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  • A Step-By-Step Guide To Game Localization

    [08.24.21]
    - Alexander Murauski
  • Simple as it may seem, however, some companies still struggle or even fail when localizing their product. And we're not even talking about small companies and startups: even the biggest players in the industry sometimes made mistakes. From the famous "A Winner Is You" line in Pro Wrestling (1986) to a collection of gems from the more recent Sword Art Online (2014), we see translation and contextual mistakes quite often.

    So how do you make sure that your game is localized properly and doesn't contain any errors? The secret lies in following a thorough localization process. Below we will share our own localization process that we've been following for years. We hope it will shed some light on localization for those of you who are just becoming familiar with the concept.

    Part 1 - Preparing for localization

    In most cases, game developers plan to localize their game from the start. This means you need to take care of several issues before starting the actual localization.

    Research and analysis

    As trivial as it sounds, preliminary research is absolutely crucial, as it will serve as the basis for future app development. And the first thing that you'll want to do is to define the target audience for your product.

    The choice of a target audience impacts many things: the choice of the app's platform (Android in Europe and most of Asia vs iOS in the US), its functionality, and also the choice of languages to be used in the app. Whether you want to translate the app into several languages or you plan to stick to English and your local language, you need to know these things in advance in order to use the corresponding localization tools.

    Likewise, research will help you know whether you need to translate all the content of your game or leave some of it untouched. Japanese players, for example, expect a video game to feature certain English phrases. So if your target audience includes Japanese players, you will need to analyze the content and decide what content will be translated and what will be left in its original form.

    By now you're probably wondering: who's going to do all this research?

    The research is normally done by the game developer since he is the one who knows the product best. A localization company can provide certain recommendations (like using Simplified vs Traditional Chinese or choosing the correct dialect), but the final decision will be up to the game owner. To facilitate your decision, we also suggest analyzing available data covering the most common languages, the number of speakers in different countries, and other valuable information that can be used for the analysis.

    Preparing a localization kit

    A localization kit is basically a set of all the files and documents needed for successful translation and localization. Its core element is the set of string resources to be translated (which are usually files in different formats). The loc-kit (short for localization kit) may also include previous translations, files that provide context, fonts, gameplay videos, audio tracks, or even (on rare occasions) the product build.

    However, the loc-kit described above is rarely ready in advance. In most cases, we receive only text strings with additional context in the form of screenshots or comments. The developer's team is responsible for localizing design and audio. Whereas we can assist with the localization of audio and multilingual voice-over if needed, but this will depend on the project needs.

    Besides, in order to make the localization as accurate as possible and to represent the brand, it's a good practice to fill out and provide a localization team with a style guide brief. Style guides define the tone of the translation, the usage of specific slang, brand voice, acronyms, correct forms, etc. It is basically a set of guidelines that helps translators adhere to the brand and its message and keep all the brand's content consistent. For video games, a style guide provides additional information on references and technical questions and helps the team better understand the peculiarities of localization for this particular game.

    Another highly recommended thing is a glossary. In video game localization, a glossary contains the most important and high-volume words and phrases, such as the names of characters, locations, in-game items, etc. By using a glossary the localization team can ensure consistency of the game translation. Besides, the availability of a glossary significantly speeds up the translation process, since translators can always refer to it without having to ask the developer directly.

    Besides, a good practice before starting work on localization is to fill out the brief. It helps understand the scope of work, project requirements, and any specific requests. The brief enables project managers to assign the most suitable specialists and allocate the tasks accordingly.

    Finally, we're happy to share a brief guide on preparing for localization. It includes information about correct encoding (Unicode), use of placeholders and formatters, and other important information that should always be considered.

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