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Games Entertainment

Inside Video Game Localization 90

Posted by Soulskill
from the more-than-just-a-babelfish-script dept.
Atlus USA is a company known for their skill at localizing games — that is, adapting the text and speech in a game to a different language or culture. They've written a summary of their timeline for modifying a game, explaining that it's much more complicated than just running everything by a translator. They also have other articles looking at various parts of their work with more detail. When work begins, they take a few weeks to familiarize themselves with the game, giving them the proper context to understand character interactions and names. The actual translation then takes anywhere from a week to a few months, depending on how much material there is and whether they need to bring in new voice actors. Another month or so is allotted to actually implementing the changes and making technical modifications, after which another month or two is dedicated to bug testing. Then the game is submitted back to its original manufacturer for approval, a process that can take two months, and finally the new discs and game boxes are created, which adds another month. Thus, what many gamers see as a "simple" localization process can take six months or more to complete.
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Inside Video Game Localization

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  • Atlus (Score:4, Informative)

    by lyinhart (1352173) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @06:59AM (#28826023)
    You've got to give credit to Atlus - they've done a good job bringing the Shin Megami Tensei series over to the western world, especially when Final Fantasy gets way more attention. But they did a hatchet job on Maken X [ign.com] - to the point where the plot was incomprehensible and the voice acting was laughable. Still, it's good to see that they're working so hard at a job that so many other companies do so wrong. Jaleco's USA division didn't even try to translate stories in most cases. They did one of the worse localization jobs in history when they brought over the third game in Rushing Beat series.

    Reading about Atlus's localization process really makes me miss Working Designs [wikipedia.org], who no one really properly appreciated for their localization efforts.
  • Where this gets hard (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pikoro (844299) <[init] [at] [init.sh]> on Sunday July 26, 2009 @07:15AM (#28826083) Homepage Journal
    Where this gets hard is in the non-game arena. Dialogs and buttons and menu options originally designed for Japanese, will not normally scale well when you have to translate 2 kanji into a few words. That stretches things, which makes it overlap other items which, when not programmed correctly from the start with translation in mind, makes things a major headache.

    A lot of Japanese programs I use have very compact interfaces since, in Japanese, you can compress an entire sentence or meaning into just a few characters, whereas with English this would take an entire sentence. It's really a pain in the arse.

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