Black Desert Online #2: The Honeymoon is Over

By Shamus Posted Thursday Apr 26, 2018

Filed under: Retrospectives 110 comments

I loved this game. Then I was annoyed by it. Then I was offended by it. Finally I was appalled at it. Then I quit and wrote this series.

Let’s start with the small problems…

Voice Acting

What? Whatever. Just give me the quest and stop wasting my time.
What? Whatever. Just give me the quest and stop wasting my time.

The English translation of this game is atrocious. This means the English voiced dialog is atrocious. Typical forum-goers often accuse the developer of just using random people off the street to voice these characters, but I recognize some of these voice performers from anime and other videogames and they’re clearly talented professionals. This is one of those unfortunate situations where the actor takes the blame for the failings of the director or the writer. It’s pretty hard for a performer to make a line sound good when the phrasing is stilted and overly verbose.

Even the best actor in the world can’t do their job if the dialog isn’t clear about what their character is like, what the context of the scene is, and how the lines are intended to be read. This is the sort of mess you get when the actor is just handed lines to read and shoved in the direction of the microphone. Undoubtedly these people all had to perform in isolation without hearing the other characters in the scene, so it’s not surprising that everyone feels like they’re part of a different game.

This little boy greets you in the voice of an old woman. If you're going to half-ass integration like this, why bother recording the line at all?
This little boy greets you in the voice of an old woman. If you're going to half-ass integration like this, why bother recording the line at all?

Some actors ham it up. Others play it straight. Others do funny cartoon voices. Some people act like they’re doing an old-timey radio play with exaggerated emotions and other people refuse to put any emotion into the line, probably because they couldn’t figure out what the INTENDED emotion was. There are different accents all over the place, and none of them make any sense. We’ve got California English, Irish, Scottish, cockney, and Australian, but they don’t correspond to regions, races, or social caste. A few of the rich people speak the Queen’s English, but the rest all talk like middle Americans. At one point in the game I talked to three different Dwarves in a row, and all of them had completely different accents. The first was a lower-class British thing, the second was a classic Old-Hollywood transatlantic “Theatuh” accent, and the third sounded like an American.

The English audio is so terrible that there’s a mod to allow users to play with Korean / Japanese audio. It’s a pain in the ass to useYou have to uninstall before every patch and re-install afterward. and risky to mess withIt’s a violation of the Terms of Service, and the publisher has a reputation for being capricious and heavy-handed when it comes to enforcing those kinds of things. They could ban you for using it and you couldn’t do anything about it. and yet lots of people are using it so they can escape the inanity of the spoken dialog. I haven’t messed with the mod myself, but I really wish the publisher would just make it an option on the PC to choose alternate audioApparently some of the other platforms do have this option? Two people claimed as much on Reddit, but I can’t find any official documentation on it..

It doesn’t help that lots of characters have lines they repeat constantly if you’re standing too close, which really draws attention to how bad they are.

Making things worse, the spoken dialog draws attention to the…

Embarrassing Translation

I hope you're a better translator than whoever localized this game.
I hope you're a better translator than whoever localized this game.

The translation is bad in the story dialog, but it’s also bad in the in-game UI and in the store interface. This actually bit me while writing this series. I saw I could buy a pack of game items that included “character slot coupons“. I thought it was a pretty good price for multiple character slots. It wasn’t until I got the goods that I discovered that pluralized word was incorrect. It just comes with oneIt should have tipped me off that it didn’t say HOW MANY I was getting. And I really should have been more on-guard, given how disjointed all the other text was. I guess I saw what I wanted to see. It happens..

The translation is good enough that you can get the basic gist of what’s being said, but the dialog is clunky and often the phrasing has ambiguities that make things hard to follow.

I’m not going to try to explain the backstory of the gameworld because it’s largely cliches and incomprehensible cruft, but the personal story of your character is that you wake up in a small town with amnesia. The Black Spirit, visible only to youAnd I suppose, in a meta-sense, visible to every other player in the sense that everyone has a Black Spirit., alludes to some sort of bargain. Apparently you made a Faustian deal with this guy and now he owns your soul(?). He’s not subtle about the fact that he’s probably a bad guy and he’s always making what I think are supposed to be snarky comments about the people you meet. His quests lead you through the world, moving from one location to the next as you murder your way to level 50And presumably beyond that. But 50 is as far as I got..

Is this a deliberate reference to R&B artist Lionel Richie? Probably not. But someone familiar with the target culture would have probably altered this name to avoid unintended connections.
Is this a deliberate reference to R&B artist Lionel Richie? Probably not. But someone familiar with the target culture would have probably altered this name to avoid unintended connections.

To give a feel for what the translation is like: When you summon himWhich you can do any time you’re not in combat. he says, “Humans always ask others to do bothersome chores.” Now, from context I’m pretty sure that the proper translation of this would be something like, “People are always looking for someone to do their dirty work.” Perhaps this is even a reference to the deal you struck with this demon. But the translation is off, so the line feels strange. “Chores” implies mundane daily tasks, which isn’t appropriate in this context.

In another place you run into a military commander fighting some rebels and he says, “There’s no need to be lenient on the ones who betrayed their own country. Wouldn’t you agree?” That’s… not how English-speakers talk, and this verbose style is way off for this hothead commander. The intended meaning is probably closer to, “We don’t go easy on traitors around here. You get me?”

You wot?
You wot?

There are cutscenes. I’m not crazy about the idea of cutscenes in an online game, but I’m willing to give them a chance if they add something to the leveling and looting. But here in BDO we have story-driven cutscenes with lots of dialog, and even if the dialog was properly translated the whole thing is just a Markov chain of worn-out fantasy tropes.

The dialog is either a quality machine translation or a shameful human translation. This is really screwy because of how much of it is voice acted. Apparently they were willing to pay for tons of voice acting and a huge variety of characters as performed by industry professionals, but they handed the translation job off to an amateur? That’s a very odd corner to cut. Personally I’d rather they paid for a good translation of the text, but left the dialog audio in Korean. That would have been much cheaper and would have produced a higher quality product.

I imagine this goofy-ass dialog must have made for a very interesting day in the sound booth for a lot of these actors.

This line is just text, not voiced. Pity. This one nearly crosses over into comedy and I think voicing it would have given it the needed push to cross over into absurdity.
This line is just text, not voiced. Pity. This one nearly crosses over into comedy and I think voicing it would have given it the needed push to cross over into absurdity.

Even once you untangle the dialog you’ll discover the game isn’t telling a story so much as creating a static scenario. Something like: “The town depends on the mines but imps have invaded.” Or, “This area is plagued by cultists”. Or “This area is being invaded by Orcs.” So it’s a lot like World of Warcraft where you pass through an area, learn the story, do some quests to “help out” without really making a tangible difference, and then move on to the next area.

As I’ve demonstrated in the past, I’m all about reading the quest text, even when most other people are happy to ignore it. But in the case of BDO I found myself lazily clicking past the nonsense after a few hours. The translation is just bad enough to be annoying, but it never gets so bad that it crosses over into hilarity. This is one of those cases where it might have been a lot better if they’d made it just a little worse. The translation never descends into the surrealist hilarity of Volcano Bakemeat. Instead it’s just sort of dull, muddled, cliche, and performed incoherently by actors who weren’t given enough direction. Sad face.

I wonder how many English-language games get to the non-English parts of the world and end up in this same condition?

Game Balance

Thanks to some rando player, I'm now getting double XP. That would be fine, except I'm already level 50 and my quests are level 40.
Thanks to some rando player, I'm now getting double XP. That would be fine, except I'm already level 50 and my quests are level 40.

Last week I said the combat feels fantastic. I should add a qualifier that it’s only fantastic if you’re fighting foes at your level, or a little above that. In those situations, enemies can hurt you and you need to keep moving to avoid getting tagged. The problem is that the game is balanced so that you’ll rapidly out-level the content.

There are a lot of sidequests in this game. There are lots of XP-earning side activities. But if you engage with any of them, the extra XP will rocket you past your foes and trivialize the entire combat system.

Even if you only do the main quests and skip every single sidequest, you’ll still out-level the story content within a few hours. This will happen even sooner if you enjoy the combat. With more than one character I got distracted and spent an extra twenty minutes running around after my quest goals were completed, mindlessly blasting mooks because I was having fun. But then I looked and realized I’d just gained two and a half extra levels. Somewhere by the late 20s the game loses all sense of purpose because I’m ten levels over the story content and foes are no longer a threat. My health bar never goes down, everything dies in one hit, and I don’t ever need to dodge. Yawn.

My highest level character is a Witch, and I’m pretty sure she has no idea what health potions taste like.

I'm actually curious: If the server gives me double XP, a courtesy buff gives me double XP, my daily reward gives me double XP, and a consumable gives me double XP, is that 100%+100%+100%+100% for 400% bonus XP, or is that 2x2x2x2 for 1600% XP? Either way, it's too damn much.
I'm actually curious: If the server gives me double XP, a courtesy buff gives me double XP, my daily reward gives me double XP, and a consumable gives me double XP, is that 100%+100%+100%+100% for 400% bonus XP, or is that 2x2x2x2 for 1600% XP? Either way, it's too damn much.

There are three main factors that contribute to this:

  1. For whatever reason, the servers designed specifically for newbies always dish out double XP.
  2. They’ve added some microtransaction stuff where someone (usually representing a guild) can pay $18 and give everyone on the server double XP for an hour. It’s sort of like buying everyone a round of drinks, except you can’t say no if you don’t want any. These are fairly regular during peak hours.
  3. The game constantly showers you with XP bonus items. They’re given away as daily attendance rewards. Black Spirit also gives you scrolls that give bonus XP. Those scrolls can’t be sold, so you either use them or throw them away.

You can get around this by abandoning the story missions and just wandering around the open world, killing stuffThe world map is even helpfully labeled according to level range and enemy type.. That’s what I’ve been mostly doing. That keeps me fighting interesting foes and limits my exposure to the cringe-inducing voice work, but this is clearly not the intended way to play. It also cuts you off from the important inventory upgrades that Black Spirit provides. Inventory is excruciatingly tight in this game, because they will rent(!!) you inventory expansions at the cash shop. Black Spirit’s quests are strictly linear, so you can’t just skip a few of his tasks to get back to level-appropriate content. Once you’re ahead of the leveling curve, there’s absolutely no way to get back on track. It’s impossible to engage with the story content of this game at the proper level, because it gives way too much XP.

To be fair, I’m willing to bet that you could avoid over-leveling if you know what you’re doing.

  1. Don’t go on the newbie servers, even though the game seems to think you should.
  2. Don’t claim those daily rewards that give double XP. (Or, if you want to grab them because you’re interested in the attached loot, then hang around town for an hour until the bonus wears off.)
  3. Throw away the XP bonus scrolls that Black Spirit gives you. (Or consume them in town where you won’t be earning combat XP.)
  4. Go easy on the sidequests / gathering / crafting content, since that will also level you up.
  5. Don’t linger once you’ve met your quest goals. Yes, I know these cultists are all standing in a tight formation and it’s super tempting to leap into the middle of the pack and unload your big showstopper ability. But that sort of behavior catches up with you in a hurry and will trivialize the later parts of the game.

You’ll still have the problem where guilds will occasionally double your XP, but that shouldn’t be too damaging if you follow the rest of my advice: Ignore what the developer says to do, turn down the loot, and avoid engaging with the most fun parts of the game. As long as you do all that, you’ll have a decent shot of keeping the leveling balanced.

It’s NOT Broken. It just FEELS Like it is.

I don't have a screenshot to depict obtuse and poorly designed quests, so here's a pretty screenshot.
I don't have a screenshot to depict obtuse and poorly designed quests, so here's a pretty screenshot.

There are also a lot of quests in the game that feel broken, but once you alt-Tab out of the game and read a few forum threads you discover they’re just janky and confusing. Example: There’s a guy who gives you a quest, but then he begins walking up and down a huge stretch of road. So you come back to get paid after doing the quest and he’s mysteriously missing. The quest location marker leads the player to an empty spot of road, with no indication about what to do next. That alone is enough to prompt some people to ask for help on the forums, with the assumption that they’ve found a bug. But even if you manage to find him, he refuses to talk to you. Again, it feels like the quest is broken. But what you’re supposed to do is follow him for several minutes until he reaches one of the ends of his patrol routeSomeone else said he’ll stop if you get close to him, but that didn’t happen for me.. He stands still for a bit before resuming his patrol, and that’s when you can talk to him and get your reward.

Now, one broken quest isn’t enough to ruin the game, but it’s still strange to see these sorts of issues lingering in a game so many years after release. How hard would it be to have this guy stand still? It’s not like his patrol adds anything to the game. This quest regularly generates frustration and confusion for no good reason, and nobody has ever bothered to fix it. I’ve run into several seemingly-broken quests in the game that later just turned out to be horribly designed, and I find the developer’s apathy towards these sorts of shortcomings to be off-putting.

All of that stuff is annoying, but it’s not why I quit the game. Next week we’ll get to the more serious gripes.

 

Footnotes:

[1] You have to uninstall before every patch and re-install afterward.

[2] It’s a violation of the Terms of Service, and the publisher has a reputation for being capricious and heavy-handed when it comes to enforcing those kinds of things. They could ban you for using it and you couldn’t do anything about it.

[3] Apparently some of the other platforms do have this option? Two people claimed as much on Reddit, but I can’t find any official documentation on it.

[4] It should have tipped me off that it didn’t say HOW MANY I was getting. And I really should have been more on-guard, given how disjointed all the other text was. I guess I saw what I wanted to see. It happens.

[5] And I suppose, in a meta-sense, visible to every other player in the sense that everyone has a Black Spirit.

[6] And presumably beyond that. But 50 is as far as I got.

[7] Which you can do any time you’re not in combat.

[8] The world map is even helpfully labeled according to level range and enemy type.

[9] Someone else said he’ll stop if you get close to him, but that didn’t happen for me.



From The Archives:
 

110 thoughts on “Black Desert Online #2: The Honeymoon is Over

  1. Grimwear says:

    Wow it’s like the devs haven’t learned anything from the years of mmo history. In the famous words of original WoW:

    “Where’s Mankrik’s wife?”

    1. Genericide says:

      I think you can find her right next to the Defias Messenger.

      1. Kestrellius says:

        No, I think she’s with Sulu at the moment.

      2. Hector says:

        Nah, they moved him over to Fiora Longears.

      3. Scourge says:

        Why don’t you ask Barrens chat?

    2. Asdasd says:

      How sure are you that you want to know? The answer may be… time consuming.

  2. aradinfinity says:

    The whole thing’s on the front page again, or at least it was when I clicked through to the comment section.

  3. cactushead says:

    I wonder how many English-language games get to the non-English parts of the world and end up in this same condition?

    You have no idea, haha.
    Machine translations of english games by pirates have spawned dozens of local memes in non-english speaking countries. Most of the time they are tedious and frustrating, but sometimes so hilarious that the phrases they generate become part of local gaming culture.

    1. MaxEd says:

      Specifically, ever since some genius translated StarCraft’s Overmind as “Overbrain” (“Nadmozg”) into Russian, all bad translations/translators are called that here.

      Another of my favourites is a name of weapon from a bad translation of little-known puzzle action in the vein of Portal called RoboBlitz. I forgot what it was called in English, but it launched a projectile that pulled things closer to the point of explosion, I think. In the pirate Russian translation the name came out as “(Thou go) suck (a) grenade launcher” (“Sosite minomiot”) (i.e. “suck” was written as a polite imperative).

      Sometimes, though, funny problems in translation from English appear not because of bad translators, but because of the difference between the languages which the developers didn’t take into account and for which the translators failed to compensate. For example, in Heroes of Might and Magic III, there are estimates of the number of enemies in a group, which look like “[a descriptive word] [name of enemy]”, e.g. “a few Living Dead”. The problem is, in Russian that requires choosing a proper declension, and the game had no support for such things. So the phrase above came out sounding like “A somewhat living dead”.

      Sometimes, Russian pirate translation from 90’s were brilliant (a few became legends), but when you bought a localized (“russificated”) CD at the flea market stall, it was always a gamble. Once, I bought a copy of Fallout 2 which started OK, but the longer you played, the worse the translation become, and at the end, untranslated pieces of text started appearing (my guess it was a machine translation – “Promt” software was usually used – which was later given to a human to fix, but he failed to finish the work, and the pirates put the CD out anyway).

      Also, pirate outfits sometimes employed competent enough translators, but they, of course, never had money to hire any real voice actors. So when games started coming out that were full of talking, it became a problem – and a meme. The pirate attempts at providing a Russian voice-over were called “voiced by the professional programmers” – a spoof of the phrase “voiced by the professional actors” that was sometimes featured on CD sleeve and was a blatant lie.

      1. EwgB says:

        Oh man, you brought me back! I remember playing a Russian pirated version of Warcraft 2, where they actually bothered to translate the cutscenes. But for the voiceover they evidently used the same guy who did the voiceover for pirated Hollywood movies, using a clothespin on his nose (so as not to get recognized, as it was illegal).

        A genuinely good translation that I saw was Leisure Suit Larry (the VGA remake of the first one to be specific). To start the game, you had to pass a quiz designed to check whether you are of age (since the game deals with quite adult subjects, albeit in a very immature manner). In the English original it had questions like “Who was the first man on the moon?” and somesuch. In the Russian version they, instead of just translating the questions, they made up a whole bunch of new ones that were cultur-specific and genuinely funny, more so than most of the game. I had a blast just answering those questions, though it didn’t stop me playing the game at age 14 or 15.
        The whole game was actually translated very well, I particularly remember the washed up standup comedian in the back room of the casino (I think?) who in the translated version had a whole host of original (pretty bad, of course) jokes from Russian comedians of the time.

        1. MaxEd says:

          Adventure games were generally translated better than everything else, for some reason. Maybe because a badly translated adventure is basically unplayable, unlike a shooter, or even a RPG. I remember that the first two Kyrandia games had good translations, and the first two Goblins games, too (but the third one was only available in French – which is how I learned that “sortir” means “(to) exit”).

    2. Piflik says:

      Sometimes translations are really bad, but it has become better. Once (I don’t remember if it was a game, movie or TV show), they translated ‘ground beef’ as ‘Bodenfleisch’ in German. It is technically not wrong, ‘Boden’ means ‘ground’, after all, but it means ‘the ground’, as in the thing we are all standing on.

      And my prime example will always be TES: Oblivion. A minor healing poition was translated as ‘Schwacher Trank der Lebensenergie Wiederherstellung’. Which is also technically not wrong, but quite long. So long, in fact, that it was to wide for the console-inspired (shitty) UI, where it was displayed as ‘Schw. Tr. d. Le.-En. W.’
      Personally I’d gone for ‘Schwacher Heiltrank’. Much shorter.

      Coincidentally (or not), Oblivion was the last game I ever bought the German version for.

      1. Scourge says:

        Then there was the Star Ocean Game where they translated Chainmail (The armor) as Chain Mail in German.

        So “Die Kettenrüstung” (which would have been the proper translation) became “Der Kettenbrief.”

        Then there was an RTS Game where in the very first mission you were tasked to take out a Tank, a “Panzer”.

        Only issue, there was no tank.

        The error came once more from translation as in the English version they wanted you to destroy a water tank/reservoir. Not a real tank.

        And of course there was another game, which name I unfortunately can’t remember, where all of the Menu items were pretty much run through google translate and left like that.

        Close, as to close the application, became “In der nähe von” which also can mean close but not in the same context.

  4. I wrote about a Korean MMO I played back in 2009 called Gates of Andaron.

    Does Black Desert Online’s voice acting rival this anachronistic weirdness?

    Or whatever THIS is supposed to be?

    1. Droid says:

      Bwahahah!

      Actually, the last one kinda reminds me of the goofy over-the-top “voice acting” in Magicka. Which of course is a big plus, in my book.

  5. Daimbert says:

    The problem is that the game is balanced so that you’ll rapidly out-level the content.

    There are a lot of sidequests in this game. There are lots of XP-earning side activities. But if you engage with any of them, the extra XP will rocket you past your foes and trivialize the entire combat system.

    Even if you only do the main quests and skip every single sidequest, you’ll still out-level the story content within a few hours.

    This would be less a problem and more a benefit for me, since my main strategy for playing The Old Republic was to advance through massive overleveling. It’s a shame that the story in this game isn’t very good, because that might get me interested in playing it and so be playing an MMO again.

  6. MadTinkerer says:

    Apparently they were willing to pay for tons of voice acting and a huge variety of characters as performed by industry professionals, but they handed the translation job off to an amateur? That’s a very odd corner to cut.

    I know it’s Chinese in origin, but based on my experience with Japanese games, it’s more likely that the higher-ups simply hired a team with very good grades in English… None of whom had ever spoken to a native English speaker outside of a class. Not only that, but this problem has already been pointed out to the higher-ups, possibly by the translation team themselves. However, the higher-ups have set the budget in stone. So the budget has precisely enough in it to have very smart, cheap, relatively competent Chinese translators, but not enough to hire expensive foreigners for localization.

    Having no English skill whatsoever, the higher-ups listened to the result and all agree that it sounds perfectly fine to them. The characters are definitely speaking English words all right! Some of them even do funny voices! It’s great!

    I wonder how many English-language games get to the non-English parts of the world and end up in this same condition?

    I have heard that this can indeed happen. It’s less common because sometimes English language games are sold without translation (why would you play this weird foreign game in the first place if you don’t even know the language?) or because there are already multiple competent localization companies that can do a good localization job in that particular language.

    But even today you’ll hear stories like “My German-speaking friends are complaining about the dialog in Game X, but my French-speaking friends say their French versions are fine. Looks like Englishspiel Translations messed up again. Check out this forum thread for more info.”

    1. Mephane says:

      Rarely is a German translation as terrible as the English translation of Black Desert, but there is often enough some cringe stuff, so I switched to playing games in English almost exclusively years ago.

      That said, movies can suffer from this, too. Even something as huge as Star Wars. In episode 2, when Anakin meets the Lars family, Cliegg says “after I lost my leg I just couldn’t ride any more”. Which obviously means stuff like speeder bikes, or maybe some of the various domestic animals on Tatooine.
      In the German translation, he literally says he cannot ride a horse any more. Yepp, the animal itself is named there, as if some translator looked up the meaning of to ride in a dictionary and it mentioned riding horses as one of the meanings.
      And I am pretty sure there are no horses in Star Wars.

        1. Adrian Burt says:

          I like how we’re okay with humans living in a different galaxy but any other terrestrial organism is immersion shattering shenanigans. Meanwhile as a kid I was always bothered by and confused by if this is a long time ago how are there humans in a different galaxy?

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            No,no,they arent humans.They are progenitors.Its humans who look like them,not the other way around.

    2. Olivier FAURE says:

      French translations are usually all right, and are very rarely non-sensical; triple-A games always have at least decent French translation.

      I still prefer the English dub, because:

      – For obvious reasons, the publisher usually spends more on the English voice actors than on the foreign dubbers.

      – The translation still runs into the usual issues like puns, idioms, songs, lip-syncing, and other cultural stuff where nuance can be lost. I remember a few times where a joke in a translated game made no sense to me, until I realized years later than the joke was an awkward translation of a very common english joke/pun.

      – That’s more subjective, but I feel that French voice actors have a lot less range and are way less diverse than English voice actors. The market is smaller, so a few successful dubbers pop up in a lot of games, which feels a little weird once you notice it. Also, there’s a lot of times where the original dub has a character with a foreign accent, but the French character just has a mainland French accent (black accents, in particular, are never translated).

      I think the best French dub I remember is TF2’s dub. They got all the accents right, the French guy actually sounds French (I’m still pissed about the “ma petit chou-fleur” line), and they *nailed* the Pyro’s voice.

    3. GoStu says:

      I wonder if they could game the system a bit by hiring a second team of lower-price translators. The first set does Korean –> Engrish and the second does Engrish –> English. Given a lot of the crappy minimum-wage jobs out there that people will do, I’m sure you could find some people to do Engrish-to-English translation for a low price.

      No heavy lifting, no outdoor work, very friendly work to those with many disabilities.

      1. Kyrillos says:

        I think the problem with this idea is that, while it’ll remove any obvious Engrish, it won’t necessarily end up with accurate translations.

        Each line may be more intelligible in isolation, but I doubt the overall message will become more readable. In fact, it will likely get worse, since the re-translators are probably not looking at the script as a whole, just their lines.

        1. Joe Informatico says:

          Another potential pitfall, that occasionally cropped up in 90s anime and Japanese video games, is that a name or term in the original work that’s originally from English or another European language, will be transliterated very different into the Asian language (e.g., there’s not really an “L” or “V” sound in Japanese; they tend to be transliterated as “R” and “B”), and then when it’s translated back into English, the transliterated word isn’t rendered in the original language, but as some wholly new term.

          This is more understandable when we’re talking about esoteric terminology from say, medieval alchemy or quantum physics. These might pop up in a work of fantasy or science fiction, but your typical translator of modern languages isn’t necessarily well-versed in the history of occult practices or cutting-edge scientific research.

      2. Hamilcar says:

        This is actually fairly common to do in Chinese translation. I’ve done this kind of work plenty of times to fix Chinglish. The Chinese with decent English, will translate out of Chinese to English, and then they find a native English speaker, preferably with familiarity with Chinese, to mop it up and make it fluent.

    4. 4th Dimension says:

      why would you play this weird foreign game in the first place if you don’t even know the language?

      Because the market/country is small enough that NOONE is doing localisation for it? Because that’s what happens for Serbian. I don’t think I have EVER seen a game that was localized for it.

      Well WoT CLIENT had a Serbian localisation, but then again that game tends to be super popular in Eastern Europe.

      So yeah, people still play games even though they don’t understand them, but they play them for GAME PLAY first and ONLY. Talking to younger people about how story is important in the games will just have them confused since they don’t particularly pay attention to it since they don’t understand it. But they DO understand big set pieces and cool cut scenes and like…

  7. BlueBlazeSpear says:

    In playing Kingdom Come: Deliverance, I’ve run into a couple of similar instances where I thought that I ran into a game-breaking/quest-ending bug, but it was just the game doing a poor job of telegraphing what the next step should be. While I can appreciate a game not always sticking a quest marker on a thing and saying “go specifically here and do this specific thing,” I also don’t like quest chains that are so opaque that the most likely way that I’ll figure it out is by accident. Or by Google.

    I think I’m a bit of an outlier here, but I enjoy levelling up past where the main quests expect me to be. Partly, I’m sure it’s some sort of power fantasy, but I also find that for me, it’s better for the main story’s pacing if I can blow through the fights (especially the non-boss fights) and keep the story moving as opposed to it getting sprinkled to me between waves of enemies. Some games do a better job of balancing the gaming with the story-ing, but that’s pretty rare. But I’m also a consummate side-quester and completionist, which is a more significant way to mess up the pacing of a game’s story, so I can’t say a thing about people who actually want to get peppered with a bit of toil with their stories/gameplay experiences.

    1. Olivier FAURE says:

      Same here. Jade Empire got a lot more enjoyable for me once I unlocked Mirabelle (the gun) and was able to breeze past all combats (even most bosses).

    2. Sydney says:

      I’m with you on the pacing tip. Captain America doesn’t have a fair, balanced fight against the boss’s mooks, he effortlessly breezes through them.

    3. BlueHorus says:

      Yeah.
      Sometimes, I just want to get on with the story and get this combat out of the way, in a ‘Dammit, get to the bits I care about!’ kind of sense. Easy combat isn’t a perfect solution, but it’s not always a bad thing.
      (I remember Shamus did an article related to this back in the day.)

      Example: I really like the idea of playing through Dragon Age: Origins again (with a different Origin from before, natch!), but I’ll be damned before I slog through the Deep Roads or the Fade some of the other, longer bits.
      It’s like wanting to read Lord of the Rings again, but you know that someone’s going to make you spend 2 minutes running on a treadmill before they allow you to turn a page – every damn page.
      Just, why? I wanna read your book, but why are you making it so dull? What does the Mandatory Treadmill Time add?

      1. Olivier FAURE says:

        “Lords of the Ring, except every time they get to a new location you have to travel the same distance by foot to get a sense of the scale involved”.

      2. Asdasd says:

        I’m with you in theory. But whenever I try to play a game on Easy, with the express intention of blowing through the combat to get to the story parts, my satisfaction somehow decreases.

        The less I have to engage with the combat, the more I find myself resenting it. At least at a higher difficulty I have to pay attention to HP bars and think about whether I’m pressing buttons in an optimal way, whereas, even if it’s quicker, easy combat is unmistakably 100% meaningless grindwork.

        Neither solution makes me happy – I can choose to have intolerable autopilot combat, or to extend the playtime by potentially dozens of hours. It’s gotten to the point where I experience most RPGs not as games, but as Let’s Plays.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          So one thing Pillars of Eternity did well: its ‘Easy Mode’ didn’t have weaker enemies, it just had less.

          The fights could still take a while, still pose a threat (sometimes more of a threat, ‘cos you levelled up slower): but they weren’t around every damn corner like other games.

          And then you could change between difficulty settings in the same game – great of you wanted to attempt Caed Nua (the optional Backer Dungeon) and finish it sometime this century.

          1. Asdasd says:

            Ah, that’s surely the gold standard. You make combat less frequent, not more trivial. In general I think I’d be interested to see games move more in this direction, although I’m sure it’d cause a few unexpected issues.

          2. Daimbert says:

            I think the Persona games did this well: Easy tended to make the combat more forgiving, but if you didn’t learn the attacks and weaknesses of the enemies you could still be in trouble.

            In Persona 3 and Persona 4, Easy made it easier and also gave you 10 retries if you died — you were restored in battle with the entire party at full HP and SP, while the enemies kept the damage you had done to them — but it’d still be frustrating if they kept targeting you or your party’s weaknesses, or if you didn’t bring the Persona with the damage type that actually hurts them. Also, targeting their weaknesses always lets you clean the battle up a lot faster, and getting the first shot in seems to make Shuffle Time more likely to come up, and again lets you get through it faster with less risk, so you still want to learn those mechanics.

            Persona 5 split it into Safety and Easy. On Safety you’ll always get an option to retry if you lose a fight, get more XP and money, and do more damage and take less damage. Easy gives you less of everything else and drops the option to retry, but still gives you more XP and money and you do more damage and take less. Again, you want to learn their weaknesses and learn to ambush enemies because they can still hurt you if you aren’t paying attention.

    4. Syal says:

      I’m pretty much always at least a couple levels over where I’m supposed to be in a game, and if there’s exploits or challenging stuff to do outside the story I’ll usually be crushingly overpowered when I get back to it. Part of that’s probably from playing Final Fantasy growing up, where overpowered is mostly the default.

      I think the big thing at that point is how long the fights take; if there’s no challenge at all, I want it to be over quickly, preferably hilariously so. (That’s a problem with Disgaea; you may be able to one-shot every enemy on the map, but first you have to walk over to it at the same movement speed you’ve had from level 1.)

  8. Chris says:

    The level system is different than you think it is. This game has had some big patches. The game uses a soft cap system. You level quickly to lvl 55, then the XP requirements skyrocket. Because initially the softcap was lvl 50, they made XP gains higher from 1-55 which means that you outlevel the content. Following the black spirit makes you follow a quest level curve that was designed from back when you had lvl 50 as cap and lower XP income. So now you just level too fast.

    However, once you hit lvl 55 you can spend hours on leveling without leveling up. Its been a couple of months but going from 55 to 56 is like 10 hours of grinding (assuming you dont have top tier gear). From 56 to 57 is even slower. I believe I tried to grind to 58. I got like 3% xp per hour. Which means that I needed like 35 hours of grinding to get a levelup. At that point getting 100% more xp is nothing.

    But yeah, I recommend nobody to play this game. I did and not only do you need about 300 bucks of P2W if youre serious, but it also is mindnumbing with its insane grind demands. And it asks you to AFK grind stuff to get more money. Which not only is stupid, but also an obvious attempt to pump up their numbers by having half their community be AFK and stand in a town

    1. Hal says:

      I also wonder if it’s like WoW where most of the players are at the level cap, and so it’s sort of assumed that the “real” game takes place there. Plus, once you’re leveling your umpteenth character, you really just want to get through that stuff as fast as possible.

      If you’re playing for the first time, that makes for a very bizarre experience. But since there’s double-digit classes in this game, there’s a good chance people really just want to get to the max level and don’t want to spend too long doing so.

      1. Chris says:

        Yes it is like WoW, but not really. Imagine if wow levels you to 60 like normal, but once you hit 60 you still gain XP. It just is 90% slower. At 56 in BD you gain XP much slower. But the first few levels are still doable if you commit yourself to it. After that it can take a month for a single levelup. And at that point you probably want to earn money instead of XP to power up faster. That is why you get such insane XP boosts, because otherwise people who do not grind for 5+ hours per day can never make any headway. The problem is that the devs pretty much broke the early leveling becasue they wanted to give new players a chance to catch up, even if that meant ruining their level/content curve.

    2. sadfsadfsadfsadf says:

      Yep, and in addition to this, they pretty much deleted the 1-50 story at the same time for this reason. You also don’t get the story quests that point you to the titular desert until around 56.

      Also 55-56 doesn’t take that long either for that matter, and I think they changed the 57-59 XP rates recently as well.

      For reference:
      55 to 56 takes about 1-2 hours if twinked and EXP buffs on.
      50-55 probably takes about 2-3 hours similarly
      1-50 also takes about 2 hours, 1 if you’re super efficient

      And 56 to 57 is probably ~5 hours the last time I did it.

  9. EBass says:

    Having lived in the far East for a number of years, it still mystifies me how little attention is often paid to getting translation right, even if it would be incredibly cheap and easy to do so, a little story.

    So I worked in a private education company that liked to pretend we were a “high-class” option, that’s the sort of image our marketing provided anyway. When I first joined the company we had a moto/logo that was stencilled on the walls, printed on our marketing stuff………

    “Be a person who change the history”

    So I asked what the history of that was and, they’d redone the office and marketing materials about 2 years ago, and even though they had 9 native speakers in the office, they didn’t even bother to ask any of them about THE LOGO THAT WOULD BE ON EVERYTHING FOR A FRIGGIN EDUCATION COMPANY, who would have corrected it for free before they spend thousands and thousands on PR materials.

    Anyway a couple of years pass and we move to a new office. Considering they’d need to re-do all the decor they ask us how we should change the logo, I can’t remember exactly how we translated the Chinese, something like Take charge of your own destiny, or something. ANYWAY, so eventually we move into the new building and……… they’ve changed the original logo to what we suggested, except now they’ve added a friggin subtitle: “Do good your study at all times” or something WHICH AGAIN THEY DIDN’T CONSULT US ON, EVEN THOUGH WE WERE RIGHT THERE AND CLEARLY NOT CONSULTING US LED TO HUGE SCREW UPS.

    Yea.

    1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

      Ha! As globalized as things have become, it’s a bit surprising and amusing that we still have these “All your base are belong to us” problems.

    2. MadTinkerer says:

      But every single one of those words is English! They’re even spelled right! How could there possibly be a problem?

    3. Naota says:

      Badly-done Engrish written on promo materials for Japanese media? I get it.

      Badly-done Engrish spoken in Japanese programs by Japanese actors? Yeah, I get that too.

      Here’s the part I don’t understand: every once in a while, an anime studio seems to hire what are obviously native English speakers for their series… but the dialogue is still hilarious Engrish. It’s not common, but just like a more extreme version of what Shamus described, it can lead to unabashed hilarity like this.

      I can’t help but imagine a room full of native speakers trying their best to act out lines that are clearly wrong with a straight face, in this bizarre context where apparently the showrunners care enough to cast for their specific regional accents for a Japanese TV production (this can’t be cheap, especially in my example), but somehow didn’t get the memo from their own actors that the English lines in their script are farcical nonsense.

      Consistency?
      As a rumour yes, I’ve heard of it. But no one’s actually seen or heard of it.

      1. Okay, “release the money into reality?” WTF? I kinda want context just so I can figure out what that was supposed to mean…

        It’s even weirder hearing two people speak when one is clearly not a native speaker and the native speaker’s repeating the nonsense instead of correcting it, asking for clarification, or something!

        1. Kestrellius says:

          It looks like it’s from a series called The Money and Soul of Possibility?

          Some sort of financial drama, I guess. Maybe something like Spice and Wolf, but without as many furries?

          1. Naota says:

            The difference is, Spice and Wolf is a story about actual mercantile problems in a medieval context. C is a story about… inflation (yes, as in the devaluing of currency) from a mystical realm, perpetuated by weird anime fights, causing nations to disappear through their stock markets. It tries very hard to seem like it has some point to make about modern financial markets, but is more often just throwing around financial terms like “angel backer” over top of this insane plot the director was aiming for.

            Is it entertaining, though? Well, it’s certainly weird enough to try, and free on Youtube, so…

      2. Erik says:

        Here’s the part I don’t understand: every once in a while, an anime studio seems to hire what are obviously native English speakers for their series… but the dialogue is still hilarious Engrish.

        After listening (to the first half, at least), I disagree about the native speakers part. Of the two main actors, the woman is blatantly not a native English speaker, while the man is also probably not one, though not quite as clearly so. The third speaker, at the UN-ish meeting, might be native or might just be fluent enough to not have a clear accent. I kinda stopped at that point, as I was too done to continue.

        The reality is that, since the clip was not a dub but was spoken English in the original Japanese script, they only had to speak English well enough for a Japanese audience to recognize it as English. (The Japanese subtitles would have conveyed all the information the original audience needed.) The fact that it was clownishly bad English was irrelevant.

          1. Kyrillos says:

            The first time I watched that scene, I would have sworn Kaji was not speaking english. Dear lord!

        1. Naota says:

          Except unlike 98% of the anime that comes out each season, somebody made the effort to cast native English speakers just for this scene, and even went so far as to make a clumsy attempt at matching their dialects to the different countries’ financial markets at the end.

          That’s what’s so strange to me – this isn’t the usual Japanese VA’s middling to poor Engrish you get in most anime. Somebody paid money specifically to get authentic English dialects for this scene, from actors who clearly know the language intimately… and then gave them a script that fails at basic grammar and made them read it word for word.

      3. 4th Dimension says:

        Hah. That’s nothing. I DARE you to figure out what these two “English” speakers are saying.
        Also NSFW warning since it features a nude woman walking about talking on the phone.

        Though the examples most dear to my heart are where for Nanoha franchise, Donna Burke was hired to voice the magical tool/combat AI Raising Heart, and pretty much every franchise entry has at least some line of RHs that has weirdly broken grammar and the like.

        But in the end it has it’s own bit of Narn Charm.

        1. Daimbert says:

          You mean “Narm Charm”. “Narn Charm” is what G’Kar used on Earth women …

    4. Xeorm says:

      At the same time, I look at so many other things that can come out of the corporate structure where people shouldn’t run into obvious issues, but do anyway. Example that best comes to mind is that NCIS episode where they have two people typing on the same keyboard to represent “hacking”. It’s nonsensical and surely someone along the line could have said something?

      1. Syal says:

        I remember reading something about TV show hacking being purposely terrible as a writing in-joke.

    5. Sven says:

      I lived in Japan for six years. The first two years, I lived in an international house. The common areas of that place were riddled with broken English signs, that were clearly not proofread by anyone.

      In an international house.

      With probably at least a dozen native English speakers, and dozens more native-level speakers, living there at any time.

      And no one could be bothered to ask anyone to proofread the damn signs!?

      The university too. Probably hundreds of foreign exchange students that speak English well, but we still had a sign on the toilet saying “please to use the toilet paper carefully.” What!? (They meant to say to use it sparingly, so as to not to clog up the pipes, but this just sounds to me like you have to be careful or it’ll bite your ass or something :D ).

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Don’t know about games since I always play those in English, but I’ve seen a bunch of subtitled movies with friends that are as bad as you describe. So it does go the other way too.

    1. Ander says:

      One of my favorite movie-watching experiences was live-action Speed Racer in China. The audio was English, and it had English subs. But the subs were clearly translated into English from the Chinese translation. Zero Wing got nothing on that.
      I can’t imagine games tend to get much more care.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        I wish more people went the Samurai Pizza Cats route of language localisation. It’d be more fun than someone reading out the nonsense in the screenshots.

        TL:DW version of the video/story: in the mid-90s a studio in North America bought the rights to air an anime cartoon – but unfortunately, there was no translation and no-one spoke any Japanese.
        So they just said ‘Fuck it’ and recorded new audio, based on what they thought was going on in any given scene. And then they added puns, 4th-wall-breaking humour, mocking the tropes and western-culture-specific jokes. The resulting programme is better than the original japanese version.
        (Well, maybe. I’ve never watched the original)

        Anyway, the moral of the story is that Samurai Pizza Cats rocks. Maybe because of puns and the way the voice actors sometimes sound flat-out drunk.

  11. Joshua says:

    Sounds like LOTRO (and probably a lot of other games) that want you to quickly power through the lower levels and get to end-game. Due to popular demand, LOTRO actually introduced a (purchasable) pocket item that stopped your xp gain while wearing it so people could go through content at the original intended levels.

  12. Hal says:

    “What should we call our mining company?”

    “How about, ‘Node Management?'”

    “Brilliant.”

    1. Mephane says:

      Nah, node managers in Black Desert server a specific game mechanical purpose. It’s not their in-universe job title. I can’t recall the exact details, but basically a network of nodes (and connections between those nodes) is laid upon the map, you can activate these nodes (but not all of them, it requires a finite resource that is reclaimed when you deactivate it), which can buff stuff like loot drop rate in that area, reduce certain transport fees, stuff like that.
      And the node manager is the NPC you have to interact with to do that. Think of it more like a node management UI disguised as an NPC.

  13. Vermander says:

    I wonder if anyone has ever made a fantasy game using American regional accents for different races/cultures? Some accents, like Brooklyn or South Boston might too familiar for most people to take seriously, but I bet you could make more obscure dialects like Boston Brahmin, South Carolina Lowcountry, or Western Pennsylvania work.

    I always thought Texas accents would work great in a fantasy setting too. I can easily imagine a veteran warrior sounding like Kris Kristofferson or Waylon Jennings.

    1. Mephane says:

      This is indeed done sometimes, but often not consistently. In World Of Warcaft, of example, the dwarves (iirc) speak with a Scottish accent. Probably not all of them, but that is how they are intended to sound like.

    2. BlueBlazeSpear says:

      Reading this, all I can think about is the awful attempts at Boston accents that happened in Fallout 4.

    3. ColeusRattus says:

      Bethesda, for some odd reason, used californian children to voice the children in Skyrim. So their accents sound nothing like the nordish/germanic sounding adults…

      1. Viktor says:

        Children are ridiculously expensive to use for any sort of acting. I’m sure they cut every corner they could when it came to kids’ voices. That’s not Bethesda being lazy, it’s just the nature of children in acting.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Why did they get children to do it in the first place?A skilled adult voice actor can imitate children well,and pick an accent you need them to.

    4. Joe Informatico says:

      Allegedly, the Seanchan, the invaders from across the ocean in The Wheel of Time book series, are supposed to have Texan accents. And the dwarves with Scottish accents trope is so ingrained in medieval European fantasy, it was apparently a big deal that the dwarves in Dragon Age: Origins speak with a Midwestern accent, or maybe it’s a central Canadian accent, which is similar. (I really want to trace the origin of the Scottish dwarves thing, because it sure as hell didn’t come from Tolkien. My research points to Raymond E. Feist’s Midkemia novels, especially the video game adaptation Betrayal at Krondor which is apparently the first time someone gave a voiced dwarf character a Scottish accent?)

      And I wouldn’t mind seeing more of this sort of thing in fantasy either. In secondary-world fantasy with fictional settings, why are modern UK accents always privileged?

  14. Tonich says:

    I wonder how many English-language games get to the non-English parts of the world and end up in this same condition?

    Apparently they were willing to pay for tons of voice acting and a huge variety of characters as performed by industry professionals, but they handed the translation job off to an amateur? That’s a very odd corner to cut.

    Actually, that’s exactly how they do game localizations in Russia. No decent editing job or voice direction. Okay, I admit, lately there’s appeared a bit of quality assurance (compared to a few years ago), but it all still feels sub-par, especially when one can compare it to the original.
    Also, a boy with an old woman’s voice? Pffft. The Russian localization of Dragon Age: Origins had a character that changed voice actor within the same dialogue. Also, a man with a female voice (referring to himself as a woman, too) who kept speaking for, like, five seconds after he’d been knocked unconscious. Then there are lots of voice actors’ bloopers left in the game, like actors muttering and even swearing under their breath after a failed line, then reading the line anew – dozens of them. And I’m not even talking about the acting itself. Mind, these weren’t amateurs either, most of those people do fine jobs dubbing Hollywood films, for instance.

    1. Olivier FAURE says:

      I wonder if there’s a market there. Like, maybe finding really popular games with lame translations and selling better translations somehow? Probably not, negotiating with the editors would be a nightmare.

      1. Tonich says:

        Actually, that would be an interesting scheme, but no. The sad thing, few players seem to care. Like, while writing my previous comment, I looked up a few vidieos with those DA:O bloopers on YouTube and read the comments (I know, I know, I should never do that)… So, the consensus there was “Screw you, better this than reading subtitles; it’s because of you purists we receive so many undubbed game localizations!” – and so on.
        Besides, selling something to a Russian is not an easy fit, haha. :)

      2. TheJungerLudendorff says:

        I’m sure it would be pirated to high heaven.
        Actually selling it might be a bit harder.

    2. Liessa says:

      The Russian localization of Dragon Age: Origins had a character that changed voice actor within the same dialogue.

      TES IV: Oblivion had that even in the English release, due to some conversations being randomly assembled from lines spoken by different actors.

      1. Tonich says:

        Oh, right, I do remember it now, thanks!

      2. BlueHorus says:

        Ah yes, the worst beggar in the world. I remember her – every now and then she would lapse into Posh Mode, making me wonder if she was just a noble own on her luck, and a really bad con artist.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          Clumsy edit: Down on her luck.
          Fail.

  15. Thomas says:

    How often are official translations bad? I would guess that it’s easier to translate out of English as the better translation is from your 2nd language into your first.

  16. Brandon says:

    I had the same overleveling problem in The Witcher 3. I loved doing all the side quests I could find, and suddenly I couldn’t die if I wanted to and I was one-shotting all enemies. Ruined the game.

    But then I found out about level scaling, built into the game! I hit that button and instantly all enemies were pretty much around my level, I could die again, and my experience was saved!

    Nice work, CD Projekt Red.

  17. KarmaTheAlligator says:

    This actually bit me while writing this series. I saw I could buy a pack of game items that included “character slot coupons“. I thought it was a pretty good price for multiple character slots. It wasn’t until I got the goods that I discovered that pluralized word was incorrect. It just comes with one

    That is the kind of thing that shouldn’t be allowed to happen when buying something for real money. Do the devs not care, or is it that not enough people complained about it for them to realise the problem?

  18. ColeusRattus says:

    Concerning localisation: being an Austrian, all the media, including games, usually come dubbed in German. For movies and TV shows, it’s not that bad. The English and German are similar enough and the industry has three quartes of a century experience, so the voices usually are somewhat similar, the dialogue retains the meaning without being garbled german and to boot, the voice actors and writers manage to sync the german words up with the english mouth movements as good as possible.

    Games on the other hand, are still cringeworthy in German. The voice actors – even the good ones doing big hollywood movies usually – get bad direction and mistranslations of idioms are common. So I try to avoid German versions if possible. But that’s just my opinion, most Germanophones don’t mind the flawed translations at all. Heck, most don’t even notice the flaws because they don’t know better.

    Admittedly, it has become easier ever since digital distribution became a thing (old physical releases more often than not just came in German, due to disk space restraints), but some distributors – like Bethesda with their New Wolfenstein Series – region lock the language. So, the New Wolfenstein Series is locked to be German for me -except the firts part.

    Wow, that popst got longer and rantier than planned.

    And a last sideonote: back i the eighties and early nineties, adventure games from Lucasarts and Sierra with their simple “subject – verb – object” syntax helped me learn english a great deal back when I was a ten year old boy.

    1. jedi93 says:

      As a German, may I ask you: What about RPGs? You play them in English too or not? Because I think it wouldn’t be really immersive if everything is in English and you’re playing that for like 100 hours or so.

      I can understand English fine, it’s just, well, not my mother tongue…

      1. ColeusRattus says:

        Yupp, everything in english for me. I only consume dubbed versions of any media either as a concession to others watching with me or because I don’t know the original language, and subtitles are not an option. The exception to the rule are german made RPGs like Gothic or Riven.
        Crysis though, depite made in Germany, is clearly made in English, thus I play it in this language.

        But then, not wanting to brag, my english has been better than that of my university level teachers. All thanks to non-localized vodeo games and international online gaming!

        1. jedi93 says:

          hm, interesting.

          Another question: Do you play with subtitles? I mostly use them even if it’s in German (in story-heavy games atleast).

    2. Kylroy says:

      “…the voice actors and writers manage to sync the german words up with the english mouth movements as good as possible.”

      As a monolingual American, the only time I saw a dub try to do this was on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and the result was *awful*; lines were dramatically different than the (I assume more faithful) captions, and much more awkward.

      I think Americans generally prefer captions because if we’re consuming foreign language media, it’s because we deliberately sought out *foreign language media*; there’s very little American pop culture not primarily in English.

      1. ColeusRattus says:

        I think getting used to it also helps. A big part of popular media is dubbed in german speaking countries, because the market is big enough for a proffessional industry to exist. So we are used to seeing dubbed TV shows and movies, thus it seems normal to us.

        1. Zagzag says:

          German also has an entire industry of experienced dubbing studios who are good at making things match up. I’d imagine that the same level of expertise simply doesn’t exist for English dubbing due to the relative lack of demand.

  19. Mechaninja (@mechakisc) says:

    “I find the developer’s apathy towards these sorts of shortcomings to be off-putting”

    I’m playing the PVE portion of Fortnite, and I’m convinced that not one decision maker involved in that game has ever played WoW, or Battlefield, or COD, or anything. I love the PVE and especially the building, but there are all kinds of (especially UI related) things like inventory management that feel like the decision was made by someone involved in early Nintendo (pre-64) development got transported through time and put in charge of this game. Over and over again I think, “this has been solved, why do I have to put up with this?”

    Chat is a mess, there’s no trade interface but you can drop things on the ground for each other (with inevitable results), there are no simple ways to report bad actors (you have to go to their website), and the list goes on.

    Reading these last two posts about BDO makes me feel the same way I feel when I’m hip deep in the “wait why didn’t you just do what [some other developer] did for this in their widely popular game that I know good and well you have played?”

    1. Galad says:

      Probably more of a case of Epic only caring about their biggest cash cow, Fortnite battle royale.

  20. Narkis says:

    I’m glad I never started playing, any one of these would be aggravating.

    Next week we’ll get to the more serious gripes.

    That, at least, will be entertaining.

  21. Lun says:

    About the XP issue: the problem is that it’s NOT broken by giving too much XP, like you seem to think.
    These are not meant to be videogames, but more like slot machines. You pull the trigger and see what you get, and even if it’s very boring and usually unrewarding, some people get very addicted to it.

    So, unfortunately, I’m afraid their XP system is working as intended. That’s why I don’t like mmorpg stuff.

  22. Jabberwok says:

    I was going to start playing this, now I’m not so sure..

    Seems crazy that we have to mod the game to hear the original audio. That right there might be the deal breaker for me. My tolerance for bad writing is much higher if I don’t have to hear it spoken.

  23. ThaneofFife says:

    Shamus, You mentioned that you don’t make a tangible difference in zones in WoW. That hasn’t been true for several expansions now. I haven’t played WoW Legion, but even in Warlords of Draenor, going through the main story quest line for a zone caused visible, permanent changes in the zone. Buildings would get built, enemy bases destroyed, terrain changed–stuff like that.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      Could be that a couple of Blizzard employees read the tale of Dethbringer and learned something…

  24. 4th Dimension says:

    The translation thing kinda reminded me of my own translation flubs in my fan translation of a game (Gears of Destiny). While I have the excuse that I’m not the most proficient at Japanese and am not a native English speaker while doing a translation from JP into EN, there are quite a few lines there that should be touched more.

    That being said, the major problem with translation, ESPECIALLY with translating things from languages with SIGNIFICANTLY different syntax and grammar than the destination language, is that it’s not enough that you are proficient in both languages. You need to be a WRITTER to boot.
    This is because when the syntax is different, most of the time you can’t just translate it word for word and then maybe touch it up a bit. You must understand the line and the WRITE (meaning invent) a line that both fits the intended meaning[1] and the intended tone[3].

    And adding those together and finding persons capable of BOTH is quite a problem.

    So what happens here is probably that there were time and budget constraints, so the translators just did basically more or less a direct translation, without trying to make it prettier to get it over with.

    [1] also you will often need to IMAGINE what the writer INTENDED to mean here, because different grammars and syntaxes might allow hiding and obfuscating different things[2]
    [2] In my case of JP > EN. The fact that Japanese syntax tends to be Subject Object verb while English is Subject Verb Object and the fact that in Japanese you can pretty much drop nearly any part of the sentence that can be intuited from context has made for some FUN connundrums.
    [3] English for example doesn’t really support polite and such language, and a lot of such nuance tends to be lost in JP>EN translation.

    1. KarmaTheAlligator says:

      While I have the excuse that I’m not the most proficient at Japanese and am not a native English speaker while doing a translation from JP into EN

      Which makes me wonder, why do it, then? Was it just a way to improve your skills with both languages? Because I imagine the end result cannot have been satisfactory (and maybe it’s just me, but I wouldn’t be able to settle for unsatisfactory work).

      1. 4th Dimension says:

        It’s couple of things really. I REALLY liked a franchise yet this part I was curious about nobody was localizing, and while we had rough summaries of what happened in it, I wanted to actually experience it in it’s entirety.
        And it has been like 5-6 years since this came out, so it wasn’t going to be translated/localised likely ever.

        I am a MUCH better user of English, than JP, so I wasn’t afraid my English would be incomprehensible.

        I tried translating something else JP>EN before it (previous game) using a combination of Google Tanslate[0] and dictionaries, and the result wasn’t entirely satisfactory, BUT working out the kinks of the process has led me to tools that could help me[1], and I learned the basics of grammar.

        By now I have a pretty good grasp of grammar and syntax or at least how to look for the stuff that’s strange, and I have roped in people who know the language to help me figure out some of the seemingly wierder lines, AND someone to run the EN output past to make it less rough sounding in English.
        So I don’t think the end result is entirely unsatisfactory. Would I have liked for this to have been done by someone more competent than me, and me just enjoy the translation, yes. But that wasn’t happening. Also…

        At the end of the day, the second reason is that it has been fun. Each sentence is a puzzle in a way. A simpler or more complex puzzle and so that also stimulates my puzzle solving part of my brain. The bit that coding used to stimulate.
        Also by now I find the language, at least the written portion[3], kinda intriguing.

        [0] Yeah, yeah. It’s terrible if you take it 100% for granted. Especially with context sensitive languages like Japanese that might leave out subjects or objects and rely on you figuring out them from context, and Gtranslate will then just randomly invent what the subject (often I) or object is. Also it’s pretty much useless for dialects, since it seems most of the texts fed to it were in standard Tokiyo-ben.
        BUT, it does have it’s moments when it can figure general stock phrases and structures. Then again it’s still the weapon of last resort and you will still need to check up on it’s ideas. And by now I’d rather ask someone who actually knows than role a die on it getting “bright” ideas.
        [1] http://www.jisho.org[2], ejje.weblio.jp and tangorin.com to name a few.
        [2] This one is kinda crucial to get around Japanese not using punctuation to separate words.
        [3] While I can translate 90% of what’s written, I’m totally stumped if I had to deal with oral bit, since when pronouncing things natives tend to swallow sylibles and such making transcribing dialogue impossible to me.

  25. 4th Dimension says:

    OFFTOPIC:
    Shamus you might want to check the forums because there is an usability issue tied with the header images on the top of the page.
    Basically those that don’t fit the window width get hidden and there is nothing to indicate that there are actually more of them than are being shown. This has led to people not knowing that the forums have moved.

    For reference, this is what ALL the header images look like:
    https://i.imgur.com/SlIimHN.png
    And to take this image I had to stretch my Chrome window across two screens.

  26. Zaxares says:

    The levelling issue is interesting, because that’s the exact opposite problem of what I had in Guild Wars 2. For those who haven’t played GW2, the game has a scaling system whereby if you’re level 80 and you happen to revisit a level 40 map, the game will scale your stats down so they are roughly on par with what a level 40 would have. Trouble is, this system assumes that you’re also wearing equipment that’s matched to your level, so if you’re a level 80, but you’re still wearing level 50 gear, then your stats when downscaled are actually drastically lower than what a level 40 wearing level 40 gear should have.

    This resulted in the situation where I had tremendous difficulty beating normal encounters because I have the habit of going through and completing every single sidequest in a game before moving on to the next map, resulting in situations where I was grossly overlevelled for the area, but because the enemies are all dropping low-level loot, my equipment was woefully substandard and my stats were thus insufficient for dealing with many encounters.

  27. Avi Stryfe says:

    The game is awesome I dunno what you are talking about. It’s the BEST MMORPG on the market. It’s just not what YOU expect it to be. Voice acting is your only real gripe here..? Seems real pathetic. You should stop doing reviews. You aren’t good at it.
    You pointed out one or two things that YOU didn’t like. Yes condemn the game for that. Totally reasonable.
    Been playing for 2 years and 4 months now and the game has turned itself around from launch and become phenominal.
    Is it a game for everyone? Probs not. But I don’t think it deserves condemnation because of voice acting or translations (just fyi they’ve fixed most of the translations since launch). Voice acting is stupidly unimportant anyhow. Only idiot perfectionists care about that and honestly…there probably isn’t a single game on the market you will ever have positive reviews about because these worthless little things bother you so much.
    Play the game again.
    There are places where things are difficult to kill…you just refused to put in any effort and get to them.

    1. 4th Dimension says:

      Are you that offensive and stupid, or do you give it your all and train REALLY hard at it?

    2. Shamus says:

      If you didn’t like this article then I don’t know what the next two are going to do to you.

      I’m glad you’re able to enjoy this awkwardly broken game.

    3. Jabberwok says:

      “This is not a game for everyone, but YOU should enjoy it.”

      Um. What?

  28. Jabberwok says:

    Well, just got into it today, since there’s a free trial. So far, the writing is all nonsense. Many of the lines don’t even sound related to each other, even in cutscenes. But it’s goofy enough that I can basically ignore it. Enemies stand around in groups waiting for me to hit them. Maybe that’s normal for MMOs, I don’t play them often. There was a floating wagon and horse in the first area. All of the female PCs have the same doll face, with oddly shaped eyes. It’s the exact same face that you’ll see in all of the plastic surgery ads on the Seoul subway.

    But kind of fun so far, though. Might keep playing…

  29. mopey bloke says:

    Now I’ll have to wait a week for the serious griping for which I read internet articles.

  30. The Rocketeer says:

    The Black Spirit, visible only to you (And I suppose, in a meta-sense, visible to every other player in the sense that everyone has a Black Spirit.), alludes to some sort of bargain.

    Now, there’s a fun hook for you: a world in which everyone is jealously guarding a secret compact with a single entity claiming to give them an irresistible boon or advantage over everyone else, for which they sacrificed God-knows-what.

    There are cutscenes. I’m not crazy about the idea of cutscenes in an online game, but I’m willing to give them a chance if they add something to the leveling and looting.

    The cutscenes of Guild Wars 2 had one single purpose, and an indispensable purpose at that: to show my character leading the plot with no shirt and a pair of aviator sunglasses. Horace, we hardly deserved ye.

    1. Jabberwok says:

      “Now, there’s a fun hook for you: a world in which everyone is jealously guarding a secret compact with a single entity claiming to give them an irresistible boon or advantage over everyone else, for which they sacrificed God-knows-what.”

      Sounds like the Outsider from Dishonored.

  31. Dreadjaws says:

    I wonder how many English-language games get to the non-English parts of the world and end up in this same condition?

    This is very, very rare these days in latin america, fortunately. There is the occasional game that uses a direct machine translation, like Dungeon Defenders or Energy Hook, and that is super annoying. In the case of the former, it’s not a problem because you can choose the language. In the case of the latter, it’s definitely a problem because it forces the game to use the system language. Why would anyone force a language when they didn’t even bother to properly translate for it is puzzling and irritating.

    And yes, I know I can change the system language to english if I want to play in that language, but I shouldn’t have to do that! Specially every single time I want to play that game.

    I never experienced a bad translation coupled with voice acting, though. Then again, I simply don’t play games that force spanish dubbing on me. I prefer to play with original voices. In the few rare cases where a game tried to force that on me I fumbled with the config files and regedit entries to get it back to the original audio. I really, really don’t like dubbing.

    1. Addie says:

      You’ve missed out on the Spanish translation of the first Dark Souls, then. Seems to have been translated one sentence at a time, with no reference to what surrounds it. No-one seems to have told the translators whether English ‘you’ refers to you-singular, you-plural, or you-impersonal, often changing within one speech – makes the mysterious world of Dark Souls that bit more unfathomable. I also like how they’ve labelled the gesture ‘to bow’ as ‘arco’ (longbow kind of bow) rather than ‘inclinarse’, and how the gaping dragon is ‘boquiabierto’ (open-mouthed, like dumbstruck). Some of the desciptions are compressed beyond all reason too – Black Iron Tarkus ends up as ‘Tarkus H. Neg.’ – good luck guessing that.

      The later games aren’t such a trainwreck, though – I kind of prefer the Dancer being the ‘Bailarina del Valle Boreal’, for instance, for its alliteration.

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