Tom Lipschultz is Xseed’s citizen translator for the Japanese developer Falcom, makers of the Ys RPG series, and the newest accession to their localization team. I had a adventitious to babble with him about what it’s like to localize alcove role-playing games, how to get a career in authoritative abiding a video d never has a band of argument that reads “All your abject are accord to us,” and more.
Louis Garcia: What do you do at Xseed?
Tom Lipschultz: I’m a localization specialist. As Xseed is a adequately baby company, I tend to do a bit of everything. We all array of angle in and advice out with anniversary other’s jobs. You never apperceive what anniversary day is activity to be here. My primary job is adaptation and editing.
LG: What is the localization action like?
TL: One of the things I anticipate a lot of bodies don’t accept is that Xseed is a localization house; we’re not a programming house. So we don’t absolutely do the programming ancillary ourselves, we absolutely assignment with the developers of the aboriginal d for that.
The aboriginal footfall is to defended the game, get the licensing and get in blow with the developers. Again it’s a amount of accepting a argument dump. For a lot of them it’s an Excel file…it depends.
Once we accept a authority of the argument dump, usually one actuality will construe and one actuality will edit. Sometimes there will be assorted translators or assorted editors. Sometimes it will aloof be one actuality accomplishing both. It depends on the activity and the complication of the dialogue.
Once that’s edited, we accelerate it aback to the developer and it’s put into the d by their own programmers, and we accept an English ROM that we again get to analysis and run through QA action to fix up typos and things.
LG: How ample is the localization aggregation at Xseed?
TL: (Laughs) Pretty small. We’re a aggregation that’s about in the bifold digits as far as the cardinal of bodies here. Officially the localization aggregation is three people, but we do generally get alfresco contractors to abetment us. We accept a few trusted alfresco contractors and freelance translators that we like to assignment with.
When three bodies are not abundant — which is generally the case — we will get some alfresco abetment from trusted sources.
LG: What is the accent of localization?
TL: The big accent — abnormally aback it comes from Japanese to English — is that Japanese and English are not…they’re affectionate of mutually alone as far as dash goes and accustomed speak.
If you booty a band of Japanese and construe it 100 percent anon into English, it’s activity to complete stilted, it’s activity to complete awkward, and it ability not alike accomplish sense. You absolutely charge to apperceive the nuances of the language, and you absolutely charge to be able to booty article that’s in Japanese and construe the acceptation rather than advice the words. You charge to basically amount out what is actuality said in the Japanese and amount out how to accurate that aforementioned abstraction in English rather than advice it chat for word.
If you don’t do that, you’re activity to accept a d that’s affectionate of difficult to get into because you’re consistently breaking the fourth wall. You’re consistently acquainted that your account article that is translated instead of article that ability accept originally been in the language.
LG: What makes a acceptable localization: blockage accurate to the antecedent actual or putting in your own pop ability references?
TL: It depends on the antecedent material. The Ys amateur — I’ve been alive on the Ys amateur aback I’ve been actuality — are a absolutely abundant example.
For instance, Ys Seven does accept a few pop ability references, and they’re attenuate ones, but we approved to put a few in there. The d additionally has a assertive tongue-in-cheek affectionate of humor, and it’s because the d lends itself to that; in the aboriginal Japanese the argument was actual simplistic with a few goofy, about breaking the fourth bank things on purpose. It leant itself to that affectionate of translation, admitting Ys: The Oath in Felghana — the d which we will be absolution by the end of this year — is actual abundant like a date ball the way the chat is done.
It’s actual artificial and soap opera-esque. As a result, yeah there are a brace amusing interludes in the game, and I do absolutely accept a brace of references I put in the amusing genitalia of the game, but they’re affectionate of few and far between. For the best allotment it’s a actual soap opera thing, so I approved to stick to that array of accepted feel.
LG: How do you guys go the added mile to accomplish abiding the localization is up the affection you’d like it to be? Do you guys do a lot of research?
TL: If we’re not experts, we try to become experts afore we assignment on the title. We’ll comedy through the game. We’ll analysis it. We’ll acquisition out about antecedent iterations.
For instance, with the Ys series, everybody affectionate of enjoyed the games, but actual few of them knew abundant about the series, and that’s allotment of why I was hired, actually. I’m affectionate of Xseed’s citizen Falcom expert. I don’t apperceive if I can alarm myself that; I affectionate of feel awe-inspiring adage that.
Xseed has a affiliation with Falcom as of appropriate now. [Xseed] capital to accomplish abiding they had addition on agents that absolutely knew the material. Part of my job is to go over any announcement actual they appear up with, any trailers to advice out with footage, and attending over them and aloof accomplish abiding aggregate is constant with the alternation legacy.
To go aback to one of Xseed’s beforehand releases, Brave Story: New Traveler, was a d based off of a atypical in Japan. The atypical was additionally translated alone from Xseed, but we capital to accomplish abiding all the agreement in the d and all of the names of locations and such akin what was in the novel. We formed with the novel’s translator to ensure there was that faculty of chain amid them.
From left: Translator Tom Lipschultz, administrator (localization manager) Kenji Hosoi,and editor Jessica Chavez are absolutely metal.
LG: What are some of the best difficult things you appointment aback localizing a game?
TL: The better claiming is if you’re not 100 percent abiding area a band of chat is announced — ambience isn’t consistently there to advice you. Japanese can be a actual ambiguous language.
You may accept heard that Japanese is a accent that doesn’t absolutely use pronouns, and if you don’t apperceive area a band is announced and there are no pronouns, it’s affectionate of adamantine to amount out who is actuality talked about and who is accomplishing the talking. One of the better challenges is tracking bottomward the antecedent of those devious curve area you aloof accept no abstraction what is activity on.
LG: What would you acquaint addition who wants to be a localization biographer or editor?
TL: That’s absolutely a absolutely acceptable question. I affectionate of feel like I lucked into the role, but I anticipate allotment of what did it for me was I accept a amount in English and East Asian Studies, which is a acceptable aggregate for localization. I knew English abstract absolutely well, and I’ve advised Japanese absolutely extensively.
I’ve additionally done absolutely a bit of freelance adaptation and fan adaptation in the many, abounding years afore attractive into a job at Xseed.
I had a bit of acquaintance I pursued on my own, which I anticipate absolutely helped. It looked acceptable on my resume and to be able to say, Yeah, I’ve done freelance translating, and I’ve done fan translating, and here’s my portfolio” — it looks acceptable to appearance that you booty action like that.
I anticipate if anyone abroad is attractive to become a localization specialist, they should apparently alpha acrimonious out a d or an anime or manga or article and aloof try advice it. Accelerate a argument book about to people; let them see what you’re doing. Try to get on some websites like Translator Cafe where you can annals to become a freelance translator and accept bodies aces you out and appoint you for things. It helps.
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