This week: Localizing the Game, Part 2
Princess K: Hi everyone! Last time, in Localizing the Game, Part 1, we shared with you how we localize the text you see in-game. And while this might be the extent to which other Nexon games require our lovely localization team’s services, Dragon Nest requires a lot more tender loving care from them. Dragon Nest strives to make the story—which is an integral part of the game—come alive with cut scenes and NPCs that actually talk to you!
Lucius: If localizing the text is a headache, then localizing the spoken dialogues is a pounding migraine. You see, it all starts with choosing voice actors. To do so, Des and I had to sit and listen to dozens of pre-recorded audition files for hours while staring at the images of the character they’d be playing. Some of the scripts the actors were given to read included coughing, sneezing, shrieks, cries of pain—enough pained noises to remind me of my life at home with the wife and kids.
Princess K: Oh, you! So while the actors are being chosen, in the meantime our super-duper localization team is hard at work translating and massaging the Korean dialogues into an awesome English script.
Lucius: The next step is to schedule everyone to meet up at a recording studio. This unfortunate group consists of the actor, producer, copy editor, and the sound engineer. I say unfortunate because these people stay cooped up in the studio all day every day for two weeks straight with nary a break, in order to keep up with the tight schedule. Needless to say, Des was not part of this group. I was.
Princess K: Stop right there, Lucius. Let’s let the players see for themselves how awesome and exciting the recording sessions are!
Princess K: In the morning, everyone arrives at the recording studio bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and they review the schedule and script for the day. After the actor loosens up his or her voice, the real work begins. They start by establishing the voice of the character, such as pitch and accent. In this particular session, we were recording the voice of Gerrant, this yummy guy:
Lucius: “Yummy” is in the eye of the beholder, but not this beholder! Anyway, after the voice is set, the recording begins. This is a slow, tedious process, as every line is read one by one, and each must be read a minimum of three times. If that doesn’t sound too bad, keep in mind that the overall script was about 400 pages long. Yes, I had visions of sticking the warrior’s sword into my heart.
Princess K: Lucius, you’re so silly! While the actor works through the script, the copy editor and producer offer background information to help the actor capture just the right tone for each line. Just by looking at the script, it’s sometimes difficult to imagine what emotion the character is feeling and why they’re feeling it. And sometimes what looks good in writing sounds awful when spoken, so the copy editor is there to do a quick rewrite as needed.
Lucius: I’m glad you weren’t in charge of that Princess, or all the fight scenes would have been filled with giggling! Speaking of which, in addition to listening to all of the dialogue, we have to train our ears to listen carefully to screams and other sound effects. It’s enough to make one’s ears bleed.
Princess K: After a long day of recording, everyone goes home—except for the sound engineer. He gets to enjoy each and every sound all over again so he can deliver thousands of voice-over files (a single file consists of a single line, single yelp, single sob—you get the idea) that adhere to the guidelines Eyedentity Games, the game developers, set for the voice localization.
Lucius: So when you’re in the game and you watch a cut scene, pay close attention and don’t just pass over it. When you click on an NPC, listen to what he or she says. We bled for that stuff to be perfect, just for you.
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