Thief's developers explain why Garrett has a different voice actor
Since it's announcement, Eidos Montreal seem to be playing whack-a-mole with Thief fans - knocking down criticism to every change and feature with their blackjack made of reassurance and blog posts. The latest worry mole, popping up in response to the recent reveal trailer, centred around Garrett's voice, and how regular vocal artist Stephen Russell was no longer performing as the sneaky lead. Thief narrative director Steven Gallagher and audio director Jean-Christophe Verbert explained the move in a community interview.
"Stephen was considered quite heavily. We actually had him in for some preliminary vocal recordings in fact," Gallagher said.
"Yes, it was actually very early during development at that time that we had him involved," Verbert added, "before we made the decision to record our actor’s voices and their movement at the same time using a full performance capture technique."
They go on to explain that Thief's motion capture requires Garrett's actor to perform voice, movements and facial expressions simultaneously, which, according to Verbert, is a benefit to the game's immersion. "Being able to capture the voice at the same time as the actors' movements and facial expressions, all while the actors play off each other, delivers a much more convincing experience than traditional techniques of recording each characters' dialogue separately and then animating everything by hand afterwards."
"With the new visual of Garrett we'd created, we found that there was a disconnect that we couldn't ignore between the concepted character and Stephen’s voice today," Gallagher continued.
"To answer your question directly," Verbert finished, "the actor playing Garrett needed to be able to perform his own stunts. Garrett’s a really athletic guy. We could have pasted Stephen’s voice on top of the actions and stunts of someone else, but this wouldn’t appear natural. It really wouldn’t make any sense to capture the full performance for our other characters, but not for our star."