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Do you prefer the fans to remake pre-VGA Sierra games or hire actors to voice non-talkie VGA Sierra games?

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I’ve always wondered why those who have the resources to remake those pre-VGA Sierra games would not want to take the other option instead.

If Vivendi, the owner of Sierra, is cool with fans remaking their old games, I don’t think they would mind if fans want to enhance some of their VGA games with a large talkie patch as long as they don’t charge consumers for that, would they?

I mean, there’s Kickstarter now which can make dreams come true one step closer.

Who wouldn’t want to replay those non-talkie VGA games as long as they find the right voices for each character?

Non-talkie VGA games list:

Lost Secret of the Rainforest
Space Quest 5
Quest for Glory 1
Quest for Glory 3
Leisure Suit Larry 1
Leisure Suit Larry 5
Police Quest 1
Police Quest 3
Conquests of the Longbow

     
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How do you suggest timing of those voices would work exactly?

It takes more work than just finding a bunch of good, talented voice-actors (a big task already) willing to work for free (even bigger task).

If doing something like that was actually easy, it would have been done a long time ago, even back when Sierra still existed and had all original source codes available.

Creating a remake from scratch is much easier.

And any Kickstarter stuff is a sure way to get lawyers after you. Just look what happened with Star Trek fan films or whatever. They existed for decades, and no one cared, but after some people got Kickstarter money for that, the right holders basically shut all fan films down, either directly or indirectly.

And to answer your question, I prefer neither of those options. I prefer the original, unaltered versions which show the games exactly as they were made.

     
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While it is an intriguing idea to voice a game that was not voiced before, there are hurdles that would make it very difficult.

Like GateKeeper said, the first thing would be to find actually willing people to do the voice acting, preferably for free and preferably with equipment that doesn’t completely suck. And it wouldn’t hurt if those people had even a bit of actual voice acting skill.

Getting all the voices would already be a tremendous task, taking a lot of time, as I don’t think you’d get all the needed actors immediately and you’d have to discard at least some enthusiastic amateurs because of technical problems, be it in acting itself or just voice quality.

Then there’s the issue of backwards engineering, which would allow you to actually insert those voices. Now, I’m sure you could use something like ScummVM to for the tasks, but you’d have to code all the needed snippet for each game that you’d want to voice, as there wouldn’t be a universal solution to use. That alone would be a pretty big task.

So, like I said, it certainly is an intriguing idea, but not necessarily a feasible one.  In the end, it probably would be easier to just remake the game from scratch with an engine that allows easy addition of voices if a cast is ever gathered.

     

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I usually skip the spoken lines as soon as I’ve read them, so voices are mostly an hindrance to me. Am I alone in this ?

I’d much rather have graphical overhauls than talkie versions of older games.

     
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tomimt - 12 February 2018 06:17 PM

Like GateKeeper said, the first thing would be to find actually willing people to do the voice acting, preferably for free and preferably with equipment that doesn’t completely suck. And it wouldn’t hurt if those people had even a bit of actual voice acting skill.

Getting all the voices would already be a tremendous task, taking a lot of time, as I don’t think you’d get all the needed actors immediately and you’d have to discard at least some enthusiastic amateurs because of technical problems, be it in acting itself or just voice quality.

Then there’s the issue of backwards engineering, which would allow you to actually insert those voices. Now, I’m sure you could use something like ScummVM to for the tasks, but you’d have to code all the needed snippet for each game that you’d want to voice, as there wouldn’t be a universal solution to use. That alone would be a pretty big task.

So, like I said, it certainly is an intriguing idea, but not necessarily a feasible one.  In the end, it probably would be easier to just remake the game from scratch with an engine that allows easy addition of voices if a cast is ever gathered.

a master answer to how impossible it is, which i totally agree with

     

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Advie - 13 February 2018 01:31 PM

a master answer to how impossible it is, which i totally agree with

Impossible is probably a wrong word. There was, after all, the fan project for Monkey Island voices, “Monkey Island Speech Project”. I think it never got finished, as it became more or less unnecessary as the Ultimate fan patch creates a talkie version from special edition voices.

I did give it a try when it was being developed. If memory serves, it was somewhat difficult to get working, and it contained only some voices, timing was off in many cases, and the quality and sound levels were uneven. Still, even if it was incomplete and buggy, it shows that it can be done, theoretically.

But the fact that it has been only attempted once, and even that never got completed, kind of shows that for all practical purposes it’s a too big challenge.

Now, there is a cheat (kind of) to do something like that. Ripping off the original assets, creating a superficially identical copy with some adventure game creator, and then adding some voices in. Kind of what Leisure Suit Larry 2 point-and-click is all about (without any voices, of course). If someone is willing to take the risk of several lawsuits, it’s probably the easiest and fastest way to accomplish the goal.

 

     
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GateKeeper - 13 February 2018 01:57 PM
Advie - 13 February 2018 01:31 PM

a master answer to how impossible it is, which i totally agree with

Impossible is probably a wrong word.

 

beg your pardon, it very hard instead.

but what i like about tomimt answer is he explain (and i know him to know he knows what hes talking about) what is more than just what comes to the mind 1st, whichs the voice actors.

     

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GateKeeper - 13 February 2018 01:57 PM

Now, there is a cheat (kind of) to do something like that. Ripping off the original assets, creating a superficially identical copy with some adventure game creator, and then adding some voices in. Kind of what Leisure Suit Larry 2 point-and-click is all about (without any voices, of course). If someone is willing to take the risk of several lawsuits, it’s probably the easiest and fastest way to accomplish the goal.

An interesting point - if you had a utility for converting SCI format games into AGS (or Wintermute or another contemporary engine) it’d really open up the potential for fan dubs or all kinds of fun remixing. SCUMMVM supports SCI, and is open source, so that should provide at least most of the understanding needed on that side - I don’t know how open the various other engine formats are, though, or how drastically different their paradigms are.

(edit) Apparently AGS is also open source these days, so it might be possible to cobble something together based on the two.

     
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And even if technically feasible, imagine how poor the quality of the voice acting would be. This is a real profession and not a simple thing to pull off.

Won’t we be better off just leaving the classics as they are without trying to improve them in one way or another. Even the hi-res upgrades that we have seen from the actual original developer have often lost some of the original charm and have usually not led to a better game.

Imagine Conquests of the Longbow with fan created poor quality voice acting. Cringeworthy. It would kill the whole thing.

     
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There’s a point’n'click version of Leisure Suit Larry 2 that was done in AGS. I’ve never played it, but I think it uses the original resources ripped from the game.

http://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/site/games/game/356/

So doing a version like that is entirely feasible to do. The biggest issue still remains in actually getting the needed voice actors.

     

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Even patching Sierra games that HAVE voice acting to support simultaneous voice+text is tricky. There’s been some work on it in ScummVM, but last I heard it was still glitchy.

     

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after a brisk nap - 15 February 2018 02:49 AM

Even patching Sierra games that HAVE voice acting to support simultaneous voice+text is tricky. There’s been some work on it in ScummVM, but last I heard it was still glitchy.

That was before. Their latest SCUMMVM version 2.0 is now able to play voice and text simultaneously for all Sierra VGA talkie versions.

It even plays QFG4 without any issues at all, and I was shocked. The buggiest adventure game of all time can be played smoothly on modern PCs. Props to those SCUMMVM guys for that. Since they were able to achieve this, maybe they can find a way that’ll make it easy to input voices in non-talkie games in the future.

     
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Guyper - 15 February 2018 08:06 AM

That was before. Their latest SCUMMVM version 2.0 is now able to play voice and text simultaneously for all Sierra VGA talkie versions.

It even plays QFG4 without any issues at all, and I was shocked. The buggiest adventure game of all time can be played smoothly on modern PCs. Props to those SCUMMVM guys for that. Since they were able to achieve this, maybe they can find a way that’ll make it easy to input voices in non-talkie games in the future.

Putting the voices in really isn’t the problem - it is a problem, but not the hardest thing to do. As there are calls to some dialogue trees or whatever in the code, it is relatively easy to add calls to some voice files.

Timing will be a big issue though. As timing for text in old adventure games was a relative value, you could make it slower or faster, it’s really incompatible with voice files which are of absolute value (the length of the recording).

In present-day adventure creator software that isn’t a problem, because they have built-in systems to time the displayed text to correspond to sound files. Now, going in reverse order just ain’t gonna work… And even if you could hack something (like that Monkey Island speech project) it is only going to work with ScummVM, so those who for whatever reason play with DOSBox or whatever are not going to get voices in any case.

And even if you could overcome the major technical challenges, there are no guarantees that the end result is good enough for anyone to enjoy. But, I like to see all kind of fan hacks and fan patches, so if anyone is going to try it, I will follow with much interest.

 

     

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Guyper - 15 February 2018 08:06 AM

It even plays QFG4 without any issues at all,

That’s not true at all, as can be seen in this thread: http://forums.scummvm.org/viewtopic.php?p=85231

Which is not to say that they haven’t done a great job.

     
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I’d be shocked if ScummVM was able to play QF4 without any issues. Even fully patched it was buggy and unstable. I’d assume they have to do a lot of manual patching on that one in order to get rid of the biggest script errors and glitches.

     
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