Digital Artifact: Lost in Translation

The digital artifact is a compilation of various differences in Japanese media ranging from anime and manga to video games, presented in video form. What a lot of people don’t realize is that when something from Japan is brought over to the west, there are quite a few things can change. These things can be really minor like slight translation differences that can be overlooked, to episodes being outright cut from the English release. It’s because of those major changes that I decided to start this project and raise awareness of such changes. Going into this project, I found out that a lot of these changes were never specifically noted down, especially for a large series such as Yugioh. On top of looking into differences between both the English and Japanese versions, researching the type of marketing the Japanese and English versions was another thing I researched. Marketing can influence what audience is drawn to a product. Through researching this specific it’s clear that marketing in both East and West are different even if they’re both advertising to the same audience.

yugioh dub

The kind of answer you get when looking into regional differences of Yugioh.

Concept:

The original concept for the project was almost the same as the current one now. However the main difference was that it was focusing on video games instead of other mediums like manga or anime. This aspect of the project was changed due to feedback from the original pitch earlier on in the semester. It was brought to my attention that while having a niche was nice, Hollywood adaptations of Japanese media were on the rise with things such as Death Note and Ghost in the Shell. Keeping this in mind, it came to my attention that adding these extra mediums would make the project more relevant to the current day.

While presenting the project again to the class, someone asked if I was looking into how the Japanese products were being marketed. Originally that wasn’t a part of the plan but after thinking about it for a while, it would add an extra dimension to the project. Looking into various differences within a show or game is fine, however there are external factors outside of the product which can change how the final product is released. While small, an example of this is the Pokemon logo in Japan versus the west.

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Japanese Pokemon logos vs English Pokemon logos

It doesn’t have a huge effect on how the game itself works but it affects the presentation. The Japanese logo for Pokemon is very stylized, the colorful aesthetic going over the entire logo. However, in contrast to the Japanese logo, the English logo stays consistent. The only differences being the subtitles.

As for why I chose the initial concept of showing various regional differences in Japanese media, that’s because of my own experience. Despite growing up in Australia and growing up speaking English, I gained an interest in Japanese media. A lot of people my age who have an interest in pop culture are familiar with various Japanese media such as Beyblade or Godzilla. Despite this, I wanted to go further and watch/play things the second they came out in Japan so it gave me a head start. Because of this, I was able to experience the show or game a whole year before any of my friends did. However, as soon as there was an official English release, it came to my attention that some of the things I experienced did not align with what my friends experienced. This wasn’t the case for everything we watched or played but it occurred often enough for me to think it was strange. Thinking back on this experience is what led me to the initial project concept.

Utility:

Looking back on the project as a whole and after seeing the reaction to my presentations in class, the project itself is for a small niche of people. While it is a passion project and something I’ve wanted to do for a while, not everyone cares about the original material. As long as there’s something officially in English, that’s as far as they’ll go. However, there are multiple articles on localization within the gaming industry. This is more apparent in recent times as Japanese video games are being localized much more in comparison to a few years ago.

The quality of localization is even being questioned even by fans with stories about the English localization of Ys VIII is being brought into question. Another example of a bad localization in recent years is the Fire Emblem Fates game. Fire Emblem Fates was subject to heavy changes in regards to not only game features but script as well. This cause quite a bit of controversy. It’s becoming such an issue, even Japanese media outlets such as Automaton are reporting about the quality of English localizations. 『イースVIII』の“無機質”なローカライズに不満を抱く海外ファルコムファン、日本語のメールを作成し改善を求める。”Falcom fans displeased with the robotic localization of Ys VIII send Japanese emails to Falcom asking for improvement” – Automaton (2017)

dragonspeak

An example of a change in the Japanese script in Fire Emblem Fates

In an age where Asian media in general has an audience that succeeds the millions mark, translation is very important. Because of the current situation surrounding not only Japanese video games but Hollywood adaptations of  Japanese media, this project has a social utility. That is, to bring forth various differences between both the English and Japanese versions. It’s because of these changes that both versions can be a completely different experience from one another. It is often said that translation is very complicated but this is especially difficult in video games because as stated in an academic journal “It is a multilayered process that requires localization staff to have many of the same skills as the original developers of the game, thus making programming expertise and linguistic and cultural knowledge alike necessary.” (Marco, 2007)

It can help raise interest in the original Japanese version of a show or game. It can encourage people to at least look into what the Japanese version was like. Of course there would most likely be a language barrier, but in some cases such as Pokemon cards, aesthetic differences alone would make looking into the Japanese version worth it.

moo-moo-milk-card

The Moo Moo Milk card: Japanese vs English

Methodology:

As for how I was going to do this, the original idea was to research online. The idea was to look into different series and see if that information was easily accessible online. Sadly that was not the case and a lot of information regarding differences weren’t that specific, as noted earlier on. Because of this, there was a change in plans. Because I already had a firm grasp of Japanese, at least enough to read and notice even slight changes, I went through the materials myself. Though, this was much easier said than done.

Even though I’m able to process of going through an entire game or anime series alone was very time-consuming, let alone going through it twice in both English AND Japanese. To pack that on top of researching on how something was marketed both in English-speaking countries and Japan, it was quite difficult. Originally I had a deadline to set for myself which was one video a week for smaller, quicker videos. Sadly, while I was able to process and create videos in that time, the videos themselves felt quite light, too light in terms of substance.

Creating multiple 5 minute videos on one series didn’t feel right. So with this in mind, I tried creating longer, more substantial videos. The trade off was that they would take much longer to create and do research for. But, they would have the substance that I originally envisioned for the video series. The series I covered for the project were: Yugioh, NieR and E.X. Troopers. E.X. Troopers is a special case in that there was no official English for this product. The video on E.X. Troopers focuses on why it didn’t come out of Japan. I figured it would’ve made a nice contrast into the other videos where it has something to be compared to.

Overall Trajectory:

Even though the project I’m submitting is meant to be something almost if not complete, there is a lot to tweak and change. The biggest change for going into the future is what I cover in the video series. It will still be about Japanese media but going forward, instead of covering different series specifically, it’ll be about current events surrounding a series. This feedback came from both my audience on Twitter and classmates. This will keep the project relevant and hopefully bring in a bigger audience. It’s also good that this was brought to my attention because, while there aren’t many people who note down specific differences in a game or show, current events would be much more engaging. Funimation’s dub of Dragon Maid, Hajimete no Gal and Prison School would be a good example of something I could cover in the future.

drago

The funimation dub of Dragon Maid cause an uproar in the anime community.

References:

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[MEDA202] project prototype reflection

The original idea for my project was “beauty in destruction”. There is still appeal in something that was completely broken and beyond repair instead of something in complete pristine condition. The prototype used to convey this idea was a broken toy robot, all the pieces were hanging by string from the ceiling.

The feedback I received was “Why a robot?”. The question itself stuck in my mind wondering what that meant but I came to realization that the idea itself isn’t bad but the object itself was the wrong one to use. In total there were roughly about 8 pieces hanging by string. On top of that I was told that I should hang something broken into much more pieces. This got me thinking where the amount of small broken pieces could add to the appeal and aesthetic of the artwork.

On top of this I had to think of something that would break into a lot of pieces. With this in mind I had the idea where part of the appeal could be trying to figure out what piece goes where, making it a sort of puzzle in a sense. With all of this in mind, the real challenge now comes from hanging all the pieces of the broken device that I plan on destroying for the artwork.

In terms of what I plan on breaking for the artwork, I was told to break something more real and tangible such as a household object for example. I took this feedback and decided to break a toaster and see what would be required to hang all the pieces. Breaking a part an object is the easiest part of the project. However, the real effort goes into hanging every single piece of the broken.

Overall, while I feel like the prototype wasn’t a huge success, the feedback I received has led me to the right direction.

Video game Localization difficulties

Video game localization is a subject that’s constantly overlooked in the industry despite being the main reason why video games are so big these days. My digital artifact is a podcast that highlights the ins and outs of the localization industry. The main aim of this project is to inform and bring to light hidden or overlooked information about the industry.

The main reason I picked this topic to explore is because my goal is to one day join a localization team. There is so much talk regarding what it takes to be a game creator or how to become a game programmer but there is very little discussion regarding localization. To learn about the elusive industry, I took it upon myself to look into it. In doing so, I’ve learned much about it. The podcast is the fruits of my research.

As for why a podcast was chosen to be the medium of my digital artifact, it’s because simplicity. While the podcast itself is mostly composed of factual content, the use of audio allows for some jokes here and there. This is so it doesn’t become bland or boring as a result. Podcasts themselves are meant to be relaxing and left on in the background while the listener does something else. The digital artifact was made with that intention as well.

The most challenging part of a podcast is getting the volume levels right. Sadly because of limited resources, I wasn’t able to get the sound I wanted with the headset I used for recording. It was indeed a challenge but after tweaking with Audacity for a bit, I was able to get the audio to a decent level. In order to make sure the podcast was up to par for what I needed, I listened to various recordings of the podcast to see if I could listen to it over and over while doing work. With this method I was able to get the podcast quality to what I wanted.

In terms of how research was done, most of it was looking through a lot of academic journals for academic information and looking online. Information regarding an already rarely discussed topic was a challenge to find but thankfully useful information was found. Sadly due to my own tight schedule, I wasn’t able to get in contact with some people within the industry as their schedule didn’t align with mine. With that said however, the amount of information coming from various places I was able to bring in different perspectives and a lot of facts regarding localization.

Without further adieu:

NANOMACHINES, SON! (DIGC335 DA)

The digital artifact is a video analysis of the parallels the Metal Gear series has with real life. The whole theme stems from the question “Does Science Fiction inspire reality or is it the other way around?”. After doing some research myself, the answer is both. Science fiction can inspire new ideas to be replicated in real life. While on the other hand, ideas based on real life ideas can be put to practice within the universe of Science Fiction.

The original idea was to go with the limits of our technology while using Metal Gear Rising as the basis for this theme. Unfortunately, the idea didn’t go very far. This was due to not being able to make a solid enough video on the topic. There were some ideas to go with it, but ultimately it wouldn’t have been a meaty video.

Originally the video would focus on Metal Gear Rising while referencing other Metal Gear games however, as the project progressed this changed. This was due to the change in direction. The main question could be answered more easily if it took from all parts of the Metal Gear franchise as it has more examples to pick from.

The medium that was used for this Digital Artifact was of course, video. This was to use both the audio and visuals to create an engaging product. A simple podcast would require the person to do something else while listening and a report seems too bland. Video allows for more freedom when it comes to writing. While a report requires a formal tone, video can use comedy while giving facts. So it can contain useful information while at the same time being entertaining.

With that said however, video editing is a timely process. It requires a lot of time especially when animating images for a simple gag. Of course, a joke is not there to just use up time, the joke is used to lead into and/or relate to a factual point. Another issue that comes from the video medium is the upload time. Roughly a 8-9 minute HD video would take 3 hours to upload using my internet at home. On top of this, balancing audio levels takes much longer to do right. Sadly, due to mic quality the voice quality in the video suffered.

All in all, the final product came out well. The entire aim of the project was to inform people that Science Fiction isn’t necessarily that far off from our own reality.

Music used:

  1. Off to Osaka – Kevin Macleod
  2. Boss 2 – Final Fantasy IX OST
  3. It has to be this way – Metal Gear Rising OST
  4. Rules of Nature (Kazoo/Guitar) remix

Reference list:

  1. Sankalan Baidya. 2015. Viśpálā – The Legendary Warrior Queen From Rig Veda. [ONLINE] Available at: http://factslegend.org/vispala-the-legendary-warrior-queen-from-rig-veda/. [Accessed 24 May 2017].
  2. Boston Dynamics. 2017. Rhex Robot. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.bostondynamics.com/rhex. [Accessed 24 May 2017].
  3. CIA. 2008. Robert Fulton’s Skyhook and Operation Coldfeet. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/95unclass/Leary.html. [Accessed 24 May 2017].
  4. Victoria Turk. 2015. I Tried Out the ‘Rolls-Royce’ of Prosthetic Hands. [ONLINE] Available at: https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/i-tried-out-the-rolls-royce-of-prosthetic-hands. [Accessed 24 May 2017].
  5. Jordan Pearson. 2015. Magnetic Nanoparticles Could Feed Drugs Straight Into Your Brain. [ONLINE] Available at: https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/magnetic-nanoparticles-could-feed-drugs-straight-into-your-brain. [Accessed 26 May 2017].
  6. US patent 635501, J. A. Morath, “Agricultural Machine”, issued 1899-05-18 An early patent for an auger driven farm tractor. Available at: https://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?CC=US&NR=635501&KC=&FT=E&locale=en_EP
  7. Greg Wade. 2005. Seeing things in a different light. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/devon/news_features/2005/eyeborg.shtml. [Accessed 26 May 2017].
  8. Miah, A M, 2008. The Medicalization of Cyberspace. 1st ed. London: Routledge.

Domination: Iron Fist play test results

The first play test of Domination: Iron Fist didn’t go the way I was expecting. This was because I spent a lot of time thinking about the game mechanics and how they blended with each other. Once I got together with a few friends I thought I had gone through everything but the feedback of the first test was interesting.

First play test feedback:

  • Players lose attention when it’s not their turn
  • HP for both player and avatar are too high
  • Map is too big for 4 players (20×20 grid)
  • Drawing 1 card per turn isn’t enough
  • Game speed is a little slow when it comes to movement phase
  • Catch up mechanic for low rolls is requested
  • People who choose to hold onto cards aren’t engaged enough in combat phase
  • Aggressive players punished too heavily if they fail to kill opponent early on

After tweaking the game by myself for a bit, I was surprised that players lost their attention at certain points in the game. Mainly when it wasn’t their turn and during combat if they wanted to play defensive. With all of this feedback in mind, I discussed with my friends how to fix or fine tune parts of my game. By the end of it we came up with:

  • 1 movement point is added for every roll under 3, these points can be stockpiled and added to a movement roll
  • Map size reduced from 20×20 grid to 14×12 grid
  • Draw Card mechanic revamp required
  • Waiting for a person to roll isn’t fun so everyone rolling and moving in real time would be better

After I went home I decided to tweak the game some more. The next weekend I was able to visit a friend’s house and play test the game once more. I added the “Reflection Chain” mechanic. Instead of an attack disappearing once a person defends, it’s reflected back to either the attacker or another player. It can be reflected an infinite amounts technically, but there’s not an infinite amount of cards so a player must take damage.

I also added safe zone spaces as a haven for people who don’t want to participate in a battle. It only works for 1 turn however and the player can never return to that specific safe zone.

Draw card spaces were added as well. When you land on a draw card space, roll for the amount of cards you draw.

Second play test feedback:

  • HP has been revised, but player HP is too low
  • Game favors aggressive play if 2 or more people are aggressive
  • Safe zones added to balance punishment for aggressive players
  • Map being reduced from 20×20 grid to 14×12 grid works
  • Draw card spaces are received well
  • Overall game speed is frantic

The game still needs a bit more tweaking but the game speed is where I want it, so play tests are a huge success!

Game Pitch (DIGC310)

The board game does not have a game yet however the focus is on strategy and resource management. The game itself is a competitive Player VS Player based game that can have up to 4 players playing at the same time. The game itself is inspired by Fire Emblem, a Strategy RPG, various card games such as Yugioh and Cardfight Vanguard. The game also takes some elements from the Mario Party series.

Players take control of an avatar which has 5 HP while the player has 10 HP which is separate from the avatar. The player and avatar are separate entities in this game. The victory condition is when there is one player left standing. Defending an opponent’s avatar or all of the opponent’s avatars does not grant a victory condition.

The game takes place on a grid based board with various spaces that grant different effects on players, both positive and negative. Movement throughout the board is also done through dice rolls. Currently the effects are still under development as there are some issues regarding balancing the board effects with card effects. An example of some planned spaces are; Space gives X amount of cards, space halves/doubles the next dice roll, prevents movement for one turn.

The main aspect of the game that has the most development so far is the combat system. The combat system combines elements from Fire Emblem’s weapon triangle and card elements from Cardfight Vanguard. There are three types of attacks; Power,  Skill and Speed. The triangle is as follows; Power (Red) > Skill (Green) > Speed (Blue) (Speed then beats Power). The attacks are then split into two categories which is melee and spells. These two categories will be explained in depth later in this post as it links to a different mechanic.

In order to keep the player’s movement constant, there will be various safe zone spaces spread throughout the board. These safe zone spaces allow players to avoid participating in combat. So for example if a person is low on player HP and cards, these safe zones can protect the player. However, these spaces only have a one time use. Once a player enters a safe zone once and a turn ends, that safe zone can no longer be used.

Combat occurs when one of two conditions are met which are:

  1. All players have moved in a single turn
  2. When a player’s avatar is one space away from another avatar

With the first condition, all players become involved in combat and any one can be targeted by any player regardless of location on the board. If the second condition is met then combat is initiated and only those two are involved, no other players can intervene. Combat is done in turns and in each player’s turn, players can use all cards within their possession. Attacking in these combat scenarios is not required either. A player can choose to hold onto all their cards and only defend.

Each attack uses up a single card within a player’s possession. Each card is marked either with red, green or blue to indicate what kind of attack the card deals. It is through these cards that influences what kind of attacks a player can use against their opponents. In order to defend against these attacks the player on the receiving must have a card that is stronger than their opponent. E.g. X attacks Y with red but Y uses blue to negate the attack. If an attack is successfully negated neither party takes damage, however the player adjacent to the one who defended will now take the damage. However they too can negate the attack just as the previous player did. This mechanic causes a chain reaction possibly involving all players.

As mentioned earlier there are melee and spell cards. Melee cards can only be used against avatars while spell cards can be used to attack the player directly. The reward for taking down an avatar is taking all the cards in the “graveyard”. The graveyard is a space on the board where all used cards go to and all cards have a one time use. This graveyard mechanic effectively becomes a valuable way of getting ahead of the competition IF people have been using cards.

As mentioned earlier, the focus is on strategy and resource management. The resource management factor comes from combat with other players but there is also a mechanic with the turn limit. Currently the turn limit is being tested and making sure it’s balanced with the rest of the game. On the final turn of the game, all players must use up all their cards and the winner is effectively decided then and there.