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Feature: 'A Holistic Approach to Game Dialogue Production'

In a new feature article on Gamasutra, audio veteran Rob Bridgett (Prototype, Scarface) examines key issues and possible solutions around how to organize and
In a new feature article on Gamasutra, game audio veteran Rob Bridgett (Prototype, Scarface: The World is Yours) examines key issues and possible solutions around how to organize and structure the creation of dialogue for video games, which he considers "perhaps the single most important aspect of video game audio." Bridgett lists out the twelve stages of audio production, from initial design out to final mix, and then drills down into each one, covering both process and philosophy. For example, in this excerpt, he explains the importance of iteration in dialogue production, a concept he says is often "misunderstood and awkward:" "This is often one of the more misunderstood and awkward parts of dialogue production in video games, due to the inevitable feature creep and story scoping that goes on throughout video game development. This ongoing process usually means that significant portions of the gameplay (affecting in-game categories) and story (affecting mission and story dialogue) will have changed by the time the original dialogue recordings are implemented. "These inevitable tectonic shifts in game-play will always leave the story and in-game dialogue in need of repair in some way, be it merely cosmetic or even structural. Once the dialogue is in and settled, and required fixes can usually be figured out by a combination of the design team, audio director, and producer team. "These changes are then integrated into the script by the writers (returning to the content creation stage) and the changes are then followed through all the same production stages back to implementation. "This re-work can often be problematic in that getting a particular actor back to do short pick-up sessions may not fit with their schedule, and such sessions may not have been included in the original contract (or budget). Always plan for pick-up sessions with every actor in a video game. At best lines will simply be cut; at worst, whole new plot-lines and missions will need to be recorded or completely re-cast." The full feature, available on Gamasutra, covers the other eleven steps in detail, including content creation, casting, recording, mastering, and more.

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