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Netzhack

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Mar. 24th, 2013 | 11:44 pm
mood: blahblah

A little while ago, wegesrand informed me that there's a new release (0.9.0) of NetzHack, the German Nethack translation. So naturally, I had to give it a try.

I've got to say I'm really impressed, too. The entire game's translated, and pretty much all the issues with grammar etc. I previously mentioned have been fixed. Given the difficulties that must surely have been involved going from an ungendered, essentially case-less language to one that fully inflects verbs, adjectives and nouns, and also given the sheer size of the corpus, I'm very impressed the authors managed to pull this off.

And it really does translate everything; not just messages, items and monster names (including hallucinated ones), but also things like the help files, gravestone messages, encyclopedia entries, artifact names and so on. Items stack properly too, so – say – two dwarf corpses become die Leichen zweier Zwerge; and in fact, speaking of corpses, care was taken to use appropriate terms: whereas the original game always used the same word, in NetzHack, you might see die Leiche eines Kobolds, einen toten Fuchs and die Überreste einer Flechte.

Even the commands are in German — and for those used to the standard Nethack command set, there's an option to disable these and switch back to the English ones again. And the game will even show the correct helpfiles depending on which command set you're using!

And speaking of which, care has been taken in general to make the game easily playable for folks used to the English version. For example, when genociding monsters, wishing for items etc., you can use both English and German terms: wishing for that blessed greased fixed +7 gray dragon scale mail still works, and you don't have to remember that an arch lich is an Erzleich to be able to get rid of those pesky buggers. This extends even to #naming artifacts etc.; while Sting appears as Stich, as expected, you can still name that runed dagger you just found the same way you always did, and it'll automatically acquire the German name, and everything will work as expected. Yup, definitely impressive.

As mentioned in the previous entry, many of the translations are really delectable, too; it's clear that this was a labor of love. Booze became Fusel, bags of tricks became Wundertüten, and so on; I was amused by monster names such as Puttes (black pudding), Winterwölfling (winter wolf cub) and Würfelgallert (gelatinous cube), and several messages made me grin, e.g. "Hey, die Avocado war aber lecker!" (Avocado being the default fruit, replacing the good old slime mold), "Du flippst aus." (after an unfortunate encounter with a black light) and "Du bist eigentlich nicht in Aufbruchstimmung." ("You decide not to force the issue.", this being the message you receive when you attempt to #force an already unlocked container). Oh, and if you #quit the game? You'll have gekniffen. :)

I also liked the often slightly old-fashioned, highbrow grammar: "Du fühlst, daß Monster deiner Anwesenheit gewahr sind.", "Der Felsbrocken zerbirst.", "Dich deuchte also, du könntest mich töten, du Narr!", "Ein Wasserschwall trifft der Lissy rechten Vorderlauf!" (Lissy being the default cat name) and others. These all added to the game, but I also appreciated them for their own beauty.

And I was quite tickled that Neiman and Marcus were translated as Hennes und Mauritz. See what I mean about attention to details?

Now, all this said, there's still bugs.

Most of these are cosmetic; typos, bad grammar, stylistic issues or (in a few cases) bad translations, so for the benefit of wegesrand, here's some I found (I may edit this entry as I find more):

  • Typos:

    • "Du hörst irres Gelächter in einiger Entferung." (screenshot)
    • "Du sahest Unsichtbares" (screenshot; should be "sahst")
    • "Plötzlich kannst du  dich selbst nicht mehr sehen" (screenshot; extra whitespace, which is more obvious with a fixed-width font)
    • "Soldatinameise" (soldier ant, should be "Soldatenameise")
    • "Die Glocke des Öffnens gebt einen beuruhigenden, grellen Klang von sich ..." (two typos)
  • Poor grammar:

    • "ein Hund oder hundeartig" (screenshot)
    • "Der Stab der Erschaffung glüht, dann verblaßt." (screenshot)
    • "Du enflechtest dich." (screenshot; should be "entflichst", which, BTW, would be another example of a wonderful word, even better than "zerbirst")
    • "Dein Stab des Schlagens leuchten sanftt [sic] bernsteinfarben." (screenshot; wonky grammar AND a typo)
    • "Es heißt es gebe keine schwarzen und weißen Steine, nur graue." (missing comma)
    • "Du springst durch eine Öffnung in der neuen die Statue eines Purpurwurmes." (when stoning a monster while swallowed)
    • "Dein Paar Geschwindigkeitsstiefel leuchten heftig silberfarben für einen Moment und verdampfen dann." (should be singular, since it's just one pair)
  • Poor style:

    • "Du wirst beinahe von einem zweiten Pfeil getroffen." (screenshot; this should use the definite article)
    • "Aleax schlägt zu!" (screenshot; "Aleax" is the name of a kind of monster, not an individual)
    • "Du stolperst in ein Spinnweben hinein!  Du zerreißt eine Spinnwebe!" (screenshot; should consistently use either "das Spinnweben" or "die Spinnwebe")
    • Crowning titles such as "der Gesandte des Gleichgewichts" don't vary by gender: shouldn't a female player be die Gesandte des Gleichgewichts etc. instead?
  • Mistranslations:

    • "Du unterbrichst searching." (screenshot)
    • "Blöde Bewegung! Du zerrst dir einen Muskel." (screenshot; "bad move" means "bad idea", not a literal move)
    • "Das schmeckt wie Castor-Öl." (screenshot; castor oil is Rizinusöl)
    • "ein englisches Wesen" (screenshot; "angelic" should be "engelsgleich" or so, unless the angel happens to hail from England)
    • "Rune der Leere" (a blank scroll; I think this translation is confusing at best and wrong at worst, and in fact, I don't like the translation of scroll as "Rune" in the first place, even if it's intentional. I think they should be Schriftrollen instead, as you'd expect, and this would neatly solve this issue by having blank scrolls become leere Schriftrollen)
    • "Gürtelschlange" (garter snake; these are properly called "Strumpfbandnatter" in German, and no, that's not risqué at all)
    • "Du kommst dir gefährlicher vor!" (mistranslation of "you feel you could be more dangerous!")
    • "Du hast übertreten." (mistranslation of "you have transgressed"; I'd suggest "Du hast schwer gesündigt." or so)
    • "Vorpalblatt" (Vorpal Blade; perhaps not outright wrong, but I don't like this translation. Enzensberger calls it a "scharfgebifftes Schwert", while Scott's translation talks about a "vorpals Schwertchen"; neither is particularly suitable, but I'd translate it as "Vorpalklinge" or so at least, as "Vorpalblatt" really only makes sense when you're already familiar with the weapon's English name)
    • "ein verbeulter Kochtopf" (I'm fairly sure a dented pot is supposed to be a Topfhelm, not a literal cooking pot, although I might be wrong there — the vanilla tileset shows it as a cooking pot, but I'm not sure that's not simply a joke)
    • Not a mistranslation as such, but given that the various elves are based on Tolkien's writings, I was wondering if it wouldn't be nice to translate them as Elben rather than Elfen.
  • Other bugs:

    • "ein eine ein nichtverflucht... eine ein Jadestein" / eine ein Jadestein" / Mit etwas Mühe hebst du F - 3 Jadestein auf." (screenshot, screenshot, screenshot; same for Türkis and Hyazinth)
    • "jemanden rufen, "Schlagt ihr den Kopf ab!"" (screenshot; truncated message)
    • "Willst du sie verkau..." (screenshot; truncated message)
    • "Deine Paäre Eisenschuhe rosten!" (screenshot; the (automatically-generated?) plural is wrong, and besides, it's only one pair anyway)
    • "Dein... 2 Tränke der Starre verdünnen." (screenshot)
    • The archaeologist quest leader's text has a line that's too long for the screen, causing ugly formatting. (screenshot)
    • "Deine Nackenhaäre richten sich auf." (screenshot)
    • Wishing for cockatrice corpses doesn't work; you have to wish for a "basilisk corpse" instead.
    • "D - 3 nichtverfluchte Dilithiumkriställe."

There's also another bug not related to the translation as such: the yes/no answers for applying candles to the Kandelaber der Anrufung are reversed, so you'll have to say "no" to affix the candles to the candelabrum.

In addition to these admittedly minor and infrequent issues, I found two more serious bugs. First, the game encountered an impossible condition on one occasion when I was attacking an invisible monster that may have been a tame or at least peaceful cat:

This one was immediately followed by a second, related impossible condition that I didn't screenshot, but it didn't otherwise appear to have an effect on gameplay.

However, in the end, when I was doing a wizard mode run to get a bit (OK, a lot) further than I usually get in Nethack, the game eventually crashed hard, entirely out of the blue:

Problemsignatur:
  Problemereignisname:	APPCRASH
  Anwendungsname:	NetzHack.exe
  Anwendungsversion:	0.9.0.0
  Anwendungszeitstempel:	513ccb2e
  Fehlermodulname:	msvcrt.dll
  Fehlermodulversion:	7.0.7601.17744
  Fehlermodulzeitstempel:	4eeaf722
  Ausnahmecode:	c0000005
  Ausnahmeoffset:	00018e17
  Betriebsystemversion:	6.1.7601.2.1.0.768.3
  Gebietsschema-ID:	1033
  Zusatzinformation 1:	0a9e
  Zusatzinformation 2:	0a9e372d3b4ad19135b953a78882e789
  Zusatzinformation 3:	0a9e
  Zusatzinformation 4:	0a9e372d3b4ad19135b953a78882e789

This happened while I was farming black puddings near a converted altar in an abandoned temple; there were two pudding corpses on the square I was on, and I was trying to lift one of them to sacrifice it. Upon hitting the , key (using the original English commands), the game crashed. I've not tried to reproduce this yet — maybe I will.

Well, it's still at 0.9.0 for a reason, I imagine; but it has come along very nicely already, and if these bugs can be ironed out (especially the crash and the impossible conditions), it'll be a great alternative to standard Nethack for German players, or even those who merely want to dabble in the language and perhaps practice while playing one of their favorite roguelikes.

(Oh, and the biggest WTH? moment of the game? Finding a kunstvoll geschnitzte Wanduhr, which turned out to be a Kuckucksuhr:

It didn't seem to serve any purpose, so I suppose it was just an easter egg, but it sure made me laugh when I found it.

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