After the presentation was over, the recording studio was a short walk from the coffee shop. Heavy Entertainment has a reputation for being one of most successful recording studios for audio books in the UK, and as viewers of daytime television in Britain might appreciate, it was a weird moment when we passed Alan Titchmarsh (a well known TV presenter, for you outsiders) as we arrived. Once there, a security guard buzzed us in and we were shown into a room with some comfortable sofas and a small kitchen, and were introduced to Jane Jensen. As an admirer of her work it was a great moment for me, and far from being intimidating, she was very welcoming and friendly, and immediately put us at ease. After being introduced, we sat down and exchanged small talk, and posed for some pictures. There were so many questions we wanted to ask, but we had to wait a while longer, as they were ready to let us into the studio.
This was the first time I’d seen dialogue for a game being recorded, and I was seated next to Jane, watching Lorelei King direct Phillipa Alexander, who was reading Sam’s lines. We don’t know too much about Sam’s personality just yet, but it was clear that Phillipa is ideal for the role, portraying a character that’s both entirely believable and very likeable. Voice acting can make or break a character, and if this day is any indication, I think Sam is going to be a much-loved adventure gaming heroine. If so, it’ll be a well-earned accolade. Each line of dialogue was recorded several times until the right feel was captured, and then on to the next. Every time Phillipa read a line, Lorelei would give feedback, asking her to do it differently or say it was okay. All the lines were read from a huge binder holding the game’s 5,000 lines of dialogue.
Video interview: Phillipa Alexander, voice of Samantha Everett
The dialogue being recorded was for one of the game’s puzzles, though it was hard to tell what it's about, offering only one side of a conversation or other clues without much context there in the studio. We were told that one piece of the dialogue was from a conversation with Styles, and Phillipa read it several different ways: sarcastically, light-heartedly and finally distrustfully. It’ll be interesting to see which is chosen when decision time comes. After Phillipa was finished, we had a short time to interview her (the first of three interviews which we were privileged to film), in which we learned a bit more about her (for shampoo fans out there, she’s the voice of the L’oreal adverts as well) and her involvement in the game.
Following that interview it was time for lunch with Jane Jensen and Lorelei King in a restaurant just across the road from the studio. Over lunch, Jane talked about her influences, past games and of course Gray Matter. Claas and Ingmar got a chance to try some British food (I was the only local at the table; Jane and Lorelei are both American). We talked about other things as well, and it was a surprise to me that Lorelei knew the area where I lived (it’s always a surprise when anyone knows Devon, considering it took Claas and Ingmar less time to get from Germany to London than it did for me to get there). Jane’s stated influences, not surprisingly, related to the paranormal, with Carrie by Stephen King coming up, as well as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Lost.
Video interview: Lorelei King, Voice Director
When lunch was finished, it was back to the studio to interview Jane Jensen and Lorelei King. What transpired in the interviews you’ll see for yourselves in the videos, but with over half an hour work with, we managed to fit a lot in, covering not only the new game, but also Jane’s views on adventure gaming in general. And, of course, we couldn’t let the day go by without at least one question about Gabriel Knight.
Overall, it was a great afternoon. Just meeting Jane herself would have been a highlight in its own right, but spending some time in the studio and talking to the others added all the more to the day. Everyone was so friendly and gave us much more access than I’d imagined, leaving me even more eager to see the finished product. I’m sure many people reading wish they had the chance to share in the experience personally, but at the very least we are pleased to share the video evidence of this most memorable day.
Update: The second half of this feature is a three-part video interview with Jane Jensen, now posted here. Enjoy!