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R P G A M E R   -   R O U N D T A B L E

Topic I: Game Localizations: Good and Bad
07.05.2005

J_Sensei: I would like to thank you all on behalf of the entire site for joining this discussion

Lord_Grifter: Well, you're very welcome

Lord_Grifter: And, thanks for having me

J_Sensei: I think before we begin

J_Sensei: let's introduce ourselves

Lord_Klaxor: Hey all, my names Chris Beaupre. And I am the PR manager for the site.

J_Sensei: My name is Jordan Jackson, and I run Japandemonium and now Roundtables

Limdallion: Greetings, I'm David Welch; a previewer and new staffer here at RPGamer.

Lord_Grifter: My name is Steven Carlton and I am the localization coordinator at NIS America.

Dracos: Hail, There be some that call me Philip Bloom, Editorials curator and board admin. Good to meet you all.

Alethea: I'm Cortney Stone, Head of New Updates.

Toran: Charles Harris...Random reader.

Martyr: Hello, I'm Phillip Clayton, AKA Martyr, and I'm one of the heads of New Updates.

Diamond_: yo, this is Vincent Castillo, RPGamer board member and superfan

madhtr: I'm Billy Young, New Updates

J_Sensei: Well, then let's begin

J_Sensei: ok

J_Sensei: Thank you again for joining me on my first Roundtable Discussion

J_Sensei: I would like to thank Steven Carlton for joining us today

J_Sensei: And with that, let's start with the first topic

Lord_Grifter: You're welcome, and thanks for giving me this wonderful opportunity to talk to some of our fans

J_Sensei: Since Steven is in charge of Localizing games, I thought an interesting topic would be game localizations in general.

J_Sensei: So, what do you all think makes for a good localization?

Limdallion: Other than translating, what does localization consist of?

Martyr: Funny screw ups to make us laugh.

Diamond_: well certain jokes and things wouldn't make sense directly translated

XeroZohar: Well, somebody who understands English is a good starting point. ^^;;

Lord_Klaxor: I've always wondered what liberties that are taken when localizing games. Little tid bits of humor that might not have been in the origional title.

Alethea: There are sometimes Japanese puns and cultural idioms that don't translate well. You have to adapt those to American culture.

Diamond_: I'd guess the developers would try to keep it as close to the american equivalents of those jokes

Dracos: A good localization is sort of a difficult thing to nail down. On one hand, it is a technically apt translation. That's always a first tier of importance I'd say... On another, there's the delivery and tailoring of the experience. Localization is taking an already built game and making it work as best it can for those who will be experiencing it. =)

Lord_Grifter: We usually take the direct translations and adapt them so that a more westernized audience can enjoy it even more

Limdallion: I understand that many jokes have to be reinvented completely in the localization process.

J_Sensei: How do you adapt it for Western gamers?

Lord_Grifter: We take the intent of say some jokes that don't transfer well into english, and try to replace them with westernized jokes that have the same feel and intent of the originals

Lord_Grifter: that way, the average english speaking player can appreciate the same kind of comedy, and won't feel like they're missing something

XeroZohar: I imagine context is everything with some jokes.

J_Sensei: I notice that a bit in NIS games. They allow me to play with Japanese voices and English text. There's quite a bit of difference sometimes

Lord_Klaxor: I always loved the item descriptions in NIS titles. Theres usually always a little pun for each one. Did you make any of those personally?

Martyr: heh

Martyr: I think "It is rude to point (with spears)" is my favorite.

Diamond_: those sure were memorable

Toran: "Fun for groping all sorts of places" Ahh the tenticle puns.

XeroZohar: "Don't point at friends!" (A gun)

Lord_Grifter: I wish I could take credit for those, but soon I'll be able to

Lord_Klaxor: Oh, so you must be doing them for one of your upcoming titles then. I'll look forward to them

Limdallion: Can you give us an example of a joke that was particularly difficult to translate?

Lord_Grifter: an example that comes to mind is in Iris. There was a joke about drinking juice with a certain japanese food that's commonly eaten with alcohol.

Lord_Grifter: We had to change the food, otherwise no one would understand what they were talking about

J_Sensei: So, to steer this in a totally different direction, what makes for a BAD localization?

Martyr: Well

Diamond_: I got a good feeling!

XeroZohar: That's about fifty points!

Martyr: That's pretty subjective, because I personally enjoy mind-numbingly bad localizations at times, just because they're so bad they're funny.

Limdallion: My favorite bad localization occurs in Chrono Trigger: Glenn, you're a marshmallow

Diamond_: You spoony bard!

Limdallion: Spoony bard is so classic, it is a domain name

Lord_Grifter: Well, we feel that the most important ingredients to localizing a game is the story/dialog and voice acting

Rage: I think one sign of bad localization is when characters have no memorable personality. That, to me, shows a lack of caring about translation.

J_Sensei: any examples?

BorgmanJayce: I guess that's why NISA's games and Working Design's games are popular...

* Lord_Klaxor tries to think of a rpg with bad localizations...

BorgmanJayce: Because they care about the quality of the translation...

Lord_Grifter: So, if you have a great story/dialog and great voice acting, you'll probably end up with a great localization for the game.

Alethea: Lord_Klaxor: FFT, FFVII...

BorgmanJayce: Warsong... Definitely bad translation...

Diamond_: Yeah, they throw a lot of pop culture subtleties in there too.

Alethea: Illusion of Gaia

BorgmanJayce: And don't forget the Phantasy Star ones

Toran: I think one RPG that stands out to me would be Grandia Xtreme, the voice acting and dialogue itself was pretty horrible.

Dracos: "Hello travelers, are you enjoying the Festival fo flame" - When stuff like this gets to the final release.

Dracos: =)

Alethea: Dracos: wow, that's horrid.

Martyr: hah

Lord_Grifter: If you mess up with those two aspects, the localization probably won't be that good at all.

BorgmanJayce: *Thanks the RPG Gods that never made it to Europe*

Lord_Klaxor: Hah, Grandia Xtreme. They did get Mark Hammel though.

Lord_Klaxor: which still didn't save the title.

Toran: Nope

Dracos: circa, my old favorite and a hillarious translation in its own right, Dragon Quest VII.

Alethea: and it reminds me...it's crucial to spellcheck and grammar-check text in games.

Martyr: I can see how people could make typos, but it surprises me that everything that goes into a game doesn't get spellchecked.

Dracos: Alethea: As I hear it, it is sort of hard there. I suspect they do spellcheck it quite thoroughly, there's just lots of spots for it to get re-typo'ed.

Dracos: There's tons of text that is involved.

Limdallion: Another topic to consider: voice acting - since that would be involved in the localization process

Diamond_: Yeah... All Your Base Are Belong To Us!!!

Toran: Oh no... not that!

J_Sensei: yes

Alethea: oh, the grandaddy of them all

* XeroZohar: cringes at the mention of Zero Wing

BorgmanJayce: Classic, that quote!

J_Sensei: but a spell checker wouldn't catch those

J_Sensei: Those are all correctly spelled words

Alethea: J: you know what I mean

Alethea: well, "fo" is not a word ^^

J_Sensei: right

Lord_Klaxor: and we all know how finicky grammar check can be

J_Sensei: but I've seen a word be misspelled in the game

Diamond_: Well if the spellcheck also checks for syntax (some do) it would.

BorgmanJayce: What about the infamous piece from Phantasy Star 4 where Alys threatens Grandfather Dorin because he was giving out his vital stats... I found that to be funny...

Martyr: Yeah, but did they even have those back when Zero Wing was developed?

Limdallion: I have come across many misspelled words, it surprises me too

Martyr: As far as I know, that's a pretty new technology.

Alethea: nevertheless, you need to manually check if a spellcheck isn't available

J_Sensei: and one that is constantly evolving

Lord_Klaxor: I can imagine that sometimes right after a game is released, the developers will see a type and be like, "doh!"

Alethea: heh

Martyr: typo, you mean

Alethea: and it's cemented forever in the game

Limdallion: I'm floored by the irony

XeroZohar: Bring up a good question: How many separate teams look over the script of a game before it's finally programmed in?

J_Sensei: yeah, that's not a bad question to sort of end this topic on

BorgmanJayce: How do they pick the voice actors for the games...

Lord_Klaxor: I assume that they have try outs like any other job

Lord_Grifter: Well, we've got the translators, then the editors, and then the game debuggers

Lord_Klaxor: but i can imagine that some just get the job from their reputation in past projects

BorgmanJayce: I just loved the voice acting in Rhapsody, especially that of Marjoly and the catgirl [who's name I've forgotten]

Diamond_: True, I've definitely seen some recurring voices.

Lord_Klaxor: I always love playing a game and noticing voice actors/actresses from other titles and projects.

Martyr: If I may divert the topic out in left field for a bit.

Limdallion: Look a voice actor up on IMDB, you'll be surprised at how many related projects they've been in

Diamond_: Yeah, Spike from Cowboy Bebop is in everything

* Lord_Klaxor grabs his glove and runs to left field

BorgmanJayce: Jimmy Flinders for example has appeared in a lot of videogames

* Dracos launches the ball!

Toran: Cree Summers too

ZeroSlash: I agree like how Laharl's VA was Rita from Power Rangers

Lord_Grifter: We get a lot of help from the recording studio in our actor selection.

BorgmanJayce: From Metal Gear Solid to Baldur's Gate

Martyr: I'm really surprised that there are a lot of people out there who would rather listen to voices in a language they can't understand, rather than listen to the North American versions, where they can actually understand what is being said from listening, and not just by reading the text.

Dracos: Oh

Dracos: that one is easy, martyr =)

Lord_Klaxor: A lot of people just like the sound of the japanese language.

Dracos: have you heard Tales of Destiny 2's voice acting? =)

J_Sensei: This is true

Lord_Grifter: We'll let them know what kind of voices we want for each character, and they'll help us out with the actual selection

BorgmanJayce: I find it odd that the Euro versions of games like Disgaea didn't have the original voices...

Martyr: It either really says a lot about those people, or really says a lot about the quality of your general North American localization.

J_Sensei: but some people are purists that don't want anything changed

Dracos: Japan: There's also the misperception.

XeroZohar: Hey, there's nothing wrong with the choice.

Lord_Grifter: We also tend to keep using the actors that we like

Dracos: Many people think that Japanese voice actors are excellent.

Diamond_: It's interesting that most young males are played by female voice actors.

Dracos: They don't know how good or bad they are.

BorgmanJayce: I'd rather buy the American versions than the Euro ones because they have the Japanese voices in them

J_Sensei: Leharl's anything but young... considering he's over 1000 years old...

Martyr: Yes, but he's in a "young" body and has a "young" voice.

Limdallion: That has to do with the pitches females are capable of I think

J_Sensei: So, final comments on this topic before we move on?

Lord_Klaxor: Yeah its easier for them to mimic the tone of a young boys voice

Dracos: Limdallion: Yes. particularly with the fact it is easier to get older females that are trained than young kids that are trained.

Alethea: There are probably more female adult voice actors than young male voice actors.

Alethea: also, young males would have time limits due to child labor laws

Alethea: so a female adult voice actor might be a better choice

Diamond_: True but there are many males with high pre-pube sounding voices.

Limdallion: Right, older females are available and working a lot longer than trained young boys

Dracos: No probably about it, Alethea. There's something to be said for experience and training.

Lord_Klaxor: thats a good point al

BorgmanJayce: That didn't stop Square from using Haley Joel Osment in KH

Diamond_: Goku is played by a woman even when he's like 50 for some reason.

Alethea: BorgmanJayce: that was probably an exception ^^

Diamond_: in Japan that is.

Martyr: Goku is played by a woman?

XeroZohar: Yeah, experience is better than authenticity.

Martyr: Oh

Limdallion: The voice acting they recruited for Kingdom Hearts is incredible

Alethea: That's Disney for you.

XeroZohar: Thats.....debatable.

Alethea: Also, Osment's voice was what they were looking for.

Alethea: A woman wouldn't have worked there

Alethea: also, as Sora ages, and Osment's voice deepens, he will continue to fit the role.

Alethea: a woman can't match that

Diamond_: well yeah, disney has the child actors locked down.

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