Like everyone there are a lot of things I wasn’t expecting about the last 14 months of my life. But sitting in bed under a clothes horse, shrouded in a duvet with a camping light and a microphone. Now that is weird. How on earth did I get here?
When the idea of voicing Lucy sparked in Tom’s mind, he described her to me as “a bit northern, or Midlands, but not too northern. Definitely not southern though.” She also needed to sound young, but not childish.
He set about trying to find a voice artist who fitted the image in his mind. Child labour was out, way too many legal issues there, so he needed to find a female voice who could perfect all of the above with the necessary sarcastic undertones. He did find someone, and she sounded great but…
Anyone who has played the demo will know there is a LOT of dialogue. When the script was written it wasn’t done with consideration to any potential voice over. It was just written to offer the best game playing experience and detail we love. We want people to click around and enjoy as many custom responses as possible, to as many things as possible. But then when you start looking at voice overs this comes at a cost, one that can require a very deep pocket. There are over 6,300 words of dialogue in the demo alone and we didn’t want to compromise the game play or narrative because of the cost/labour intensiveness of the voice over.
Tom was relaying this to a family member who simply said, “Why don’t you ask Emma to do it?”.
It hadn’t crossed either of our minds that I should give it a try. It hadn’t even popped in there and been discounted. I’m mean, I’m northern, although not overly so (Lucy’s isn’t my natural voice, although she does bring out the northern in me for a good few days after recording) and I’ve done a fair bit of am-dram in my time but never a professional voice over, and we wanted this to be good. Really good. Even some pro actors struggle to get voice overs right, how on earth was I going to sound? We didn’t even have any proper recording equipment (we still don’t really – come on Kickstarter!).
So, not long after this conversation, I found myself under a duvet recording the first few lines as a test and we both agreed it didn’t sound half bad and, well, I was cheap, and maybe for the demo that would be better than nothing.
It’s not been the most glamorous process, it’s rather stuffy under a duvet and I really did struggle with the game play instructions, there were a lot of outtakes. We also ended up recording the whole thing twice when Tom completely rewrote the demo – but it was just part of the process. We’ve spent the last 12 years running a business together so we are very used to having a working relationship as well as a personal one. What has been lovely is that Tom writes very much like we talk, many of Lucy’s responses could come from either of us so I knew intuitively where the emphasis should be on the lines. I also had the luxury of knowing exactly what Lucy was doing/looking at/talking to for each line, something which I think is unusual for most voice actors in the gaming industry.
The next shock of the year has had to be the amazing response we have had to the voice over. I really can’t quite believe it. Not only do people seem to actually like Lucy’s voice, but they have gone out of their way to tell us how much. It’s been overwhelming and also brilliantly-reassuring that I can do something that I wasn’t sure I could. Thank you!