Some questions about the translations

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Hi to all

Maybe my question is a bit early but I was wondering how you guys at Hinterland will handle the translations. Will the community be involved? Or do you have some professionals (hopefully native speakers) in mind?

For me personally bad translation is a big mood killer. Most of the time I enjoy playing games in German but I instantly switch to English if the translation is too bad.

If heard of the bad translation of The Walking Dead and the reactions of the players, who had a very hard time while playing the game because of wrong decisions through misunderstanding. I don't want the same thing for The Long Dark.

Greetings to the entire H-Team.

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Guest Alan Lawrance

This is a great question. The conventional approach in AAA is to use professionals, but it seems like the quality can be hit and miss (as your experience with The Walking Dead shows).

I'd like to find a way to produce the highest quality localization, and getting the community involved may be the right approach. We have such strong international support, I think we would have a lot of people to help out.

Raph likely has some thoughts on this.

I have a general question for gamers that play localized games -- do you prefer localized subtitles for the audio (speech), or is it preferable to have the audio itself localized?

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I'm obviously biased, being a professional translator, so I'll state that to begin with. There are many problems with game translations and the one that everyone can see is when the text is incorrect. However, the reasons behind that can vary a lot.

Sometimes you simply had a bad translator (picked the cheapest offer and got a fly-by-night translation agency that used the cheapest translator they could find). Sometimes the reference material was inadequate and things that could be translated in several ways depending on the context got translated so that they didn't fit the context in the game. This in turn can have several reasons: the translator didn't realize that there are several possible translations and thus didn't ask for clarification or the translator asked but got no answers or something got changed after translation and the translator was not consulted, etc.

Couple of years ago, I was lucky to be selected for a game translation project, which was handled in a way that I see as optimal. The developer requested that the entire project should be handled by one translator to ensure consistency of style. The reference material consisted of the entire script of the game (explaining all options and their outcomes), all motion capture videos used for the game and the corresponding audio files. Additionally, the project coordinator was always available to collect translators' questions and forward them to the correct people, and the queries actually got answered before the translations needed to be handed in.

The reason I see that as optimal is that it is really hard to misunderstand dialog when you're watching the motion capture scene with all participants interacting and going through the emotions. There is another potential problem, by the way: sometimes the translation depends on how the line is said (angry, sad, suspicious, etc.) and that is impossible to know, if all you get is an Excel table in which the dialog may not even be in any kind of chronological order.

Basically, the translator needs to be very familiar with the content of the game and the characters and how they relate to each other. Unfortunately, all that takes time and effort (= money) to achieve.

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As Tarja said, there is such a range of quality in translation / localisation because of time and effort (= money). I support Tarjas thoughts.

In my option the full audio localisation is the cherry on the cake. If it is well done, it increases the level of experience. I have loved the german Far Cry 3 audio - Jason Brodys German voice was the same as Leonardo DiCaprios (Gerrit Schmidt-Foß) and Vas was spoken by the german voice of Heath Ledger (Simon Jäger).

Both - the English and German voices - fit the characters behaviors properly. (Probably this was a lot of work and I do not expect this for The Long Dark. I also have to admit that most of the german dubbed films and games are on top level. So I am a bit fastidious. ;) )

I am aware of the fact, that the results of german dubbed games are vary. I have two main groups of players in mind. On one hand you have the fans of the English audio ("because the german is really bad, mechanic speaking / wrong emotions, loss of immersion"), on the other hand there is the group of people who enjoy the German audio (because you can easy follow the story). As Logan mentioned there are people who can’t follow the subtitles.

Something about subtitles: Please make it big enough to read them properly. For example the games of Rockstar (GTA, Red Dead Redemption) have very small subtitles. It distracts from the story and gameplay because you are tempted to read it. It is exhausting to try so. Without subtitles sometimes it is hard to follow the storyline because of the characters accent.

Long story short:

Quality over quantity. I prefer a proper translation of inventory and other display texts and dialog with subtitles. Translated audio is a big plus if it’s well done.

I hope, It helps more than it hinder you guys. (By the way: Is "hinder" the best word? Google Translate has given me 4+ words. :) )

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  • Hinterland

Thanks for the thoughts, everyone. As with everything we do, we're after quality over quantity. Our first goal will be to produce excellent translations of all in-game text and subtitles where useful. Recording localized voices will depend on budgets and the size of market (it becomes a bit of a business decision after all). For me, the quality of localized voices will be a big factor in this decision -- we have an incredible English voice cast and if we can't have the equivalent quality in German, French, Italian, Russian, etc. then I'd rather not do it.

We'll use professionals but would love to lean on the community to support this effort by checking/testing, and helping us find the issues that may exist.

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  • 3 months later...

I am also officialy translating Wasteland 2 into my language (I can prove that) which is Turkish and wrote same thing to developers. They said "Turkish isn't in our plans but we'll discuss about this subject."

So, I know there was some hesitation of course, because they don't know me well and seems like no way to translate "officialy" into little-known languages like Turkish.

edit: I said "little-known" and tried to mean not popular language in games. Otherwise, Turkish is one of the most popular language in world.

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