A couple years ago, the folks at Nexon asked me to help them out with the localization of their upcoming trading-card game app, Mabinogi Duel. This is free-to-play TCG app built for Android and iOS is based on Mabinogi, Nexon’s popular fantasy MMORPG, which launched in Korea back in 2004 and is still rolling along to this day. Mabinogi Duel had a soft launch in other English-speaking nations last year, but it just recently made it through all that and was launched in the USA.
Localization’s a funny kind of gig. You take the text translated roughly from the original language — some of which can be hard to decipher — and brush it up so that it should make sense to a native speaker of the language. All the while, you want to retain the flavor of the original, as it was intended. This is, after all, someone else’s baby, not mine.
Sometimes it’s simple, and other times you’re better off just scrapping what’s there and starting from scratch. Either way, you’re often working with a game that you haven’t actually seen or played, which makes it all the more challenging.
For most of Mabinogi Duel, I just cleaned up what was there and moved on. However, the game features a prominent goblin character I was told spoke entirely in “crappy rap.” Since rhymes don’t translate well from one language to another, I had to concoct scores of awful rhymes for this little gobbo from scratch. I’d inflict a few on you, but you can download the app and do that yourself.
As with many of my past video game gigs, my name’s not mentioned in the credits. This is sadly common when it comes to freelancers, who are rarely in the office when the credits list is being drawn up. Still, the game came out well, and the checks cleared, so I don’t complain.
It’s a fun, fast game with amazing artwork and some interesting wrinkles on the standard TCG design. Go give it a go!