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Translation bid for PC hacking game

Education

THE overnight success of a PC game that has users playing the role of a computer hacker is being translated for a wider audience.

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Hacknet – the brainchild of South Australian developer Matt Trobbiani – was released in the second half of 2015 and has already been downloaded more than 100,000 times from distribution platform Steam.

It has been sold to gamers worldwide – Russia is its second biggest market behind the United States – despite it only being currently available in English.

“I’m going to the Taipei Game show at the end of January … so we’re going to expand it by translating it into Simplified Chinese hopefully for that convention and see how the response is,” he said.

Trobbiani said the Taipei Game show is a good opportunity to see how players react to the translation and how people who don’t speak English get through it.

Feedback from the demo will help shape timelines but early predictions are two to three months before the Chinese version is available commercially.

“It’s a very delicate game to translate so we’re going to have to look into some different strategies,” Trobbiani said.

“I will leave big chunks in English because say you are hacking into a big server in America the files are going to be English in the same way that if you are in Australia and you are going to hack into a server in China the files are going to be in Chinese so I think I’ll be able to build some really interesting game play and extra functionality for the game via the fact that it’s going to be translated.

“As to how many languages, I’ll probably get my publishers to do a big chart with how many impressions we get from every country in the world, how much it will roughly cost to translate then subtract it from estimated sales and then pick every single language that’s above zero.”

The immersive terminal-based hacking simulator follows the trail of a famed hacker, Bit, who has recently died.

It made best 2015 games lists on numerous websites including Giant Bomb, Gizmodo and GameSpot and has also just been released for Mac and Linux.

Trobbiani, 25, said he initially thought the award-winning game would be “impossible” to translate.

But the University of Adelaide computer science graduate said he was encouraged by several creative translators he met at the Tokyo Game Show late last year.

“They said we could just translate chunks of it and still be like a really playable game in other languages, especially in cultures that teach English in schools so the characters aren’t unrecognizable.

“But you can’t just send the whole game off to a translating studio and have them take care of it for you. It’s going to involve a lot of design work too but some of the conversations I had at TGS made me think it was really possible.”

Key Contacts:

Matt Trobbiani

This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia, a news service providing stories about innovation in South Australia. Please feel free to use the story in any form of media. The story sources are linked in with the copy and all contacts are willing to talk further about the story.

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