Thursday, November 18, 2010
As seen on Siliconera's site in their recent devotion to all things dev blogs, Tom gives some friendly (and practical!) advice on how to get into the gaming industry. Take heart that your love for all things nerdy and wonderful could one day land you a gig at a crazy outfit like XSEED.
Greetings, Earthlings – and other Siliconera readers!
My name is Tom Lipschultz, and I’m a localization specialist at XSEED Games. I’m also XSEED’s resident Falcom fanboy, since long before getting this job…which makes it all the more awesome that I’m now the dude in charge of all the text you read when you play our Ys releases!
Which begs the question: How does one wind up getting paid for haphazardly throwing Castlevania references into games he loves?
Well…let’s find out, shall we?
First things first, you’ll need to learn Japanese (assuming you’re interested in localization, anyway). College classes are probably the best place to start, but there are also plenty of correspondence courses out there, too…and you should never underestimate the value of an import RPG and/or untranslated anime DVD! I learned half my Japanese through college, and taught myself the other half by playing an eclectic assortment of games including PopoloCrois Monogatari I & II, Xenosaga Episode I, Moon: Remix RPG Adventure and Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, all in Japanese.
Next, build up a portfolio. I did a two-year stint as an assistant English teacher in Japan through the JET Programme (an experience I would heartily recommend to anyone who wants to earn a living in localization – though I hear JET’s going the way of the dodo bird, so you might have to settle for an eikaiwa position (look it up!)), then a bit of freelance work through sites like translatorscafe.com while also fan-translating anime, movies and games on the side (51 episodes of PopoloCrois anime and the first Higurashi no Naku Koro ni live-action movie, among others).
I also lucked into a game design position at one of EA’s studios for a good, long while – which began as a Japanese-language customer service position for an MMORPG. So yeah, that probably helped matters a little! The lesson is, always keep your options open, I guess, since you never know how handy some seemingly unrelated bit of experience may prove to be in the end.
Finally, become very, very active in the gaming community. Write eloquently-written game reviews, post on message boards and email game companies like an annoying git whenever something new is announced that you’d really, really like to see one of them release (but make sure to use polite language, proper grammar and lots of compelling arguments as to why you think Game A would be a worthwhile investment for Company B – regardless of appearances, your emails ARE being read by someone, and if that someone is impressed with you, he/she/it WILL remember your name!).
Oh, and send out your resume. EVERYWHERE. Don’t be picky – just plop that baby down whenever and wherever you can! Staple it to prospective employers’ foreheads, if you must – just as long as you don’t draw TOO much blood in the process!
Eventually, you might just get lucky and have a company like XSEED Games take note of your crazy fandom for something they’ve recently acquired…and with all your other qualifications and such, they might just be like, “BRING US THIS MAN/WOMAN/OTHER!” And then in you go!
I count myself very, very lucky to have gotten where I am, and I hope my dedication to the Ys titles shines through. I was still getting my feet wet with Ys SEVEN, but I really fell into a good groove with Ys: The Oath in Felghana and Ys I & II Chronicles, and I really can’t wait for all y’all to play them, and review them and LOVE THEM AS IF THEY WERE YOUR CHILDREN. Because let me tell you, I’m really proud of my editing on them, and I think any and all Ys fans are going to be absolutely thrilled with how they turned out. And I hope to see more fans such as myself get hired by game companies in the future, because I think dedication makes all the difference between quality work and soulless corporate mash.
Felghana’s release is today, folks. Don’t forget to pick up your copy! I want to read some glowing reviews before the week is out…so get to it! Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!
Below you shall find localization expert and Falcom madman Tom Lipschultz waxing poetic about our most recent offering, Ys: The Oath in Felghana! It released Nov. 2nd in shiny Limited Edition, Standard and PSN downloadable glory. The blog he did for the game ran on the Playstation Blog site and may yet tip some fence-sitters over to the good side of the force. Read his words and be convinced!
Hello again, discerning PlayStation Blog readers! Localization specialist Tom here from XSEED Games, to talk to you a bit about Ys: The Oath in Felghana – sure to be the greatest portable gaming experience of 2010! Ys: The Oath in Felghana will arrive on UMD and PSN for the PSP this November.
Some of you may already be familiar with our previous release, Ys SEVEN, and may be wondering how Ys: The Oath in Felghana compares. Well … it’s hard to quantify, really! I’ve previously stated in a few interviews that Ys SEVEN is to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night as Ys: The Oath in Felghana is to Super Metroid, and I really think that’s the best way to explain it. One is a lengthy, chaotic, sprawling experience full of more items and abilities than you could possibly know what to do with; and the other is a much tighter, more streamlined affair, where every single item and ability has a specific purpose and everything fits together like a finely-crafted puzzle. Ultimately, they’re both very different games (despite obviously sharing numerous characteristics, not the least of which is protagonist Adol Christin!), and the preferred title between the two is going to vary quite wildly from person to person.
Me? I prefer Oath in Felghana (by a very small margin, mind you!). And to explain why, I’m actually going to be bringing the Metroid and Castlevania comparisons to a whole other level. Ever hear the term “Metroidvania game?”
Well, that’s pretty much what Ys: The Oath in Felghana is – more or less. Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m NOT claiming it’s an open-ended nonlinear exploration-fest … but it DOES follow the basic structure of this much-beloved action subgenre: you explore your surroundings, find new items or abilities, and use those to push on farther than you ever could before. It’s all one map that’s constantly ballooning around you, allowing you access to places that were previously well beyond your reach.
The level design isn’t as labyrinthine as one would expect from a Metroid or new-age Castlevania title, but it does have that same sense of atmospheric wonderment—that lonely, haunting feel of being by yourself in a hostile land full of crazed monsters, with only your wits and your arsenal of special moves to get you through. You’ll find yourself constantly being taunted by treasure chests that are just out of reach – on a platform too high, too far, blocked off or otherwise rendered totally inaccessible to you … for now. And you’ll file that location away in the back of your mind, knowing that eventually you’ll find a way to obtain that distant treasure … some way … somehow …
And really, that’s the key to this game’s brilliance: its spectacular level designs. Every corner of Felghana is unique and well-conceived, with ample branching paths, pitfalls, puzzles and traps to keep you on your toes as you hesitantly turn the next corner, unaware of what horrors may await you beyond.
And oh, the horrors you’ll find! For those of you who started this series with Ys SEVEN, I implore ye take heed: Ys SEVEN is arguably one of the easiest games in the series, while Oath in Felghana is almost certainly one of the hardest. If you’re expecting a 1:1 correlation between the four difficulty levels in each game (and note that Felghana also adds a “Very Easy” and unlockable “Inferno” difficulty on top of the existing Easy/Normal/Hard/Nightmare selection), you’ll become well-acquainted with that Game Over screen, for sure.
For here in the depths of this forgotten lore, you risk a gruesome death with every new frontier you explore — and likely not one you’d ever considered before! But if these challenges you can overcome, the sense of accomplishment is … second to none! (Hey, it’s a half-rhyme. Half-rhymes count!)
If you’re worried that the game will be TOO hard for you, though … don’t be! As with Ys SEVEN, there’s an unlimited Retry feature that lets you challenge bosses as many times as it takes to conquer them, and even retry individual rooms until you can traverse them in one piece. It’s the perfect mix of cruel and merciful, making for a wonderfully satisfying (and amazingly non-frustrating) overall experience.
I don’t think I can possibly do justice to this game with a single blog entry, honestly. It’s truly one of the most perfect, flawless gaming experiences of the last decade, as far as I’m concerned. It’s not a long game, nor is it a complicated one. But it hits all the right notes, and is genuinely enjoyable from start to finish … and might just make you want to keep on playing it, over and over again, until you beat all six difficulty levels and conquer the infamous Boss Rush mode! Masterpieces like this are the reason I got into video games in the first place, and if you can only play one title this winter, I urge you to make it Ys: The Oath in Felghana. Unless you hate fast-paced action, thrilling exploration, genuine challenge (without frustration) and/or kickin’ rock music, I can’t imagine ANYONE being disappointed with this purchase … Especially if you pick up the limited edition, which is worth it for the soundtrack CD alone!
So go place your preorders! You wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on Super Metroid back in 1994, nor Castlevania: Symphony of the Night in 1997 … and you’re not going to want to miss out on Ys: The Oath in Felghana in 2010, either. Trust me! It’s THAT GOOD!
I am Jessica Chavez, an Editor at XSEED Games, and Siliconera foolishly granted me space on their site to ramble on about things marginally related to the products we put out. This is the blog that was posted on their nefarious site on Oct. 6, 2010. (My how time flies...)
If you can make it past this introduction, I promise you that you will find in-game secrets/localization-related chicanery, insider tell-alls of Oktoberfest and possibly some amusing doodles of our day-to-day struggles with office printer, DP-MCW210 B/W. I may even disclose what’s in the company mini-fridge, but I make no promises.
For the first post on this mini-blog I’d like to talk about dedication to the ‘craft’ and a recent pledge XSEED made to the fans. A few days ago, on our Twitter account, we declared:
We at XSEED are always looking for ways to improve our localization efforts, so for more accurate/faithful renderings of niche RPGs, for the fans, and for great justice, away we went…
We learned some useful tidbits from our completely non-scientific (and somewhat sacrificial, at least in terms of brain cells lost) research trip to Oktoberfest. Let me share with you our findings and how they may affect our future localizations of tavern NPC dialogue.
1. “Glug” and “Gulp,” the most commonly used drinking sounds, are in reality more like “Nnnghk” and “Gggghhgggghnnn…snork.” Expect to see these in our future games.
2. The most common phrases heard in a drinking setting were not, in fact, “Barkeep, another round!” or “*hic*,” but “Where did my bratwurst go?” and “Hey, I’m not done drinking your beer yet.”
3. Joyful declarations overheard at Oktoberfest that may soon make an appearance in an in-game tavern near you are, “I drank so fast it came out my nose!” and “This beer makes you look good!”
4. The sound of despair when someone knocks over your freshly purchased beer lies somewhere between a howl and a sob. (We’re still mulling over the exact spelling of such an utterance.)
5. In a nod to the ever-present depressed NPC sitting in a corner lost in his personal tragedies, a fellow editor at another company noted that his beer tasted of “Dirty, dirty shame.”
And in a wholly unrelated to localization observation…
6. Many members of Aksys games can be identified by their fashionable glasses, NISA always has a large contingent of beautiful women, and XSEED wins the spirit prize for having the most people willing to do the chicken dance.
So, what does this mean for our current games? Well, Ys: The Oath in Felghana’s already wrapped up, but I’ve been assured that NPC Randolph shall slur convincingly and meander verbally through other unpronounceable NPC names. The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky is still underway, however, so expect a couple of choice lines to sneak their way in, and if you know any of the game characters well, I’m sure you’ll guess who is referred to as “Booze-Sponge.”
Next time on XSEED’s mini-blog: I will answer any localization/game questions you may have and reveal what’s in the mini-fridge. Also, feel free to submit any ideas for what you want to see in the blog. If left to my own devices, I will probably continue to wax poetic about random office/Trails in the Sky stuff and you’ll have to wait ‘til Tom (our translator extraordinaire and Falcom fanboy) to hear some really juicy Ys game stuff.
Jessica Chavez is a localization expert with a predilection for exaggerated statements and wearing expressive boxes on her head. For two years she has been an Editor at XSEED Games and is personally responsible for insinuating that the Knight in Half-Minute Hero did something inappropriate with a duck.
Monday, August 9, 2010
My name is Tom Lipschultz, and I’m XSEED’s resident Falcom nut (also, one of their localization specialists!). I’ve been bugging Ken at XSEED via email for years now to localize games from Falcom’s extensive catalogue of awesomeness, and was always really pleased with the detailed responses he’d send back. Our emails bloomed into entire conversation threads, and eventually, once XSEED and Falcom established their partnership, Ken offered me a job – which I gladly accepted!
Now, all your Falcom scripts are belong to me. Mwa ha ha!
Ys SEVEN will be the first game released as part of the XSEED/Falcom partnership (a.k.a. the GREATEST TEAM-UP EVER), and is currently scheduled to ship on August 17th, 2010. In North America, three versions of the game will be available: the UMD version ($29.99), the PSN download version (also $29.99), and of course, the faaaaabulous limited edition box-set version ($49.99), which will include the game on UMD, a ludicrously gorgeous cloth map of Europe (not our Europe, but Ys series Europe, which is pronounced “eh-ROH-pay”), a one-disc “Ys SEVEN Musical Selections” CD, and a 60+ page art book containing various works from Ys SEVEN, Ys: The Oath in Felghana and Ys I & II (as well as a brief cameo by some Ys VI characters).
Ys SEVEN will also be available in Europe, but only as a PSN download – and I’m afraid the price is yet to be determined. Sorry, European fans! (Europan fans?)
Now, the all-important question: Why should you buy the game?
Well, how about because it’s AWESOME?!?! Seriously, if you’ve never played a Falcom game before, you’re about to be blown away by this one. Falcom games – and Ys games, especially – are generally characterized by three things:
• Insanely fast-paced, action-packed gameplay (Turn-based? HA! Ys eats turn-based RPGs for breakfast, then regurgitates them and launches them at beings of ancient evil JUST BECAUSE IT CAN!)
• 80s power rock- and metal-inspired soundtracks, often performed in the studio by Falcom’s in-house band (I dare ANYONE to hear the riff at the beginning of Ys SEVEN’s main boss theme “Vacant Interference” and NOT get totally pumped for the battle ahead!)
• “Less is more” storylines, with a greater focus on fun gameplay and interesting, well-developed settings than on plot twists and epic ironies (Going along with the music, think of Ys as the rock opera to every other RPG series’ novella!)
With 9 playable characters (in parties of three at a time), 98 unique skills (84 of which have three visually and functionally unique variations apiece – and remember, this is an action RPG, so these skills aren’t just for show!), a robust crafting system (that’ll keep you scouring the landscape and searching every nook and cranny of every dungeon!), and a story that’ll easily last you anywhere from 30 to 90 hours (my final playtime was 72 hours, but I’ve been playing a lot since then to level-up my skills and craft the best armor for everyone, putting me well over the 80-hour mark, with tons more yet to do!), Ys SEVEN is easily the best portable game on the market… or will be, once it’s on the market next month!
Get yourself ready to finally play an Ys game straight from Falcom’s own studio (rather than a third-party interpretation of an Ys game, which is all we’ve ever gotten in English until now!), and put in your orders for the LE box a.s.a.p., since they may sell out once everyone in the world realizes this game is awesomeness incarnate and rushes out to buy it.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Today’s blog will be a mixed bag of “The XSEED Checklist,” an Onii hunt, a nod to what should be an internet sensation and finally, the soon-to-be feature of every blog from here on out, “Things Overheard in the Office.”
#1 The XSEED Checklist
Here at XSEED we generally follow a policy of “respect your source material,” “don’t let redwire eat your email” and “don’t leave your lunch in the fridge so long that it becomes like the sentient lobster in Cowboy BeBop.” Regarding the “respect your source material” part of the policy, I try hard to keep any rewrites/edits I make to the game text fairly normal, but sometimes the urge to put in a little humor is too strong to ignore. My boss usually manages to curb the flow of nods to the Rejected Cartoons by: Don Hertzfeldt, but I am allowed some fun. This photo shows my current list of delights that I like to use.
#2 Onii Hunt
These cute, squishable Oniis from Little King’s Story are quickly becoming the XSEED mascot and have forcefully taken over the waiting room. How many can you spot? And, do you have one of these devilish Onii? If you do and can take a picture of it in some location (your room, outside, a restaurant, etc) and send it in I’ll make a video out of it to show on the site!
#3 Fragile Dreams: A Boy’s Quest to Get Some (and yes, I mean that in the bad, bad way)
This video is wrong in so many ways. It’s so wrong in fact, that I’ve watched it over and over again and it still fills me with inappropriate glee. I encourage you to watch it in celebration of Fragile Dream’s release.
But [WARNING]! This is not an official video from XSEED by any means. We do not own it and it does not represent the actual contents of Fragile Dreams, it's just a spoof video. Also, you might find the contents offensive and it’s not recommended for anyone under the age of 13. Watch at your own discretion.
By youtube user: Loudynoises (we salute you!)
#4 And finally, something I hope to include in all the blogs from now on: Things Overheard in the Office.
Translator: How would you write the sound of an explosion of…people?
Editor: Is it meaty?
Translator: Blooosh? Not something more like…[insert gurgling spray sound]
Editor: I don’t know how to spell that.
(after a minute's contemplation of all the phonetical possibilities of meat spraying…)
Editor: Do you think your face could actually be cut with the "self-destructed" remains of another human being?
(moments of silence followed by everyone quietly ignoring me)
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Yes. Oh, tale of a nearly nude hero that rushes about in his unmentionables, how can I convince the masses of your pixilated-worthiness? That your lovingly parodied adventures to remain clothed will be worth a purchase? Earlier thoughts on this matter were to somehow affix $$$ to each box, but the DL version sort of made this endeavor...difficult.
I also toyed with the idea of some kind of sexy DLC incentive, but to keep this baby out of the hands of the children would be a disservice to mankind. (Sorry, ladies. That content is all for the next installment: One-Minute Man.)
You might find that strange (the wanting to attach monies), and while I do want the game to sell, I'm more desperate for people to play enough that they get to read the description of the "Ultimate Evil Lord." I had to sneak that treasure in!
Back to the pitch. So ladies and gentlemen, if you are on the fence about getting Half-Minute Hero allow me to entice you with some of its charms and secrets...
1) It's longer than 30 seconds. (I promise)
2) It has rocking music.
3) It has a bat-umbrella.
4) It has dignified and lovingly detailed item descriptions such as-
Lumberjack Axe: An axe for chopping wood. It might make you
want to wear heels, suspenders and a bra.
5) It has memorable characters like-
Ultimate Lord Holovos: The last evil lord Noire went to. He can emit a giant laser beam. If only he had sharks.
6) It has great locations-
Ultimate Evil Lord Castle: Built where the Time Goddess and Ultimate Evil Lord first fought. 5 bed, 2 bath, sacrificial altar.
7) There are enough references to movies, the Tick, Zero Wing, Hulk, etc, and abusing of ducks in this title to make a worthy drinking game.
8) You learn good time management from it.
9) No gamer should consider their collection complete without having at least one suggestively titled game! It's a conversation starter, it's a trophy. It's a game title that lets you know that you will be quickly...satisfied by the contents. (see? It's too easy.)
10) If you've made it all the way to 10 you should just buy it. :)
Disclaimer: 1) All item descriptions, character descriptions and place descriptions are 100% true and in the game! 2) All tears and/or weeping in the office are probably all visual products of my own imagination.
For your reference in case my sales pitch wasn't enough:
Metacritic for Half-Minute Hero: Comprehensive list of reviews for the game thus far.
GiantBomb's Quick look preview of HMH
Game Trailer's Video Review for HMH
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
No game that I've tinkered with has filled me with such trepidation as Lunar has. Not only is this a big game for my company, but it's also a game with some seriously dedicated...passionate...extremely particular fans. I heard about what happened to the editor that worked on the ill-received DS version of the series. I heard and boy do I not want to end up...wherever it is that they stashed the body.
As most of you know, Lunar is an RPG about the heartwarming story of a flying-cat...thing and its adventures in pursuit of fish. Many, if not most of you (hello you newcomers to the series as well) are already very familiar with the trials and tribulations of this potty-mouthed feline and his companions so I'm going to skip the overview and dive straight into where things have deviated from '90s version of the game and some other random fun stuff that amuses me.
In the ultimate show of technical advancements in graphics since the PS1 version of the game we now have...a chubby Ramus.
...and there was much rejoicing.
As some fans have noticed there have been a few minor name changes in the game. Most of the changes were made to edit some things from the PS1 version and also to add a bit more of the history to the game. For example...
I. In the PS1 version Alex's dad is named "Noah," but in the PSP version his name has (mysteriously to many) changed to "Ohro." Why?
Well, our translator, who dwarfs even the most dedicated fans in his passion/knowledge of this game, knew that the "Noah" part of the name was actually the last name of Alex's family (from the novels, I believe) and as a result Noah became "Noa" (the "h" was dropped because Noah is most commonly known as a first name here, not a last name). He also went above and beyond and actually contacted Mr. Shigematsu, the scenario writer of the game, and got the official names of all the family members.
Father: Ohro Noa
Mother: Saria Noa
II. Some sharp-eyed fans may have noticed on the site that Jessica's name had a slight change from "Jessica de Alkirk" to "Jessica Alkirk." The change might seem trivial but it's actually a part of her family history. This came to light during a talk with Mr. Shigematsu who specifically mentioned that the PS1 version was not entirely correct, and that though this had not been officially mentioned in the novels, games or other publications before, the reason Mel is called "Mel de Alkirk" is because he married into an aristocratic family through his marriage to "Lirhina de Alkirk." Before that Mel was simply called Mel and he obtained the name "de Alkirk" from his late wife. And since Jessica is not an adult she is called "Jessica Alkirk." Thus, we updated the text to reflect that small (but kind of cool) detail.
Something else interesting of note is that after (if?) Jessica and Kyle marry, Jessica will become "Jessica de Alkirk" and Kyle will become "Kyle de Alkirk." That sounds very like Jessica to make Kyle take on her name. ^_-
Fun with Forums
I check the forums occasionally and here are some things I noted that fans were curious/dubious about.
1) Why the heck does it talk about the size of Mia's chest on the website?
-Funny enough that's actually directly from the Japanese website description for her. No, seriously.
2) What are the lyrics to the new opening song?
-I'll post the official lyrics on our lunar facebook page for your dissection pleasure.
3) Why does Kyle's voice sound like someone who's had too many head injuries as a child?
-This is my fault entirely. I chose a voice clip that I thought was funny, but I just happen to find him being drunk hilarious. That clip also doesn't come across right because viewers can't see the animation that goes with it, leading to Kyle sounding like we drugged him with Quaaludes during his recording session. Allow me to rectify that with a clip of him in his normal voice which I will throw up on facebook shortly.
4) Do we still need soap?
-Yes, yes indeed. Buy LOTS of soap. Rope not included.
5) What the heck is a "Fornacheron"???
-In the 4 heroes scenario Eiphel tells Althena that she will "...fade to nothing in the flames of the Fornacheron!" 'Fornacheron' is a hybrid made-up word created by our translator to best reflect the Japanese meaning of the kanji.
In his own words,
"The Japanese was written as "魔法炉" in the game and scenario text and also "魔道炉" once in the scenario text so I used the word "fornac-" from Latin which literally means "furnace" to match up with the final kanji which means furnace and combined it with the poetic Latin word "acheron" which was taken from Greek and means "hell" in a mythical sense. I felt this combination of old Latin-based words was the best way to bring the meaning of the Japanese into English without sacrificing the name or sound of the name for something cheesy like "magic furnace."
And, finally, here are some things to check out: (mind you this is pre-game launch so I can't give too much away)
1) Alex's first and probably last piece of artwork (check the basement)
2) Item descriptions. Some have changed and some have not. Can you spot the differences?
3) I hinted at it on the website but the bookshelves in Mel's mansion hold some interesting books.
That's probably enough for now. I fear I may have lost some people at "Quaaludes" anyway...
So, please comment, ask questions and in the next Lunar blog I'll be posting some media, like outtakes... :)
Thursday, January 21, 2010
As this is our first attempt at an official blog, and most people probably think of us as an entity that churns out weird niche games, I thought introductions of the actual human beings behind the releases might aid our cause in reaching out in a more personal way to fans. So here by way of unauthorized photographs (as demonstrated by no one's willingness to show their entire face), are the people primarily responsible for getting the games out.
[Not shown are our accounting peeps and esteemed backbone of the company, el Presidente, JI] (I thought I'd spare them the embarrassing photoshopping efforts)
LOCALIZATION! - Enter the translators, editors and wranglers of the game content