Translation Baby Steps

by Ron Gilbert
Oct 26, 2015

Today's post is going to be quick and small. So much to do. I feel like we've entered the brunt of the storm after a few months of light winds. Bugs pile up and more tasks get assigned each day than we attend to. The water is raising faster than we can bail it out.

But that's not bad. The game changes everyday. Art from Mark, puzzles wired up by David, new animations from Gary and Octavi and dialogs from me and Lauren. It's exciting times for Thimbleweed Park.

A few days ago I decided to fully dive into the translation system. Text is currently burnt into the code. It's easier that way, but it's something that needs to change once the first pass of writing is done.

The first step was to write a preprocessor for Squirrel, then load in the spreadsheets with (sample) text and dialog ids. The final game will allow you to switch languages with the press of a key or button, you won't need to restart.

A few months after the game ships, our plan is to allow user translations into any language you want, even made up ones. We'll release all the text in a spreadsheet, change it as you wish, put the new file in the right place, and it will show up as a language. I predict chaos.

Thanks to the teeming masses on Twitter I was able to get a few lines of German in.

The verbs aren't translated, but this is a proof-of-concept for the engine and it worked great. I also give no warrants as to the accuracy of the translation or the appropriate use thereof.

I'll do a full write-up on how translations work next week, or the week after.

- Ron

Joe - Oct 26, 2015 at 18:20
Teeming. The term is teeming masses.

I don't know why. I didn't invent English. If I did it would have been 'teaming'.

Ron Gilbert - Oct 26, 2015 at 18:23
Yeah, teeming. That's what I said. Teeming. :-)

Rum Rogers - Oct 26, 2015 at 18:28
Hey Ron, will you guys also translate the inventory icons into something watchable? :P

Grafekovic - Oct 26, 2015 at 18:35
Oh, it's Rum "Danger" Rogers, isn't it?

Rum Rogers - Oct 26, 2015 at 18:43
Ron's so grumpy that saying "you rock" or bad mouthing the inventory icons have the same potential danger.
Well, I hope.

Carlo Valenti - Oct 26, 2015 at 18:40
once the English text of the game is finalized, I offer myself to make the English translation in a couple of months - for a modest fee.

Mattias Cedervall - Oct 26, 2015 at 19:10
The English translation?! Surely you meant the *Name of another languange than English* translation? Fee?! :-( I would do it for free!

Ema - Oct 27, 2015 at 14:48
Please, dear Adventure Games God... donate a new kind of Sense of humour to Carlo....

And, please: donate a sense of humour of ANY kind to Mattias...


Carlo Valenti - Oct 27, 2015 at 16:12

Carlo Valenti - Oct 27, 2015 at 18:26
Also, I offer the following special translation services:
1) zip translation: text is compressed to Huffman coding - allows faster reading
2) crypto translation: the game text will be understood only by one specific user - player is only required to decrypt the text on-the-fly with his private key, which also enhances the puzzle
3) helium translation: the text of the game is translated to a higher pitch - fun is assured

Mattias Cedervall - Oct 28, 2015 at 04:40
:-( That was RUDE! :-( I've suggested books for the occult bookstore which requires humour. Well, NSA is on your case... LOL

Carlo Valenti - Oct 28, 2015 at 18:24

Ema - Oct 28, 2015 at 19:40
Whoops... Maybe I'll become an X-file too? In that case, please, remember to USE balloon animal WITH me. I'd appreciate.


longuist - Oct 26, 2015 at 20:56
After a while there will be a Google translated version to Russian and back. But I would purrfer a teemed effort madded a lolcat verzion. Teheh

Kenney - Oct 26, 2015 at 18:43
dat linoleum floor tho... <3 <3 <3

Daniel - Oct 26, 2015 at 18:43
If the verbs are not translated at the moment, then this means you'll be locked into the "verb first, object second" structure?

With German this works, since you can write "Gehe zu Registrierkasse" (as adventure games have done in the past) instead of the more common "Zu Registrierkasse gehen". But there might be languages in which this is a problem.

You might take a "won't fix" stance on this since it (hopefully) only creates reading inconvenience instead of catastrophic failure, but it might not be too difficult to fix.

As a simple solution, each verb could consist of a "Prefix" and a "Postfix" part, with "no specification" defaulting to the English "everything is prefix". That should cover all possible variations of "verb+object" pseudo-sentence construction. Of course, the verb shown in the dashboard would have to  be a separate string, since, for example, in the case of "zu X gehen", one wouldn't want to have "zu gehen" in the dashboard, but only "gehen".

smartypants - Oct 26, 2015 at 21:22
I think imperative ("Gehe zu Registrierkasse") is more appropriate than infinitive ("Zu Registrierkasse gehen"), since you're issuing commands to the character.

Big Red Button - Oct 27, 2015 at 06:42
... and the Germans know the imperative very well from the SCUMM games. I wouldn't change anything on this.

Arto - Oct 27, 2015 at 01:59
In Finnish this is even more complex as there are a lot of rules, and even the form of a word depents on conditions. E.g.:

Walk = Kävele
Cash register = Kassakone

As you might have noticed, there is no 'to' behind 'Walk' there. That's because it has to be added as an extension (postposition) to the object's word. So 'Walk to cash register' would translate to 'Kävele kassakoneelle". Notice the -lle at the end of object.

This becomes even more difficult if the object would be, say, 'plant' = 'kasvi'. You can't say 'Kävele kasville' (well, you could, but it would sound really odd), but instead, you'd have to say 'Kävele kasvin luo', which is roughly 'Walk next to a plant', or more accurately 'Walk to a close proximity of a plant'.

With other verbs the extension could be different. 'Push cash register' would be 'Työnnä kassakonetta', with -tta. 'Open cash register' = 'Avaa kassakone' with no extensions.

No wonder there are so few adventure games translated to Finnish ;)

Iron Curtain - Oct 27, 2015 at 06:31
"No wonder there are so few adventure games translated to Finnish ;)"

Which is ironic because the written language is pronounced exactly like the spoken one, unlike English, where you have to depend on dictionaries to find out how a word is pronounced.

Mattias Cedervall - Oct 27, 2015 at 18:08
Terve! :-) /Ruotsi

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 27, 2015 at 08:38
I think this construct language problem have been already faced in the past.
I clearly remember an italian version of Monkey Island (and Indiana Jones) where every object in the inventory had its own article, and the verbs were modified to accomodate the sentence. And it sounded good.

For Example: "Walk to door" were not translated as "Vai a porta", but "Vai *verso la* porta".
Or "Pick up grog" => "Prendi *il* grog".

So for italian there is no problem :-)

Panzerschrekk - Oct 29, 2015 at 08:38
Well, "Gehe zur Registerkasse" would be correct, but as said before: "Gehe zu Registerkarte" is absolutely acceptable.

Uli Kusterer - Oct 31, 2015 at 17:20
And "Gehe zu Registrierkasse" is actually the correct translation. It's telegraph-style, just like "Go to cash register", which would be "go to the cash register" in normal conversation ("zur" is just short for "zu der", i.e. "to the" after all). So German can actually get away with this in verb UIs. Other languages may be harder.

Order shouldn't really be a problem in German either, as long as the original phrase isn't built by appending strings, but rather by replacing placeholders. I.e. It shouldn't be

    "Gehe zu" +

but rather

    replace("$1",,"Gehe zu $1")

or so (pseudocode).

Mattias Cedervall - Oct 26, 2015 at 18:46
My quick translation into Swedish:

Dagens inlägg blir snabbt och kort. Så mycket att göra. Det känns som om vi har drabbats av stormen efter några månader med milda vindar. Buggar läggs på hög och fler uppgifter delas ut varje dag som vi inte tar tag i. Vattnet höjer sig fortare än vi hinner länsa.

Men det är inte dåligt. Spelet förändras varje dag. Konst från Mark, pussel iordninggjorda av David, nya animationer från Gary och Octavi och dialoger från mig och Lauren. Det är en spännande tid för Thimbleweed Park.

För några dagar sedan beslutade jag att djupdyka i översättningssystemet. Texten är nu bränd i koden. Det är lättare på det sättet, men det är något som måste ändras när första textens första utkast är färdigt.

Första steget var att skriva en förstegsbearbetare för Squirrel (Ekorre), sen ladda kalkylbladen med (prov)text och dialog-ID:s. Det färdiga spelet kommer tillåta dig att ändra text med ett tryck på en tangent eller knapp, du behöver inte starta om.

Några månader efter att spelet givits ut, planerar vi att tillåta användarnas översättningar till vilket språk ni än vill, även påhittade sådana. Vi ska ge ut all text i ett kalkylblad, ändra det som du önskar, placera den nya filen på rätt ställe, och det kommer att visas som ett språk. Jag förutspår kaos.

Tack vare de vimlande massorna på Twitter lyckades jag få med några repliker på tyska.

Verben är inte översatta, men det här är ett bevis på att motorn fungerar jättebra. Jag ger inte heller några garantier för översättningens korrekthet eller dess lämpliga användande.

Jag ska skriva en mer utförlig text om hur översättningarna fungerar nästa vecka eller veckan därefter.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 27, 2015 at 08:40
....err..... OK, I agree with you!

Mattias Cedervall - Oct 27, 2015 at 12:10
Thank you! :-)

T.M. - Oct 27, 2015 at 12:27
Heh, jag skrattade åt Ekorre-delen, nästan lika roligt som Micromjuk Fönstren.

Mattias Cedervall - Oct 27, 2015 at 12:40
Det är viktigt att översätta allt fast Windows blir egentligen Fönster.

T.M. - Oct 27, 2015 at 13:11
Hoppsan, mitt fel. Det har varit ju ganska länge, när jag har sist skrivit på svenska :).

Mattias Cedervall - Oct 27, 2015 at 13:18
Är du inte svensk eller var det bara längesedan du skrev på svenska?

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 27, 2015 at 15:40
Om en skogsmurmeldjur kunde kasta trä, hur mycket trä skulle en skogsmurmeldjur kasta?

Mattias Cedervall - Oct 27, 2015 at 18:06
Det ska vara "ett" i stället för "en", men det är annars en bra fråga. Kanske ett ton trä? :P

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 29, 2015 at 06:47
även om en skogsmurmeldjur skulle kasta in massor av trä skulle en skogsmurmeldjur kasta trä nej, eftersom en Skogsmurmeldjur inte kan kasta trä!

T.M. - Oct 28, 2015 at 11:53
Nej, jag är inte svensk. Jag har bara studerat litet när jag var tonåringen. När du kan tala litet något skandinaviskt språk det är lättare att resa i alla nordiska länderna.

Arto - Oct 28, 2015 at 13:10
I Finland också? Jag tror att inte så många finländare talar Svenska, om kust område räknas inte... T.ex. jag kunde inte diskutera med min Svensk skicklighet. Jag är även inte säker om denna text är rätt...

Sorry Ron, I know these come to your mail...

Rum Rogers - Oct 26, 2015 at 19:06
By the way, I'm pretty sure the blonde girl is Sandy.
Also, that handful of pixels on the right looks a lot like a chunk of Dave.

Kai - Oct 26, 2015 at 19:32
Ron et al.,

something has been bothering me for a while, and assuming that the day where you guys are freezing the dialog lines is approaching, the timing seems appropriate.

In a number of past blog posts, I have seen requests/suggestions in the comments for references to other games, and also meta references, most commonly in the dialog. In addition, a good share of the book titles in the occult book store refer to Monkey Island, Zak, or other games.

I sincerely hope that you keep these things to a minimum. If anything, references to other games should be a hard to find easter egg, a nice little nod, but not blatantly in-your-face. Also, I would not want the main characters (or any other characters, for that matter) to break the fourth wall and have lines like "I don't know, maybe ask the guy on the other side of the monitor", or "It doesn't matter, this is just an adventure game", or things like that. In my opinion, it would completely destroy the suspension of disbelief, which is such an important element in storytelling.

I am almost certain I am preaching to the choir and that my worries are unfounded. But it's something I just needed to get it off my chest.

You guys rock. And thanks for reading.

Ron Gilbert - Oct 26, 2015 at 20:19
The Occult Book store is an odd exception since they were all written by backers and readers. You'll just have to suspend you're disbelief for them.  As for other refrences, there will be some, but we are trying to keep them "special".

And... the text is a long long way from being locked. That probably won't happen until May.

Damian - Oct 27, 2015 at 03:02
In a parallel universe, Thimbleweed Park is inhabited by Sandy and Dave clones... DXXX

Big Red Button - Oct 27, 2015 at 07:23
Great visual appearance!

Does Ray really have black lips?

Big Red Button - Oct 27, 2015 at 12:17
I assume that Ray's mouth looks black, just because she's talking!

"Sandy" from TP looks even better than Sandy from MM!

ashley b - Oct 28, 2015 at 15:07
In other words, their children...

Grafekovic - Oct 27, 2015 at 08:44
I hope someone sells some fine leather jackets.

Francesco Favia - Oct 26, 2015 at 19:43

I'm sure you know when you play a graphic adventure, and you know that dialogs are important.
But then you have a breake from the game, vacation, girlfriend, wife, kids, tsunami, russian invasion in europe...
Well, when you get back to the game it is impossible to remember everything that has been said.... ( I still remember, that I did not rember what i needed to do to get the boat to go to look for the monkey head)...
Tha said... would that be a terrible idea to have something like  a register of all that have been said, all the conversations in the game sorted by characters we met?
You know... Just saying,,,

wysiwtf - Oct 26, 2015 at 19:52
actually haing a notebook handy is a very classy thing for crime adventures to have as well!

Francesco Favia - Oct 27, 2015 at 14:07
That' s a cool idea..
But I dont think Ron would ever approve to have a notebook popping out from somewhere taking all the screen..
I think so because he always said that in MK1 ne vever liked to have a big face of a pirate appearing when you wanted to talk with him.
If Im not wrong he said he ruined the game feeling...

Well in that case I would make the notebook available in the menu screen

Jesper - Oct 27, 2015 at 12:33
I had the exact same thought. I had this idea for a solution but don't know if it's possible/too time consuming:

When you get back to a savegame it starts out with the text "Last, in Thimbleweed Park..." and then a voiceover narrates short key clips from the game so far (possible only from your last session). It shouldn't be clips from your own playing but pre-recorded clips of gameplay. They all relate to key moments in the story or possibly from the most important puzzle chanes completed. I guess Ron and the team knows best what would be considered most important information which could be translated into such a clip.

Don't know if this makes any sense ;)

jfrisby - Oct 26, 2015 at 21:05
Excited to see if anyone rewrites all the dialog via the translation spreadsheets!

Emmanuel - Oct 26, 2015 at 21:20
The idea of opening up the engine to any translation is simple and brilliant. The good translations outside of EFIGS will most likely gain a good reputation on their own. Also, it's very likely that the translations themselves will be edited and corrected by their respective communities. But I'm wondering, does the engine only allow a Latin alphabet? How about fan-made translations into Greek, Russian, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, Korean? Will those be completely impossible?

Ron Gilbert - Oct 26, 2015 at 21:40
The C64 font we use only has latin characters, but if you also dropped a correctly formatted font file along side the translation, I'll make sure it works.

Emmanuel - Oct 27, 2015 at 00:10
I'm personally okay with English, but from a technical point of view, it's extremely cool that the engine supports extra font files.

Itamar - Oct 27, 2015 at 04:51
WOW. That's awesome.

Guga - Oct 28, 2015 at 02:56
I like your gravatar

Soong - Oct 27, 2015 at 05:12
You forgot to mention Klingon, the most important language of all.

Guga - Oct 27, 2015 at 02:59
Oh, God. Translations. Why can't we all speak the same language?

I made a small adventure-game-like game for Android and it was painful, hardcoding lines was sooooo easy and made the "script" (I'm not that good at building engines, it was all java code) readable, but then I switched to IDs for translation and it took me a lot of time leaving the code a blob of unreadable things.

Not to mention that I put there some puns that were difficult to translate to Italian. I managed, since Italian is my native language, but now I can't extend the game to other languages since I don't have money to pay a professional translator and I don't trust the quality of my friends' translations :P

Iiro - Oct 27, 2015 at 04:06
Fremen language confirmed..?

Martin Wendt - Oct 27, 2015 at 04:32
Seems smart to take translations into account early on, indeed.
I noted that 'Registrierkasse' is lower case in the verb-action-line. Assumably it uses the exact same word so is the lower case enforced by code?
In German, nouns stay upper case in a sentence so this may need tuning.
And yes, more about this language in this rant-of-all-rants by Mark Twain himself :-)

Ron Gilbert - Oct 27, 2015 at 09:56
In English, only proper nouns would be capitalized (like someone's name). Registrierkasse has a lowercase 'r' because I made it so, following the English rules. The names of objects for the sentence line are kept in a separate list, so the case can change based on the requirements of the language.

Christopher Griffin - Oct 27, 2015 at 14:47
Thank you so much for the Twain link.  I think I love it most when he writes about the mundane!  Ron, if you skipped the read, I recommend it.

Sushi - Oct 31, 2015 at 15:48
That Mark Twain rant reminded me of a joke about the English language. How do you  pronounce GHOS in English?
Answer: fish! With the "f" of enough, the "I" of women and the "sh" of sure...

onkelosuppo - Oct 31, 2015 at 10:35
@Martin OT:
It seems like Twain was a seriously grumpy man. ;) Reading this article is like reading "A Yankee on King Arthur's Court" again. Both are just big rants about stuff that differs from Twains / the protagonists understanding of the world.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 27, 2015 at 04:47
Ahahah, I just imagined a puzzle where you find a book in a library called "50 shades of translations", and you have to find the translation of an English word into one of the 50 languages spoken in the world, for example Vietnam, Uzbek, Zulu.

Naa, too complex! Or not?

Christian - Oct 27, 2015 at 04:49
What a great idea to give us access to the text some months after release! People could try to tell completely different stories. I wonder whether that would be possible with the other things/parameters....would make for an interesting story-telling challenge! ;-)

Andreas - Oct 27, 2015 at 05:19
Oh no...
What do I need to put in the spreadsheet to gain root privileges? ;-)

DZ-Jay - Oct 27, 2015 at 05:35
Hey, Mr. Gilbert,

I'd like to volunteer to write the Spanish translation.  I can do proper Castilian, as well as any Latin American dialect.

All I ask is for my copy of the game to be autographed by you and the team. :)


Hola, Sr. Gilbert,

Quisiera ofrecerme cómo voluntario para escribir la traducción al español.  Puedo hacerlo en castellano, al igual que cualquier dialecto de latino-america.

Sólo pido que mi copia del juego venga firmada por usted y su grupo.

(see what I did there? :) )

kaoD - Oct 27, 2015 at 16:34
Well, your Spanish translation has several typos :P

DZ-Jay - Oct 29, 2015 at 05:13
Several is a big number!  I see an accent misplaced by the auto-correct... :P

Milo Casagrande - Oct 27, 2015 at 05:47
Looking forward to the full translations post (as I was looking forward to the save game one).

With my (open source) translator hat on, I'm wondering if the gettext utilities might be a good way to translate a game, and in this special case an adventure/point-n-click one. I know there are games out there that rely on them...

Jura Snodtball - Oct 27, 2015 at 07:45
Sandy and Dave! Effing psyched!

T.M. - Oct 27, 2015 at 13:09
Same here, so does this actually mean that Maniac Mansion takes also place in Thimbleweed Park?

Gregorius - Oct 27, 2015 at 07:51
Ron Gilbert wrote:
> We'll release all the text in a spreadsheet, […]

I just hope you won’t use the Microsoft® Excel® spreadsheet format for translated texts…

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 27, 2015 at 07:55
Why not?

Ron Gilbert - Oct 27, 2015 at 09:52
For one reason, not everyone (including me) uses Windows and has Excel. It's also a horrible unmergable file format. tsv is just text, easily editing in any editor and merged by git.

Ron Gilbert - Oct 27, 2015 at 09:49
No, the text is in tsv format.

Fritz - Oct 27, 2015 at 13:14
Thank you, Ron! Thank you very, very much!

prbalbontin - Oct 27, 2015 at 10:28
Just thinking out loud here, Ron.

When you said "our plan is to allow user translations," I thought that maybe allowing users to add lines to the dialogue trees would be a lot of fun too. I mean, I guess some people will use the possibility of editing the text not only to translate it, but also to mod it and change the dialogues with hilarious effects. That will expand the replayability of the game, and help build a modding community around it. People will just download a file that, instead of a translation, contains a modified version of the dialogues (or even a whole new scritp!) with new jokes and so on and so forth.

Paulup - Oct 27, 2015 at 10:51
I will be playing the game in German, even though I don't speak German, simply because I enjoy a challenge.

LogicDeLuxe - Oct 27, 2015 at 11:51
I don't like how the talk text is thinner than the command line. It somewhat destroys the lo-res feel. Is this an adjustable option?

Ron Gilbert - Oct 27, 2015 at 12:09
It's not thinner, it's a smaller font size, but maybe that is what you meant. We do plan on having the dialog font adjustable, probably 3 different sizes since it's a fixed bitmap font.

Big Red Button - Oct 27, 2015 at 12:42
The verbs will be revised some day, too, won't they?

longuist - Oct 27, 2015 at 13:34
Definitely. Maybe they get replaced with a Big Red Button. :P

Big Red Button - Oct 27, 2015 at 14:25
... in order to conclude the game with a nuclear meltdown? At least I could enable a replacement *by* a Big Red Button (*hint!!!*). ;-)

Big Red Button - Oct 27, 2015 at 15:18
A little suggestion for the verbs interface:
As the story is set in '87, how about verbs that are looking like being displayed by fourteen-segment displays?
It would look very 80s!

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 27, 2015 at 15:36
In my humble opinion, I like "pixeled" verbs.
The font you mentioned remebers me the Pinball displays, like Stern, Williams, and so on...
But the adventure games of Lucasfilm of 80-90's should have verbs written in characters, that is, in pixels!

Big Red Button - Oct 27, 2015 at 15:59
However Ron floated a "text inventory" mode in a comment (see the link below). But he also mentioned that he would prefer icons. And in my opinion an inventory with icons necessitates graphically enhanced verbs.

Big Red Button - Oct 28, 2015 at 13:50
Oops, it seems that I have understood your post only now. Well, I don't think, it would look too much like a pinball display as it would still be pixel art. And pinballs rather used to have dot-matrix displays.
At least those displays were very popular for watches and other electronic devices, and they were often shown in movies and TV series from the 80s.

It's just a suggestion since I think that the verbs need a stylization.
User translations of the verbs would be an exceptional case, of course.

Mattias Cedervall - Oct 27, 2015 at 12:14
Ron, last Friday you talked about translating graphics. Will I be able to translate for example signs into Swedish? Some words are longer in Swedish so I guess it's gonna be difficult... :-(

Big Red Button - Oct 27, 2015 at 13:08
The only case that I remember spontaneously, where they translated graphics at Lucasfilm, is the inscription on the wall of the prison in MM. But there were only few readable signs at all in the SCUMM games.
You normally had to right-click on a sign, just to make the character read out the translated inscription.

In my opinion it would be totally okay to keep the graphics in English.

Phaze - Oct 27, 2015 at 12:32
Many are thinking about actual story rewrites through this. Its something I asked before and that would be grand!

Are you planning on hosting the translations and rewrites on your site? How can people get to them? Are you planning ANY filtering? :)

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 27, 2015 at 13:26
It's really incredible...
nowadays we could actually do a massive and distributed translation with recursive check and validation.
Do you want to translate? Please took a piece of the game text, translate it, and update on the server.
Do you want to validate a translation? Choose one, validate it, and update the results.

We are living in an incredible era, unthinkable a few years ago!

Guga - Oct 30, 2015 at 02:34
True, but you don't take into account trolls and viral troll campaigns :D I'd NEVER crowdsource a translation if I don't have a way of understanding whether what I get makes actual sense

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 30, 2015 at 09:18
True, but with the ability of a crossed validation, the risk of trolls should fall down very much.
I mean: if I translate a sentence in a wrong way, there are other 100 people who can correct me.
It should involve a quite big database, I think...

PowerPositive - Oct 27, 2015 at 13:32
einfach großartig!

fred - Oct 27, 2015 at 14:14
lol at all those failed german translations on twitter xD

Steffen - Oct 27, 2015 at 14:22
Was für eine Überraschung hier plötzlich ein Bildschirmfoto mit deutschem Text zu finden. Was freu ich mich doch auf das fertige Spiel.
(What a surprise to find suddenly a screenshot with german text. I'm very excited about the finished game.)

Will there be separate versions for each language or will I be able to choose the language german or english from main menu? I'd prefer the last one because I'd like to play the game in german and english.

Ron Gilbert - Oct 27, 2015 at 14:25
As I mentioned the post, you can switch at anytime. You don't even need to go back to the main menu.

alberto - Oct 27, 2015 at 14:59
Wow, was looking for some nostalgic feeling about Monkey Island, and i ended up here.....didnt know there was a new adventure in process.....cant believe it, im still shock !!!!!!!

Thanks guys for trying make this new adventure for all of us who played these kind of games years ago, now we have the chance to go back in time and feel unforgettable things !!
SOrry my english, trying do my best.

Congratulations from Spain

Malc - Oct 27, 2015 at 16:07
Le gomme est dans la poubelle.

Zombocast - Oct 27, 2015 at 19:39
Ron, canyou make cheat code that blanks out all the dead end dialogs in the dialog trees after you beat the game. Or maybe give us access to that self playing debugger so we can see the unbroken story like a movie?

Guga - Oct 28, 2015 at 02:56
Why? Even in movies you have "dead end dialog", if we only take the "useful" scenes from a 2h movie we'd get, who knows, 20 minutes of actual information.

Geoff Paulsen - Oct 28, 2015 at 04:11
We had a translation system in a product I worked on that would hardcode English (language of the developers) into the code itself.  This was all C code using macros, but each string WAS assigned a unique ID.  This was easiest to get something working early.  Then we had a 2nd step that would parse ALL of the code, and generate an English translation table, which we'd then pass along to translators to get other language tables.  Then at runtime we'd load the correct table (including the English), and use those any time we needed to print anything.  The actual english in the code was never used, except for rare cases when no table was present.
The big drawback to an approach like this, is that the translators would not have much context to draw upon when doing their translations, and the order of the unique IDs meant nothing (just the order that the code was parsed in).  I know that context can be important, and for a game system, perhaps pass some sort of static context marker (or markers) that could help identify what room, or character, or item the translation was referring to.  That sounds a bit unwieldy though.  I think the base idea is still valid though, and hopefully useful.  Good luck.

Guga - Oct 30, 2015 at 02:44
My wife did translations for a software house and it was SO DIFFICULT without context. There were just a bunch of German words wich had so many different context dependent meanings, she had to go there a lot of times to know where exactly that particular word was used.

I mean, even for simple things context can be important... is "phone" used a verb or as a noun? Is "ball" the round object or a formal dance?

In our software (I'm a developer) fortunately we have a translation system that does something similar to what you wrote, but for each sentence we need also a small context description in English :D

Jammet - Oct 28, 2015 at 06:41
:) Now the fun part is that I can look forward to play the game with the Boris Schneider translation as much as the original English one! I just adore this! Twice the fun!

Gffp - Oct 28, 2015 at 10:42
You guys of the team made a great work, I strongly think that game industry need humour, especially to stem violence, gore and fears as a form of more positive, vital and passionate way to solve problems (how much I love insult swordfighting is useless to say).
But I have to admit that italian translations (in TSOMI for example) in some cases didn't reach to translate the humour, resulting in incomprehensible suggestions or repetitions of sentences that made characters look like they were deaf or stupid, make me willing to play the games in English (and I actually watched to youtube walktrough of english version eventually understanding some dialogues.)

Considering also that many readers are offering to translate themselves the texts... and yes we know that German people will be very satisfied by the well recognized translator of german TSOMI, what about translations in other languages?

Gffp - Oct 28, 2015 at 10:52
I mean... will the translators be selected after they beat the swordmaster? Or at least after they train with Captain Smirk?

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 28, 2015 at 14:18
Eheh I did it too. I played Monkey Island in Italian; then in English.
In fact,  the sentence "io sono la gomma, tu la colla" doesn't make sense. But the original was with capital letters: "I'm Rubber, you are Glue", that make sense like a couple of comic, like Cochi e Renato, or Gianni e Pinotto. But I can't blame Maria Zino, the translator chief at CTO, she did a huge effort in translating!

Giulio - Oct 28, 2015 at 18:15
Same for me! I played the MI games as a kid in Italian at least three times each before switching to the English version. Most of the humor was kept intact in the Italian version, but things like "I am rubber you are glue" or even worse the "monkey wrench" joke only made sense in the English one. Another nice example can be found in MI3 regarding the "hair of the dog" puzzle. I must say, however, that the predominant feeling was of awe and not of frustration when I finally understood them. Moreover, I'm sure the translations will be done extremely well, I have no doubt! In this era these things are much easier.

Gffp - Oct 28, 2015 at 21:18
Yes Zack and Giulio, the overall result of translations by CTO was good. But it lacked in some courage of creation. When you cannot translate literally, in order to keep the original spirit, you have sometimes to change the exact meaning. It was extremely difficult in the famous case of the monkey wrench, where the joke is all about words, rather than actual things. In Italian we call it "Parrot wrench", also very piratesque but unfortunately not well fitting eheheheh...

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 29, 2015 at 06:44
Yeah, the second version of Monkey Island, the "monkey wrench" were replaced with "Jojo", the name of the monkey.
In my opinion, the transaltion of the "If a woodchuck..." sentences of MI2 were good in italian. The translators succeeded in keeping both the meaning and the puns, and it was not easy to do.

Anyway... we are now in the era and time where with an app and Google translator, you can speak on your mobile and it pronunces the translation in any language on-the-fly. Even if not 100% accurate, it's for sure one giant leap for mankind.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 29, 2015 at 11:49
Anyway: the correct italian translation (not literally, but with the same sense) for: "I am rubber, you are glue" is:
"Specchio riflesso".
That is: "whatever names or words someone uses in an attempt to offend or insult you, those words will bounce off you".
The End :-)

Guga - Oct 30, 2015 at 02:31
As a kid I never understood what the hell was "Io sono la gomma tu la colla" supposed to mean.

I don't know wher you lived, but we also had the saying "chi lo dice lo è, cento volte più di me" which was basically the same and it's childish enough.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 30, 2015 at 06:04
I live in Brescia, Italy.
At the time of kindergarten, we used to say:
"Specchio riflesso" (Mirror reflection)
"chi lo dice lo sa essere" (who say it, knows to be it)

If can I ask, where do you live?

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 30, 2015 at 06:07
You know, if I remember correctly, there were three answers "void" in sword insult fight of the first Monkey Island
"Io sono la gomma, tu la colla"
"Sto tremando, sto tremando"
"Chi lo dice lo è"

Do you remember?

Guga - Nov 02, 2015 at 03:27
I grew up in Cagliari :) "specchio riflesso" was less used, but it was usually coupled with "se ti muovi sei un cesso" (for those who don't know Italian - if you move you're a toilet) so it was more used as an "attack" insult than as answer

I didn't remember that "chi lo dice lo è" was already included as a standard answer in Monkey Island, then I agree, "specchio riflesso" would have been a better adaptment to the rubber-glue thing

Gv - Oct 29, 2015 at 06:40
It's horribly translated in Spanish also, the correct one is "A mi me rebota y a vos te explota", I mean "I am rubber you are glue", somebody please make a new version and correct it.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 29, 2015 at 06:52
"A mi me rebota y a vos te explota" = My bounces me and you'll explode ?  [Google translator says]
That's quite far from "I am rubber, you are glue", but at least it rhymes :-)

Gv - Oct 29, 2015 at 12:17
It translates aproximately to "It bounces off me and it explodes on you". It is worse the Spanish (from Spain) version: "Rebota, rebota y en tu culo explota". ;)

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 29, 2015 at 12:24
AHAHAHA now that's is really clear! Spansh and Italian have some identical words! :-D

Iron Curtain - Oct 30, 2015 at 11:39
Spanish and Italian are both derived from vulgar Latin, but the similarities between Spanish and Italian pale in comparison to the similarities between Spanish and Portuguese.

Ema - Oct 31, 2015 at 10:03
This matter is very interesting.

Guga, a few posts up, stated how it could be difficult to make a correct translation without the context.
As far as I remember, all the most strinking translation errors in Lucas Adventures were obviously due to translators who were merely translating some lines without having the possibility to play the game.  And note that those were good translations, and those errors were seldom made.

Of course, when a puzzle is based on a pun it can be VERY difficult to make it work in different languages. It is an effort which goes beyond mere translation, and could require a complete change of the meaning of the sentence, or a need in a change in graphics, and even require a complete change in the puzzle structure, which I think it is very difficult to do.

Thinking about the cases you mentioned, I started the funny exercise of finding a possible way to fix those situations to fit italian language....

The one I found technically easy but weird is the one of the Red Harring in MI, since it could just involve text modifictions.
It could be based on the fact that the usual environment for a troll should be a fantasy game, and not a game about piracy.
So the troll could complain about being lonely and completely out of context, while he'd certainly prefer to be among fellow trolls.
So he could ask Guybrush for something that could symbolize his sad condition: he is "like a fish out of water", as we could say in Italy...

The only solution I found for the monkey wrench puzzle is much more difficult, it implies a change in the puzzle structure, since the player, after getting the monkey on Scabb Island and the mirror in the store on Booty Island, could ask the vendor to trade the parrot with the monkey, and then could use the parrot with the pump.... unluckily this necessarily implies to get rid of the animation of the monkey wrench...

Could somebody please explain to me the pun of the hair of the dog? I couldn't get it...

Gffp - Nov 01, 2015 at 17:20
Hey, thank you! I've eventually understood that the troll's puzzle in TSOMI in English was  a pun with the suggestion by the troll. I just tried to give him every object I got. Never tought there was a link between them. It is exactly what I mean when I talk about humour not being translated with a word by word localization. Another one (not a puzzle anyway) is that one of the three pirate bosses: "the third is: the quest! "And the old pirate says: "What? " and the other pirate "treasure huntin'..." They're very funny in English. In Italian they say the same thing ever: "la caccia al tesoro" "cosa?" La caccia al tesoro. Result? I always tought the third pirate was a bit hard of hearing eheheh

Guga - Nov 03, 2015 at 02:03
Well, I always thought the "monkey wrench" puzzle was, I don't know, because that's a monkey and he plays the piano and so he has strong hands. Whatever. I understood the pun a few months ago reading this very blog. A "parrot key", as we call it in Italy, would have been wonderful, as Ema suggested :D

Even the "red herring", it was maybe one or two years ago, I was surfing wikipedia and stumbled upon that saying, learned the meaning and then I had to play TSOMI again to see if there was some hint. And there was.

So, Ron, no more pun puzzles please :D

Ema - Nov 04, 2015 at 15:34
Thank you for your replies, guys....
Now I only need Giulio to explain me the meaning of the dog's hair pun...
Too bad that in this kind of blog, nobody cares or sees the old posts... :-(

Ema - Nov 04, 2015 at 15:37
Yes, I didn't get the pun for many years. Anyway the request of the troll was so weird and apparently meaningless that I remembered it very well... :-)

Ema - Nov 04, 2015 at 15:40
Whoops.... I was still talking about the red harring. bad formatting....

Ashley B - Oct 28, 2015 at 15:04
You cant translate all those library books because many of the puns wouldn't translate.  So will you post a new thread asking for german jokes?  I have german friends who would have a go. - Oct 28, 2015 at 16:49
We have a saying in german: "Der Esel nennt sich selbst zuerst". Not the best style for a dialog writer :-) - Oct 28, 2015 at 16:50
"dialogs from me and Lauren" I mean

Iron Curtain - Oct 29, 2015 at 08:05
Literally translated, that expression means "The jackass doesn't name himself first." What is the moral of that proverb?

Iron Curtain - Oct 29, 2015 at 08:08
Whoops, I meant "The Jackass names himself first." and I think I understand what that proverb means now.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 29, 2015 at 08:39
In Italian there is one more polite: "La prima gallina che canta ha fatto l'uovo" (The first chicken who sings, did the egg)

Iron Curtain - Oct 29, 2015 at 19:31
A better English translation would be "The first chicken who sings has laid the egg."

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 30, 2015 at 05:59

Brian R - Oct 28, 2015 at 19:27
The comments here look messed up on mobile. Like really skinny.

Big Red Button - Oct 29, 2015 at 09:18
Will the characters be able to turn their heads?
Ray for example looks rightwards in the screenshot above. Will she be able to look "at us", without turning her complete body at the same time? If I remember correctly, such a body language was a usual gimmick for special cases.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 29, 2015 at 11:45
I can't remember any Lucas adventure games where a character turned only the head towards one direction, and not the entire body... am I wrong?

Ron Gilbert - Oct 29, 2015 at 11:50
There were some special cases where Guybrush mugged at the camera.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 29, 2015 at 11:53
Oh my... memory leaks!
Thanks! I trust you, more than my memory :-)

Marco Lizza - Oct 29, 2015 at 13:01
... and, at the very end of MI2, Chuck does this while walking (and transfigurating his face)...

Kimmo Sakko - Oct 30, 2015 at 04:29

Really nice to hear the game is making good progress!
Just supported you for fine $150 by the the support us page. I chose the Collectors Edition, of course. This makes me feel like im back at elementary school playing Maniac Manion on my beloved C-64 @ 1987. A question from me: Do i get the signed copy or not when it comes ?
Thats all!

Thanks Guys!

Mario F. - Oct 30, 2015 at 04:50
@RON: If u are going to supply the spreadsheet for the text, i asume you could solve all the puzzles by looking at the english text. if you know all sentences before you start even playing, maybe you get a lot of hints out of that, or am i wrong?

Ron Gilbert - Oct 30, 2015 at 10:43
Yes, the game will be completely ruined if you read through the text files before finishing the game. That is one reason we won't release the text for a couple of months, to give everyone a chance to discover all the fun parts of the game.

Big Red Button - Oct 30, 2015 at 12:50
In my opinion it's just a kind of occupational hazard which everyone who translates the game's contents should be aware of.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 30, 2015 at 09:26
Good morning everyone, and happy Friday!

onkelosuppo - Oct 31, 2015 at 10:12
German? Is that even a thing nowadays? ;)

longuist - Nov 01, 2015 at 11:59
Apart from sausage and beer (and adventure games)? Probably no.

Uli Kusterer - Oct 31, 2015 at 17:11
Will be interesting to see what you're using the preprocessor for. Is that just as a quick way to get the English strings out and replaced with some function call that looks up the localized version, like MacOS's genstrings does it, or will you be running that preprocessor every time you compile?

Michael - Nov 02, 2015 at 11:11
You do realize someone like me is probably going to add a shit and fart joke or two.

monika - Nov 21, 2015 at 02:07
I realize your translation some those are proceed some creating destination and going in your websites.

Fabrice - Nov 24, 2015 at 16:34
My command of English would not be what it is today if I played Maniac Mansion in French...  Seriously, who really needs a translation today (not even considering all the puns lost in translation)?

Dan A - Dec 15, 2015 at 17:40
Ron & Co.,

Please think twice before handing the translations out to dilettantes. Merely speaking the language in question and having a good command of English won't produce a good translation. Believe me, I work as a translator (English to Swedish and sometimes vice versa) and know how hard it is to get things right. Especially translating humor! You might just be shooting yourselves in the foot here, as "free" could sometimes turn out to be a very expensive price to pay... You should at least have some kind of disclaimer before people think the translations are official, as people will probably select their language if they see it displayed in a menu, not knowing that half of the jokes might have been lost in a woeful translation... Just saying! (And no, this is not me trying to land the Swedish translation, ha.)

Ipek - Jan 02, 2016 at 06:48

First of all, happy new year to all!

I am a native Turkish speaker, a big fan of point & click adventure games and I work as a translator.

You said that your plan is to allow user translations into any language, so I would like to know, if I translate the game to Turkish, how can I reach the gamers, will you publish the translations on your blog? Or, if there are so many translations for one language, how can people choose the good one? Because, with all my experiences, I can say that a bad translation can easily ruin the game and if everybody do/publish whatever they want, it ruins also the reputation of game.

Thank you for your time!

David - Mar 19, 2016 at 05:11
Hi Ron,

I'll be glad to try to translate this game into Catalan. Thanks for giving us this option.

Looking forward to playing the game :)