Character Names

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Character Names

How exactly would you say the name "Qqq%kblk?"

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A syllable-choosing name synthesizer system might work-- after determining how you want the name to sound you can spell it however you decide. I guess the biggest problem you'd encounter with voice synthesizers for character names would be having a different synthesized voice for each voice actor that doesn't sound too weird.

I've always enjoyed Yahtzee sharing his ridiculous names with us.

I remember the first time I discovered this. I was 10 and I had rented a copy of Final Fantasy III (VI) for the SNES. I played someone else's save just to see where they were in the game and discovered that they had given Gau the name of Ass.

Cool, even though hearing a person who is about to die suddenly whisper "Titties" would somewhat kill the mood.

I remember catching a Caterpie or Weedle in Pokemon, naming it penis and using "Harden"

Ah, the joys of naming characters...

Not to roll out the Japan bandwagon, but there's a japanese series of voice synthesizers known as Vocaloids, which are programmed using the voices of famous voice actors and singers. Admittedly, they sound like a robot-fetishist's wet dream, but they at least work well enough to have an absurd following in Japan. Of course, almost everything has an absurd following in Japan.

For pronounciation, i figure they'd ask you how it's spoken when you're making the name, so characters could say it as naturally as possible within context. Which i'm sure would be a huge hastle to deal with and still end up clunky, anyhow, so i can understand why they don't do it.

I figure selectable, semi-unique characters would just end up with the Dragon Age system of small details and same damn plot, so i'm not sure how important that would be, either. However, i've got nothing against following a linear story without any real personalization to it, so maybe i'm not the best person to try for solutions on the matter.

I seem to recall that Deus Ex worked around it by letting you pick a name, but then have every character refer to you by your codename

Yahtzee name are always entertaining. Especially when you take a 'serious' game and he diminished that all by naming himself "Fagballz".

Interesting read, you got me interested, just for that end scene alone.

There are actually plenty of high-end commercial synthesizers out there to emulate human voices. Mind you they're usually used for those annoying IVRs asking you to put in the 12th and 251st digit of your mother's maiden name so they can verify your identity so that the human you'll eventually get to will ask the same question....

But they do exist, and work rather well.

"Qqq%kblk."
Pronounced Trippel-Kew-*eyeroll*Kay-Blick. Exactly how it looks ;)

I for one would love having a voice synthesizer in the game. Hearing it call me "Ass Clown" would be pretty awesome.

Mass Effect games make a nice compromise here - You get to name yourself, but everyone calls you by your last name (Shepard). Some other RPGs take a similar route by letting you name your character, but then have all the NPCs adress you by a title, such as Warden (Dragon Age) or Exile (KotOR2).

There are workarounds and one day voice synthesizing will get good enough! ;)

I rather liked how they dealt with the name issue in Dragon Age. Simply calling you 'Warden' it only felt really weird when you'd reached a very close friendship with your companions and they still were calling you 'warden'
The 2nd time I played through the game I named my character 'Wardin' just so it sounded right.

I'm surprised you didn't mention Mass Effect. It has a perfect balance, IMO, by letting you give your character his/her first name, but keeping the last name constant to ensure character continuity AND that voice acting (GOOD voice acting IMO) could be done accurately.

omega247:
I seem to recall that Deus Ex worked around it by letting you pick a name, but then have every character refer to you by your codename

Meh, that's the same as in Divinity 2, where everybody just calls you "Slayer". "Hay there Slayer" "Nice weather, huh, Slayer?" It got really annoying sometimes.
I never really minded the JC thing, though, because those were his actual initials.

The robot interrupting you does sound like a great idea, though. Let's just hope it won't get overdone after a first success.
Actually, I hope he does something along those lines, if his space game is going to have VA... Which I doubt.

deth2munkies:
I'm surprised you didn't mention Mass Effect. It has a perfect balance, IMO, by letting you give your character his/her first name, but keeping the last name constant to ensure character continuity AND that voice acting (GOOD voice acting IMO) could be done accurately.

Agreed, though it did make me wonder why I was even able to choose his name, because it was never used for anything.

I've never considered names all that essential really, most of the time I'll only notice a name if it's bad so for me I think hearing someone call my character "tittywank 2.0" would ruin the mood and i'd get totally disengaged from the scene at hand. Still, if done well enough it would be a really great way to feel more part of the game though would it be worth the decade of it going horribly wrong beforehand?

I'd like to just point out I'm really enjoying Extra Punctuation, i'm in fact now prefering it to ZP. It's really just because Yahtzee can go into more detail about his views rather than the usual quick joke before having to move onto the next part of a game.

KwaggaDan:
I remember catching a Caterpie or Weedle in Pokemon, naming it penis and using "Harden"

Ah, the joys of naming characters...

Ha, Ha, Ha! Un-Appropriate

but funny

Thinking about the topic moreso, I've always wondered if there was a way where you could use a mic and record your name or greeting of choice and use it when you meet people in PlayStation Home? But that's not a game and it would be 5 minuntes before someone complained about it's abuse.

I called my character in Kotor 2 Arnold, which I found mildly amusing for some reason. They worked round the whole 'insert chosen name' thing by making most of the characters speak in made up languages.

Voice synth can be done. We had one called: "Talking Sam" on our Commodore 64.

It tended to foul up the sound of certain syllables. In order to make it say my name, for example, I had to type: Rawbert. Spelling it correctly made it sound like: Row - bert.

Then again, that was 25 years ago.

omega247:
I seem to recall that Deus Ex worked around it by letting you pick a name, but then have every character refer to you by your codename

They pretty much did that in Mass Effect too, since you could enter a name but your last name was always Shepard, so everyone just called you Shepard (which actually makes sense; it was a military setting so they typically would say your title and last name, not the first name).

SMT games like Persona 1 and Nocturne had the "Input name and nickname" system, but they weren't voice acted. Smackdown v. Raw goes a step above that by having ring announcers go through a list of call names, but they've shortened the list a TREMENDOUS amount, and it doesn't feel as personalized when there about as many "Angels" as "Motors." I was also bothered by FFX/X-2's avoidance of Tidus' name. It's not like he was THAT great.

You could also make the voice acting like in Portal when GLaDOS starting going wonky.

"Unbelievable! You, (subject name here), must be the pride of (subject hometown here)!"

Honestly I think it would just become annoying after a while. It's like Tiger Woods Golf, where you can use "GameFace" to put yourself in the game. Then when you try it for realsies you realise you suck at golf.

So why do the same with voice synthesizers?

I think a voice synthesizer would sound too robotic and thus break the immersion. However, if a robot did it it might work.

Mass Effect got around the naming problem by having a set last name that every character calls you by. Though it gets weird when your love interest is still calling you "Shepard".

For some reason my immediate first thought when you mentioned the little robot spouting your name was Wall-E. I suspect I've been watching too many kiddia flicks.

Maybe you could include the little robot in Good Space Game: The Game? How's that coming anyway?

And I kinda agree with what other people have said, Mass Effect got around it pretty naturally, although it was sometimes odd to not have the main character give their first name.

A version of Uncharted 2 in which the main character isn't a twat? There's always Doughnut Drake mode! You get different dialogue and everything.

MpSai:
Mass Effect got around the naming problem by having a set last name that every character calls you by. Though it gets weird when your love interest is still calling you "Shepard".

Oh... Wrex...

Yahtzee Croshaw:

How exactly would you say the name "Qqq%kblk?"

I would pronounce it rq-koh-k'X-keh-bu-ilk where rq is the Inuktitut style deep throated 'k' sound and 'X is a click sound from african languages like X'hosa.

Really, though, that's were the real problem with voice synthesizers come in. Different languages use very different tonalities; where in the mouth sounds are primarily formed, how open your throat is, tautness of your glottis, use of the tongue and so forth.

I have an unusual surname for where I live, so people usually give up when they can't pronounce it even after I spell it out and repeat it a few times. Good look to any speech synthesizer.

Faced with unknown data even the most advanced softwares today will stumble. Most of them still resemble expert systems in their efficacy. They are more efficient and produce a more natural sounding voice but they can't piece together pronunciation from context since they don't actually understand the content. That is, they don't have an internal, self-defined representation of that context derived only from the input and their own internal representations.

In fact, no one even knows how to do that. Every human just does it by instinct! As I have plenty of examples of though, it's far from perfect. I really don't mind when people mispronounce or misspell my name, it doesn't matter. I'm not so sure I'm willing to accept that from my computer.

I have wanted to see something like it fir ages...but I think we will be a lobgvtime off hearing our characters names spoken...

Although, on a side note uncharted joke made me giggle.

Am I the only one that thinks it's ridiculously funny and a little depressing that Square Enix apparently thinks the only thing holding them back in the Western market is the muscle mass of their protagonist?

I'm beginning to think that Jun Takeuchi is right: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/100722-Capcom-Producer-Japanese-Industry-Has-No-Hope-in-Hell

Actualy, there have been a lot of advancements in voice synthesizers. We're very close to the indistinguishable to human speech.

Check this links:

http://www.loquendo.com/en/demos/demo_tts.htm

http://www2.research.att.com/~ttsweb/tts/demo.php

http://www.acapela-group.com/text-to-speech-interactive-demo.html

Codemasters Racing games have been just recording a bunch of names and letting you pick from a list, So my adoring racing fans have been calling me by my first name since GRID :)

I would most definitely finally lay down some cash for Just Cause 2 if there was a version which let you play as puss in boots.

that was a scene in Dragon Age when someone called me 'your majesty' or something, and I said
"don't call me that, Just call me omarionski" (which was my characters name [long story]), to which the AI replied
"as you wish, my lord" :|

I good way to use synthesizers would be in combination with the Bioware System of giving you a title, everyone calls you by that title and your only true friends are a bunch of robots that use your real name

oh and i also love the way it was done in deus sx (i think your friends in that game used your name in emails) but htat might be because i think everything in deus ex is pure gold

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