After many years of waiting, FromSoftware finally released Elden Ring in 2022. Elected Game of the Year, this interactive souls-like work was realized in collaboration with George R. R. Martin, author of Game of Thrones. Elden Ring, produced by Bandai Namco and ideated by Hidetaka Miyazaki, conquered the hearts of millions of hardcore players. The player is called to portray the Tarnished, who has the duty of traveling in the Lands Between to retrieve the fragments of the Elden Ring in order to become the new Elden Lord. Given the immensity of this open world, a colossal work of translation and adaption had to be expected.
Translated from English
Contrarily to the typical translation process, in which the video games is translated from the original source, Elden Ring was localized starting from the English translation. This is the typical approach that was used for other FromSoftware’s works too, just like Dark Souls. This operation, as testified by the localizators themselves, extended the time for translation and product distribution.
The Unconventional Story-Telling of Elden Ring
One of the difficulties that are translator face with complex video games like Elden Ring is their unconventional story-telling. The numerous details of the lore, the underlying plot that the player has to look for, makes the text way more challenging to translate without the right context. Considering the big fervor around this title, the various assets are surrounded by maximum confidentiality, which adds even more obstacles.
Being set ina fantasy world, the various teams proved themselves with made-up works derived direcly by the Japanese language. For example, Elden Ring was translated as “Anello ancestrale” in order to mantain the ancient nuances from “elden”. The translation for Tarnished is even more peculiar. FromSoftware’s description points to the keywords “light” and “marginalized”, so the Italian translation was “Senza luce” (without light).
Elden Ring Translation as a Group Effort
European localization teams worked together in order to translate the immense mythology of Elden Ring. Thus, all the players could face a coherent world in each language: English, Italian, Spanish, French, German, Russian and Polish.
A work of this scale has been successful also thanks to an elaborated query system, through which translators could ask questions directly to the FromSoftware team. The answers were inserted in a common database to reduce the number of queries. The continuos expanding of the work made the translation activities a constant work in progress that went on until the last few minutes.
Speaking of case studies: have you read the insight on The Witcher 3?