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RHDNBot

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Update By: FaustWolf

When we think about the history of the Chinese videogame industry, all too often visions of pirated NES games come to mind. If you dig a little deeper, however, you'll find a ton of gems the English-speaking world missed out on. Among these were Dynasty International's "Tian Di Jie" series, for Windows. Why these were never picked up by a Western publisher boggles the mind, but hey, that's where the fan translation community comes in!

Thanks to a veritable army of source language fans -- who have contributed everything from utility programming to organizational skill to touched-up equipment art -- a translation project for the second game in the Tian Di Jie series has thrived over the past year. The Verve Fanworks community still needs a ton of help to push this one through, including:

  • Traditional Chinese-to-English text translation help. The multi-pass system has worked well for us so far, so we're keeping an eye out both for people who have fun roughly translating tons and tons of dialogue, as well as those who only have time to provide revisions and second opinions.


  • Pixel art for small elemental and equipment icons.


Join the awesome team behind this mammoth project, or just stop by and say hello, at our forum link at the bottom of this news post. We'll leave you with some extra pics and a demo of the first three translated chapters of the game, roughly the first hour of gameplay.

Don't hesitate to leave feedback, either here at the RH.net news thread or in the project's "General Discussion" board at Verve Fanworks!

Relevant Link: (http://www.verve-fanworks.com/SMF/)

tcaudilllg

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You're missing one important detail about the Chinese gaming scene in relation to the West. Because you appear to have underestimated its impact, I'll tell you: China is a communist country. Japan and South Korea, both not communist. But China? Commie, commie, commie. Maybe in Europe this would not be a huge deal, but in the United States communism is still something of a "don't touch".

Chinese knockoffs of Western goods are one thing, but cultural products are something else. Of course Westerners have bought big into the (free) MMO RPG industry over the past few years, but that I think represents an attitude shift. You can't blame Western devs for not bringing over Chinese games in the 90s, for example.

Lilinda

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If that was true, then the millions of other Chinese goods wouldn't be here.

Think for a moment.
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FaustWolf

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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.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2011, 07:33:02 pm by FaustWolf »
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Pennywise

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You should wear a dunce cap for that statement.

BRPXQZME

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You're missing one important detail about the Chinese gaming scene in relation to the West. Because you appear to have underestimated its impact, I'll tell you: China is a communist country. Japan and South Korea, both not communist. But China? Commie, commie, commie.
This statement demonstrates a high level of ignorance about both the Chinese gaming scene and modern Sinospheric language, culture, and politics in general, so I can only hope you are making a really retarded joke.

You can't blame Western devs for not bringing over Chinese games in the 90s, for example.
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.
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FaustWolf

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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.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2011, 10:20:59 pm by FaustWolf »
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Psychlonic

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Well whatever the reason for the games not being translated and released in the west, this is awesome. Something about Chinese and Korean RPGs have been a big interest of mine lately, a lot of them seem to have a healthy blend of western and Japanese elements that come together nicely. Of course, there's also just the simple fact that these regions are "new" compared to Japan, from which I've played games since I first started playing games in the first place.

Thanks to those involved for the undertaking.
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FaustWolf

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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.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2011, 10:29:12 pm by FaustWolf »
Verve Fanworks: We shall shew thee here the force of our arms!

tcaudilllg

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Well this seems to be really impressive and all and I can only remark that it's too bad the Japanese don't have the vigor for their cultural products to see exposition here that the Chinese do.

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?

Neil

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Why is this thread one "IT'S A TRAP!!!!!" post after another?

BRPXQZME

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Well this seems to be really impressive and all and I can only remark that it's too bad the Japanese don't have the vigor for their cultural products to see exposition here that the Chinese do.
This is about as far off the mark as your first statement.

Why is this thread one "IT'S A TRAP!!!!!" post after another?
Sorry, I’m a sucker for them :P
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FaustWolf

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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.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2011, 07:32:34 pm by FaustWolf »
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Neil

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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.
I believe we may have a corollary to Godwin's Law here. (Also, as a member of the staff, I'm the one who feels embarrassed.)

In any case, I mostly like the font you chose. Seems to fit well with the feel of the game. (the mostly bit is the A which looks a lot like a B).. I like what I see in the youtube video. Translation looks pretty solid from what I've seen.

The game it self looks pretty cool. I don't know why but the art style feels like a late Sierra adventure game.. I think that might be more the palette than the actual art.. I don't think I like what I see of the battle engine, but that's got nothing to do with your translation. :) :happy:

FaustWolf

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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.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2011, 09:13:52 pm by FaustWolf »
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Corsair

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Well this seems to be really impressive and all and I can only remark that it's too bad the Japanese don't have the vigor for their cultural products to see exposition here that the Chinese do.

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 think the correct answer to all of your questions is "you are asking the wrong questions" They are based on incorrect and/or incomplete understandings of the data that inspired them. The whole point is that chinese-to-english translations, professional or otehrwise are rare, due largely in part to the fact that chinese games are negatively (and unfairly) stereotyped. This translation project likely has little to do with politics, or a desire from the "Chinese fan community" to spread "cultural product" on other people (considering that no evidence of such ridiculous presumptions seem to...you know. actually exist.)

Perhaps it's much simpler, and that the creators simply want to release what they perceive to be a good game to an english speaking audience? Is there some reason there -needs- to be some sinister ulterior motive?

@Faustwolf:
 if you need pixel artists, I happen to be one (proof? my avatar.). PM me if you want to see some of my work, or if you want to, send me a list of what needs to be done and what limitations if any(color count, dimensions) need to be observed. I really should have a portfolio, but I...aagh...laziness...
« Last Edit: February 06, 2011, 12:49:59 am by Corsair »

FaustWolf

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

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The whole point is that chinese-to-english translations, professional or otehrwise are rare, due largely in part to the fact that chinese games are negatively (and unfairly) stereotyped. This translation project likely has little to do with politics, or a desire from the "Chinese fan community" to spread "cultural product" on other people

The first part seems to be my observation as well and it's really a pity. And you know honestly? I really wouldn't mind if there's an effort to get out a cultural/historical product to people because China seems to have a fascinating history and cultural quirks stemming from it that are buried in obscurity for everyone else. The problem is that so many people when they think "China" today just think of communism and some underlying agenda as if every Chinese person is in on it.
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noneother

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Er... this whole debate misses the point. Most licensed Chinese (Taiwanese? Those I've played were all Taiwanese, anyway) games were made for the PC. Even localization of Japanese RPGs, for which there has long been a market on consoles, have always been a rarity on PCs. This is probably due to the fact that north american and european gamers had their own, disitinct subgenre of RPGs for PCs-remember when "JRPGs" were "console RPGs" and "WRPGs" "computer RPGs"? The two have different philosophies, and often fans of one would denigrate the other. Legend of Heroes 6 or Ys: The Oath in Felghana weren't localized, either-until they got PSP ports*.
Of course, chinese RPGs aren't JRPGs per say, as there are differences-as Faustwolf pointed out, there tends to be more ties with Chinese history and mythology, the tone tends to be more serious, people act more like people, etc. But from a business standpoint, I can see why it hasn't happened.

What makes Chinese-to-English fan translations so interesting, though, is that it's a mostly untapped realm-while a good deal of the Japanese RPGs worth playing are old news, pretty much all of the best games China has to offer are still unplayable in English.



*Which is sad in itself as it's just not the same, but that's another topic.

Pennywise

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I watched most of those videos and from what I've seen, I'm really intrigued by the game. The translation could use a bit of polish in spots, but overall it was pretty good. I think the only thing better than this project, would be a serious attempt to translate Heroine Anthem, but other than that, looking forward to the finished product.