Nobody can argue against the validity of high-quality localizations. Even those that enjoy localizations, which are so bad, that they’re good will often complain about poor translations. Furthermore, no up-and-coming game studio wants to tarnish its reputation by releasing a product full of mistakes.
Inexperienced developers or those with budget constraints may rely on machine translations for their localizations. This is a surefire way to frustrate overseas audiences when they read or listen to unnaturally translated phrases in their native tongue. It’s also likely that these audiences will lose trust in these developers, give them negative reviews on the various digital storefronts, and lambast them on social media.
While relying on machine translations seems like a rookie mistake, game developers should avoid several other common blunders that we’ll cover below.
Most game studios often hire the best and the brightest to work for them. But this should include the localization team they’ll be working with, not just their artists, designers, and programmers. Game studios should always inquire about the experience of localizers, examine their portfolios, and determine if they have the required skill set to work on their games.
It’s counterproductive hiring a localization team that’s adept at mobile games but has little experience with first person shooters on the PC – to work on the latter genre. In addition, it makes good business sense to work with experienced professionals with solid records of accomplishment. Inexperienced localizers only hurt the overall quality of the games they work on, cause needless delays, and raise production costs.
Many believe that only the audio and text of video games go through the localization process. This is a common misconception and one that leads to incomplete localizations. Game developers have plenty of content that they should carefully organize and localize with a good translation management system. This content consists of app store descriptions, packaging, manuals, marketing copy, and any UI (User Interface) text.
Moreover, developers should treat this additional content with the same level of importance as their in-game audio and text. Poor localizations of app descriptions, marketing materials, and packaging logos will only confuse consumers in overseas territories, which will hurt sales of their games. It’s also vital to carefully curate and manage all this content to avoid duplicate work or inserting the wrong content in the final product.
Not only is it bad practice to hard-code text into a game’s source code, but it’s also hugely inefficient. The reason for this is that development of most modern games happens in conjunction with an ECS (Entity-Component-System) or OOP (Object-Oriented Programming) paradigm. Both paradigms are great at handling the data, objects, and logic found in a typical game. As a game becomes larger and more complex in scope, the number of lines of code increase accordingly – this causes maintainability issues.
Thus, embedding multiple text translations will only make the source code messier, and harder to implement changes later on. A good workaround is to save text translations in individual resource files using popular formats such as JSON or XML. This makes it easy for both the programming and localization teams to add and change text in a game, in any language without disrupting its development.
Similarly, to PCs, mobile devices come with a range of aspect ratios and resolutions that complicate the development and testing process. Ideally, it would be great to have access to all these devices to conduct thorough tests. Since this isn’t an option for most developers, pseudo-localization comes to the rescue.
What makes pseudo-localization so indispensable is that it helps developers quickly pinpoint mistakes relating to flow, layout, length, and logic of their text. This helps reduce iterations of text translations, ultimately reducing time and costs. Failing to implement these localization tests will result in an unpolished game due to its poorly optimized or unreadable text.
It’s all too easy to make mistakes during the localization process. These can cause delays, raise costs, and reduce the quality of your game. But avoiding these issues is possible by following these handy tips and a little foresight. Contact us to learn how we can get your game’s localization done right!