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|  World of Translators  |  Creating an Art Book  |  Breaking the Code  |
|  Inside the Voice Actors' Studio  |  Kneel before Zoids!  |  To Market, To Market  |
|  A Method to the Madness   |   Employees of the Unemployed  |   Gettin' Graphic   |
|   The Naming of Stuff  |  Operation Localize!   |

The Naming of Stuff

-Nich Maragos, project lead

             Etrian Odyssey isn't just old-school in its approach to gameplay-it presents
certain old-school challenges for localizers. Back in the day, you may remember playing
RPGs on your NES and casting HRM3 on a group of WzMummys. Well, for memory
reasons, the Etrian Odyssey games have similarly strict character limitations on names.

             Just as in the original Japanese game, we had a hard limit of 8 characters
for player skills, enemy skills, and enemy names, and a generous 10 for item and
equipment names. The hard part is that 8 characters in Japanese can give you enemy
names like 憤怒の眼光主, which romanizes as "Fundo No Gankou-Nushi" and translates
as the even lengthier "Owner of the Malicious Glare."

             That's a lot to pack into 8 English letters. So in this case, we jettisoned the word
"Owner" as being the least meaningful word in the name, and were left with "Malicious
Glare." Casting about for some shorter synonyms for "malicious" gives us words like
"evil" and "bad," which are both short enough to fit. But Evilglare and Badglare have
that slightly clumsy air that went hand-in-hand with the old NES days, and we try to
produce localizations more natural than that, even with character limits as tough as

             With a little more thought, we settled on "ill" as a suitable modifier, and dubbed the
FOE "Illgaze," substituting "gaze" for "glare" to avoid too many Ls in the name. Note
that there are enough spaces to use "Ill Gaze," but we chose to omit the space to keep
it consistent with the decided-on naming pattern of one-word entries with no middle caps,
chosen to avoid awkward-looking abbreviations like WzMummy or GrOgre.

             By a similar process, the 3-Headed Flying Pumpkin enemy becomes Trigourd, the Precision
Shot skill becomes Snipe, and the Executioner's Axe weapon becomes the Beheader. Sometimes,
some research is necessary to come up with an acceptable substitute. As you might have
noticed if you played the first game, virtually every shield in the Etrian Odyssey series
is called an Aspis, the ancient Greek term for a generic shield. This is because our
convention for shields calls for two words with a space, but if we had gone with "X Shield,"
the word Shield and the space take up 7 of our 10 characters already... leaving us 3 letters
for a word to distinguish all those shields from each other. By using "X Aspis" instead, we
gave ourselves an all-important 4th letter, making the task difficult but no longer impossible.

             Of course, research is often necessary when translating names in a Japanese RPG even without
character limits. A lot of the equipment in Etrian Odyssey is named for real-world items, much
of which is obscure, and finding correct spelling references isn't easy when reverse-transliterating
the phonetic katakana alphabet. All the credit for historically accurate weapon names like
the Katzbalger, Dainsleif, Caledfwlch, and Tshirovha goes to our diligent, thorough translation staff.

             Apart from the historical references, there are also the ever-popular mythological
references. I can't go into the one I found the most fascinating, since it's a
spoiler, but there's another one that's worth going into. One of the characters you
run into in the Labyrinth this time out is named Raishutsu in the Japanese version.
The translators and I, always wary of cultural or mythological references, dug a little
deeper, and discovered that the character's name was a likely allusion to Der Freischütz,
a German folk tale and subject of an opera by Carl Maria von Weber.

             To make the allusion clearer, we decided to have him self-identify as Der
Freischütz when he spoke. But this meant we'd have to change his name to avoid
calling him "Reischütz, Der Freischütz," so we did a little more research. Once we
came across The Black Rider, Robert Wilson's modern-day retelling of von Weber's
opera, we decided to call him Wilhelm after that version's protagonist.

             So now when you meet Wilhelm in the game, you'll know a bit more of his
behind-the-scenes backstory, which is only one of hundreds of such decisions made
over the course of naming process in Etrian Odyssey II. If we do our jobs right, that
process is invisible-but for those of you who have wondered, hopefully this answers
any questions you might have had.

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