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Interview with Dominic Armato
(English dubber of Guybrush Threepwood)
Tentakelvilla: What did you first think when you heard they're making Monkey Island IV?
Dom: Are you kidding? I flipped :-) Recording CMI was, without question, the most enjoyable work I'd ever done, so to say that I was excited about making another would be an understatement of epic proportions. I'll admit that I was also a little surprised. CMI really brought a sense of closure, and it DID round out the series into a standard trilogy, so I thought there was a pretty good chance that LEC would call it quits. Don't get me wrong, though. Personally, I'm hoping we give Friday the 13th a run for its money :-)
Tentakelvilla: How does a day go by in the life of a dubber?
Dom: While working on an LEC project? Well, when there's as much dialogue as there is in a Monkey Island game, it's an eight hour day like any other, but to get the right tone for an MI game, it's important that everything come off fresh and light, so we try not to run ourselves into the ground :-) Even when we're working, though, it's a lot of fun... except when the writers fax in 30 pages of dialogue with two hours left in the last session. Then it's mostly just fast :-) For VO in general, unless you're one of the few fortunate souls who work constantly, the schedule is pretty light. I'll usually head out for an audition about three times a week, and if I land a job or two every month, I'm doing pretty well. Sounds pretty glamorous, I know, and it's true that you have a lot of free time, but it's also true that you're always unemployed :-)
Tentakelvilla: Will you still be the Guybrush if there is a Monkey Island V?
Dom: Well, it wouldn't be my decision to make. If EMI does well and LEC sees fit to keep the series going, I imagine that would be up to the new project leaders whoever they may be. And hey, if somebody else came along who could do Guybrush better justice than I could, I should be big enough to gracefully step aside and wish my successor well... of course, most likely I'd ACTUALLY strip down to my underwear and spend a few days curled up in a fetal position in the broom closet, but we all have our ways of coping, right?
Tentakelvilla: Tell us about which game occupies your mind currently.
Dom: At the moment? EMI. I'm not working on any other games right now, and you'd better believe I'm getting more and more antsy as the release date approaches. You can have all the confidence in the world when it comes to your work, but all the same you can breathe a little easier once some positive reviews come in :-)
Tentakelvilla: Do you support campaigns like "Copy kills Gaming"? (well, look what we've invented, only for that interview ;o) Make they sense to you?
Dom: I'm not familiar with that one in particular, but if it is what I think it is, then I definitely support it. Before I ever had anything to do with video game production, I was an avid gamer, and being on the inside has only served to reinforce what I always believed, which is that piracy hurts the game industry, and in turn, the gamers. I mean, I know most people who copy games aren't malicious, evil people or anything like that... they just love gaming and only have so much money to spend... but even so, it frustrates me to no end that most of them either don't see or choose to ignore the fact that they're contributing to a problem that only ends up hurting them and other gamers in the long run. A game like MI is a perfect example. Adventure games, as much as it breaks my heart to say so, just don't sell as well as FPS or action games, and often they're even more expensive to produce. Sure, in the ideal world, game developers have boatloads of cash to throw into games without having to worry about the bottom line, but they fact is that they need to make their living just like the rest of us. Pirating a game is, to my mind, no better than stealing the box off the store shelf. These people work hard to produce these games for the fans, and they deserve better.
Tentakelvilla: What is your opinion about the current development of the game market?
Dom: These days, I view the gaming industry with reserved optimism. Most exciting is that year by year, the technology just grows by leaps and bounds, and it doesn't show any signs of slowing. I say reserved because good tools still need good craftsmen to produce great works. I think some game designers get caught up in all of the whiz-bang stuff and don't focus enough on solid gameplay and design. Having said that, I also think gaming is poised to experience something of a Renaissance. Back when it was first introduced, film was more like video games are now... more spectacle than substance. There was a time when a film composed entirely of a train coming towards the camera was enough to pack the house. But over time, people began to see film less as the spectacle in and of itself, and more as a new tool for expressing creative visions, and it evolved into the artistic medium that it is today. Granted, the E3 fare is no Citizen Kane just yet, but I sense that people are really just starting to grasp the potential that interactive entertainment has. I think the time is ripe for some forward thinking designers to take gaming from quarter-plunking entertainment to interactive, immersive fine art. I can only hope I'm not wrong in this assessment :-)
Tentakelvilla: Which is the better angle in adventure games in your opinion? 2D or 3D? Are there positives or negatives, if you compare both?
Dom: You know, I couldn't really take sides on this one. This debate seems awfully similar to the one that surfaced when the original Toy Story was released. Some hailed it as the bright future of all animation, and some saw it as the soulless harbinger of doom for the 2D cartoon. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I think we can all agree that neither is the case. Both styles have their own feel and charm, and are currently not only peacefully coexisting, but even complementing each other quite well. Do I think 3D has a place in adventure games? Absolutely. Do I think it has a place in the Monkey Island series? Well, it's hard to say with any certainty right now. 3D adventure games are quite new, and I think LEC is doing the right thing by experimenting and pushing the envelope. Might we look back three or four years from now and decide that 2D really is the way to go for this type of game? Could be. But there's only one way to truly find out, and you never know... once the technology has had a chance to grow up a bit, we may never want to go back.
Tentakelvilla: What are your favorite adventure games?
Dom: Well, the ones I've gotten to work on, of course :-) But if I have to disqualify those, I'd have to go with the original two MI games, Grim Fandango and the first Gabriel Knight. The MI games because they're so much fun, Grim Fandango because it's just soooooooo classy... and Gabriel Knight for being the adventure game that, in my experience, has come the closest to believably bringing a cinematic level of drama to some of its characters. I think it was still limited by the technology at the time... it's tough to become immersed in a story when you're looking at pixels the size of bricks... but there were moments in that game that were very genuine, and for a video game, especially at that time, to reach that level of drama was quite remarkable.
Tentakelvilla: Are there funny stories of recording sessions you'd like to tell us? And remember, you've got A LOT of time to answer ;o)
Dom: Well, probably one of the more amusing parts for everybody else, anyway, was listening to me ATTEMPT to sound like Barry White whenever Guybrush dropped into his "picking up wenches" voice. I mean, I like to think I have a decent amount of range as a voice actor, but I just wasn't born with those kinds of pipes :-) By the end of the month, though, we had fallen upon a system that seemed to work fairly well. If we came across one of those lines in the script, we'd use a post-it note to mark it as a BWPU (Barry White Pick Up), and save it for the next day. When I woke up the next morning, I wouldn't speak a word until I got to the studio, I'd chug a couple of Yoo-hoos (a chocolate drink with the consistency of motor oil, for those overseas), sing a few lines of "I Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe" and then go straight to the microphone to record. Lemon tea and water may do wonders to clear your throat, but when you want as much gunk as possible, reach for the Yoo-hoo.
Tentakelvilla: Okay, thank you very much for that nice interview.
© by Die Tentakelvilla, 2000