Available :Q4 2004

Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex Dev Diary #1 © BanDai Games
By: Roy Brewer

With so many video game titles being released in the fourth quarter, there are some rare occasions that a new title will appear out of the masses. As someone who has the special opportunity to work in an ever evolving industry, I have the opportunity to work for a publisher that has one of those special titles. My name is Roy Brewer and this is my diary. One of my responsibilities is preparing Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex for the U.S market. Let’s begin with bringing a great title from Japan and getting it ready for the U.S. gamer.

Most people think that developing a game is fairly simple, especially when the game is already complete in one country (Japan) and is just being brought over to another (USA). Well, it’s not that easy, especially when you are working on a highly anticipated game!

The process of introducing a product from one area to another is called localization. Let me try explain to you some of the difficulties associated with localizing and translating.

First there is the actual script in Japanese. It needs to be translated. With this game, the translation was outsourced to the company that does the TV animated series. This includes the translating, context check, editing, and proof reading. This is not done in any particular strict order, and gets double-checked by the publisher which is us (Bandai).

To start, when translating from one language to another, it is rare that you can translate phrases and idioms directly, as most in one language do not mean the same in another. So time is taken to insure that a clear understandable English version is made. Some rough editing and proofreading are started here.

Then a context check is started. Sometimes, this can be a challenge. This involves making sure the same language that is used from the animated series and movie is used in the game script. There is a glossary of terms that are used such as names, weapons, places, and other terminology, all of which needs to be checked. Of course editing and proofreading continue here.

In some cases, we come across new items and persons that have not been used in previous versions of the series. Then a decision must be made about making new names. This of course has to be approved by a committee in Japan that oversees this licensed product. Stress can accrue, as we do work on a time schedule, and it takes time to communicate to a committee that is a day ahead of you. When it’s a highly anticipated title like Ghost in the Shell, you always double check and make sure everything is perfect.

Next for the voice recordings, the English script is given to writers that will adapt the script to a time frame of the cut scenes and match the mouth flaps of the characters. That means a whole new round of editing and proofreading. Actors are then selected, but for this game we made sure we used the animated series voice actors so we started the recordings. Next the voice recordings are all cleaned up and edited. We then listen to the recordings to insure the best quality. If it is not to our standard, then the voice lines that we do not like are re-done in a pick up session.

For the non voice over text, there are other issues. We have to check the text in the game to insure that the text does not go off screen or even out of the text window. This is a whole other session of editing or localization debugging.

In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, we had the programmers work on the U.S. version to give its own flavor. For example, we had the number of difficulties increased so there are ten settings instead of three. We also had the number of items the player had to find to unlock things increased from three per stage to ten per stage. With these changes we know the title will challenge the U.S. gamers. You can decide for yourself when the game hits the stores on November 8th. Hopefully, this will answer everyone asking me when they can get their hands on Ghost in the Shell.

Stay tuned for more Ghost sightings and another installment of my Ghost in the Shell diary.