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10 Tips: Localization


August 6, 2012 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next
 

3. Current events matter

Cultural attitudes aren't fixed and current events can change how a game will be received. "When I was localizing My Weight Loss Coach for the DS, a product manager in Belgium raised a flag about the use of the word 'pedometer' because there had just been a lot of pedophilia cases in Belgium, and it was felt the word was too close, so we replaced it with another word," says Pourmarin, who says Ubisoft uses its network of national offices and external localization partners to help spot these kinds of topical concerns.

Kate Edwards, founder of game culturalization consultancy Englobe, agrees that current affairs can affect how games are received: "Back in 1999, Age of Empires had a Japanese samurai on the box and Korean retailers didn't want to put it on the shelves, because at that time Japan and Korea were at the height of one of their rows about the Takeshima/Dokdo islands in the Sea of Japan. But I think if you released that today there wouldn't be the same problem."

4. Impose a text freeze

To keep translation costs under control and development on schedule, Paradox Interactive, the Swedish publisher-developer behind the Divine Wind and Europa Universalis games, sets and enforces a cut-off date for changes to in-game text. "At a certain point we have a text freeze, which is when our text files get sent to the translators," says Linda Kiby, associate producer at Paradox.

"Because we want our games to be moddable, we put all our text in CSV files, as that is the easiest way of allowing people to do that, and it also means we can just paste the finished translation into the text files. But it also means that if anyone changes anything or removes a line after the text is sent for translation that can create chaos, which is why the text freeze is so important."

5. Translators should be asking questions

Since external translation agencies don't get to see the text within the context of the game itself, alarm bells should start ringing if they aren't coming back with questions says Omar Salleh, game director at Tragnarion Studios, the Spanish developer of the XBLA, PSN and Mac third-person shooter Scourge: Outbreak.


Scourge: Outbreak

"I've worked with some who took the text said everything was fine and we didn't hear back until they were done," he says. "We didn't think too much about it at the time, but when playtesting the game with the localized text we realized that while the text was grammatically correct, it didn't really fit the style of the game."

6. Be aware of cultural issues from day one

Developers need to think about culturalization early on because some issues just can't be fixed at the end of development, says Edwards. "I was asked to review Fallout 3 to see if it would be compatible with the Indian market, and because of the two-headed mutant Brahmin bulls, it was not going to be viable because India has laws that protect cows from harm.

"Those laws pertain to real ones, of course, but if it's sensitive enough that there is a law against real cows being harmed then it is going to be sensitive to see a virtual one that is mutated and can be eaten and all that," says Edwards.

"We did discuss whether this could be changed, but the game was done at that point, so it was a question of whether it was worth spending all that money to release the game in India. The only other thing you can do at that late a stage is to go ahead with release, and plan for the reaction it might get."


Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

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