Back in the mid-90s, just before I discovered MMOs and thereby lost my fingernail grip on popular culture, at least for a while, I used to watch a quirky animated t.v, show called Daria. You may have heard of it. Apparently it was kind of a big deal. Not that we knew.
As I recall it was on Channel Four, possibly on a Sunday afternoon. I didn't watch it a whole lot but I liked it well enough. I particularly enjoyed the flat, deadpan delivery of the lead character, Daria Morgendoffer.
Around the same time the show was running, I was beginning to get back into video gaming after a few years' break. In 1997, I think it must have been, I'd bought a PC with my redundancy money, ostensibly with the intention of writing a novel. That never really panned out but inevitably some games got bought and among them was the original Baldur's Gate.
I'd scarcely begun playing before I discovered it was possible to swap both the character portraits and the characters' voices for custom versions. After a few experiments with making my own I took a look at some of the many versions floating about online and there I came across one that replaced the player character's entire repertoire of sayings and exclamations with lines from Daria. That's how I came to play through the whole of Baldur's Gate as "a smart, snarky, sensitive teenage girl", to quote the Daria wiki.
This is also, surely, one of the primary reasons the first Baldur's Gate remains the only BioWare RPG I have ever - unequivocally - loved. The sardonic tone of these short clips (voice-acted by Tracy Grandstaff with admirable lack of affect) brought an astringency to the fantasy setting that undercut the sometimes ponderous self-importance of the narrative. Plus it made me laugh. Every time.
They say that once something's on the internet it'll be there until the heat death of the universe but if the original soundset I downloaded is still around then my google-fu isn't good enough to find it. I believe this clip features one of the soundbites it used. I'm sure I remember hearing my bard saying "I'm the Misery Chick" about ten thousand times over the course of the campaign.
All of which brings me to my point (and yes, I do have one, thanks). Earlier in the day I made a new Square Enix account and patched up FFXIV to take advantage of the new, improved endless free trial. No doubt I'll get around to posting about that in due course but for now I just want to mention the character voice samples.
In common with almost all Eastern MMOs, FFXIV offers you a choice of voices for your characters. You can have all kinds of squealing, grunting, yelping, groaning or giggling. The range runs the usual gamut from hysteria to...well, more hysteria. If you want anything more nuanced, though, well you're kinda outta luck as Lana Del Rey might say (Now there's an idea...Lana as the voice of your Miqo'te. That's a cash shop killer if ever I heard of one. I'll give you that one for free, Square, just make it happen).
Actually, it's not even fair to pick on Eastern MMOs. I've been playing a lot of LotRO of late and my Dwarf there can't go two seconds in a fight without growling or yelling "yaaarghh!" like a drunken pirate. It's really quite distracting.
GW2 has a seldom-mentioned function that allows you to replace any or all of the in-game music files with your own selections culled from your no doubt extensive and eclectic library of math rock and hair metal. If that can be a thing then why not voices?
I'm guessing that just about all MMO sound files are client-based, even when the character spouting the nonsense isn't my own. When I hear some passing mesmer boasting how she can run faster than a centaur, presumably that's the game triggering a sample that's already installed on my PC, so why couldn't it trigger a sample of my choice instead?
There doesn't seem to me to be any technical reason this couldn't be a standard add-on for games that allow such things. Maybe it is and I just haven't noticed. Oh boy, I hope so!
If not then someone better get right on it. I don't even mind if I have to cull and compile my own samples. I'm hearing voices already...