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Messages - FaustWolf

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61
ROM Hacking Discussion / Re: The Dragon Force II Translation Project
« on: March 24, 2011, 11:15:50 pm »
Thanks Nintennuendo! It's really the translators you need to thank, since they're the ones who are doing the lion's share of the work. Verve Fanworks has a Twitter account now, so everyone who wants to keep track of nitty gritty details on progress can follow along. What would the Twitter feed of a modding group even look like? Lots of "ZOMG! Changing pointers..." tweets I guess. Further Dragon Force II previews will start going up on the group's Youtube channel as well.

Should be returning to Dragon Force II text insertion within the week, and I'm hoping to have a demo patch with all gameplay-related text available sometime in June. But yeah, the first Dragon Force was like...my entire sixth grade year. Dragon Force II used to be this far-off, mythical thing until now. I'm really glad to be part of the community that makes titles like this accessible finally, and hopefully we'll be able to do the property justice.

62
Haha, nice work guys! This is the first Taiwan-developed Game Boy title I've heard of; was that weird header switch technique typically used on other consoles as well?

Really enjoyed reading the Taiwan developers section on Neo Fuji. Have you ever considered picking that back up and expanding on it?

63
Quote from: Magil
Oh, the track played during battle is called 'Guardian', isn't it?
Ha, thanks, that's right! I'll edit the descriptions immediately.

Yeah, I get a little carried away with music in videos sometimes. The game's native music is actually really good (the overworld theme is native data) if a bit limited when it comes to environment themes. Since the game engine uses streaming music, modding it is as easy as the end user popping in some MP3s in any case. I should mention that wschan has a playlist of most of the game's music.


Haha, golden, if the text is any clearer this time around it's because I found a better way of recording the video, probably. There's still some work to do on the font sheet yet, mostly making certain letters more distinct. I've just been noticing that the capital "O" and capital "U" need work in addition to other letters pointed out so far ("X" vs "K"; "A" vs "B").

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Keeping a running thread here at RHDN on the offchance we might attract some more translation help. Feedback of all kinds is welcome too! For a little background on the project, see our previous news post.

The project's going fast thanks to Magil's excellent utility coding, and with about 70% of the script translated first pass, we could have this baby out within a year's time, I think. If anyone's interested in getting some practice with Traditional Chinese to English translation, our project assignments/credits thread is here. We're really scraping around for help with the final push at this point, since there doesn't seem to be a central hub for volunteer Chinese to English translation talent. Hopefully that'll change as more projects like this roll into RHDN.

I'll keep the first post updated with new previews as we produce them. Chapter 6, Part 7 is a tad NSFW -- if you considered the bedroom scene with Ramsus and Miang in Xenogears NSFW, that is. Probably not even worth mentioning other than to see how the views on that one compare to the views on the other videos. :D

All videos are best viewed expanded to 640x480 by the way.

Latest Previews
*Chapter 5, Part 1
*Chapter 5, Part 2
*Chapter 5, Part 3

*Chapter 6, Part 1
*Chapter 6, Part 2
*Chapter 6, Part 3
*Chapter 6, Part 4
*Chapter 6, Part 5
*Chapter 6, Part 6
*Chapter 6, Part 7


Older Previews
*Older previews playlist

65
ROM Hacking Discussion / Re: The Dragon Force II Translation Project
« on: March 07, 2011, 07:00:07 pm »
First thing I'm going to do when I get back to Dragon Force II is finish inserting all the gameplay text and in-battle dialogues Sandslice translated. That should be done by summer, at which point the game would be hypothetically "playable in English." Hmm, I wonder if a partial translation patch would be worthwhile at that point, so people could play the game even if they don't know what's being said in the story sequences? Lots of people have asked about that possibility.

reinofhearts has Sanice's/Tradnor's scenario completely translated, and translators have signed up for most of the remaining scenarios. If I can just get back in touch with Hanmyou, we'll have them all covered. But seeing as Hanmyou hasn't checked in for awhile, we may still have one left to translate if more become interested. I'll do the text insertion for each scenario as it becomes available, but we have to get them all done before releasing a final patch -- the story text has to be either all in English due to our solution for getting the game engine to display ASCII text in those sequences.

66
ROM Hacking Discussion / Re: The Dragon Force II Translation Project
« on: March 01, 2011, 03:29:06 pm »
Whew, recruitment for the project has been on a roll lately.

In case anyone happens through here and is curious about how difficult the game's Japanese text is, reinofhearts suggested a sample that should give people a pretty good idea.

67
I think elementary and high school history textbooks were still using Wade-Giles in my area back in the 1990s, and then when I hit college, terminology was in (I think) Hanyu Pinyin. I still remember the moment when I was like, "Wait, Mao Zedong and Mao Tse-tung were the same guy!?"  :D 

68
Quote from: Magil
garrulous
Not to mention, I've learned a fair amount of English vocab from you guys during this process.  :thumbsup:  I think there's something about making the extra effort to express yourself in a second language that lends itself to moments of brilliance the native speaker might not have thought of, because more common words come to mind first. The item and equipment names, in particular, turned out to be really fun I think. Can't wait to see what players' reactions are to those when they have a chance to play the whole game in English.

But yeah, lack of English-language references for the story hurts. The fan community's resources and conversations are virtually all in Chinese, which of course gets butchered beyond recognition in Google Translator. At one point I thought one of the characters in the game (who's a Western adventurer) was a Viking when he's actually from the Duchy of Bavaria or thereabouts. :laugh: The translation team has provided virtually all of what I know about the story, and Magil even typed up English wiki articles describing the important characters.

For the script editing process, freeman's Youtube longplay of the game has been absolutely vital in providing context; it's a big part of the reason why the conversations flow as (hopefully) naturally as they do in the translation demo. It's kind of like how James Cameron talks about how he could "look through the lens and see the 3D performances in realtime" in interviews about the development of Avatar. Having the Youtube playthrough and the literal translations open on the same screen is way more convenient than firing up the game, taking notes, powering down and re-inserting, rinse and repeat.

When it comes to Chinese-to-English translations, I do see a significant advantage in the tendency for Chinese RPGs to make use of the nation's history. While there aren't many resources about the characters and plot available in English, there are plenty of good articles on the Song Dynasty and various religious concepts that appear in the story, and that's really helped me understand the game world a bit better. If it had taken place in some kind of Chinese Midgar, I'd be that much more at a disadvantage in trying to understand what's happening in the story.

69
Quote from: Psychlonic
ANYWAYS, what I'm getting at here is that liberty is almost always needed if you want to carry across the idea. Translation runs deeper than the words. Don't worry about pleasing the literal crowd too much[...]
Yeah, the goal for this project is to create within the English-speaking player the same reactions that Chinese players would have felt, in a way that appeals to the Western experience. At the same time we're doing our best to retain as much Chinese cultural flavor as possible, so it's a real balancing act. Chinese honorifics thus become "Mr.," "miss," etc., but characters are still concerned with establishing their relationships to one another as they were in the original script (the "Big Bro," "Little Bro" thing in the translation demo).

It's always possible to take artistic liberty too far, so the script editor has to depend on feedback from the translators to make sure that passages haven't strayed too far from their original meaning and intent. So there won't be any lines about Wheaties.  ;)

We do want to create a little PDF booklet to go with the patch, and that's going to include a pronunciation guide and a little primer on pinyin. I wonder whether previous Chinese-to-English translations have used pinyin or the Wade-Giles system for spelling? That's something I still need to research. I definitely prefer the look of terms expressed in pinyin, it's just a bit of a learning curve to pronounce them.

70
Thanks for looking it over Pennywise. Don't hesitate to point out specific passages that sound especially unnatural, or that you might handle differently as a script editor; another pair of eyes never hurts.

I just know I'm on thin ice when it comes to styling the lines of a character named "Bingli" particularly; the fact that she's an ancient being lends itself to using archaic expression to emphasize that fact, but I still have the feeling I might need to tone down the Ted Woolsey on this one a bit.  :laugh:  I think I'll be revisiting the Alexander O. Smith/Joseph Reeder scripts for inspiration on the issue of formal speech, as I always felt these balanced a medieval flair with readability. Parts of the game are set in the distant past, so there will be entire passages where all characters and NPCs will speak like she does, and I'm worried going full-on Shakespearian will cause a "thee" and "thou" overload the player will be too busy laughing at to be swept into the story -- the need for some kind of expertise in Early Modern English notwithstanding.

Our translation process has gone something like this so far: the bilingual project members provide first and second-pass translations to establish literal meaning and characterization guidelines, and then I go through with an extra pass from the target language perspective. With this much text in a volunteer project, divvying up the work among many translators seems to be the best way to keep the project going; the final target-language pass smooths over variances in English proficiency and hopefully results in a script that feels contiguous. Probably not the most recommended way of going about this - and I wouldn't be surprised if this has never been done before - but I think it's preferable to waiting for a single translator with enough free time to tackle the entire script alone. The translators we've worked with so far have done an excellent job to begin with IMO, so I'm definitely confident we can pull this off.

71
Slick! I'll send you a PM soon with more details, Corsair.

72
Thanks Neil (and thanks to I.S.T. for pushing the article through!). Yeah, the translators have been pointing out various issues with the font sheet too, and I plan on revisiting it a few times yet. I think the video presentation method hurts a bit, too; the game defaults to full-screen, not windowed, so I've been looking at the dialogue nicely blown-up during live tests. So pinpointing specific letters to work on is a huge help.

Battle system's a bit of an acquired taste, especially due to difficulty; it'll remind people a bit of Chrono Trigger on "Active" mode because the player has to keep one eye on the menus and one eye on what enemies are doing all the time. I ended up loving it because it makes heavy use of positioning.

73
Quote from: Neil
Why is this thread one "IT'S A TRAP!!!!!" post after another?
I am so embarrassed that it turned out this way so far. I was just hoping to get word out about this effort, and to get some feedback on the translation quality, formatting, font, maybe stir up the debate on literal translation vs. "localization"...I wasn't anticipating a debate over communism. But it's the Internet after all; you never know how it's going to go. I walked right into it with the news writeup I suppose.

Quote from: tcaudilllg
But wait a second... why all the attention from the Chinese? Why is their fan community so eager to see their cultural product over here?
I don't think this is limited to China or anything; I think it speaks to the power of connecting with source language fanbases in general. I gather that the source language fanbase for the Tian Di Jie series is quite large, and I definitely see why after playing through this game. There's a really powerful story going on (not to mention very solid gameplay), and the cultural elements only enhance its overall flair and helpfully differentiate it a bit from the JRPGs we grew up with. This is a work of art that the fanbase is rightfully proud of sharing with us through the translation process. It's definitely representative of a golden RPG era I felt existed between 1995 and 2002-ish.

74
So many people are responsible for this, the closest thing we have to a proper credits list at the moment is a "Hey, let's divvy up this huge script!" thread. Magil's the closest to being the project director since he coded the the text injection and image decompression utilities and has been communicating with the translators in their native language, but he's shared administrative duties with doublecat and, I think, Mr.Crocodile (Magil's here, but doublecat and Mr.Crocodile aren't registered at RH.net, I think). doublecat coded several utilities for his own projects that we've since piggy-backed on, and Mr.Crocodile touched up over a hundred equipment artworks. To say the least, the project lucked out hugely because the source language fanbase for the game is just...incredibly massive. And talented!

One thing I've been fretting over is the readability of the text boxes, not just in terms of linguistics, but visual layout. The game's native display resolution is 640x480, so there's just a ton of real estate to play with -- certainly more than we're used to on several consoles. At first I was wrapping lines about halfway through to make use of the vertical textbox space (taking inspiration from Lunar: Silver Star Harmony) but then I realized my eye muscles were actually hurting from all the quick back-and-forth movements. So I've adopted something that'll look closer to Microsoft Word's "Align-Left" for now. But I've been wrapping early to emphasize pauses in the dialogue. It sure is easier to try differing things with all the text utilities. Thanks Magil!  :woot!:

We also have to give a huge shout-out to a Youtube user named freeman71386, who did a longplay of the Traditional Chinese version. Not only was a chance viewing the impetus for the project (I'd never been exposed to the game before, much less the wider Chinese/Taiwan gaming scene), but it's really useful to have a step-by-step reference, both for the translators and when it comes time for script editing.

And then, I have to go back even further and thank RH.net's SteveMartin and Djinn for their Barver Battle Saga translation release last year. Were it not for viewing a video of that game, Tian Di Jie never would have appeared in my Youtube recommendations list.  :D  It's funny, how powerfully chance works sometimes.

75
Quote from: BRPXQZME
Official game localization has to be a two-way street on some level due to international copyright law. That is, developers in the home country have to make an effort to either find licensees or handle the localization and marketing themselves. Otherwise, it’s just not going to be exported.
Totally, I even forgot about that while doing the writeup. I guess from the developer's perspective, they might have had to worry about paying translators and not making enough of a dent in the Western market, depending on what form the contract takes. I was always under the impression they could command a hefty down payment from the publisher through the licensing contract, but that's mostly from reading Victor Ireland's interviews, and I'm not sure how reflective Working Designs' experience was of wider practices in the translation market at the time.

76
Heh heh, the news post also glossed over the China/Taiwan issue too, so my bad if that confused things at all; for what it's worth the "Tian Di Jie" series was developed in Taiwan. It was sold in mainland China as well from what I've been able to find out, though. Really interesting differences in text encoding between the Traditional and Simplified script variants.

While political issues might be a factor in why some of these never arrived on English-speaking shores, I think the overriding reason (at least in Tian di Jie's case) is that it was simply a "cultural product," as tcaudilllg describes it. It's fascinating how Chinese RPGs often incorporate the nation's history so tightly into the story; the mix of medieval Chinese politics and regional religious traditions might seem daunting for a Western publisher to handle, compared to, say, elves and dwarves. Japan certainly has its fair share of historically-influenced games, but I've gotten the sense that the China/Taiwan market really upped the ante on this sort of thing. What do others familiar with the China/Taiwan videogame market think?

Regardless, after getting a good look at this game in particular, I feel a pang of sadness over how rare Chinese-to-English game translations are (or at least seem in comparison to Japanese-to-English translations). Whether the reasons be political, fear of cultural elements being lost in translation, or sheer lack of connections between Chinese developers and Western-language publishers, the power of the stories and characters really make these worthwhile undertakings.

EDIT: Oh, and I forgot to say that the "demo" is a video demo, not a playable one. Sorry about that if it got anyone's hopes up.  :D  I think a demo would be very doable, but we still need to get a few odds and ends translated on the gameplay side, namely spells and techs.

77
ROM Hacking Discussion / Re: The Dragon Force II Translation Project
« on: January 30, 2011, 06:04:19 pm »
Yee-hawww, check your PMs Luca!  :crazy:

78
Script Help and Language Discussion / Re: My roommate's iPhone project
« on: January 28, 2011, 04:22:12 pm »
DaMarsMan, can your roommate release a beta pic or two? I figure a sense of what it's going to look like will help inspire translators to take this one on. Also, any word on compensation for the translators beyond a credits listing? I think you subtly covered that in your post, but just wanted to make sure.

In any case, the notation is very helpful; I'm just wondering if there's any space restrictions in the tutorial messages especially. Do the translators need to fit these messages into little speech bubbles of a defined size, or does your roommate have some wiggle room there?

EDIT: Whoops, since BRPXQZME answered, in an earlier version of this post I asked if anyone else is getting a reaaalllly long-stretching browser window in this thread. Maybe it's just IE8's turn to bug out on me again.

79
ROM Hacking Discussion / Re: The Dragon Force II Translation Project
« on: January 11, 2011, 02:17:58 am »
Thanks Starscream! kongming.net/the-scholars.com was on my list of places to visit but I didn't realize its connection to previous translation projects -- beautiful! I'll check out the Hongfire forum too.

Fairly certain it's a brand-new project, as the game has below average exposure in the West (compare to, say, Legend of Sword and Fairy, which is pretty well known judging from its own fan translation efforts). It doesn't even have a common English-language title beyond the nickname of its installation folder; I have a feeling finalizing the title might end up being the most difficult part of the project, at least on the translation side. :D

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ROM Hacking Discussion / Re: The Dragon Force II Translation Project
« on: January 08, 2011, 02:17:39 am »
Currently I'm trading off between Dragon Force II and script editing for a seriously, seriously awesome Chinese-to-English translation project. Whereas I'm foolishly intent on pushing through Dragon Force II with sheer elbow grease on the technical side, the second project has been going much more smoothly thanks to Magil coding text injection and image compression utilities, not to mention connecting with the game's huge source language fanbase. I'm waiting to reveal the second project until we've got some really snazzy preview videos. It's not a Saturn game, but nevertheless, look forward to Chinese New Year.  :beer:  I hope it'll encourage more interest in Chinese-to-English projects, because there are some serious overlooked gems out there, just as there are on the Saturn.

On that note, and at the risk of going too far off topic, I never thought to ask here at RH.net: anyone know of forums where lots of bilingual Chinese/English videogame fans gather? We've been blessed with the amount of help we've received from the game's already existing fanbase, but I suspect we can interest a few more translators once the preview samples are done.

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