Sunday, May 18, 2014

Puzzle Piece To Writing - Voice Acting

March 5, 2014 - Steven Vitte takes a general acting class.
May 17, 2014 - Steven Vitte takes a voice over recording session in his local recording studio.

What you read above is the truth. Just the other day I stepped out in faith and took on a recording session that involved general voice over work. It was a private session that only involved me and an audio engineer, but from what I experienced I can surely say that I felt happy going on this kind of adventure. I felt comfortable throughout this session and it only got better as time went on. I truly appreciate the help I received from the audio engineer and he helped me along the way. He made suggestions as to which words I should hit on with more emphasis, and I went back and corrected those parts.


Attending a voice over recording session for just a couple hours gave me more clarity as far as one part of the creative process in game development is concerned. I experienced it up front and center, albeit in a trial process, just what voice actors and voice actresses actually do when they prepare for official recording sessions. Voice over work is an important part of the development process of a video game these days and it's important because with the technology we now have we can implement voice acting if we so choose and listen to the main characters of the game's story. Voice actors bring life to video game characters and they put their vocal stamp on what gamers will envision a character's voice to sound like.

"Write for the ear, and not for the eye."

This is one rule that I have always kept in mind whenever I write my custom scripts and stories. Whatever writing project you work on, you must make sure that the sounds of your writing come across as smooth and understandable for your audience. Gamers are not looking forward to listen to oratories presented in debate class fashion, and such dialogue should only be used sparingly and when appropriate. Gamers would appreciate one liners and two liners that get right to the point more. A writer doesn't need to give his or her characters lengthy, in-depth explanations as to why those characters performed certain actions. Actions speak louder than words anyway. Gamers can see that when they watch scenes play out.

I have made it known to some people that I respect the work of voice actors and voice actresses, and I sincerely mean that. It takes time to properly rehearse lines and it takes patience to flesh out the best lines. Voice acting carries the dialogue of writers and depending on who the voice actors are, certain types of characters are brought to life and they jump out to give gamers a positive impression. Sometimes we only need to listen to a character in a scene to determine what kind of character he or she is to us, regardless of what the character looks like.

I have had a phone conversation with an aspiring voice actor who is looking to make his break and this conversation also opened my eyes a little bit into what exactly goes into the process. This conversation went on for nearly 20 minutes and it was a good talk because I got to find out for myself what is needed to take the necessary steps. There are 2 things that this kind man let me know about and they are...

1) The Voice Over business is NOT easy.
2) There is plenty of work to be had out there.

#1 is definitely something I want to touch on because there are some gamers out there who don't really understand how tough this particular business is. The Voice Over business is NOT easy and there are reasons why. You can't just expect to march into a studio cold turkey and read lines without practice. You will very much sound flat and out of tune with your voice if you go about it that way. Practice sharpens the blade, so to speak. Sports athletes need to practice, artists need to practice, news analysts need to practice, and the same is true for voice actors.

Also, and this is only a fact and nothing to discourage folks, not everybody will be cut out for this avenue. Some people just may not have the voice that can be sustained in the form of a video game adventure. You won't know for sure whether or not you have a good enough voice until you test out your voice. Sometimes it's hard for us to hear ourselves because when we talk we don't necessarily think about our voices sounding like what they really are. I read out a line and I hear myself one way, but other people will hear me a different way. It's not until the audio is played back to me that I realize what my voice really sounds like. I'm sure that's the case with other people.

Now I'm in a unique position because I am trying to get my work primarily noticed as a writer, but in the past few months, starting at the tail end of 2013, I have began to take the idea of voice acting more seriously. If I can use voice acting as a platform to help aid my writing in some way, then there is no reason why I can't use this platform.

A writer will know if his or her scripted lines are any good if a voice actor can cleanly display them vocally. Depending on what the dialogue is, it will either be a hit or a dud, but either way, a writer must be prepared for any and all criticism that comes at his or her way. A writer will know if some lines he or she wrote will come across as too wordy, too vague, too plain or too complex once a voice actor rehearses those lines. If a line doesn't sound right at first, then chances are it won't be right in the big picture.

I will surely update you guys on this endeavor in due time, but some things take time, especially when you live out in the middle of nowhere. Maybe I should act out that last sentence?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Thought Process For Writing - Steven Vitte

This will be an abbreviated review of what represents my thought process when creating a world for a game-oriented script. I will run down the basics of the points that I hit when I write. 

Every writer has a specific thought process before they sit down and map out what they want to do for a story. They know that whatever kind of script they write, they have to make sure that the story is fitting for that genre. As a writer, in my opinion only, I feel that one should have a basic plan of attack as to how to create the world of a fictional story. It won't be easy, but it's also not rocket science.

1) Characters - What do you want?

First off, we need to know what kind of story we want to make and what would be a better way to start off your story than to think of a character you can build your fictional world around. The main characters that you will have for your stories will depend on what kind of worlds those characters will be in. For example, if you are aiming to have a character in a realistic and serious tone, then you would most likely make up a character that relates to heroes from the movies; John McClane, Riggs and Murtaugh, John Quincy Archibald, Roy Hobbs, etc. If you are aiming for the cartoon feel, such as the laid back, colorful and free roaming environments, then you would most likely be focusing on characters in the Video Game Industry like Mario, Sonic, Crash Bandicoot, Sly Cooper, Rayman, Kirby, etc.

2) What is the world of your story?

This can be interchangeable with #1, but really both are equally important. Some stories involve the world revolving around a character, but other stories involve characters that revolve around a defined world. In some fictional worlds there are specific rules to live by as far as gameplay goes, and the personalities of the characters sometimes take after the situations that they are put in. The worlds your characters inhabit affect them in some way. Remember that. It's wise not to disregard the world your character lives in or else some problems may arise. Is this a realistic world you can see people on Earth living in? Is this a cartoony world you can see mascot-like characters living in?

3) What is at stake?

There is always a carrot to dangle in a world and in front of the characters. As a writer, you need to define what that carrot is exactly. What is the main thing that the characters just can't go without? What do they stand to lose if they don't have this main thing? How important is this main thing? What exactly is the situation? Who are the major players in this game that are causing this main thing to be at stake? How should the player who controls the main characters care about what's at stake?

4) How will you bridge the gaps in storytelling?

When you get somewhat deep into storytelling, what will be the thing to keep the players emotionally invested in your story once you have grabbed their attention? What can you do with your storytelling that will make players go "Hmph! That was interesting! That sounded like a curveball! What did "So and So Character" mean by saying that?"  Knowing how to bridge the gaps from one scene in the game to the next is critical. You don't want to rush and slap every interesting nook and cranny into just a few scenes, but you also don't want to drag the player through an imaginary creative desert neither. You have to find some sort of balance. You have to pace your style of writing.

5) What will the player identify with? (Symbolism)

This is my personal favorite weapon of choice in my writing. Symbolism. There are various uses of symbolism in writing stories. An object, a place, a person or an event can all be used as symbols for the story you are telling to the player and the beauty of symbolism is that you can use symbols to change in their meanings. Throughout the progression of a game's story, that one iconic thing that represents the symbol can change ever so often. It can mean one thing between a boyfriend and girlfriend scenario, but then change into a symbol of teamwork between members of a gang, and then change into a symbol of reassurance to a struggling community of people. The more flexible a symbol is in a game, the better chance there will be of a player recognizing it and remembering it for future reference, and perhaps for a possible sequel of that game.

These are just the basics, in my opinion, of what a writer should know when he or she digs into storytelling for a game script. You have to relate to the gameplay mechanics when you write, but you also have to be mindful of the fundamentals as well. Make sure that your story connects, relates and executes and you should move forward with your projects well.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Steven Vitte's Creative Side (On One Platform)

www.hitrecord.org/users/StevenT_Vitte/all_records

First and foremost, what I want to hit on with this blog is the fact that I am an aspiring writer who is trying to get things established in general media forms, and hopefully the Video Game Industry will be one of those media forms that I will be able to venture into some day. While I have my strengths in journalistic writing, the fact of the matter is that the bread and butter of my writing abilities revolves around scriptwriting and general story writing.

People who create content such as sample scripts, short stories, poetry making and the like need a platform to perform on. They need a stage that they can call theirs, and they need a stage where they can hopefully get noticed by others. There is the hope that other people will get to see what the content creators see because there are visions set in front of the content creators as to what they want to put out there for the public.

For me, Steven Vitte, I am using a variety of platforms to get my personal work noticed and I am hoping that people will get to help me along the way. I am hoping that people will understand that visions that I have for my scripts and scenes and I hope that they will grow to like the ideas behind my stories. When it comes to the website link I put up above, I find it very interesting that this platform allows people to be creative as well as collaborate with other people who specialize in a variety of areas.

HitRECord is a program established by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who played John Blake in The Dark Knight Rises) and he has helped provide an outlet for people who wish to be creative with their talents to get their stuff out there so that a great range of people all over the world can see. If certain albums or projects are seen as good enough by people, then they will get votes of approval (the heart symbol in the top right corner of submitted documents), and collaborations are made to push forward projects so that they will get noticed all the more.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt himself will post topics that will challenge content creators to perform tasks related to their fields of specialties and the end results are usually very memorable. I have been keeping a close eye on hitrecord.org for some time now and I believe that this is the kind of outlet that I can use to bring attention to the my projects. However, I am also intending to provide help to those who need it considering that I make story-related details and such. If anyone is in need of story elements and ideas, I'd be willing to help them as long as I find their projects interesting enough.

Now what I want from you guys, the readers of the Gaming Journalist Gazette, is to evaluate the albums that I put on hitrecord.org, whatever they may be (scripts or short stories), and I want to receive important and serious feedback from you. Comment below this post, email me at stevenvitte12@yahoo.com, message me on the official Game Writers group page on Facebook, etc. and let me know what it is that I'm doing right and what it is that I'm doing wrong. If you are interested in helping me out on any of my hitrecord projects, then contact me and form a collaboration with me.

I know that this post is short in comparison to many of my other posts, but I will let my hitrecord page do the talking for the time being.