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Improving Game Localization Quality: Internationalization as the Holy Grail


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In almost every game localization project, there is always a constant — translators will ask questions due to the lack of context and testers will complain about issues that will require a rewriting of the game code due to some language-specific issues. As a result, developers need to spend a good deal of time fixing localization bugs, and depending on the number of the affected languages, this can delay localized builds and increase localization costs. However, many localization issues can be avoided if the internationalization phase meets a minimum level of quality standards. This is especially important now that many indie developers have arisen, as they often are not aware of the impact that internationalization can have on the translation and quality assurance stages. Thus, the aim of this presentation is to give some internationalization best practices for beginner and experienced game developers from a translator’s point of view that will help them to better focus on the game functionality by reducing potential localization issues at a later stage.

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Improving Game Localization Quality: Internationalization as the Holy Grail

  1. 1. Improving Game Localization Quality: Internationalization as the Holy Grail Pablo Muñoz @pmstrad
  2. 2. In previous presentations, I talked about…
  3. 3. The in-house translator
  4. 4. The Dark Side translator (freelancer)
  5. 5. The developer
  6. 6. The PM
  7. 7. And now I will talk about…
  8. 8. The localization engineers
  9. 9. In small projects, they may be forgotten…
  10. 10. But if you decide to work with them…
  11. 11. They will fight so that you follow these 10 internationalization principles
  12. 12. 1. You shall design text boxes and menus for larger texts
  13. 13. Poor menu design for localization…
  14. 14. Better menu design for localization
  15. 15. Good text box for localization…
  16. 16. But bad button design for localization!
  17. 17. 2. You shall test ALL fonts with special characters
  18. 18. Where’s the ‘ñ’?
  19. 19. 3. You shall use variable width fonts as much as possible
  20. 20. Courier New is a fixed width font Calibri is a variable width font
  21. 21. • This is Arial • This is Arial Narrow • This is Times New Roman • This is Garamond • This is Courier New • This is Calibri
  22. 22. Fixed width Font = less space
  23. 23. Variable width Font = more space
  24. 24. Some more examples
  25. 25. Final Fantasy VI – SNES version
  26. 26. Final Fantasy VI – GBA version
  27. 27. Chrono Trigger – SNES version
  28. 28. Chrono Trigger – Android version
  29. 29. 4. You shall use text wrapping instead of manual line breaks
  30. 30. Because manual line breaks are a pain
  31. 31. Accidents and text overflows occur…
  32. 32. And sometimes they aren’t necessary
  33. 33. Even better: Make speech bubbles adapt to the text
  34. 34. A normal text bubble…
  35. 35. That expands itself based on the content!
  36. 36. And this way translators will use CAT tools easily
  37. 37. 5. You shall use different messages for numerical variables
  38. 38. Why not just “1 tech point”?
  39. 39. punto(s) is correct… but not nice
  40. 40. This can be avoided by just adding a message for 1 and for >1
  41. 41. 6. You shall always include a variable in the full string
  42. 42. Let’s translate “ escaped!” into Spanish
  43. 43. Oops! Where’s the initial ‘¡’?
  44. 44. Do: <name> escaped! Don’t: escaped!
  45. 45. 7. You shall create special tags to avoid gender issues
  46. 46. English: GUARD: Let’s see if you are as good as they say. Spanish: GUARDIA: Vamos a ver si eres tan bueno como dicen.
  47. 47. But if your main character is a woman… Should be “buena”
  48. 48. Solution: GUARDIA: Vamos a ver si eres tan @Malebueno@Femalebuena@End como dicen.
  49. 49. 8. You shall use variables and tags that humans can read
  50. 50. This simple message can be represented like…
  51. 51. This: [fnt_2]Oh! My aching head...[fnt_1] Hey, Dk! The other kingdoms have taken all our [col_02]bananas[col_01] [icn_1] away![kp]
  52. 52. Or even like this: [小]Oh! My aching head...[大] Hey, Dk! The other kingdoms have taken all our [橙]bananas[黒] [バナナ_01] away![kp]
  53. 53. Or this way :) [Font_size=60%]Oh! My aching head...[Font_size=100%] Hey, Dk! The other kingdoms have taken all our [Font_color=orange]bananas[Font_color=black] [Banana_Icon_3] away![KeyPress]
  54. 54. 9. You shall be organized with files and Excel tabs
  55. 55. Have you ever seen a file with 50 tabs like this?
  56. 56. Or zillions of very small files?
  57. 57. Yeah… That’s how translators usually react
  58. 58. So…
  59. 59. 10. You shall check for cultural issues
  60. 60. To avoid things like this in Pokémon ASAP JP version US version
  61. 61. And this in Super Mario RPG JP version US version
  62. 62. So don’t think twice: a good internationalization is the key for a sucessful localization
  63. 63. Hire and trust a localization engineer…
  64. 64. And may the Force be with you!
  65. 65. Thank you for your attention  @pmstrad