Case study: A mobile fantasy RPG for iOS

Case study: A mobile fantasy RPG for iOS

Key tasks: English-Polish Game Localization, Proofreading & QA

One of our recent projects was a game localization of a fantasy RPG for iOS devices. Our team was responsible for localizing a huge chunk of the game and proofreading the files.

Before we started working on the game, we’ve played it for a while and it paid off – we didn’t have that many terminology issues and we got a clear idea of the mechanics used in the game. This way strings with sometimes not so obvious tags became clearer. While playing, we made sure to make screenshots so during the translation we had the possibility to get back to certain moments of the game and to check if a string was being localized within the right context.

What was provided from the Client were strings with extended tags that basically told us what element of the game we’re currently translating. In addition to descriptions of these strings we got the best help from the Client – if there were uncertainties (and believe me, they always are), we could ask and get the necessary answers. That way we made sure the localization part is prepared in the best way possible, testing will go smoother and chances for out-of-the-context-localization related bugs appearance are significantly reduced.

What were the biggest challenges of this project? Like in most RPG localization projects there are common issues that are good to discuss before the project actually starts, especially if we’re talking about team work. There were a few points we picked up, here I’ll present two of them: names of bosses and items & weapons levels.

Names of bosses

There is never a good or easy solution to take care of names. There are always multiple ways to go with it and multiple things that need to be considered. The primary is, of course, what the Client wants. When we get a green light for name translation, that’s where the internal discussions begin. In this particular example we encountered a problem with names of game bosses. Most of the names were basically ready for translation (think of something like: Hammerthrowing Jack), but there were also names very rich in pop-culture references, sometimes very direct ones. So as a step one we checked how they already exist in Polish, step two we implemented them in our translation, step three we made sure the rest of such terms is consistent in style and the players can immediately recognize what we’re implying by using them. We kept in mind that it’s 1) a fantasy game (so the way we proceed needs to be adequate to the genre), 2) an RPG so names need to bring similar meaning to the original ones 3) a mobile game with possibly broader audience than usual console or PC classic RPGs.

Names of items & weapons levels

Another important matter that was brought into discussion was naming of a quality of items and weapons. It’s very common for RPGs to have different levels, grades or qualities of things that players can find or loot during the game. Also, very often developers are coming up with very cool names that are not possible to translate literally because it would result in a grotesque effect. Additional problem here was that we were not sure if that’s the final list of such levels and our experience tells us that most probably it’s not, because in huge projects, where there are a lot of updates and more nice things arriving for players, elements like that are never final. We put a few ideas on our project’s Slack channel and discussed them. This way it was ready before we even got to the Items & Weapons section and that saved us a lot of time on post-translation fixes. And again, what was important while coming up with the right term in the target language: 1) more or less close to the original meaning, 2) genre’s style required for such category.

Game localization is a complex process also on the linguistic side. Translators need to be aware of the genre of translated game, cultural references that aren’t always easy to spot (or localize if required), they need to maintain consistency and always keep the end-user in mind. Localization always has its purpose and it’s mainly to provide gamers the game that they can enjoy in their native language. And that’s the priority number one, for both, translation teams and game devs, when preparing the game for the release – to make sure the players like it. This is why every localization team must focus on quality. And that’s what we’re doing.

TL;DR

During game localization of RPGs the issues that translators encounter are usually in regards to terminology. In deciding on the matter if to localize bosses names, our principles are clear: first, what the Client wants – it’s their game and we only suggest what could work best from a linguistic and a gamer point of view, but the choice is up to them. Second, what the players want – what will be best recognizable and understandable term for them. Besides the names of the bosses, we also have levels of weapons and items. Working as a team we need to figure out the easiest way to maintain consistency in such terminology, and agree on the most important elements at the beginning of the project. In other words, communication within the team is the key to get better results in game localization.

Thanks for reading my post! Interested in game localization? Feel free to have a chat with me on social media, send me a message or an e-mail 🙂

Hi! I’m Asia, I run an English-Polish game localization & copywriting team, Mana Translation. October 2017 I was a speaker at the Game Industry Conference and in March 2017 I talked at the Translation and Localization Conference in Warsaw about reference materials in game localization. Well educated and experienced in the localization field, I’m also interested in game development, especially game design. In my spare time, I’m making games, learning Japanese, and training with my dog.

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