Bryce Dallas Howard, Seth Gabel Voice Star in Video Game ‘Maquette’ (Exclusive)
“It’s about a relationship that ultimately doesn’t work,” Howard tells The Hollywood Reporter, “but it’s not a tragedy in any way, shape, or shape.” There is no villain in the game, she says, instead what follows are two people who have been together for a while in their lives and impacted each other’s growth and then just moved on. “I think there is something very nuanced about it that I really appreciated,” explains Howard.
The role of Kenzie has been described by director Hanford Lemoore as a “San Francisco hipster”. But playing the part required a certain balance, says Howard, because Kenzie was “enough interested” in the scene for the story to move on but wasn’t so serious that she’s suddenly no longer a hipster. “It’s an interesting archetype, the hipster, and there’s that inherent sense of irony,” she adds.
Moving on, it was about making the characters’ dialogue feel chatty and modern, like they were two people in a real world, but also with a slightly elevated element.
This is Lemoore’s debut game on Graceful Decay, and he first got the idea while exploring the architecture in his San Francisco neighborhood ten years ago. “Something made me try [a game] in 3D with physics, “Lemoore tells THR, a concept that went” far beyond “his original idea of making a 2D game with one world in one world.” I thought about how messy physics is. With a physics simulation, you can knock an object and know it’s going to fall, but you don’t know how it’s going to fall, “says Lemoore, using the example of bowling pens running around everywhere.” Idea to copy this really complex, almost random behavior to multiple levels of recursion. “
After experimenting a lot with puzzle ideas, Lemoore realized that there was “a really cool game” out there and showed it at the 2011 game developers conference. The story was woven in as an “unexpected pairing” with the world he created during development. Here, local musicians from the Bay Area were finally introduced to inspire the sound of the game and give it a more local feel.
In the early stages of taking on the role, Lemoore provided Howard with a character biography with pictures and some sort of Venn diagram of the relationship between Kenzie and Michael. “It was really informative because it was prior to receiving any type of script and it felt like a character development exercise in drama school,” says Howard.
She goes on to explain that the fact that Lemoore provided the backstory for her and Gabel’s characters was something Howard hadn’t really come across professionally. The script came later, but by that point Howard already had an understanding of who the people were. The visual art of the game was the “ultimate selling point,” she says.
Howard received a recording kit and played her lines for Maquette over the course of a day in her New York home in her garage, “where I keep all of my costumes,” laughs the actor. On the day of the recording, Lemoore remembers that each of them had the script open in Google Docs on their respective iPads and that they would join the session from their home in Nevada. “It was a cool, collaborative process,” says Lemoore.
“There was a lot that they put in language and tone – there were moments when we completely rewrote large parts of the dialogue to fit the characters. It worked immediately.”
Howard recalls that there were some parts that were “a little improvisational that we came up with on the fly because everything was rooted in that place of the character. She goes on that Lemoore had a vision of the chemistry he wanted to capture , and in To Do That, Howard and Gabel “dug a little deeper” in what they describe as a fun process.
Of the differences between voice recording for a video game and the more traditional screen display, Howard says it’s more similar than you’d think. “A character is a character is a character,” she says. However, once you have the advantage of being able to use your face, you don’t necessarily have to focus so much on articulating what you are emotionally expressing verbally. “
When the voice is the only tool available, Howard compares the process to recording an audiobook or radio play. “It’s a very classic performance genre that I enjoy.”
She describes the Annapurna Interactive games, which she was familiar with before taking on the role, as “real art”. Regarding her earliest creative inclinations, Howard says, “I’ve always been drawn to choosing your own adventure opportunities. The opportunity to actively participate in storytelling and having your own ability as a reader to influence the bottom line was what attracted me . “
Maquette launches on March 2nd for PC via Steam, PlayStation 4 and the next-gen console PlayStation 5. Check out the trailer below.