Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Baaaad Translations

So, Dreamfall has been released in German. I'm hyped. Looking at my last three posts, I probably seem like a completely computer geek. Ah well.

I saw a picture of the artbook, and I so want to get my hands on it. Unfortunately, it only comes with the limited edition and the limited edition is in English and Norwegian only. Still, it's only 10€ more, so I'm considering it.

Browsing the Funcom website, what really put me off was their German terms&conditions page. When I read the first few headers I thought the translator didn't know legal terms very well at all. Now that I read two more sentences I believe Funcom must have used an online translator and saved some money. Resulting in me switching back to the English version because I simply couldn't understand what the German page said.
Apart from that, the website has spelling errors! My virgin language student heart is breaking to see such a thing on a professional website.
If they used the same translator (*cough*machine*cough*) for the actual game, getting the English version is probably not such a bad idea.

I'm waiting till holidays begin before I get it, though. Morrowind is already eating too much of my non-existent time, and I can't afford getting immersed in a second game in the last four weeks of uni. Really not.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Letter From a Geek

Dear Doctor Gamer,

I think I’m having addiction issues. The last time when I heavily played a computer game I started having dreams with the game’s interface and controls. I’m not that far yet, but – being addicted again to a game that I won’t name to prevent innocent souls from being sucked into the void of addictive games – occasionally I want to save so I can reload in case something goes wrong. The problem is, at those times I’m not sitting at the computer.


Dear Phil,

I understand your problem. Many gamers have come across this issue at least once in their lives. You will be glad to hear that wanting to save one’s life is not a problem at all, really. Life’s a game! Without noticing it, you probably have already come across safe points and restarted parts of your life. Happens all the time. You go to a party, want to talk to a girl, are too shy or too forward, resulting in getting owned either way. Next party, next try. So you see, life is just like a computer game. Mess up as much as you like, you’ll get another chance to mess up even more. That’s the fun of it.

Doc G

Monday, May 22, 2006

Multilingual Writing

Ever since I started writing in my teens I felt like writing in multiple languages. Not writing a story in German and then writing another story in English, but using several languages in the same story. Sometimes there are just words in every language that are hard to translate, words that have slightly different connotations (at least for me) or words that can be translated, but that also change the word order when being translated. There are a lot of filler words and connectors in English that can serve as first item in a sentence, but simply can't be in the first place in a German sentence, e.g. "Obviously, that wasn't the case." - Not possible in German. When writing my latest story I stumbled a couple of times over sentences that I wanted to start like that, because it sounds more elegant and brings variety into the beginnings of sentences.
Right now I'm only wishing to mix English and German, but when I was still in school learning French, it happened a couple of times that I wanted to add a French word as well. Problem is, reading such a story would probably be more challenging and exhausting, since it would be different to what people are used to. It might work with modern literature, but with Fantasy as a rather stiff and stereotypical genre (style-wise), writing a non-modern story like that would be ... abnormal.

A couple of authors get away with it, just that they insert full sentences in other languages. I loved that in The Da Vinci Code. Actually understanding the French and Spanish sentences gave me a feeling of achievement. I still can't see it with single words, except in poetry, where the change in language needs to have a sensible explanation. Edgar Allan Poe used a lot of Latin and French words in his poetry, and sometimes in his short stories.

Thinking about it, the Fantasy-equivalent is probably adding words in Elvish, Orcish, etc. People always seem to use other languages when they want to give a sense of a different culture. But that's not what I'm really striving for in this. I want to use words that have slightly different connotations in e.g. English than they have in German. Sometimes words also have different usage. "Contemporary" as a word is used in English much more frequently than the rather clumsy German translation for it. There are single English words that are used more commonly than the German equivalent (probably also works the other way round). In Oxford I picked up some speaking-habits that sound very ood when I transfer them to German, simply because the German words are usually old-fashioned and not in use anymore.

On a side-note, I also do that when talking with multilingual people. I recently talked with someone about writers, and mid-sentence I inserted an English word because I just couldn't think of a fitting German equivalent. It's probably more weird than anything else, so I don't know if I want to make a habit out of it.


I haven't been hooked on a computer game in a very long time. It usually takes me ages to pick up games - I buy them very rarely. Mostly my brother buys any good game that gets published and tells me to play it. I then don't do it until some months/years later.
A couple of years ago I was looking over my brother's shoulder to see him play some 3D game. I believe his character was walking around in a city. He told me the game was Morrowind and that I should play it because I would love it. I started playing it last Friday - because my first thought was "Ugh, 3D" and my second "It can't be as good as Baldur's Gate".

And now, I'm hooked. I've played the whole weekend, day and night, every minute that was available to me.

I'm still a little put off by the graphics. I don't mind the 3D so much anymore, but - having played only 3 days now - there are recurring structures and elements in the buildings that are blatantly obvious and that lessen the whole discover-new-places feeling. I don't mind recurring graphics if they fit and if it's not so obvious (as in Baldur's Gate, where similar cities have similar architecture concerning style). In Morrowind, however, you have e.g. one of the big cities made out of seven times the same building (with very similar interior structure), and then you have a minor city made of the same building. The cities aren't culturally connected (in fact, they seem to be very different), so it makes no sense to have them look similar. That's about the only thing that puts me off.
Everything else is awesome.
I've actually come to like the 3D first-person-perspective. You feel like you are the character, not that you're just looking at your character. You can switch to an observing perspective, but I don't like it so much.

What really got me hooked are all the small roleplaying-details. As my brother put it, Baldur's Gate is all about your character (improving your stats), while Morrowind is all about roleplaying. When I talk to NPCs with a sword in my hand they like me less. When I talk to them while having a disease they tell me the way to the next temple where I can get rid of the disease (if they like me) or tell me to not come any closer to them until I'm healthy again (if they don't like me so much). When my character swings his sword around in the middle of the city the guards first look at me warily and then come to me and tell me to go and do my business. The same when I sneak around near a guard like a thief. When I run towards a guard instead of walking (because walking is insanely slow) they put their hand to their sword because I might be dangerous.
Even worse .... when I try to sleep in a bed I get fined for trying to sleep in somebody else's bed. I've also been told the same happens if you try to sleep in a beggar's bed. Allegedly you also get fined if you take something away from a beggar. And stealing is easier if you actually don't try it when standing right in front of the person you want to steal from.
The sheer amount of things that are thought of in this game that aren't even considered in any other game is mindboggling. I've changed from running into every house, as I did in Baldur's Gate, to actually consider which house I might not want to walk into because its inhabitant might not like it. And also: "Do I really want to go into the bedroom of this shopkeeper with the guard beside me?" Within a few hours playing my focus on roleplaying has increased a lot.

Another awesome feature is the atmosphere created by weather (and the music). I'm so immersed in looking from the character's perspective that part of me feels with whatever's happening to the character. Concerning weather, I've seriously jumped a few times when hearing the cracking of thunder and I really, really wished to be out of that storm. When I was repairing my sword at the blacksmith's my dad came in to see what I was up to he heard strange *clong* *clong* noises. I've also sometimes made an apologetic face when an NPC looked at me while I was doing something that I wasn't supposed to do (like checking the stats of some armour lying in a shop and wondering why nobody tries to steal it and if I should). I've also jumped a couple of times when being attacked and looking wildly around to find my attacker - first person perspective ... you need to look up and down and around you, because your attacker might be a rat or a bird. It's very cool.
Anyway, back to atmosphere. While buildings are recurring, the areas that I've been to so far looked different to each other and all had a unique "personality". Green shores to the south, darker, dead lands in the center, red sandstorms around the Ghostwall. I love those sandstorms. The first times I set my eyes on the Ghostwall I was speechless by the raw beauty of it. This huge, blue "wall", like a force-shield, right in the middle of nowhere. I had heard stories about it, about the dangers looming beyond it in the Red Mountain. I knew that a strong enemy was sleeping there. And this impressive wall keeps the danger away - I was overwhelmed by the implied power that the wall must posess. And you cannot observe the wall in a quiet and peaceful atmosphere. There's the red sandstorm and the howling of the storm going on and one, in stark contrast with the calm atmosphere of the southern regions. I stood there for some minutes, just looking at this monument. Then the sandstorm got too much for me and I walked on, ran towards where the passage beyond the wall must be, curious for how the land beyond might look like. When I arrived at the passage I turned around to see where my companion remained - a young, slightly annoying and impolite woman who I was to accompany to the passage. My only reason to come here. She's not coming. I keep waiting, then go back a bit. In the distance I see two shapes. "Oh, please no" I think and run towards the shapes. There she lies, next to the body of the last enemy we fought. She must have died in the battle and I didn't notice it because I was too eager to keep going. And all the while, the sandstorm howls.

Good game.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Downfall of the Austrian Games Industry

Rockstar Vienna has been closed down by Take2. R*V is, to my knowledge, the biggest games company in Austria, which means that the already almost non-existent games industry in Austria has become even smaller, which is a pity. Games companies in the German-speaking world can produce games that are just as good as games from overseas, if the developers put enough work into the game and if they have high enough demands in the final product (unlike German films). The Settlers is only one example.
The way R*V made their employees leave is also a bit strange. Read more about it on the blog of one of their former employees:

Blog entry by Jurie

Sunday, May 07, 2006


I've taken up writing again. I used to write a lot of stories and poems when I was a teenager, but stopped a while after I got into art. I always felt sorry about that, and it seems I'm slowly getting back to it. I've written one folktale today (2000 words), which probably can't exist on its own and needs to be incorporated into a bigger story. I also started a longer story some time ago, but stopped after 1000 words because it seemed so hard to find the right words. It was a lot easier today. The tale came from a dream I had tonight, so I just got up, got dressed and started writing away. Within a few hours the story was finished. It's a very nice feeling.

All in all I've been very productive the last few days. I'm focussing a lot on uni these days, so I have less time for painting. But I managed to spare some hours to work on a painting that has been on the shelves for weeks. I'm not happy with how it is turning out, but I'll see how far I can push it. Right now I'm simply happy about being productive.

Friday, May 05, 2006


Hi there! I'm Manuela, 21, and currently studying English and German in Salzburg (the wonderful Austrian tourist city which is doing a Mozart year right now to convince even more tourists to spend money on weird tasting chocolate). I've had a blog on Blurty before, but I've changed since Blogger has a nicer interface and also seems to have less teenage angst. I'll be posting paintings, sketches and random thoughts on things I see and experience.
If you're interested in art, go and check out the links here. They're all blogs from very good artists (just a small selection, of course).