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Final Fantasy VII re-Translated: Interview with Daniel Burke

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This week, we interview Daniel Burke of the Beacause Project. The Beacause Project is a long running re translation effort of Final Fantasy VII. Daniel discusses the biggest motivators behind the translation effort. He talks about all the lost moments in Final Fantasy VII. Daniel did more than discuss the simple grammatical and spelling errors of Final Fantasy VII.

Hi, guys!  Just had the interview and it was a lot of fun.  I’ll respond to questions here that we didn’t manage to talk about and I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did :)


 

What were your first thoughts when playing FF7 the first time?

I had just had a Playstation bought for Christmas 1997 and had come from playing the Sega Megadrive games.  I was not prepared for the cinematic FMV opening of FF7 in the slightest.  It was way ahead of anything else I had ever seen.  The music, the sound, the graphics, the direction – everything.  I was awestruck.  Then the game started and it just kept getting better.  I’m actually getting warm feelings right now thinking about it, and this despite the hours I’ve already ploughed into the game.  The thing that irritated me (the only thing) were the random battles.  I wasn’t used to that and it bugged me at first – so much so that I couldn’t beat Gi Nattak in Cosmo Canyon because I had already escaped around 300 times by that point. I learned to get over my irritation of the random battles from that point on, though.  Funnily enough, years later I learned I could have just used that Elixir you can pick up beforehand, rather than go outside and level up.  Shame.  Although I’d only have gotten stuck again at Materia Keeper.

At some point, I realized that this was the greatest game I had ever played.  Imho, the game that has come closest in overall excellence since is Final Fantasy X (FF8-9 are great, as is Resident Evil II, MGS1, Sonic and Knuckles, Mario 3, Mario 64, Ocarina of Time…I better stop there, there are so many).    

 

What did you think of the final dungeon and final boss(es) of FF7?


Too easy and rather bizarrely (pun) shoehorned into the game.  But FFs have a habit of doing that with final bosses… Necron, anyone?  The music for the three bosses is great, and Sepher Sephiroth is awesome.  Even his intro is brilliant.  As for the final dungeon, it was brilliantly made and executed.  All the way down that chasm I had hairs standing on end.

 


What did you think of One Winged Angel the first time you heard it?


I wasn’t ready for the choir, that was a surprise.  It’s one of the greatest in game music history.  I personally put it second only to FF7’s main theme. It’s the genius of Uematsu. In the early days, I was also rather fanboyish, so I tried to add my own voice to it with my cousins’, lmao.  I opened the disc holder on intro because I realized that the voice files might be being loaded at a later time.  I was right. But it doesn’t help because instead of the orchestra voices, you get a weird droning tone instead.

 

-Has he ever seen the Spanish translation of this game?


If you mean the original one, no… but I don’t know Spanish, so it wouldn’t help.  Someone is using our translation to create a new Spanish translation, too. So that’s cool!  I do recall that the Spanish version, and numerous others, used the English localization instead of the Japanese.  So it was a double whammy.  The French version is also terrible.  

 

– Phoenix Down vs Phoenix Tail, while i love most of the translations and while i am sure this one is based on sound reasoning, i can’t help feel it is uneccesary. This is unlike Aerith to Aries which they later corrected in other games, Phoenix Down has always been translated as such even up to the newest releases. I would have just put this in the same group as the Moogles, something that while it may not be an exact translation but that has been more or less cemented as what that is.


It’s a fair point, but there is a logical reason for the decision I made.  From the start, the plan was to localize it based entirely on the Japanese, using the original English localization, and other documentation, to do the best job we could.  I, and the translator, agreed that putting limits on what was  – and was not – acceptable would end up having a detrimental effect on the project.  At the end of the project, I added options to restore certain names because they had a rich history with the series.  These were a minority, but I think definitely a good idea.  You can change Last Elixir to Megalixir, Moguri to Moogle, and Phoenix Tail to Phoenix Down with the installer options. So no loss at all.  As for Aeris, even if someone didn’t like Aerith, they could just rename her at the naming screen.

 

What was your most difficult text map to work on in ff7?

There are a few:

For language: Pagoda.  You’ll see why in the interview.

For flow: The very first main scene with all the exposition (“No, Jessie he’s not with Shin-Ra anymore”, and so on).  
            The Aerith death scene was also very difficult to make flow right.  I’m still not 100% happy with it, but I think this is an original writing issue and not             my fault.

Script error: If you lose at Fort Condor during Huge Materia mission, you see a cutscene where all the villagers have died, and it was not localized properly at all.  I assume that because dying there was almost impossible, no tester saw the scene.  It needed reprogramming.

Ifalna scene at Icicle Lodge:  Flow here again, too, because the text was not in order in the map (this happened from time to time) and making all that exposition flow correctly and sound good was challenging.  It had probably 5-8 revisions.  It sounds great now, I’m happy to say!

 

Which character in ff7 was the easiest to work on?


Yuffie.  All the characters were originally localized quite well as far as ‘feel’ is concerned. Barrett was a bit over the top, though.  Yuffie was easiest because I have a friend who is just like her.  It was a breeze and really fun to localize that character.  One scene where the dialogue is completely nonsensical is the following:


{YUFFIE}
“Are you waiting for {CLOUD}?”{NEW}
“He’s flying right now, so you can’t get him.”{NEW}
“Were you going to force me
into the submarine right now?”{NEW}
“Quit it!
If you want to go, then just leave me behind.”{NEW}
“…ooooooh.
What’re you talking about? I…”

New:

{YUFFIE}
“{CLOUD}…
Have you decided
where we’re going yet?”{NEW}
“Come on,I can’t take
much more of this.”{NEW}
“Hey,you’re not thinking of
shovin’ me in that crappy
sub,are you!?”{NEW}
“I won’t go! Never!
Leave me here,
leave me here!”{NEW}
“…Urrrk.
What am I saying?”

*note, I’ve made the game add spaces after commas.

 

Since you have accomplished your goal of ff7 was there a game in the past not including ff7 where the dialogue aggrivated you to almost the point of translating it?


No :P


 

Man I guess the remake of FF7 puts a bit of a downer on this guy work

Not at all. Although I’d be far happier if I was the director of the remake and could use our localization.  Or, at the least, use our localization.  But the remake is going to be very different and I think our work will still be relevant after it is released.  Once the hype dies down, I believe mass apathy will set in (you’ll see why I think that from interview), and more people will want to play the original at that point – not less.  I’ve also learned how to program in assembly, localize, and lots of other skills from this project that made it worthwhile – even if everyone hated it or never played it.

Thanks everyone.  Let me know how you find the interview.



Edit:

Oh, one other thing.  I didn’t mention that other people contributed to the project.  Prince Lex helped with Scottish (being a Scot) and Covarr did a thorough grammar check.  He also helps me from time to time outside of the project :)  The pagoda scene absolutely needed Covarr’s input to make sure we hadn’t made mistakes with the older English.  So yeah, check the credits list too.  :) 

I also suggest waiting for R04, if you are planning on going through the game.  That will be the last main update to translation / menu.


Check out this episode!

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