7 video game localisation essentials developers forget
As we’ve said on this blog many times, video gamers care about localisation a lot. You don’t need to take our word for it either; we’ve seen boycotts, scandals, protests and countless angry debates surrounding the localisation of high-profile titles in recent years.
Needless to say, the consequences of getting localisation wrong – in the eyes of people playing your games – are serious. Unfortunately, many publishers (even the likes of Nintendo and PlayStation) get the localisation essentials wrong, but it’s the smaller developers who really struggle to recover from sub-par localisation.
Video game localisation essentials you can’t afford to forget
Video game localisation is a complex process, so it’s no surprise many developers forget about some of the crucial steps along the way. However, to simplify a complicated concept, it helps to break it down into its core elements:
- Localisation starts with your script: One of the most common mistakes developers and publishers make is leaving localisation to the latter stages of the development process. By this time, your game script is already finalised and it is difficult to make any changes that could improve the ease and accuracy of translating your script into your target languages.
- Translate your content before designing interfaces: Otherwise, your text is going to be too long for certain UI elements and break your designs.
- Give your gamers as much context as possible: Don’t just give your translators a bunch of text strings to translate – give them all the context you possibly can about your game to help them translate with greater accuracy and keep within the style of your game (sci-fi has a very different feel compared to historical storylines).
- Localise your game code: Never hard-code game dialogue, menu buttons or any other language into the core files of your game. Create variables and separate language files to call in the relevant string or file where necessary. This allows you to add new languages and improve your translations without pulling apart the core code of your game.
- Localise your game resources: Make sure you provide your target audiences with localised resources: user guides, reviews screenshots, etc. where needed (this is especially important in app stores and digital game stores).
- Test the usability of your translations: Check gamers have enough time to read translated text before cut scenes, make sure there aren’t any mistimed voiceover clips, UI breaks or any other usability issues caused by your translation – and test every language.
- Localise your marketing campaigns: Localising your game is only beneficial if people in your target markets are actually playing it, which means you need to localise and adapt your marketing strategy for each audience.
Most of the localisation problems publishers and developers run into come down to starting localisation too late in the game development process. This is something that should start at the very beginning of the storyboarding and scripting stages, because this will help you avoid language problems later on – such as original dialogue that’s particularly difficult to translate, lengthy translations that break UI elements or scene edits and technical issues (e.g.: coding language selection menus).
Are you getting all of the localisation essentials right?
If you are targeting global gamers or a select few international audiences with your game titles, then getting localisation right is going to be crucial to your success. Today’s gamers are highly educated about localisation and they’re quick to avoid playing titles that neglect them – or worse, leave negative reviews about your translation and localisation shortcomings. Don’t let language barriers get in the way of people enjoying your games and hurt your profit margins. Make localisation a priority from the early development stages and you’ll have all the time you need to create consistent experiences across each language and maximise sales in every target market.
- Posted by Alexandra Kravariti
- On 18th April 2019
- 0 Comments