Blog 104: What can we do about Vash?

Sith Holocron

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Instead of linking to my previous blog about this, I'm going to quote the relevant portions and then move on from there to the new points.

One thing that I don’t think I’ve previously discussed is the problem of voice overs of the character Master Vash – the Jedi we’re seeking in the M4-78 materials. Did you know that there are two voice actresses for the lines that appear in the game?


When we first see and hear Master Vash, it’s an old video that T3-M4 plays of your Exile’s trial on Coruscant.  The voice actress for Vash in this scene is Vanessa Marshall.  


Vanessa Marshall has played a number of parts over the years, including a few characters in the Extended Universe including: Master Bela Kiwiiks (from SWTOR), Hera Syndulla (from Star Wars: Rebels, Forces of Destiny, and Squadrons) and assorted characters in KotOR2.   Here's an IMDB link to her CV. 

Here’s where things take a turn. Vanessa Marshall isn’t who we hear on the planet of M4-78 though.  That completely different voice actress is Kath Soucie.  In TSL, she played the sisters of the Last of the Handmaidens (a/k/a Brianna's sisters). In the Star Wars EU alone, she’s played the female Smuggler and minor characters in SWTOR, Mira Bridger and Minister Maketh Tua in Star Wars: Rebels, Mon Mothma from the Star Wars: The Clone Wars cartoon, the Nightsister in Star Wars Empire at War: Forces of Corruption, Mara Jade in Star Wars: Empire at War, and the list goes on and on with other non-Star Wars roles.  Here's her IMDB link.

The new points:

Now there's a few things to consider . . .

1) Which Vash voice actor is canon?  Personally, I have to say that the real voice actor is the one we hear in the vanilla game.  That's the Vash they presumably intended to have all the way through and Vanessa Marshall's line didn't have to be restored. If you disagree, please comment below but read on for now.

2) There isn't enough information left in the game to describe what Vash's fate was to have been as the planet was cut early on in the development. So the character's fate is a mystery.

3) No one here is going to pay for Vanessa Marshall to redo Kath Soucie's lines.

So what's the alternative? My thought is via AI models of the voice actress' lines.  Have someone - say YouTube's SpeakingofAI - make a new model by providing all of Vanessa Marshall's lines from the game and providing addition material from other games and sources.

But should anyone request this yet? I'd say no and here's why: The aforementioned mystery of Vash's fate (or fates) should be considered first.  There are other points as well so let's quickly cover them.

  • If she makes it off the planet, might she return to Jedi Enclave?  If she does, what does she say during the Exile's trial that ties into the material that she's already discussed. And can she do so while both staying true to the overall themes of the game and not simply repeating what the other surviving Jedi Masters say?
  • Is there a possibility where she makes it off the planet and doesn't return to the Enclave?  Is there a way to do so while remaining true to the game's themes? And assuming Kaah lives, does he go with her to points on unknown?
  • If she doesn't make it off the planet, does she have new dialogue? What would she say?
  • As long as we have an AI model that can replicate Vash's voice. would new scenes be written and created to provide the player with a "breadcrumb trail" to let them know they're on the right track and to provide some exposition?

I was planning to put these points in the documentary, but I think it's something that should be discussed now so I can judge the audience's reaction to it.  I'm also curious to see how feasible you all think this may be.  Finally, if anyone wants to bring up other possible uses for extending Vash's appearances or what her new unwritten dialogue might be, please drop your own suggestions or writing examples down below.

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Whoa. Despite all my personal researchings about KOTOR II cut content in the past I got somewhat surprised by the fact that "vanilla" Master Vash is Vanessa Marshall and the one we actually had in M4-78 is Kath Soucie. You learn something new every day.

On the subject. Which Vash voice actor is canon? -- Well, I'd say generally speaking the canon should be what we see in the vanilla game. AND probably what was famously appraised by you-know-who (guess you get my meaning here (: )

But this is the matter of what we get with TSLRCM, I think. The M4-78(EP), on the other hand, is a good question. Speaking of what could have happened to Vash in "better circumstances", I personally think that she could actually be a very good opportunity to drastically change the course of the final Jedi encounter on Dantooine, maybe even siding with the Exile somehow (if you did have a good encounter with her back on M4-78, for example). Not sure about the subsequent appearance of Kreia there though. 

But before actually making any real moves, what about the original designer who worked on M4-78 for Obsidian (Kevin D. Saunders)? Afaik he actually liked what was done about the droid planet in EP, so maybe there is still a certain point to ask him about Vash?

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I always felt that Vash got the proverbial short end of the stick when it came to the story. If you have her die on M7-48, it's just as pointless as if she died offscreen to Darth Sion. To settle the matter of how to make it mesh with the council scene at the end, she could just decide to go into hiding like Atris and have no impact on the rest of the story. Alternatively, she seems to be the investigative type, so maybe she'd decide to "Find the source of the Sith" like Revan did at the end of Kotor 1.

Since Kaah was kind of a loose cannon, he could either leave with Vash to hopefully find his balance again or just flat-out leave the jedi to parts unknown. (Mirroring the decision that the Exile did before the game)

 

As far as the voice actress I'm not beholden to any particular "canon" Vash, but I do quite like Vanessa Marshall's performance in the Vanilla game. (For what little we hear)

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I may be in the small camp for this, but if we use AI to recreate the voice, I think I would want it to sound similar to Kath Soucie. Not only do I love her as Tavion, I feel she had more feeling as Vash than Vanessa Marshall. 

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15 hours ago, Sith Holocron said:

Hard to read the article as it's behind a paywall.

Check PMs.

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4 hours ago, LDR said:

Check PMs.

Thanks for that, LDR.

Let me state that I was not planning on making such a mod. This post wasn't made to put out feelers to gauge interest.  I just think that someone is eventually going to make a mod using this technology.  It may or may not be for KOTOR but it seems inevitable that a mod using a deepfake is going to happen.  With this in mind, it seems prudent to calmly discuss the matter before something like this shows up on our doorstep.

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Yeah, @zbyl2 and I discussed this before. As I recall, he was reluctant to replace the Vash dialogue in M4-78 because that was some of the only original game content included in the mod, but not opposed to anyone else doing so. That was in regards to replacing the voice entirely, however.

Quote

Which Vash voice actor is canon?

If one of her voices can be cloned, there is no reason another can't be. It's simply a matter of training data, and they are both prolific voice actors.

On 12/15/2020 at 11:31 PM, LDR said:

I feel like using an AI to recreate somebody's voice is legally dubious.

Perhaps. At the moment, voice cloning is not really being policed on YouTube. There will likely be high-profile cases involving defamation or work compensation, but I think in most cases it will be regarded as harmless and not worth fighting. It's not difficult for anyone with the technical know-how or the ability to follow a tutorial, so there's just no way to universally put a stop to it. Not unlike modding in many respects.

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