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English Adaptations of 'Affaire' and 'Mystere'

Discussion in 'Module Discussion' started by Endocore, Jun 13, 2016.

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  1. Endocore

    Endocore New Member

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    English Adaptations of 'Affaire' and 'Mystere'


    There are many short single-player adventures for Arcanum available at http://arcanumlab.free.fr. These were created by Triblonto, and are in the French language. I was recently searching for some new Arcanum related experiences, and began looking into these mods. From what I've seen, they're fun and each one offers a full afternoon's worth of entertainment. In general, gameplay is focused on interacting with interesting characters and puzzle-solving rather than fighting monsters and accumulating treasure.

    I've adapted two of these modules for english-speaking players. The two modules are called 'A Case of Mysterious Death" and "Mystery of the Abbey."


    Downloads:

    A Case of Mysterious Death (Affaire) 40MB
    Mystery of the Abbey (Mystere) 42MB

    Both adventures are worthwhile, but if you only have time for one I recommend Mystere. It's bigger and better.


    I don't speak a single word of French, and these adaptations should not be called translations. Properly speaking, they are "embellishments of interpretations of the output from Google Translator." If the original author wrote with any eloquence, such is entirely lost in this process. Furthermore, there were many cases where Google's output was simply incomprehensible, so in those cases I simply wrote whatever made sense to me, and therefore any subtle points of the original author are surely absent from these adaptations. Finally, there were a few cases where some gameplay element (as opposed to a linguistic element) made no sense to me, and in those cases I modified npc behavior or made small changes to quests and maps.

    In other words, my process has been:

    1) Run the original text through Google Translator.
    2) Play the mod to see what it's all about, who's who, and what's going on where.
    3) Rewrite the text into something that makes sense in the context where it's used, furthermore utilizing Arcanumesque language.
    4) Play the mod a second time to verify whether all seems in order, and also fix minor bugs or other problems in the original material.

    I haven't had any contact with Triblonto, the author of these mods, and undertook this project at my own discretion just for fun. Therefore if I've horribly misunderstood anything about the mods, the original author should not be blamed for any resulting defects in these adapted versions of the mods. I don't know if the author of these mods even follows Arcanum these days, but if so and should he happen to become aware of these adaptations, and has any suggestions for improvement or objections, please contact me and we'll address any such issues.

    The original author seems to have spent considerable time writing extensive dialogue for 'dumb' player-characters (IN < 5). Google is particularly bad at translating this verbiage into anything remotely comprehensible, and as 'dumb' play doesn't interest me I therefore haven't spent any time at all trying to figure it out. In these adaptations I've made, 'dumb' player-characters use the same dialogue as normal player-characters.

    Even a few minutes spent playing these modules will show that the original author apparently intended for players to use some kind of third-party character editor program to make high-level player-characters. The mods are short, but have high-level monsters and numerous quests requiring advanced skill levels; in other words, trying to play them starting with a lowly level 1 character would be futile. Some of the adventures have actual dialogue that indicates the author intended players to use the character with which they completed the main Arcanum game (presumably at the experience level the character enjoyed at the game's conclusion). Therefore to minimize confusion, at the starting point of each adventure I've added a convenience of small training facilities. Each adventure has a barrel that can be used to obtain free XP in order to build your character to whatever custom point you desire, as well as some gnomish ghosts who offer to give you Apprentice and Expert training in skills for which you are qualified to receive such. As I said, these adventures are not about fighting battles; they are about plot and character rather than grinding xp. Players must take some responsibility for their own experience; if you use the training facilities to make a Superman character, you have no one to blame but yourself if you subsequently find the adventures offer little or no challenge.

    Download links for the two adapted modules are near the top this post. Unzip the download and put the content (consisting of two folders, one dat file, and one readme text file) in your Arcanum\modules folder. Start the game, select "Options," and use the arrows under the "Module" heading to select the module you wish to play. I played and edited them using a UAP patched game, but I can't think of any reason they wouldn't work fine with a regular 1074 game as well.

    The mods are completely unpacked, but the (empty) dat files are required anyway by the game engine. The reason the dat files are empty is that the original modules include full voice-acting-- in French, and this is the easiest way to prevent those sound effects from playing. If you understand French, go to http://arcanumlab.free.fr and play the original versions instead to get the full multimedia experience.

    ***

    General Notes:

    --Some of the puzzles in these mods are difficult to solve and involve some pixel-hunting, but ultimately all are logical. If you're having trouble, just keep at it-- make the rounds, talk to npcs numerous times, look for items hidden in a corner somewhere, and so forth.

    --If you give your character custom starting equipment either using a character background or putting items in a barrel near the starting point, NEVER give yourself a Keychain item. A standard scripting practice in these modules is to check for the possession of certain keys, and if your keys are on a keychain the scripts will conclude you don't possess the required key (in other words, a containment problem). You will not be able to continue your game in this case, since there is no way to remove keys from a keychain, and you'll have to start over.


    ***

    My comments on the particular modules:


    Affaire: A Case of Mysterious Death

    This adventure is a sort of murder mystery. The player-character finds himself on an island fishing village where a prominent businessman was recently murdered. The pc can pursue a number of minor intrigues about the town while investigating the crime.

    Suggested character level: 20-30.

    The module seems designed for mage characters, and there are no resources for inventor/technologist characters to build gear. If playing a technologist, modify your game background to give yourself whatever vital equipment you think you'll need. I added, to a barrel at the starting point, some minor tech-component items that presumably any technologist might have been carrying around upon arriving at the island, but the assortment won't be helpful to everyone. Thief-type characters will also do well in this adventure.

    Role-playing is a little difficult. The player-character frequently needs to pursue both noble and ignoble behavior to complete the main quest, so you should envision your character as someone with considerable ethical flexibility. You'll also have to provide your own personal reason for your character finding himself on the island in the first place. Apparently, the island is somewhere in the south seas and off the west coast, near Caladon or Roseborough.

    Trading is largely irrelevant in this module. There are a few vendors, but their goods don't restock, and they have no funds with which to buy merchandise from you.

    The module has a tough dungeon, and not nearly enough healing potions or medicines. You'll likely want to give yourself plenty of extra healing salves (or Kaduras and Ginkas) if playing a technologist or non-spellcasting fighter.

    Getting the narrative moving in regard to the main quest is slightly obscure. After starting the module, your first priority should be to find the Governor of the island, then talk to the bartender, then interact with the Governor a second time.

    Without giving spoilers, let's just say the adventure ends rather unsatisfactorily from a player's perspective. Several key npcs cannot be informed about the results of the player-character's investigation, and therefore the player can't really see the results of his character's efforts in the game world. On the other hand, it's a short free adventure, so it's probably unfair to expect too much in this regard.


    ***


    Mystere: Mystery of the Abbey

    The player-character arrives at a small village on a remote island. An npc asks the pc to investigate the recent disappearance of her brother. Apparently the lad went off to join a nearby monastery, and hasn't been heard from since.

    The adventure offers two main plotlines. One is finding the aforementioned young man, and the other is a rather ambitious mystery regarding many strange happenings at the monastery.

    Suggested character level: 10-20.

    The setting seems to be an island in the middle latitudes, somewhere between Black Root and the spot where the Hadrian River in Tarant empties into the sea. Some suggestions are provided during gameplay about why the player-character may have come to the island initially, but there's also plenty of scope to make up your own motivations. The module supports play by both mages and technologists, though shops are limited and technologists may want to use a custom background to give themselves any starting equipment they consider vital to their character's style.

    The adventure has a number of unusual gameplay conventions and puzzles (compared to the regular game). In general, approach puzzle-solving as if you're playing a standard adventure game. In other words, it's important that you, the player, be clever, rather than relying solely on the simulated statistically defined cleverness of your character.

    A good lockpicking skill should be considered a requirement to make progress at several key points in this adventure. Therefore you may want to approach it with a thief-type character.

    The main virtue of this module is the many interesting, even eccentric, npcs you'll meet and encounter. Given the complexity of the plotline, the module is quite well-written. The module is large and offers at least four to eight hours of gameplay (depending on your own abilities), so you may need two or three days to finish it depending on how much leisure time you have available.

    I often found myself wondering whether the religion observed at the monastery is meant to be Panarii, or something else. For all I know, this could be a misunderstanding attributable to poor output from Google Translator. With only a few phrases changed here and there, the beliefs of the monks could easily be made compliant with Panarii principles, but I didn't do so when making my adaptation in case I'm wrong about the matter.

    While minimizing spoilers, let's just say there's a certain document written in a secret code. In the original module, the player was meant to decipher this code himself. Since both the code and the deciphered code are in French, it was too confusing for me to try to figure out a suitable replacement. Therefore, in my adaptation your character will automatically decipher the code at the appropriate time if your character learns how to decipher codes in general (which is possible by speaking to a certain npc).

    There's a chance to obtain an npc follower near the end of the adventure. He's not what you'd call fully functional, and even though it might make narrative sense to be able to ask him to Wait or to Dismiss him, he doesn't offer that feature. I thought about writing a new script to make him fully functional, but decided it probably wasn't worth the effort; in other words, just keep in mind that if you ask this npc to join you, he'll stay by your side for the remainder of the adventure.

    Sometimes the end slides play too fast to be read. I don't know why this sometimes happens with some modules (it also occurs with some of the original Troika modules), and thus don't know how to fix the problem.

    ***

    I've played all the modules from arcanumlab at this point. Though all are made with technical competence, some are too brief to justify the work required for an English adaptation, and a few others are afflicted by poor general game design issues. However, a few others such as 'Livreombres' (Book of Shadows) are pretty good, and if I have time in the future I'll consider making more full adaptations of Triblonto's work. At this time, however, I am not actively working on such a project.

    A translation of another of Triblonto's modules, "Tomb of Tol-Goldur," is available in the downloads section of Terra-Arcanum. Playing that adventure was how I originally became aware of his work.

    Enjoy.
     
  2. Nataku

    Nataku Member

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    Hello.
    I read your post and, because I've played the original french modules some time ago and spoke with Triblonto when he was still "active" on the Arcanum french forum, I have some things I would like to say. I don't want to offense you in any way by saying that :

    - First : As a module creator, I can't thing modifying it without contact him is a good thing. Obviously, trying to translate it is good, but not add elements or remove ones.
    - All Triblonto modules are really hard in combat, but all are playable with a base level 1 PC. If some people prefer to add themselves equipments or xp they can but I can affirm this is not compulsary. And please, don't add you any gold in "Affaire", the gold gestion is one imortant point of this module, and stealing it is one important point too. Your PC will HAVE TO spend some point in stealing, this is a "pirate" universe.
    - About the voices : obviously they are in french, but in "Mystary", they are a really important part of the ambiance, so you should not have remove it and let the players decide with the Options/sound/voice volume if they wish hearing them or not.

    I personally think you should make two version of these modules, once with all modifications (free xp, training, items, ...) and no voices and one nearest to the original.

    If you have some problems on the translation, please ask me. I will not re-translate anything but if there are some points hard to understand, please do.
    And once again, all that I said is only my personal feeling, I have not contacted Triblonto myself to ask him what he think if all that. Actually, I stopped playing Arcanum and modules some years ago.
     
  3. Endocore

    Endocore New Member

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    I'm not sure I understand your point, as you seem to be saying "It's better that english-speakers either remain unaware of these works and unable to experience them, or be confused by having to listen to voice-acting they cannot comprehend and will surely distract them."

    In any case, I make mods of my own for many games. Others people then published their own mods of my mods. They don't ask me, and I don't mind. If the mods were made recently, and by an author with whom I could correspond in my own language, certainly I would have contacted the author anyway. But particularly in light of those first two qualifiers, this is what our hobby is. In modding none of us own the content we create. Finally, as a modder, I feel pleased when people take an interest in my work and seek to add their own improvements to it, and I think others who publish would say the same.
     
  4. Nataku

    Nataku Member

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    I think this feeling really depends of the concerned people, personally I would not be glad if someone do it without having talked with me and if I did not mention they can do.
    For the voices, I just suggest to let the players choice by adjusting the volume. Maybe some people will prefer having dubbing, even in other language. Some games are dubbed in english and subtiles in others languages and this doesn't matter for understanding.
    But once again, I just talk about my own thinking mode, I don't know what Triblonto would think about it.
     

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