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An interview with
Ted Woolsey

April 29, 1999

Source: Brendan McGrath's Secret of Mana page

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Ted Woolsey Interview, Brendan McGrath


Ted Woolsey Interview
By Brendan McGrath

This is my interview with Ted Woolsey. I would like to comment on how friendly Mr. Woolsey was when I asked if I could interview him.

Also, as some background, Ted Woolsey worked for Squaresoft for many years, translating many games, such as Secret of Mana. When Squaresoft moved from Redmond, WA, to California he stopped working for them, and began his own company, Big Rain. Big Rain is currently working on Shadow Maddness, an RPG that looks awesome.

Ted Woolsey, before the interview:
I'll answer what I can, but bear in mind, I can't speak for the folks at Square! By the way, it has been quite a while since I worked on, or played, some of these games! I remember thoroughly enjoying them, and enjoying the translation work in spite of frustrating memory limitations and terrible timelines...

Here are the questions:

Brendan McGrath:
1) Tell me about the vision behind Secret of Mana. Did you, or Square, have any goals for it?

Ted Woolsey:
I loved the look and feel of SM the moment I saw the artwork for the game. I think the SOM team at Square in Japan did a phenomenal job putting together the adventure and story. I wish I had been given more time to work on the translation, however. I flew over with my family at the beginning of June, 1993, and flew home at the end of that month, having done various rewrites, etc. The text was being finished as I worked on it, which didn't help, but hey, that's software! The game also was maxing out the memory configuration (16 megs as I recall), so the English had to be cut two or three times.

Brendan McGrath:
2) What lessons was the player meant to gain from the story, if any? For example, I learned to never give up hope.

Ted Woolsey:
I think that's about it. That and you can do most anything if you put your mind to it (and have some good friends)!

Brendan McGrath:
3) Due to space limitations, was there anything lost in the translation of Secret of Mana? Was anything cut due to cultural differences? For example, I have often wondered if Jema had anything more to say on the Grand Palace, or if anything happened to Dyluck and Phanna while they were in Thanatos's clutches.

Ted Woolsey:
There were a TON of stuff that got cut. The list is too long to go into!

Brendan McGrath:
4) In the Grand Palace, the boy asks Fanha, "Did you beat the Emperor?" She responds, "I'm afraid so! We'd rule the world if we had the Mana Fortress!" But they DO have the Mana Fortress. Was it not possible to translate this part smoothly, or do I just misunderstand it?

Ted Woolsey:
I think this was a text window placement or numbering problem. This game was extremely difficult to translate as there was very little sequential text: it was just pasted together in clumps. Imagine shuffling a novel and having to translate the resulting mess!

Brendan McGrath:
5) In the introduction, it says that a hero wielded the Mana Sword and smashed the Fortress. Is this Serin, the boy's father? But if it is, how can these events have happened eons ago, according to Luka? Was the person reffered to in the introduction just one in a long line of Mana Knights?

Ted Woolsey:
The latter. The idea is simply that this has happened before, probably a few times in history...

Brendan McGrath:
6) In the Mandala Temple, one of the orbs mentions a country known as Lorima. What is this? My theory is that it is a country that was in the Ice Country, with the Ice Palace as it's core, until some cataclysm altered the environment.

Ted Woolsey:
Actually, I forget where Lorima was...sorry!

Brendan McGrath:
7) Is Final Fantasy Adventure/ Seiken Densetsu 1 at all connected in story line to Secret of Mana? I have heard that Serin is in it.

Ted Woolsey:
It's been so long since I played the Japanese version of that GameBoy adventure. I remember I liked SD1 (Final Fantasy Adventure in the US) but I don't recall it really having any strong bearing on SD2.

Brendan McGrath:
8) What does Thanatos mean when he says that he needed "one born in the shadow of darkness, and raised in the light of Mana"?

Ted Woolsey:
I think he wanted to find a weakness in an otherwise strong "mana" user/wielder...

Brendan McGrath:
9) What can you tell me about Secret of Mana 2's storyline?

Ted Woolsey:
It was a good game, if you ask me. It was a huge story, with a variety of environments and characters. It had almost nothing to do with its precursor.

Brendan McGrath:
10) What are Big Rain's goals? Are there any games other than Shadow Maddness in development?

Ted Woolsey
Actually, Big Rain has just been bought out by another company, Crave Entertainment, Inc. I think the folks at Crave are working on their long and short range plans as we speak.
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