Ignorance is Bliss, Quality Control is Torture

June 7th, 2019

Giving Seinarukana a run for its money on the internals being a smoking trash fire.

I already wrote up my first impressions a long, long time ago, well before I considered working on the game, so consider that the prelude for this post. As such, there will be precious little positive I have to share beyond that. This post will also be full of spoilers. All the spoilers. So if such things are important to you, leave now. At least, that was the plan when we began. Moreso next time, I suppose.

So, let's finally do a full reckoning of Baldr Sky since I think that's overdue. But let's not start with opinion. No. Let us begin with cold, hard, unforgiving copy editing, and allow that to be the framework by which we look at all the rest. I want to establish firmly right off that this a script that had very little attention paid to detail, and very little effort was spent polishing or fixing it. In fact, there are times when Dive 2 revisions of the scripts actually broke parts of Dive 1, so little care was taken, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

 

To start with, like all Giga games, Baldr Sky is practically made of repetition. Instead of using a common route with if statements for when differences need to be made when an identical scene happens in a route, that scene was copy-pasted across multiple scripts. That breaks the auto-detection for previously read text, which would be minor in most games (but was not here… I'll get to that) and introduces the capacity for even more errors, of which there were numerous. From my time with Duel Savior, I knew this would be a major problem, and from my creation of scripts for importing and maintaining the consistency in the Destiny/Justice scripts, I already had a solution that just needed a little more cooking. Essentially, I created a script that automatically detected and warned or forced consistency on copy pasted lines. It only did so on lines above a certain length, and in its first incarnation, only did so on exact matches. That's when I discovered that they did the copy pasting very early on in the development process. Specifically, they did it before any editing passes. For example:

<JAP>@v11600009「何とでも言え。@t0208@nだが生憎、時間切れだ……。@n野犬の遠吠えを聞いている暇は無い」
<JAP>@v11600009「何とでも言え。@nだが生憎、時間切れだ……。@n野犬の遠吠えを聞いている暇は無い」

One line comes from Rain's route, the other from Nanoha's. The only difference between them is the existence of that @t0208 command (text display delay for I believe 208 ms). Or the even more ridiculous change

<JAP>@v12300037「@r都市自警軍@CDF@より警告します。@t0308@nただちに解散し、この場を立ち去りなさい。@n従わない場合は、実力行使に訴えます……」
<JAP>@v12300037「@r都市自警軍@CDF@より警告します。@t0310@nただちに解散し、この場を立ち去りなさい。@n従わない場合は、実力行使に訴えます……」

One line has a 2 ms longer delay. That's it. That's the whole change. This stuff is everywhere. Part of my translation process was that I had to change the original Japanese in the scripts to actually be identical between copy/pastes so that I could automatically force it to be identical when my inattentive editors would no doubt also mess things up. It wasn't just imperceptable control code stuff either. 達 (tachi, for marking words as plural) on one route would become たち on another. Someone search/replaced くそ (kuso – "damn it") with (same thing, but in kanji) in a bunch of Aki and Sora's scripts ONLY for reasons I can't even begin to fathom. This is on top of all the little typos and mistakes. My favorites were Kou asking if the citizens could be blamed (非難 – hinan) instead of evacuated (避難 – hinan), and the time when VTOLs were flying overhead, inheriting warnings (継げ) instead of announcing them (告げ).

One thing that also comes up a lot is that they would split a long line into two lines on one route but not another. There's one case where they did that and overwrote the voice file itself, forgetting to update it in the prior script, resulting in a line that only plays the first part.

<JAP>@v70600576「酷い夢だった。頭の変な奴に、@n千夏や雅がボコボコにされちゃってる夢。@n針や鞭や刃物やら……@t0912@hSORA_0101KAああ、おぞましい」

<JAP>@v70600576「酷い夢だった……」
<JAP>@v70600576a「頭の変な奴に、@n千夏や雅がボコボコにされちゃってる夢。@t0510@n針や鞭や刃物やら……@t0741@hSORA_0103IRああ、おぞましい」

 

In other places, they rearranged sentences, or even split and rerranged. Sometimes they change the the spacing on the furigana. Lots of times, the punctuation is slightly altered, because you can never have too many ellipses. Lest we think it's a small percentage, of the 54903 Japanese lines in the ADV scripts I had gone through (ie regular game scripts, not gameplay stuff), my tool has 5870 marked as duplicates to be automatically made consistent, and that's after I had gone through and manually fixed Rain, Nanoha, Chinatsu, and Aki's scripts to just be consistent in their cut and pasting. That's over 10% of the script that I had done so far, and remember, that's a low count because it doesn't include sufficiently short lines, or lines that are technically identical, but have a different voice line (I'll elaborate later, short version: mindjacking virus means different dudes give identical speeches). Remember those numbers, because we'll be returning later to make them really horrifying when we get to the smoldering dumpster inferno that is the pseudo-route called Reminiscence.

You can even tell the ordering of editing, or at least the quality. Rain's route was the most edited and has a bunch of added control tags (especially for changing the displayed sprite mid-line) than the lines copied into Nanoha's route, and Chinatsu's is just a complete disaster. Typos and flat out errors are goddamned everywhere. A character that a character told them something and verbatim quotes them… except that happened in a different route. This happens multiple times. To their credit, they caught themselves doing this once and went back and fixed it. To their discredit, they must've done so after voices were already recorded and didn't want to call people back to re-record them for another round, so we end up with a long plot-important scene where if you missed/skipped the part you were supposed to see, you end up on these crazy truncated asides where everything exists in narration. As in it narrates things like "I asked about X, and Rain added that we didn't see Y." But they weren't all that careful about that because in the very next script, they forget about it and just refer to it as having happened no matter what. And then again later, like they flagged only one scene for the "oops, this may not have happened, better fix that" and missed all the other references. Side note, this is also how they handle all of Kou's lines during the sex scenes. He turns from voiced to completely mute, and instead of saying things, narrates to the invisible space goat in his head that he's saying things. It's pretty hilarious.

 

Which leads me to revisit a remark I made in my previous writeup about how it tries to do references and half the time completely fumbles them. I mentioned it using soylent green as a reference to non-organic foods before, but that's only the tip of the iceberg. It misreferences everything from Neuromancer to James Cameron SQUID discs, which themselves are a misreference to actual existing technology. Whenever it pauses for an infodump, there's about a 25% chance that it's going to say something incredibly stupid and take you right out of the whole thing. It's worst when it tries to use computer terms where it honest-to-god looks like they used Translation Party. When they try to describe software orchestration, for example, the kanji they end up with is 指揮者, musical conductor… which they then retranslate into Japanese and back into English one more time, ending up with "Commander." Or the disassembler, which came out in kanji as 改変者 (modifier) with the ascribed English being "Animator," which is about as far as you can get from something described as "disassembles matter at a molecular level." 

There's a concept in translation called false friends. It's like that, but on steriods. It turns out there's a very good reason. Normally, you just shrug off weird English, especially in a Giga game. I still have no idea what it means to be "chosen fatally to Avater, the first quadrant" and probably never will. This is special though, because there's a buttload of English, Russian, German, and even (a Baldr staple since I believe Bullet) Nadsat, the fictional pseudo-Russian language from Clockwork Orange. Every time katakana appears, the guessing game begins as to what word they wrote and what word they actually meant, and a little special fun thing, the Nadsat stuff is wrong an uncomfortable amount of the time. I don't make the comparison to Translation Party lightly either. If you look at the English text on the images, you'll start noticing some weird things. Not normal weird things like romanizing proper nouns, even banal ones like romanizing a character's name (レイン –  Rain) a different way every time it appears. No, we're talking translating the individual kanji of character names. As in it was all fed into Google Translate and then just plopped into the game. Noticing the proliferance of that was a real watershed moment for me in deciding that their opinion on how words should be (mis)translated into English was no longer worth entertaining in the slightest. Probably how they ended up translating miko as "medium" for that matter.

But even when it's not dropping raw machine translation straight into the game, or messing up references, it has issues with basic facts in its (numerous) info dumps. The figurative ivory tower in the middle of the city that houses the ruling class? Well, the wealth disparity is so bad that even though it's only 20% of the population, they control 70% of the wealth! To spare you looking that up, the US is currently at 10% to 70%, and it's much more severe in metropolitan areas, so this horrible dystopia? Much better off than New York! Or the time a guy had a fretsaw hidden in his sleeve. "You sure you don't mean, like, a nail file or a sawblade?" "Nah, man. A whole fretsaw. With vibro sound effects!"

And if you think that this is all on the writers alone, you're wrong. While I was doing some in-game checking/testing, I noticed a reference back to a pretty important conversation containing a major reveal that never came. After some testing, I figured out that it was set to play on wave 2 of the battle… except there is no wave 2, even on a completely clean, totally untouched script. The battle ends after one wave, resulting in a character, apropos of absolutely nothing, going "You need to tell me the full story about that thing later."

There's also the way it handles which OP to play. If you install both Dive 1 and Dive 2, as recommended, you'd think that until you clear Dive 1 content or during the Dive 1 routes, the Dive 1 OP would play instead of the Dive 2 OP with its (admittedly minor) spoilers, right? We're getting the Dive 1 title screen. We're in the Dive 1 story content. Seems obvious. Well, here is the code that controls what OP plays in ALL cases.

if(GetSystemFlg(18) != 0) {
         PlayMovie("Opening.mpg", 100, 0);
      } else  {
         PlayMovie("Opening2.mpg", 100, 0);
      } 

SystemFlg(18) is an unlockable setting by playing the Survival Mode, which is unlocked by finishing a route. So unless you quit out of the story to play the extra mode, and then explicitly turn it on, there is not just an entire OP hidden away, but the original OP that actually had an iota of effort put into it. It's baffling. It's not an easy fix either because not all subsets of flags are available depending on which part of the game you're in. And then there's just the garden variety inexplicable Japanese coding like you find everywhere. Why wouldn't you make Help images and ONLY Help images dynamically named using the same string as they're IDed by in the Help menu? Makes sense to me!

Cor blimey. When I started writing this on Monday, I thought to myself "just do a quick summation of some of the worst parts of your hojillion TL notes," and we're around ten paragraphs in on just the editing and technical issues, after cutting down a few paragraphs that felt a little too nitpicky. You might think I've been repressing it for some reason. Not that something being poorly written, edited, checked, and coded is the be-all end-all. After all, the greatest piece of literature is a trillion word Smash Brothers fanfic, also with none of that. This is cracking open the hood and finding a swarm of angry hornets. This is me setting the stage for this being the opposite of a refined, polished game for when I get to really sink my teeth into all the script; into all the plot holes, deus ex machinas, character anti-arcs, and total rejection of any kind of relationship between cause and effect. My god, I feel like I could probably get ten paragraphs on Nanoha and Chinatsu's routes… each. But that's a post for another day.

Posted in Baldr Sky | 3 Comments »

3 Shouts From the Peanut Gallery

  • Ark noir says:

    Still got the .exe ps2 version I bought from reading your review years ago and never got around to completing it.

    [Reply]

    Aroduc says:

    That’s Baldr Force, not Sky. I like Force mostly. It’s also about a quarter the length because it isn’t padded out with enormous amounts of crap.

    [Reply]

  • Anonymous says:

    About time somebody put this kusoge in its place. That was cathartic, waiting warmly for the next post.

    [Reply]

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