Eventual translation?

#1
Hi everyone.

Considering this game's campaigns requires everyone to read aloud from the book, I find myself unable to include some of my friends who don't understand english as well. I was wondering if it was planned to eventually translate the rulebook and the campaign books.

Sincerely, a sad boy with french friends.
 

[NOM] Derek

Administrator
Staff member
#2
Hi everyone.

Considering this game's campaigns requires everyone to read aloud from the book, I find myself unable to include some of my friends who don't understand english as well. I was wondering if it was planned to eventually translate the rulebook and the campaign books.

Sincerely, a sad boy with french friends.
Aww, don't be sad, DingleWeeny!

I won't so much as say that we have plans, but it is one of our hopes to have translation and localizations services for our major books at some point. I'm also not sure we'll ever be able to do printed versions of the books with translations. However, translating the digital PDFs is very possible.

Getting the timing right for that though is a weirdly difficult challenge, though. Since our content updates regularly, we need to make sure that we've got a (near) perfect version before we have translators do their thing. If not, we'd need to redo the translation work from English for each fix multiplied by each language we're looking to support. We also don't have access to full-time translators (and editors in other languages) that can provide live updates the way we can in English at the current time.

For now, we hope you'll be okay with our encouragement to do your own fan translations when playing with friends.
 
#3
Getting the timing right for that though is a weirdly difficult challenge, though. Since our content updates regularly, we need to make sure that we've got a (near) perfect version before we have translators do their thing. If not, we'd need to redo the translation work from English for each fix multiplied by each language we're looking to support.
Do you keep plain text manuscripts alongside your InDesign (I assume) files, or do you keep only the latter as a master version once the initial layout has been made, to avoid having to keep several versions up to date? With a .docx/.odt, I suppose a possible approach to alleviate this would be to use 'track changes' to keep track of updates through multiple versions and only update the translations in batches (e.g. every three file revisions or after major releases). That way you could save yourselves some re-formatting work. With your company's commitment to rolling releases, though, it's definitely an extra step that can't be avoided short of doing a one-and-done translation. Hopefully it's less of an issue for the campaigns than the rulebooks, but then again the latter would affect the former...

We also don't have access to full-time translators (and editors in other languages) that can provide live updates the way we can in English at the current time.
I feel like a freelancer, once familiar with the content and process, would likely be able to consistently provide same-day or next-day updates (but perhaps you meant "live" more literally). There would certainly be more of an overhead if you work through an agency, though, and in both cases, minimum fees could stack up quickly if you need many small changes made and can't consolidate them into bigger work orders. Many translators don't mind adding up very small orders and billing them e.g. monthly, though, and I imagine a similar deal can be struck with an agency.

For now, we hope you'll be okay with our encouragement to do your own fan translations when playing with friends.
How many words is Skies of Axia? The Hero manual v.1.0 seems to be about 45,000 words, which would be a lot for an amateur without translation software. From what I've seen, the layout is also rather complex for a quick and dirty translation, with lots of tables and sidebars. Even for me as a professional, it doesn't seem like it would be worth the effort if I'm the only one using it in the end. But translating only the actual adventure might be more manageable, since that's the part that players need to read out loud and interact directly with. That still means someone has to spoil everything for themselves before playing, though, which is a bit of a shame considering Emberwind allows a no-DM game.

I've been considering getting Skies of Axia on and off, but even though my friends and I are proficient enough with English to understand the rules and narration, doing the actual role-play in English would be awkward and switching between the two probably worse. I keep thinking that if I'm going to spend months (in my spare time) translating this, I might as well just create my own adventure in a system I'm already familiar with instead =/
 

[NOM] Derek

Administrator
Staff member
#4
We do keep plain text manuscripts along with everything else, yes. In fact, our revision and release cycle is actually incorporated into our content structure, as we expected that most of our revisions being made in regards to gameplay rebalance. For campaign books, that will likely only ever effect the downloadable content (i.e. support package) rather than the narrative that's printed into the hard copies.

There's a pretty difficult debate regarding the benefits and costs between freelancers and agencies too. While you're correct in agencies costing more with regards to the financial cost, freelancers come with a variety of their own challenges. A non-exhaustive list includes the cost in time where we have to hire, organize, and manage those translators; the "wider" disparity in level of skill at translation between freelancers resulting in the need of greater quality checks; and the lack of a "comprehensive" coverage across multiple languages, resulting in the need to pick and choose which languages to prioritize translation for. Regardless of these considerations, it all comes down to money in the end, sadly. And while the budget is one side of the equation, the other has to do with the demand there is for the translated product. Unless we can more-or-less guarantee that the cost of translating a particular product into a particular language is worth it, I'd have a very hard time convincing our investors to foot the bill for something like that upfront. Who knows, though! Maybe we can secure funding through another method, such as government grants, crowdfunding via a Kickstarter campaign, or etc.

Either way, I'm very appreciative of the time and energy you put into your reply, @Salvatos, and I can completely understand the appeal of crafting your own adventure in another system given the amount of work necessary to do that level of translation. Unfortunately, this is where we're at right now and all I can say is that having EMBERWIND in several languages is something I hope we can accommodate at some point in the future.
 
#5
There's a pretty difficult debate regarding the benefits and costs between freelancers and agencies too. While you're correct in agencies costing more with regards to the financial cost, freelancers come with a variety of their own challenges. A non-exhaustive list includes the cost in time where we have to hire, organize, and manage those translators; the "wider" disparity in level of skill at translation between freelancers resulting in the need of greater quality checks; and the lack of a "comprehensive" coverage across multiple languages, resulting in the need to pick and choose which languages to prioritize translation for.
True, there are definitely challenges either way. One point I would like to note in response to the above is that you should be careful about the work you receive from agencies as well, even when they provide guarantees. I've been asked a few times already, just this past year, to revise or redo translations that an agency I work with had delivered; not because they noticed that the original translator's work didn't meet their standards, but because the client complained about the translation they received (rightfully so). At the end of the day, most agencies also rely on freelancers, and quality control isn't always the best, especially for clients on a tight budget.

Another Kickstarted project, the video game Gibbous, ran into such issues:
Gibbous said:
Problem is, we worked with some freelancers (who were awesome!) for some languages, and with a localization company for others. Well, this company screwed us big time, delivering bad translations that were probably just hastily touched-up versions of the text ran through google translate…
I highly recommend to any company that has fans they can call upon in the languages they are targeting to get some supporters to do a quick review of the materials at an early stage of translation to catch issues early and switch to different providers if necessary.

That said, I feel like most tabletop RPGs get translated by publishers in the target countries that buy licensing rights, rather than by translation agencies hired by the original publisher. I know that has been the case for systems such as Fantasy Craft, Symbaroum and City of Mist. Even D&D's French editions have been handed to various publishers throughout the years even though WotC surely have enough clout to hire full-time translators of their own.

Anyway; may I ask again what the word count is for Skies of Axia, minus the rules appendix? I might bite the bullet someday, but I would need to know what I am really getting into.
 

[NOM] Derek

Administrator
Staff member
#6
True, there are definitely challenges either way. One point I would like to note in response to the above is that you should be careful about the work you receive from agencies as well, even when they provide guarantees. I've been asked a few times already, just this past year, to revise or redo translations that an agency I work with had delivered; not because they noticed that the original translator's work didn't meet their standards, but because the client complained about the translation they received (rightfully so). At the end of the day, most agencies also rely on freelancers, and quality control isn't always the best, especially for clients on a tight budget.

Another Kickstarted project, the video game Gibbous, ran into such issues:


I highly recommend to any company that has fans they can call upon in the languages they are targeting to get some supporters to do a quick review of the materials at an early stage of translation to catch issues early and switch to different providers if necessary.

That said, I feel like most tabletop RPGs get translated by publishers in the target countries that buy licensing rights, rather than by translation agencies hired by the original publisher. I know that has been the case for systems such as Fantasy Craft, Symbaroum and City of Mist. Even D&D's French editions have been handed to various publishers throughout the years even though WotC surely have enough clout to hire full-time translators of their own.

Anyway; may I ask again what the word count is for Skies of Axia, minus the rules appendix? I might bite the bullet someday, but I would need to know what I am really getting into.
Oh, yeah! You're absolutely right regarding agencies as well. I merely meant that it was one extra step in the direction of safeguarding quality.

And I'm sorry for forgetting to reply to the word count bit. The word count is for Skies of Axia is somewhere between 35,000-40,000 words, depending on the sections you include. The main reason for that range comes from whether or not you include sections like the Storyteller's Section. It's not a part of the main narrative, nor is it a part of the rules, but it does fall into the "appendix".
 
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