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10 Tips: Localization


August 6, 2012 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3
 

7. Provide biographies for characters

Biographical information about in-game characters is extremely helpful for localization studios if they are casting actors to perform in-game speech in a foreign language, says Ambra Ravaglia, lead audio director at Synthesis.

"It's important to know the characters you are going to cast, their ages, their looks, their moods and so on, since that means I can choose an actor who can manage those emotions and correctly reflect the character," she says.

This is all the more important because localizing speech is often more complex than text translations. For instance, what would be the German equivalent of a Scottish accent compared to an American accent? In such cases having an understanding of who the character is helps localization teams figure out what accent would be most appropriate for a foreign language audience.

The differences between the actors in different countries also matters, says Ravaglia. "A 25-year-old U.S. marine in a game usually has a deep voice, but deep Italian voices are rare, so we have to keep back deeper-voiced actors for the older characters -- so our 25-year-old marine would have a younger, higher voice."

8. Work with your fans

Paradox Interactive draws on the enthusiasm of its fans to polish its translations. "Our beta testers are happy to help on the translations and often they are better than the professional translators, because they know the games and the situations in which the text is going to be used," says Kiby.

"Because they are fans, and other fans will agree if they think something could be improved, we trust their judgement. We don't use them for whole masses of text, though; it's more for shorter sections of text and checking the flavor of the translation. After all, you can't send volunteers 8,000 lines of text to go over in three weeks, and we want them to have fun."

9. Beware of string concatenations

"While making Scourge: Outbreak, we initially made the mistake of cutting phrases into chunks, and storing text separately, so the code could string them together in the multiplayer mode to create phrases like '<Player 1> captured <Team 2's> flag!'," says Salleh. "But that meant these words were being translated out of context, and the game engine was stringing them together in a way that might make sense in English, but not in Spanish or any other language. So we had to go back through every message of this type, so that we didn't end up with Yod- speak like 'Captured <Team 2's> <Player 1> Flag! The' in other languages."

10. Appoint a cultural watchdog

"There's a stage in game development where you've got the basic world and characters in place, and you then start backfilling it with additional content to make the world more real and complete," says Edwards. "It's during this stage where a lot of culturalization problems get added, because the creative folk are up against a tight deadline and just use what comes to mind so they might, without intending to, insert stereotypes or culturally sensitive content."

One way to deal with this is to make one individual on the team responsible for watching out for content that might cause trouble. "Create a bug type in the bug tracking system so they can flag up these things and track what's happened to them in development," she says. "Whoever is responsible needs to ask questions like 'Where did that symbol come from' and 'What was the inspiration for it' or 'What do the foreign language words in the soundtrack actually say?'"


Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

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