What not to do in Gaming Localization. Part I

Gaming aka. the first industry to see the importance of localization stands trial today as we look at some big fails.

We wrote this thing while focussing on gaming localization, but hey — these are some universal lessons, all of us can benefit from. So, let’s not waste any more time with intro’s and dive into today’s Beluga LOC. lessons:

1. Quality is important

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Localization needs good translations. This is a fixed rule, no matter what industry you come from. So, one word of advice: Never compromise on the quality of your translation! Why? Well, because at the end of the day you’ll have 99 problems and your source text translation will be the cause of them. So, if you have difficulties finding a good language service provider…let us know. *wink*

2. DO NOT hardcode text into core game files!

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If you want your digital product to live to see another day, you’d better not be hardcoding text into core files. Why? Well, because all hardcoded elements are super hard to rid off in foreign markets and you’ll end up wasting a vast amount of time on the menu, dialogue or story translation and re-coding.

The same goes for websites or apps. Which is why a lot of industry experts started including variables in standalone resource packages.

Our tip: Stay flexible and think ahead of your needs, because in the end, you’ll never know what market you might be entering soon!

3. Think about the length of text boxes

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What may look really cool in English, could easily become messy when translated in German. Why? Different languages have different sentence lengths. So always keep in mind that: “Brevity is the sister of talent”. Remember that the screen and the message boxes have limited space, which means you’ll have to keep your translation super crisp and short.

4. Offer context

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Developers used to deliver spreadsheets filled with text which needed to be translated and everything went alright for awhile until the games became more complex. As the gaming world expanded, so did the tasks for the translator, sadly the context did not. This lead to miscommunication and bad translations. The lesson here is that you need to offer context.

It is important when localizing content to have a pretty good overview of the product. Which is why insisting on the full briefing is more than welcome. Just think about trying to understand an app, computer program or game without the context. Quite impossible, right? So if you want your localization and translation team to do a good job, you’ll need to give them all the info they ideally need. Believe us, it saves time on your project! ;)

5. Test localized content

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It’s super that the project is finished and you return the localized content. Yet, our job doesn’t stop there. Big companies deploy a localizing team to test out the content delivered and see if it functions as intended.

Why is this important? Even the best proofreader will not be as good at his job as the people who made the content and who want it tested on their audiences. That is valuable feedback and it helps to eradicate any sort of misunderstanding about the final product.

6. Updates matter!

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Sometimes the hiring team implements changes to his products and decides to take care of them on his own without letting the LSP’s know. Uhm, big mistake. Best case scenario you end up with a little misunderstanding that can be eradicated in a couple of hours. Worst case scenario: you have to rewrite entire sections of the content and it costs a substantial amount of money. Ouch!

So our advice to you, our fellow dev’s of the world: don’t forget to brief us on your progress! :)

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About Beluga

Beluga helps fast-moving companies to translate their digital contents. With more than a decade of experience, professional linguists in all major markets and the latest translation technology at use, Beluga is a stable partner of many of the most thriving enterprises in the technology sector. The business goal: To help fast-growing companies offer their international audiences an excellent and engaging user experience.