Dark Devotion is an unforgiving indie 2D action-adventure taking cues from Dark Souls and the rogue-like genre. Developed by Hibernian Workshop and published by The Arcade Crew & Maple Whispering, it released on Steam in April 2019.
It explores themes of religion, faith, death and more in the dark and violent setting of a giant Temple filled with secret lore and deathtraps…
Dark Devotion was successfully funded on Kickstarter in late 2017, which was when I first came into contact with Hibernian Workshop, before starting work on the localization process in early 2018, which was to be handled in several waves up to the game’s release. From then on, the game’s loc was broken into two parts: proofreading of the French text written by Arthur Dos Santos, the game’s writer, followed by the translation of that same text into English.
Dark Devotion contains a little over 26,000 French words
26,000 words proofread + translated = a total of about 52,000 words
This represents a total of about 20 days (160 hours) of work
This was done in 9 waves from March 2018 to Feb. 2019
Handling the translation of Dark Devotion from French into English was a particularly important task, as all other translations (the game is currently available in 10 languages) were to be done from that initial English localization, which meant particular care had to go into it.
And so, I applied myself to reflect Arthur’s writing style and literary ambitions (such as his sometimes purposely obscure vocabulary) and he would come to me with remarks and questions. It’s in those situations that the advantages of a translator and client working directly together rather than through a third party become obvious: I could get immediate answers when I had questions regarding the source text and Arthur would get the same when he had remarks or questions regarding my translation. Ultimately, the ease of communication meant Arthur didn’t have to feel like he had to make changes himself without consulting me (and thus potentially compromising the quality of the text) because I was always just a quick message away. Additionally, the source text was uploaded on an online Excel file where the localized text was also put once I was done with it, which meant I could easily grab the latest version and even modify things directly on there if necessary. We were able to adjust elements and fix issues quickly and efficiently, and I came to get a good grasp on what Arthur expected of me. It also meant he could come to me directly when small tasks and adjustments (such as a couple changes in a few sentences) were needed and get them handled in no time, without having to go through any step other than a quick message on Discord.
As mentioned, work on Dark Devotion was done in several waves over a year, as the game was being developed. It’s not often that translation of a game starts this early in the project, as localization often becomes one of the last steps developers take before the game’s release. This early approach, however, has several advantages: it gives the translator more time to polish the text by not having them work in a crunch; it gives the developers time to look over the translation and even get external proofreading done if they deem it necessary; and it gives ample time for things to be adjusted and issues to be fixed before the game’s release. This is an environment that encourages communication, collaboration and quality assurance.
Dark Devotion came out on Steam on April 25, 2019 to generally positive reviews. Most praised the game’s atmosphere & lore, which makes me happy to know we’ve achieved our goal as far as the text is concerned. Having worked with Hibernian Workshop for over a year and having seen their game develop in real time, I’ve become attached to the project and I’ve felt very much part of the development process, which means I am delighted to see the game being well received.
Dark Devotion was Hibernian Workshop’s first game and work on its localization started early in my freelancing venture (I started in late 2017 after having worked in an agency for some time). This means I learned and evolved a lot over the course of the year as I periodically worked on the game (along with other various projects); just like Arthur Dos Santos & the others at Hibernian Workshop grew and learned about game development and localization. It’s thrilling for me to look back on where I was when I first worked on Dark Devotion, comparing it to where I ended up when I last worked on it a year later. Like the game’s growth from a tentative project to a full blown quality product reflects my own evolution as a professional. And we’re both still growing…
Here is what Hibernian Workshop had to say about our collaboration:
“Marc’s help was flawless. I loved his rigor and the interest he placed in Dark Devotion. As a dev with 0 experience, I needed more than just a translator and Marc was always available and happy to patiently advise me throughout development. I also appreciated his ability to produce a translation that perfectly fits my wishes and the literary style I was trying to convey.”