2017 End-of-the-Year Q&A Extravaganza Blog! #3

Happy Holidays! It’s Christmas for those who are down for Santa, and we have a gift for you! (It’s also a gift for those who aren’t down with Santa. You know what I mean.) Our third 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
Ryan Graff, Localization Lead
Liz Rita, QA Tester
Brittany Avery, Localization Producer
Thomas Lipschultz, Localization Producer

One of our icons for Trails of Cold Steel II PC, coming in 2018

Now, on to the questions!

Question: 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. – @mhee123D

Brittany: I think our social media presence overall has been something we’ve struggled with recently due to lack of resources, but it’s something we’ve been trying to figure out more with hopes of improving vastly in the future. The word-of-mouth approach we’ve been dependent on in our early days is becoming more and more difficult to rely on. Good method for baby companies, not so much companies like us in that awkward teenage phase. We’ve tried Twitch streaming, blogs, and our E3 presence was lovely this year. We’re still working on it so that we can do right by our titles. Dunno if podcasting in particular could work for us, but who knows?

Liz: I’m not sure if anyone has the bandwidth to consistently produce podcasts here, but we’ve been considering a couple different streaming plans for the future. Full extended playthroughs of one game, charity streams, and some other stuff. Still working through feasibility with our schedules and such.

Question: 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? – @Halvard101

John: We love developer blogs too, but programmers are so busy that sometimes it can be hard to ask for them. Hopefully Durante will provide behind-the-scenes looks at his work on Trails of Cold Steel II. (Actually, he already has)

Question: What are the requirements/makes it likely to get hired as a translator? Would self-taught people stand a chance? – @Unironic_Weeb

Tom: Applicants are given a custom-made translation or editing test, and much of their qualification for working here is based upon that. I actually helped write our current editing test, and my contribution was basically to throw in tons of misdirection and overly harsh worst-case scenarios designed to make virtually anyone slip up. To date, I don’t think anyone has ever really “passed” this editing test, though a few have come close (and some of them now work here!). So yeah, self-taught people absolutely stand a chance – but be forewarned, as our tests are brutal, and if your skills aren’t up to snuff, you’re going to be toast. 😉

John: Absolutely. Where you learned Japanese doesn’t matter as much as what experience you can prove with your resume. Showing us that you have experience is more important than seeing a degree. If your resume passes the eye test, then you’ll really have a chance to show your might with our translation test.

As for other qualifications, I recently had a discussion with other members of our industry about the JLPT. While I consider N1 to be a good indicator of a certain level of Japanese proficiency, others were arguing that the JLPT as a whole is effectively useless as a measure of Japanese proficiency in a professional environment, so there’s a wide range of opinions on that particular qualification. At the end of the day we only really care about your actual translation/writing skills.

Question: 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? – @TJ

Brittany: Trails in the Sky SC. Time management was nearly impossible for that one, so I’d give anything to go back and polish it further. But since we grow with each project, even when we’re proud of the end result, we’ll always find something that we wish we could fix.

Ken: Hard to say, but an example that comes to mind would be the disappointing sales of Fishing Resort on Wii. We thought it was by far the best fishing game ever made, but we just couldn’t get any of the major retailers to stock it because they were choosing the competing fishing games that had well-known fishing licenses attached to them. We had plenty of critically-acclaimed titles like Retro Game Challenge and Half-Minute Hero that sold poorly, but Fishing Resort was the one title with mass appeal that really felt like it could have taken off if only it was given a chance at retail, especially considering that it was only $19.99 for the standalone game and $29.99 bundled with a high-qualify fishing rod peripheral. Maybe we should have paid some money to license a fishing brand that people had heard of, but who knows if that would have worked or even how we would have incorporated it into the game last minute.

Ryan: I worked on the English text for Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles, including the re-localization of Symphony of the Night. There are parts of it I’m still happy with, but if I could do it again, I’d leave the whole “Die, monster!” scene alone. The consensus at the time, as far as I could see, was that the original translation was cheesy, but I misunderstood how many people loved it regardless.

Question: What does the first day of a new project look like? What kinds of things are done right off the bat? – @Baust528

Brittany: Weirdly, it never really feels like there is a “first day” for a project. Sometimes we know about a project’s existence a year or more in advance, so it’s just a long waiting game. There are even times where we have the rights to a project, but we only receive things directly required for localization as they’re finished, so we learn of certain features or see artwork for the first time in official press releases with the public. So a weird answer to this from my perspective is that there is no first day.

Our blog later this week will answer questions like:

– Is XSEED responsible for inserting the voice and text to a localized game or is this done by the Japanese counterpart? If it is the latter, how do you ensure integration works seamlessly―especially working on translation without looking at the game play?

– How soon will XSEED reveal a game which is currently in the process of localization to the general public ?

– Does a localization company like XSEED provide active feedback to their Japanese counterpart on the games they release for improvements, or is  this a one-way process?

– Is there any game/franchise you want to work on personally, no matter how impossible?

See you next time!!