What’s in a Name? A Look into Naming Conventions

Before we begin with this month’s update, we would like to once again thank Rappig Crossing for hosting our panel last month! Herohom, jenachuu, and straylize had lots of fun talking about Lumina Tales and our fan translation process. Our team cares deeply about localization, Tales of Destiny: DC, and Tales of Destiny 2, and it was wonderful getting to talk about what it is we actually do through our… Lens. Haha…

Anyway!

It truly was a wonderful time, and the audience had fantastic questions. During the panel, we showed a small clip from the beginning of Tales of Destiny 2 to demonstrate our translation and localization process in real time. Normally there is music playing in the background of this scene, but we used this same clip when creating our original announcement trailer, so there is none in this particular video. Furthermore, there are no spoilers in this video. With that said, please enjoy!

In future blog posts, we will certainly talk more about what we discussed at the Rappig Crossing panel. However, for now, let’s focus on the naming convention decisions that occur during the translation and localization process!

If you’ve ever played a Tales of game, then you’re probably familiar with the wide array of unique terms that are bound to crop up in each title. Some are unique to that game’s world—names, locations, terminology, and mechanics specific to that title—while others such as artes and skills are recurring and can be found in a number of titles. Naturally, Tales of Destiny and Tales of Destiny 2 have quite a few of these. Today, we’re going to take a look at our process for deciding how these names, locations, and some terminology are implemented.

There are three different ways we could have approached this situation, so let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each:

METHOD 1:

Use the localized terminology from Tales of Destiny‘s original release as well as later crossover and mobile games. This is likely what would be considered the easiest method, as a large number of terms are already taken care of. All we’d have to do is decide on terms or names that didn’t appear in those aforementioned titles. That’s the biggest pro—a lot of work is already done for us! Some names are popular and iconic enough that changing them would be rather silly. Plenty of people are familiar with Stahn Aileron, Rutee Katrea, and Leon Magnus, after all!

But we saw a lot of cons with this method. The first major con is that Tales of Destiny‘s localization is a product of its time. It was released in North America in 1998, a time when it wasn’t uncommon to take greater liberties to make things more palatable for the target audience or to simply mistranslate them! Other games and other series have a documented history of this, but here are a few examples of names or other terms that were changed in Tales of Destiny:

  • Woodrow Kelvin (JP) ➜ Garr Kelvin (NA)
  • Johnny Shiden (JP) ➜ Karyl Sheeden (NA)
  • Mighty Kongman (JP) ➜ Bruiser Khang (NA)
  • Miktran (JP) ➜ Kronos (NA)

Another con we came across is inconsistency. An example of this would be Tales of Destiny 2‘s character Nanaly. Her full name comes up in the localized version of Tales of Graces as Nanaly Fletcher. However, in her character profile in Tales of Crestoria, her name is romanized as seen in the Japanese version of the game as Nanaly Fletch.

The final flaw of this method is that any names or terms that are exclusively in the Japanese version of the game without any romanization still have to be dealt with. We have to use our best judgment on these, and should they come up in some official capacity later, we could end up very wrong with our choices!

METHOD 2:

Ditch localized terminology and use the Japanese versions. This is a method we also view as pretty easy. Many character names do have a Japanese romanization, and many locations also have them, thanks to their existence on Tales of Destiny: DC‘s world map. This would restore most everything to its original state and be what some may consider “faithful” to the Japanese release. In many ways, it’s also comfortable for people on our team who have never played the localized version of Tales of Destiny, as it eliminates a lot of cross-referencing.

However, doing this would also involve swapping spellings and making changes to more commonly used names that could be very alienating to long-time fans of the series who are used to specific spellings and terms. Some examples of this are outlined below:

  • Stahn Aileron (NA) ➜ Stan Aileron (JP)
  • Leon Magnus (NA) ➜ Lion Magnus (JP)
  • Rutee Katrea (NA) ➜ Rutee Kartret (JP)

It would essentially mean culling a lot of localization decisions. That would create a dissonance with other aspects of the games, because we wouldn’t revert names for series-wide terms, such as items or artes, which are very consistent.

So, what do we do? Well, there’s really only one option!

METHOD 3:

Hybrid theory. Taking a hybrid approach means that we end up looking at every single term and building our style guide around a set of internal criteria. This method lets us keep the original changes that we truly believe in or are extremely consistent within the franchise. At the same time, it allows us to revert changes we believe reflect a dated localization as well as have the freedom to do our best and represent terms that may not have ever seen a translation.

The criteria we use is fairly simple. It’s a combination of looking at localized materials and Japanese materials and then coming to a consensus on what we’re comfortable with using when we’re adapting the dialogue for these patches.

What changes, and what stays the same?

For example, with the name Stahn Aileron, it was easily decided that we would make no adjustments to this localization decision. All members of the team have always spelled his name this way, and it’s a spelling that has been used in not only the original release of Tales of Destiny but also other games in the series. Stahn has made a number of appearances over the years, given his status as a protagonist. We felt similarly about Leon Magnus, who also makes many appearances across Tales of media thanks to his consistent popularity.

On the other side of this, there are times when we make bigger changes. In the PS1 release of Tales of Destiny, there is a location known as Radisrol. In the Japanese release of Tales of Destiny: DC, it was written with the characters ラディスロウ and romanized as Radislowe. As Radislowe is in a newer release and reads more naturally from both a speaking and visual point of view, we chose to go with that. I think a few of us on the team were even a bit surprised the first time we saw the original localized spelling, because it was so different from what we knew!

Sometimes we come across even bigger issues than that. What do you do when a name has been completely changed in the English release in a way that doesn’t match the Japanese text? Doubly so, what do you do when there has never been a romanized version of the name? We came across this with the character メルクリウス・リトラー. Those who have played Tales of Destiny would know this character as Marius Raiker. Some fan translations of Japanese media have gone with a more literal approach, calling him Mercurius Ritora. For our purposes, we sought a middle ground: Mercurius Littler. We felt it didn’t stray too far from how the katakana for his name reads, and it avoided being too overly literal in transcribing the syllables. In all honesty, it was probably one of the toughest decisions we had to make!

As the English release, Japanese release, and supplemental materials have all used different spellings over the years, we’ve been taking the time to look at all of our options to fine-tune these choices as well as ensure that locations that are new to Tales of Destiny 2 feel consistent with all of the other choices. We aren’t ready to reveal the full list of changes quite yet, as we are constantly reviewing our choices and keeping an eye on new materials that may enable a change before the full release. Our goal is to ensure we have the best balance of consistency with terms you may know while also respecting nearly 25 years of the Tales of Destiny universe’s history.

While today’s focus was a bit more on names and locations, we’ll be sure to talk more about the process of naming artes and skills, as well as a host of other aspects and intricacies of the translation and editing process in the near future!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: