Interview of the woman behind the English version of the game: Océane Müller
1/ Who are you and what defines you ?
Hello, my name is Océane and I am fluent in both French and English (even though only French is my mother language). I also speak conversational Japanese and German. My experience with translation is mainly interviews translations for multiple fanbases (fr-eng, eng-fr, jp-eng, jp-fr).
I have simple hobbies: videogames, reading, bicycling around some nice places and observe the stars with my telescope. I love animals too! Cats and dogs mostly! My Freyja is the best doggo in the world!
As for videogames, I played a lot of RPGs. My favorite is probably “Secret of Mana”, on SNES, but I loved the Zelda games, “Golden Sun”, Fable, etc.
2/ What have you done for Subterraneus project ?
I mainly translated the game. There is some proofreading too, as I need to read the French version to translate it.
3/ Have you ever translated a videogame before ?
No, it is my very first time.
4/ What are the specificities of translating a videogame, if any ?
Well, for articles and interviews, we want to stay the most accurate possible. There is no place for interpretation.
For Subterraneus, I tried to be loyal to the spirit of the game. But the spirit is not always within words. I had to re-write some parts for them to be more English friendly.
5/ There must have been some things pretty hard to translate…
Some puns are untranslatable. A literal translation is impossible if the pun is based on the multiple meanings of a word or on a typical French idiom. So I had to come up with other puns that were faithful to the spirit of the game. And it’s not always easy to do!
For example, there is a NPC (Non Playable Character) named Crok. In French, the player can learn while talking to him that his name is related to his work as undertaker. Undertaker in French is “croque-mort”, or literally “crunch-dead”.
Aaaaand we see here the problem. There was no pun possible as the developer wants to keep the same name in every versions of the game. I couldn’t translate literally and it would have been a shame (developer’s note : unacceptable!) to forgo a “good” pun.
The developer and I have thought about it for a long time and were unable (until recently!) to find a good pun that would stay within the spirit without misrepresenting the NPC.
6/ You have mentioned the developer. How is it to work with him ?
He lets me do as I want and is open minded so I’d say it’s pretty easy to work with him. I think the only problem we sometimes have is the communication: he doesn’t want to pressure me and I learn after a while that this thing to do “when you have the time” was actually urgent…
7/ Last question before concluding, what is your favorite thing about Subterraneus ?
I love Crok (the NPC)! I want to strangle him whenever he talks in the game, but I love him at the same time! He is unbearably endearing. A little bit like the developer…
8/ Thank you for your time! A last word maybe?
Subterraneus is a great project and I’m happy to be a part of it. I have never translated so much! But it’s a thing I like to do, so it’s not a chore! I would like to keep translating after Subterraneus!