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Built to Play 35: Translation Issues

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Built to Play 35: Translation Issues

As we enter a new theme month, we're talking about translation. That's translating languages and translating mediums. 

Colin Williamson joined us from Seattle to discuss the process of localization. Colin used to work for Square Enix as a localization expert back in the mid-2000s, and helped retranslate some of the oldest Final Fantasy games, even going back and correcting the work of industry legend, Ted Woolsey.

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Woolsey's work was flawed, though not for a lack of style. He did the translations largely on his own, couldn't communicate often with the design team, and had crazy deadlines to finish them. Colin meanwhile worked in a team, not too far from where the actual designers worked, and he started the translations while the game was still under development. Those circumstances also helped him codify all the language currently used in Final Fantasy games, like "Phoenix Down" over "Phoenix Feather." A lot has changed since Woolsey worked for Square, and Colin tells us all about it, starting 21:30.

Want to learn more about the history of Final Fantasy? Check out our 1, 2, 3 part history specials. 

Colin also gave us a couple games that are particularly great examples of localizations. For our own list, take a look at our primer. 

On May 8 and 10 we visited the Bento Miso for Comics vs Games and the Bit Bazaar to talk 3D, VR, books and board games.

Comics vs Games is a yearly event in Toronto where comic artists team up with game designers to create a video game. This year, the theme was 3D, leading to the virtual reality games Altar and Libraria. Altar, created by designer Daniele Hopkins and artist Gillian Blekkenhorst, allows you to briefly walk around the ruins of an alien civilization. While designer Kyle Dwyer and artist Adam Hines teamed up for the pop-up book adventure game, Libraria. 

(All photos from Attract Mode's 3D gallery. Clay models were all done by Ventla are long forgotten Nintendo characters that we can't name. The two prints are meant to be 3D with red/blue glasses. If you have 'em, try 'em.)

Each round of Comics vs Games is accompanied by a gallery curated by the fellows at Attract Mode, a video game art collective. This year they held a 3D gallery containing a selection of three dimensional 2D art, presented with old school red and blue glasses. We talked to Matt Hawkins, a long time member of Attract Mode about why they collect video game fanart, and some of beautiful renditions of Dark Souls and Year Walk, amongst numerous other games. You can hear from him, Gillian and Kyle starting 35:00.

Then at the Bit Bazaar we checked in with Conor McCreery and Elizabeth Simins on the other ways one can turn a book into a game, or vice versa.

Conor McCreery was at the Bit Bazaar, a sort-of independent video game flee market, to show off the new prototype of the upcoming Kill Shakespeare board game. Conor is one of the creators of Kill Shakespeare, a comic where all of Shakespeare's works exist in the same universe. Imagine the Marvel comic book universe, but for Hamlet and Othello. With those sorts of mashups already on the table, their publisher, IDW, invited them to turn the three-volume comic into a board game. Conor tells us about how the game works, how they got involved, and why a Kickstarter does more than raise thousands of dollars. You can hear all about it, starting 51:30.

The prototype version of the Kill Shakespeare board game at the Bit Bazaar. 

The prototype version of the Kill Shakespeare board game at the Bit Bazaar. 

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Simins talked about the power of video game zines at one of the panels at the Bit Bazaar. Elizabeth, an artist who occasionally does a comic for Kotaku with journalist Cara Ellison, told us about zine's appeal and their utility. For those who don't know, a zine is like a small handcrafted magazine made by only a few people. Elizabeth loves their physicality and so do the people who buy them from her, although she admits she probably won't get rich off a zine. Still, they enable her to discuss things like misogyny in games, like in "Ain't No Such Thing as Misogyny." If you'd like to hear more about video games zines, and a few of Simins projects, take a listen at 51:30.

Elizabeth Simins's video game zine that collects her artwork and comics regarding misogyny in games. Courtesy Elizabeth Simins.

Elizabeth Simins's video game zine that collects her artwork and comics regarding misogyny in games. Courtesy Elizabeth Simins.


We used music from the Free Music Archive and Soundcloud*. From the Free Music Archive, "japanese prog" by Rushus, "Sun Bum" by Monster Rally and "Touching" by Souvenir Driver. From Soundcloud, we found "Trance Transistor Radio" by Arai Akino on rachelroh's profile. We changed up our theme this week to "Daniel Kruis" by RoccoW. 

Built to Play was made by producer Arman Aghbali and feature editor Daniel Rosen.

If you liked what you heard be sure to leave us a comment or a review on iTunes or Stitcher. It helps more people find the show. 

*This music was all taken under a creative commons license. If you feel your music was used inappropriately, be sure to send us an email. 

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Built to Play 34: Useful Design

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Built to Play 34: Useful Design

We're talking all about useful design on Built To Play. We explore accessibility arcades, user research, and victorian mansions in our search for better game design. 

Anatole Chen is a user researcher in Xbox's natural user interface platform team. Anatole's job is all about making sure that everything around a game works.

He doesn't check for bugs, and he's not searching for new mechanics. User research examines all the elements around a game. He checks things like whether the menus are easy to navigate or whether a game feels fair. That means bringing in a lot of testers to try out new games, and then running them through a focus group afterwards. While Anatole primarily examines the numbers (how often a button is pressed, how long it takes to finish an area, etc.) focus groups allow him to create a narrative and often highlight an aspect of the data.

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We first caught him at the PAX East convention in Boston, where he was talking about his job as user researcher. One thing that he didn't have time to explain at his panel was the difference between things like playtesting, games research and user research, which often get confused with each other. We talked to him about those differences, and the benefits of user research starting 23:10.

On April 27, the University of Toronto opened Canada's first accessibility arcade, and we were there to catch it. 

Mark Barlet, founder of the AbleGamers Foundation, partnered with U of T's Semaphore Research Cluster to create a place where people who have physical disabilities can play video games. They have specially designed controllers for those with multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, or any disease or injury which can make it difficult to use a traditional controllers. At the moment the arcade is within the Robart's Library,and they only have two of these device available, but Mark hopes that Semaphore will be able to help design controllers of the future. Semaphore Research Cluster is part of the Faculty of Information, who have access to tools like 3D printers, robotics and the intelligents minds of people like Sara Grimes. Sara's an assistant professor who brought Mark in to help build an arcade. Mark took care of gathering the equipment. Sara's in charge of growing and evolving the arcade. 

Mark's opened three of these arcades so far in the United States, and is working to add a couple more.  In his interview, he sounds fairly excited about the possibilities of the Semaphore lab, and what it could do with accessible controllers. He and Sara talk about the potential of their partnership starting 31:40.

Video games have a knack for creating beautiful worlds, which are only possible thanks to effort of environment artists.

Kate Craig is an environment artist at the Fullbright Company, the developer of Gone Home. In Gone Home, you return from a long trip to your family's victorian mansion, to find that everyone is missing. Fullbright co-founder Steve Gaynor may have designed the mansion's layout, but Kate built that house and designed much of the furniture. She's the one who gave the house personality, adding props like the desks, lamps, and beds, or making sure that the rooms don't look perfectly clean. Yet, Kate can't be entirely realistic. The doors are always going to have to be big enough for the camera and the player. Same with the rooms, despite the actual layout of a typical victorian house. Through this, she talks about the relationship between realism and the practicality of design.

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But most importantly, Kate does not like the stereotype that character artists have the most fun. Players often interact with the world more than they ever interact with characters. Kate talks about her history with game worlds, and how much she enjoys finding ones with great personality. You can hear her talk about Gone Home and what separates beautiful worlds from boring ones starting 41:50.

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We used music from the Free Music Archive, including the following songs: "Spring Solstice" by Podington Bear, "Sun Bum" by Monster Rally, "School Boy" by Pietnastka, and "The Beach The Beach" by Holy Coast. We also pulled sound effects from Freesound.org from the user Amszala and from Youtube user thatscarletspider2.

If you feel your music was used inappropriately send us an email.

This show was written by Daniel Rosen and Arman Aghbali, and edited by Arman Aghbali. 

If you enjoyed the show, leave us a comment, send us an email or review us on iTunes or Stitcher radio.

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Built To Play 9: TWIX-ON

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Built To Play 9: TWIX-ON

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This week we talk about Double Fine's Broken Age as it gets split into two because they spent too much and have too much game to go. This Week in Xbox One, Don Mattrick jumps ship and moves to the incredibly risky Zynga. Finally the Royal Ontario Museum will have a game jam in August, fulfilling our dream of the Dear Esther Batcave (not that one). Plus an interview with MolyJam founder Anna Kipnis

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Built to Play 7: The Sweet Release of Death

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Built to Play 7: The Sweet Release of Death

Credit: Apple via CNET

Credit: Apple via CNET

We talk about the 180 shift in Microsoft's DRM policy. Used games will work without issue now! Forget always online! But this is hardly the end of digital rights problems. Meanwhile Apple enters the video game industry a little more wholeheartedly than before with the new controller support in iOS 7. Watch as a decision they made on a whim can change everything. On top of that, Women in games international open a office in Montreal while Trendy Entertainment allegedly has a sexist and repressive management. Plus an interview with Ryan Creighton of Untold Entertainment. He talks about the ins and outs of making an indie game.

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Built To Play 5: Xbox Sad Face

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Built To Play 5: Xbox Sad Face

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We get very angry at Microsoft's clarified used game policy, frown at Zynga firing 520 people and then chill out for some E3 rumours. Plus an interview with Post Arcade's Daniel Kaszor! He talks about how to approach E3 from abroad and Post Arcade's plans for this E3.

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