Mushroom Soup For The Pixelated Soul
10,000 hits, and counting.
For veteran bloggers, that number probably isn’t very impressive. And yet, I’m sure most guys starting out on their blog have experienced a small amount of self satisfaction for creating content interesting enough for total strangers to keep checking on.
Seriously, thank you guys. You rock.
And I promised I would unveil something special for reaching this milestone, didn’t I? If I had hit 10,000 hits two weeks ago, I wouldn’t have anything for you guys, but it just so happens that I’ve recently decided to take part in a new project. And now I’m going to tell you what it is.
I’m sure most of you heard about this game called Final Fantasy VII.
An RPG classic. Hasn’t aged very well, especially in the visual and dialogue department, but people still love it, and we’re still checking every major event for the day a remake is announced.
Then there’s the PC version, ported by Eidos.
It offers a slight resolution boost, and fixes a fair amount of the grammar issues from the PS1 version (as well as censoring most of the swears), but it’s an absolute pain in the ass to get running, especially on Vista. It also has a midi soundtrack that is so bad, you’d need a word worse than “inferior” to describe it. But there are ways to fix that.
Anyway, most PC games have a dedicated mod community attached to them, but I’ve never really seen any groups for FFVII. Weird, right? It’s such a popular game and all.
Well, one particular group came to my attention. I was also surprised by many of their programs, which can be used to edit several different things in the original game.
There, I had discovered Loveless, a program that allows you to edit the entire script, word by word. So, after “acquiring” a copy of FFVII on the PC, I downloaded the program and ran it. I was curious just how complex it would be to edit all that text.
Frankly, I was shocked at how easy it was.
The program breaks down all the text by location; Open up the path in the train car, for instance, and you get all the dialog that takes place in that area, including when Cloud first boards it and when he makes a return trip later. Editing the text is as simple as typing, copying, and pasting, and you can even resize the text boxes as well as adding extra lines. In short, you could make conversations much longer than originally intended.
Well….I’m sure you can figure out where I’m going with this.
FFVII has a really dodgy translation. And as far as I know, no one has ever done a rewrite of the script, like some people have done with the previous SNES era Final Fantasies.
So as a result, I’m going to be the man who does it.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present the birth of a new category.
As a self proclaimed lover of the series and especially of it’s seventh entry, I have taken it upon myself to rewrite the entire FFVII script. By doing this, I hope to create a new localization that is not only more legible, but also more consistent with Square Enix’s current standards.
But what I’m planning goes beyond simply touching up any grammatical errors. I am also planning to touch up the dialogue, practically rewriting certain lines entirely, but making sure that the original context of the script is kept intact.
But the one thing I plan to especially focus on is character detail; The original script did a commendable job of defining our favorite characters, but I have decided to add further bits of interactions and quirks to diversify them even further.
But in addition to create a more dramatic reading, I also plan to add my own style of humor, whenever applicable. The townspeople, in particular, will offer the broadest room for creativity, as much of what they say tends to be either stilted and dry, or just outright makes no sense (perhaps something lost in the translation).
Of course, I also plan to add a few pop culture references, as well as a few internet memes and in-jokes. Rest assured, though, that I won’t be going overboard with it, lest I end up turning this into a Working Designs localization.
As for any dramatic changes, any revisions I make will be done to help achieve a better understanding of the conflicts taking place in FFVII’s world. This includes a better wording of the more complex plot points, an added bit of foreshadowing and introductory moments, and perhaps even a couple of nods to the Compilation sequels and prequels.
To top things off, here’s a small FAQ I’ve thought up, based on questions from various sources and people.
Is this a complete retranslation of FFVII?
No. Let me set the record straight that I don’t know a lick of Japanese, much less translating it. I’ve tried searching for an online script that has translated the game accurately, but that doesn’t seem to exist. What I’m doing is taking the original NA localization and polishing it up from there. I realize this means that the finished project won’t end up as a 100% accurate interpretation of the original script, but that’s not what I’m aiming for. I’m basically reimagining FFVII in my own words.
Isn’t this basically fanfiction?
In some ways, it is. I don’t want to say I’m a cut above the average fanfiction writer…..no, actually, I will say that. I’ve thought for a long while what improvements I would make to FFVII’s script, and I’ve read plenty of fanfiction attempts to know what works and what doesn’t. Basically, I’m completely confident that what I write will meet the standards that people would expect from an acceptable localization. It’s up to each of you to believe that I can pull it off.
Why not just turn this into a straight parody?
Well, first off, I’m not that funny. Trying to think up humorous moments throughout the entire script would prove rather maddening, and I won’t take the easy internet route by adding a bunch of memes, LOLs, and OMGs throughout. Also, I’m too much of a fan to find myself bashing the entire story from start to finish. I do have a few plans to poke fun at a few elements along with the more bizarre plot developments, but all of it will be done with restraint. If you’d rather see a parody, the tools are available to you should you wish to attempt it.
Why do this when a remake is practically around the corner?
I appreciate your optimism. I firmly believe a remake will happen, but I couldn’t tell you exactly when such an announcement will occur. Even if it were announced this year (I’ll keep hoping along with the rest of you), I wouldn’t immediately abandon this project. I still want to leave my personal mark in the FFVII series, to create a revision that people will (hopefully) enjoy and talk about even when the remake is available for purchase.
Are you only editing the script, or will you make some technical changes as well?
In addition to the in-game dialogue, I’m also making changes to the names of spells and items, in order to conform to current FF standards. Using a program named Teioh, I am able to edit the names of every spell, ability, weapon, and items in the game.
Using this, I will change the spell names to reflect the current (and correct) naming schemes, namely the -ara and -aga affixes instead of the I, II, and III scheme used in older games. Also, in addition to renaming certain weapons and accessories (Organics=Ogre Nix), I plan to add a personal touch to certain key items by adding descriptions for them. This, of course, is another way to add in some context, or little nods to the updated canon.
Is there anything you won’t be able to rewrite?
A few things, unfortunately. For one, it seems impossible to edit any dialogue that occurs during battles (namely boss fights like Reno and Rufus). I also won’t be able to edit any dialog occurring in FMV scenes, which means the ending will have to be left as is (though even my edits can’t really improve that mess of an ending, either way). It also appears that I won’t be able to edit Cloud’s materia tutorial.
What are you going to do about the swearing?
First off, I’m going to remove all instances of censorship (namely the %@#%$!), as it looks quite silly. But also keep in mind that I’m going to cut down on the swearing as well. I want to make the swearing more notable, like if someone calls another person by a swear, it actually registers as something personal. Of course, Cid will still retain much of his sailor talk, but I plan to help you understand the difference on when he’s swearing just for fun, and when he’s doing it because he wants to truly insult the person. Also, there won’t be any F-bombs, despite some people swearing that a couple were present in the Japanese script.
You mentioned diversifying the characters more. Could you elaborate?
Basically, I’m going to work to give each and every character their own voice and identify. For the most part, this was already done in the original dialog, but I want to add a bit more personal touches to make each character stand out. Tifa and Aerith, for instance, have often been critiqued for sounding pretty much the same. I’m adding some touches so that you can sense a notable difference between the two, how they react to situations and so forth. The same goes for Barret and Cid; I’m cutting down on the former’s swearing and giving him some additional quirks so he doesn’t seem like a carbon copy of the latter.
So does that mean Barret’s ebonics are out?
They won’t be removed entirely, but they will be cut down severely. It was funny in the 90’s, but now it’s just an embarrassing stereotype.
But what about “I pity da fool!”? You have to work that in somewhere.
I’ve already found a place for it. I’m sure you’ll be pleased.
What about “This guy are sick.”? That’s a classic!
The bad news is that Aerith won’t be saying that anymore. But, due to popular demand, I will rework the line somewhere else. I can’t think of any way to include it without making it an intentional misspelling, but I suppose most of you won’t mind.
Wait, you’re calling her Aerith? It’s Aeris!!
No it isn’t. Besides, you can name her whatever you want. I don’t think there’s a way to change the default names anyway.
You’re Tifa-biased, aren’t you? That means you’re not going to give Aerith/s fair treatment! She’s Cloud’s true love and you know it!!
I won’t hide it, I do vastly prefer Tifa over Aerith. However, I am going to give both girls equal treatment, and in all honesty I might have more fun rewriting Aerith (more details to come in future posts). But as much as you Aerith fans like to deny it, there does exist a romantic element between Cloud and Tifa in the later half, and it’s even been confirmed in multiple sources/compilation project that they’re official. I’m not going to destroy that subtlety with any new lines, but I am going to make my own touches into one of my favorite romances in a videogame (as well as Disc 2’s touching scene in the hill).
Please, no Gackt references.
Are you going to edit anything else, such as the graphics or music?
I’ve just been made aware of the mods released for FFVII on the PC. I’ve yet to successfully implement any changes into the game besides my rewrite. At the moment, it’s best if you check out the mod board yourself. I could potentially release a torrent containing the revamped game and the rewritten script, but something like that will probably only occur once the script is released. I don’t want to delay things further because of other technical issues.
So when will this be released?
I don’t want to list a solid release date. It entirely depends how much effort I put into this on a weekly basis, and also if I succumb to writer’s block (it’s a horrible condition). I want to optimistically say “within the year”, but that’s really a self assurance. I hate to think it’ll take any longer than that. At the very least, I should have it ready before the remake….
So how will I play this?
All of FFVII’s text is contained in a certain file. Supposedly, all you have to do is replace that file with the revised one that I’ll put up. I’ll create a small .txt file with instructions, so you remember to back up your original text file in case you want to revert back to the old translation.
Will this work on the PSX version?
Nope, PC version only. If there’s ever a way to edit the text in the PSX version, I might edit that as well, but I can’t imagine it would be as easy as this.
Can I beta test this?
You sure can. I’m planning to release a “demo” soon. I’m trying to rewrite all the dialogue up to when Cloud falls after his battle with the Airbuster boss (and right before he meets Aerith). From there, I’ll be awaiting any feedback or suggestions, so I can move forward as planned.
Can I offer some suggestions on the dialog?
Absolutely. If you’ve got any ideas for a particular scene or NPC, just send me your ideas. If I like it, I’ll add it and find some way to credit you for it (sadly, I won’t be able to edit the credits. Too bad, I would’ve liked to have my name displayed).
Will you do any other projects after this one?
Probably not. There really isn’t anything else I have an interest in rewriting. I’ve been somewhat curious what I could do with a Xenogears rewrite, but that would prove absolutely maddening. That game probably has three times more text than FFVII.