Atlus Accidentally Left Unlocalised Dialogue In SMTIV: Apocalypse Because The QA Team Was 'Too Good'

The new RPG Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse has two lines of unlocalised Japanese dialogue thanks to an oversight that occurred because the QA team played the game too well. Atlus PR maestro John Hardin explains on the company website that the two lines, which occur during an endgame battle, are only triggered by very specific conditions. Players discovered the Japanese text over the weekend, and Hardin writes that the company is "deeply sorry" about the oversight:

First, we're human. This is important, so before you start writing that angry comment down below, please remember this point.
Second, and this is the funny part, it turns out our QA department is actually too good. The two instances of Japanese text left in the game happen during a boss battle near the end of the game. As you may know, SMTIV:A has partners that are permanently with you throughout the game, and you can select the partner based on what abilities they have that complement your play style. (No more worrying about a randomly chosen Walter casting Agi on demons that resist fire. WALTEERRRRRR!)
Anyhow, just like in SMTIV, partners can get attacked and knocked out. In this particular battle, partners will return after 3 turns, and the errant Japanese text only shows up if you get to a point where the boss gives you a dialogue option WHILE your partner is KO'd. Our testers, who have been with the company for quite a while, and who are well-versed in all things SMT (I think a few of them also were QA for the original SMTIV) were so good, they never ran into the situation of having an unconscious partner during the fight, and henceforth the dialogue in question.
We never realised that there was a specific set of circumstances for the text to appear in-game, and so it never got localised. And unfortunately, it will still be in there by the time the game hits shelves tomorrow. BUT! As our QA testers and reviewers in the media have shown, it's a relatively rare set of circumstances that will lead players to encounter the aberrant text, and hopefully won't even be discovered by the vast majority of players. (Of course, now that I told you how to find it, you're probably all going to go out and test it, aren't you?)

QA can be a tedious, thankless job, especially on massive role-playing games where testers have to play around with countless variables and permutations to ensure everything works right. Even for localisation testers — who are more focused on text bugs and typos than on game bugs, since the game has already been tested and released in Japan — things can be rough.

The best part of this post is that Atlus, unlike many game companies, is willing to be totally candid about their flaws and mistakes. Compare the honesty and transparency of this post to, say, the people behind No Man's Sky, who still haven't tweeted since August 18.


    Cant believe they commented on this. Its not a big deal at all.

      To you and the sensible people on this planet, but the vocal majority love to shred a game apart if it has bugs of any kind of severity.

    Before now, I assumed the translators just worked off a script and translated each line from the original game

      That is what I thought. How does playing through the game help with the translation? I mean you can do that as a test to make sure it all fits right, but the actual translation itself....

        I believe the reason for playing the game helps with the translation, is because it puts the dialogue in context.
        Having the dialogue in context can help with translations when there could be multiple ways to translate the dialogue, you could have 1 true (literal) translation, which would be better served with a different line, which means the same, but makes more sense in context.

          I get that, but would they not get a script or something or there is some repository in the game files including all the text?
          I just don't see how "We never saw the 'you are a bad player' text because we are so good" is a valid excuse.

            Sorry, I was only replying to you question: "How does playing through the game help with the translation?"
            But yeah, I do find it odd that they wouldn't have used a script to translate, at least, to verify if they were able to find all the dialogue (basically, use it as a checklist).

              I totally meant that questions to be read with the following statement but it's all good!

    And bringing it all back to No Man's Sky. Righto.

    Tsk tsk whoever set up the tests though, not putting those conditions down for any of the checks :P

    As a software QA and one that has had games testing experience it disappoints me that the excuse is "They were too good". QA aren't there to be good at games, they are there to test scenarios that may occur. Yes, they didn't have information about the fact that dialogue options exist when a party member is incapacitated but it seems like it might have been an obvious thing to test.

    But really, the better question is, "Why didn't the developers check for untranslated strings?".

      Also as a software QA, +1.
      I've found numerous bugs in games, by messing around and testing edges. I often think that games QA forget they're testing and fall into the trap of actually playing the product. Happy path gets tested, while edge cases are missed.

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