What is Wes Voicing?

The Gaming Liberty has published a two-part interview with Wes plus a short article from Wes, himself. Click these links to read 'em:
Interview: Part 1
Interview: Part 2
"Voices in My Head"

Fresh Victims video clips - click to see 'em! Wes is the voice of The Caps - read about it!

Shiver Me Timbers!

Oblivion: Knights of the Nine

In the Shivering Isles, Madness awaits

For months, I'd been sitting on a secret.

A portal was about to open to the Shivering Isles. A portal to the Daedric realm of the Mad God Sheogorath. Beyond the portal lay madness, mania and dementia. I knew it was coming, but did I warn anyone? Nooooooooooooo! I kept my big mouth shut, and then on March 27th, it happened.

The Shivering Isles went on sale!

The Elder Scrolls: Shivering Isles is the first, and possible only expansion to the best selling game The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion (if you've visited these pages before, you already know about Oblivion). A number of months ago, shortly after completing work on Knights of the Nine, I returned to the Bethesda Game Studios to start work on various character voices for this expansion. The first recordings were done at Absolute Pitch Studios in Bethesda, and we focused on characters who wandered through the madness of the Shivering Isles. A suicidal warrior, a mad torturer, various guards and mad citizens. It was a great time, and I was thrilled to be working with Mark Lampert and Mark Nelson. The Marks were in great form, and with Jason Tait on the sound board, we rolled through pages and pages of madness.

From the left, Alexandra Souder, Mark Nelson, Jason Tait, Wes and Mark Lampert huddle after a session at Absolute Pitch Studios in Bethesda.

A few days later, I got a call from Dagmar and Mandy at Central Casting. Mark Lampert wanted me to come into the studios at Bethesda Games Studios itself. He sent me a script. A few pages of dialogue for a character named Sheogorath, the Daedric Mad God whose psychosis helped create everything in the Isles. This was fun stuff. In order to bone up for it, I started watching tapes of Billy Connelly. I LOVE Billy Connolly. If you've never seen this man's stand-up, head to You Tube right now and sample him. He is a scream.

Sean + Leprechaun + Billy


But I couldn't just copy Billy. Or my hero Sean Connery. Not even my Irish friends down at the Irish Channel in Washington, DC. Markus and Tom have wonderfully lyrical Irish accents, but this had to be something slightly different from all of those. Slightly Scottish brogue. Slightly lilting Irish. The spirit of funny Connolly and scary Connery, but not actually either one. Crazy, other worldy, funny and yet dangerous. All over the place, and yet not a mess. A tall order. So I played with it for a bit, and then headed to the labyrinths of Bethesda Softworks.

Fred Zeleny escorts Wes past the high security at Bethesda Game Studios. Yes, he is that tall!
Mark Nelson and Mark Lampert were waiting. This time it was Mark Lampert at the sound board, and Mark Nelson coaching in inflections and letting me know my motivations for each read. ("You like sweetrolls! And you want one BAD!") I've long been a fan of the Elder Scrolls, so it was a blast when Mark Nelson took me around the corner during a break to peak at Sheogorath on a workscreen, preening in all his pre-gold glory. There he was, holding his cane and moving in a way I had never seen an NPC act before in Oblivion. Then he opened his mouth, and he sounded just like... Mark! The Devs use voice scratch tracks for animators to work with, and I was listening to one now. It wasn't bad, really. I'm glad I got the chance to put my own spin on it. Or it could have been Mark Nelson, Mad God.

Mark Lampert, at the helm in the Bethesda Sound Batcave.
One of the exciting things for me about doing Sheogorath was that Jeff Baker, a man I used to be in a comedy troupe with years back had already recorded the voice of Haskill, Sheogorath's Man Friday. Jeff is a terrific voice talent, and was returning to The Elder Scroll series after voicing the wonderfully raspy Dunmer Elves for The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Listening to his haughty English Butler voice made me laugh out loud, as did much of the dialogue I was given to perform. Using intestines to skip rope, hankering for a hunk o' brain pie and ruminating about cheese, sweetrolls and death were just a few of the Mad God's musings.

Okay, I said this shot was from KOTN, but it was actually a Shivering Isles session.  But I couldn't tell you about that THEN!
From manic to casual, from royal charmer to raving lunatic, Sheogorath was a dream role, and I haven't had so much fun voicing a character for this series since Lucien Lachance.  I hadn't ended up that hoarse since the Gladiator Arena Announcer sessions!  Great fun.  All the sessions were.  If this is truly the last expansion for Oblivion, I will miss it terribly.

Shivering Isles was a blast to work on. As vibrant as the dialogue was, it is nothing compared to the Lewis G. Carroll technicolor world that the artists at Bethesda put together for this expansion, which adds over 30 hours of delirious, mad fun to the game. If you have half the fun playing it as I did voicing it... well, get the straight jacket ready. All I know is that I'll be calling in sick to work tomorrow. A lot of people will. "Sheogorath's disease" is spreading. This madness? It's contagious.



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