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Author Topic: Final Fantasy VI: Retranslated  (Read 19355 times)

hairy_hen

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Final Fantasy VI: Retranslated
« on: June 10, 2019, 03:21:58 pm »
Hello everyone, I'm a newcomer to this forum, but I have an interesting project to share with all of you.

I've recently completed work on a large scale rewrite of the script for Final Fantasy 6, using the recent 'live translation' by Clyde Mandelin (Mato) from Legends of Localization as a guide.  He posted many notes on his website about some of the most significant translation issues he found, but they are only a small percentage of the topics discussed in the videos.  While I initially started watching them only out of curiosity, it soon became apparent that the errors in the SNES script were so numerous and so extensive that the meaning of the story was often drastically different than in the source Japanese text.  The deeper down this rabbit hole I went, the harder it became to ignore the problems, and eventually I decided that the only thing to do was to go through Mato's video series with a fine-toothed comb and fix all of the problems he mentioned.

So for the past two months I have been doing a 'live edit' of the FF6 script, rewriting the dialog line by line, minute by minute while watching the videos and listening to Mato explain the meaning of what was actually being said.  I have very little knowledge of the Japanese language, so I was completely dependent on him for all of this information.  The videos also contained a comparison with the GBA script, as well as the SkyRender fan translation.  Even a cursory examination reveals that the GBA version is by far the most accurate translation out there, while the fan version is extremely problematic (he frequently likened it to the notorious J2E version of FF4).

So why not just port the GBA script into the SNES version?  Another project has already done this, and it is certainly a valid way to go.  But for myself, I felt that even though its accuracy level is so high, the GBA's specific wording often left something to be desired.  I found that I was not content merely to copy and paste lines from other versions, but instead ended up rewriting a great deal of them myself, relying solely on Mato's assessment of what they meant in Japanese.

I was careful to make the dialog sound natural in English, and often ended up changing the wording quite substantially from how it appears in any other version, but preserving the meaning and nuance of the source material was my first priority.  In cases where Mato gave the GBA script the stamp of approval on accuracy and I liked how it was phrased, I did often end up using them directly.  Lines from the SNES script that were accurately translated to begin with and did not contain errors were generally left alone.  Since there were some lines that got missed during the video series, I did occasionally have to consult other sources when there was doubt about what something meant.  I tried to use them as little as possible, however, because they tend to be accompanied by an unfortunate amount of Woolsey-bashing that can be rather unpleasant to read.  I have a lot of respect for Woolsey; that his version contains so many errors is a product of the difficult conditions in which he had to work (ie, insanely short deadline, lack of context when looking at the script, no help or resources from anyone else in the company, and severe space constraints).

It also has to be said that Woolsey displayed a higher level of creativity in his writing than other versions have done, which resulted in the large number of iconic lines that people remember fondly to this day.  I'm a newcomer to the Final Fantasy series, having only played FF6 for the first time about a year ago, so I don't really have a specific attachment to any pre-existing version of the script, but it was easy to recognize the positive qualities of the SNES version despite all its errors, and it was not uncommon to find myself choosing to retain various lines from the original release even though they were changes from the Japanese.  Kefka's dialog, in particular, really stands out and I kept as much of it as I could.  When choosing to keep this sort of 'flavor text', the general guideline I followed was that it could stay in if it made things sound better and if it had no negative impact on the story.  If the meaning of what was happening in the scene was affected, however, then it would get changed back for the sake of accuracy, though sometimes I still tried to retain the idea behind it if it made sense to do so.

I also did a great deal of research on Early Modern English, in order to make Cyan's dialog convincingly sound like someone from that time.  His frequent usage of 'thou' as a substitute for the archaic Japanese 'de gozaru' was an excellent localization choice, though its application needed strengthening.  This is the kind of thing that should be approached with caution, because it is very difficult for anyone from modern times to write in this sort of style without ending up sounding like what tvtropes calls 'Ye Butchered Olde Englishe'.  The grammar and syntax are just different enough so as to be difficult to pick up on the subtleties if you haven't been exposed them frequently enough.  I grew up being made to read the King James Bible quite a lot, so it was easy for me to identify problems and adjust them accordingly, but even so I had to do a lot of referencing to make sure I was writing in this style correctly.  I probably ended up putting more effort into this aspect of the script than any other, because I really wanted him to sound believably archaic without going too far overboard.

When I started this project, I had no intention of doing anything other than making a few minor edits to the script for my own personal use.  The whole thing kind of snowballed, however, and ended up being an enormous undertaking that more or less consumed my life for the past two months.  Because there seems to be an interest from various people in a version of the script with the qualities that my work has, I eventually decided (actually with some reluctance) that I should release this version publicly, so that others could play the game this way too.

My hesitation was very great, however, because I initially used Ted Woolsey Uncensored Edition as my base.  I like that version a great deal because it has had so much excellent work done to it, and I planned at first to retain it while editing the script in my own way.  Over time my revisions ended up becoming so extensive that it no longer fit with that version's stated goal, so eventually I ended up making it a separate project rather than an addendum in order to simplify things for the end user.


As of 7-25-2019, the project is titled Final Fantasy VI: Retranslated, and is available here: http://www.romhacking.net/hacks/4619/
« Last Edit: July 26, 2019, 02:12:16 pm by hairy_hen »

svenge

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Looking forward to seeing how it turns out!  :)

hairy_hen

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I'm glad to hear there is interest in my work.  I'm very close to being ready to release this thing; I just need to make a readme file and get some screenshots, and maybe give it one final look just to make sure there isn't anything I missed.

I'm in the process of putting together an annotated version of the script with notes on what changed in this version and why I wrote it as I did.  It should be helpful as a reference to anyone who is looking to make script edits or is curious about the meaning of the story but doesn't have time to go through all of Mato's video series.

One of the most important things I found while working on this is that the plot is quite a bit more coherent in the Japanese script.  When I first played it, there were some places where I recall being confused about what was happening, or that something important had happened and I'd somehow missed it.  It turns out that these instances are squarely down to errors that obscured the meaning of the story.  There are a number of conversations in the original SNES release that don't 'flow' quite right; that is, they can seem like disconnected sentences strung together rather than people actually exchanging ideas about a topic.  (And of course this is mainly down to the lack of context and short deadline.)  But when the lines are translated in context with full knowledge of the scenario, the game's dialog very noticeably 'shifts into focus'.  Suddenly things that didn't make sense become clear, it's easy to understand who is referring to what within a sentence, and every line in a conversation flows naturally from one to the next.  This can be a subtle difference, but in many places it is quite noticeable.  The scene where you first meet Strago and Relm comes to mind right away as an example, but there are others.

There's also some critical information that just didn't make it in.  The biggest example of this is Locke's subplot: near the end when he finds the Phoenix Magicite, it seems like it comes completely out of nowhere, and I distinctly remember feeling like the game's writers had pulled this 'reviving Rachel' thing out of their behinds at the last minute.  But no, it turns out that he's actually been searching all along for a specific legendary treasure that can bring back the dead, and in Japanese this is foreshadowed repeatedly and far in advance.  Of course if you've played a version with the GBA script you may have picked up on this already, but for people like me who haven't, this was quite surprising to learn.  And the fact that much of the foreshadowing happens in NPC dialog means that most of the available scripts posted online don't have it, since they only cover the main story events.

I've noticed that when people talk about different translations of FF6, they seem to show a tendency to be more interested in the specific wording of things than in the overall idea of what is being said.  There's a lot of talk about the merits of specific lines and which version is better because of how it conveys its information, but not as much focus on what the information actually is.  Obviously style is important, and I put a lot of effort into getting this right, but my priority was usually on making sure the story information was accurately conveyed.

Anyway, I think we're looking at this being released sometime next week, and the annotated script should be ready not too long after that.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2019, 07:48:40 pm by hairy_hen »

TheGershon

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This sounds totally like what I think a translation should be, getting the original message across while sounding normal when read aloud. As someone who's never gotten very far in FF6, I can't wait to play it!

Vanya

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Anything that has input from Legends of Localization gets my attention.

PowerPanda

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There are already several of these. The two main ones are
Ted Woolsey Uncensored Edition: http://www.romhacking.net/hacks/1386/
Final Fantasy VI Relocalization Project: http://www.romhacking.net/hacks/2247/

Honestly, the Relocalization Project is so good that I think you'd have a very hard time convincing people to play through and test your script. If you DO move forward though, head over to ff6hacking.com. There's an extensive community there.

the_E_y_Es

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Cool. I'd be interested to see your take on the FF6 script. My favorite SNES RPG by a mile.

svenge

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Honestly, the Relocalization Project is so good that I think you'd have a very hard time convincing people to play through and test your script. If you DO move forward though, head over to ff6hacking.com. There's an extensive community there.

There's some glitches introduced in that patch's most recent revision that haven't been fixed in several months.  I tweeted as such to the creator back in March, and did get a response of "Thanks for the heads-up. I'll look into it." at that time.

Chicken Knife

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There's some glitches introduced in that patch's most recent revision that haven't been fixed in several months.  I tweeted as such to the creator back in March, and did get a response of "Thanks for the heads-up. I'll look into it." at that time.
I've also tweeted back and forth with Dr. Meat over various issues in Relocalization. It's a really beautiful piece of writing and I truly hope he gets on the ball with fixing it up.

But that said, if this author can pull off a translation that is both natural sounding and more accurate, I would be very interested in checking it out. Translations with liberties are fine, but I really do appreciate when a translation can closely capture the spirit of the Japanese without being bogged down by the structure of it.

I would vote for using the Japanese names like Tina and Mash. I know that has been done before in a much older fan translation but the writing was so poor that I really can't play it anymore. The Japanese names are great though!

Rodimus Primal

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I wish you the best of luck with this, especially since you are using Ted Woolsey Uncensored Editoin as a base ROM to edit the script on. I will let you know that I've been working on a major update to TWUE using notes from Legends of Localization AND Kwazit to iron it out smoothly.

hairy_hen

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Thanks, I appreciate that.  Currently I'm about halfway through making the annotated script.  I didn't put comments on every line, but anything that stood out as being significant gets an explanation.  Hopefully it will be helpful for TWUE updates as well as being a general reference.  I only found out about the Kwhazit translation very recently, so it didn't have a large effect on this version, but I did end up using it to help with several last-minute edits.

I knew it might be difficult to convince people that another version of the script would be worth bothering with, especially when there are several great versions out there already, but the only thing to do is to let the work speak for itself.

Regarding the character names: it had not occurred to me to change them until just now, but it's an idea worth considering.  If I did, I'd probably make a second patch so that the player would have a choice of which names they'd want to use.

I'm expecting to release this in the next day or two; it just needs these few last minute details to be ironed out.  By the way, if anyone has any ideas on what to call this version, let me know!
« Last Edit: June 19, 2019, 04:36:06 am by hairy_hen »

tc

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FF6 isn't my first choice, but let's get this done right for good.
I'm critical of the same game receiving multiple script edits. :)

Pennywise

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I can't fault someone for wanting to work on a game that's already been done to death. Most get people get into this hobby due to their own interests and are free to pursue whatever they wish. So I say go for it.

That said, I'd personally like to see someone do something akin to Gemini FFIV VWF edition (sadly unfinished) with FFVI, but with a new script like yours. I believe that would make for the ultimate version of FFVI as far as translations are concerned.

Heaven Piercing Man

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As long as the relocalization sources move away from Lina and Render, we'll be fine. Tomato and Kwhazit should be the gold standard. Slattery and Woolsey should be "flair" standard.

I'll admit I want to make a definitive faithful, region-neutral, Spanish translation like that but as an addendum to the bugfixed, enhanced mods these projects are being released with. So I'm just waiting for one of these to go gold. The current ones in said language are still stuck in Woolseyland.

hairy_hen

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And... it's done!

I have not yet submitted the project to the database, because I want to write up some more accompanying documentation.  It is also still in need of a title; I have one in mind, but want to make sure before going ahead with it.

I'm always reticent about anyone seeing my work until it is finalized, but this has been proofread and edited so much that any further changes would probably just end up making it less good.  That said, if there are any mistakes present, let me know so I can fix them.

It's been a lot of time and work to get this done, but I think it was well worth it.  I hope you guys will enjoy playing this version as much as I've enjoyed making it.  And once again, thanks to everyone whose awesome work and skill made this possible!
« Last Edit: July 05, 2019, 04:07:35 pm by hairy_hen »

svenge

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Quick question:  Are there any bug-fixes integrated into this translation?

hairy_hen

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This version contains all the bug fixes included by Rodimus Primal for Woolsey Uncensored.  I think the game plays better with them, but perhaps I could also make a patch without if there is a call for it.  Even the un-fixed version still repairs the Sketch bug, though.

I wanted to include the Vanish/Doom bugfix as well, but for some reason I started getting minor glitches in the text box when I applied it.  Not sure why, but it's probably either something to do with the order of patching or the issue of some patches needing a header while others don't.  I'll try again later to see if I can get it straightened out.

svenge

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Sounds good.  Glad to see it got the bugfixes that WU had.

EDIT: I found a bug during the opening battles when Terra, Biggs, and Wedge are fighting in Magitek Armor.  For some reason you can actually select the blank spaces in Biggs/Wedge's attack menu (there's Fire/Lightning/Blizzard/Healing and 4 empty slots) and then upon their turn a blank box will appear and the character will move forward to attack (and always miss).

I tested Mog's Dance menu and it thankfully didn't have the same problem.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2019, 10:21:25 pm by svenge »

hairy_hen

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I tested it and confirmed that this bug is present in Woolsey Uncensored, but not in the unhacked game.  If a fix is found, it will make its way into this version as well.

Found a couple of very small typos that had escaped my notice previously, so they've now been fixed.  I'm also going to change a couple of SNES lines that I'd previously kept in, to make them more like the Japanese.  This is just little stuff with Ultros, mainly, and perhaps a couple other minor things.  The GBA version kind of ruined Ultros' first scene for me by putting in an unfortunate joke about tentacles that is completely out of place, so initially I just went with the SNES version for that scene, but I'm going to get this back to saying what it's supposed to say.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2019, 09:13:52 am by hairy_hen »

svenge

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I tested it and confirmed that this bug is present in Woolsey Uncensored, but not in the unhacked game.  If a fix is found, it will make its way into this version as well.

It looks like a fix was found for the Magitek menu bug.

EDIT:  I noticed a text formatting bug during the cutscene where Terra, Locke, and Edgar are escaping from Kefka while Figaro Castle is submerging.  Specifically, the line when Locke and Edgar are freaking out when Terra first uses magic is missing a new-line space.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2019, 11:54:09 am by svenge »