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  #1  
Old 2007-07-13, 23:16
trav1085 trav1085 is offline
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Default How to translate games...?

This is probably a stupid question, but... I am interested in helping out in translation for games. I am an excellent English speaker and am studying Japanese, I found out how to use ResHack to translate installers and such, running the text through Systran to get the basic meaning and re-writing it correctly.

I don't understand how to change dialog, are there certain files with it? I was staring to translate AIR and stopped when I couldn't find the dialog, and I was making progress.. I'm also going to try and translate some of Shuffle!, since someone is still working on it but (sorry, I'm impatient but understand it's not easy and there's a lot to do, but I'll glady help out, as long as I'm not bored.).

Yes, I'm aware not to reply on computer translation and I don't, the only reason I use systran (the application toolbar) is to get the meaning and then I am good at English so I can fix that up.
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Old 2007-07-13, 23:35
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Originally Posted by trav1085 View Post
This is probably a stupid question, but... I am interested in helping out in translation for games. I am an excellent English speaker and am studying Japanese, I found out how to use ResHack to translate installers and such, running the text through Systran to get the basic meaning and re-writing it correctly.
Well, that's a good start.

Quote:
I don't understand how to change dialog, are there certain files with it? I was staring to translate AIR and stopped when I couldn't find the dialog, and I was making progress.. I'm also going to try and translate some of Shuffle!, since someone is still working on it but (sorry, I'm impatient but understand it's not easy and there's a lot to do, but I'll glady help out, as long as I'm not bored.).
These are usually stored in separate files, in any type of format the game maker wishes. You will need a good amount of reverse engineering experience to be able to crack these, depending on how much the game makers try to obfuscate it.

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Yes, I'm aware not to reply on computer translation and I don't, the only reason I use systran (the application toolbar) is to get the meaning and then I am good at English so I can fix that up.
You are relying on machine translation if you use the systran to get the meaning, because by that time, a lot of the meaning would have already been lost or totally messed up. The whole point of translation is to get the meaning, and that's where machine translators often are worst at, since current machine translation technology is not powerful enough to incorporate all the various ways of expressing things in a language, let alone nuances and cultural references.
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  #3  
Old 2007-07-14, 02:26
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As zal mentioned, engine hacking/reverse engineering is an entirely separate skill set from translation. The rest of us mere mortals work with tools that others develop and learn occasional engine commands.

As for translating, using babelfish really isn't the way to go. I've studied some NLP, so I know how weak some of these systems can be. It's notoriously bad at names, certain types of word boundaries, uncommon word sequences outside whatever training set they used, and nuanced writing. It might work somewhat for news articles and installer instructions, but all the stuff it's bad at are exactly what you find in creative writing. Once in awhile, in a pinch, it might catch a pre-programed idiom you don't know, but don't expect it.

At the very least, you'd want to know enough grammar that you can look at a sentence and be able to say "X is doing Y to Z using P during Q but before R" Where you just need to look up the suitable vocabulary. Even then that's often not enough since you'll be missing all sorts of cultural and idiomatic things among others, but it's certainly a start.

If all you're using is babelfish, you're almost better off just glossing everything with a dictionary and then guessing at the meaning...

Anyways, if you want to learn to translate, great. It doesn't quite sound like you're there yet. At the very least you'd need more practice before you take on something that can proudly see the light of day. Practice, quietly, in private. No one thinks an artist's early drawings are worth anything until that artist has achieved fame through their more developed, later work. If then.


There has been talk of starting al|together 2007 eventually, which is something of a game translation festival, aimed at introducing new talent to the community while also giving people VNs to read, if you're really really (extra emphasis here) set on working on a project in the near future, maybe you can work with someone for that. Solo is probably too much for the ability you describe here.

That said, I'd strongly warn against overestimating your ability and wasting the a|t staff's very limited time in helping you if you can't pull the weight you decide to pull. Depending on how many people participate, staff will probably get spread thin like what happened with 2k6.

There are always more projects to be done, so there's no immediate rush if you're not ready now.
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Old 2007-07-14, 03:45
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Originally Posted by trav1085 View Post
Yes, I'm aware not to reply on computer translation and I don't, the only reason I use systran (the application toolbar) is to get the meaning and then I am good at English so I can fix that up.
"Good at English" indeed.
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Old 2007-07-14, 05:30
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All threads involving hacking/text insertion/anything related to the translation of games should go into Technical. Thank you.
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Old 2007-07-15, 08:29
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Since we are on this topic, and a couple of somewhat experienced translators are present in the thread, I would like to ask a question...

I would like to pin down... when *is* a good time to start translating things for public consumption?
What stages did the translators here go through in their development? By this I mean, is there a time you can point to that, looking back, you really weren't ready to try what you did? And following that, the first time you did it and were 'capable'?

I'm considering participating in a future AT that may come up, but I have experience of reading Japanese once and then again a few months later with more experience, and getting totally different meanings out of the two occasions.
It seems it's not as simple as *knowing* when you don't understand something.

My current level is, for example, playing To Heart and having to look up one or two words every screenful of text.
Do you think it would be wise to attempt to translate text of a similar difficulty?

I think, ideally, you should be able to read something and fully understand its meaning without thinking too hard if you want to translate *well*, but I'm really just looking at this as a test / self-improvement for myself so I really don't know...
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Old 2007-07-15, 09:27
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You'd probably want to get to the level where you can enjoy a piece without having to look up things in a dictionary. This does not mean that you know exactly what everything means, but if you can get most of the meaning without consulting a dictionary and if you can figure out the general gist of words you don't know from context, then you should be in good shape.

Having to look up one or two words every screen may make it difficult, but not impossible to work on a piece, but you will definitely spend a lot more effort and time on it. You might find yourself concentrating too hard on understanding what was meant and not enough time figuring out how to word it properly in English. In these situations, you may want to:
1. Play through it once to get the general idea of what's going on (you should do this regardless of translation skill level)
2. Do a first pass where you try to extract the meaning from the Japanese and rewrite them quickly in English. Verbosity is good here.
3. Do a second pass to rewrite the quick English into something that would normally be used in everyday English.
4. Do a final read-through.

For seasoned translators, 2 and 3 are often combined and 4 is used to pick up anything that was missed.
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  #8  
Old 2007-07-16, 11:11
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The question of "when are you ready" is a hard question. The highest standards would probably be whether other translators think your finished product is good enough compared to the original, or whether your internal standards feel it's good enough. The general public themselves is a weaker standard of acceptance since they have no basis for knowing better.

Whether you finish something, and show it to other translators for comment, or simply release to the masses anyway, or find some other way to test the waters, is entirely up to you.

<_< As for my personal experience, my first public release was a novel-format narci1... which I started on a whim, for a friend who I was trying to get hooked onto VN's. As such, I had been only aiming as something of a very detailed summary with an accuracy of "pretty close". It was only like halfway through that the project snowballed into something more public and detailed, and I fixed up a number of really horrific things. But start with shaky base material and the end result is never really spectacular.

All things considered, the number of errors was egregious, and if I had been serious from the start it probably would've been better -- gin'iro chapter1 actually predates my narci work a year, but I polished and reworked it so much over the years that it's of better quality, even the 2005 version. I leave the narci files on neechin something of an embarrassing benchmark to mark my where I came from.

Looking back, I had an okay grasp of grammar, and a somewhat scatterbrained vocabulary. Optimistically, I'd say I played through narci1 at the time with a no-dictionary comprehension rate in the 60%'s? I blush to admit =). Nowadays I'd like to optimistically believe I'm closer to 80% for average things but it's not like I test myself on these things.

<_< Perhaps in light of my rather weak starting abilities, my work flow is more time consuming than perhaps more seasoned people, or maybe I'm just obsessive-compulsive, but with practice it's speeding up.

1) Run through the piece first of course, and if I know I'll be translating it, then I'd pay special attention to foreshadowing points, recurring themes and lines that would need special handling, items I'd have to do research on, any jokes and deadly, nigh untranslatable phrases.
2) First pass translation, style-wise I tend to stick as close to the original text as much as possible, sacrificing some fluency, so some pretty outrageous stuff can appear here while I toy with phrasing. My first pass is never quick, the rest go faster.
2) Second pass, reading primarily the English unless gross errors are found, I'll clean things up, bring the tone into reasonable English, fix the numerous inevitable "wtf was I smoking?" errors, etc..
3) Third pass, mostly for editing, refinement, agonizing over the handful of lines that are delicate but important. I'd probably read through 1-2 more times , referring to the Japanese script less and less, before handing it to the first outside editor, if one exists...
4) And then, by now I'd have large blobs of script burned into my brain, and I'm sick of the whole process already, so when no one can find any more obvious errors, release >_>

One thing that few people here mention, is that translation not only requires Japanese ability, but much much more so, your English ability (or whatever your target language is).

You'll find yourself stretching your writing ability to some pretty extreme limits at times, trying to balance phrasing, dramatics, rhythm, and concepts and sentiments that don't quite fit the words and idioms you have at your disposal, weighed against fidelity and readability.

Your command of English is what you present to the public and what they will judge you by, so you could be fluent in both languages, but still fail at translating. While someone of more modest Japanese ability, could write some impressive stuff. Make no mistake, a translator is also a writer, and is doing a significant amount of creative work.
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  #9  
Old 2007-07-18, 00:23
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Your 60% and 80% figures surprised me - I seem to have made some incorrect assumptions when reading your other forum posts :)

If we're talking a basic school based AVG with nothing strange happening in it, I'm pretty sure I'm over 80% without a dictionary. (For anything else, though, my vocabulary is terribly narrow.)
On the subject of Narci, being impatient I read Narci2 up until the second scene in which they drive to the beach (after she is hospitalised), without a dictionary, and didn't have much of a problem.

But I still don't feel at ease... perhaps it's self-confidence.

So if I were to ask the question, "Should I just go for it, or wait until I achieve fluency?", it seems some people whose translations I have read are not actually fluent either, so I might as well try... :)
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Old 2007-07-18, 01:05
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<_< To be honest, I pulled 60/80 out of you know where while writing the post, they sound like how it feels anyways. There's a selection bias where you remember parts that make you go "?!?" more strongly, so it's hard to say. All I know is that I'm not fluent, and have improved quite a ways over 2 years, but there are plenty holes in my knowledge.

But, to suggest another litmus test. If you go and watch a stack of fansub anime from a random selection of groups, and if you spend a good part of your time growing irritated and wanting to correct the subtitles, you're probably on a level where you can give it a shot.

Fluency isn't a requirement, not for this community. It might be for professional work (and even then, with some professional work in anime/manga/games, either deadlines and house style/editors hit them really hard or something else is going on). Given extra time using dictionaries and references, nothing stops you from coming close.

I'd say, if you're worried about your ability, then it doesn't hurt trying something small a shot, to get a feel for what translating something line by line by line feels like. Already you're on a better position than the people who proudly believe they can translate, even when you look at their work and wonder if they actually read the text or just made things up. Doubting your abilities makes you careful about mistakes.

One suggestion for semi-public practice would be to take something already translated... say, Narci2-puchi demo. or one of the old a|t projects, and just get the script of the original, translate it like it was a real project, then compare against the other person's work.
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Old 2007-07-18, 04:30
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Quote:
I would like to pin down... when *is* a good time to start translating things for public consumption?
If you're an amateur? Whenever you want. That's what most people do, eh? Look at the fansubbers.

Quote:
My current level is, for example, playing To Heart and having to look up one or two words every screenful of text.
Do you think it would be wise to attempt to translate text of a similar difficulty?
If you want anything near a decent level of quality, certainly not. Note that you're just looking up things that you know you don't know, and there might be things you don't know that you aren't noticing at all.

And even if you can get through without looking up any words at all, I personally (personally, I don't expect this of anyone else but just feel like mentioning it anyway) feel that you also need to be familiar with the work you're translating and the stuff related to it and the stuff it references and shit.

Take, for example, Guren Daizaburou from Muv-Luv. Someone who doesn't get the motoneta might translate "Uchuu no Ikazuchi" to "Universe Lightning" or something. This translation isn't wrong at all, but the guy's a parody of Grendizer, which has an attack named "Space Thunder".

Adventure games are typically made by ota, for ota. There's bound to be tons of shit only a fellow ota will get in them, and it's just silly to try translating something you don't understand (and I'm not talking languages here). Even if those things aren't important, they're part of what make the game what it is, and I think messing them up is doing a hideous disservice to the writer.
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Old 2007-07-18, 07:14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Agilis View Post
But, to suggest another litmus test. If you go and watch a stack of fansub anime from a random selection of groups, and if you spend a good part of your time growing irritated and wanting to correct the subtitles, you're probably on a level where you can give it a shot.
Actually, that's a dangerous metric, as it applies to two different parts of the spectrum. The beginner in Japanese, having learned enough, will almost always see something wrong with the subtitles, due to either misinterpretation or not understanding the translation process. (A condition known as "knows too much Japanese") However, after some more skill development, they start to understand how these subtitles are translated and go along with it. Finally, with enough skill, they can pick out what nuances were left out in the subtitles or at least have enough confidence to figure out exactly what is a mistranslation and what's not.
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Old 2007-07-18, 10:19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zalas
(A condition known as "knows too much Japanese")
<___< Oh riiight, I forgot about that phase we all go through more or less. My impression of that phase is that the "corrections" tend to be out of context and are fairly 1-dimensional, "they used the wrong word!" sort of things. As opposed to what I had in mind which is more like "phrase Xyz instead of Abc would have been more faithful and more natural in the context!" Looking at the bigger picture, so to speak.

So, scratch that litmus test.

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Originally Posted by SomeGuy
Adventure games are typically made by ota, for ota. There's bound to be tons of shit only a fellow ota will get in them, and it's just silly to try translating something you don't understand (and I'm not talking languages here). Even if those things aren't important, they're part of what make the game what it is, and I think messing them up is doing a hideous disservice to the writer.
This is somewhat true, but it can't be that cut and dry. As an amateur translator we have freedom to pick our jobs, but even then, we can't honestly expect to know everything involved in the works we work on, else nothing would get done.

For example, Narci2 draws a number of elements of Catholicism into the work. Being a life long agnostic, I'm rather ill equipped for working with that material. So I go and do lots of research, ask people much more knowledgeable, and worry myself to sleep wondering if I screwed things up even then. Not being an expert isn't the end of the world, if it's within your ability to deal with it.

But in the same vein, I'd never, ever, want to translate heavy neta based comedy games, or puns, dajare scare me from a translator point of view. Humor is cultural, and bringing it over is hard. So, you'll never see me seriously working on something like Tsuyokisu; and I'd praise anyone who manages to pull it off.
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Old 2007-07-18, 15:04
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So I go and do lots of research, ask people much more knowledgeable, and worry myself to sleep wondering if I screwed things up even then. Not being an expert isn't the end of the world, if it's within your ability to deal with it.
Dealing with it is precisely what lots of people don't do. They just translate shit literally.

I don't watch fansubs, so tell me- How many fansubbers got the Furumeta references in Lucky Star?
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Old 2007-07-18, 17:17
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Average conversation online about the FMP references except Bonta-kun in Rakisuta is "what was she saying" "lol its just random shites taht why it funney" "rofl@ taht"
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