When a new league is in the works, there typically comes a point when we have to give the collection of planned mechanics a theme. Delirium was first described to me as an ever-expanding ring that would affect all monsters in an area, granting them powerful effects and making them harder to kill and more dangerous. It would be something that passes through the area quickly, encouraging players to move rapidly between monster packs, but would drop off if the player couldn't keep up with it. Whatever theme we gave this league had to allow for extremely broad but temporary effects.

The idea of something playing tricks on the player character's perception of reality coalesced quite quickly, but it took some time for the Strange Voice to come together. I wanted whoever was talking to you to be funny at times, menacing at others, and ultimately evoke a sense of distorted reality. For inspiration I initially looked to Gene Wilder's performance of Willy Wonka. His character perfectly walked the line between madman and master of his domain. He would weave in and out of eccentricities, cared little for the children he was taking through the factory and rarely, if ever, intervened in their fates.

Where you start when writing a script is rarely where you end. Initial drafts of the Strange Voice script involved more wordplay and taunting and less worldly insight, but with each rewrite it became more interesting to hear what the Voice thought about what was going on, slowly revealing who or what it might actually be, and allowing it to provide knowledge unavailable to the player, reinforcing the idea that it might not just be madness at play (then again, it might be).

Maps, of course, don't have the same linear structure and predictable elements that the campaign has, so that's where many of the taunts ended up. I wanted to make sure we really reinforced the delirious feeling as much as possible here, so I based lines on real traits of mental illness to try to evoke some sliver of what sufferers feel. Some lines play on paranoia ("They are out to get you"), some on anxiety and depression ("You are the cause of great misery", "You will die alone and afraid"), some on delusions of grandeur ("You are the only one who matters") and of persecution ("Everyone you trust has been replaced by illusions. They are trying to get you."), and some that tug at the strings of perception and morality ("You are murdering innocent souls").

I also wanted to play with some of the more memorable lines from other characters, with the voice providing a new twist or different context, playing into the idea that this could all just be a series of hallucinations the player's character is going through.

We had to be careful not to make light of mental illness, as it's a serious matter that many people suffer from. We also wanted to make sure that those suffering from mental illness didn't feel further harmed by some of the voice lines. To that end, not long before launch, we removed a few that we felt might be a little too harsh, even for Path of Exile. There were also a lot of lines that got cut due to certain planned ideas not panning out.

The voice actor, Michael Hallows, did a fantastic job bringing such an eerie character to life, and our resident sound effects wizard Kane took Michael's great performance to another level, playing with distortion to highlight certain words and phrases to great effect.

I've enjoyed watching players unravel the mystery of the Strange Voice. I always get nervous before a launch with a character that feels 'risky', so I was relieved he wasn't widely despised. I don't know if it'll ever make a return or not, but I do know we've got more fun characters in the works.
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Grinding Gear Games
Rockin' since 2013.
(✿ =‿‿=)
Too bad you can't disable specific voices, such as betrayal. That spammy mess forced me to disable voices so I've missed out on this effort.
Last edited by Xanqos on Mar 25, 2020, 6:19:00 PM
Thanks for your work Nick, awesome stuff ! ^^

Also, "why?"
loved it
I think you guys did a great job I love it, and am intrigued <3
DjParagon wrote:
Thanks for your work Nick, awesome stuff ! ^^

Also, "why?"

Ask Blake!
I like the Strange Voice, strangely enough :)
𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣𓆣 SCARABS!

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