The Kickstarter-exclusive version of Meriwether fast approaches! (Remember, you get the game before the general public.) We will be updating more frequently in the coming weeks as we prepare to send you the game. Coming soon: action shots of the swag we have for you!
Today, we want to feature our superb voice actor: Ben Britton IS Meriwether Lewis! As we focus on polishing up Meriwether for release, one of the final things to be done is to replace Carlos's placeholder voiceover with the actual recordings. To remind you, we didn’t make our voiceover stretch goal, but we decided we just couldn’t live without at least a little of the color and character that a talented actor can add. So now, between levels, you will hear Lewis describe his state of mind and the state of the Corps as they make their way westward, and then back home.
Click the above clip to hear Meriwether Lewis (as portrayed by Ben Britton) announce, with his typical sense of decorum overrun by the joy of the occasion, that he has succeed in his mission to cross North America.
We asked Ben a few questions about his work as a voice actor in general and specifics about his work on Meriwether. Here's our interview:
1. Tell us a little about yourself: your education, your career, what you do for fun.
Absolutely! I've been acting for a long time, since childhood, and in 1994 I attended NYU's Tisch School of the Arts for Drama. Several years ago I started getting into VO work and I've been doing so ever since. As an avid gamer since back in the Apple II days (we had a IIgs, it was amazing), VO work for games has always been an absolute favorite of mine. The interactive storytelling in modern gaming is almost unmatched by any other medium. It's amazing stuff to work on as an actor.
And as far as what I do for fun: regardless of how booked up the schedule gets, I always try to find at least a little bit of time to get some gaming in. Sometimes on the consoles, sometimes on the PC, sometimes the tabletop. We're huge, huge boardgame fans. You name it, we'll play it.
2. What's the life of an actor and voice-actor like? What are things about the career that no one tells you about?
Generally? Busy, very busy. There's always additional work to be done, scenes to be recorded, audio to prep. It's really, really easy to let yourself get overwhelmed. Finding the right balance can be a bit of a challenge.
I think one thing that doesn't frequently get mentioned about VO work is the sheer amount of time you'll spend in front of a computer. Generally when you think of voice acting, you think of a person going into a booth, recording their lines, and that's the end of it. But in a lot of cases, that's really only half of the equation. As an independent VO artist you're typically your own engineer, director, producer, etc., so you'll find yourself in front of a computer screen, doing things other than performing, for significant amounts of time. Consequently it's important to try and educate yourself in as many facets of the industry as possible. Never be afraid to ask questions, or to start up a conversation with developers and other members of the industry. You never know what it might lead to, and you won't find out unless you take those initial first steps.
3. How did you decide on the kind of voice you wanted to give Meriwether Lewis?
What qualities did you try to impart through him through the voice? Did you need to do any special kind of preparation? The beautiful thing about playing a historical figure like Meriwether Lewis is the vast amount of research data that you have at your disposal. His life, his personality, his time spent on the expedition - it's all documented and chronicled. He seemed like the kind of man who was genuinely in awe of the task ahead of him and his crew, both for the opportunity for scientific discovery, and for the staggering toil that would be involved. But at times he was also deeply burdened by it, by the expectations of the journey. I tried to convey that split whenever possible. He was a complicated man, put in an incredibly daunting position.
Having access to all the historical information and feedback from Josh and the team was unbelievably helpful. I love character research, and all of it was invaluable in finding the proper tone for Lewis.
4. Were there any unexpected challenges you encountered doing the voice-work for this project?
Given the amount of research material and the quality of the team's feedback, there really wasn't much that was unexpected. One small thing I can think of: the names of some of the tribes of that time period. Many of them aren't the kind of words that you'd encounter in a typical conversation, and quite a few of them were pronounced in ways that took me a bit by surprise. Reading them on the page was one thing, but saying them out loud, with the emphasis in the proper place? That was something else entirely. Luckily, Josh and the team were always there to help steer me in the right direction. All in all, it was smooth sailing. The project was an absolute blast to work on.
An experienced actor and graduate of New York University's renowned Tisch School of the Arts, Ben can currently be heard in such videogame titles as 'Project Nimbus' by GameCrafterTeam (PC), 'The Lawless' by The Innocent Devils (iOS/Android), and Indiecade & Develop Award Finalist 'Ether One' by White Paper Games (PC/PS4). Find him at benbrittonvo.com and on Twitter at @BenKBritton.
More soon, folks! As always, thank you for your support.
Carlos, Ben, & the Meriwether Team