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Author Topic: How do you decide what to translate? (Also: fonts)  (Read 469 times)

4lorn

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How do you decide what to translate? (Also: fonts)
« on: April 26, 2019, 04:57:26 pm »
Hi. I've been thinking about some aspects of ROM translations, from what to translate to the visual result, specifically regarding fonts.

Yesterday, I submitted my first ROM translation, which is still pending approval. I wanted to work on something fairly quick and easy in between my other ongoing translations, so I picked Mega Man II for the GB. I'm somewhat proud because I managed to get by "on my own", so to say. All text (intro, password and ending screens done, weapons - including initials - done, "You Got" screens done as well) and graphic editing (for fonts) is done. But after submitting, two things started creeping up on me.

The first has to do with manipulating fonts, and what constitutes a "good" job. For instance, the title screen was changed to this:



It's a Portuguese (from Portugal) translation. On one hand, I feel pretty good about including additional characters - there's a fair number of translations that don't go the extra mile and seem to prefer quantity over quality, though I won't go into which games/translations/translators do it (that'd seem like finger pointing and just plain rude). So, a portuguese reader will understand what's on the screen, instead of having to guess.

On the other hand, MMII is the kind of game that uses all caps fonts. Among others, English has that advantage - there's largely no need for punctuation like tilde, carats, etc. The fonts can be big, bold; they take full advantage of a tile. Portuguese, Portuguese Brazilian, French and Spanish, for instance, have no such luck. In my case, I tried to keep the font as pure as possible but characters like Ã, Ó, Í and Ç were necessary (no Portuguese translation can call itself good or even complete without à and Ç, actually - common english words like "action", "embrace", "exception", "description", even "emulation" need one of them, or both, when written in Portuguese).

But not moving away from the font means cramming things into that tile space. Keeping the font as is and punctuating resulted in the usual squishing of letters. Of that, I'm not proud, but at the time I had no idea how to solve it. Yet, I've seen different opinions regarding this, with some clamoring for making the best of the original font, keeping its proportions, and so on; while others suggest making a new font, or inserting/replacing a small case font, even if it doesn't quite achieve the original effect. One of my ongoing translations has that problem, too - or, it will be a problem once everything's done, because it uses caps everywhere, and I'll have to choose between funky or small letters (and I actually like the all caps font in the game I'm working on...).

Another thing that popped up is what exactly do you decide to translate. In many cases, a simple transference of nouns and proper names doesn't work. Sure, John, Phillip and William have a corresponding version. But imagine someone called John Blow - a direct translation to Portuguese would sound just as silly as it might sound in its English form (and trust me, in the time it takes you to remark "Ah! Blow!", an average Portuguese guy would have already made 23 "jokes" about blowing). In the case of MMII, I decided not to translate Robot Masters and enemy names, nor did I translate "password". Password is so ubiquitous everywhere, including in Portuguese, that it didn't seem necessary. When it comes to Robot Master names, they're meant to be silly, but in a kind of videogamey way - translating them would, I think, lose the videogamey aspect and just go with the silly. And enemy names... The Japanese originals have some puns which the English version misses most of the time.

So, apologies if this is too long already, but to summarize, what are your thoughts on these two aspects?


FAST6191

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Re: How do you decide what to translate? (Also: fonts)
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2019, 05:44:25 am »
The translation thing is the ever present literal-liberal-pizza cats* debate. Translating jokes, puns especially, is probably second only to translating a song in terms of fun and games it causes, ignoring the straight "difficulty" of legal/patents/medical translation.

*the US saw a show called Samurai Pizza Cats. It was made by a US cartoon maker that got a Japanese show in and nothing much else to go with it so cut the footage into a new show. The resulting product was generally regarded to the Japanese original.

Keeping some kind of proportionality and legibility with characters. Can be harder on older systems, though new ones are still not a walk in the park.

Usual solutions.

Some games/systems have a larger graphics mode. Possibly use that

You mentioned shrinking everything or just suffering a shrunk character/glyph/whatever for that one thing. Not ideal but easy enough. You can also meet halfway -- I would agree a à next to A in a normal sized tile on an older system would look odd at best. Nothing to say A has to be the same size as the A part from à in this new font though and might only need to be a few pixels smaller to help it all flow together better.

Some people do a hack called variable width font (for a basic word processor then think iiii vs WWWWW). The same logic will allow you to break outside the tile here to drop something below the line or above it. It is rarely done (y, j, q, and f all have fairly common contained forms of the character)

There is the complete cowboy method. Depending upon the line spacing you could possibly have something on the tile above make it appear like it deals with the character below (think ASCII art, but not as fun).

In real life most people don't think of this punctuation on characters as extra characters per se, at least not for the languages I know. It is a [insert character] with [insert diacritic/punctuation/mark/accent/...]. If you can then convince the game to draw said marks wherever you want on the screen you can punctuate it after the fact as it were**.

**never done it myself as I mainly do English stuff but you would probably have it draw it in normal language, then make another screen but forget to clear it first (maybe add a formatting mark to the script to say if you see this mark then don't clear the previous bit -- some older Japanese games have something a bit similar when they swap out the font with new screens to allow different characters/punctuation), then do the punctuation where it needs to be as effectively the next part of the script. The resulting effect on screen then being a properly punctuated text section. Then go to the next screen as normal, repeating as necessary. Will need more script space and animation will be a pain but can still be done.

"common english words"
Are these characters mainly for loan words/foreign words? If so some try to avoid using them at all. Can be hard but can often be done. For a puzzle game or old school platformer without a story then you stand an even better chance here.

wave

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Re: How do you decide what to translate? (Also: fonts)
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2019, 05:42:57 am »
My ones are as following:
If there is empty space or special characters not used (<>^[]_~...) and the font is uncompressed, I add the extra spanish characters, or even, lowercase letters.
If there is VEEEERY little text and can really pinpoint unused letters, I replace some of them for the specials needed.
But if I can't or it's risky because there can be uses of the font not found by "text", I don't add them.

This doesn't prevent me from doing the translations as they are 20-30+ year old games that normally don't have any translation and even without the special chars can help people to understand more the games, also, I am more than glad to see "good" translations for some of my "fast" ones, two to three years and can count them with my fingers.

Also I do the translations for fun, some do crosswords, others sudokus, I translate retro games 8)

I have the feeling that a lot of games don't have any translations or keep unreleased because they can't be "perfect", but when I started my way I decided to go on even without the additions.

As for character names, I don't translate them, unless they clearly are generic names, for example "the demons" or such.

For the font, there is really not much to do, usually squish the font (1), some games reuse japanese systems that can add "hats" to the letters (2), others have empty lines between character lines and you can add there the accent (3).
1.https://www.romhacking.net/?page=translations&action=images&id=3950&imageid=3
2.https://www.romhacking.net/?page=translations&action=images&id=4252&imageid=1
3.https://www.romhacking.net/?page=translations&action=images&id=3949&imageid=3

But using english releases they are almost always type 1.

Bregalad

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Re: How do you decide what to translate? (Also: fonts)
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2019, 07:58:31 am »
This is not always possible, but the nicest solution is to put the diacritics on their own line, between two lines made of letters. This looks the nicest. The other option is to shrink the font to insert the diacritics, but since you need both "above" and "below" type of diacritics this sounds like almost impossible to shrink the font enough to fit both.

4lorn

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Re: How do you decide what to translate? (Also: fonts)
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2019, 01:52:26 pm »
Thank you for your input, everyone ^_^