2017 End-of-the-Year Q&A Extravaganza Blog! #2

Our second 2017 End-of-the-Year Q&A Extravaganza is here! There will be more next week, but for now, we have some answers from:

Ken Berry, Executive Vice President / Team Leader
John Wheeler, Assistant Localization Manager
Nick Colucci, Localization Editor
Brittany Avery, Localization Producer
Thomas Lipschultz, Localization Producer

Question: Have you ever considered selling the music CDs for your licenses stateside? – @LimitTimeGamer

Ken: That’s not really a business we’re looking to get into, with the exception being when we’ve already printed soundtracks as part of a limited edition release and have some leftover. Music licenses are always tricky, and even if the publisher we licensed the game from completely owns their own music rights, they can self-publish digitally on iTunes worldwide so no need for us to get involved.

Question: If possible, would you please consider researching and localizing classic Korean-made PC xRPGs? & Do you have any interest in pursuing the localization of any of the large, beautiful Chinese RPGs that have been hitting Steam? Or are you focused exclusively on Japanese titles? – @DragEnRegalia & @TheDanaAddams

Brittany: The main reason we focus on JP > EN is because we’re mainly an office of Japanese to English speakers, and we can verify the quality. We haven’t completely ruled out the idea of other languages in the future, but we can’t do anything to guarantee these games will be accurate yet. If we hired a person to localize games into a specific language, there’s no checks-and-balances system in place for us to know we’re investing in a project people will be happy to play because it’s the best quality we can offer. Personally, I would hesitate to expand outside of JP > EN localization regularly until we’ve gained more experience as a company.

We’ve done a few instances of EN > FIGS, but since our games usually are very text heavy, even this is difficult. I would want to experiment with smaller games first. Hopefully, there will come a time when we can expand beyond JP > EN on a regular basis, since I’ve noticed some badass-looking games outside of the EN/JP languages. I also like the Korean developer Cheritz, who did Mystic Messenger. Jaehee will always be the love of my life.

Ken: We are definitely looking to expand where we source games from in the future and not just limiting ourselves to Japan. Definitely lots of good stuff coming out of China, Korea, and other parts of Southeast Asia these days, and we’re big fans of Western indie games too. You will be seeing a lot more variety of games from us in the future, but that doesn’t mean that we’ll be giving up on our staple of games from Japan – they will be in addition to those.

Nick: I figured I’d field these not because I have any special ability to get XSEED to license a game (we’re all free to suggest games for consideration, which is pretty cool), but because prior to working at XSEED, I actually did localization for Korean and Chinese F2P MMOs.

There’s a lot of game dev talent in places like China, Korea, and Taiwan that we in the west are only tangentially aware of due to their games market being significantly different from ours. To generalize a bit, outside of Japan, Asia doesn’t have a strong lineage of console development, as existing consoles haven’t been widely available in most of those countries. Rather, PCs are where people in Asia play their games – online games in particular, with net cafes being popular places to log in and play.

One of the first bits of localization work I ever did in my career was for the F2P MMO Dream of Mirror Online, for which I handled seasonal quests and ongoing localization (the base game had already been localized before I got there). The developer of that game, Softstar, has a cool, long-running Wuxia fantasy RPG series in China known as Xuan Yuan Jian, one installment of which is available on Steam right now. Wouldn’t it be cool to release an anime-style wuxia adventure RPG here? As a fan of drama, martial arts, and sweet swordfights, it would be pretty rad.

Personally, I’m totally up for dipping our toes into games like this as a company, but there are some extra challenges to taking on Chinese or Korean games that we haven’t had to contend with during our work on Japanese titles.

Perhaps most important is establishing audience interest in these titles. Even if we find cool Chinese or Korean games (and I’m sure we could), if we don’t sense a market demand for those games, it doesn’t make sense to expend the effort to publish them. That’s not a statement on their quality; it’s an issue of market awareness. Japanese gaming has an advantage for us, in a sense, in that it’s been pervasive in Western culture long enough that the names, language, and even history of Japan seem less strange and foreign to Westerners now than they were 20-30 years ago. We’ve come to have a taste for Japanese games and culture, one could say. That sort of natural predilection doesn’t currently exist for games from elsewhere in Asia. I think that a good game’s quality will be self-evident enough that it can become well known, but it would take considerably more work to make people aware of and interested in a cool game from China, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, or elsewhere than it would if that game were from Japan. And given that XSEED’s marketing and advertising resources are admittedly smaller than we wish they were, licensing and localizing a cool Asian game for a Steam release could prove difficult if we couldn’t connect the game with enough of an audience that would appreciate it. Before you nay-say me, look around at the amount of Chinese or Korean games currently available in the Western market that aren’t MMOs or mobile games. It’s…not very many, is it?

Not to say we’re not interested, of course! There’s a huge amount of potential in games from Asian developers, and an ocean of possibilities to explore. But I think, before that happens, we have to either find a game we think would be a pretty sure thing our fans would enjoy, or see that there’s a demand here for these games. If you’re interested in seeing XSEED work on Chinese or Korean games, do feel free to write us, especially if you have suggestions of titles you think are particularly worth checking out or that you think are very “on-brand” for XSEED.

Question: What inspired you all to do this kind of work in the first place? Also, what is the story behind the company name XSEED? How did you all come up with it? – @TBlock_02

Ken: The company was founded by former members of Square Enix USA, including its president at the time, Jun Iwasaki. Other smaller Japanese companies would often ask him to publish their games in the West, and even though we came extremely close to starting a separate “Square Selections” publishing brand to distinguish our own titles from third-party titles, we were always just too busy working on Square Enix titles to have the resources to work on anybody else’s. Once the new company was formed and the name finalized (we wanted our new business to grow and foster from an initial small “seed”), it was only natural to reach back out to the publishers in Japan who needed a way to release their games in the West.

Question: What was everyone’s favorite game(s) to work on this year? – @ArtistofLegacy

Brittany: Trails in the Sky the 3rd. I was very emotionally connected to that game, and its text is something I think I’ll be proud of for years to come.

Tom: Zwei: The Arges Adventure, hands down. Most fun I’ve ever had translating anything.

John: I had a lot of fun with the PR-side of STORY OF SEASONS: Trio of Towns (the Capy comics and marriage candidate intros), though significantly less fun with QA for the DLC.

Question: What’s everyone’s favorite song from the Falcom games you’ve released so far? – @Crippeh

Brittany: Can’t choose a legit favorite, but it took me, like, twelve hours to beat the Finale dungeon in Trails of Cold Steel II and I still listen to Phantasmal Blaze regularly.

Tom: I’m actually not a big fan of the Trails games (blasphemy, I know!), but I absolutely adore “Cry For Me, Cry For You” from Trails 3rd. One of my favorite Falcom vocal themes of all time. As far as non-vocal themes go, I’ve always had a soft spot for “The Depth Napishtim” from Ys VI, “Harlech” from Xanadu Next, “Casino” from Brandish: The Dark Revenant, and basically the whole soundtrack to Zwei: The Arges Adventure.

That’s it for now! Next week, we’ll be answering questions like:

– Ever consider making a podcast/commentary for one of your games? My favorite Twitch stream from XSEED was the Trails in the Sky the 3rd stream followed by Xanadu Next.
– The PC port diary thing from CS PC was fantastic. I really liked a kind of…behind the curtain look at what goes into a PC port. (I’d be similarly curious for the localization process overall.) Do you plan on doing more of those for future games?
– What are the requirements/makes it likely to get hired as a translator? Would self-taught people stand a chance?
– Are there any games you’ve worked on in the past that you wish you could go back to and do differently a second time around?
– What does the first day of a new project look like? What kinds of things are done right off the bat?

See you guys next time!