How a debuting indie studio got The Witcher's Geralt of Rivia to voice its trailer

A "shot in the dark" that landed one of the most distinctive voices in videogames.

When indie outfit Poetic Studio set out to design the first trailer for its debut venture Sacred Fire, it earmarked four key criteria that would help make it a success. In their eyes, the first video would: show off the game's "innovative gameplay in multiple scenes telling a short story"; be under 60 seconds long; create a "wow effect", which would in turn help build a community; and use voiceover to link scenes and communicate the RPG's narrative.

To help ascertain that last part, Poetic Studio successfully sought the services of Doug Cockle—whose deep and dulcet tones you probably recognise from The Witcher series. 

Similar to David Hayter's instantly recognisable charismatic narration, Cockle's gravitas is perfect for RPG scene-setting, which comes across well in the short above. Poetic's Martin Kolesar has since written a detailed breakdown of the process of creating a trailer over on Gamasutra

Inspired by the likes of The Banner Saga and Darkest Dungeon, Kolesar outlines the rigorous process of drawing storyboards, crafting first drafts, communicating the game's story, finalising voiceover scripts and running auditions. During the latter phase Kolestar explains how Poetic landed Geralt to voice the trailer.   

"We were running auditions at Voices.com and 123voice.com, [and] we came across an article about Troy Baker called ‘Good games are worth more than money to voice actors’ which inspired us to dream big," he says. "So Andrej sent a few emails to our favorite voice actors, Doug Cockle, the voice of Geralt of Rivia from The Witcher series, among them. He described to him what we were working on and asked him if he would like to record the voiceover."

Kolesar explains this was a "shot in the dark" and that after a couple of days without word, they assumed Cockle wasn't interested. Two days before deadline, however, Cockle did respond, expressing interest in Sacred Fire and his desire to work alongside Poetic.

Kolesar continues: "Not only we thought that his voice would work well with our teaser, but we are huge Witcher fans. Growing up in the 90’s in eastern Europe and reading the Wiedzmin short stories by Andrzej Sapkowski was one of the things that inspired Andrej to be a writer. So this is a very special dream come true.

"The following day Doug recorded a voiceover from his laptop and after a quick feedback on Monday (the day of our deadline) he sent us the final version recorded in a studio. Doug is an experienced voice actor and we were extremely satisfied with the his voiceover."   

Kolesar's Gamasutra piece offers some really interesting insights into the creative process of trailer creation, and is worth reading in its entirety. Sacred Fire is a ways away from launch yet, however has its sights set on Steam Greenlight and Kickstarter success in the new year. More information on it can be found via the game's site.