Capella's Promise Translation Notes
So I'm sure this translation is doable, too. It's just a little longer than usual...
(Major spoilers for the entire game. Definitely don't read before beating it.)
The main character names had English spellings provided in their portrait filenames, and pretty much nothing else was provided. But ultimately, I still just went with whatever sounded good to me. The notable cases:
- Capella was spelled "correctly" most of the time (most notably in the ZIP's filename), but is "Capera" in things like the battle music. This is just one indication why original authors generally can't be blindly trusted in matters of English; see also "last_dangeon."
- Megaloma seemed like the best romanization, if only because I initially totally expected them to have a role in the plot and be short for "megalomania." But I mean, they influence stat growth, so maybe it's alluding to how min-maxers are obsessed with power...
- Ilnacia was "Irunashia," and I mostly went with the C because it seemed silly to have "Asia" in the name. To be honest, I wish I could've gotten rid of the "Il" somehow because it's hard to tell the i and the L apart, but Irnacia just sounds worse to me.
- I'm not going to bother policing pronunciations because so many of the names are just weird, but Shena is technically pronounced like "Shay-na," not "Shee-na."
- I would have gladly called Thiana "Tiana," which would be the more typical romanization. But I went with the given spelling in this case, because the fact they put an H in there seemed... I dunno, intentional? I don't see it as being a weird Japanese artifact, it actually seems legit.
- Cui was given as "Kyui." In contrast to the Thiana case, the "kyu" just struck me as especially Japanese-looking.
- Rayne's "given" name was "Rein," a literal transcription of her name in Japanese. Between Rein, Raine, and Rayne (and I guess some others), that's just the variation I prefer best, pretty much.
- Vargas's "given" name was "Balgas." Errrrrm. Not very threatening for such a major villain, I thought.
- Penn's name was given as just "Pen," but that's not a name at all. (I mean, neither is Ripple, but I find that easier to roll with for some reason. Possibly because Ripple is the best.)
- Lucoq's "given" name was a literal spelling, "Rukokku," and that definitely wasn't going to do. I dunno if it's meant to be a play on "le coq" or what.
- Ariella was spelled "Ariera" in the files. Eh.
- Folow is seemingly a pun on both "follow" and "rou," wolf. But guess what: read it backwards.
All the different properties that appear in equipment descriptions sort of... gradually shrank over time for size concerns. While I did code it so that overly long descriptions would shrink to fit in the box, this didn't fix everything: I still had to make sure that when you use a seal/enter a code at the Ancient Forge and it shows the item's description, all of those descriptions fit in the textbox.
I hope my abbreviations didn't seem too obscure. I'm glad there was the glossary to alleviate this a little; I actually added a few new entries (the ones for 1H and 2H), and also highlighted the first letters of the elements in the Resist entry to indicate that's what FWLIP means.
All of the Specialty stuff used the English word "Originality," but it just sounded really awkward; to me it sounds more natural to say that you're "specializing" your characters by picking areas to focus them in. SP was also "OP."
Manarel was "makouseki," which is literally just "magic ore" - like Magicite in FFVI, but not quite (that's just "maseki," magic rock). So I made it a play on "mana" and "mineral."
The name "Emissary" was just... that, in English (Emisarii). Naturally, there was nothing about "Emissaries" in Japanese per se because of the lack of plurals, but "the Emissaries" seemed like the best way to go with that. I guess the idea is that they're emissaries of the king, "sent" to keep the peace, so that's what they call themselves; I considered calling them "the Embassy," but that's not really the same thing.
Rayne always referred to Ricky with "ojisan," used for middle-aged guys. ("Uncle" would be far too affectionate.) In this case, "scruffy" was the perfect summation of Ricky's essence. I sort of had a rule for when and when not to capitalize it (which calls for it being lowercase most of the time), but it probably only makes sense to me and just looks inconsistent to everyone else. Oh well.
I didn't make much of it, but I had Rayne on a few occasions make up new words by combining others - "greedwad," "sislady," etc. Most of these just came naturally from writing in her voice, but I later realized they could serve as super-subtle hints. Of course, there wasn't really anything like this in Japanese.
The Travelers' Outpost was originally known as the "Gypsy Camp." Um. There's basically no reason whatsoever for it to be called that - no one there is ever called a "gypsy" or anything - so I just... nipped that weird, possibly-somewhat-unintentional fantasy racism in the bud.
Moo was "Muu-chan." I guess I should mention that the sound cows make in Japanese is "moo" (long o), not "muu." Yeah, I dunno why they're called Moo-chan, really.
If you were expecting an explanation here about the search orders saying "Olt" instead of "Wolt," sorry, it's just as strange and unclear in Japanese. The order says "Uruto," and his actual name is "Uoruto," and Mares basically just says "Olt is Wolt" when you meet him. From a design perspective, I'm sure the reason for it is so you don't immediately recognize the name Wolt from the intro... but who knows what the actual explanation is. Did the Emissaries (or even the king himself) get the name of the king's brother wrong? Is Olt his nickname? It can't just be Velk reading it wrong or anything, because Mares makes reference to the order itself saying "Olt."
"(The) Mother" was also in English (Mazaa). During my playthrough, I thought about maybe coming up with some other name for it, but really wasn't sure what it could be, and when I actually reached the end of the game it became very apparent there could be no other name. Still, since it can be an awkward name, I tried to cut down slightly on how much it's actually said, especially when it can be confusing - one notable example was how Junoa would have said "If Meldora went on to create the Mother, then mother was right..."
The Acrea Hall/Sphere was a little weird. It's アクリアホール for both, so it could just as easily be "hall" or "hole," and while Acrea Hole works as a name for the sphere thing (though it sounds weird and warranted changing for English), the progress entry before you go there the first time says "a special room in the mansion called the アクリアホール." Meaning the exact same term is used both for the sphere thing and the room it's in. So, uh, question marks??? Maybe it really is just a joke on how that can actually sort of work in Japanese.
I asked Mosomoso about the origin of the word Hute ("Hyuuto"), and their response was that it is itself a combination of "human" and "hito." Which is silly, but amazing. "Huto" wouldn't have read as intended, and even pronouncing it correctly, it sounds a bit out of place in the setting. Hute just seemed best for keeping it simple and implying meanings like "human mutant" or "human brute."
Ariella's comeback about throwing Lockwood overboard was originally a pun on 調子に乗る, a phrase meaning "to get carried away" that uses the verb "get on." Don't get carried away, or I'll make you a castaway... uh... on some other island, that isn't Capella, somewhere.
There wasn't that much notable about how the Mother spoke in Japanese; none of those weird katakana things or lack of kanji. However, she did put spaces between almost every word, which Japanese rarely does, which led me to come up with and go with what I did.
Okay, Ricky didn't technically call Zanara "Mr. Oedipus" - he said "mazakon," for "mother complex," thus referring to the Oedipus complex without the real-world mythological reference. I actually do try to avoid setting-breaking things like that (I briefly contemplated using "first-world problems" for a line about Parta having trouble refusing the invitation to Capella, and didn't for that reason), but it just seemed too good to pass up; I guess it fit Ricky's character well enough that I could forgive it being questionable for the setting.
I guess this isn't really translation-related, but if you're curious about how I did those subtitles for the credits song, I literally just timed to the song in Aegisub, then multiplied the length of each line (and pauses without lines) times 60 frames per second, then added a parallel event that shows pictures of each line, pausing the given amount of frames between each change. I'm... frankly amazed how well it worked out?
Dr. Olborn was a little problematic, you could say. There are/were numerous occasions where he not-so-subtly hit on Velk, called him "Vel-chan," asked him to undress so he can examine him, etcetera.
Particularly given the overall quality of the game, this was a serious disappointment to me when I reached him in my playthrough, and I felt like I had to do what I could to tone down the stereotypes in translation.
But there was only so much I could do, and it's hard as hell to "rewrite" a character like this from a super-iffy portrayal to something at least passable. But in general, I made the party's reception of him a little less "uhhh," and I had him be a little less fixated on Velk.
(The spoilered text is about the places where I outright removed stuff because it was so unnecessary and bad, so don't read if you think you'll be put off by it.)
First, let's talk about the "is Dr. Olborn gay?" scene. In the original, Rayne asks if Dr. Olborn is an "okama," which everyone decides to ignore. But at the end, Olborn responds to the question with "Excuse you! I'm onee!", and the party awkwardly flees the scene.
I assume the intended distinction is that "okama" is saying he's a homosexual, whereas "onee" means he just acts feminine. But it's clear by that point he likes men (and while my translation is "toned-down" in a sense, it doesn't try to hide that), so "I'm not gay, I'm fabulous!" felt really... ehhh. I thought about numerous things I could put for those lines, and none of them made me think "Yes, this is reasonable and not offensive or groan-worthy."
So I decided to remove that final comment entirely and modified Velk's final line (mostly adding the "and, uh, sorry" part), and I think the scene is better for it. My intent there is for the party fleeing the scene to come off less as "Olborn's gayness creeps me out" and more "why did Rayne have to ask such an awkward question, let's get out of here."
When bringing Olborn to Fort Pana to look at Wolt, that conversation originally went on a little longer. Velk assures Olborn that while there was no time to let him shower now, he could probably shower at Fort Pana, prompting Olborn to suggest that Velk shower with him, which Velk hurriedly refuses. Yep.
One last thing I feel I should mention somewhere, though it's not really related to the translation: Just looking at everything in the editor, it's clear this game went through a ridiculous development process.
What do I mean? Well, if you were to open up the English version, you'd see there are a good 50 or so maps at the top of the list which I left totally untranslated, because they aren't used at all. These are definitely from a prototype version of the game; some places like Norma, Levis, Orge, Valgard, and Emissary HQ are there, but they're generally blander in design.
More significantly, these maps follow a plot which is quite different from the final version, though it doesn't seem to "get" too far in. I haven't looked too deeply into it, but here's some things from it:
There are traces of alternate scenes in the Slave Market with a guy named Domenico who I'd assume was Velk's (adoptive) father? Thiana seemed to replace him; the switches still say Domenico sometimes for events regarding her.
Bandara's name was "Bandora" for some reason, he lived in Levis, and he still wanted the Dragon's Eye. It seems that rather than go to the Emissaries to turn her in, Velk went and sold Shena to him (Band@ra's girls are outright said to be slaves in the scrapped scenes), but soon realizes what a creep he is and searches for the Dragon's Eye (in "Norma Tunnel") to trade for her back.
Rayne was, uh... VERY different. You meet her underground in Norma, and find out she's been putting people to sleep and stealing their food. What she's really interested in is the Dragon's Eye, and has a... very hostile first meeting with Velk's party when they say they're looking for it. And later she claims to be an exorcist or something???
The whole thing about the Dragon's Eye showing who you really are and Rayne being curious about that was there too, presumably for the same reason, except... well, it's far earlier in the game, and it's way less subtle. She's interested in the Eye almost solely because of that fact, rather than wanting to get Shena back from Band@ra (she doesn't even know who Shena is yet), and wants to make off with it herself. Yeah, old-Rayne is so much weirder and worse than The Real Rayne.
At some point, apparently a kid named Todd accidentally throws the Dragon's Eye into a swamp. But then the party just gets it back, so I don't even think it would have led into the Foggy Swamp part...?
There's a "Prison Island" and I have no idea where it would have fit in.
Also, while it's not quite in the same category, map 1 is a world map. Not that there ever seemed to be any plans of having an RPG world map - it was used as a reference to keep the locations of each area and the paths between them consistent. So that's kind of neat.
The way cutscene maps are organized, in general, is that they're grouped to the relevant area. Scenes that take place at the Slave Market reception, for example, are contained within the "playable" map of that area. However, cutscene maps from the old plot are included in a single "Events" section.
But there's one exception: all of Distana's cutscenes were also put in the Events section. This, and some other small details (like names in these scenes typing out instead of appearing instantly like they are most of the time - I made all that consistent in the translation), kind of makes me feel like Distana was created fairly early on and was too complete to discard, which may explain the not-especially-smooth inclusion of it.
Really, though, the map numbers show just how messily everything came together. The Sugar Stores were made before Cranberry, which itself was made a hundred maps before Sugar. The Devil's Sea existed before the actual ship ride. The (playable) Slave Market maps and the watchtower? Made about halfway through development, map-number-wise. The Foggy Marsh maps from meeting Mozef up to his house (but not any before that) were some of the very first maps made. The opening scene with Zanara and Wolt was one of the very last.
Unless Mosomoso actually did have a pretty solid plot outline (well, after a first attempt) and then just made things in whatever order they pleased, that they managed to wrangle it all together in the end is seriously incredible. I mean, on top of making such a lengthy game and all.