Greetings Europa Barbarorum fans.
Back in May we announced something that was in the pipeline even before EB 0.81a was out:
And so, we preview the progress we made today.The Greek voicemod will be updated as well. Expect strategymap commands in the future.
The AU Recording Studio Project
Earlier this year the EB team had an opportunity to work with the American University Audio Tech department, a program based in the Washington DC area with an on-campus recording studio and Academy Award-winner Russell Williams as one of the professors. We seized the opportunity to expand our voicemods but quickly ran into a problem - how the heck were we going to find DC-area voice actors to give good performances in a dead language they didn't speak?
blacksnail worked with Chip and Lauren (pictured above in the A-Tech studio), two masters students in the A-Tech program who took on this task as independent study, and Chip's friend Todd who has over a decade of studio experience. EB's voicemod team and the A-Tech team weighed the options and quickly determined the best course of action was to expand an existing voicemod rather than to craft a new one, as EB didn't have anybody local to the studio who could correct a new voicemod's pronunciation "on-the-fly." By expanding an existing voicemod, blacksnail could verify accuracy against the original recording in the studio, with a followup quality check provided by the EB voicemod team once the vocals were sent.
The clear choice for the expansion was Greek, as it is spoken by six different EB factions. One noticeable thing about any battle with opposing Greek factions is that they sound absolutely identical, because a single Greek voicemod is used for both sides. This can lead to the feel of the "attack of the clones" and works against the immersion EB strives to create.
The A-Tech team hit upon an ingenious solution that would allow them to record multiple actors concurrently, none of whom had to have any knowledge of Attic Greek. They did so by loading all of the files into ProTools, an industry standard audio program (above). From there the audio would be fed from the studio into "the Box" (see below, on the right), which the voice actor would hear through a set of headphones. The voice actor would then perform the line heard through the headphones while in the Box, which would be recorded and stored in ProTools.
keravnos, one of EB's Greek linguists (and the voice for much of the original Greek voicemod!), selected 20 sample lines for auditions which would test the theory and provided transliterated, phonetic lines for the actors to read along with the audio sample in the headphones. Auditions were held for local actors willing to shout ancient Greek into a microphone for no pay. The EB Greek team selected the best actors according to accurate pronunciation and line delivery. keravnos completed the transliterated script (see below) and we were ready to start recording.
At this point we had 5 voice actors performing 281 general commands (orders on the battlefield) and 87 unit names (used for identification purposes when you select them), for a total of 368 lines per actor. That's 1840 total sound files to add to the game. We needed an average of 3 takes per actor per line, which meant we would end up with approximately 5520 total line recordings. After that blacksnail would need to go through each line recording and determine the best take, then forward to the EB Greek team to verify pronunciation. It was just a bit daunting to consider, so we did our best not to think about and get the work done.
Each voice actor spent roughly 8 hours in the Box (above) - thankfully not all at once! We completed the recording over the span of a month, then began the long task of selecting takes, applying post-processing to ensure consistent sound quality, and "bouncing" the files for review by the Greek Team. Currently three full Greek voicemods have been bounced and we hope to complete the other two shortly. After their review we will be able to place them into the game, allowing your Seleukid force with AI Baktrian allies to fight your Makedonian enemies with their Epeirote allies - all with distinct voices crying out on the battlefield.
Here are a few samples in heavily compressed MP3 format. The final quality will be much clearer, but this way you can get an idea of what you'll be hearing in the next version of EB!
Akontistai (Hellenic Skirmishers)
Elephantes Hulaioi Liboukoi (Libyan Forest Elephants)
Hippeis (Greek Medium Cavalry)
Thorakitai Argyraspidai (Hellenic Armored Spearmen)
Toxotai (Hellenic Archers)
General Command Samples
Order Missile Attack 1
State Phalanx Off 2
Ram Start 1
Ram Use 2
The EB team thanks the A-Tech team for donating hundreds of hours of time to the EB Greek Voicemod project. Chip and Todd recently formed Pentatonic Sound, which handles production sound, post-production sound, and music recording, so hopefully you will soon hear more of their work in other games, albums, TV shows, or in films.
EB: striving to erase all English from RTW
Work has been done on translating all the remaining elements of the Voicemod. The Commands you hear on the campaign map are translated by keravnos with the help of Orb and Tellos Athenaios.
If you didn't realise it already: we just got rid of all those overly-annyoing "Move out" and "Joining the army" sentences for the Greek factions. And if this sounds to good to be true, here are some examples of the new EB sentences:
The Event Notifications (e.g. "Enemy general fallen") on the battle map were covered by Tellos Athenaios with the help of keravnos; and progress has been made on the Prebattle Speeches. (31% of all sentences have been translated by Tellos Athenaios with the help of keravnos and Orb.)General
ambushed = X 3
2- ΦΥΛΑΤΤΕΣΘΕ!----------Guard yourselves!
3- ΠΟΛΕΜΙΟΙ ΠΡΟΣΑΓΟΝΤΕΣ ΕΛΑΘΟΝ ΦΥΛΑΚΑΣ! -------The enemies have evaded our guards!-Arrian
attacking = X 3
1- ΕΠΙ ΤΩΝ ΟΠΛΩΝ!-------Grab arms!
2- ΚΑΤΑ ΒΑΡΒΑΡΩΝ ΔΟΡΕΙΤΕ!-------Lance the Barbarians!
3- ΘΩΡΑΚΩΝ ΕΝΔΥΣΑΜΕΝΟΙ ΚΑΘ' ΩΝ!-------Dress into armor!
battle lost retreat = X 3
2- ΕΑΛΩ Η ΜΑΧΗ!---------------The battle is lost!
battle won = X 2 (or 3?)
2- "ΠΑΝΘ' ΗΜΙΝ ΠΕΠΟΙΗΤΑΙ! - Χenophon - Kyrou anabasis book 1 chapter 3 paragraphs 12-13.-----------Everything has been achieved by us! (We have done it all!)
3- ΘΡΙΑΜΒΟΣ! --------------Triumph!
We have prepared a screenshot for you, so you can read a bit more of what you'll hear:
And another one:
Special thanks go out to the Perseus online dicitionary, which nearly always helped us out when our own dictionaries proved insufficient; to the Bibliotheca Augustana, which is a free online treasure of sources; and to the Thesaurus Linguae Graeca, which has an excellent tool for quickly searching through loads of sources. And maybe special thanks will go out to you if you decide to help EB.
Did anybody say "Prebattle"?
As you just read, we are actually trying to include the Speeches – that awesome feature of RTW which lets you hear your general encourage your troops and explaining the strategic situation. If we succeed they will be back; initially for all Hellenic and Hellenistic factions only. (Because the first Voicemod in which we try it out is the Ancient Greek Voicemod.) Below, keravnos tells you a bit about the species:
“In this past year, EB has been moving forward on all directions. Voicemod work couldn't possibly lag behind. Yet, as the finishing touches are being put in place for the stratmap voicemod (and truth be told, the Vanilla one for the Hellenistic Kingdoms [That is all ingame greek kingdoms] bugged the hell out of me. Didn't like it, and won't ever. I think I can understand why it was done this way as the focus and attention of vanilla RTW were the Romani. Still, that doesn't mean I had to like it. So, I did my best to try to change that (as modders have been known to do), and the results you will hear in upcoming versions of EB.
Now, Pre-Battle voicemod work it isn't as evident. People may wonder why it should be done, or a plain simple why the hell bother if about 97% or more of those hearing it won't understand what is being said without reading the subtitles? First and foremost, because my own stated goal when I joined EB was to raise awareness of the ancient world. If I can do my share to lower that 97% to anything less, it is all good. I think the other voicemodders feel this way, too.”
And more specifically:
“Ancient greek is more than a dead language. It is the lingua franca of the ancient world, the "English" of 272 BCE if you will. A lot of exciting text has been written in that era and those prior, that Alexanders' conquests and the wealth they produced has made catalogueing, indexing and recording those possible. Due to a very fortunate combination of Alexandrian librarians, Byzantine monks, Arab scholars and the very forgiving desert (in which papyri scrolls are still being found intact), the total text of Ancient greek which has survived is extraordinary (considering the destruction and upheaval that 2265 years and countless "barbarians" wrought) and well documented. Now, this presents the greek voicemod team with an impressive challenge. We can stop at battle voicemod (already done) and Stratmap voicemod (being completed).
Now, assistance in this noble task can come from anyone. If you have heard a good ancient greek quote and can track it back to a book that mentions sources, post what you have. It might be found in its ancient greek and used as is. "Quote searching" would indeed be very welcome here, because for all the word juggling Tellos Athenaios and myself [and Orb; TA] can do, nothing sounds as real as the ancients themselves. It doesn't have to be from a battle. It could be from a tragedy, a philosophical dialogue, whatever. What we can use, we will.”
If you think you can Help:
As mentioned by keravnos before; apart from ‘simply’ translating the English from RTW to Ancient Greek, we also used various lines written by ancient authors such as Euripides, Plato, and Arrianos to replace lines from RTW. Of course, quote means source, and source means we have to know about it in the first place. So it is entirely possible we have missed a beauty or two.
Luckily, there’s an opportunity for You to help: if You know a line, a statement that ought to be in a Pre battle speeche, you could refer us to the source (author, book, section, and page); or you could post it. (The easiest way to post the ancient Greek would be to scan it or take a photograph of it, and upload the picture to Imageshack.)
In the same preview from May, we also announced:
This is taking shape in the forms of many new Voicemods. Below you can read some comments on – and introductions to some of the new Voicemods that will be included with future releases of EB:Also a few other factions might start talking in their own tongue too...
The Punic Voicemod:
“As the voice actor for the Punic voicemod I thought I would spend a few minutes letting you, the fans, know how it has been progressing.
The main work on the voicemod has been done by EB member Shigawire with the help of Kikosemmek. The work I am doing is minuscule compared to what has been done before I was accepted as the actor. Thankfully, their research meant that they had a strong grasp on the intricacies of the language as it pertains to the mod and were excellent in helping me in understanding pronunciations. Further congratulations can also go to my father, who is a native speaker of the Egyptian dialect of Arabic.
Currently, the pronunciations of words have been practiced thoroughly and I am confident that they are correct. Any errors though can easily be mitigated by Shigawire, who is excellent to work with. My experience of trying to correctly pronounce the letter Ayin as it was in Punic has shown me his patience and drive in working on the mod. As it stands, however, the main obstacle now is a lack of descent hardware and acoustics. This should be resolved soon and allow recording to take place quickly – as long as I don't lose my voice!
Thanks should also be extended to Dr. Charles Krahmalkov, who studies near eastern languages and teaches at the University of Michigan. (http://www.umich.edu/~neareast/faculty/krahmalk.htm)”
The Parthian Pahlavî Project
“They ruled for more than three centuries, out of the four that was marked by the warrior-king Arsaces after slaying Andragoras. The Parthians ought to then be renowned after winning wars against Sacae, Seleucids, Bactrians and later the Romans. This is however not the case, as almost no surviving literati or textual corpus have been found from the colloquially Partho-Sassanian period. Thus the origins, but also the lineage of the Parthians remains obscure, and only referenced to in Graeco-Roman, Chinese and Indian sources. One may instantly wonder, how does one even start an effort in a voice-mod, let alone see through such an attempt when resources are sparse?
After almost nine months of studies in fragments and religious texts written in Old Persian, and Middle Persian (Pahlavî) as well as Pârsî as emerged from Ferdôwsî's national epic, the Shâhnâmêh, the audacious effort has from a handful of seeds blossomed into a garden. Extensive reading of sources such as the Bundâhîshn, Dênkârt, Kârnâmag-î Ardashîr-î Pâpakân, and commentaries of the Zend of Avestâ, in synchronization with the highly abused "Concise Pahlavî Dictionary" written by Prof. MacKenzie (It's concise alright...) and in comparative studying with fragments of inventories and dialogue sheets have proven to be an effective, albeit repeatitive method in understanding the structure of the language. As a native speaker, it is truly fascinating how truly alike the Middle Persian is to the Modern Persian, in spite of a significantly Arabicized vocabulary to the latter.
Another significant challenge was to adapt the Middle Persian, or largely Sassanian Pahlavî to the Parthian period in a homogenous manner in order to cover the four centuries of their political power era. As such the reconstruction contains residue from the previous Old Persian, which would mainly apply to early units; The Parthian Pahlavî was similar to the Old Persian language due to the fact that the Pahlavî they spoke resembled a mix of the Medean and Scythian tongue. In other words, the Parthians should be credited for conceiving the very basis of the Modern Persian language; A native speaker could with some effort understand Pahlavî, in difference to the Old Persian which more resembled Sanskrit. The ideal would have been to have some form of knowledge on the native Pârnî language; It is drastically different from the later Parthian language due to the fact that they belong to somewhat different branches of the Iranian language group. However due to an extreme scarcity of any representation of the Pârnî language, such ambitions were scrapped early on. This immediately lead to the choice of the Pahlavî/Middle Persian language. After all the player selects the Pahlavân for the sole reason of recreating a projected Persian Empire, and re-achieving what the Parthians did more than 2,000 years ago.
As for the effort within EB to reconstruct the Middle Persian language, it has been a labour of love which today stands finished in the form of a textual corpus of commands for the battle-field. The ambition does not finish there, but a separate chart for the campaign map will be composed, as will battle speeches. It is a premiere and a first time in the history of multimedia that a rendition of the Pahlavî language has ever been attempted and Europa Barbarorum takes great pride in breaking new grounds in the quest for achieving the status as a historically accurate and realistic simulator of the Hellenistic world. In combination with the Punic, Ancient Greek, Latin and Gallic voice-mods, in the humble opinion of the undersigned, no other effort have boasted such an extravagant spectrum of languages. It is a giant leap from the epic Hollywood movies, where accents were used to emphasize ethnic diversity. One must truly understand the implication of a bold attempt in reconstructing the poorly understood language of an entity which dominated the political scene of the post-Hellenistic Greater Iran for over eight centuries.
Naturally, besides the boasting, as with all voluntary works with limited verification, intellectual honesty is in place; We make no guarantees that the voice-mod of an extremely obscure and poorly attested language may be completely accurate. A dictionary with barely 4,000 entries had to be abused to death before significant progress could be made
So what happens afterwards, one may think in boring, legal context. For now, the project is the work-in-progress property of the Europa Barbarorum team, however once the voice-mod is complete and in-game, the textual corpus will become a public release available to anyone who wishes to make use of it.
Thanks go to Spurius_Brontosaurus, mAIOR and Kambiz for their interest and participation in the project, their enthusiasm provides the light of this frail candle of a dream in unveiling the greatness of Ancient Iranian culture ”
--The Persian Cataphract”
The Proto-Germanic Voicemod
Unlike other ancient languages of Classical Europe, Proto-Germanic has no guide to pronunciation and grammar. There has been a complete lack of interest by scholars of old and no manuscript or inscriptions to record its usage, despite a thriving existence in the language of its descendents. Even runes, renowned for their use by the Germanic peoples do not begin to appear until after the death of Christ. The Proto-Indo-European language is similarly unattested but thanks to truly brilliant scholarship during the modern era it has been tentatively reconstructed. Thus using comparative method and the many derived languages which have been attested, it is possible to attempt a greater understanding of what was lost.
The languages for which there is most evidence available for comparison are Old English, Old Norse, Gothic, and Old High German. Although there are many more sub-families of Germanic among West, East, and North Germanic, which can be used for support (such as in the Old Saxon Heliand), the greatest diversity and amount of evidence are in works written in those languages first mentioned. While Gothic (fragments of Wufila’s Bible) is the earliest Germanic language available and seemingly most appropriate to the EB timeline, the body of work written is almost exclusively liturgical and inappropriate in content for our purposes, yet comparison of cognates and linguistic transformation remain quite helpful. Old English (Bēowulf, Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Cædmon’s Hymn, Exeter Book, Vercelli Book) and Old Norse (Egils saga Skallagrímssonar, Hrólfs saga Kraka, Grettis saga, Heimskringla, Poetic Edda) bring much in the way of diversity, combat terminology and descriptions of the warrior class, but they are relatively late in their transcription. Old High German (Ludwigslied, Hildebrandslied, Muspilli, Tatian) is just plain sparse in record, although written by those Germanic peoples who did not settle in lands far away.
I’ve used several resources for my work on Proto-Germanic, some of which I am extensively familiar with as I’ve had them since completion of many graduate courses concerning Germanic studies, such as Mitchell and Robinson's A Guide to Old English, Roger Lass' Old English: A historical linguistic companion, F. Holthausen's Altenlishes Etymologishes Worterbuch (one of the best word-hoards published- although only in modern German), DH Green’s Language and History in the Early Germanic World, E.V. Gordon's An Introduction to Old Norse, Joseph Wright's Grammar of the Gothic Language, and William H. Bennett's An Introduction to The Gothic.
Multiple works on Proto-Germanic and Germanic studies, some available for free online by Gerhard Köbler, Winfred P. Lehmann, Elmer Antonsen, and August Fick, Hjalmar Falk, and Alf Torp have been helpful and interesting.
Shigawire, Voice Mod coordinator extraordinaire, generous ring-giver and performer of great deeds, has spent his hard-earned money to forward the pursuit of knowledge and accuracy and acquired recently published texts to help in the reconstruction of Proto-Germanic: Vladimir Orel’s A Handbook of Germanic Etymology (682 page word-hoard of Proto-Germanic & cognates), Joseph B. Voyles’ Early Germanic Grammar, and Anthony Fox’s Linguistic Reconstruction.
At the moment, initial translations for battle commands are being finished. As time allows more detailed translations will be done, as well as those for the campaign map and other aspects. A pronunciation guide will also be written and EB will be looking for an appropriate voice actor. As an American who speaks modern English which has evolved very specifically within the Germanic family and as someone who does not practice his modern German daily (NOT that modern German pronunciation is appropriate either), I do not profess to be the best suited for the task, although I can understand by ear the entire funeral dirge sung in Old English by Éowyn in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers SPECIAL EDITION (possibly the most AWESOME scene ever!). More information will be released in the future concerning the Proto-Germanic Voice Mod. Please feel free to contact us if you’re confident in your knowledge of old Germanic languages / Proto-Germanic and interested in participating and helping the development of the Proto Germanic Voice Mod.
We hope you have enjoyed this preview of some of the new content.
Please note that unless stated otherwise, EVERYTHING in our previews is work in progress. We continue to improve on all parts of EB, and we will continue to do so long after our initial release.
Since some areas where these news items are posted cannot handle wide images, we appreciate your restraint from quoting full-size images.
As always, if you have questions or comments, the best place to post them is here, where the EB team is most active:
Europa Barbarorum ORG forum
Europa Barbarorum TWC forum
We give special thanks to Imageshack and PicOodle that provide us with a simple, foolproof, and free way to show you all these pictures each week.
Have a great day!
The Europa Barbarorum team.