Trails in the Sky: Second Chapter Localization Project Almost Got Cancelled Midway

by Ceidz, Owner

Trails in the Sky: Second Chapter (SC) just released last week, so we FINALLY can play this awesome new RPG from Nihon Falcom and XSEED!

According a pretty lenghty but REALLY interesting article posted a few days ago over at Kotaku, the localization project for Trails in the Sky: SC was actually a nightmare for the people doing it, and almost got cancelled in the process. Luckily for us, the game released and the developer is now willing to talk about the development issues encountered.

I’ve already posted on this subject a little while back but didn’t know back then that it went THAT bad, which is why I’m revisiting this subject to share with you how it went!

Here are some of the most interesting excepts from the original article (which I REALLY encourage you to read if you have a few free minutes!)

This segment talks about the time it took to have the localization completed:

It’s taken nearly half a decade for Second Chapter to come out in English, and those who have worked on localization of the game say it was a hellish undertaking. Given the size of the script—over three million Japanese characters—and the many obstacles the game faced on its route to U.S. shores, employees at the publisher XSEED saw it as their white whale. To describe SC’s localization as “challenging” would be like describing the Pacific Ocean as “damp.”

In this other segment, the developer states that localizing a game is a colossal effort, and in this case, Trails in the Sky: First Chapter didn’t sell as much as expected:

If only more people had bought it [First Chapter]. Perhaps because of the generic title or because the PSP was on its last legs in North America, FC was a retail flop. “It was actually quite a huge letdown based on how much work we put into it and how much work Falcom had put into it”

Trails in the Sky First Chapter had taken so much of their time and energy, and SC’s script was twice as big. After FC’s sluggish sales, how could they possibly justify tackling something double the size?

Essentially, as you can guess, every game boils down to the same issue: gamers needs to buy them to convince the developers to create (or localize in this case) new entries.

Another element which I didn’t even suspect was that the terminology from one game to the other had to be consistent. This segment talks about that particular issue.

Soon, another major problem emerged—one that would be significantly more difficult to solve. As [an editor] went through the localization files, she started finding inconsistencies in terminology. Titles, items, and concepts had different names in SC script than they did in the first game, which was unacceptable to XSEED. The Trails series—or “Kiseki” in Japanese—is set in a large, consistent world with stories and characters that carry over from game to game. Maintaining that consistency was paramount for XSEED.

Just to put in context how much text had to be translated, read this excerpt:

[An editor] estimates that the script clocked in at 716,401 words, which is roughly the size of 10 novels. For context: the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy is 455,125 words.

This is but a small excerpt of the original post, but I encourage you strongly to check it out, it’s a really cool read.

What do you think of the issues encountered in the localization of this game? Are you happy to have the game at all?

On Kotaku: The Curse of Kiseki: How One Of Japan’s Biggest RPGs Barely Made It To America
On XSEED’s localization blog: Localization Blog #2 and Localization Blog #5

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