Densetsu's Translation Toolbox

Discussion in 'NDS - ROM Hacking and Translations' started by Densetsu, Oct 18, 2011.

Oct 18, 2011

Densetsu's Translation Toolbox by Densetsu at 9:40 AM (32,419 Views / 10 Likes) 33 replies

  1. Densetsu
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    Former Staff Densetsu Pubic Ninja

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    Introduction

    Many games are released in Japanese before they're released in English or any other language. In most cases, they're released in Japanese years before they're localized. Sometimes they don't get localized at all and never see the light of day outside of Japan.

    Enter the ROM translator.

    This is a compilation of some useful websites and tools for translating ROMs. Unfortunately, there is no tool or app that will let you go from "Zero Japanese to Translator" instantly. Believe it or not, n00bs have asked for such a magical tool on this forum. I hate to break it to you, but it doesn't exist. You have to know Japanese to translate a ROM into your target language. This thread assumes a knowledge of intermediate Japanese, which is the absolute minimum skill level I would recommend for anyone attempting to translate a ROM.

    What is "Intermediate Level?"

    By "intermediate level," I mean you should be able to read a standard conversation in Japanese ON PAPER (that means no cutting/pasting into Google Translate or hovering over the words using rikaichan or rikaikun!) covering an everyday topic (such as discussing games/movies, talking about work, etc.) and be able to understand it without the use of a dictionary. You should know at least 400~500 kanji and be able to look up kanji you don't know by radicals, stroke count and stroke order. You should be able to read manga containing furigana (e.g., anything by Shōnen Jump) in Japanese and understand colloquial conversations (non-textbook Japanese).

    To All Aspiring and Prospective ROM Translators

    If you are interested in helping out with future translation projects, please post in this thread, along with your Japanese language experience, favorite games, manga and anime. Since some games are based on manga and anime, knowledge of certain manga/anime titles is helpful. Feel free to provide any other information you feel might be relevant. My hope is that we can use this thread as a sort of directory that others can refer to when they need a translator.

    Suggested Readings from Loekalization

    Anyone attempting to translate a ROM should read through these articles to learn more about the logistics and problems one may encounter in translating (thanks DS1!)
    Other Relevant Readings

    Useful Websites

    • Romhacking dot net: The go-to site for ROM hacking projects, including translation projects. In order to start translating a ROM, you need to extract the text and any images containing Japanese text from the ROM. If you can't find anyone to extract the text here, you'll most certainly be able to find someone there. And they're always looking for translators, so it's a great place to try your hand at a few projects.
    • Japanese Programming Madness: There are things that both the ROM hacker and the ROM translator have to take into consideration when working together. This thread discusses those considerations.
    • The Japanese Page: An excellent forum with many great resources and lots of fluent Japanese speakers willing to help. There's a subforum for translation help, but they will not help you if you're lazy. If you encounter a particularly tough translation, ask for help here after attempting it yourself. Make sure to provide your translation attempt, as well as plenty of context. And read this before asking for help!
    • Google Docs: Creating a translation spreadsheet is a good way to organize your translation. It allows others involved in the project to open the spreadsheet and see at a glance how much has been translated, what still needs to be translated, and provides plenty of space for collaboration between translators. (Translation spreadsheet samples: Image 1 Image 2 Image 3 Image 4)
    • weblio辞書: (weblio Jisho) A very good online dictionary that includes a dictionary for native Japanese, a E-J / J-E dictionary, a Japanese thesaurus and even a Japanese sign language dictionary with videos for every sign. The latter two are less useful for translating from Japanese to English, but the former two are well-suited to that purpose. The E-J / J-E dictionary grabs results from Kenkyusha (the Oxford of Japanese), JMdict (the dictionary used by Rikaichan), Wikipedia Japan (including pictures), among other sources. All definitions come with sample sentences, both in English and Japanese (thanks Nagato!).
    • 英辞郎 on the WEB: (Eijirō on the WEB) Another good online dictionary for looking up not just definitions of words, but proper word usage in sentences. Just about every dictionary entry provides sample sentences both in Japanese and English so you'll be a lot less likely to make a mistake on how a word is used in Japanese.
    • goo辞書: (goo Jisho) A multi-dictionary search that also provides sample sentences. Sometimes has words that you won't find in Eijirō.
    • ニコニコ大百科: (Nico Nico Pedia) Essentially the Japanese version of Urban Dictionary. Japanese is a constantly evolving language, and it is just as rich in slang, Internet lingo and memes as is the English language. Games tend to use a lot of "trend words" and pop culture references, and this website will help you stay up to speed (thanks Nagato!)
    • 日本語俗語時点: (Nihongo Zokugo Jiten) Just like Nico Nico Pedia, another excellent resource on Japanese words that are either obsolete, or pop cultural references (current and old Japanese pop culture).
    • 三省堂 Web Dictionary: (Sanseidō Web Dictionary) A dictionary for native Japanese speakers. Like goo Jisho, It tends to have words in it that you can't find in Eijirō. Great with fuzzy searches, for example when you extract an image containing a string of several kanji and you only know a few of the kanji. If you input the few kanji you know, sometimes it will return results containing the entire kanji combination that you can then look up.
    • rikaichan: For on-the-fly translating on translation spreadsheets. After installing, simply hover your mouse over any Japanese word you don't know, and it will instantly display the English definition. Requires Firefox and ability to read hiragana at the very least. CAVEAT: This is absolutely useless if you do not have a strong command of Japanese grammar! Without knowing grammar, your translations using Rikaichan are no better than Google Translate. Use sparingly, and rely more on your own Japanese knowledge and reputable dictionaries like weblio and Eijirō.
    • rikaikun: Same as rikaichan, but for Chrome browsers. I've found, however, that it lacks some of the cooler functions that Rikaichan has for learning Japanese, but it fully serves its purpose as a basic dictionary and as a tool for translating.
    • Denshi Jisho: Good for looking up kanji by radicals. Uses JMdict (the same dictionary as rikaichan and rikaikun), so there's no need to use it for looking up words.
    • Wikipedia Japan: Use for a variety of reasons, particularly looking up rare Japanese words and pronunciations, obscure cultural, historical and religious references, etc. JRPGs make a lot of these kinds of references and you won't always find them in a standard dictionary.
    • Google: When you can't find a Japanese word in any dictionary, chances are that it's not a real Japanese word. In these cases, sometimes even native Japanese speakers wouldn't know what the term is. With Google you can usually find something containing the term, and perhaps more context. For example, I was approached for help translating a phrase that appeared in a Japanese otome DS game: "ひゃにょひぃにょきゃい?" (Hyanyohii nyo kyai?) which doesn't make any sense. But Googling the term yielded several hits, one of which was particularly helpful in translating the phrase. It turns out that the character in the game was saying "楽しいのかい?" (correctly pronounced Tanoshii no kai? = Are you having fun?). He says it all weird (hyanyohii nyo kyai) because the player is pinching his cheeks (or rather, tapping his cheeks with the stylus) while he says it. So that bit of context was crucial to the translation, as well.
    • Text Mechanic: Depending on the ROM you're translating and the way the text is formatted, you may have to insert line breaks, full stops, and various other codes within your translated text in order to get it to display properly in-game. This website can help you automate much of that tedious process and save you a lot of time.
    Guidelines for Translating ROMs

    If you're already experienced with translating, these guidelines may be seen as an insult to your intelligence. This is not meant for you, but rather for those who are thinking about translating a game but have little to no Japanese knowledge. Anyone who cannot meet the following minimum requirements should learn more Japanese before attempting a translation.

    As a translator, you should:
    As a beta tester, you should:
    Other stuff for translators:
    Disclaimer

    I have studied Japanese off and on for 14 years, and have spent 3 of those years studying it while living in Japan (in addition to studying it for 4 years in university). At the peak of my abilities I passed Level N1 of the JLPT (the hardest level), so I can safely say that I understand Japanese to a level where I am able to translate most things with little difficulty. But I am by no means a professional translator. None of the information in this topic is meant to be professional advice for localizing games. It is only meant to serve as a general guide for aspiring ROM translators who want to localize games as a hobby. I am sure that there are members on this forum who are much more experienced with Japanese, and I invite them to share their resources and tips for translating ROMs on this thread. 宜しくお願いします!
     


  2. Phoenix Goddess

    Member Phoenix Goddess The Ninja's Protégée

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    As a translator who learned about 100+ Kanji characters from translating, knowing about 400 or more is absolutely necessary for translating or you'll end up constantly going to dictionaries and radicals.

    You can know Kana, but that doesn't mean you can translate properly, yet. Kana is just as important to know as Kanji and to translate video games, you have to have knowledge of both, as well as verbs, sentence structures, grammar, etc. It's really the only way you'll be able to translate without going to a dictionary every five seconds. (And there would be a lot less dropped projects.)

    Another thing to watch out for are text limits. You can translate freely as long as you stay within text limits.

    Densetsu listed some amazing dictionaries and help(my personal favorite is jisho and 英辞郎.).

    To those who do want to learn Japanese or start translation projects, good luck to you :)
     
  3. StorMyu

    Member StorMyu "I'm too old for this"

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    Sure, but it's not only about reading Kana/Kanji, like you said, if you don't know what they mean, that's futile ^^

    As a Romhacker, I tend to only limit the lenght of the textbox, not the translation itself.
    You can always add a textbox if the sentence is too long for the one you were translating or anything else.
     
  4. Phoenix Goddess

    Member Phoenix Goddess The Ninja's Protégée

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    Indeed, but not every romhacker is going to know how to add a textbox to a sentence. In cases such as those, there are text limits that even translators will have to follow or things won't fit, games will crash, worlds will be destroyed, and the zombie apocalypse will start. (Exaggeration there.)
     
  5. Nagato

    Member Nagato GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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  6. FAST6191

    Reporter FAST6191 Techromancer

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    Nice thread, I am struggling to word it but something on the various fonts/calligraphy styles/typefaces might be an idea (kaisho, gyosho and such). I see some translators have fun with certain styles where they would breeze through it in a more conventional one.

    It is not so bad normally when you can change it like any other font but when dealing with text in images and occasionally when roms use it as a narrative device (having a tradition bound character use an older style font or a robot use a coding style font- not so much a problem back when but today you can spin twenty fonts at once and not have a system break a sweat) or one has to leave it in as the font is custom and carries either custom characters (button presses as the like), occasionally DTE/character names in a single byte or multiple encodings of text (think the shiftJIS technically having standard unicode Roman characters and the ones up in the 824f and onwards range but for Japanese) as porting it out is more hassle than it is worth.
     
  7. Densetsu
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    Former Staff Densetsu Pubic Ninja

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    I just spent a good 20 minutes checking out weblio and it's definitely got its strengths over some of the ones I've already listed. And the Nico Nico Pedia is awesome especially for those Japanese visual novels like Hacker: 覚醒 and the ときめきメモリアル: Girls' Side games.

    I just did a search for "KY" (which was a popular buzzword in Japan in 2007) in NicoNico Pedia and it gave me the correct definition: 「空気が読めない」の略語。 Nice! :D

    Definitely including them in the first post. Thanks for the links!
    Hmm, not sure what I could say about translating different fonts, other than the fact that tensho (Imperial seal script) is a pain in the ass to read (although it is my favorite style). Take, for instance, the kanji "pun" for yoroshiku, which can be roughly translated as "thank you" or "regards."
    よろしく
    The last style on that list, tensho, hardly resembles the characters in their standard kaisho and cursive gyosho forms (tai means "form"). Fortunately I have not had to translate much text written (or rather carved, as it usually is) in tensho. In the rare instances where I've had to read something in tensho, I would defer to a native Japanese person.

    I think the topic on fonts would be better suited to explanation by someone more graphically-oriented than I. Some amazing work was done on Nanashi no Game. I played both the Japanese and English-patched versions to compare several things, one of which was choice of font style, and I was impressed. Fonts are not my area of expertise, so if anyone else would be able to shed some light on it in this topic, the discussion would be welcomed.
     
  8. the_randomizer

    Member the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    To be perfectly honest, I've always had a desire to do some ROM translating, even though I know it can be a daunting task in and of itself. I've known the language since 2004 (intermediate level), I spent two of those years actually living in Japan (awesome place to live by the way)and immersed myself in the culture/language. I can read a fair amount of kanji (don't know exact the number, but way more than I can actually write) and understand the grammar well (bases, conjugation, etc). Favorite games include Final Fantasy IV through X, Chrono Trigger, Earthbound, Bahamut Lagoon and Super Mario RPG.

    The main reason for me wanting to delve into doing translation is there are often words/phrases that I don't agree with (Tales of Phantasia for the SFC especially). While I don't expect to translate an entire ROM by myself, I would like to pitch in whenever I can, as I'm new to the ROM translation scene (doing the actual translating).

    Favorite anime (I refuse to watch dubbed versions, due to horrible voice acting):

    - One Piece (up to episode 518)
    - Dragon Drive
    - Naruto
    - Inuyasha
    - Most of Studio Ghibli movies
    - Digimon Savers (I know, I'm a nerd)

    So, I don't know how much I can actually contribute, or how much my efforts will amount to, but I want to at least give it a shot.

    -宜しくお願い致します。
     
  9. Densetsu
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    Former Staff Densetsu Pubic Ninja

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    You certainly sound like you've got what it takes! If I take up another translation project after Blood of Bahamut, I'd be more than happy to use some help in the future (if you don't get picked up for another project before then).
     
  10. the_randomizer

    Member the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    Heh, thanks. How knowledgeable does one have to be with hex editing? I'm not....100% comfortable with hex editors yet.... :( I really want to get into ROM translating, but I honestly don't know where to begin; sorry if it looks like I'm being a coward.
     
  11. kevan

    Member kevan Imagination rules the world

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    These kind of topics always wow me 0_o...
    I wouldnt mind getting into translating (but the dodgy google translate side of things :P)
     
  12. Densetsu
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    Former Staff Densetsu Pubic Ninja

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    Well, I guess the more you know, the better. But truth be told, I know next to nothing about hex editing, or ROM hacking in general, for that matter. I strictly translate. You're good to go :)
     
  13. the_randomizer

    Member the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    So, by that logic, if I simply made spreadsheets/text documents containing the translated script itself (like dumped text or what have you), that would be sufficient?

    Now, to find text dumping tools.
     
  14. Densetsu
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    Former Staff Densetsu Pubic Ninja

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    Sorry, not interested in Google translations, but come back after you've learned some Japanese. The ROM translation scene is always looking for people who can actually translate.

    That's essentially all you would need to do to start a translation project. But since different ROMs compress and store text differently, you'd have to ask someone to make a text extraction tool for you if you can't do it yourself. Sometimes the text is stored uncompressed within standard .txt files in the ROM, so those are the easiest to extract. Usually you'll need a ROM hacker to help you with the non-translating aspects of the project. I don't worry about that stuff--generally it's easier to find someone to dump text/extract images for you than it is to find someone willing (and skilled enough) to translate a game.
     
  15. the_randomizer

    Member the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    I was thinking of tinkering around with Breath of Fire - The Dragon Warrior, as it's called in Japan - ブレス・オブ・ファイア:竜の戦士. Granted, it has better grammar than BOF2's original crap translation since Ted Woolsey worked on it, but I still find it to be lacking. Finding the tools to dump it should be easy if go to Romhacking.net or something.

    Update: Right now, I have to take screenshots of each individual text box since there are no up-to-date and/or working tools that will assist me with extracting the necessary scripts. Crap. I was afraid this would happen. None of the tools I found do what I need to do (neither does Geiger's Snes9x). Any suggestions?
     
  16. Densetsu
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    Former Staff Densetsu Pubic Ninja

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    I wish I could help, but I have no idea. I can only give advice specifically related to translating.

    If you ever need help figuring out certain kanji in some of the screenshots, start a new topic in the ROM Hacking and Translations subforum and post the screens there. I'd be happy to take a look at them for you. Good luck!
     
  17. the_randomizer

    Member the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    The funny thing is, Breath of Fire strictly uses the Kana system (like Mother 2, but this uses spacing between particles). I've seen a program called "Cartographer" that supposedly dumps text, but the author isn't clear on how to use the commands. Oh well. I'll post something on the Romhacking forums and go from there. So I'll see what they say about it.

    Too bad no one made a program like FF3usME which allows extraction and insertion of dialogue. But, that's what I get for wanting to do something like this.
     
  18. Densetsu
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    Former Staff Densetsu Pubic Ninja

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    Jeremy Blaustein, a professional Japanese-English video game translator, has single-handedly translated a lot of works including Metal Gear Solid, three Silent Hill titles, a Phoenix Wright game, etc.

    In this 12-part interview, he talks about what it's like to translate games professionally as well as the difficulties that he encounters with translating. It's very engaging and worth a listen, whether you're interested in translating games or not. I enjoyed how candid (uncensored) it was and it has some random funny stuff throughout.

    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3
    Part 4
    Part 5
    Part 6
    Part 7
    Part 8
    Part 9
    Part 10
    Part 11
    Part 12

    The interview isn't exclusively about translating games, which is why I decided not to link these in the OP.
     
  19. Densetsu
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    Former Staff Densetsu Pubic Ninja

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    I saw this post elsewhere, but I didn't want to post in that thread because it would've been off-topic, so I took it here:
    @[member='Sora de Eclaune']
    Wrong.

    Try translating these using Google. I want to see what meanings you can come up with:
    Warning: Spoilers inside!
    Think those are easy? Ok, then try these:
    Warning: Spoilers inside!
    Tell me what you think those mean and then I'll give you the correct answers in my next post below. Mind you, the ones in the second spoiler are lifted straight from games that are currently being translated. I didn't make them up just to prove an extreme point. This is what you can typically expect to encounter when translating games.
     
    2 people like this.
  20. Sora de Eclaune

    Member Sora de Eclaune Baby squirrel, you's a sexy motherfucker.

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    Warning: Spoilers inside!

    Warning: Spoilers inside!

    I tried my best with that.
     

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