Ghostlight Blog

Posted by Ross

Q&A blog II – The Adventures of the Breakdancing Horse

It’s time for another instalment of the Friday blog.  I’ve been spending my week evaluating some excellent new titles but other than that, I’m afraid there’s not much to report this week as E3 tends to overshadow anything else going on in the games industry.  Speaking of E3 how was it for you?  I’d be interested in hearing which announcements really caught your eye. 

Thanks to all of you who’ve had a crack at guessing which 5 games we’re currently evaluating.  You’ve actually done a pretty good job with your guesses and between the comments on my previous blog and the people on my Twitter feed, I have seen a few of the games in question mentioned, but I can’t say any more than that :).

I’ve got a new batch of questions from you all (thank you) so since it’s a bit of a quiet week for news I thought I’d continue my Q&A from a couple of weeks back.

First up Ailtin is interested in the “breakdancing” horse I mentioned a couple of weeks back.

Q  What about this breakdancing horse ? In which game is it present ? Can you give us an image to share the fun ?

A  The breakdancing horse featured in an early build of Mary Kings Riding School 2.  I don’t have an image unfortunately and I can’t remember exactly which build it was.  It was fixed quite quickly as it was very easy to spot :).  Anyway what used to happen was in dressage on certain moves, including the first move of the first tutorial, the horse would, well, breakdance.  It would flip over onto its back tuck its legs in a bit and do a few spins before performing a few more flips and then continuing its dressage routine as if nothing had happened.  Weird bug huh?

Next up, Pepsi_Biofusion wants to know a bit more about our localisation process.

Q  Is it at all likely you would consider localisation of non-jrpgs already done so for the US, such as Arcania Heart 3? Also working with numerous developers overseas sounds hectic, so may I ask, what level of communication you have with them as well as explain why localisations can take years?

A  That’s quite a biggie!  To answer your first question, yes, we would certainly consider complete products from the US and no they don’t have to be JRPGs.  Our team evaluates as many products of all genres and platforms as possible from across the world, but unfortunately we can’t publish them all :) 

As for communicating with the overseas companies, yes this can be hectic to say the least, but lucky for me this is generally handled by our producers who deal with external teams pretty much on a day to day basis.  Good, regular communication is vital when working with any external company, even more so when dealing with complex JRPG localisations.  The level of communication needed does of course depend heavily on the game.  For example Shadowhearts: From the New World was actually localised in-house whereas the coding for the European build of Agarest: Generations of War Zero is being done in Japan.  In the latter case the only way I personally communicate with external companies is through entering info on a bug reporting database but I know our production team have a great working relationship with all our clients.

As for why localisations can sometimes take years to happen, where do I start? ;)  Here’s just a few of the reasons that I can see (I hope you’re sitting comfortably…)

1.  We’re always searching for more titles to localise and our searches sometimes find games that have previously been overlooked so to the end user it can seem like months or years before a localised version reaches our shores.

2.  The success of a sequel to an established series can sometimes indicate interest in earlier games in that series that may have been passed up previously.  This can mean that the earlier games may end up being brought to our market a long way down the line.

3.  Limited resources.  There’s simply a limit to the number of games a publisher can put out at any one time :(

4.  Negotiation.  Once we find a title that we want to bring to Europe, there’s usually a lengthy negotiation process covering all aspects of the title, ie fees, rights issues over art and music, copyrights over the source code, use of middleware etc  All these issues need to be resolved before signing a game so of course complex legal aspects of any agreement can take time.  And that’s well before the localisation process even starts!

5.  Once a title is signed, the localisation and testing process takes a lot of time and effort to do properly.  Japanese to English translations of large story based JRPGs can take months just to get a first draft (we’re usually talking about hundreds of pages of text here) and of course every new build of the game has to be tested as if it was the first.  I’m no programmer, but implementing new texts into Japanese games is by no means an easy process.  True, some are simpler than others, but there are always a whole host of nasty bugs waiting to rear their ugly heads!

6.  In cases where a Western publisher doesn’t have an in-house conversion team they will either have to contract with an external team, or ask the original Japanese dev/publisher if they can do it.  This can sometimes take a lot of time to set up because dev teams never sit idle and usually overlap new projects with older projects.  This can mean that publishers have to wait to start a project and fit in around developer’s tight schedules.

7.  There are also lots of smaller issues that can add up to big delays.  For example before picking up a title we will evaluate it which often requires waiting for a playable build or even a finished version which can take weeks to months.  On more marginal titles we may even wait to see how well a title sells in Japan or the US before setting out to acquire the title.

8.  Lastly, we have to factor in the console submission and approvals process of the game as well as the printed materials.  It’s sometimes even tougher for us if we decide to create one of our typically fantastic collectors’ editions :)  As you can imagine, each special item has to be designed and approved by the Licensor or rights holder.  On top of all this there are applications for age ratings, manufacturing and shipping and it sometimes only takes one minor problem in any one aspect of development or production to delay the whole process by weeks or even months. 

I could go on but I think I’d better leave it there ;).  This is only a very brief insight from my perspective into just some of the reasons why a game can take so much time to find it’s way to your console.

Time to sign off, but if you have any more questions, feel free to ask.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Ross

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Comments:

Dia says:

Sounds really tough. So the previous blog mentioned 4. I`m so betting Catherine is one of them. Coding for Agarest Zero is done in Japan? So Ghostlight doesn`t actually...before I say something stupid could you please say what coding is please? Also I`m sure a good number of people have seen or heard of Black Rock Shooter. Check this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=906SBSxbymo My blood is pumping so fast from the dong. Back to topic, I just re-read your post and got my answer regarding coding. So in Zero`s case how is it making its way here? and what does Ghostlight do regarding the contents of its blu-ray disc?
Pepsi_Biofusion says:

I do appreciate your answer... but I can't think up the appropriate response. It certainly is interesting how many little faults can prevent localisation efforts. As for E3... did you see the price of the Playstation Vita... I have to get one now, and in turn Persona 3. Also the Wii U baffled me, not in a good way, I mean a family friendly controller that looks uncomfortable for long plays... being paired with hardcore games... I think Nintendo have to change their marketing, it just won't be embraced... at least thats my opinion. Oh and Sonic Generations new level was AWESOME!
alistair says:

Any new infor on releasing catherine? as atlus has said that usa is in july on SCEA-blog it a SMT title fom sin novel so it is a good chance we get it as i dont like to buy imports that are overprice. the only imports is sony to open up the PSN stores for us EU other ppl has spoken out for it, on the subject above i never believe in excues of useing localisation, licensing etc as we are in digital distribution age & imports market we can buy imports from overseas or from stores/mail only in england without any problem, but whem it comes to imports on digital store like PSN the excues comes into play it had blah blah, i get your point about limit resources though.
[GL] Ross says:

@Dia I'm also counting games I've seen mentioned on my Twitter so all 4 might not have been mentioned on the blog. Coding is programming. As for the rest I'll save them for my next Q&A blog. @Pepsi_Biofusion I was pretty impressed with the Vita launch too. I went from thinking about getting a PSP when the price drops due to the Vita release to saving up for the Vita. @alistair Sorry I'm not allowed to give any more details on which games we are trying to pick up.
Ailtin says:

Hey Ross, I am honored to be mentioned in your blog. You just talked about the PS Vita. Your first thoughts were good as you said. Do you know what kind of games you are going to dig into ? :D Thanks in advance.
[GL] Ross says:

@Ailtin I'm actually planning on picking up some PSP games for it to start with as I don't have a PSP. I'll probably wait until a bit closer to release to decide which games I'll pick up with it though.
Pepsi_Biofusion says:

About the Vita, I take it we may see Ghostlight games for it, but I'm sure you couldn't possibly say. Like you Ross I really can't think what games I'll want bar Uncharted GA... Wipeout looks good but perhaps too familiar. I really hope to see a bevy of JRPGs for it like the PSP... I'm looking at you Ghostlight... oh and I realised I forgot to thank you for mentioning me in 3 blog posts now, good thing Ailtin reminded me :P Anyways I'll have Agarests 70-plus hour campaign and numerous other PS3 RPGs to tide me over 'til the Vita.
[GL] Ross says:

@Pepsi_Biofusion If you keep the questions coming you'll probably get a few more mentions on the blog. There's going to be a lot of Agarest to keep you busy. I'm not sure exactly how long it takes if you want to do everything as I tend to leave the game running while I do other things.


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