Mars - A Tale of Two Translations
Polygon takes a look at Mars: War Logs. The article goes into detail about the games translation and dialogue.
Spiders, the French developer that created Mars: War Logs, certainly wanted to create an abiding impression of fear and helplessness. In video games, rape scenes are rare. It's a bold thing to include in a game, not least with dialogue that directly references the details of an assault.
In its original French version, the scene had played out as a deeply unpleasant encounter with a big house archetype. But here it was, translated into English, rendered as something approaching slapstick.
The men had been asked by Spiders CEO Jehanne Rousseau to sit down and watch the intro and play the game. Rousseau told them that, following the English-language launch of the game, the message coming back from reviewers and gamers in North America and the U.K. was that the dialog stunk. She was concerned.
Although both men had plenty of work on their schedules, Rousseau asked if they might be able to rewrite the translation, get into the studio and re-record all the voice-overs
The lesson is a timely one, because there's a bigger issue at play here. Words have never been as important as they are now in video games. A $15 RPG includes as many words as a reasonably sized novel. Audience expectations about the quality of writing and acting in games are much greater than in the past.
This is what drew McClung and Mackenzie to the project.
"The thing we had to do was reassure Jehanne and the team that we weren't going to make a Hollywood game," says McClung. "We weren't going to water it down. We wanted to respect what they tried to do. When I read the script, I thought that this game deserves to have a proper localization, deserves the extra time to make it happen."