"We tried to prepare the talent that this isn't a normal voiceover gig,'' said LucasArts voice producer Orion Kellogg. "Normally, actors come into the studio once or twice to record their audio. We've got 16 player characters alone doing tons of dialogue. They know they're coming back. I think they like it because they've been able to grow into their role.''
"Party of Five'' actress Lacey Chabert is among the hundreds of voices within "The Old Republic'' universe. Chabert plays a spunky slicer named Mako, who serves as a companion to players who choose to become a bounty hunter. Chabert, who has voiced dozens of animated characters, said the most challenging part of this role was tackling the sci-fi vocabulary.
"The language within the `Star Wars' universe is filled with words that I did not know how to pronounce,'' said Chabert. "Luckily, the producers have an audio library of planet names and everything `Star Wars' and how it should actually be pronounced. I always had to listen to a reference, and I'd almost always get it wrong the first time.''
Besides the English, German or French spoken in the game, "Old Republic'' features 21 different alien languages. While the sounds of species like the furry Wookies came directly from the LucasArts archives, Beckman said he crafted several new alien languages, finding inspiration from existing and dead real-world languages, as well as audio effects.
"It's a combination of having some idea of where you want to go with it, creating a base language from existing or dead languages, then creating a personality or style for that language and executing it with sound design,'' said Beckman, who also speaks Huttese as blubbery gang leader Nem'ro the Hutt -- among other alien creatures -- in "The Old Republic.''
The daunting amount of dialogue also technically tested "The Old Republic'' developers. They built a new system for organizing the audio, which was recorded in 17 different studios spanning from Los Angeles to London, and created a method of compressing the audio so that it can be easily downloaded by players when they install and update the game.
Visually, when players are gabbing away, a glowing conversation cartoon bubble appears over their avatar's head. When they team up with fellow Republic or Empire devotees and engage in conversations, each player elects a response, but what's actually uttered is randomly selected, and players who win the chance to speak earn extra points.
"It is a big game, and it's going to feel like that when players are installing it,'' said BioWare audio producer Sandee Valle. "More importantly, it's going to feel like that when you get out there and start exploring the world. Hopefully, we're going to be adding to the game regularly with new content and voice work for many, many years to come.''