Hollywood and Games Shouldn't Mix

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Post: #1
I just finished reading the following news story:
"Stars 'Suffering' for video game sequel"
http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmp"l=story&u=/nm/20050725/film_nm/midway_dc_1

There is a line in this story that really gets on my nerves.
"Allison said that it's not just about game play any more, but delivering a complete package -- one that includes recognizable names and talent from Hollywood."

Do you agree with that? As game developers you might be apt to say, "No way! It's the game play stupid!" This guy sounds like a marketeer (dam us!). Now, I can see a kid or parent picking up a box and thinking, "Lord of the Rings! Yes, my grandson loved that movie, I'll get him this game." But I can't see, "Duncan! I loved him in Armagedon, I'll get this game!" It's not to say that I think less of voice actors! My point is that it seems some producers are too keen in tie-ins with Hollywood. This is nothing new, and goes back to ET, Krull, etc on Atari VCS.

Anyhow, history has shown that Hollywood to Game (Under a Killing Moon) and Game to Hollywood (Mario Brothers movie!) despite the synergy that the two industries hype almost always falls flat on its face.

In the end, it seems producers/marketeers are searching for "the gimic" to move boxes, whereas they should pump their money into cloning/bribing/etc great video game designers. i.e. It is indeed the gameplay at the end of the day!

(p.s. I know I am preaching to the choir on this.)

Carlos A. Camacho,
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Post: #2
I think the biggest problem is that these days many people can't tell the difference between a game and a movie/book/story/etc. A game is not a story, it's not a setting or a plot line. It's not a set of characters or big names. It's a thing you do for amusement. Some small sub-genres involve the plots, characters, and setting. It's really sad these days that people in general seem to have forgotten that. I can't tell you how much I hate working through e.g. Final Fantasy X, where you basically hit the X button to go on to the next cut scene. Why did I pay all this money again, to have a movie I have to work to see the next scene of?

/rant Wink

Cryptic Allusion Games / Cryptic Allusion, LLC
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Post: #3
>where you basically hit the X button to go on to the next cut scene
That sounds a lot like Dragon's Layer Laser Disc from the 80's.

Carlos A. Camacho,
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Post: #4
Not quite so bad. I was euphemizing. A *little bit*. Smile Actually it may even be a little more frustrating, because there's also a component of wandering around aimlessly, staring at your area map rather than the pretty 3D display half the time, looking for that next cut scene / super easy boss battle / extended dialog / etc.

I'm not just dogging on people making games that are movies for the sake of other games, either. It's really sad because it seems like the story behind FFX would make a great FF movie. Much better than the one they actually ended up using. But many people will never get to see it because (like me) they have no patience for playing the dull game that gets in the way of seeing it. It's just in the wrong medium.

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Post: #5
Carlos Camacho Wrote:There is a line in this story that really gets on my nerves.
"Allison said that it's not just about game play any more, but delivering a complete package -- one that includes recognizable names and talent from Hollywood."

The guy is indeed a marketer: Midway's Chief Marketing Officer, according to the article.

I do enjoy having Hollywood voice actors in my games- they can add a lot of personality to a character (Ray Liotta as Tommy in Vice City) or make the game experience more complete (the Evil Dead games wouldn't be the same without Bruce Campbell). Plus, they just plain sound better.

However, this isn't Hollywood. Actors don't run the show here. I've heard they're starting to demand bigger paychecks for lending their voices, including a percentage, which is ridiculous, especially when most of the people working 100 hours a week to actually make the game are being treated like sweatshop garbage.

I have no problem with games that are more like movies- I loved Final Fantasy X from start to finish. What I have a problem with are celebrity games: Fishing through tons of Mary Kate and Ashley and SpongeBob trash just to find a REAL GBA game makes me homicidal, and I feel deeply sorry for every developer stuck working on the mind-blowingly asinine Fiddy Cent game.

Justin Ficarrotta
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"It is better to be The Man than to work for The Man." - Alexander Seropian
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Post: #6
JustinFic Wrote:I have no problem with games that are more like movies- I loved Final Fantasy X from start to finish.

Hey if it works for you, great. Wink I was totally floored by FFX's visuals for the most part. I bought it in spite of my recent dislike for these types of RPGs. I was just sad I never got to see the whole story because I got tired of the busy work in between.

Quote:What I have a problem with are celebrity games: Fishing through tons of Mary Kate and Ashley and SpongeBob trash just to find a REAL GBA game makes me homicidal, and I feel deeply sorry for every developer stuck working on the mind-blowingly asinine Fiddy Cent game.

Amen!

Cryptic Allusion Games / Cryptic Allusion, LLC
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Post: #7
Funny. Just finished reading an article on just this in Wired. What a terrific magazine - I have no idea why more tech-minded people don't read it!

Link: http://wired.com/wired/ (NOTE: ARTICLE WON'T BECOME AVAILABLE UNTIL JULY 29, WHEN NEXT ISSUE IS ON NEWSTANDS)
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Post: #8
I played Area 51 earlier this month, starring the voices of David Duchovny and Marylin Manson. David's voice added something to the game, because its recognoizable as "the voice of the those who are paranoid of aliens", but could have easily been replaced by Carlos Camacho and the game would not have changed much, instead I would change my opinion of the voice of Carlos Camacho from "The voice of idevgames" to "that guy who battled those aliens in Area 51".

Marylin Manson's script was the most cliche shit I've heard in a game in some time, or maybe it just got put in the far front my brain as "the symbol of all cliche". It added nothing to the game. I wonder whose idea it was to get him to do that? John Romero perhaps, it was his studio, and they are no longer active.

I think if real marketing data was available, it would show that the general market gives a rats ass or less about who the voice actors are, once the game is actually in the player's hands. Evil Dead games you buy because Bruce Campbell made those movies worth watching in the first place, you want to experience being Ash, Duke Nukem' stole Bruce's act ages ago, but It's the character people buy into, not the actor.

I did rent a very cool game Bruce did for Playstation ages ago: "Wow Bruce Campbell how cool!", but after these many years I don't remember a single word he said in the whole game, I just remember the gameplay and creep factor of the levels. Its the game developers who leave an impression in the end, not the actors.

The game market involves tons of money, and the marketing people are playing their own kind of game trying to get a few tons more money into their pockets, like a gambling addiction.

I would prefer to see the game industry openly blacklist Hollywood actors, publicly declare that they are not wanted, and to tell them to get a real job. It won't happen, but I can dream.

If any of you have the chance to pick up the Halo 2 special edition, it has a DVD that shows the making of the game, it shows the voice actors. I do not recognize any of the faces or names, but the voices...well its amazing to see that these characters come out of human beings. Its an art form to itself, but you won't see the voice actors getting the rave reviews, or their names in lights, its the gameplay that is the star.

Have a look at all the games on the Mac, how many of them require voice actors?
How many sales are actually influenced by who does that voice acting?
The games that do, are almost all ports from consoles.
Who knows who the voice of Lara Croft is? Anyone? Anyone? I've played all those titles, and I have no clue.
Would it have enhanced the game to have Angelina Jolie to the voice?
Nope not one bit.

Antack had "voice acting", my six foot tall, 240 pound room mate was the squeeky little ant voices, would it have made a difference to pay some actor to do that work?
I highly doubt it.

Most of us if we had twenty five million to develop a game with, would not run out and give five million and royalties to some Hollywood actor. I guess when you have money to burn like that you just instinctively do something stupid, like burn the money.
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Post: #9
I think the best way to think of the whole thing is that hiring these expensive actors to do voice acting is just part of the marketing budget. They want them to do voices so they can say "voices by X and Such!", to make people want to buy something with names they recognize.

So yeah I think you're right on with the "marketers addicted like gambling"... LOL

Oh and I agree on watching voice actors -- it always blows me away to watch "behind the scenes" things from anime or stuff like the Dr Who radio programs and watch the people making all those sounds Smile

Cryptic Allusion Games / Cryptic Allusion, LLC
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Post: #10
Yeah, to give Hollywood "stars" voice actor roles is probably just marketing, but to give voice actors voice actor roles isn't. I remember playing the first Resident Evil game on the Playstation, that game desperatly(ok, not really, it became hugely sucessfull anyone, but for me) needed some real voice talent.
Then I remember playing Eternal Darkness, and those voice actors fit perfectly, and I now consider ED one of the best console games this generation, mainly becouse of it's great story, but if the voice acting was anywhere near the one of the first RE game, I would probably not have coped playing the game.

"Gameplay Uber Alles. And if you can make it psychedelic too, great!" - Jeff Minter
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Post: #11
Part of the problem with hollywood games is sort of the same one Lucas Arts used to have. They started creating LOTS of bad games. As in a starwars game for the sake of a starwars game. What the industry needs to do is stop with all the Polar Express, Cat in the hat, Shark tail, madagascar, a bugs life, A series of unfortunate events, >breathe , count to ten< Mad ...

Harry Potter, Terminator for gba(shudder), bad boys, alexander, Predator concrete jungle, all the old star wars games, almost all of those startrek games, and last but not least ET. ANd finally learn to make a few, good ones.



(I would like to see a spaceballs game though.)

((And Kung Pow))
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Post: #12
Dark Helmet Wrote:((And Kung Pow))
"Killing is wrong. And bad. There should be a new, stronger word for killing. Like badwrong, or badong. Yes, killing is badong. From this moment, I will stand for the opposite of killing: gnodab."

I think its unfair to compare any movie based game with ET for the 2600. That game was like something Pinhead would make you play in Hell.

The game industry is creatively inbred. Everything seems to be another hand-with-gun-running-through-tunnels-shooting people variation.

They should make a game based on Office Space. It would be like Lock & Chase, except you try to avoid Bill Lumbergh...

"Yes, well, that's the sort of blinkered, Philistine pig-ignorance I've come to expect from you non-creative garbage."
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Dark Helmet Wrote:Part of the problem with hollywood games is sort of the same one Lucas Arts used to have. They started creating LOTS of bad games. As in a starwars game for the sake of a starwars game. What the industry needs to do is stop with all the Polar Express, Cat in the hat, Shark tail, madagascar, a bugs life, A series of unfortunate events, >breathe , count to ten< Mad ...

Check the first post in this thread to see why they keep releasing those titles. Wink
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Post: #14
Leisure Suit Lurie Wrote:They should make a game based on Office Space. It would be like Lock & Chase, except you try to avoid Bill Lumbergh...

You get the original voices to be in it, with a fun storyline, and I'll buy it. I think a lot of people would, at least while they're at work. Oh, how to get people to buy a game while at work... Wink

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Logan
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Post: #15
Would Chronicles of Riddick be as good without the voice talent of Vin Diesel?

Or how about Splinter Cell? Without the talent of Michael Ironside, would Sam Fisher have become as popular if not more popular (that's up to opinion/interpretation) than Solid Snake? And David Hayter is by no means a stranger to Hollywood, either.

Sure, the 'Hollywood' effect can be too much for a game, but sometimes, it enhances the game experience that much more. At the end of the day, it's the designer's perogative to decide where to maintain that balance.
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