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rlranft

I'm dyin' here...

15 posts in this topic

Waiting for Alternative, wondering when (or if - haven't looked actually) Total Eclipse will get "the treatment" and it's tempting to just say "to hell with it" and get the originals.  But I decided to wait - and it gives me a chance to add a few extra bucks to my "take my daughters to Korea next summer" fund - so I'm trying to be patient.....

In the mean time I when and got the soundtrack to Total Eclipse and I like that they actually used quite a bit of it in the anime.  Which is "another thing": people say that the first part of that was good (and from the anime it certainly seems like it would be) but the second was kind of a flop - which explain why the anime stops as if prepping for "season two" and leaves you hanging.  I suppose this contributes to the "if" part of my earlier statement since it seems unlikely that they'll remake Total Eclipse without doing the whole thing, but it seems like the second half might not be worth remaking from a financial perspective (gotta be practical here - it's work and people have to be paid).

While I'm on about this, I'm pondering the differences between "very Japanese endings" and "American endings."  I guess my most readily available example that solidly illustrates what I mean here is the book All You Need is Kill and its American film counterpart Edge of Tomorrow.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book and I thought the movie lost something with the changes made to accommodate a more American style ending.  A friend of mine borrowed the book after watching the movie and he preferred the movie ending to that in the book.  His daughter is attending a "magnet" school (in Nevada it is a high school that allows students to select specializations similar to college majors) for Japanese and she explained to him that the book has a "very Japanese ending" (which I totally agreed with).  I suppose my point is that I never really thought of it that way, but it's true that Western tales are biased pretty heavily toward happy endings.  On the other hand, Japan has a long history of romanticizing self-sacrifice (we do it in the West too, just not to the same extent) so I feel like the overall "story topology" if you will is more even, having a better balance of happy and sad endings - basically, a "sad" ending isn't necessarily a "bad" ending to a Japanese story whereas it generally is a bad ending for a Western tale.  Rambling - but do you follow?  I guess I'm kind of wondering if the flat reception of the second part of Total Eclipse was just an "audience incompatibility" or something else.

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Well, the "flat reception" to the second part of Total eclipse (or the VN, as the game adapts both the first part in the LNs and anime and then goes on and ends it) is actually more on the Japanese side than the English; there is simply very few information on the English side to actually see if there is a problem there. Frankly, I think it's not only a matter of bad developments of the plot (which, while being the consensus, it's more of a a subjective thing), but that that the second part was simply released badly and amongst controversy.

First was the fact that the series of LNs actually ended in a cliffchanger, one that never got resolved as the resolution moved to the VN. From that you can already predict that some LN readers would be quite pissed off. After it is that they waited 6 months until the end of the anime to release the game, and that was on XBox360 and PS3. While there had been some ports, the series was based mostly on the PC, so you can again guess how that felt for another bunch of the followers. When Age realized their mistake they announced a PC port with an extra chapter (the famous Teitou Moyu we will be getting), but it also was delayed and finally arrived 1 year and 3 months later, when all the hype was practically dead (specially after those that played it on consoles ranted about how bad it was). And perhaps the most important part was the whole scandal about Miyata Sou, which forced it to change artist at the last moment (likely being the cause of the delays) and in general tainted the series a bit (as the hardcore otakus that are the ones that make more fuss about it are also the ones to whole VN market rest on).

On your point, while I mostly agree, I would advise against generalizing. "Hollywood" is not "Western". The whole basis of Western storytelling are Greek tragedies and epics, and I doubt anybody thinks of Shakespeare as "happy endings". Even supposed Comedies, like the Quixote have more bittersweet endings. And even in the film industry, independent movies tend to be a lot more spread out. The "only happy endings" thing is more commercial; even in fairy tales you would be hard-pressed to say that the Grimm brothers stories are happy. That's not to say that there are "Japanese endings" (indeed, I would also say the ending of All You Need is Kill is very Japanese), but I believe that putting it as "sad" or "happy" is overgeneralising and untrue.

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18 hours ago, Marx-93 said:

On your point, while I mostly agree, I would advise against generalizing. "Hollywood" is not "Western". The whole basis of Western storytelling are Greek tragedies and epics, and I doubt anybody thinks of Shakespeare as "happy endings". Even supposed Comedies, like the Quixote have more bittersweet endings. And even in the film industry, independent movies tend to be a lot more spread out. The "only happy endings" thing is more commercial; even in fairy tales you would be hard-pressed to say that the Grimm brothers stories are happy. That's not to say that there are "Japanese endings" (indeed, I would also say the ending of All You Need is Kill is very Japanese), but I believe that putting it as "sad" or "happy" is overgeneralising and untrue.

 
 
 
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Acknowledged - When the subject is so broad it's difficult to avoid some generalization, and I did start off with "American" as opposed to Western endings but then devolved from there - my apologies.  I really was on about our Hollywood garbage more than Western literature in general.  In fact, my exposure to Japanese literature is relatively limited (extremely limited compared to my English literature exposure).  However, placed on a scale I think the "tragic" ending balance still falls in the Japanese court.  Additionally, "happy" and "sad" don't apply in my mind - "tragic" isn't necessarily "sad" and a "good" ending isn't necessarily "happy" either.  What makes the ending of All You Need is Kill "Japanese" to me isn't the outcome but rather the reason it has to be that way - the psychology behind it if you will - and I didn't find it particularly sad.

I'd also like to point out that I believe that most of Shakespeare's works are actually satire disguised as drama - he was a funny guy.  Who else would have written Romeo and Juliette?  I believe that he was actively mocking his audience the whole time, and doing it so skillfully that they never realized it.

Edited by rlranft

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38 minutes ago, rlranft said:

 However, placed on a scale I still think the "tragic" ending balance still falls in the Japanese court.  Additionally, "happy" and "sad" don't apply in my mind - "tragic" isn't necessarily "sad" and a "good" ending isn't necessarily "happy" either.  What makes the ending of All You Need is Kill "Japanese" to me isn't the outcome but rather the reason it has to be that way - the psychology behind it if you will - and I didn't find it particularly sad.

I'd also like to point out that I believe that most of Shakespeare's works are actually satire disguised as drama - he was a funny guy.  Who else would have written Romeo and Juliette?  I believe that he was actively mocking his audience the whole time, and doing it so skillfully that they never realized it.

Shakespeare was indeed a funny guy, but even then I would say his satires are mostly black humour, and had adequately tragic endings (some may be directly called tragicomedies). I would in fact compare it to the end of the Quixote; that 90% of it is humour does not detract from the ending being a straight tragedy.

I think it depends in a way of what you consider "tragic". In a very Greek tradition, a lot of the "sad" ending in the West rely on tragic ironies or a sin from the past coming back in the worst moment. While Japan also has them, they seem to have a preference for twists of fate and an unavoidable and morally undeserved punishment. Here you may even go and make a parallel on how this may be due to Japan's geographical situation; this unannounced and unavoidable disasters may be a reflection of their common earthquakes and volcanoes (though that is a simple supposition and I could be way off).

Anyway, making a gross simplification, I guess you could say the West has always gone for tragic "characters", while Japan seems to have a pendant for tragic "circumstances". In the first, the situation may end overall well even if the character dies, but in the second everything is a bit more ambiguous.

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49 minutes ago, Marx-93 said:

Anyway, making a gross simplification, I guess you could say the West has always gone for tragic "characters", while Japan seems to have a pendant for tragic "circumstances". In the first, the situation may end overall well even if the character dies, but in the second everything is a bit more ambiguous.

 

Oh - hey, I like that.  I'm on board.

Anyway, I still hope to see Total Eclipse in its entirety - I enjoyed the anime and was really disappointed that it just stopped dead like that.  And any part of these games that isn't on PC is a part I won't get to experience - I don't do consoles.  Call me an elitist if you must, but PCs will always outclass console hardware and are readily upgradeable to boot, not to mention their general flexibility of purpose.  And... I'm off-topic again....

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9 hours ago, rlranft said:

Oh - hey, I like that.  I'm on board.

Anyway, I still hope to see Total Eclipse in its entirety - I enjoyed the anime and was really disappointed that it just stopped dead like that.  And any part of these games that isn't on PC is a part I won't get to experience - I don't do consoles.  Call me an elitist if you must, but PCs will always outclass console hardware and are readily upgradeable to boot, not to mention their general flexibility of purpose.  And... I'm off-topic again....

Well, there was a PC port after all, and it really was the most complete edition. And don't worry, as you can see with Schwarzesmarken, Age realized their mistake and they're now again focusing on PC. I am a console guy, but even I thought that putting VNs on a home console was kinda silly. And if Teito Moyu does well I'm sure we'll see it. We just have to wait for a moment when Degica isn't exploding with overwork (reminder that Age took 1.3 years to port it to PC, so who knows how much a translation will take?).

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Yeah, I think that if they want to hit alternate platforms they should probably look first to Windows Universal apps (so now it would be on Windows 10 across all Win10-compatible hardware from phones to tablets) since they're already targeting Windows 10 and then move to Android and iOS.  This really depends on the engine's renderer, though - moving from desktop to universal might be just as much work as moving from Windows 10 to Android if the current renderer isn't DirectX-based or if it's not DX11 or DX12 (the transition from DX9 to DX10 saw a huge API change and porting up required major redesign/rewrite).

Anyway, with the success of the Kickstarter, I hope they gain enough traction to continue to overhaul the whole series using funds from sales - I suppose that might be in the works.  To be honest I haven't gone searching for a project roadmap on this so I don't really know how far they're planning to go.  I'd kind of like to see the pre-order for Alternative go up on Steam soon.  I missed out on the Kickstarter, but I think the additional funds from pre-orders might give them a shot in the arm to help out with the stuff they're getting in the Feedback thread.

15 hours ago, Marx-93 said:

Shakespeare was indeed a funny guy, but even then I would say his satires are mostly black humour, and had adequately tragic endings (some may be directly called tragicomedies).

1

I never read the book, but the movie Fight Club felt like one of these black comedies - I found myself laughing at stuff throughout that film.  Another film that I thought was very funny was Forrest Gump - while many people were saying it was a "lousy drama" and gave it poor reviews I think they completely missed the fact that it was a comedy and not a drama.

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On 8/7/2016 at 1:43 AM, Marx-93 said:

We just have to wait for a moment when Degica isn't exploding with overwork (reminder that Age took 1.3 years to port it to PC, so who knows how much a translation will take?).

 

I'm thinking they might be under-staffed....

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On 17/8/2016 at 7:02 PM, rlranft said:

I'm thinking they might be under-staffed....

Degica or Age? Frankly, I think it's less that and more that MuvLuv is huge. Even experienced publishers like XSEED and Aksys tend to only release a text-heavy game per year (supplemented by smaller games, but it's not like Degica doesn't do the same), and they likely know the ropes a lot better.

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Thinking Age - I thought Degica was a publisher, though I suppose a good publisher might have resources to throw into assisting clients.  Of course, I haven't really researched the relationship.  It's just the impression I get at a glance.

Still, it's less about experience and more about workload to manpower ratios (though experience is definitely a factor).  If you hire light to keep your overhead down you are going to take longer to get to market - period.  More experienced managerial staff can more efficiently handle larger teams, so this is where experience really pays off, but all of the experience in the world doesn't reduce the gross workload.  Additionally, some tasks don't benefit from parallelization - in fact, some tasks are more difficult with more people - so that's something to consider as well.

Anyway, I think having more translators and proof-readers would definitely speed this up.  Since it is easy to break something like this into sections and parcel out the workload it should greatly benefit from increased staff.  At this point it comes down to budget and managerial experience because it would mean some process changes, so the team probably doesn't feel it would be worth the added risk.  As I've said elsewhere there are always unexpected expenses in game development and none of us has access to the sort of information it would take to properly analyze the situation - I'm just making a guess based on my own experience.  I've only been involved in game and software development for about five years now, but I've seen that generally if you're running behind schedule you have two options: work a ton of crunch or staff up.  Most outfits decide to crunch because it means more work for the same money (salary... there are trade-offs to be considered) but it usually results in a steady accumulation of fatigue-related efficiency issues and errors.  Adding staff increases overhead, naturally, but shortens time to market with less risk to quality.  Technically, a third option is to simply slip the schedule.  Bioware had a long-standing policy of "it ships when it's ready" and that's cool, too - as long as it's out front and the customers know to expect it.  That way the customers know that the product won't ship until the team is pretty happy with it and that confidence usually translates to better sales - but it's also a big money risk because pushing back the release means the project cost increases.

Just "shower thoughts."

Edited by rlranft

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Degica is definitely the publisher, but as its usual with games it is also the one who takes care of the localization.

And from what I've read of impressions of translators themselves, having more than one translator can be a bad idea. It forces an editor to rewrite the script so to homogenize the style and to put a great amount of effort checking for terminology consistency. While for big projects it is kinda unavoidable if you don't want to take more than a year translating, it is something which must be thought about carefully. With a small group of translators which already know each other and are used to working together it can be great, but if you pick each translator individually and separately it can end in a mess. Unless they have a very good editor; sometimes a good editor is worth more than any group of translators.

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Having multiple translators is kinda like having multiple writers; each one is going to have his/her own style, and unless there's a good editor and some discussion beforehand, it can get really disjointed. Deciding what terms need to be translated and what Japanese terms should be kept, how jokes and puns should be rewritten, there are many aspects that vary from one translator to another. At the very least, I'd leave one person as the main decision-maker for any potential conflicts (or get a good editor with this power), with some veto power to the others if the rest believe strongly in another direction, but that can also get ugly if egos get involved. Adding translators willy-nilly is a risk I don't think is worth taking. 

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I would expect it to work like the art team or the programming team - the lead and design team publish a standard and the lead enforces it.  Daily stand-up meetings with all team members bring issues to light immediately.  Our teams frequently use outside translation services and in the gambling industry there are very strict ways that things must be phrased - naturally there is someone on the team responsible for maintaining the standard (as well as someone from Legal who goes over everything).  "Willy-nilly" is a bad way to do literally any part of game development.

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22 minutes ago, rlranft said:

I would expect it to work like the art team or the programming team - the lead and design team publish a standard and the lead enforces it.  Daily stand-up meetings with all team members bring issues to light immediately.  Our teams frequently use outside translation services and in the gambling industry there are very strict ways that things must be phrased - naturally there is someone on the team responsible for maintaining the standard (as well as someone from Legal who goes over everything).  "Willy-nilly" is a bad way to do literally any part of game development.

While you are right, I think you're perhaps assuming an standard on the game translation industry that mostly doesn't exist. Most translators are actually freelancers, and a lot work online and simply live very far away from the company's headquarters (even if they're in-house!). With Japanese is in fact very common for translators to be living in Japan despite working for an USA company (half from the translators of the current VN industry seem to actually live in Japan). So things like "daily stand-up meetings" are almost impossible to arrange. And while there is a lot of times an editor to go over the final text, a huge quantity of text makes it almost impracticable for a single person to correct everything; and if you have more than one editor you have the same problem again. So, if translators know each other and can effectively reach a consensus and work together, then with an skilled editor you have enough. But if you have a translator in Japan, one in the USA and the editor in Australia (to say something), you then have an absolute nightmare of a project. Better to take twice the time and work only with one of the two translators.

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I just said that my company works with many translator services (some are freelance).  Also the regulatory requirements for legally binding phrasing are very strict for jurisdictions world-wide.

Allow me to clarify - I work for Scientific Games (http://www.scientificgames.com/).  We have 8400 employees world-wide and do business with countless translation agencies around the world (many of which are small legal offices that offer these services).  The standards are enforced by our own in-house teams to ensure that the wording meets regulatory requirements for each jurisdiction that we do business in.  The actual problem isn't getting the translations to be consistent as much as it is finding team leadership capable of dealing with the task - you are correct, it is complex and difficult.  However, I can tell you of my own personal knowledge that it can be done - we do it every day (well, not me personally - I'm a build/tools programmer).

Edited by rlranft

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