Progress report: April 2021

12/05/2021 09:10
Last month I wrote a bit about how and why we are changing our animation system. I can finally say that we are finished with transforming all existing animations from spritesheets to skeletal and I can show you some of it in action!

Was it worth it?

By switching to Spine the animations folder size dropped from 1.1 GB to 21 MB! That's 1100 to 21, roughly 2% of the original size! Wow!! I haven't had the chance to make a new build and compare the old and new build size but I can imagine it is somewhere within the same magnitude.

It's not just that it all takes up less space, but loading times have massively improved too. It wasn't that much of an issue with the actual build (if I could make one), but running the game in editor or debugging it always puts more strain on the machine. So now that we don't have to keep the 1 GB of spritesheets at the ready, the development process is a bit quicker and less annoying.

Lóf*szt, nehogymár!

For anyone who doesn't know this line, it is from the 1982 movie Blade Runner. Edward James Olmos (Gaff) speaks bits of Hungarian in the movie. This is certainly the most well-known quote of these bits, at least in Hungarian circles. The phrase itself means 'Bullshit, no way' but it is said in such a way that truly captures the essence of the Hungarian language and mind.

So, localisations...

After having spent more than a month just relentlessly ploughing through the pile of animations I mentioned above, I needed a break so I started working on the Hungarian translations. I know that this is probably not the most urgent bit, but it is something that has been in the back of my mind for a long time and I just had to get it out. Most of the groundwork has been laid out since almost the beginning. I come from a business software background so I new at the beginning how much of a pain it would be to implement localisation if we had hard-coded all text in English first and then would have had to find everything by hand and switch later. Most of the text already came from a localised collection, but there was only one language available and there was no way to switch.

But there is now!
But it's not all fun and games!

I thought that since I am writing the whole thing in English and I am a native Hungarian speaker this will be easy-peasy. Well... no. Silly me... :D
It is funny to look back on how the whole process started. When we came up with the idea I sat down and started writing a fairytale in Hungarian with the usual folk story elements that we (Hungarians) know so well. It sounded great! Then I tried to translate it into English and I had no idea what to do with these weird and specific phrases that we are so used to but apparently there are no English equivalents of them. So we looked up old English fairytales and folktales and old proverbs and things like that, for inspiration. The Witcher 3 was also a big influence on me in terms of writing English dialog.

Couple of examples for phrases that generally mean a place far enough that you (the listener) will never actually go there, but close enough that you believe that exists or maybe you have heard the name of it somewhere.

Üveghegyen túl: over the Glass Mountains. Signifies a place that is hard to get to.
Hetedhét ország: literally mean something like Seventh-seven counrty, a country very very far away. For this we chose the translation 'Behind the Beyond'. (Hey, that's the name of the show!)
Óperenciás-terger: Operencia see. It is basically a very large see which is almost impossible to get through, so we chose the name Neverending see. According to some, the name 'Óperencia' comes from a place in Upper Austria called 'Österreich ob der Enns' in German, meaning Austria over the river Enns. The river Enns runs on the border between Upper and Lower Austria. They say the phrase 'Óperencia' is a mispronunciation of the German phrase and was first used by Hungarian soldiers returning home from Lower Austria to mean a place far away.

Every Hungarian folk tale starts with at least one (if not all) of these phrases.

After we got over this hurdle with the phrases I slowly changed from writing in Hungarian and translating to English to writing in English. So I think my English dialogs have improved, but now I have to translate everything back into Hungarian, I REALLY feel the difference between the bits I wrote in one language and the other! E.g. that Ghostbusters reference I have been sharing constantly. How am I going to translate that into any other language?? Everybody knows this line in English. But I am fairly certain that if I translate it, the joke would be lost in every language. One solution would be to switch it completely to some other pop culture reference that resonates with the target audience in their native language, but for that I would also have to switch the audio, which I definitely can't do just yet (no voice actors). So for now, the awkward literal translation stays and I hope that Hungarian speakers will get the joke anyway.

And finally my 'favourite' localisation issue, the bane of existance of all Hungarian graphic designers: accented characters. I'm gonna illustrate the problem for you (as it exists on this website too) with just two words:


Explanation: the words above literally mean 'flood-resistant mirrordrill'. It is not an actual thing :D But these two words only contain accented vowels, they contain all the accented characters in the Hungarian language exactly once, so it is often used by graphic designers to test fonts to see if all accents are present in their character set. The two most commonly missed ones are ő and ű.

Okay I think that's enough of my nerdy babbling for today :D
Back to work for me and see you soon!