The Expression Amrilato — Project Manager’s Corner

Today on the blog, we’d like to share a word from The Expression Amrilato‘s project manager, Komi!

Saluton MangaGamer staff and fans! At MangaGamer, we are always trying to expand transparency and ways to offer more insight into the our localizations. Today, your friendly neighborhood Komi is here to talk about, for the very first time, what it’s like to manage a localization project with The Expression Amrilato.

Being a project manager means listening to and absorbing the various perspectives from our beta testing team, editors, translators, programmers, and even the developers. Each of these individuals brings something unique to the table throughout the entire process and we’re grateful for their insight.

However, there are many others involved in the localization process that you wouldn’t expect, or may never have heard from. Such individuals range from our license acquisitions team, quality assurance staff, marketing coordinators, release managers, executives, and project leaders. And, in most cases, these staff members are making big decisions on how the product you play turns out.

With that said, in the case of The Expression Amrilato, I wanted to take this rare opportunity to talk about what it was like to lead this project.

Why? Well, it’s a title that definitely changed our organizational process as a company, and the industry, by and large, for the better.

The Expression Amrilato–affectionately referred to by our team as “Kotonoha” and how I will be addressing it going forward–was a big project that took over 500 days to localize. I don’t want to focus on the schedule performance indexes, change requests, or any of that other boring stuff. Instead, I want to talk about how this game has already changed the visual novel industry, and has the potential to bring in a lot of new blood into the community.

Looking back, our incredibly experienced localization team had many, many questions immediately following the acquisition of Kotonoha.

Questions like:

  • Rin’s accent is a bit unique, where exactly is that from?
  • Are… all of the superscripts and subscripts manually placed?        
  • Would Rin be an English speaker learning Esperanto, or a Japanese speaker learning Esperanto?
  • How is the in-game dictionary going to show everything?
  • How do we localize X, Y, and Z scenes about how close these syllables match Japanese ones?
  • Where do I learn the alphabet for Esperanto? Wait… the font is different.

It was a lot to take in and learn at once, but these challenges only drove our localization team forward. The first step was to break down just what all of this on the screen was! Let’s take a look at the original game.

There’s a lot going on in this single image! The text box features Juliamo, the special text for Esperanto in-game, and Katakana. Above that text is the pronunciation in Esperanto, which was generated by an automatic macro. Below that are specific definitions that Rin, our main protagonist, knows in that moment. In summation, it is a special line that translates everything Ruka says in normal conversation for the user to understand.

An early proposal and breakdown of what we had is shown above, which ultimately led to a few key decisions.

First, we wanted to accurately portray that Rin, a young Japanese woman, was lost in the Juliamo world and was struggling to understand the language.

Second, we wanted to use real world Esperanto as much as possible, as it was quite intuitive for English speakers and increased the overall educational value of Kotonoha.

Finally, we wanted to bring it to Ren’py so it was available to as many people as possible, on whichever operating system they utilized, so they could access this valuable resource.

This, naturally, led to several fun conversations wiht the localization team over the course of the project:

Me: So that’s what “[Pruntu]{rb}[al][mi]{/rb}to me{rt2}[la]{rb}[Magazino] [n]{/rb}{rt}?magazine?{rt2}!” means when you’re editing.

Editor: We will make Zamenhof proud.

Moving the engine to Ren’py was no simple task. We had two programmers work on this title, one for extraction and one for re-scripting it into multiple languages for both English and Japanese.

Unsurprisingly, some features we needed for text placement were not native to the Ren’py engine. Our most valuable asset and staff member on the project, Craig P. Donson, reached out to PyTom to help create new features for the latest Ren’py engine specifically for this Kotonoha. It was really a concrete way for us to add to the community effort, and we have nothing but thanks to the Ren’Py community for making that happen.

Those efforts really paid off to bring you the clean presentation you can see here:

Kotonoha has so many things to offer. At its core, it introduces a fictional world that utilizes a constructed language and rivals Go! Go! Nippon! as a linguistically interesting title.

These interactive gameplay elements, such as the quiz segments, made Kotonoha the most technologically interesting visual novel our company has ever worked on. It ranks quite highly in the visual novel medium for player engagement and promotes intellectual curiosity.

To the new player, Rin is in a foreign land where she can’t communicate at even the most basic level. The writing made her such an entertaining and relatable character, which only highlighted her interesting linguistic attempts all the more. All in all, the scenario really gives you, the reader, a beautiful, emotional connection with Rin.

We worked really hard on this title for you all to enjoy – and it has had an impactful development on our localization process as a whole, but this is where we look forward.

That’s where you come in – the complexity of Kotonoha may not be something easily communicated in 2019. If you took the time to read about our work today, please take the time to talk about The Expression Amrilato to people you know and link them to the game. Try talking to visual novel fans, both new and old alike. For me, it really reignited my love of the medium and I think it will for you, too.

This game can really spark an intellectual curiosity that is a rarity in this industry, and I hope everyone brings this title to life in the way that it deserves.

Dankon pro legado!

The Expression Amrilato has just been released on June 13th, 2019, and is available 20% off during release week for only $19.96!

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  1. Pingback: [Links] 12-18 June 2019: Yuri VN Teaches Esperanto, Crunch at Rooster Teeth, and Toxic Systems in SARAZANMAI - ANIME FEMINIST

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