How Obsidian Expanded the Fallout: New Vegas Universe

12 Oct 2012

Polygon has a write-up from Chris Avellone's recent GDC Online panel on Fallout: New Vegas' DLC, which describes how Obsidian "expanded the Fallout: New Vegas universe with 100,000 lines of dialogue". Here's a snip:
The studio had to streamline the voice-over recording process as much as possible to stay under budget. That process involved sending casting directors extensive rundowns on specific characteristics Obsidian desired for each voice actor. They then worked with the actors to give as much background on the characters in as little a time as possible, and passed along a script that had been annotated to provide important context to dialogue — things like intended tone and pronunciations of esoteric terms were bracketed, and placed in the script.

"All of these things are important because they're going to save you time when you're recording at the studio," Avellone said, "because studio time is incredibly expensive, and the last thing you want is some actor spending five minutes debating this line with you trying to get it fixed, when you have 300 more lines left to read and you have no idea how you're going to get it done."

Bethesda requires a process called "text lock" for each of their titles, during which the script is essentially frozen for two weeks and checked for problems. Every line of dialogue is combed for errors, quest text is examined for logic flaws, voice sets are lined up against dialogue to make sure that voice overs and subtitles match. Everything is examined, from major NPC conversations to "barks," the reactive dialogue that characters shout during gameplay. Each character has 35 to 50 barks, Avellone said, which further ate into the team's 10,000 line total.

Thanks, No Mutants Allowed.