Recently – yesterday, 7/15/2014 in fact, an interesting announcement was made regarding the upcoming space simulator Star Citizen. Indeed, the project heralded by Wing Commander Chris Roberts himself has even more news for gamers.
They’ll be adding three authentic alien languages to the game. Three! Nothing makes a world more immersive than having aliens speak in tongues completely…alien…to our own!
Wait, what’s that? Oh, this is going to cost FIFTY MILLION DOLLARS!? Why not $49 million? Oh, that only gets you a virtual space plant.
Now, let’s be perfectly clear here: adding the languages isn’t going to cost $50 million all on its own. No, the game stands funded at $48 million and now proclaims that with the addition of a measly $2 million more, three original languages will be developed with “real” linguistics experts. Even though I had enough trouble with mandatory Spanish in high school.
Really, why bother? Is it for immersion? Can “authenticity” can be brought to the table by haveing “real languages?” That’s the thing that will clinch it? It’s not like Mass Effect needed its aliens speaking gibberish to make it any more of a realized universe. It apparently was enough to give them all accents: jocks for the Krogan, nerds for the Salarians, sexy beasts for the Turia–what?
Why can’t Star Citizen just use fake linguistics experts like Akira Tsuchiya who developed the Hymnos language for the Ar Tonelico JRPG’s? Hell, the Star Wars languages aren’t even fully developed; one alien even speaks French in Return of the Jedi. Americans are terrible when it comes to languages, just let the three races speak French, German, and Italian or something. Odds are they’re all at war with each other in the game anyways, or at least in a politically tense situation created by espionage and crippling debt…too soon?
What Star Citizen should really invest in is some editors. Because unless they plan to include a translation guide for their languages, Star Citizen will no doubt feature quite a script of subtitles for their 2 million dollar languages. That’s a lot of words, and there are bound to be plentiful fruits for the grammar nazis out there to pounce upon. It’s hard enough to translate games in actual foreign languages; the forum wars over JRPG localizations are evidence enough of that.
But the announcement was clear: no “universal translators, garbled animal noises.” Translation: no Wookies allowed. Sorry, big guy. I told them to let you win, but they didn’t listen. Now rip their arms off.
There is, however, a solution. Let’s not forget that J.R.R. Tolkien was, in fact, a “real” linguistics expert who was a professor of Old and Middle English in addition to working for the Oxford English Dictionary, among other things. Oh yeah, and the author of countless tales based in the mythology inextricable from his constructed languages: The Lord of the Rings? The Hobbit?
Therefore the obvious goal is to use the extra $2 million to resurrect Tolkien from the dead. Peter Jackson might object as the undead master of fantasy’s first act might be to murder the director, but surely a man with such experience and talent could give Star Citizen that needed flair. …Right?