Finding Harvey’s Voice

In order to create a truly immersive game, we have to draw users in and make them feel like they are part of something special. One way to do this is to give a voice to our characters, and no character is more important than the main man himself, Lorenzo Dow Harvey! L.D. Harvey is the first character players encounter during their gameplay. He introduces them to the game, informs them of its purpose, and gives them direction. This introduction is arguably the most important aspect of the game because without it, the user would be lost. Since it is so important, we needed to create enticing dialogue and find the perfect voice to play L.D Harvey.

Steven Alm, the voice of Lorenzo Dow Harvey
Steven Alm, the voice of Lorenzo Dow Harvey, in the recording studio

A special dialogue team was created in order to write for L.D Harvey. The team was comprised of Henry Barbee, Lauren Brooker, Nick Goodsell, Jace Johnson, and Sara Westman. While they were in charge of creating Harvey’s words, Professor Kevin Pontuti found the man who performed Harvey’s voice. This is where Steven Alm comes in. Alm is a professional voice actor, musician, and husband to the beloved dean of our college, Maria Alm. Kevin Pontuti was aware of Steven’s past work and knew he could deliver L. D. Harvey’s stern yet endearing voice. The process was simple. Kevin sent Steven the script, and Steven sent back a test recording. After exchanging notes, Steven was able to craft the voice of L. D. Harvey. In two smooth recording sessions, Steven had recorded all of Harvey’s dialogue.

The audio team edited the audio footage and passed it to the animation team—along with accompanying video of Steven’s face that was shot during the recording. Kyle Field painstakingly animated Harvey’s lip and facial movements in synch with the audio, referencing Steven’s natural facial expressions as he performed Harvey’s voice. This lip synched animation is part of the introductory animatic sequence—written and developed by Nick Goodsell, Henry Barbee, Jacob Bloom, and Lauren Brooker—that transitions the user to gameplay from our live action introduction into the game. Bringing Harvey to life has been another satisfying part of the Harvey project. We hope it helps our users to connect with history and immerse themselves in the Harvey world.

Screen Shot from the in-game animatic
Storyboard sketch from the in-game animatic

To witness the product of this hard work, and to get your hands on the game itself come to the Game Launch on May 5th!

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It’s not always sunshine and roses

So far we’ve always been on the ready with exciting updates, new breakthroughs, and professional screenshots. But it’s not always sunshine and roses with the development process. This post is going to be a short bloopers reel to share some of the funny and constant roadblocks that we’ve encountered along the way.

This poor student is supposed to be sitting at a table in the library and studying. Instead, we take screenshots during playtesting and write witty comments.
This poor student is supposed to be sitting at a table in the library and studying. Instead, we take screenshots during playtesting and write witty comments.

The above picture is repeatedly the situation that we have found ourselves in. We make, test, and re-make objects over and over again until we get them right. Sometimes we get errors when handing files from one team to another, or actually implementing them into the Unity game engine. It’s been a bit like herding cats.

Sometimes the objects react in completely unpredictable ways, like the characters’ eyes flinging out of their heads on every second step. Or sometimes the bone structure of the characters just wasn’t implemented in the proper hierarchy, so things get a little bit strange when we test out the animations in the game engine. For better or worse, though, it’s all part of the process of fine tuning all of the characters and animations of the game. We hope you enjoy a few of our struggles along the way.

Character's eyes popping out of the head
In the top photo, this character’s eyes shoot out of her head ever other step; have no fear, though, because they always come back. In the bottom photo, we just have overlapping text.
Just a few hiccups in the animation process
Just a few hiccups in the animation process