Lost in translation / Perdu en traduction

1zelda-ii-i-am-errorWhen the first Open Bar! user reviews rolled in, we were eager to know what players thought of the game. We read them thoroughly. We were encouraged by the positive comments and we learned a lot from the negative ones. Players were really good at suggesting useful improvements for the game. Even if we can’t implement all of them, we’ll keep them in mind when designing the next games. Unfortunately, we were not able to understand all of our user reviews since half of them were written in languages we do not know.

On Android, Google offers an automatic translation service that was not always very helpful. Sometimes, a lot of information was lost in translation, especially with Korean reviews. They all seem to find the game extremely funny, but we don’t know why. Is it because we have an amusing fail in the translated texts or is “funny” or “laughing very hard”  a way for Koreans to say that they enjoy themselves?

Then, at the end of last year, Skynet took over Google translate and the tool suddenly became surprisingly good. After using it a couple of times, we were impressed by the quality of the results. Earlier this year, I had an epiphany: I could go back to check our past reviews and finally understand what players tried to tell us. For the most part, it worked, but some of them still make me laugh. For your pleasure, here is a little compilation of the best ones:

badongZeynep Ada (Android), translated from Turkish

With one word… GREAT / AMAZING

I’m not sure about this one. Maybe the “one word” part was mistranslated, though it could be that there exists a Turkish word that can express both greatness and amazingness at the same time. Or a way for them to create hybrids on the fly to help define new experiences, albeit I always thought that only Chosen Ones and Germans were able to mash words up in that fashion.

Mr. Mango (Android), translated from Italian

Mythical

Thank you. It means a lot to us to be compared to some of history’s greatest heroes. Playing Open Bar! and going to the Underworld to defeat a three headed dog with a serpent’s tail is pretty much the same. I will now transform myself into a bull to seduce unsuspecting ladies lounging in a field.

Кирилл Карелин (Android), translated from Russian

It is currently not a bad puzzle

fatal-fury-specialKirill gave us 3 stars, and this is a bold choice considering that people usually choose 1, 4 or 5 stars to express their feelings about something. A game can be good, really good or really bad, not two-stars meh. From what we can gather, Kirill is very neutral about Open Bar!. The comment and the review show a great deal of indifference. What is puzzling is that it takes some kind of effort to rate a game. Kirill must be dedicated even in detachment. Or maybe it’s impossible to truly impress him, like that teacher who never gives out A’s because nobody’s perfect.

Disciples of the Creator (iOS), translated from Japanese

Because it is a bar, music is like jazz, I thought if it was sorry.

This sounds like a haiku. I like the “music is like jazz” verse. The sorrowful end leaves you with an unanswered question. Truly inspired.

Samlee5854 (iOS), translated from Chinese

Review title : Brains

Review : Brains

This is our first and hopefully only zombie fan. Open Bar!, so good it brings the dead back to life! The mythical guy was right all along.

zw04KoshianDonut (iOS), translated from Japanese

The best time to kill

Don’t say that here, you’ll get caught!

emtime (iOS), translated from Chinese

This does not know what the problem is

It just has to rub the lotion on its skin, I guess. Nobody really knows what the problem is, but you move forward anyway, and hope for the best.

I just want to say Lv Lv Lv (iOS), translated from Chinese

Haha also Kazakhstan Kazakhstan ha ha ha

This one must love Borat, I’m not sure if he even wanted to get caught. From our perspective, written in Chinese, this review felt totally legit. Very nice!

*** If you speak Korean, please tell us: what is so funny? We want to share the giggles… Also, thank you all for those reviews, we are genuinely grateful for every single one of them. Cheers!

Ghosts-N-Goblins

Today we tell the truth

We have not yet met anyone who managed to get the studio’s name right on the first attempt. In English or French, the difficulty remains the same. Some go for a confident “Ginger, is it?” Nope, you hopeful A-denyer, it’s Gingear. Others decide that it must be a hard “g”, like Top Gear. “Gin Gear, is it?” We tell them, “No, it’s a soft “g”, like ginger, except with an A. It’s simple.” Some just sneeze their way through it.

This is part of a diabolical plan forcing everyone confronted with the studio’s name to wonder how to pronounce it, hence dramatically increasing the likelihood of remembering it forever. Today, for the first time, we are revealing the secret behind Gingear’s name.

iStock-Offended
It was _________ all along! (fill with your favorite Card Against Humanity)

It all started before the creation of the company (and therefore before the choice of its commercial name). During several brainstorming sessions, we came up with brilliant ideas, such as “Bubble Games” (I’m a huge fan of bubble gum) or other clever play on words. However, every time we checked to see if another company or product had the same name, we found it already in use.

I then suggested “Wait For It… Games”, a name that was available at the time. Unfortunately, my business partner was not convinced. According to him, the fun factor of the name did not weigh heavily in the balance compared to being the butt of the joke were we to delay the release of one of our games. Personally, I found the name even more appropriate if that was the case, but hey…

We became aware that all the common words of the English dictionary have already been purchased by someone profiting from the resale of domain names (I’m picturing in my head Dr. Evil laughing in a cave). Which is when we realized that we were left with obscure words, like “Schwa” or “Googol”, that nobody wants for a good reason.

tatanka
It means “trying really hard”

So we buckled down and tried to think of a word in another language that people might have heard before. “Totonka!,” we shouted with glee, one of the first words Kevin Costner’s character learns in Dances With Wolves. It’s nice, it’s short, it has pizzazz. Was the search finally over?

Hell no! Even though it was a misspelled Lakota word, someone had already bought this domain name (you should check it out, it’s not cheap). Tatanka.com, with the right spelling, was also already taken. Proving that great minds think alike, the domain owner is a software developer.

The remaining option was to make up a name. We didn’t want to come up with something too complicated or “medieval”, like Gardakan or Mordak. We had to find a sweet spot between reality and fiction. That’s when we decided on “Gingear,” a mysterious word adopted by our circle of friends after ordering the strangest pizza in the universe.

pizza
Nightmarish Breakfast Studio?

The pizza was listed on the delivery menu with green olives, jalapeño peppers, and ginger as toppings. First off, the combination of ingredients is out of this world. More relevant to this post though, undoubtedly due to a typo we found hilarious, ginger was spelled “gingear.”

We immediately called the restaurant and ordered “the one with the gingear.” Thanks to this unforgettable pizzeria, years later, we still use this word to refer to ginger, an awesome and very versatile ingredient by the way.

So, we figured that if other successful studios can choose the name of a 60 kg rodent, we could pick the name of the weirdest ingredient found on the most creative pizza in the world. And end the struggle once and for all.

P.S. The pizza was okay. Not delicious, but surprisingly okay.

Senpai has finally noticed us

It’s a great day to be Gingear. Open Bar! now dwells in the Indie Corner, a collection of indie games curated by Google on Android.

We tried oh so ferociously to get the attention of this secretive entity, but the gentle giant is harder to reach than the top of a greased up wall.

Jojo's Bizarre Adventure Episode 16: Hell Climb Pillar
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Hell Climb Pillar

Mobile game developers can always drop an email to the Apple team to inform them of the existence of their exciting new game; since there is a gazillion of us, we assume that this account is managed by a mutant that has transcended the need to read and can feel all of this information, sort out the good stuff and dispatch it to the team. But realistically, we’re not sure that it’s humanly possible to read every email sent to that address.

Since there are hundreds of new apps that are submitted each day, how do you get yours to stand out? You are competing with well-established studios; they are investing Goliath-esque sums of money in marketing and most certainly know someone at Apple. They already have successful games behind them.

David vs Goliath dogs

You have your one game (it’s super great), one email address everyone can use and a David-esque sum of money to invest in market-wait-I’ve-never-done-this.

We were shamefully lucky to have Open Bar! featured in the Best New Games category when it got out. It was extremely “puzzling”: was that a sign that Apple reads all those emails? It’s terrifying.

With Google though, there is no contact to be made, there is no email address, you cannot send anything. Period. We wondered how they would know if a new game was cool and worth their gaze. Maybe there is an army of underground robots programmed to play all the games on the Play Store (there are more than all the stars in the sky in your imagination) and when they find a good one they flash a little red light.

You could argue that really, it’s the same deal with Apple (since you have a slim chance of getting your game noticed among all of the others), but it’s comforting to press send after writing a carefully crafted press release about your launch and your hopes and dreams. A communication has taken place, it’s all that matters. You can now wait by the phone dressed to the nines.

Men in Black

We once heard at a game dev happy hour that Google representatives lurk in gaming events and approach you with a white card with only their names on it (no phone numbers, nothing), like men in black. You would have this incredible chance to make your pitch; then, they would vanish in their mysterious world.

We then brainstormed creative ways to get acknowledged by Google: getting on top of a bridge with a huge Open Bar! sign and refuse to leave until Google called, investing 10 million dollars in ads to get a million downloads and/or making a sex tape with a strong focus on gameplay.

The strategy that we finally decided on was thinking really hard about it happening. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

Then, Google gave the world a form to fill out (a Google form), to submit games to this new Indie Corner. They’ve finally hired a mutant of their own!

The rest is history.