In the history of video games, there have been a couple of different ways in which the entertainment medium has evolved, and for narrative and storytelling, the introduction of voice acting has been a crucial advancement. What seems almost a given nowadays in AAA and even smaller titles was a huge gamechanger back in 1983 with Dragon’s Lair, and for the folks working on the upcoming hero shooter SYNCED at NExT Studios, that commitment to fleshing out a world using this art form remains strong.
Level Infinite had the opportunity to sit down with SYNCED Performance Director Damian Goodwin, and talked more about how a compelling plot and complex figures can be enhanced further with voice acting, allowing for authentic personalities to immerse players further into a new world.
“The characters that come into that world and inhabit that world all come with a backstory or come with something, a mystery that they want to solve, or something that they need to do within The Meridian,” shared Goodwin about SYNCED’s cast.
And as a game “that’s going to unravel over seasons,” there is plenty of potential there to build on things and generate interest in these protagonists. That all requires characters to come to life, made possible by the wonderful actors and actresses that embody them.
“What’s important, from my point of view, is having as much understanding as possible in terms of the context, that you need to feed the actors in order for them to deliver good performances, line by line, with a sense of what happened immediately before, what’s happening afterwards, what’s the environment they’re in, and who are they talking to,” he explained about the process.
The cast is not living in a silo either, with the world around them playing a huge part in how they react and interact with each other, or with the very Nanos that are a part of SYNCED.
For Goodwin, it is about finding the “moments where the characters reveal themselves, moments of nuance” that are not immediately obvious, which makes for character-driven growth and allows players to get one step closer to them as more than just on-screen avatars. This drive to deliver “truth and authenticity” is how games can be immersive experiences, enhanced by characters that one can believe to be acting as they would, just like in real life.
Having worked on critically acclaimed titles such as Returnal and, more recently, As Dusk Falls, Goodwin has certainly been a major force in elevating voice acting performances into a major part of a video game story. It is no different when working on SYNCED, especially when he can count on Narrative Director Kevin Shortt.
“One of the things I’ve really loved about SYNCED is working with Kevin Shortt, who I’ve worked with before because I think he has a really thorough, detailed attitude to the work. It’s been a project that, not only from the character, universe point of view, but from working with Tencent, and extensively with Kevin, has been fantastic. It feels like this is how it should be.”
SYNCED is set to be released sometime in 2023 for PC.