Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Day Sixteen: About Voices

Posted by Nicolas (permalink)

Among the most popular questions that were asked during the last two weeks, there's the question were people ask us how we did to record more than 400 lines of speech and if we included a bit of humor inside the game. Now that the release is near, I feel that we can talk a bit more about this part of the development.

To be honest, we didn't record these lines ourselves, we used voice synthesis. But don't take us wrong, we didn't used crappy microsoft voice synthesis, or this kind of things. We used a professional tool from a very important company of this sector. Now, you may ask us, why did we used voice synthesis, and not real actors to make the voices of our NPCs. The answer is quite simple, because of the time, the organization and the equipment that it requires.

Level 01

Firstly, the scripts were never really fixed, they suffered a lot of changes, even until the end of the development (and even now). With real actors I should have gave them the script once it was fixed, and this situation was too long to reach. We could not wait until the end of the development process to record voices because there were still four hundred and fifty lines of dialogue to record.

Secondly, as I am both a student and an employee in real life, I did not have enough time to manage a team of people solely dedicated to voices. As there were four hundred and fifty lines of dialogue and voice synthesis would quickly generate them, this is why I choosed this system. Once the scripts written, I simply had to copy the lines in the software, launch a mass audio processing on the generated sounds and it gave me the dialogues.

Finally, audio recording requires to have quality microphones and sound cards that we do not own. This is also why we choosed voice synthesis. Now, to prove you that these voices are not as crappy as the ones you may have heared in the past, here's a sample taken from the game:

We had to choose between fewer voices, recorded with our voices and our french accent, and this voice synthesis software which was providing really good results. The choice was fairly easy. Sorry if you're a bit disappointed.

29 comment(s)


 September 30, 2008 11:00 PM, Anonymous Sephiroth* said :
I'm not disappointed at all...this sounds really good...I'm pretty sure now that I won't suffer from hearing bad voices during the game.
great work!
maybe you could tell us in the near future the filesize of the whole mod ^^

 September 30, 2008 11:16 PM, Blogger Marc said :
Hello Nico,
Did you find a correct voice synthesis software for french voices too ?

I hope this Portal prelude experience will bring you a lot of opportunities !

Good luck !

 September 30, 2008 11:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said :
they sound awesome!

Thumbs up from me!

 September 30, 2008 11:43 PM, Blogger Nicolas said :
The mod approximately weights 1.3 GB uncompressed. Inside the installed, fully compressed, it weights somewhere around 800-850 MB.

 October 1, 2008 12:14 AM, Anonymous Ryan said :
This is sounding so great! I'm getting so excited, the anticipation is going to kill me.

 October 1, 2008 12:47 AM, Anonymous ED said :
Voices sound great! This is gonna be good. And will take a few hours to download. But it's worth the wait.
Remember, Launch Day (Orange Box's birthday) is also Talk Like a Turret Day!

 October 1, 2008 1:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said :
Could you guys let me know hwo you got the custom voice to sound almost liek GLaDOS? I mean What did you use and where can i get it ;)

 October 1, 2008 1:23 AM, Anonymous Sephiroth* said :
ah ok thx for the information Nicolas ^^

though I estimated something around 2 gb ^^

 October 1, 2008 1:27 AM, Blogger Manny said :
What software did you use for the voice synthesis? It sounds really good.

 October 1, 2008 3:26 AM, Blogger Marcus said :
Those voices sound great! It would be cool if the background music in the first one made it into the game too! No disappointment here, those voices suit the feel and mood of Portal very well.

 October 1, 2008 9:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said :
yeah, nice voices, but how is the programm called you made it with?

 October 1, 2008 10:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said :
Really awesome! your work can be an inspiration to many people! (i hope a spanish voices :P) thanks seriously!

 October 1, 2008 12:41 PM, Blogger Lionel said :
I'd like french voices.... are they sure that the software they mentioned can't make french voices for dubbing?
Anyway, looks like great work.
Anyway, I'm looking forward this mod's release ^^

 October 1, 2008 12:50 PM, Blogger Nicolas said :
For the moment, only english voices are greatly supported by Text To Speech software. French voices are OK, but not that great neither. Other voices doesn't even have enought tones to voice all of our NPCs.

 October 1, 2008 2:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said :
It sounds FANTASTIC!
Cant wait :)

 October 1, 2008 3:44 PM, Anonymous Niko Kruzel (AKA nikoPSK) said :
Sounds great!

 October 1, 2008 4:49 PM, Blogger Christopher said :
Great work!

I'll be waiting for this mod :D

 October 1, 2008 6:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said :

Definitely not disappointed. Plus being Canadian, I "love" the French accent.


 October 1, 2008 9:48 PM, Blogger Nick said :
Synthesized voices makes this even cooler, actually. I'm the opposite of disappointed!

 October 2, 2008 12:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said :

 October 2, 2008 1:29 AM, Blogger dady5000 said :

I also love the touch of the classic Scorpions song "Rock Me Like a Hurricane".

 October 2, 2008 3:42 AM, Anonymous Hak said :
There are some hardware synths that do a really good job of a Portal voice, too.

Anyway, the voices sound good to me.

 October 2, 2008 9:36 AM, Anonymous Idle Threats and Bad Poetry said :
I've been reading the comments and... I mean, you guys seem pleased and positive and all, BUT THE LAST VOICE SOUNDED LIKE GlaDOS!!! I mean, GlaDOS!!!! That's freakin' awesome!

I've been so sick and tired of map makers reusing the same lines from Portal. A while back, I recommend someone use TTS to make a faux-GlaDOS voice, even if it didn't sound remotely like her... But this voice SOUNDED LIKE GlaDOS!!!

Stating the obvious, I'm inordinately excited about this now.

 October 2, 2008 8:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said :
So does anyone know the software used for the voices? Really want ot look into it for one of my uni projects.

 October 3, 2008 7:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said :
Yup, in Sunny Sydney and I cant wait til next week for this game.

The voices work brilliantly.
Theres something about French scientists in a lab environment that just works!

Keep up the good work!

 October 4, 2008 11:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said :
Wow, tge voices sound great.

For all the guys asking:
I think they used software from acapela group, which is really good

 October 4, 2008 1:52 PM, Anonymous Spliter said :
The voices sound great to me, and GLADos really sounds (well, almost) like herself ;) Really great job on them!
Actually I was afraid you would use voice actors since most of them... well so far I didn't see many good ones in mods...
I can't wait for the game ;)

 October 10, 2008 10:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said :
Great job guys! Loving the game, however, one comment on the voices. I know they're voice synthesis and eveything, but in my opinion, they're not quite perfect. I've seen a few gramatical errors in there, and the voices don't seem to show much emotion. But don't worry! Loving the game! Tricky at times, but that's hardly a bad thing!

 January 13, 2010 6:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said :
I think the fact he hasn't answered anyone as to what voice synth should give everyone a clue...
Play through portal and watch the credits or research the game and you'll see what voice synth that team used...RETAIL voice synth. I forgot the name but their site allows you "Demo" all there voices with a text box (Using that on my project teehee) Anyway good job on your projects guys.

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