Every time I hear the voice cast, the fact of their presence grabs my attention. The silly part is, I had just heard these voices before starting this interquel. I'll hear them again as soon as I move on to the second game. They won't have the same effect on me there, and not just because I've played the games before.
What all of this is forcing me to do is to think about the game's production. I don't usually do that, largely because of the medium I chose to work in, but also because of the short-sighted way I view other work.
In short stories and novels, deep behind-the-scenes analysis is rarely a part of the reading. Most writers, myself included, would sooner vomit on you than show you a rough draft. Few writers will even talk about research processes. I construct stories all the time, every day, in whatever time I can spare, but I don't think enough about how other people produce their stories--especially in other media.
I follow authors, but rarely actors or directors. This was a conscious decision I made when I was young. When I was old enough to begin to recognize the artifice in films, see the strings and painted backdrops, I pushed that to the background. Even at an older age, I wanted to believe that the screen was a window into another world--that I could go to the Enterprise bridge and feel tritanium and not plywood. I didn't want to know what was really underneath those carpets.
Now no film or other work can ever be removed from its context. As of course I grew up I became more and more aware that everything is a product of its time, of the people who made it and their biases, and so it. But there has always been a part of me that did not want to peel back a film any farther than that. I never wanted to see casting videos, behind-the-set photos, interviews with actors, or so on.
In Star Trek and Siege of Dragonspear, I appreciate those things in ways that I've trained myself early on to avoid. I want to see how perfectly a set can be recreated, hear actors pick up sixteen-year-old roles.
Getting so much of the old voice cast back together for Siege of Dragonspear feels like an immense accomplishment. This not to minimize the work that went into casting the original games. But a revival has much more rigid expectations. Every departure is noticed; every detail is going to be picked over. The originals had to be very good. The new expansion has to be very good and "true" to the source. Every time one of the characters from the originals appears, I'm caught in suspense, trying to figure out if they'll get it "right."
The way I read these stories has been crucial to my development as a writer. I want to immerse myself in the fiction, believe that it's real, whether I'm reading or writing. So far, that's meant not seeing the sets, the actors, the lighting, and all the other minutiae of production. I used to think that following the career paths of actors and directors was a distraction from their art. But it's another way of reading them. I feel like I'm waking up to something most other people realize in second grade. There are connections I'm not seeing, statements that have gone unread, because of what I programmed myself to ignore.
Resurrecting media whose sets have been destroyed, whose actors have moved on, forces me to pay attention. It's been a silly way for me to realize what I should have long ago. The ways I've trained myself to interpret media have been valuable for me, but I can't rely on them forever.
It's not enough to watch, read, and listen to new things. I need to find new ways to decipher them, too.