Archive for the ‘Localization’ Category

A Day Late & A Dollar Short

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Realms Online is a good example of an idiom my grandfather used to say when I was a kid: A day late and a dollar short. Too little. Too late. Too… meh.

Created by Argentinian developer NGD Studios, Regnum Online was originally released in South America in 2007. According to its Wikipedia entry, it was one of the first online games ever published in Argentina. Which makes me wonder what on earth the good people of Buenos Aires ever did to deserve such a boring wreck of a game. American publisher GameSamba released it as a free-to-play MMO here in the US earlier this month, under the name “Realms Online”. Because, you know, the American market needs more out-dated, third-rate F2P MMOs? And also, we can’t read Latin?

While most MMOs make some pretense of lore, Regnumalms Online decided that back story was for wussies and dumps you straight into the game with no context or tutorial. I couldn’t even find any information about the game’s mythology on their website, which is a rather surprising omission. These cut-rate F2P MMO’s always have some ponderous, generic, vaguely complicated back story. Maybe you have to pay Sambas for the privilege.

Realsmgnum Online boasts that it has 3 realms, 9 “fully customizable” player races (I could not put pants on any of my female characters, so I’m not sure how they define “fully” or “customizable”), and 6 classes. This might be impressive if it wasn’t for the fact that Dark Age of Camelot did it better – and six years earlier.

One review of this game stated that its RvR aspects were enjoyable, even if the PVE portion were “lackluster”. I never got that far. I spent the first 20 minutes of the game trying to figure out why my interface disappeared whenever I entered combat. (Answer: The tab key was bound to the ‘hide interface’ function by default.) By the time I got my keys remapped, my avatar had already fallen asleep.

Fourth Apathy

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

I recently reconnected with a friend who I had not talked to in over 15 years. While doing the requisite ‘catching up’, my friend mentioned that she was playing an online game. Eager to share my hobby with an old friend, I asked, “Which one? World of Warcraft? Guild Wars? Everquest 2?”

“Last Chaos”, she replied.

“What’s the game’s full name, so I can look it up online?”

“That IS the name – Last Chaos.”

“But that doesn’t even make any sense! Chaos is a concept, not a tangible object. It’s not something that you quantify sequentially. That’s like naming your game ‘Third Havoc’, or ‘Intermediate Ennui’!”

I could tell at this point that my friend was becoming frustrated by my grammatical pedantry, so I agreed to download it and meet her in game.

I’ve been playing MMOs long enough to be able to assess a game’s enjoyability simply by viewing the in-game screen shots. I took one look at this website and groaned. A Korean free-to-play MMO ported to the US by Aeria Games, Last Chaos has ugly graphics, generic game play, an archaic-to-the-point-of-prehistoric user interface, and nonexistent localization. In a word – it’s BAD.

This is what passes for quest text in Last Chaos.

A quest journal entry in Last Chaos.

But the point of this post isn’t to discuss Last Chaos’ flaws, which would be like shooting fish in the proverbial barrel (with a bazooka). Rather, what alternately intrigued and disturbed me was its immense popularity. When I played Last Chaos a year ago, the 10+ servers were frequently filled to capacity. The starter area was as crowded as Stormwind City, and my friend’s guild was 20-member strong. Where were all of these people coming from? And more importantly, WHY?

I spent a month grimacing, squinting, and groaning my way through the game with my friend. Although I appreciated the opportunity to spend time with her, watching paint dry would have been preferable. Despite my efforts to convert her to a better game – I even offered to purchase a copy of Guild Wars for her – she would not budge. By her own admission, she spent hours a day playing Last Chaos and paid over $50 a month on items in the in-game store. She was never able to fully articulate why she liked the game so much. When I attempted to point out the game’s multitude of flaws she would shrug off my complaints with ambivalence.

It saddens me to see far superior MMOs flounder, or even fail (Auto Assault and Tabula Rasa come to mind) while dreck like Last Chaos survive and even prosper. Can this phenomenon be attributed to lack of knowledge? Poor taste? Or simply apathy?

Lost In Translation

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

Video game localization is the process of adapting a game to the standards of another country, and involves not only text translation, but also the cultural, hardware, software, and musical adaptations. With so many online games being imported from Asia, the need for localization has grown significantly over the past few years. A quick Google search will provide an entire list of companies that offer localization services to the video game industry.

Which begs the question: Why does it always suck so bad?

The Gates of Andaron is a recent MMO developed by the Korean company Zemi Interactive and published by GameForge, a German company. Perhaps it is this rather circuitous route to the American audience that caused this game’s localization to go so hilariously wrong. Whatever the reason, this game has quest text so pedantic, it reads as if it was written by Yoda!

Here’s another example:

I am the Kaos Monk, Rebsonsa. Beside me you see the border between life and death. It would be unwise for the living or for the residents of Horus to venture too near…

(I guess the residents of Horus don’t qualify as ‘living’?)

To add insult to injury, not only does the quest text look like it’s been fed through a Translation Party, but I’m convinced that the voice acting was purchased from the bargain bin at WalMart. Here’s one merchant’s greeting: [.wav file]. And here’s another merchant in the SAME VILLAGE: [.wav file].


Obviously, Gates of Andaron isn’t going to be setting the MMO world on fire any time soon, but if you ignore the rather bizarre localization efforts, it’s not really a bad game. The artwork is colorful and attractive. The tutorial section is surprisingly well done. And game play is your standard World of Warcraft knock-off.

Maybe I’m expecting too much from a free-to-play game. Don’t other MMO players out there actually CARE about the quest text, the storyline or the plot? Certainly I can’t be alone in my literary nerdiness.

* Actual quest text taken from the game.