Thursday, November 18, 2010

How To Do What You Love (If Your Love is Nerdy and Awesome)

Internet Blog Roundup Part. Thalatha

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 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!

Oath in Felghana PSP Blog a la Tom

Internet Blog Roundup Part. Dos!

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!

Oktoberfest Holiday Report

Greetings unsuspecting readers.

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:

“[Promise to the Fans] In order to bring RPG fans the most accurate tavern NPC dialogue possible, XSEED will be attending Oktoberfest. Steins in hand, we go the extra mile.” (@XSEEDGames)

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.