EXP Con 2017 highlights

Quotes recorded by Glenn H. Morrow from October 27-29, 2017 at the Renaissance World Golf Village Resort in St. Augustine, Florida

Ray Chase (Noctis), Robbie Daymond (Prompto), Adam Croasdell (Ignis), and Chris Parson (Gladiolus) cosplaying as their characters from Final Fantasy XV

[Note: Credit for the Chocobros’ costuming, makeup and many photos taken of them as they cosplayed go to fans Evenstar, Mur and Ren]

(photo by Ren)

(photo by Mama Val/The Lucian Archives)

(pictured here with FFXV voice director Keythe Farley; photo by Taylor VanGilder)

(photo by The Lifestream PR & Events Coordinator lithiumkatana17)

The Chocobros reading a scene from the FFXV audio drama prologue, “Parting Ways”

[Note: Thus far, this audio drama has only officially been recorded in its entirety in Japanese, though a text-only official English localization has been made available]

(recording by Krista Keith)

[Note: Some of the following comments from the Chocobros have been edited for flow; additionally, some contain mention of major plot details of FFXV]

Comments from Ray Chase

[Note: See also The Lifestream’s exclusive interview with Ray at EXP Con 2017]

During the group panel with FFXV voice director Keythe Farley and the other Chocobros

In response to a fan who asked, “What is the best thing about voice acting your character, and what is the worst thing about voice acting your character?”

RC: “This was my very first video game — like, legit video game that wasn’t a Russian iPhone app, and Keythe brought me on, and I was super green and super nervous and stuff, and he said many times — especially towards the end — how much all of us have changed during these three years working on this. Playing the lead character in a video game takes a lot of sessions and a lot of hard work to get through, and discovering that has been my favorite. My least favorite thing about Noct is roughly 85 percent of his lines is ‘… Yeah.’ [laughs] And after a while, you’re just like ‘Can’t you use one of the other ones?'”

In response to a fan who asked, “Did you guys ever think the game would be this big with the community? … Did you just ever think you would be here dressed up like your characters?”

[After everyone laughs, Adam Croasdell offers a brief first response, prompting more laughter]
AC: “Never.”

RC: “We’re all in a multitude of games, but they’re nothing without a community. If it’s just a game that you play — if you don’t talk about it with people, if you don’t bring it up, if you don’t form fan groups, it doesn’t go anywhere. It’s just a game that the company makes money on and we all go home, and that’s it — but this one; the fan response has been overwhelming and really surprising. It’s not just individuals. It’s groups of people getting together and putting on … this entire con is the Final Fantasy XV Con, basically — yes, Doug Cockle is here, we’re all aware of that — but this one has legs that I’ve never seen in anything I’ve ever been a part of. It seems to get more and more popular as the months go by. We’re coming up to one year … and I feel like it’s more popular now than when it came out.”

[Note: Doug Cockle, the voice of Geralt of Rivia from “The Witcher” series, was also a guest at EXP Con 2017]

During his personal panel

In response to a fan who asked what scene required the most takes to get right

RC: “We probably didn’t do more than eight or nine takes for anything. … We probably recorded the scene where you first meet Umbra the most, though. They had multiple versions of that for some reason.”

In response to a fan who asked if he knows more about the Master of Masters from the “Kingdom Hearts” franchise than has presently been revealed to fans

RC: “They don’t tell us you’re actually going to be the shadow version of this or that character. It’s better to just play it the clearest way possible.”

In response to a fan who asked if he has defeated the adamantoise yet

RC: “I never fought it … because I didn’t want to. [laughs] If I did go back, I’d probably just use the Ring. … Two and a half hours — you will never get those back. [laughs]”

In response to a fan who asked what his favorite scene from FFXV is

RC: “The train scene is all four of us emoting. We worked hard on that one. I like the train scene a lot.”

In response to a fan who asked what his favorite FFXV meal is

RC: “Canon would be the Multi-Meat Sandwich. I like my meat. Isn’t it the fries that give you more HP? I use the fries a lot.”

In response to a fan who asked who his favorite characters from FFXV are outside of the Chocobros

RC: “Kenny Crow. [laughs] So scary. I like him. I like — Vyv is so interesting, ’cause you don’t ever see characters who look like that in video games. So, I liked him a lot. And Ardyn is just great. He’s just so slimy.”

In response to a fan who asked what he wishes had been shown in the game

RC: “I wanted to see more of what’s going on in Niflheim when you’re going through Gralea. It’s not just the magitek there — there’s citizens there too. But obviously it takes a million years to develop things like that.”

In response to a fan who asked which performance from his career has been the most difficult

RC: “‘NieR’ was the hardest — the most vocally stressful. … He transforms and screams a lot. Also, he was played by Tatsuhisa Suzuki, the same guy who played Noctis in Japanese. And they didn’t know that. I kept thinking they wanted him to sound like Noctis.”

[Note: Ray played the role of Adam in “NieR: Automata”]

Comments from Chris Parson

During the VIP soirée held the first night of the convention

When I teasingly asked him “I’m sure you’ve thoroughly delved into the game since you joined the other guys for that stream a while back” in regard to his appearance on “Loud, Annoying and Very Annoying” (hosted by Ray Chase, Robbie Daymond, and Max Mittelman) in April of this year, he chuckled and nodded before saying —

CP: “Nope. And you know, it’s not that I’m against it. I don’t want anyone thinking that. It’s just that there isn’t a lot of room for anything for me that isn’t film. I’m a nerd for movies.”

During the group panel with FFXV voice director Keythe Farley and the other Chocobros

In response to the fan who asked, “What is the best thing about voice acting your character, and what is the worst thing about voice acting your character?”

CP: “The thing I love about him, to me the Gladio voice is basically just me doing an impression of my dad. [laughs] Because my dad has a much lower voice than I do, so I just kinda go, ‘Hey, Chris. Ha ya doin’?’ And so it’s just a variation of that. … [turning to look at Keythe] No, my favorite thing was working with you, honestly. We worked together on a thing called ‘Skylanders.’ I played Wham-Shell, and he did a great job of directing. So, every time it was like, ‘Cool, man. I want to work with that Keythe guy again.'”

[Keythe chimes in]
KF: “That’s also how I’m known in the business: ‘That Keythe guy.'”

CP: “It’s because how you spell your name is weird … so it’s not just like a run-of-the-mill Keythe.”

During his personal panel

In response to a fan who asked him what he most remembers from his recording sessions for FFXV

CP: “Feeding the cat is what I think about when I think about this game. I’m a cat person. I became a cat person. It happened for me later in life than most.”

In response to a fan who asked him what role from his career he slid into most easily

CP: “Junkrat [from ‘Overwatch’]. I immediately knew how I was going to play him.”

In response to a question from me about whether he feels that the shift toward cinematic, movie-like storytelling is the most appropriate direction for gaming as a medium

CP: “Honestly, as gaming evolves, what other way could it go? I agree that it’s what I see as well. That’s really all I seem to see. I’d almost say it has to, though.”

Comments from Robbie Daymond

During the group panel with FFXV voice director Keythe Farley and the other Chocobros

In response to the fan who asked, “What is the best thing about voice acting your character, and what is the worst thing about voice acting your character?”

RD: “My favorite part is that this character is the closest to my natural speaking voice of any character that I’ve ever done. So, that becomes problematic because — it’s enjoyable because I don’t have to put on a voice, which I like to do in cartoons and stuff like that, but it’s kind of the worst because everybody goes ‘You’re Prompto!’ and I go ‘Ehh, no, that’s just kind of me, but playing a character in a different circumstance.’ So, I would say, from an actor standpoint, that’s the best and worst. It’s easily recognizable, but then every time I do something that’s anywhere close to my voice, all I ever hear is ‘It sounds just like Prompto!’ and I go, ‘Well, that’s because he’s me and you listen to him for 120 hours of your life.’ But it is one of my favorite — if not my favorite — sessions to go into. I do not believe that we’re still doing stuff for this. Every time I see it pop up on my schedule, I’m so excited. Mostly because — I love you guys — but mostly because of my working relationship with Keythe. When we go in together, I just feel like we have this great dynamic. He guided me from the beginning, and we let go of that Japanese voice track, like he said, in maybe the first two sessions, because we were like ‘We got it. We’re good. We’re going to find him together.’ And to be able to have that experience, it’s extremely unique. So, I would say that’s my favorite part — was going in and working with Keythe, because he directs me and reigns me when I need to be, but sometimes he just lets me go, and it’s just a really great relationship.”

During his personal panel

In response to my own question, “At this point, what role could you still land that would make you shit your pants?”

RD: “Spider-Man. I shit my pants over Spider-Man. He’s my favorite superhero. He’s what got me into comics. As for where you go after that, you tell me. I realize this is temporary, of course. Someone else will come along and be Spider-Man next. I’d still like to establish something with some lasting attachment, like an ‘Adventure Time’ sort of thing, but in terms of cultural icons — where do you go from here?”

[Note: Earlier this year, Robbie assumed the role of Spider-Man in Disney XD’s ongoing animated series starring the Marvel character]

In response to a fan who asked whether Robbie feels Prompto was only just discovering the truth about his past during the events of “Episode Prompto”

RD: “That’s how we recorded it, that he was figuring things out as he went along. If he knew everything from the start and was keeping it a secret, I just don’t see how it rings true. It would be a different story. It would have been a revenge story.”

In response to another fan who asked Robbie what his favorite part of the weekend had been up to that point

RD: “Probably seeing Chris [Parson] having so much fun. He’s always so calm and collected. It would have to be seeing him cutting lose and enjoying himself.”

Comments from Adam Croasdell

During the group panel with FFXV voice director Keythe Farley and the other Chocobros

In response to the fan who asked, “What is the best thing about voice acting your character, and what is the worst thing about voice acting your character?”

AC: “I think for me what was kind of cool was you get basically an ‘A,’ ‘B,’ and a ‘C’ take for each line, and as an actor, you sort of want to try different things each time. Sometimes you really do have the emotional scope to find something very different and interesting, and sometimes you just can’t find an extra way to do it, so by the time you’ve cleared ‘B’ with something brilliant, you’re like, ‘Oh, shit, I’ve got ‘C’ now. How am I going to follow that up?’ So, that’s the good and the bad thing about it. I think another good and a bad thing about it is … we had some really great writers on the game, really fantastic, top-notch, and you really — I don’t know, maybe it’s my English here, but I like to really sort of get to the juice of what you’re saying sometimes, and invariably I would always go long on the line. By nanoseconds — hundredths of seconds, and I’ll be convinced I’ve come in on time, and Keythe’ll go ‘No, mate. Sorry. Hundredth of a second over this time.’ And thank God we have this engineer called — and thank God he’s called this — ‘Z-Rad,’ who actually manages to sculpt our voices in and just shorten it and … absolutely tailor it into the time needed. And yeah, that has been a pleasure, watching that all happen. Totally meaningful experience for me. It’s been terrific.”

[Keythe chimes in, affecting a voice somewhat like Ignis’s a couple of times]
KF: “Adam has what I call ‘The Hangover Final Consonant.’ Which is like, any line will be like — ‘That sounds perfect, Noct … t.’ Every single time I have to watch these wave forms go by, and it’s like, ‘Agh, he’s doing the hangover thing again! There it is!’ And it’s like, ‘That sounds perfect, Noct. Good-d-d-d-d.’ Z’s like ‘I got it, I got it.’ Z would sometimes take — the ones that I love is when he would take like just a few little pieces out of a long vowel sound — like ‘Hooold on.’ He could take the ‘o’ — middle part of ‘hold’ — and squeeze it together so it would sound like ‘HOLD on!’ Amazing. He’s just amazing.”

AC: “He’s really amazing. I sing his praises. [looking around] … To an electrified audience.”

In response to my own question —

Me: “This is for Adam and I guess a little bit for Keythe as well — as Robbie eloquently put it a little while back, ‘Ignis is a sassy bitch …'”

[After the audience and panelists laugh, Robbie chimes in]
RD: “I forget half the things I say are recorded.”

[Keythe Farley chimes in]
KF: “I just want to note that you don’t often get ‘Robbie’ and ‘eloquently’ in the same sentence.”

Me: “After Ignis is blinded — spoilers — he’s different, how he speaks. So, did that development change what you guys did to get Adam into character for sessions?”

AC: “I think in terms of that … as an on-screen or stage actor, you obviously get the script ahead of time. You never get the script ahead of time in something like this. So, you arrive at work and they’re like, ‘Cool, we’ve got some great scenes for you. They’re inside the booth.’ And then Keythe will give me the skinny before I go in, and I’m just like ‘Oookay, that’s what we’re doing’ — and then we have to get there. So, you know, you just dive into, you know, emotional recall of such things taught to you as an actor and just jump in — and obviously after the trauma of what he went through, you just sort of have to find trauma in your own self and dig into that. It’s quite quick, and thankfully Keythe’s got theatrical background as well, so he knows the actor’s process, and we sort of talk about a few things, and we just jump in.”

KF: “And the other thing we had on this game that was a real gift to us was we got to work through the game in chronological order, which almost never, ever, ever happens in video games. You’re on a parallel track, and they’re going to pick a level that they want to have for the E3 next year, and that’s what you do first. Then you go back and grab [level] 2, ’cause it’s ready, and level 4 — but this was really great. We started at zero, and we walked all the way through. Now, as we got through, then gameplay stuff would come in, and then this sort of AI stuff — the banter in the car and on the battlefield — would come in. And so frequently I would say ‘You remember this? This was back, like, in level 4,’ and they’d be like ‘… Uh, no?’ … So, it was great. The progress of each character was able to develop in real time.”

[Robbie chimes in once more, prompting uproarious laughter from everyone]
RD: “I love you guys’ questions and how serious all the answers are with how freaking stupid we look.”

In response to a fan who asked, “I know you can’t really share spoilers or anything of the sort for ‘Episode Ignis,’ but is there anything of your experience voicing it you wanted to share or feelings that it evoked?”

AC: “[chuckles and looks at Keythe] That’s a tricky and subtle one to answer, isn’t it?”

[After Adam pauses for another moment and looks again to Keythe, Ray Chase in, prompting uproarious laughter from the audience and his co-panelists]
RC: “It’s really funny. It’s a laugh riot.”

AC: “[laughing] An absolute laugh a minute. Gather the family around. Get all the young ones close to the screen. Might make some popcorn. [chuckles] Yeah, it’s a deepening and a fleshing-out, and you know — obviously in the ‘Final Fantasy’ way — some surprises. And knowing what we already do know about it, perhaps get a little box of Kleenexes. Get your mates together and just get a box of Kleenexes and watch it. [chuckles more] Merry Christmas!”

During his personal panel

In response to a fan who asked whether the interpretation some fans have that Ignis may be queer had gotten back to him

AC: “Yeah, it sure has. It sure has. I’m very excited about that. I think it’s brilliant. I mean, there’s an underrepresentation of most every sort of minority in popular culture in the West, so any time that there’s a representation, I’m all for it. Yes, I think there’s a good chance that Ignis might be queer. That’s great, isn’t it? I think the sooner we can all start having conversations about it, and just putting our faces out there, being heard about these things, making friends … [shaking his head] I mean, there’s too much — people have got too much bumbling around in here. [points at his head] Like, we just need to start being cool with each other, don’t you think? I’m so tired of everyone having a problem with the next person. I mean, for God’s sake, get over it. Everybody, just get over it, you know? Whatever it is — whatever your issue is with the next person, bloody get over it. And that’s something that I love about this particular fanbase. It’s something I remark upon a lot. … I’ve just noted time and time again just how cool people are with each other, and how supportive they are, and just how anybody can be precisely who they want to be, and everyone’s just like ‘Cool.’ And I just love it. I want this space to ripple out and expand and just be a thing. … And so it’s been an absolute delight to have it happen here, and if Ignis is sort of representative of that, then so much the better. I’m damn proud to be the voice of him.”

In response to a fan who said, “I really love [Final Fantasy]XII, and I just feel like Ignis and Balthier would get along so well”

AC: “Shall I tell you just how well Ignis and Balthier do get along?”

[The fan replies]
“You’re his friend, aren’t you?”

AC: “We went to university together, me and Gideon.”

[After the audience cheers and applauds, the fan responds again]
“If I could ever get you guys to have a conversation as your characters, it would just be so amazing.”

AC: “Well, let’s try and make it happen then.”

[The fan replies again]
“Totally! Do you know Balthier’s character pretty well?”

AC: “I do.”

[Once more from the fan]
“I just feel like that would be such a cool interaction.”

AC: “That would be fun, wouldn’t it? I must ask him.”

[Note: Final Fantasy XII’s Balthier was voiced by Gideon Emery in English]

In response to my own question, “When you joined Ray for his little Periscope chat last week, you said that there’s a line you would use a lot to get you ready to be Ignis. What was that?”

AC: “You know, it’s really quite simple, and I’ve said it before, but: it’s just his name. It’s just ‘Noct.’ [shaking his head and taking on an increasingly reproachful tone while putting his palm to his forehead] I just look at him and I’m like, ‘Noct. Noct. Oh, Noct’ — and I find myself right in character. I just become a parent. [laughs]”

In response to The Lifestream PR & Events Coordinator lithiumkatana17 asking “Since Tabata-san has confirmed that the guys do make it at the end of the game after everything happens with Noct,
I want to know what is your personal vision for how Ignis may have lived out the rest of his life. Ever since Ignis was a child, his life has revolved around Noctis, and now, at the end, he doesn’t have that purpose anymore — so how do you think Ignis might have lived out his years?”

AC: “That’s a very good question. That’s very interesting. You know, my first thought is ‘What if it’s always a relationship rather like Alfred and Bruce Wayne?’ — but I would imagine that Ignis is always going to … [chuckles] I always sort of see him putting himself out to pasture like on a ranch somewhere and becoming a man of letters, and reading a lot and being called in to advise whenever he was needed. I think he would always be just out of sight enough but always close enough to get there in an instant, however that sort of took form. … He’s the father that Noct actually doesn’t have anymore, and he also embodies all that came between — all of the old school. He’s sort of the bridging gap between Regis — that echelon — and the new lads that are coming up. And he’s got all that knowledge and all that experience, and he’ll tell — he’ll sit them down and recount the stories. … I would imagine if delusions of grandeur or something took hold — which sometimes happens with these great people — I would imagine Ignis would very gently but very firmly pull them right back into the correct headspace. But I imagine almost on a ranch somewhere, Ignis — not in the city. Reading. Thinking. Watching. Listening.”