The pressure for games localization is increasing since the need to connect with the global audience is larger. By localizing your gaming template and making it available to a broader audience you will certainly bring in more profits.
Before you start with the development and make your game global-worthy, read these six tips and tricks which will guide you and make the whole process much easier. If you want your work to be recognized and appreciated in many countries, let’s start with the preparation process.
1. Manage Time and Money
Most people manage their budget along the way and adjust the time they have on hand as the project evolves. You should take a different approach.The localization of your gaming template is a big process and you should enjoy every part of it. If you don’t get organized right away you will only stress about it later.
In order to avoid that, before you start with the whole process, make sure that you have enough time and be aware of your available funds.
First of all, inquire about the prices. I know that you want the best for your game, but you must be aware of how much you have and how much you can give.
Find out how much every service that you need costs, from translating to proofreading. Dig as much as you need to in order to reach the right people for the job.
It may be easier just to pay the top quality professional in the market and spend all your money, but don’t forget that there are always talented workers who just didn’t make it through just yet and will do the job at a lower price.
After you have all your costs in order, and you rearranged the budget to cover all expenses, it is time to start with time inquiries and hiring.
If you start on time you will avoid pressuring your coworkers and making them do a sloppy job.
Before you hire anyone, provide them with a detailed description and explanation of everything that needs to be done and ask them how much time they will need. Make sure to emphasize that they need to respect the deadline.
Also, don’t wait until the last minute to hire your experts. Some of them need to be booked several months in advance so the earlier you start with the search, the better the chances are that you will find just the right person.
2. Localize before the Development
Localization of your gaming template should be on your mind from the very start. If you deal with the development first and then start localizing, it will make the whole process much more complex.
Why, you ask?
Different cultures have different customs and understandings of certain things so you must be aware of which countries you are planning to launch your product with.
Some aspects of your game may not be able to translate well in other languages, and some parts of the content might be offensive or forbidden.
Sandra Pourmarin, localization manager at Ubisoft Montreal who worked on Assassin's Creed: Revelations says, "For example on Assassin's Creed, we had cameras that needed to move to avoid showing some nudity that would be a problem in some countries. Being able to identify that early in the process is very precious. If you arrive late on a project with those issues there might not be time to tackle them properly and that will result in additional cost and harm the quality of the game."
The same applies to detecting problems in localization of the gaming template.
Through the whole process and with every new idea you should ask yourself: Will this work in [language]?
It is a good thing to have a localization team on board from the very start in order to be one step ahead and make all the needed corrections right away.
This will save you a lot of money, time, and energy so it is definitely a step which is worth all of your attention.
Here are some of the most important aspects you should keep in mind before you start:
- Age rating – it differs from country to country
- Languages which are read from right to left – If you plan to localize for languages like Hebrew and Arabic, it might require you to flip the menu.
- Language-related puzzles – Any kind of word games within your game template need to be adapted to different languages or changed so that they are globally understood.
- Puns – If you want to include entertaining remarks, think ahead about how you can form them so that they could still keep their meaning even after localization.
3. Perfect the Text
Before you start with the localization and translation, make sure that the original content is well written. There are three things that will help you with this:
- A. Good Native Writer
Hire a high-quality writer who will be able to turn your idea into amazingly written content.
It’s important that you give the translators a good base to start from. If you provide them with a poorly written template, they won’t be able to deliver the results you hope for.
You need to provide the translators with clear and easily understood text in order for them to translate the new template in the right manner. It will also save you money since the easier the template is to translate, the quicker the translator will do the job.
- B. Proofread
Getting your content written is not enough. No matter how good the writer or the translator is, you should always seek a second opinion, someone who will go through the text one more time.
Even the most talented writers need their content to proofread.
Another pair of eyes will be able to see the template from a different perspective and notice some mistakes or confusing parts that need to be changed.
Just make sure that you find a quality proofreading service, for example, The Word Point. There is a lot of proofreading options out there and you need to make sure that you’re leaving your work to the professionals.
An error-free source text will minimize the number of discussions, misunderstandings, and ambiguities.
- C. Provide Guidance
Don’t forget that neither the writer nor the translator can read your mind and know exactly what you want.
You need to be with them from the beginning and help them with every step along the way.
Make sure that they feel comfortable enough to ask you any question. It may be tiring to have to explain everything all the time, but keep in mind that it is all for you and for your success.
Provide the writer and the translator with descriptions, screenshots, and so on. The more information you give them, the better feel they will have for the context.
4. Keep Your Costs Down
If you have decided to localize your gaming template you are not afraid to invest in order to increase your profits. However, there is no reason why you shouldn’t try to keep your costs moderate and save where you can while making sure that it doesn’t affect the product’s quality.
- Check the Content before Localization
There will probably be some parts of your content that are not relevant to the other target languages and markets. Make use of that to save some money.
The translators will translate all the material of the template into all target languages, so if you find that there are sections or words that they can omit, just make sure to specify it before they start.
Give them a clear list of instructions about the parts that don’t need translation.
- Reuse Terms and Phrases
Translators always have a database of translated phrases to make the translation consistent and easier.
During the localization process, there will certainly be some terms which will be used repeatedly, meaning that such wording and phrases only need to be translated once. This will keep your costs lower.
Remember that it is desirable to have some variations in phrases so that you don’t bore the audience with too much repetition.
- Simplify the Content
By reducing the amount of content in the source material you will also be able to keep down the costs of localization.
If you shorten some dialogs, explanations, and descriptions, you will still get the message across–just in fewer words.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t cut down the content too much; you should only adapt it, keeping the conveyed message the same.
- Reuse the Content
If you have already localized some dialogues, manuals, or any other parts of the game, you may find some wording which can be re-used in your template localization.
Review and compare the source material and the content you already have. If there are some matching expressions you don’t need to translate the same words and phrases multiple times.
Provide the translator with the list of already translated parts and then he or she can finish off with what’s next. This way, you won’t have to pay multiple times for translation of the same terms.
5. Choose the Font Carefully
Not all fonts can be applicable to all languages. That is why you should pay additional attention to this part.
Firstly, use a font that will support all Unicode characters. The reason for this is that some languages need certain characters to make for a natural read.
Even though it may be more difficult for a translator to deal with languages which have specific characters such as ß, ü, ¿, or å, they must be applied. You can’t use any substitutions. For example, you can’t write “B” instead of “ß”, or “n” instead of “ñ.”
Every letter of every language needs to be attained and the font you use must support those characters.
Secondly, the font you decide to use must allow no-break spaces in order to keep parts together which shouldn’t be apart.
To clarify, a no-break space (also called unbreakable space, non-breakable space, or hard space) represents a space that will not be separated from the two characters it's surrounded by. It is like an invisible character. Unbreakable spaces are important to avoid splitting certain texts into different lines. For example:
- names – EN: Mr. Smith
- numbers – DE: 50 000
- numbers from values – 10 %, 10 Gold
- words and punctuation marks in languages which request a space before certain kinds of punctuation – FR: Trop cool!
Why is this important? For example in the “Trop cool !” example from the French language, if you omit the hard space, the French exclamation mark can move to the next line since it doesn’t have a hard space to depend on.
When you apply a certain font, just re-check that the hard spaces are being used.
6. Pay Attention to How you Prepare the Files
Most translators use different software and tools than you will. If you want to avoid any confusion provide the text files as easily editable files.
A lot of experienced translators will translate the game template in a CAT (computer-assisted translation) tool. It is software that helps them keep consistency throughout the translation.
If you don’t provide them with a text format, and they have to extract the texts or translate within the development environment, it can cause them some problems and much more inconsistencies.
Advisable options for delivering the text are plain text, Word, or Excel format. No matter which file format you use, make it easily editable and accessible.
When you prepare the text for localization don’t mix menu text with random lines or stream text. Make sure that everything is in its right place.
Organize it in a logical way so that there is no confusion.
This is another important aspect in file preparation that you should pay attention to.
Only a few wrong threads can confuse the translator and make them convey the wrong message.
A logical organization will prevent all confusion.
Additionally, it can be very helpful if you add comments to the file.
Even if you’re just translating the template and not the whole game, context is still of crucial importance.
If some words or phrases have several meanings in a different language, you need to leave a description of any parts that might be confusing.
Of course you don’t need any more comments for the basic menu sections, but any other description could be further explained.
For example, in the Romance languages, the adjectives for males and females have different endings depending on who you're speaking about. These types of details need to be considered and accounted for.
If some part of the text needs to be funny, satirical, scary, or have any type of emotional tone, just emphasize that.
A detailed explanation makes every step easier.
Some Final Thoughts
Template localization will certainly take your game to the next level. If you apply these six amazing tips, they will give you the upper hand and you will be able to skip some of the problems which you could encounter during the process.
No matter which languages you choose for localization, just follow your intuition and keep this advice in the back of your mind. Remember that you are one step away from sharing your game with the world! Are you ready?
Feel free to share your experience when everything is finished. I’ll be patiently waiting to hear your story.