CD Projekt RED Contemplates Implants To Translate NPC Conversations In Cyberpunk 2077

Untranslated with subtitles, translated with accents, subtitles only — we've seen a few ways of handling NPCs speaking different languages in games. With the in-development Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt RED is tossing around a neat idea of handling the problem: translator implants.

Lead story designer Sebastian Stepien mentioned the idea in a chat with Polish gaming site The conversation is in Polish, but "darcler", a user on the official Cyberpunk 2077 forums, was kind enough to translate the relevant part of the interview:

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 ... if we'll meet Mexicans in the game, they'll be talking — 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, rhythm 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.

It's important to note that these are not definite plans, just an idea the developer is playing with and from what I understand, the voices wouldn't be translated into your native tongue, you'd just get subtitles instead.

Personally, it sounds like a great way to up the immersion, make what would normally be a less-than-useful implant fun (but not essential) and save on localisation costs (in terms of voice actors).

CDPR about languages in the game [Cyberpunk 2077 forums, via Reddit]


    It sounds sort of cool, but having a bunch of NPCs talking in a language I don't understand while subtitles play is not fun, the aliens in the KoTOR games taught me that, though maybe it won't be as bad since they'll be actual languages and not just alien noises played on a loop. Plus, what happens if you don't have an implant when you talk to these characters? Is there going to be the option for your character to respond with, "I have no idea what you're saying"? How would the plot keep moving forwards if the characters can't understand each other?

    Last edited 02/03/13 12:54 pm

      Characters vital to the main sorry will most likely still be localised. Only side/optional stuff wouldnt be.

      The only problem I had with KoTOR's system is that the aliens were clearly talking gibberish, no basis on any kind of language whatsoever. If the languages are actual languages I wouldn't care.

        Plus like Dire Wolf said, if you listened a lot of the alien dialogue was simply looped and repeated with only a select few lines actually unique.

      You could either start with the implant, or if it's needed for a quest (assuming you don't speak the language) it's somewhere cheap and accessible. And maybe you could have all the options untranslated, one of which is "I have no idea what you're saying" prior to acquiring it. Or alternatively if the character only knows one language it'd be an enforced storyline thing.

      You could also have it more sophisticated than the usual language settings. For example "I speak English, French and Italian; don't dub these, but dub all others in English"

      Personally I think it sounds pretty cool.

      Last edited 02/03/13 2:58 pm

      Selketh....oh crap its going to speak again. Skip skip! I don't care if what it says was important, I'll read the journal. Just make it times.

    If that's the level of detail they're striving for in the dialogue system alone... then I've just started my fund for a new PC.

      Yep, with this & TW3, CD Projekt Red have pushed me into saving for yet another upgrade.

    I had no issue with the subtitles in Kotor. I think it is a great idea if implemented well. It will create a greater sense of immersion.

    Would be a great games mechanic I think.

    Finally a game where being multi-lingual (as a player) might actually have some perceivable benefit!

    I'm curious as to how they'll achieve the varying degrees of translation effect (if they decide to keep that bit in), but yeah definitely a great mechanic to have from the sounds of things.

    As a bilingual person, this sounds freaking fantastic! It would add diversity to the games for once, and if it fits the story, why the hell not?

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