Hello there, Destructoid readers! I'm Clayton Chan from Atlus, project lead for Crimson Gem Saga, and I'm happy to be making our first of what is hopefully a long line of Community Blogs posted here for you folks to get to know a little bit more about us and how we roll.
The topic of this entry will be Crimson Gem Saga and the art of localization in general. Let's face it, probably a good 80% in the audience take a look at what we do and think, "I can do that. How tough could it possibly be to come up with 40 different boob jokes?" Well, I'm here to inform you that we in the Atlus localization department are more than a walking set of boob jokes. (Stop staring at my chest.)
So I'll start off with how we localized Crimson Gem Saga.
As some of you may be aware, the Asian version of Crimson Gem Saga was released with a rudimentary English translation in the game. While this was good because it theoretically meant we wouldn't need a translator for this project, it was also problematic because when we needed an answer about the translation, the answer wasn't ten feet away, it was some 6,000 miles away. (That's 3.05m, and 9,656 km respectively for our metric fanbase.)
In order to get the best possible translation, it quickly became clear that Devin and myself were going to have to do a lot of communicating with each other to make sure that we couldn't answer each other's questions ourselves to minimize the number of things we needed clarified, and that we were asking Korea the correct questions when we did have to go to them for clarification.
That brings us to the Atlus Important Localization Tidbit(TM) for today: Teamwork.
Here at Atlus, unless we get a project that's already in English with an incredibly small amount of text, nobody will ever be solely responsible for all of the text in a game. That means everyone here has to have to constructive discussions with each other. You can't go over to a translator and bluntly tell them that you're got no idea what's going on in a scene they translated, or that you think they completely blew the context of a scene without them getting defensive. While defense does win championships, it doesn't win friends. Opening meaningful, non-antagonistic dialogue with your team on the project is important to making a quality project and keeping everyone happy.
If you're the guy on the internet that's always getting all MC Grammar on people, you're probably not going to be a good fit in a localization team, because you're going to have a nigh-impossible time working with people for more than a couple days before someone's asking to get you removed from the project.
Devin Curry, the lead editor, started getting a group of us together to play basketball, to get us some exercise, and to get the team better acquainted with each other. Devin, myself, Scott "Big Hustle" Williams, and Aram "RoboCop Hops" Jabbari from PR went out for pick-up games. Activities like these generally help build a group's camaraderie, and you'll also start to see it becoming easier to pick up off each other's cues when it comes to writing dialogue. (BTW, if you're ever in the area, and you want to step up, we generally play on Mondays. Prepare to have your egos inflated!)
Dividing up the workload is important, too. In order to keep characters consistent over the course of the game, we assigned individual characters to ourselves to write, rather than just taking blocks of lines. I met with Devin to figure out which characters he preferred to write, and why. When you work on something that you're both proficient at and enjoy, it's only natural that the benefits will show up in the final product.
Another major concern with localization and for Crimson Gem Saga in particular, was making sure we were able to stay faithful to the spirit of the story. There was already a completely literal translation of the game script out there in the Asian version, but if you've seen it, it's not exactly the most engaging script. More often than not, a literal translation is far from an ideal one. Our ideal localization is something that follows the intended spirit of the story and the characters.
So, Devin and I worked to keep humor in where it was intended and to remove the unintentional humor and replace it with text that would convey the emotion that the original writers intended.
Lurdurk: "Stormghor? You were the one in charge of invading the gate with the Galorins!"
Stormghor: "Kekakakaka! Right on. That's not all! I was waiting here knowing you guys would be here!"
Killian: "Woot! Cunning creature!!"
Stormghor: "Of course I'm cunning! Kekakaka! What a compliment!!"
Stormghor: "Drop your weapons if you don't want to see her suffer!"
Spinel: "Taking her hostage! You are as cunning as anyone can be!"
This scene is now:
Lahduk: "So you're the one who led the attack on the Graystone Gate!"
Stormghor: "Mwahahaha! Exactly right. And that's not all! I've been waiting for you here. I knew you'd be after the Metatron Cannon! So predictable!"
Killian: "That was actually pretty smart..."
Stormghor: "Mwahahaha! Or you were pretty stupid! I don't mind which one you choose."
Stormghor: "Now, drop your weapons if you don't want to see her suffer!"
Spinel: "Taking her hostage... That's a cowardly move, even for a monster like you!"
In addition to polishing up the text in this sequence, this scene is also one of the sequences we added new voice to. We did this because we felt that it would add extra emotional impact to pivotal scenes. I had Devin play through the Asian version of the game and pick out the sequences that would most benefit from being voiced.
Hopefully, you'll all agree that that the end result is the best version of Crimson Gem Saga to date, and you'll run out to pre-order and buy it. Thanks for stopping by and supporting the blog!
(By the way, as an Inaugural Atlus Blog Post Special, we're throwing you Destructoid readers a neat little bonus. Take a look at the game's website, and some of the interviews we've done on the game, and if you've got further questions, I'll forward the best selections on to the developers in Korea.)