You’ve probably heard of Elder Scrolls, right? Y’know? The game franchise that goes back to 1994 and has released 5 elaborate storylines where you can pretty much discover anything by yourself. The reason why I stayed home and got lost in Skyrim instead of making these things called “friends” (I still don’t know what those things are).
We got a chance to interview Becky Ichnoski, voice over and script editor for Elder Scrolls Online, to talk about voiceover work, the new Orsinium DLC, and what it’s like hearing the voices come to life.
Ichnoski claims to “pretty much do everything that deals with V/O.” I wouldn’t doubt her since she is one of ESO’s voice editors who puts the scripts together, edits the V/O, creates the pronunciation guides, and works with the German and French languages of the game.
So check out the trailer and the interview below to get the behind-the-scenes perspective of recording for The Elder Scrolls Online and more information about the upcoming Orsinium DLC!
Could you give us a quick background about the new Elder Scrolls Orsinium DLC and what new features the players can expect?
For the first time since Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, the player is able to experience Orsinium which was once the kingdom of the Orcs. The land has been granted back to the Orcs and their new, self-proclaimed leader, King Kurog, is calling upon player adventurers to help him re-forge his new empire. Players will experience a very strong storyline with engaging characters as they help the Orcs deal with invasion, religious conflict, and power struggle. The DLC also includes 2 public dungeons, a challenging arena, and new monsters!
Who are some key characters featured in Orsinium and what type of voices are they?
The majority of the characters in Orisnium are Orcs. I mentioned King Kurog already – who is the brash, boisterous, food-loving King, fighting for the unity and respect of his people. Opposite him we have Chief Bazrag, a more traditional Orc leader who is kind of an obstacle for King Kurog. There is also a character named Eveli who is a cute, bubbly, Bosmer. Since not everyone out there is an “Orc-lover” I thought she was a pretty cool addition. The player in our game doesn’t have a voice so Eveli is very much like a voice for the player; adventurous, heroic, and funny. My personal favorite character in Orsinium is a kooky, pompous, Dark Elf named Narsis Dren, played by Keith Silverstein. He really makes me laugh.
Where or how do you come up with the idea for the voices? What is the process like?
Our designers use existing lore such as Orsinium as a guideline however, it in no way restricts their creativity. Our content designers and writers work together to come up with a compelling storyline – the designers sort of create the big picture while the writers fill in all of the fine details. Our writers do a really great job with creating characters that are three-dimensional. One of our writers once told me that they really get inside of the character and ask themselves questions such as ‘What does this character want? And what are they willing to do to get it?’. Then it is my job to bring their visions to life with a voice through our VO cast. At the end of the day it really is a group effort.
What was it like to work with them (voice actors) in the studio?
It is so much fun. Some of the actors are so talented and funny. They make me laugh and they make my job fun. I’ve been working with the voice actors in our game for about three years now, so I’ve really gotten familiar with their talents over time, making it easier to cast our characters personalities. For Orsinium, the first character I casted was Forge-Mother Alga, King Kurog’s well respected, noble and powerful mother. Writer Bill Slaviscek described Dame Judi Dench for reference, and immediately Janellen Steininger popped into my head as a perfect fit!
So when you are recording, you obviously have some sort of voice or tone in mind. But once recording starts, do you find the voice to develop over time into something different? How is the end result different from the original voice?
Definitely. Our dialog is so well written that I think it gives the actors a lot to work with. It is at times very comical and other times emotionaly dark and I think when who the characters are – their personalities/their experiences are described to the actors, they just get it and can really take the performance over the top. The actors can really get into this way so at the end of the day everyone wins. Razum Dar, for example, has become such an internet sensation!
So what is like to experience hearing the words on the script said out loud for the first time?
It is a good feeling especially when I know they’ve really nailed the performance. For example, I selected JB Blanc to be the voice of King Kurog. The character was described to me as a “boisterous John Goodman.” One of our writers walked in on a session unexpectedly and just went, “Holy sh*t, is that John Goodman?!” So, when I can deliver the VO and it matches or exceeds their expectations, or when I hear that our fans are really enjoying it, it’s very fulfilling.
When can we expect the DLC to come out or any announcement about the release?
Orsinium is scheduled to release in November. As of October 5th it is also available on our Playtest Sever.
What do you think? You excited about the upcoming DLC? Who is your favorite video game voice actor? And which Elder Scrolls game is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!
Written/Interviewed by: Topher Oriel (@topheroriel)