Melantus and Calandryll have done their mousketeer best to explain what they mean by that word, and unfortunately the explanation has been no less confusing to some. According to Melantus, what they mean by Localization is creating a game that is as easily accessible for our customers around the world as it is for our English-speaking players.
Or for our French speaking readers:
cr\’c3\’a9ant un jeu qui est aussi facilement accessible \’c3\~ nos clients autour du monde qu’il est pour nos joueurs qui parlent anglais.
The basic problem is that if you play Ultima Online in Korea, or Australia, or Isle of Man, you must say “bank” to access your bank box – very confusing to those who prefer to use their own native language. Localization requires that some of the expressions and texts that the game uses be altered due to “certain particulars” when it comes to translating English to other languages, the fault being entirely on the shoulders of English. Face it, English is broken. Something had to be done so that Koreans could use the Eun-Hang and Australians could use the bankerydankerydoo, and OSI doesn’t become another Zero Wing joke to the rest of the world.
The solution has created a new problem: Offens\’c3\’a9s Am\’c3\’a9ricains.
From what I can gather, the changes made to increase sales in Korea and Isle of Man include the removal of “Maker’s Marks” on player crafted items. For those who are unfamiliar, when a character has reached the maxiumum level in a merchant skill, the items they create are tagged with their name. So a Grandmaster Smith will create weapons that say “…created by Joe Hammersmith” when you click on them. After the next patch, what you will see is “a sword” followed by a little dot. You then click on the dot and it will tell you who made it, if it has a Maker’s Mark attached. A small change to some, but a very large change to others.
Americans, the world does not operate entirely upon English. As far as languages go, it is an infant; a crying pouting infant at the moment. Would you play a game called Ultima En Ligne* if it required you to memorize hundreds of expressions like Je souhaite placer un baril de d\’c3\’a9tritus ici in order to put a trash barrel in your house? I’d be willing to bet that the vast majority of you would not. In fact, there are some of you who find the phrase “I wish to place a trash barrel here” to be something of a mental challange, and that happens to be in your NATIVE TONGUE.
So everybody relax. Ignore the mania and the hysteria. These changes are NOT going to be repealed. They are happening and you can either deal with it or you can kick and scream while it happens. All your Maker’s Marks are belong to Origin Systems.
Personally I filed this update as “stuff that other people got all worked up into a lather about but I didn’t really give a second thought to.”
For another angle on this, I’d like to present the following “guest editorial” submitted to me by Ima Supa:
***You see a rant: Localization is unfair to some
Well, I have had a few days to dwell on this issue, reading the ongoing and ever developing thread over on the Oasis of Message Forums knwown as the UO Boards and frankly, I’m pissed off.
Primarily because the one thing about Ultima Online that has attracted hundreds of thousands of players to play (and pay) month after month, year after year, is the immersion factor.
Does EQ boast such retention? What about AC? Of course not. Even the venerable John Smedley [/sarcasm] admitted that EQ has a low retention rate, despite boasting such large subscription numbers. Why is that? Gameplay? Graphics? Or the intangible factor that is slowly but surely becoming tangible – immersion?
Who wants to be in a game world that tells them “You have damaged: an ettin, for: 10 points of damage”? What about “You have damaged: K1lLaHPimP, for: 23 points of damage”?
I certainly don’t.
What are the justifications for localization? There are a few good reasons why localization support is needed.
The obvious one is marketing. By advertising that Ultima Online supports major local language translations, EA has a better chance of selling more subscriptions to potential addicts worldwide.
Another good reason for localization is that it standardizes the database schema for hundreds of items, making it easy to add new items (and their subsequent translations / effects / etc) to the game – for those that speak other languages.
Yet another good reason for localization is that it reduces server load… the server sends the required fields to the client, and the client then arranges them as necessary, and produces the correct output.
Now, let us take a look at why the above reasons simply do not fly in the face of the real world versus the Matrix.
As a direct result of these latest localization changes, EA/OSI lowers its retention rate by an immeasurable amount. The immersion factor all but disappears. Instead of losing track of time playing the game for sake of playing it, people play the game as a chore. Wait, what the hell am I talking about? They do that now. This just makes it worse.
As far as the database schema is concerned… why not make a commitment to each “region” and maintain a separate table for each region? I already know the answer to this… MONEY. However, there is a tradeoff between immediate revenues which may stay longer that are decreased by expenses and potential future revenues that may not even happen at all that are not decreased by those expenses. Personally, I’d opt for the prior. I am a database admin, developer, and software engineer… and I know that this “issue” can be dealt with by creating a few more tables and restructuring a few lines of code here and there.
As far as the last point… invest a little money in a few more SUN’s ([Enterprise 450]’s are down to: [$66995 USD], each; [Enterprise 3500]’s are down to: [$100750 USD], each) and you have yourself a viable solution that makes EVERYONE happy.
Although I know the official EA/OSI response, which is basically, in Melantus’ own words…
UO Boards: Would you be willing to learn over 100 Japanese words just to play a game, or would you expect the game to be translated properly when shipped so that you could just play it?
***You see: Ima Supa’s response: 4 words: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
*Changed the translation due an error on my part that translated to “Ultima On Laundry”. My Bad.