This is a long story of The World of Cyberpunk 2077, confusing and dramatic. It’s long because the release of the book was delayed several times due to the game development phases. It’s confusing because it was hard to comprehend and properly translate all the terminology, since the game itself has not been released yet. Furthermore, there was barely any information about the world on the Internet. It’s dramatic because the game came out with many drawbacks and developers rushed with patches. Simultaneously, a mystical coincidence happened with the book: a part of already printed editions had to be reworked due to the print failure. However, once all the misfortunes were over, the readers received not just a marvelous art book but a whole encyclopedia of the gaming world. The team has also received a single copy of the artbook from the Vovkulaka publishing house for all the good work we’d done, which we decided to keep as a souvenir.
Journey of the Art Book
That’s how The World of Cyberpunk 2077 went on a nearly two-month trip across Ukraine to translators and editors. Thanks to them it was possible to Ukrainianize a small part of the world of Cyberpunk 2077.
“Don’t forget to take pictures with the book!”
From the accompanying note
At first, the book went to Lviv. That’s right, because the majority of the translators of the project originate from Lviv.
The first autograph was given by Yurii “Shahor” Bisyk, an honoured veteran of SBT Localization team, who translated almost half of the book.
The other translators were:
The majority of the Ukrainian term translation came from Yura, «мозкограй» (braindance) included.
Then The World of Cyberpunk 2077 ventured forth to Dnipro. Andrii Serbovets left his autograph there.
The book then traveled to Kharkiv to visit Oleksandr Lukianov.
Finally, the encyclopedia ended up in Kyiv, where our editors were already waiting for it:
Oleksii Ivanov and Olia Khmelnytska
And from there the book arrived at Ternopil, because this is where a project manager, Sofiia Shul lives.
Autographs have been signed, a great memo has been made!
A Few Words about Translation
This whole venture began in late December 2019. That’s when we got the text and started our hard work on this project. At first, we thought that it would be a bit boring but then it turned out that the book contains not only the descriptions about the game in development but also the stories about the world: major historical events, influential corporations, the population and their day-to-day life, weapons, transport, braindance… All sorts of cyber things.
The biggest difficulty occurred with the terminology. At that time the game Cyberpunk 2077 was still in development, so the information about the world was scarce. That’s why there was a risk of mistranslating a term or a name (as it turned out with Rogue Amendiares because in the book we see just Rogue – that is why it was perceived as a nickname). In general, this is not the first time we have to work blindly, it is a common thing for game translators. However, while working on a new game you can at least consult with the developers and on this occasion we could only consult with the publisher who knew just as much as we did, and as for the developers of Cyberpunk 2077, they would not disclose the details of the game to whomever.
To Translate or Not to Translate?
What to do with names when the world is half fictional and half real? Which of the terms and names to adapt, and what to leave as in the source text? These were difficult decisions that we discussed with the publisher.
At first it was thought to adapt everything but many names resonated with the real ones, so we had to leave the source language intact (names of corporations), transliterate or represent phonetically according to the Ukrainian spelling (toponyms and anthroponyms). This has preserved the atmosphere of “Americanism” where the events take place. Only fictional and purely game-based names are localized. Like: Johnny Silverhand as “Джонні Срібнорукий” (nickname based on the chrome cyber hand colour) or Morgan Blackhand as “Морґан Чорнорукий” (the colour of his cyber hand is black), gangs Animals («Звірі»), Moxes («Незламні»), and so on. Also some areas were adapted. Similar names are traditionally translated: Little China (“Малий Китай”), Waterfront (“Набережна”), etc.
Another example is «Валентинос» (Valentinos), a gang dominated by Mexicans, so the name sounds in the Spanish style. In contrast, there are “Альдекальди” (Aldecaldos) – nomads, ordinary locals, who have no permanent residence. They unite in large families and are named after their leader, the head of the clan. Therefore, Aldecaldo is a surname and therefore the plural is “Альдекальди” (like the Simpsons — Сімпсони, for example).
We did our best to convey all the abbreviations of fictional objects to preserve their meaning. For example, ICE (Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics) – ЛІД (локалізація/ліквідація інвазивного доступу).
Northside Industrial District (NID) – Північна індустріальна зона (ПІЗ). Here it was necessary to fit into the phrase “Born in NID, dies in NID”, which sounds like: “Born in need, will die in need.” Accordingly, in the Ukrainian version “У ПІЗі вродився, у ПІЗі й помреш” it also sounds with a subtext.
Braindance and Other Specific Terms
Specific terms of The World of Cyberpunk 2077 were conveyed as we saw from our perspective, taking into account the essence of the concept. Some terms were discussed for a long time and changed several times. That’s how “мозкограй” (braindance), “мережник” (netrunner), “патрач” (ripperdoc), “обскубанець” (raffen shiv), and others came out. Of course, other translators would invent something else.
All in all, it was an extremely cool experience. We have been waiting for the release of The World of Cyberpunk 2077 for more than half of the year (8 months), because a text goes through many stages from translator to reader until it becomes a book. And again, the publisher had to postpone the release of Ukrainian translation to do it simultaneously with the game itself. Anyway, we hope that the book is a great addition to the game.
Thanks to Vovkulaka publishing house for this exciting project.
Presentation of The World of Cyberpunk 2077 in AB Library: