How Larry Laffer spoke in Russian or On the first translators of Sierra quests

    ... Once in the mid-nineties I made in Rostov-on-Don a small, but still proud and already eight-page newspaper about computer games. In one of the issues, there was a great interview with a representative of the famous “Taraley and Zhabokryak” collective, famous for the fact that almost all Sierra on-line quests that appeared in the late 80s and early 90s were translated into Russian by these people:

    Recently I was asked to scan the page of a newspaper with an interview, well, I thought that it might be interesting to Habr — as part of the history of the Russian game world?

    Under the cut - scan and text of the interview. The text is given without changes. Several hyperlinks were added (well, there was no Internet then ...), for a better understanding of the topic of conversation.

    UPD: Sergey Eremenko responded and gave some comments about :-) Put them after the interview.

    “We worked for future generations!” Or Russian Sierra

    (c) Image game, 1995.

    Most of our readers are probably aware of the Russified versions of Sierra On-Line quests - a series featuring Larry Laffer , Roger Wilco and others. No less well-known is the fact that the entire translation and modification of English-language originals was carried out here in Rostov by a group of talented programmers more familiar with the brand name “Taralej & Jabocrak Software”. One of the project participants, Emil Markman, recently returned from the United States, where he worked as a teacher of computer science and in parallel studied the game life of America. His arrival was the reason for today's interview.

    Showroom company "Rainbow". People are constantly coming in and out, phones are ringing, computers are working. Friday, three in the afternoon.

    Emil, for a start a trivial question - how did it all begin?

    It all started a long time ago when we were still university students. At that time we had one university, no one had heard of DSTU yet, and now, in 1988, no, rather, in 1987 Larry fell into our hands, the first one, CGA’s ... We played it on Iskra ", You understand, but the game was great, and we all quickly became fans of the Sierra quests.

    Then the problem arose - the games were in English, knowledge of the language was required. And since you need to read a lot on the screen and make some logical actions on the basis of what you read, knowledge is not required for school or college. Almost all games use serious American slang.

    Naturally, the ideas of Russification arose and the first attempts to do so. I must honestly say that the idea does not belong to us, but to our, one might say, mentors: Alexander Koptev and Igor Malyshko. Igor, for example, Russified Space Quest I. Looking at this, we had a desire to do something similar, and maybe even better. Competition in the good sense of the word. This is how the Taralej & Jabocrak Trust came about.

    By the way, where does the name come from?

    EM: Translated from Bulgarian - “Hedgehog and the Frog”.

    Lord, what we just didn’t think ...

    The initial composition was as follows: Mikhail Kondakov and Sergey Eremenko. For several years, they looked closely at the Sierra files, the so-called "resources", tried to open them, that they could - redid them. New games from Sierra constantly came, they also had to work with. The situation qualitatively changed in 1992, when we got a young man, very young, he was still in school at the 14th school, named Leonid Sobolev. With his “enthusiasm” he literally sickened everyone, he came every day: “Everything, guys, it's time to do it, let's do it, let's try it like that!”

    Our main stumbling block was English, so Lenka said: “I have a special school behind me, I will translate!” And really things went, for three months of the summer of that year we made Russian Larry I VGA in the same breath. Initially, by the way, I was against this particular game, and did not take part. But then the guys called, they said: “Emil, don’t play out, you need to translate jokes there, something else ...” So I joined the trust.

    Here, too, it is interesting - it was hard for you to go through English, but in order to facilitate the process and create the Russian version, you have to go through the original version very carefully, or not?

    Along and across. Everything that we Russified was completed more than once or twice, with different variations. That is, of course, we did not need the Russian version. But imagine how many people in the country do not know English! But I want to play ... In this sense, we can say that we worked for future generations ...

    But what about the commercial side of the project?

    We put bags of our toys on the shelves of bookstores and managed to sell about 70 copies. Almost all the money went into the purchase of new diskettes and supplies. You know, even now we have never paid a salary to anyone, we work on that very “enthusiasm”.

    But left-wing copies spread throughout the Union - from Khabarovsk to Brest. We inserted Hochma into the program there: Larry must call a woman on the phone, and so, if you dial a certain number, the original player supposedly answers the Sierra On-Line Technical Support Service. In the Russian version, the phone was ours, Rostov. And people, having read it, really went to call, they said thanks for the game, "let’s say something else."

    The most memorable call?

    Somehow they called, Sergey picked up the phone, listened a little, said: “I don’t understand anything, there some military telephonists agree on passwords ...” After a while, a voice breaks out: “Hello guys, we are calling from Plesetsk, by special communication ! ”We ask:“ This is not where the rockets are launched? ”And he happily says:“ Yes, from there, only now we are not launching anything, we are sitting at your toy and we have this question ... ”

    People play wow !

    Of course, Larry has made us popular. On his success, we continued to work and the next "victim" was Space Quest 4. For four and a half months we did it, and somewhere in the early spring of 1993 it was completed. By this time, for very serious and good reasons, Mikhail Kondakov left us. He set about translating the second Goblins from French and did it very well. And we very carefully, in comparison with Larry, prepared SQ4.

    Yes, to be honest, there were grammatical errors in your Larry, and jokes are not always that ...

    Well, first of all, you have to consider that it was a trial ball. Regarding the jokes, I can explain that we tried to adhere to the original script as much as possible, all questions to Sierra On-Line. And in Space Quest 4 we tried to lick all the errors. In addition, they prepared a bunch of innovations: the installer was written, the buyer's registration card was made, not only the text but also the graphics were redone in the game ...

    Well, how about the famous Rostselmash inscription on the fence when shooting with blasters in a splash screen cartoon! Are you, apparently, generally patriots of Rostov?

    Yes, there is. In each of our games we tried to insert some joke about us and about Rostov. Or, for example, at the end of any Sierra game there are credits. So there is always our surname and motto: “From Rostov - with love!”

    And then? ..

    And then the break came. He was associated with the problem of choosing the next game, too many of them appeared. Yes, and new types of resources ... In the end, by September 93rd, we had done Space Quest 5 and Russified absolutely everything there! We even have Russian mouse cursors in the game. In the first Larry, remember, you had to tell the password when entering the back room of the bar? That was the first attempt, I think, not very successful - “I am from S.A.E.” That is, “from Sergey Alexandrovich Eremenko” And already in SQ 5 there was where to turn around.

    Have you really unearthed everything?

    Yes, except for the sound. Just at that time, Sound Blaster came to us, we listened to him and said: “Yes! ..” But none of us knew how to remake the voices.

    Listen, where did you do this?

    Most of us at that time worked in high school number five in the computer class. In the morning, we taught schoolchildren, and then drove them to FIG and did quests. To the detriment of the educational process, this did not go, otherwise our students would not have taken two republican prizes in computer science.

    As far as I understand, the Russian Space Quest 5 was originally developed as a commercial product?

    Yes, but we are faced with the problem of piracy. Just a few days after the appearance of the program on the shelves - in the radio market it was being sold at full speed. We did not write defense against hackers, but against boys. Plus, add the rise in price of diskettes, therefore, we also had to raise the price.

    Something after SQ 5 new Russian quests from Rostov is not visible ...

    The crisis of the genre has come. Leonid Sobolev left for the year in the USA. We are waiting for him by the end of June. To do quality things together - there is no strength, time, or opportunity. Now all the pictures in the games are very well made. And we are definitely not artists, we are programmers. It’s somehow not enough to create hack. Nevertheless, the fifth Larry is fully translated into Russian, we are working with Freddy Pharkas, our students have almost Russified King's Quest VI - Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow.

    What computer companies do not pay attention to you?

    Probably the first and last organization to take us under its wing was the Rainbow company, under which we now exist. Yes, and we also worked a bit with Forte, they even provided their computers to demonstrate our developments at exhibitions in the North Caucasus Scientific Center. And with the "Rainbow" there is an opportunity to do your favorite Sierra quests with good equipment.

    Does Sierra herself know that you love her so much?

    He knows. We always wanted to legitimize our activities, understanding that we ourselves are doing things that are not very honest from a legal point of view. And when the opportunity appeared to communicate about ourselves, we reached Ken Williams himself (editorial note: Williams Ken - founder and permanent president of Sierra On-Line).

    They did not immediately believe in the existence of Russified versions, asked to send copies. We sent the files, correspondence began, recently here came a positive response to our offer to open an official representative office of Sierra in the city of Rostov.


    Now the issue is almost resolved. If you take a look: in Europe there will be Coktel Vision, Dynamix and T&J Software ... At least in the CIS we are definitely the only ones.

    And what does this give Rostov quest lovers?

    We get the legal right to Russify the Sierra programs, we will sell licensed English versions of games, now there are about 30 of them.

    It is known that the forbidden fruit is sweet. And here is a license, it won’t cool you?

    It will reassure us. Constantly experiencing a certain complex of guilt, this is not pleasant. Another thing is that a large front of work is opening up, enthusiasts are urgently needed, because the Russification of the modern game program is no less than six months of hard labor.

    Will the source code help you abroad?

    While the question remains open.

    And what are your immediate plans?

    I really want to translate Space Quest I VGA, I think that he is one of the best quests in general.

    What do you think about quests in general?

    Quests is a game for adults. The current trend of simplifying the interface (icons, mouse control, cartoon design) is not to my liking. Words and text commands that you must type yourself in English - it was better.

    Well, yes, this is how old programmers grumble about rejecting Windows now, or it’s a matter of the command line ...

    Something like that.

    But all of America went to the "Windows" ... Damn, they forgot about America! How are you, what are they playing?

    I visited five states, everywhere simulators are held in high esteem. The new X-Wing and its modifications, aircraft simulators ... Amazing joysticks and super mice! All modern games come in two versions, for PC and for Mac. A store that sells only game software has shelving racks completely lined with boxes. Every time I went in, I also died at the entrance. Everything is exceptionally beautifully designed, although in my opinion there are few really cool games.

    And the cost?

    A new game from Sierra - $ 40-50, unsold leftovers, for example, King's Quest V - about $ 15.

    What are the trends in games, judging by American impressions?

    Definitely go to virtual reality. The time for hand-drawn games has passed - everything was done with the help of video filming and computer editing, stereo and even quad sound. The triumph of technological progress is evident, perhaps to the detriment of ideas and plots. The standard gaming computer today is Pentium-75, 8 megabytes of RAM, 540 megabytes of hard disk, CD-ROM drive, a fast modem for 14400, a 15-inch monitor. Sound Cards - Sound Blasters exclusively from Creative Labs, they do not know and do not want to know another company in America.

    Yes ... In order not to be upset, let's quickly return to Russia.

    Good. Interested in collaborating with "Taralej & Jabocrak Software ", record phones in Rostov-on-Don: 67-44-30, 67-41-78. In addition, Moon Rainbow BBS works from where you can download demos of Russian versions, utilities for working with resource files, distributions etc. Her room - 67-44-30, from 20.00 to 08.00.

    Thank you for the informative interview there are any suggestions of a young and inexperienced newspaper.?

    Let the newspaper will not only print, but also to read.

    Well, in that if not, why do not you publish an article in the first issue of serrovskim quests?

    no problem.

    Thank you.

    not at all!



    demonstration onny firm hall "Rainbow". Continually people come in and out, call phones, computers work. Friday, four o'clock.

    UPD: Comment from SAE aka Sergey Aleksandrovich Eremenko:

    Thank you for your kind words, I read, I was impressed;)
    In my LJ there is a post about the game , like everything said there and Lenya had a LJ. There was an idea to port to smartphones, but with the current copyright (70 years) there is no sense, our actions have long been beyond the statute of limitations, and new ones can easily be attracted;) Again, the initial capital is needed.

    Right, by the way, JaboCrack. Initially there was Jabocrec, the idea of ​​the name was Kondakova and mine, but then I corrected a bit. The only product with Jabocrec is the target compiler for Astrofort.

    Here are such things, citizens :-) I persistently invited Sergey to Habr, even promised an invite, but he says, while there is no time, he reads only occasionally from external links. Although it seems to me that this would be mutually beneficial communication.

    Well, okay, the main thing is that no one was lost. Larry lived, Larry is alive, Larry will live!

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