Stolen Pixels #196:
Breen Fortress, Part 2

By Shamus
on May 21, 2010
Filed under:
Column

The saga of The Team Fortress 2 Announcer taking over After Curfew continues.

An interesting note about valve games. Did you know that GladDOS:

ellenmclain_portal.jpg

And the overwatch:

ellenmclain_hl2.jpg

And the Team Fortress 2 announcer:

ellenmclain_tf2.jpg

Are all voiced by this lady:

ellenmclain.jpg

And she is – in her own words, a, “fully-trained opera singer”! (I like how that sounds like “fully trained Jedi”. Do people go around saying, “I’m a halfway trained Opera singer”?

In any case: That’s talent.

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2020242 comments. (Insert played-out "meaning of life, the universe and everything" joke here.)

From the Archives:

  1. Gandaug says:

    Favorite class: Heavy. Offense. Defense. Heavy.

    Though I played before they ruined the game.

    • Duffy says:

      I must ask how did they ruin it?

      • Gandaug says:

        Short version: Updates destroyed class balance.

        A little more detail: I know further updates have supposedly restored the balance. I still have friends that play fairly regularly. I keep up to date through them. Every month or so I go back and try it again. Hopefully someday I won’t hate it.

        That and the fluff updates like hats.

        Also random unlocks. WTF? I earned all my unlocks through gameplay. I know people just farmed achievements to get their unlocks, but now we just have idle servers where it’s the same damn thing. At least before I could take some small sense of honor and feel like I earned something instead of just randomly being given useless stuff or weapons. Which puts me on the same level as the farmers and idlers.

        • Irridium says:

          It is pretty balanced now. At least more balanced than anything else out right now.

          And don’t worry so much about the unlocks. The normal weapons usually do just fine on their own, and sometimes are better than the updated ones, while some are just as useful as the original ones, and some are just completely useless.

          All have their place, and all can be countered one way or another, with the normal and/or updated weapons.

          • Gandaug says:

            The usefulness of the unlocks is irrelevant. It’s the method in which they are unlocked that is the problem.

            I simply dislike the direction they took the game.

            It’s still a good game. If people are playing it and enjoying then I am happy for them.

            • Bandit451 says:

              I feel the same, though not strongly enough to get me to stop playing TF2 :P.

              Valve always has the best achivments, they are possible for the average player, have funny names, and teach you something. The Half Life 2 episode 3 Achivement Hot-PotatOWNED comes to mind. It has a funny name, a funny picture, and teaches you things like timing the blast of the grenades and figuring out how to use grenades with the gravity gun.

              The old TF2 system was like that, but this new one…
              Instead teaching you and rewarding you for playing well, this new system just rewards you for playing. That’s a terrible thing to promote. Skill should be rewarded, not mindless hours of playing.

              • Lord of Rapture says:

                Why? Why should we reward people based on skill, rather than just having fun? I play a game to play a game, not to learn. That’s what reading is for. Why should only the people who are good get to have all the cool stuff?

              • Hugo Sanchez says:

                Not everyone can be great at the game, but if they have fun with it why does it matter? It’s not like the unlocks are going to make them any better, just by them having them. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t perhaps suited to change in the way their class operates WITH the unlocks.

                I have nothing against recognizing player achievement, but thats what the stats/achievements are FOR. I’ve logged a few hundred hours in TF2, and I’m usually in the top 5 on the server I most often frequent. But I still don’t consider myself all that skilled, relative to some players. I play for fun, and fun I have.

                Besides, You can’t just instantly be good at the game, You’d have to you know, log a bunch of hours before you become great anyways.

                Plus, even if the unlocks were still based on achievements, for most of them, all you have to do is get one of your buddies to help you out. Either way, it’s very exploitable.

            • Irridium says:

              Ah, I misunderstood then. Yeah the method of unlocking them bothers me a bit as well.

              I think its the way it is because Valve listens to its community. And Valve’s community is insanely whiny, annoying, and never happy.

  2. HeroOfHyla says:

    Good stuff. And you’re right, those silhouettes are quite recognizable. Unless I’m mistaken, it’s an engineer and a heavy.

    I hit 100 hours of TF2 playtime on Wednesday. My main class is Soldier. I play spy sometimes, though I’m not very good at it, and I play medic when there aren’t any on the team.

    • Pickly says:

      I could use a new server for Team Fortress 2. I tried the chocolate Hammer one for a bit, but it was quite choppy both times I was on. (for whatever reason)

      In class terms I like heavy the best, though in a lot of situations situations I seem to handle Soldier better.

  3. Josh R says:

    Who are the overwatch? Your picture just seems to show where breen appears…
    Her husband voices one of the citizens who assists you in HL:2, and the sniper.

    • Meredith says:

      She’s the disembodied voice giving commands to the overwatch soldiers as they chase Gordon around City 17. I have a really hard time understanding most of her dialogue in HL2, but it’s cool she’s in all the OB games.

    • Shamus says:

      The overwatch voice.

      Attention. Unidentified person of interest. You are now charge with level… five… socio-endangerment.

      Or something like that.

    • Ryan H says:

      There’s a compilation of the Overwatch voice on Youtube here. They made the interesting choice to have it give many of its orders in medical jargon- “Anti-citizen reported in this community. Lock. Cauterize. Sterilize.” etc. IMPLICIT CITIZENSHIP: REVOKED. STATUS: MALIGNANT.

  4. On the Portal commentary, Ellen McLain (the voice actor) talks about her experiences doing the GladDOS voice.

    Her own natural voice is incredibly beautiful. It’s what I imagine bells & chimes would sound like if they could talk.

    Leslee

    • Drexer says:

      Yeah, and inclusive Shamus, if you play Portal with developer commentary and jump into the final map, the last audio commentary is she explaining how they showed her the song and the experience from her to sing in an opera voice(she even demonstrates), and having to sing with the GladOS voice.

      She’s talented and you can see as you play(in other audio commentaries) that she also was quite marveled with the game.

    • houser2112 says:

      All this time the thread has been open, and I am the first to comment that not only does she have a beautiful voice (not having played these games, I’ll take your word for it), but a beautiful face as well?

    • Tizzy says:

      The GladDOS voice is indeed the most impressive achievement to my ears. She did an excellent job of preserving the voice synth feel, and infusing (more and more) emotion into the mix. It sounds like a lot of hard work and talent went into that, and finding out her thoughts about it in the commentary was fascinating.

  5. Primogenitor says:

    And she also sings “Still Alive”, which is nice.

    PS: “I’m a halfway trained Opera singer” == “I’m a (classical music) student”?

  6. Robyrt says:

    A quick check with Google confirms that “fully trained” singer is an awkward and seldom-used phrase, because singing is a physical endeavor. It’s like saying you are a fully trained football player.

    Perhaps she means, “I have a formal degree in opera singing.” Which is not the most savvy career move of all time, but is quite fun.

    Or perhaps she means, “I am not like everyone else who says they are a trained singer but really just took some voice lessons in college.” For instance, Lady Gaga is “classically trained” but never actually uses those skills on the job.

    • asterismW says:

      Which is too bad, because I might actually listen to Lady Gaga if she did.

    • Tizzy says:

      This may have to do with the physical changes that occur as your training matures. Certain singing styles, especially lyrical opera, leave you permanently changed, unable to sing like before your training. And that may happen even if you had already voice training before.

      Basically, singing is an extremely physical endeavor, there is more than one way to do it, and being trained in some styles may leave you unable to do other styles (and if your training goes wrong, it may kill your voice altogether).

  7. Mari says:

    The word “fully” is redundant. But I think the phrase “fully trained” is being used in this sense to differentiate between people who sing Madame Butterfly in the shower and claim to be opera singers and people who have actually invested time and effort into raising their skill to professional levels.

    Also that shot of the announcer above? Just highlights the fact that she resembles the elderly love child of Joan Crawford and Cruella De Vil.

  8. Kdansky says:

    Of course I knew that. It’s an important part of my Nerd Cred CV. If you play through the commentary modes of those games, you get told it rather explicitly, and there are a few interview pieces with her strewn in along the line too. Silly you.

    She is decidedly awesome.

  9. equinox216 says:

    Half-trained opera singers walk into traps in Città della Nube and get their hands lopped off by their just-revealed fathers. Who are dying from tuberculosis (I mean, come on, you can hear the machine keeping them alive), but still manage to sing about it for twenty straight minutes.

  10. kikito says:

    Non-trained opera singers perform in the bathroom.

    Full-trained opera singers perform in opera houses.

    Half-trained opera singers perform in the opera houses’ bathrooms.

  11. Irridium says:

    I can usually play any class for any situation. Each class is surprisingly flexible and able to do lots of jobs very well.

    Hell I know I’ve capped the intel more than once as a heavy, and I’ve defended my fair share of cap points as a scout.

    But if I had to choose, it would be soldier on offence, pyro on defence, and engineer for when I’m lagging (build the sentry in the right place and it’ll do fine).

  12. Sperber says:

    I knew a gal once whose uncle had started training as an opera singer but didn’t finish. He did have a steady job at an opera house but was confined to the choir. I would speculate “fully-trained” lets potential customers know that she has the training/skill to carry solo pieces.

  13. 1d30 says:

    Now witness the power of this fully-trained and operational opera singer!

  14. Telas says:

    BTW, awesome punchline in the comic…

    Regarding the training of opera singers, or more directly the lack thereof, I believe that Florence Foster Jenkins will provide a clue. And a bit of cultural education.

    “Florence Foster Jenkins (July 19, 1868 – November 26, 1944) was an American soprano who became famous for her complete lack of rhythm, pitch, tone, and overall singing ability.”

    Listen to her recording on “The Glory of the Human Voice” on YouTube

    (The poster is not responsible for damage to keyboards, eardrums, and/or sanity due to the playing of the above link.)

  15. Eidolon says:

    Sniper on… hrm. Not really offense or defense, exactly. Is there an “annoying the hell out of the other team” role?

    Engineer on defense. Pyro on defense. Demoman on general harassment, when I’m feeling inclined to change up the pace. I don’t really do much straightforward offense, but when I do, it’s usually Heavy. Because nothing says “straightforward offense” like 200 bullets shredding you from close range.

  16. SatansBestBuddy says:

    I play everything, it really depends partly on my mood and mostly on the situation.

    No medic on the team?

    Switch to medic!

    Front line is a big open space with little room for hiding?

    Switch to sniper!

    Capture the flag?

    Scout!

    Capture the point map with a good choke point?

    Engie!

    And so on.

    About the only class I don’t play is the Spy, because god damn, do I ever hate spies.

  17. Volatar says:

    I personally play Pyro most of the time, medic when one is needed, and demo when one is appropriate (lots of engies).

  18. Ern'st says:

    Well, being in a classical opera training program would lend enough prestige for a video game voice actor, and your character is a jedi-in-training for a significant chunk of Knights of the Old Republic. By the way, you forgot to close the parentheses around your failed attempt at wit.

    • Shamus says:

      Get lost.

      No, I am not kidding. I know the internet is a great big place where people act like septic jackasses regularly, but I don’t have a lot of patience for people who are abrasive for no good reason. I write dozens of jokes a week. Some of them are bound to whiff. Or not work for some people. But if you need to insult me in order to let me know about an unclosed paren, then move along. I’d just as soon go without your particular brand of editorial aid.

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