Uncovered voice files reveal how Valve makes games funny


Can I get an A/B of that headline?

Comedy is hard at the best of times, in a video game, it can be damn near impossible (looking at you Matt Hazard). The magical elixir of expectation, subversion, and timing that makes a joke funny is hard to nail down when working against the random behavior of a jerkass player who may not even be looking in the direction of the punchline. Its one of the reasons Valve's Portal series stands out as such a success, those games manage to be consistently hilarious while so many imitators try and fail to make gamers even crack a smile.

The secret to Valve's success is a little less of a mystery today though. Diligent fans digging deep into an early version of the Steam VR Performance Test managed to ferret out some unused audio files of raw voice acting sessions of narrator Joe Micheals running lines with a few Portal 2 writers, including Erik Wolpaw. YouTuber Tyler McVicker of the Valve News Network channel went to the trouble of cleaning up the audio files as much as possible to bring out Wolpaw's direction with interesting results.

It turns out making a game funny is just as hard as you'd think it is, requiring painstaking attention to detail. Joe is an absolute champ taking feedback and running through multiple versions of the same lines over and over again to make sure he's hitting every comedy beat. At the same time, Wolpaw and his fellow writers are working hard to keep track of the exact setting and situation each line will appear with in-game and making sure they have plenty of options to choose from for alternate readings. The video is almost 20 minutes long and only part one of what McVicker estimates will be a three part series. Keep in mind, this is just the recovered files found on a small test demo. Really makes you appreciate the work that goes into creating those throwaway chuckles littered throughout the Portal games.

Unheard Portal Voice Files - How Valve Directs Voice Actors [Reddit]

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Nic Rowen
Nic RowenAssociate Editor   gamer profile

(formerly known as Wrenchfarm) has been an active member of the Dtoid community since After toiling away in the Cblog mines and Recap Team workhouse for more + disclosures



Filed under... #Portal #Steam #valve



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