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Here's An Interesting Idea: Multiple Languages In Cyberpunk

If that dove-coated mech doesn't speak in authentic mechanese, I'm out.

The absolute most surefire way to kill my in-game immersion isn’t graphical glitches or frustration or a trench-coat-clad man who grimly grumbles, “But maybe your entire life is a videogame.” It’s accents. Seriously, if I’m in some crazy fantasy land or multicultural space civilization, I refuse to buy the notion that everyone sounds like a bored 30-something American man. Refuse. Jade Empire, for instance, very nearly drove me mad. Mass Effect too, actually. But it’s not just BioWare. I honestly can’t think of many developers who’ve gotten it honestly, truly right. However, if nothing else, CD Projekt’s at least trying with Cyberpunk 2077.

The developer explained its plan for a fascinating translation system in a (fittingly translated) YouTube interview. Here’s the gist, via Cyberpunk’s forums:

“As of yet no decisions have been made, but we’re thinking about a system that could tell the world’s story. The idea is to record everything in original languages, i.e. if we’ll meet Mexicans in the game, they’ll be taking – Mexican slang even, portrayed by Mexican actors. The player would be able to buy a translator implant, and depending on how advanced it is, he’ll get better or worse translation.”

“You can’t reliably recreate street slang of Los Angeles or some other American city, you can’t simply dub it and reproduce those emotions, rhythms of speech, mannerisms. Everything has to be cohesive. Otherwise we’d simply hear that Polish actors are trying to imitate Americans. That won’t work.”

In short, yes. A thousand million billion times yes. It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist-level cyberbrain to see that this is the right mindset. But yeesh, the potential logistics of this plan make my regular meatbrain ooze confusion, like some kind of exceedingly bewildered sponge. That’d require an insane number of voice actors from different regions – especially given how much CDP’s touting Cyberpunk’s size and scope.

But I respect the train of thought behind this, as I do think it’s more important than most developers give it credit/resources for. So I’m definitely pulling for CDP to succeed here, if only to show everyone else that it’s semi-doable – on a triple-A scale, if nothing else. And then, finally, 30-something generic American male – my arch-nemesis – will be out of a job once and for all. Just like I planned.

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Nathan Grayson

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