}

It seems that you're using an outdated browser. Some things may not work as they should (or don't work at all).
We suggest you upgrade newer and better browser like: Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer or Opera

×
arrow-down2arrowcart2close4fat-arrow-leftfat-arrow-rightfeedbackfriends2happy-facelogo-gognotificationnotifications-emptyownedremove-menusad-facesearch2wishlist-menuwishlisted2own_thingsheartstartick
The second part of our in-depth discussion with XSEED's team leader Ken Berry and localization producer Thomas Lipschultz is now here.
Learn more about the challenges and delights of bringing beloved JRPG series into the western market, as well as why Tom loves Zwei: The Arges Adventure so darn much!

Make sure to catch up on Part 1 here.

Last week we released Zwei: The Arges Adventure, and it feels like you had a great time working on it. Can you tell us more about your work on the game and how you approach localizing its brand of humor?

Tom: I’ve been talking about this quite a bit over on our Tumblr (/shamelessplug), but that’s mostly because I can’t shut up about this game! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: it’s the most fun I’ve ever had translating anything, owed entirely to the wonderful Japanese writing from Falcom. You can tell the devs just let loose here, casting away all their inhibitions and just writing whatever the hell they wanted, and the end result is a beautiful cacophony of bad puns, blunt proclamations, pure snark, and fourth-wall-breaking.
It’s funny, too, because Arges Adventure’s story is actually pretty minimalistic, when you get right down to it. There’s really not a lot that happens over its course, as far as earth-shaking events go. Instead, it focuses pretty squarely on its cast of characters, bringing every NPC to life and giving each one of them his/her own tale to tell. In a way, it’s very similar to the treatment the NPCs get in the Trails games, but because of the “podunk floating island with one main village” setting, there are far fewer NPCs, meaning each one gets to have a lot more screen time to tug at your heartstrings, make you laugh, or anything in between, really. As for how I approached localizing all of this, I just kind of… dove in head-first. Which may have been a slight mistake, in retrospect, as it turns out this is a game that had numerous prior iterations with totally different stories and very different character personalities, seemingly all of which still have some rather significant remnants left over in the game’s text files. And… well, I started translating the game before I realized this, and without playing it at the same time (having played it only once before around 12 or 13 years ago). So for the first little while, I was... really, really confused!
Once I realized what was happening, though, I started doing the “play, translate, and edit at the same time” thing, which isn’t always possible but IS always a good idea. And that’s when things really started to come together. Pokkle’s puns and Pipiro’s snark all had a certain comedic timing to it that I couldn’t really hear in my head when I was just combing through Excel files, but which came through loud and clear when I was actually playing. This allowed me to edit the text in such a way as to ensure the humor really worked in English (“worked” being a relative term, but hey, bad humor is still humor!).
I also was able to get a little creative with it, adding some puns to Pokkle’s repertoire to ensure he lived up to his groanworthy reputation in English, while also adding some snippy remarks to Pipiro’s repertoire for the same reason. Being a punster myself, I understood Pokkle’s struggle, and localized him in a very “honest” fashion, remaining true to my own life experiences… whereas with Pipiro, I channeled a couple of my coworkers, ensuring she was as charmingly blunt as humanly possible.
As a result, Pokkle’s got some bad jokes that I imagine people are going to screencap and groan about for a long time, but Pipiro’s just… got some of the best lines in the entire game, without question. Pipiro is basically everyone’s spirit animal, saying what we’re all thinking – but crucially, even when she’s saying horribly mean things, she’s never mean-SPIRITED about it.
Anyway, this is getting kind of long now, so I’ll let our localization blogs on Tumblr do their thing and answer some of these questions in a little more depth. Hopefully, though, I’ve convinced those of you who’ve bothered to read this wall of text that Zwei: The Arges Adventure is a game worth playing, because… seriously… this game is a hoot. If it doesn’t make you laugh with some degree of regularity, then I’ve failed at my job… and I really don’t feel like I’ve failed at my job!

Ys VIII is the first game in the series that you did not publish – and which prompted an official apology for the localization (which is getting completely redone for the PC release). What's your take on what happened there, and what can developers do to avoid those mistakes in the future?

Ken: Based on the very active release schedule that publisher had at the time, one can only guess that the localization team wasn’t given the time and resources needed as they were forced to meet a hard deadline for most likely financial reasons (since September is the end of a fiscal quarter for most companies). That was likely compounded by them shipping a total of four titles within four weeks of each other, one of which was the absolute localization beast Danganronpa V3, which would have required tons of their resources and have taken priority as it’s been one of their top-selling franchises for years.
The localization team over there is capable of putting out good work if given the proper support, as I’m sure they will prove once the new localization patch is released. This is true of most teams and projects, but sometimes harsh financial realities don’t afford people that luxury, so I’m not really sure there’s an easy answer on how to fix it when time and/or budgetary constraints get in the way of passionate people trying to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

Finally, have you thought about expanding into other languages (i.e. Chinese, French, Russian, German, Polish)? After all, jRPGs have a dedicated audience all over the world.

Ken: We would like to localize into as many languages as possible in addition to English, especially for our PC releases which are worldwide, but the large amount of text in JRPGs can make that quite challenging.

It’s definitely something we’re looking into, but we can’t make any promises just yet.
Post edited January 31, 2018 by maladr0Id
I hope Falcom comes to their senses when it comes to localizations, and returns to Xseed.

I heard some rumblings and evil rumours about them grabbing the rest of the Cold Steel series.. It would be a god damned shame.
Indeed.. given NISA have a proven shithouse record with translations and have now shown they can't port to PC for shit
avatar
JackDandy: I hope Falcom comes to their senses when it comes to localizations, and returns to Xseed.

I heard some rumblings and evil rumours about them grabbing the rest of the Cold Steel series.. It would be a god damned shame.
By and large, the rumors come from fear and justified paranoia. I have quite a bit of that myself given what's happened, but I also know that XSEED has a massive advantage: they've already done 5 games in the franchise, all of which had scripts more than double the size of Ys VIII's. XSEED's never had to re-do their localizations for Trails to anywhere near the extent NISA just had to with Ys VIII. That's something aggressive bidding just can't buy, and I hope Falcom's smart enough to recognize that and let XSEED tackle Cold Steel III.

This interview part's nice. I really do hope XSEED can at least get additional interface and script localization done for Chinese and Korean players since they're increasingly adopting platforms like GOG and Steam. FIGS matters just as much.
low rated
I wanted to comment in the last thread but I arrived too late and it was already a disaster zone by the time I arrived, so I'll just post my comment here.

Ken, Tom, Brittany, and everyone at Xseed. Thank you for everything you do. You do fine work, your reputation is, for the most part sterling and you put incredible amounts of passion into the works you localize. I've read the localization blogs you referenced in this interview, I've seen how much you absolutely loved localizing this game, going above and beyond the call of duty by getting permission from Falcom to add in beautiful artwork and give things like collectibles which had no meaning, actual friggin' meaning with those art pieces. You are, in a lot of ways what a localization company should be doing, and I applaud you for that. I buy your games on GoG without question, despite being a college student with funds that I really should not be using on video games, I still want to support you guys and the companies you localize for. I'm still deciding on whether I should buy Zwei day one as I very rarely do that (in fact, I don't think I've ever done that, I'm usually more shrewd and cautious with my purchases, but this is how much trust and faith I have in Falcom, and you guys as well from the work I've seen). My library isn't that large but these are games I've bought SOLELY on reputation alone, I will likely buy more once I actually play and finish these games (and these don't include the senrans I got for the 3DS).

Now unto the less... pleasant part of my comment. As a paying customer and someone who considers myself committed to my ethics and ideals, I do not agree with your politics, nor the politics and culture that appear to be going on at X-Seed. This wouldn't be such a big deal if I didn't have a worry that this would be affecting the quality of the localization and the games themselves that I expect from you guys. Good for you, you support LGBTQ things. I respect that even if I don't agree with it, but how is this relevant to my games? Do you have an agenda to promote? Not some "conspiracy" or anything like that, but your own, personal agendas in terms of the politics you prefer? If so, how can I put my trust in you? I'm relying on your reputation and past works to carry you and I give you a ton of credibility for that, but when I see posts like this, I lose my faith more and more in you guys and I'm sorry to say that. I don't like condemning people for speaking up for their ideals, but this is a business. If you feel you have business telling the creators of the source materials you localize that *you* feel they should change their works to accommodate your tastes and preferences, or merely encourage that, you speak on behalf of your fanbase who can't speak for themselves to the people you have connected with, and that fanbase is not 100% behind the changes you suggest, at least as I can say for myself. Be warned Xseed. I don't say that to be awful or rude, but just remember what happened to NISA after they decided to treat Ys VIII without the respect a game of that caliber deserved. A full-on mailing and emailing campaign directly to the head offices of Falcom themselves. They have no American or European offices. Think about that: a group of people who enlisted the help of their friends and allies who knew japanese to convey a message to a company to protect the games' franchise they love. You have a loyal, but ethical fanbase committed to high standards in their localizations and translations, but they also have their limits for patience as well, and if you choose to abandon them for your own personal politics, or even your work culture's politics, just be aware of the possible consequences. I don't mean this as a threat or anything, just a heads-up as to what *could* happen. I don't see it happening as you guys work hard and care a lot about everything when it comes to localizations, but self-censorship is one of those words that's starting to get bandied around a lot, and people are justifiably worried when they see blog posts and interviews such as these. It raised me on my hackles to say the least.

Its my sincere hope that you guys take what I said to heart. Despite my disagreements I fucking love you guys and the work you put out, and I'd like to keep doing that but the ball is in your court. The past and your credibility is high and great, but it only goes so far. If you want games to be more like Zwei, that's fine, I'm sure its a great game, but if you want games to be family friendly because you prefer family friendly games, then stick with that and don't end up hurting games that are more edgy and brutal with their tones and events because you want to be family friendly. Don't do what certain companies that I won't name did to their games. Just leave them alone so they aren't damaged for the rest of us.

Thanks if you bothered to read this whole thing, please take it to heart if you can.
Attachments:
Post edited January 30, 2018 by Fenixblade33
high rated
avatar
Fenixblade33: If you feel you have business telling the creators of the source materials you localize that *you* feel they should change their works to accommodate your tastes and preferences, or merely encourage that, you speak on behalf of your fanbase who can't speak for themselves to the people you have connected with, and that fanbase is not 100% behind the changes you suggest, at least as I can say for myself.
I don't understand how anyone interpreted THAT from my answer yesterday. We don't tell developers what to do; we have no influence over them whatsoever! The most "meddling" we ever do is to suggest things they can ADD to the game; never things to take away.

My answer was purely a personal response from me, of things that I WISH I would see more (or less) often from developers. That's it! Just my own, personal wishes. Never once did I say that these are things I would tell or even ask developers to change, nor would I have any means with which TO ask developers to change these things -- I am, in the simplest terms, a text monkey, who rarely gets to speak to the developers of games directly at all.

Additionally -- and perhaps most pertinently -- I AM 100% ANTI-CENSORSHIP. Somehow, this fact seems to have gotten lost, despite it being the crux of my entire answer!

Censorship is still possible in our games, though, as it has always been, because I don't represent the entire company -- and no one else there is as firmly anti-censorship as I am. And while I don't agree with it, I do understand my coworkers' desire to ensure that if something in our games is going to upset a good chunk of the players, they'd prefer that be removed from the English version, because the last thing we ever want to do is upset our fans.

I realize that removing content in order to avoid upsetting some fans is just going to upset other fans, however -- it's basically a no-win scenario. Which is why given the choice, I'd rather work on games where we aren't faced with that dilemma at all!

For any games where we are, however, I will continue to do everything in my power to keep them censorship-free -- and if I lose that battle, as I have in the past, I will make sure you fans at least KNOW about it, so you don't feel duped into buying something that's been censored without realizing it.

...Now, can we all please move on? ;) I'll admit, I never in a million years expected the anti-censorship contingent (my people!) would turn against me in these comments! I don't know how much clearer I can make it that I AM ON YOUR SIDE. And I always will be! I hate censorship, from the very pit of my soul. The fact that I can sympathize with those who don't agree with me doesn't change that fact, and you don't ever have to worry about me flip-flopping on this -- I am resolute in my opposition to content alteration or removal.

-Tom
high rated
avatar
wyrdwad: [snip
...Now, can we all please move on? ;) I'll admit, I never in a million years expected the anti-censorship contingent (my people!) would turn against me in these comments! I don't know how much clearer I can make it that I AM ON YOUR SIDE.
[snip]
-Tom
Welcome to gOg!
avatar
wyrdwad: [snip
...Now, can we all please move on? ;) I'll admit, I never in a million years expected the anti-censorship contingent (my people!) would turn against me in these comments! I don't know how much clearer I can make it that I AM ON YOUR SIDE.
[snip]
-Tom
avatar
amok: Welcome to gOg!
i was getting ready to say exactly this.
Since yesterday's hostilities appear to have resumed, I might as well throw in my two pence: I did think your answer to your question yesterday was kinda weird, Tom. My interpretation was that you think that the ESRB might be taking a stronger line against sexual content, particular stuff that's approaching the upper boundary of the M rating, presumably as a result of #MeToo et al.

I can understand that logic, but I do know that theory may not apply in practice. By the time that Xseed will be submitting the next physical Senran Kagura game, I would expect that pQube would have submitted (and released) Gal Gun 2 and Omega Labyrinth Z. If neither of aforementioned pQube games result in the ESRB demanding cuts, then we'll probably be able to conclude that the ESRB's position hasn't changed.
Post edited January 30, 2018 by DelusionsBeta
Wait, so I just made all this popcorn and there's no controversial subject today? Not even one sentence that can be twisted into meaning the opposite of what the OP meant?
avatar
DelusionsBeta: Since yesterday's hostilities appear to have resumed, I might as well throw in my two pence: I did think your answer to your question yesterday was kinda weird, Tom. My interpretation was that you think that the ESRB might be taking a stronger line against sexual content, particular stuff that's approaching the upper boundary of the M rating, presumably as a result of #MeToo et al.
Not the ESRB specifically, but publishers in general. There will always be exceptions (presumably including us), but I do think publishers are going to be more wary of games with controversial content than they have been previously -- you'll see fewer such titles released here at all, as I believe fewer publishers will be willing to take the hit to their reputation (be it legitimate or perceived) that releasing games like that may cause.

And on those rare occasions when publishers who don't normally release games of that nature suddenly do, I believe you're more likely than not to see acts of censorship applied to them.

That's just where I see the industry heading at the moment, personally. I may be a bit jaded, however!

-Tom
Post edited January 30, 2018 by wyrdwad
Don't look at our posts on the subject as hostile please, Tom.
Instead, just understand that we're all about as passionate about the subject as you. Should explain enough. ;-)

(Know that I've always notified people far and wide across the internet about your previous acts and deed when it comes to anti-censorship. Me and probably 95% of the dudes here still appreciate you a lot for it!)
Post edited January 30, 2018 by JackDandy
avatar
DelusionsBeta: Since yesterday's hostilities appear to have resumed, I might as well throw in my two pence: I did think your answer to your question yesterday was kinda weird, Tom. My interpretation was that you think that the ESRB might be taking a stronger line against sexual content, particular stuff that's approaching the upper boundary of the M rating, presumably as a result of #MeToo et al.
avatar
wyrdwad: Not the ESRB specifically, but publishers in general. There will always be exceptions (presumably including us), but I do think publishers are going to be more wary of games with controversial content than they have been previously -- you'll see fewer such titles released here at all, as I believe fewer publishers will be willing to take the (perceived) hit to their reputation that releasing games like that may cause.

And on those rare occasions when publishers who don't normally release games of that nature suddenly do, I believe you're more likely than not to see acts of censorship applied to them.

That's just where I see the industry heading at the moment, personally. I may be a bit jaded, however!

-Tom
Huh. Not sure I can totally agree with that point of view, since the impression I've gotten is that ecchi games have been doing better than expected (generally speaking), and pQube seems to have totally jumped into localising smut & SciAdv, alongside their regular business of Milestone's eleventy billion racing games, doing ArcSys EU duty and distributing retro-related gaming accessories.

[EDIT: Correction, it appears that Milestone's self publishing in Europe now. pQube is now publishing indie games. Whether the two events are related... probably not. But still: clearly marked speculation is fun.]

I suppose we haven't seen Atlus do a Dungeon Traveller game in a while (although the impression I've gotten is that they're all doing Yakuza), and I'm not anticipating a Criminal Girls 3 out of Nippon Ichi any time soon. Although, more to the point, in the cases of Dungeon Traveller 2 and the Criminal Girls games, I do recall both Atlus and NISA pointing at the ESRB as the reason why they made the cuts.

Outside of Nintendo of America, I don't think there's any videogame localizer that cuts ecchi content without point at the ESRB as the reason (and judging by Xenoblade Chronicles 2, I get the impression that Nintendo's put that policy in the bin).
Post edited January 30, 2018 by DelusionsBeta
avatar
GOG.com: Ken: Based on the very active release schedule that publisher had at the time, one can only guess that the localization team wasn’t given the time and resources needed as they were forced to meet a hard deadline for most likely financial reasons (since September is the end of a fiscal quarter for most companies). That was likely compounded by them shipping a total of four titles within four weeks of each other, one of which was the absolute localization beast Danganronpa V3, which would have required tons of their resources and have taken priority as it’s been one of their top-selling franchises for years.
We need Spike Chunsoft on GOG... just saying ;)

Anyway, Thanks for Your hard work and for bringing Japanese games here, XSEED team!
low rated
avatar
JackDandy: Don't look at our posts on the subject as hostile please, Tom.
Instead, just understand that we're all about as passionate about the subject as you. Should explain enough. ;-)

(Know that I've always notified people far and wide across the internet about your previous acts and deed when it comes to anti-censorship. Me and probably 95% of the dudes here still appreciate you a lot for it!)
Just a little reminder: Not everyone here is a dude.

Edit: Why do people have such a problem with corrections like this that they feel the need to downrate this post?
Post edited January 30, 2018 by dtgreene