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Game localization is a process that’s usually shrouded in mystery, especially for aspiring developers and publishers. Once they gain some experience, they comprehend the complexity, costs and time involved in this significantly technical process.
Having to deal with translation, editing, proofreading, integration, regional adaptation, and LQA (Linguistic Quality Assurance) tasks help sharpen those game localization skills. However, these require a multi-disciplinary skill set that’s beyond the scope of most small game development and publishing teams. If you’re a member of such a team, check out our handy list of 5 things that will impact your game localization.
1. Developing With Localization In Mind
Successful localizations are often the byproduct of teams developing their games with localization in mind from the get-go. They have a clear understanding of which markets they will target, how much text and voice acting will be in their games, and what file formats they’ll be using. Moreover, they plan to the finest details such as determining whether they’ll use a translation-friendly format such as XML or creating their own bespoke solution.
2. Applying The KISS Principle
No, we’re not offering some newfangled dating advice here. KISS is, in fact, an acronym that stands for “Keep It Simple, Stupid” which is an important design principle originally created by the U.S. Navy back in the ‘60s. Concisely, the principle states that simpler systems work better than complex ones, thus, simplified design is a primary goal.
As we’ve already established, game localization is complex and will unequivocally benefit from simplifying parts of the process. Some ways to accomplish this is by reducing text verbosity with simple sentence structures, using external and translator-friendly file formats, and choosing available fonts over rendered texts whenever possible.
3. Prepare A Detailed Guide For Your Translators
Translators and localization services usually work on several games at a given time. Therefore, it’s always smart to provide them with as many details about your game as possible to avoid any confusion. Perhaps, you don’t want them viewing your GDD (Game Design Document) because it may reveal propriety or sensitive information that should remain private.
Instead, start out by preparing a style guide and glossary since this serves as the framework for optimally presenting your content across multiple languages. Don’t stop there though, provide your translators with context and reference materials. This is essential for dealing with abstract concepts, characters, plot points and phrases easily misconstrued for something else.
4. Localize For Markets Worth Your While
Nowadays, there’s a plethora of digital storefronts, platforms, technologies, existing and emerging markets to consider. With so much choice, it’s only natural to want to release your game on as many platforms and as many markets as possible. Unfortunately, this is neither realistic nor cost-effective, especially for smaller game developers and publishers.
Take Japan’s mobile gaming market as an example. It’s extremely lucrative with high average player expenditure on in-app purchases, which is a prime motivator for overseas developers to enter this market. But Japanese gamers seldom show interest in foreign games, making it one of the hardest markets to penetrate. Here at XLOC, we help our partners to make the right decisions and spend their localization budgets wisely.
5. Culture And Censorship Regulations Will Impact Your Game Localization
All game creators should be mindful of cultural norms and censorship regulations that exist in territories they’re targeting. In the United States, violent games are popular but an M (Mature) rated game that corresponds with the ESRB isn’t meant for anyone under 17 years old. These games are – usually banned – in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea. In Germany, Nazi symbols are only acceptable if they’re historically accurate and socially adequate.
It’s worthwhile starting out with localization in mind and simplifying the process. Prepare a style guide and glossary for your translators and focus on markets that matter. Finally, be aware of cultural norms and regulations in the territories you’re targeting. Contact us to learn more about making an impact with your game localization.