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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!   |

Employees of the Unemployed

- Ted Tsung, project lead & translator
- Scott Strichart, editor & QA lead

             The translation and editing process for Izuna 2: The Unemployed Ninja Returns was surprisingly uncomplicated. We were able to use a lot of the first title's text for reference material, SUCCESS (the developer) provided us with very organized files that were easy to work with, and aside from a few puzzling areas of dialog, there were no major obstacles. In fact, the game took less than a month of diligent work before we were ready to send it back to Japan for coding.

With dialog like this, what could possibly go wrong?

             But, no project is without its moments where we catch ourselves staring at the screen, mouth slightly agape, eyes unblinking, with a few choice words running through our heads. For the Izuna 2 team, that was the debug process. As a genre, the "dungeon crawler" or "roguelike" (whatever your preference) does not lend itself well to quality assurance. The QA process depends on being able to systematically check finite objects and paths-not having to deal with randomly-spawning creatures and unpredictable scenarios. With 225 possible character combinations, we knew we were in for a QA nightmare.

             This was compounded further by the fact that Japanese players were reporting a variety of freeze bugs in the retail version of the game. For example, triggering a chain of explosions, using the Izuna/Utsuho Tag Attack, or even changing floors while afflicted by the Deception Trap, were all crashing the overseas Izuna 2. Making things even worse, the game would treat a crash as an in-game death, which would then start you back in the town with all of your items and money GONE.

Instances like this that involved an intense use of the game's resources were crashing it entirely.

             We set out to replicate each and every possible freeze a Japanese player reported, making for incredibly mixed emotions - finding the cause of a freeze was great, but losing all of our items and money, not so much. The record loss was probably a Barrage Bow that had been pumped up to over 600 attack, - a feat not easily repeatable. And for those of you who played the first title, no, the game wouldn't send items back to the storehouse after a freeze. Believe us, we tried.

             For most games, that's where the beauty of the debug menu comes into play. In many games, you can hit a few buttons, and suddenly have infinite gold or any item appear in your inventory, all features which are removed before the game goes to retail (our apologies to the would-be cheaters). Due to the way Izuna 2 was coded, however, debug options like this weren't available. What we did have was a very nifty one-hit kill option, as well as the ability to progress to the next floor by simply hitting "Start" that allowed us to speed through the game for text checking. However, the one-hit kill didn't work on bosses, which put any hopes of avoiding time-consuming level grinding down the drain.

The debug one-shot kill working its magic.

             Another thing you come to expect in the QA business is that sometimes asking for something to be fixed can lead to something else getting broken. After reporting a somewhat minor error in the storeroom, we received a new playable build from Japan, only to discover a new freeze bug - the entire storeroom. It took us a few hours to find out exactly what was causing it, because the worst kind of freeze bug one can encounter is an inconsistent one. We'd put one item into the storeroom, and it would work fine. The next? See ya later, game. In the end, we realized that you simply couldn't put any item into the storeroom that was not ALREADY in it. It may sound like a simple conclusion, but one that was arrived at after testing out at least twenty things before that. Needless to say, the game got a lot harder without the use of a storeroom during that cycle of testing.

Sorry, Izuna, debug can't save you now.

             Thankfully, that particular bug was our last major obstacle. We are confident that the version of Izuna 2 you'll be receiving is free of game-breaking crashes, and in some minor ways you'll never notice, is even an improvement over the Japanese retail version of the game. Our QA testers work very hard to ensure you're receiving a clean game, and this entry is one of our many internal ways of saying thanks. You too can say thanks, by purchasing a copy of Izuna 2 on day one. And finally, some interesting statistics:

Number of testers on Izuna 2: 6
Number of DS systems almost thrown against the wall: 6
Number of system-type bugs our testers reported: 104
Number of text bugs our testers reported: 259
Number of times the testers nearly gave the project lead a heart attack with a fake system bug: 3
Number of bugs our testers reported to which we responded: "That's not a bug, that's the way this game works:" 17
Number of monkeys we could have hired to do their job: 0

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