My experience translating for Nexon

Many years ago when the European version of the MMORPG Mabinogi was still active, I was approached by a moderator of the official Mabinogi EU forum. Apparently Nexon was looking for people to translate an upcoming patch for MapleStory, another MMORPG of theirs, from English to their native language. This was on a Wednesday, one week before the patch was to be released, though they didn’t seem to be in much of a hurry. My first question was regarding payment, and after the moderator had consulted his contact at Nexon I was told some numbers. The translation of the entire update into one language would’ve been worth about 750€ ($900), and since I didn’t have anything better to do that week I agreed.

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What to do?

One day you start a project, out of curiosity, to learn, to grow, and just because. What do you do once you’ve gotten everything you wanted out of it, when there’s nothing left for you to learn, your curiosity being satisfied, but the project not being finished?

In private projects this question can usually be ignored, you might be a little frustrated about the idea of trashing another project, but you got what you wanted out of it, so it’s fine. However, if a project went public and people expect you to continue, it’s getting harder. Do you disappoint them and stop? Do you keep going at a crawling speed because you have a hard time forcing yourself to work on it? Or do you pull through and get it done? Currently I find myself in that exact situation. It’s not the first time, but I struggle with an answer more than usual.

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My thoughts about Go

I’ve always liked C and its simplicity, but it’s kinda tedious to write bigger programs in it, which is why I’ve always refrained from doing so. It’s not even the memory management, it’s simple things, like working with strings, or the overhead you have for calling “methods”, animal_do_something(animal). In comes Go, the programming language by Google.

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Every once in a while I think “you need a blog!”, especially around the times when I start new projects. I just want to log the development, for others and myself, but then the project gets canceled, for whatever reasons, and one year later I look at my blog and I wonder what I should do with it.

Today was this fateful day, imaginary ladies and gentlemen, and I pronounce that I’ll try to actually use this blog as a blog from now on! Mind-blowing, I know. Excited? Well, let’s get to it!

Too… many… displays…

When I tested Monster Connection on an Android (just for fun, to check the performance) I noticed something weird. The UI was tiny! Not at all like in the preview on my PC. I scratched my head, wandered back to my computer, and realized I had designed my test UI for an iPhone 3GS resolution of 320×480, while the Android I tested on was at 800×1280. “Well, duh, of course that doesn’t work.” But that moment, when you realize how many resolutions and aspect ratios there are, you get a little scared at first.

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Experimental UI

Typically you have a lot of clutter on the main screen of virtual pet programs. Hunger, Energy, Affection, Mood, Hygiene, Feeding, Playing, Money, Level, Shop, etc, etc. Heck, some even need multiple screens. I’ve reduced this to 3 buttons in my experimental interface.

The first two buttons show food and energy, the two main stats you have to worry about, and you can satisfy those needs by pressing them and maybe selecting one additional option. Other things, like Hygiene/Cleanliness and Mood, will be displayed through the environment and the monster, by looks and behavior.

The button on the right opens a menu that shows you all information, like stats and money, and contains the remaining necessary options: training, fighting, playing, etc. The things you don’t need at your fingertip at all times.

Last but not least you can see an emote on the screenshot above. This way the monsters will be able to tell you how they feel. They will fade in and out as needed, so it’s not a permanent thing.