Nintendo UK has published a feature with Shloc Ltd who were the main party involved in the localisation of Dragon Quest VII on the Nintendo 3DS. There’s a wealth of information to be had from the interview so it’s well worth a read if you have time. The actual English translation for the lengthy game took one year to complete, but it was well worth it.
Nintendo: Please could you tell us a little about Shloc Ltd and how you become involved in the localisation of DRAGON QUEST VII?
Oli Chance: Shloc essentially began when the three original members (myself, Mark and Geraint), who were working as freelance Japanese-to-English translators, decided we wanted to offer ourselves to clients as a team so that we could ensure that we would be working together to offer the best quality and most fun localisations possible.
Oli and Morgan have been working with Square Enix on the DRAGON QUEST series in various capacities since it got its big Western reboot with DRAGON QUEST VIII back in 2005. It was on that game that we got our first experience of a fully-featured, all-bells-and-whistles localisation job under the tutelage of Richard Mark Honeywood, and our experience there went a long way to laying the groundwork for how we do things now.
We’ve since been involved in the localisation of all the post-reboot DRAGON QUEST titles and quite a few of the spin-offs as well, handling the entire localisation for several of them, and contributing team members to the rest. Given our long history with the series, it’s very close to our hearts, and when we knew there was a plan to finally dust off DQVII and give it the remake treatment, we were honoured and excited to be asked to do it. And then we remembered how big it was…
Nintendo: How much work is involved in bringing a game like DRAGON QUEST VII to the west?
OC: As you might expect, the amount of work involved was pretty huge, but in order to keep quality as high as possible, we had to keep the teams as small as possible. There were four, and at times five, of us working on the Japanese to English localisation, and then once French, Italian, German and Spanish got involved a while later, it became a massive task both in terms of workload and logistics.
All in all, from start to finish, including familiarisation (playing the game to get to know it – no small task in this case), glossary creation (naming all the characters, places, monsters, items etc. etc.), translation/editing and QA, we were working pretty much flat out for just over a year.
One of the hardest things was to put enough time in the schedule for the editor of each language to see all the text, which in our experience is the only way to ensure consistency and quality throughout. You can throw a lot of translators at a job, but if there’s no one making sure they’re all working to spec and that quality is as high as it can be across the board, then things can easily go awry.
Nothing quite compares to DQVII. It’s one thing to contemplate taking on a job this size, and quite another to be four months in, knowing there are months left to go, and that if your pace falters, you could send the entire project off-schedule in five languages.
Without doubt the biggest challenge was keeping up such a heavy workload over such a long time, and making sure that quality didn’t suffer as a result. This is where having a team who know each other so well is essential – if we hadn’t been there to back each other up and give each other’s morale a kick when needed, I don’t think we could have done it.
Nintendo: We noticed this photo on the Shloc Ltd Twitter account. What’s the story here?
OC: Ah, the Binders of Doom. That photo is of the shelves that hold the original Japanese scripts for the original version of DQVII. Apparently, they were something of a legend at the Enix offices, and looking at them, you can see why. If we’d been presented with those when we were first asked about being involved, we might just have run away screaming, but seeing them now we’re out the other side and have conquered them fills us with tear-jerking pride.