games, like TOR and WoW, too much text detracts from the graphics - by having voiced quests and NPCs, players can focus more on the eye candy.

Don't really see the point and don't know where IRE would get the funds to pay for it.  I would rather see improving other existing areas of the game.

SWTOR has spoiled me: MMOs without voice overs bore me now. MUDs don't need them, though.

No - great once, clicked through after that!

I like the voices in my head

^ Great!

Why not


Would be nice but think of the spam that could happen just from giving animals over to Talus or multiple people greeting the same NPC quest point.



There it is in English AND Spanish for you.

I think that voice over material can be good once in a while. But eventually they become silly and I just end up skipping them because I read faster than the character can talk. 


I'd rather there not be voice actors in the MUDs. I prefer to listen to my music while playing anyways.


voices for quest denizens would ruin it for me..

All the quests in Achaea can be repeated an infinite number of time by the same character. Adding voice to them would make that even more annoying.


I'd still skip the cinematics.

I feel like as long as you get good va's, they could definitely be a boon

After SWTOR, I find it hard to imagine MMOs without voiced NPCs.

I'm more immersed with fully-voiced games.

not if it's a mango npc

The acting quality isn't wooden like it's Microsoft Mary reading the script...

And you don't have the same copypasted voice actors on all the characters.

Then sure, there are some games where it'd benefit. 


So dumb.  God, save the budget for actual content.



Let me voice my own character, read the rest! Then at least I wont get quoted for saying stupid things. Plus my accent is sexy.

than ^^


They could be voiced by Leonard Nemoy.




I wish achaea had voice actors!




I got through WoW just fine without unique voice actors

I want Billy West to voice my character and Maurice Lamarche to do the rest.

It makes sense for MMORPGS with other graphics to have voice actors. But Iron Realms games? I honestly would have quit.


If it's well done. With an option to not have it.


If it's able to toggle, sure. But it doesn't feels right.





All voiced by Leonard Nimoy.

I'd ;love voices if they're good enough, but I want a skip feature too


No voices, thanks