After opening a studio earlier this year at Vault501 in Santa Monica, Creative Dialogue Tool’s Mark Estdale takes Develop through exactly what CDT is:

Tools Spotlight: Creative Dialogue Tools

PRODUCT: Creative Dialogue Tools

  • Script Writing
  • Recording and Localisation
  • QA for Dialogue 

What is Creative Dialogue Tools?

CDT (Creative Dialogue Tools) is a suite of audio and production tools designed to overcome the ‘sample music syndrome’ of game dialogue. CDT helps those who want to achieve truly subtle voice performance in games.

What are its main features?

The main CDT element is ‘the player’ which is about contextual precision. It is used three ways: to give context to performance during voice recording, for QA and for localisation. Two click production analysis gives a detailed production overview from the script, giving accurate schedule and costing information.

Overall CDT enables hassle free production of contextually QA’d dialogue before it gets in game. Used correctly it can make for zero error delivery. An early version of the tools stripped two months off a developer’s dialogue integration and QA process.

Why did you create these specifically for dialogue?

I’m a dialogue producer running a production company. I want to produce great work with ease. For quality in performance the key is context, for quality and cost saving in production the key is preparation. I designed CDT to make both elements easy.

Most game dialogue scripts are a sterile Excel sheet and recording is with a director guiding the actor from line to line and marking good takes. It’s the dumbest production method out there. It’s like hiring the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to play a symphony one note at a time then using Cubase to combine the samples.

Standard game voice recording methods strip the soul out of what actors can bring. CDT, by bringing precise context to every moment, enables actors to bring the subtle magnificence of their craft to games. 

Easy to use simple tools that clearly reduce stress and simplify the job at hand help make change palatable. 
Mark Estdale

Why was it important to encompass the whole dialogue creation process?

I wanted to kick into touch the idea that it takes a voice actor to be a voice actor in a game. How could I enable an actor at the height of their craft, that can move my soul on stage or screen, to be just as powerful in a game? Most people want better performance in their game.

So it made sense to address elements of the whole production chain and deal with headache points getting the script into a coherent database for the game engine or into a contextual shape for recording, post and localisation. Easy to use simple tools that clearly reduce stress and simplify the job at hand help make change palatable.

How does CDT integrate with other audio/game development tools/pipelines?

CDT locks with Excel as it serves as a universal conduit for game scripts, data and game databases. Parts of CDT link to third party audio software for audio analysis, QA, mastering and editing. As a toolset it’s modular and customisable, so we tailor it for each of the developers and publishers we work with.

For us the player is the core CDT tool for the Game Immersive Voice Recording (GIVR) methodology. We’ve now built three GIVR studios at OMuk in London and last month we completed building the first GIVR studio in the US. All the studios are open to anyone to come and see what CDT and GIVR can do.

What titles has this been used in or tested on?

Telltale Games were the first developer to use a prototype of the tools when recording Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Adventures. Elements were also used on The Wolf Among Us and their Game of Thrones series. Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse was the first UK game to make full use of GIVR/CDT, so we were delighted that it won the 2014 AGGIE for Best Voice Acting. Driver San Francisco famously delivered 300,000 words of recorded dialogue in 6 weeks without bug or need for pickup.

How will you be enhancing/ evolving CDT in future?

We are working on a script writing element and are looking at ways in which CDT integrates with audio software, middleware like WWISE and FMOD, and with game engines. We’re also considering investment and partnerships. Our focus is not just on improving the tools but also on showing people what they can achieve by following a different production methodology.

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