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  • Policenauts

    Posted on August 25th, 2009 keving 5 comments


    The English fan-translation for the PlayStation version of Policenauts is finally released. You can poke around the Internet for a while and you can find everything you need without much trouble. Ethically I shouldn’t recommend you do that because I do pro translation for a living. I’ll just cyber-turn my back to you and cyber-whistle while you do whatever you want as I’m not looking. That’s what I’m doing, right now. See?

    You can read a lot about the creation of the English version on this Something Awful thread where most of the main folks involved are posting and answering questions. It’s a very constructive and interesting thread. Meanwhile, on NeoGAF, someone is complaining about Hideo Kojima using the word okama in the script and it getting rightfully translated as “fag.” It’s like the difference between the BBC and Fox News sometimes.

    I rarely play fan translations because (cocks head back, looks over sunglasses, flicks cigarette holder) I don’t need them, dahh-ling. The stereotype in my mind was of people with their heads lodged up their arses chopping up Square games to match their homoerotic fanfiction-driven vision of what the story “should be.” This release is nothing like that. It is a great localization in every sense of the term, expertly capturing Kojima’s dirty, ribald vision of the future without coming out at all strange or awkward. I’d like to think Kojima would approve. The only complaint I have is that they should’ve done the Saturn version instead, since it’s neat to have the hypertext online encyclopedia (available in English on accessible within the game by clicking on dialogue text, but I’m sure that would’ve made the whole project even more painful and delayed.

    Frank Cifaldi posted this question on the SA thread:

    Playing great fan-translated games like this and Mother 3 confuses me. I know Big Business is some voodoo art that I’ll never understand, but seriously, are the margins so low on something like a Policenauts translation that Konami would not profit from doing this itself or just paying you guys off for your work?

    I mean really, what is stopping this sort of thing from happening? Is it just a taboo that a big company can’t acknowledge “amateur” work as being valuable? There’s obviously a consumer demand here, and even if it’s not gigantic, surely it’s enough to make money?

    I don’t know, it just strikes me as weird. I would think translating Policenauts would be cheaper and less risky to Konami than most of the stuff they put out.

    Cheaper, yes, but not by much; it’s not like I rake in hundreds of thousands a year doing localization. It would be risky, though. Policenauts is a niche game, with a dedicated fanbase but not a large fanbase. There is not a “consumer demand” being demonstrated with this release; there’s a free-download demand. The US anime distribution industry failed to understand the difference between the two things and that’s why the US anime distribution industry is about a squillionth the size it was in 2004.

    All right, you say, but why not release Policenauts on PSN and sell it for $15 or something?  Surely it could compete with the new Monkey Island or whatever, right? Maybe, but — and everything I write from here on in is speculation, I don’t know anybody who makes these decisions at Konami — you’re asking a publisher working in an industry that is even more megahit-driven than movies in many ways to try selling a product with very little profit potential that’s already been heavily pirated on the Internet. I call it “free download”; they’d call it “piracy.” Unfair, I know. (I like both the work of Corey Doctorow and his theory that free eBooks help, not hinder, physical book sales. But you try convincing an enormous Japanese multi-national corporation that there’s merit to that theory. While you’re doing that, I’ll be flapping my arms. Let’s see if I can fly to the moon before you win them over.)

    That’s my supposition, and it’d be nice if I were proved wrong. I spent my New Year’s vacation in 1999 playing the Saturn Policenauts and it’s still a fond memory. Looking back, I’d say it’s still my favorite Kojima game after all these years. And not just because of that girl’s ass, either.


    5 responses to “Policenauts” RSS icon

    • there’s too much bureacracy and overhead at konami, is what i’d say to frank, and you. that’s the problem.

      the guy who is low enough on the ladder to know that policenauts has an audience also, let’s remember, has to have enough of a CLUE to know that anybody cares, and that is surprisingly difficult if he turns out to be a corporate drone.

      people tend to assume those who work in the game industry care about games but a hell of a lot of them just don’t. and even if he cares he may have halo dreams.

      beyond that, then it has to get all the way up the fucking food chain to kojima, who is an iconoclastic and idiosyncratic control freak, and back down again to actually happen.

      on top of that is the actual budget for the translation and everything.

      i mean, if we can’t get fucking dracula X onto virtual console we ain’t never gonna get policenauts.

    • Yeah, I would say that even if Konami saw some sort of percentage in catering to a niche of this scale — which they don’t — the fact that this is a Hideo Kojima game means it could never happen, because he would insist on micromanaging the entire thing. And that’s only if he didn’t just nix the idea outright because (oh no!) Policenauts represents the work of a younger and less seasoned Hideo Kojima and therefore is insufficiently awesome for the older and more famous Hideo Kojima to even stomach the mere thought of. I wouldn’t doubt that he’s already crapping bricks of fury about this.

      That being said, older publishers with extensive, untranslated back catalogs would be smart to figure out how to profit off the efforts of devoted fans. There’s not a lot of money in it, no doubt, but you’d think a little profit would beat none.

    • “you’d think a little profit would beat none.”

      companies actually do not think that, too. they look at overheads and then go “fuck it this is pointless for us”

      i mean, look at EA’s chronic underutilization of its back catalog.

    • Question: how long is a Policenauts playthrough? I’m very curious, but hoping it’s a 10-hour wonder.

    • It’s about 10 hours but if you try searching for every possible piece of text it’ll take longer.

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