We're a couple of weeks away from our release date, and we've just finished recording the last of the voice acting, which means it's a good time to tell you about the actors!
The Witness deliberately riffs on several traditional elements of game design, and one of those elements is the classic audio log, where you are wandering along and you find a recording that was placed there by someone before. The Witness has recordings like this, but let's just say they are done in a highly non-traditional way. When you first encounter them you won't find much in the way of answers, but, if you keep looking, you will eventually be able to piece together what's going on.
These are the folks whose fine voicework you will hear in these recordings:
Ashley Johnson, who you may know as Ellie from The Last of Us, or from her roles in Tales from the Borderlands and Infamous First Light. She also plays the smartest person on the hit TV show Blindspot. You can find Ashley on Twitter.
Phil LaMarr, who I best know as Marvin from Pulp Fiction, but who you may know as Vamp in Metal Gear Solid 2 and 4, or as Ratbag from Shadow of Mordor. He also played Hermes in Futurama and Ollie Williams in Family Guy! You can follow his random musings here.
Matthew Waterson, who played very English person Sir Lucan in The Order: 1886, an has recently acted in Fallout 4 and Halo 5. Check out Matthew's amazing Sean-Connery-themed profile picture.
Terra Deva, an oft-performing musician, including recent hit single "At Night" with the swiss group Shakedown (though she doesn't play music in The Witness because we don't have music in The Witness! She is acting!) and veteran of... The Mickey Mouse Club!!!! (Among many other places!) Terra's Twitter page is here.
We recorded these sessions at Warner Bros. Studios. Our voice director was Liam O'Brien, who has also done quite a bit of acting in games himself. Pierce O'Toole acted as the great force of organization throughout the process and many things would have gone worse were it not for him!
Having said all this, I will warn you that the story in The Witness, such as it is, is fairly subtle and happens mostly implicitly. You really have to explore and read between the lines to know what's going on. So do not expect a traditional game story like The Last of Us or The Order! All that said, we are very happy to have these actors lending their talents to our game, and I look forward to release when you'll see what we've been up to.
What an excellent team! Cannot wait to hear their voice talents in the game, however they may appear. Every time I read a blog post here, I’m totally blown away by the level of quality and precision that is devoted to every aspect of the game, and that is no different here. Thanks, Jonathan, for that dedication. I cannot wait to play this game.
I didn’t think it was possible to be more excited about this game.
I’m so ready for this game. My bones are aching to play. Counting down the days. And I think the choice of sound design in this game is going to big. When you first released the trailer at playstation experience I love the track you played. But I know this game is going to be great. Has a price for the game been announced yet. I no it ha mores playability the most triple A titles so I’m buying it not matter how much it cost. But I’m just curious. If u had to guess I would say 19.99.
I’m curious as well.
But it’s not exactly important of whether I’ll find it worth it, but more how does the team expect to make the most money of it.
Compared to other games I’d expect it to easily be worth it’s money, and just as important, worth you time.
I think a more reasonable price would be £34.99 (that was what The Talos Principle cost in the UK anyway and this game is a similar genre with I’m guessing similar production values). It’s worth at least that but I’d pay over £50 for this particular game.
Given how well-thought out and complex the puzzle mechanics in Braid were, I suspect the Talos Principle comparisons will prove rather superficial once the Witness finally arrives. While I enjoyed elements of Talos, the puzzle design seemed to lean rather heavily on juggling tools around the various arenas’ obstacles and switches, which was ultimately a fairly shallow learning curve. Braid seems exponentially more complex in its design, being one of the few puzzle games I can think of where the mechanics as a whole work to alter your perception of the puzzles as you progress, so that later levels introduce thought patterns that will suddenly illuminate earlier puzzles you’ve struggled with, even though the mechanics involved are different.
I can’t even begin to understand how difficult that sort of thing is to design, let alone to marry it so cleverly to a layered narrative, but if The Witness has even a fraction of Braid’s design smarts, there wont be anything quite like it or quite as expansive in the puzzle game canon. And that surely earns them the right to price it accordingly.
You got Phil LaMarr? Awesome. His work on Futurama is top notch.
Will the next blog post be announcing the price? :)
I understand games getting delays being fine and quick to defend the witness for years but a price would be nice. I’m fine with $60. Seven years, $60, just tell me because it’s two weeks away is all I’m saying
And here I was thinking you might run out of money towards the end of development, but you still got Ellie and Samurai Jack for the voice cast!
Can’t wait. Can’t wait.
Well done, Jon! Very interested in seeing (or I suppose, hearing) how these fine talents have been put to good use. For whatever reason I was expecting a monologue more like Dear Esther, so a multi-character cast is especially intriguing :-).
It won’t be long now…
I was thinking something similar. In fact, my first reaction before the reveal of the actors was: “Okay, lemme guess. Is it a 30-something white guy?”
Number one: I was surprised there was more than one voice actor.
Number two: Wow. So nice to have a diverse voice cast.
Not saying that Thekla would have gone with a “Nolan North” in a single male voiceover role, but the level of thought they’ve put in is actually pretty impressive.
Nolan north has a contract that requires him to have at least one line in every game made since 2005, so trust me… He is in there somewhere.
10 more days till release. Can’t wait.
I was wondering what the Price range for the final will be.
Cant wait for the wait game to come out
Day 1 PS4 and Steam purchase here no matter the price! I remember playing Braid on my crappy 2008 laptop in Colombia. My girlfriend at the time thought it looked silly. I showed her where I was rewinding time and then the former me was doing stuff as a shadow and how I was blown away at how cool it was. She said it was Black magic and that I shouldn’t keep playing. I laughed having seen Jon in some videos and knowing he was far from a satanist, probably… Anyway, I connected with Braid in a way I had never connected to a game before, and haven’t since. The novelty and brilliance in a little platformer was awesome. I remember going to the Witness page for the first time and thinking how I couldn’t wait. Well, I’ve checked this blog weekly since then and have enjoyed imagining what the hell this game is going to be. That girlfriend is now my wife and she thinks I’m crazy having talked about this game for the past 7 years. She saw me playing Talos and was like, you waited that long for this as she saw my shadow doing things in that game. I said, no babe, this is a pretty cool knock off, but the real game is yet to come. T minus 12 days and I’m really stoked to finally play this game. For all those that have waited patiently, Thanks Thekla for taking the time to create something special for all of us! Here’s to making lots of cash to continue your pursuit of making excellent novel masterpieces for the masses to enjoy! Cheers!
I love Phil LaMarr! He always had me in stitches on MADtv
For all the people asking about price: How would you feel if it was $60?
I wouldn’t mind spending a lot more than $60 on The Witness.
Would absolutely love if it were $60. Front page news if it were $60, indie game with gorgeous cell shaded graphics, seven year development, and a reputable voice cast. Worth $60 and if I see it for anything less I know I got a great deal, but the game is set to release in two weeks. We need to be told what’s going on, this is not like game delay whiners or hurry up after five years, no those people are bastards. I am not being a bastard I am asking to know how much I’ll be paying in less than two weeks. If it’s over $80 so be it just don’t leave us hanging.
I guess the argument is $50-$60 but seriously make a statement, I only see it the way of PR
We don’t know the economics, like how many people can Jon count on buying the game at a given price to revenue the costs and such…
50$-60$ bucks is simply too much. Most of the indie game audience might have the money, but is not used to such a price.
The best Example for this is The Talos Principle imo.
I remember not buying The Talos Principle at release, mostly cause it cost 40$. In the end the (small) gameplay flaws made it not worth 40$, but the development costs needed a high price for it, maybe. If The Witness is that good and doesn’t lack the density of good gameplay like Talos Principle, 40 $ seems as an ideal price to me.
In addition 40$ would send a message to gamers, that indie games can do such high cost production at this high price without seeming too pretentiousfor trying to be the same as AAA titles with a 50-60$ (sry about this word of choice, lack of vocabulary) . Even if The Witness will be the most awesome game in the history, it is still no AAA title by production cost (usually 10-100 millions).
I think Jon was right back then to charge 15$ for Braid. It was the right signal in the right time, now, he might be able to do that again for sake of gaming.
Make the game $60 problem solved, all of them. The game is worth $60 they just got 8 articles now let’s get more with a $60 price tag. This should be done yesterday game is less than two weeks away. “(Maybe it’s $80)”
To be fair my point is the point of marketing and if they want to say the game cost $30:00 or 39:99 max but wait a few days that’s big because anything under $60 is a steal. So I can see anything that helps the game
First game in years I’d spend that blindly on really. If the experience is only comparable in the richness of Braid it’s easily worth it.
Dark Souls is what comes to mind with the subtle story one has to piece together in a creative effort. I’m happy to see this concept again.
Audio logs are great, I find that the brain often has open capacity for speech while doing other tasks. It will be interesting to compare this to The Talos Principle (seems to be the most similar game), Bioshock or Infinifactory.
I’m also happy there is no soundtrack to The Witness. Again few games do this, and it’s a powerful concept. Makes you focus on the sounds that much more. And soundtracks are limited in their effects, at some point the music gets old.
Can’t wait for The Witness since a few years, this will be a major cultural event!
Wow, that’s a great group of voice artists!
A totally unrelated question, though: What, if any, measures have you guys taken to combat motion sickness to help those of us who suffer from it when playing first person games?
In anticipation of The Witness, I recently bought The Talos Principle and was happy to find out that it has specific settings to reduce motion sickness. I have found them to be pretty effective, especially as they effectively turn it into a 3rd person game. Depending on the title and the engine, I can usually play a first person game for between 15-45 minutes before having to stop due to overwhelming nausea. Talos Principle I can play for about two to three hours in one sitting.
Because of motion sickness, I don’t really play first person games, but with The Witness I’m ready to suffer, if that’s what it takes. That said, it would of course be nice if my later memory of the game was the content and not me on the floor curled up into a ball and trying not to throw up!
So, I’m just curious what to expect, either at the time of release or in later patches. I know I’m not the only one.
Talos made me a bit dizzy too, funny how I never really had a problem before 60 fps 1080p. I could play super Mario 64 for days without motion sickness, but I couldn’t even play kill zone when I got my ps4…
That’s interesting. There are of course huge differences between those two titles, so it could be due to a number of reasons. One is that Mario 64 is a third person game and Killzone is a first person title. For many who suffer from motion sickness, there is a huge difference between the two. One reason is that third person titles tend to have a larger field of view. Another is that you can fix your gaze at the character, which helps a lot.
There was actually a study about a year ago which suggested that one way to combat motion sickness in VR games is to add a virtual nose to the player’s field of view. I have been thinking about testing this with non-VR first person games by just taping a cardboard “nose” onto my TV.
Other ways to combat motion sickness are to drop graphics quality to the highest setting that your system can handle without any skipped frames, but not less. Enable v-sync. Remove any sort of blurring or graining or “film” effects. Slow down your camera’s turning speed. And when turning, don’t look at the world, or look at it sideways or only with one eye fixed at one spot. It’s a bit of black magic sometimes.
The game or engine also plays a huge role. Personally, I have had very few problems with the Halo titles, which are pretty much the only first person titles that I can play for hours, not that I’m a big genre fan. As far as I can see, the reason for this is the way those games and their controls are optimised, which feels natural for my brain. Their colour palette probably helps as well, as the Halo titles are clear and visual information is easy to read. At the other end of the spectrum, anything made with Valve’s source engine gets me sick pretty fast. The worst experience so far though was with Dead Island, which got me to the brink of actually vomiting in about 5 minutes. Just thinking about the game now makes me a bit nauseous.
This is awesome news. Congrats team on making it into the homestretch, and congrats to everyone who frequents these boards, we’ve almost made it! haha.
My question is, I don’t know if you guys have much of a say in this or if it’s really just up to the PSN store/Steam, but do you guys know when the game will go live for download? Like will it be available midnight nationwide, or (fingers crossed!!) midnight on the east coast, and we on the west coast can start downloading it at 9 on Monday night? Or will it just be sometime Tuesday morning or afternoon?
On a related note, will we be able to pre-download the day before so we can start playing as soon as it unlocks?
Doubt it, but the game is only 4 GB installed.
The standard release time is 10 am PST.
release is now only 7 days away. hope to hear more about the game soon. but I honestly expect it to be delayed.
Don’t get me wrong, I definitely recognize in you a brother in the art of pessimism, but even I have to say that that seems unlikely. I think if they realized something like that at this point, they would tell us right away rather than tell us the night before release. At WORST, I would think maybe if adding the new voices was more work than they had expected, we might have to wait like an extra week? But doubtful.
Am I the only one noticing he starts his blog post with the words “We’re a couple of week s away from our release date”. This suggests to me that release indeed is going to be delayed. If release was going as planned, he would have said “a coulple of days” is my assumption. Would be a shame, but concidering there are no prices available yet and no signal of an actual physical copy of the game available for purchase, I kinda feel like a delay is highly possible.
Uh…I believe the date on the post is the 11th, so…a couple of weeks, ~14 days, puts it right at scheduled release. Just clarifying! :) also, 5 days until release, SO EXCITED!
They’ve finished all subtitles yesterday according to Jonathan Blow’s Twiter.
Be patient guys it’s coming.