Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

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As everyone should know by now, we love XSEED Games.  When we were given the opportunity to interview them, (read: we sent an e-mail hoping they would respond) we took it! Fortunately for us, Ser Baconus (Jessica Chavez) responded to our questions regarding localization hardships.


Boxhead from XSEED Games ready to make the bacon

Operation Rainfall: What would you say is your company’s greatest problem when it comes to localizing games from Japanese developers?

Jessica Chavez: Well… that question has many answers.

My initial thought is Tom (because Tom LOVES the ever-present and often untranslatable puns in Japanese games and just reading them makes me die a little inside each time), but deadlines might be the real terror of localization.

Localizing a game takes many, many resources and many, many pounds of flesh, but one thing we cannot do without at XSEED is our development counterpart: the hardworking Japanese team that will cram our text into the US version. Since we’re just a publisher, we rely on these teams to do the programming work, and their availability informs our own schedule. As you can imagine, trying to squeeze in translation, editing, voice recording, QA, applying for ratings, submissions for the console guys and all the metadata approvals/submissions, etc., all within that sometimes hectic timeframe can result in a lot of white hairs. Since we have such a small team here and juggle multiple games at a time, I’m sure you can also imagine the frantic contorting we have to do on occasion to make deadlines.

We’d certainly love to take our time or lavish all attention on a single game, but the boat’s got to stay afloat and stay the course with a minimum of sacrificed tragically lost interns.

OR: Does finance weigh heavily on translating and localizing Japanese games, versus independent development and publishing?

JC: I can’t really speak for what it would cost for independent development (as we’re but a humble publisher), but we have a vast array of costs on our side to consider first if we take on a project.

Helpful(?), and terribly blunt breakdown:

Licensing a game: $$$

Translation & Editing: $$$ + BLOOD & TEARS

Voice Recording: $$$

QA: $$$

Manufacturing: $$$

Shipping: $$$

Marketing: $$$

Mark Downs: $$$$$

Royalties: $$$

ESRB (US Rating): $$$

PEGI (EU Rating): $$$

UK Rating: $$$

USK (German Rating): $$$

Aus/NZ Rating: $$$

Office Snacks: $

Sympathy: —

Interns: …

OR: Does XSEED handle multiple localizations at once, or does your company go through projects one at a time?

JC: Ahahaha…haha…ha…………………….ha………….

Our record is 11 games released in one year, but if I recall rightly, during that period we were juggling 13 or so. And this was all done with a 5 person localization team (2 translators, 2 editors, 1 manager). Heck, the whole office was only 10 people back then. Poor marketing/PR got crushed into jelly as well. Good times. Alcoholic times.

OR: Can you tell me what kind of scheduling and logistics are involved in localizing titles?

JC: As the localization manager, this is a big part of what I do now, but the scheduling/logistics of titles is more eloquently expressed by the ‘BOARD’. This is the whiteboard behind my desk where I plot out the various stages and tangential duties associated with our various titles. Currently the BOARD is only showing 6 projects, but I assure you, there are more. ;_;



Click For Larger Size

As you can see, there are many stages to get through before we can release a game and many, many switches that have to get flipped during the main duties of translation and editing (think of all the things that could go wrong!)(we’ve experienced every one!). And, mind you, this is only localization. Manufacturing and marketing and PR are a whole ‘nother can of worms.

OR: Any anecdotes or “horror stories” that you have witnessed would be appreciated for examples?

JC: Horror stories, huh? Well, I think everyone at XSEED has had some sort of emotionally scarring experience. I polled the office for any random thoughts on the matter.


# of people who have shed blood in the office: 5

# of hours the PA was forced to play Unchained Blades during QA: 600

# of tears she shed during this period: uncountable

# of staff who have pulled all-nighters: 6

# of Onii dolls missing heads in the office: 3

# of concussions experienced at work: 2

# of “oh, crap” moments when we realized there was something…unexpected in a game: 7

# of UHaul trucks destroyed by XSEED: 1

# of servers that have caught fire: 1

Odds and Ends

Favorite sleeping nook during crunch time: Under the meeting room table

Most weight lost by one person during a project: 8lbs

Worst item found in fridge: ??? item with fur

Most unusual item found in fridge: endlessly ringing iphone

Chair versus staff ratio at old office: 42 chairs / 8 people

People willing to eat noodles EVERY day for lunch: 1

Thanks again to XSEED Games for the interview, we can’t wait to play Pandora’s Tower in April!

  • UHaul trucks destroyed by XSEED: to good

  • Da General

    lovely to hear from them.

  • FrancisUnderwood0482

    thank God for these guys. As long as WiiU is supported by these guys and Atlus I don’t really care about lack of 3rd party support.

    • Some silly person downvoted you. I tried to make it right.

    • FrancisUnderwood0482

      Ha. Thanks. Silly down-voters.

    • zeezee

      Considering that you are the same person that crapped on XSEED for The Last Story and Pandora’s Tower, it was likely deserved.

      “I bought it blind (should have test-pirated it first). Am Happy I got the Super-Deluxe version with the art-book and stuff, and loved the Characters (especially the Drunk) and the Combat, but the game just felt like Combat! filler, filler, filler, Combat! repeat for 25-30 hours.
      Because of this Pirated Pandora’s Tower. Glad I did…won’t be buying that one for sure.”

      Now go away, pirate. Or else buy Pandora’s Tower and repent, sinner. Pandora’s Tower is awesome. I have the UK version and preordered the US version. Ditto for Last Story, which I loved.

    • FrancisUnderwood0482

      maybe one day I’ll be as pious as you…if I could just find a video rental shop to play before I buy instead of just going on the words of Dogmatists like yourself who are going to “like” the game whether they actually do or not.
      And where exactly in my comment to I say anything bad about Xseed? *searches comment* Oh, nowhere.
      Also, your Wii is region unlocked, which requires modding, but you’ve never pirated anything? I smell a liar who also happens to be on a high-horse. Get a Life you butt-hurt loser.

  • XSeed, don’t stop being awesome.

  • *Token mention of Trails in The Sky SC* I will never give up. I stare at the poster everyday. I encourage anyone reading this who doesn’t have Legend of Heroes: Trails in The Sky to buy a copy to encourage XSeed to release Second Chapter even if you don’t have a PSP. Also, by encourage I mean threatening. Do it…

    • There is also the HD port they are doing for the ps3 and VITA to consider. maybe they would be willing to do those

    • I bought my copy about 2 months ago.

    • I bought it twice. Once for the Limited edition, once on PSN.

    • wanderer

      WHY not to make this serie popular by talking it in every forums , video games sites etc.. ?

  • Tom

    What about games that are already translated from Japanese? There are games that were released in the US and would take nothing to release in Europe, like Trauma Team. I’m very sad we don’t have it… At least the PS3 is region free. F*ck Nintendo for making the 3DS region locked…

  • I love xseeds humor.

  • Xseed=Legendary awesomeness

    TY for publishing these games for us

  • Kroisos

    I have four Onii dolls, and they all still have their heads, thank you very much.

    Little King’s Story, Fragile Dreams, and Solatorobo are absolute essentials; XSEED is very good at finding such games.

    • Spookyryu

      agreed with you, I would also add fishing resort and retro game challanged, I loved those games too, thank you xseed

  • multibottler0cket

    Hahaha amazing!

  • budah

    Thank you XSEED for shedding blood for us!

  • Crimson

    Xseed is so great

    • zeezee

      Among the best games of this generation!

  • Vinicius

    Xseed is one of my favorite publishers around. I think Nintendo should make a deal with so they would translante and publish Mother 3 and the fire emblem games not released in the west.

  • NinjaApe

    What does QA and PA stand for?