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I’ve been very cautious about how I implemented speech into Super Space Galaxy. Long after most things had sound effects, I still hesitated to include any voice acting at all.

There were a lot of decisions to be made. How should characters talk? Should characters talk in real language at all or should they just jabber like in Banjo-Kazooie? If characters talked too much, wouldn’t that just get annoying? Depending on how it’s done, I’ve seen voice acting become repetitive and annoying, or memorable and iconic. So much seemed to be at stake with how I implemented the first voice-samples in the game.

Eventually the merchants in the game started to get a voice, having something to say when you entered their Docks. I voice-acted an ‘Anything I can do for ya?’ myself for the ship repair yards. People I’ve worked with on the game, like Allan Zax, have also offered to voice-act some lines themselves. At this point, however, another weighty decision came up.

Allan hails from Bulgaria and his voice sounds thoroughly Balkan, whereas I sound posh and English myself. Would our accents sound odd side by side? After all, our characters would be living in the same space-city, did it make sense to have both our voices in the same place? It wasn’t obvious to me how accents in a galaxy-spanning empire should work.

My concern for this kind of thing dates back to playing The Witcher 3. There, characters’ accents are thoroughly meaningful. The peasants who live in a small town together have similar accents and really do sound like they grew up in the same isolated settlement. Very old characters, like the mysterious Ghost in the Tree, sound Welsh. It’s clear the developer of The Witcher 3 put a lot of thought into details like this.

Some time later I re-installed Skyrim to compare its open world to Witcher 3‘s (or maybe I just wanted to play Skyrim again). I was playing the Dragonborn expansion and went to Skaal village, a thoroughly isolated town in the frozen north of Solstheim with its own separate culture. In such a place, you’d expect the people there to have their own distinct way of speaking and to all have similar accents. But no. In the world of Skyrim, everyone is voiced by the same smattering of voice actors and things like this weren’t really considered. Witcher 3 has spoiled me and I can’t go back!

Having noticed this, I knew I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t at least give some thought to the accents used in Super Space Galaxy. I cautiously added Allan’s voice to the game for the merchants in the Warehouse district, but kept an eye on the issue of accents and how they might work.

More recently, I got another offer of voice-acting from Darrell Ellisor of the Loot Bros podcast. He lives in America and I knew he’d contribute a third accent to the game. As it happened I’d been working on the Military areas in the game and they needed a voice-sample too, so I asked him to voice some vaguely military-sounding lines. We used ‘Thumbs up, soldier!’, which is something Captain America used to say in the old Marvel Super Heroes arcade game.

Thumbs up, soldier!

Captain America, Marvel Super Heroes

Somehow Darrell’s offer helped me decide that in the space-future, many different accents would be living side by side in any given city anyway. Having different accents for different characters also helped communicate who was speaking better. I was reminded of the design of Team Fortress 2, where every character has their own accent as a matter of principle.

In the end, I didn’t do anything unexpected with the accents in Super Space Galaxy, but I’m glad I thought it through and did things for the right reasons! I’ve managed to get a variety of voice-actors so far simply by accepting what was offered to me. It’s been exciting that, as the game grows, more and more people want to contribute to it.

Have a listen to the quick video below showcasing the new ‘Thumbs up, soldier!’

Thanks for reading,

Kenneth Dunlop


Published by Kenneth Dunlop

Earth's Mightiest Game Designer. Making Super Space Galaxy. Previously made Super Space Slayer 2.

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