Monday, July 18, 2016

Shadowrun: Hong Kong's Typos

Come on, Harebrained Schemes. COME ON.

Look. I think we can all agree that the occasional error in our RPGs’ dialogue and narration is no big deal, right? We all make mistakes here and there. My rants certainly aren’t always perfect, even by the somewhat loose standards of English composition that I hold myself to. There’s an insane amount of text in your average RPG, so the rare mistake must be allowed for.

But there are typos all OVER Shadowrun: Hong Kong. And they get distracting. And that’s a problem. Because when you’re writing out an interesting, nuanced story with interesting, nuanced characters (well, some of them, at least; Is0bel’s just kind of there), the last thing you want is for your audience to split their attention from appreciating your art’s sophisticated content and chuckling at your art’s crude presentation.

It’s like if you took, say, Toy Story 3--we can all agree that movie was great, right?--and had a prominent animation error show up every 5 or 10 minutes. Is the story still engaging? Are the characters still lovable? Does everything still look mostly great? Yes! But are you going to leave the theater thinking, “I can’t believe the movie had all those errors,” and think it was unprofessional? Also yes!

This ain’t like the translation of Eternal Senia. Eternal Senia was produced by like 1 guy with a few contributions from a couple others, who didn’t speak English, and the game is free. No one’s making money off of it. It is allowable that Eternal Senia’s English is not perfect...hell, it’s actually a little endearing at times; I mentioned in my rant on the game that there are times when the crude translation actually kind of adds flavor to the dialogue.

But Shadowrun: Hong Kong costs 20 bucks, was fully funded by both a Kickstarter campaign and proceeds from previous Shadowrun games, had a complete development team working on it, and was created by a company based in the USA. Not to mention, the overall content of the game’s text makes it clear that these writers know their way around the English language pretty darned well! So what gives?

I wouldn’t be making such a big deal out of this, except for the fact that it’s not the first time Harebrained Schemes has been so damn sloppy in its dialogue and narration. Shadowrun Returns was crawling with spelling and grammatical mistakes! And people noticed, and ridiculed appropriately. So then, what do you know, Shadowrun: Dragonfall comes out a while later, and it’s on point with this, burdened with barely any typos, no more than you’d expect a professional game to have. And now the third game's brought back the typo issue. What gives, Harebrained Schemes? You FIXED this problem! There is actual, tangible evidence that you know better! It just makes no damned sense; they’re repeating a mistake they already knew enough to avoid!

I dunno. Maybe I’m overreacting. But I dislike sloppy work, and that’s certainly what this is.

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