Creating a game is indeed a challenging process. It includes various elements such as story, audio assets, characters, levels and game mechanics.  But when you complete the game, you actually need to profit from it as much as you can. Game localization can help you increase your profit and help you enter a brand-new market. However, one mistake in the game localization process can end your dreams even before they begin. Therefore, it is best to leave the job to the professionals.
Localization or L10N, is the process of adapting your content or product to a specific locale. Game localization, like every other localization processes is much different than translation. In fact, translation is only one part of it. To be able to adopt your game completely to a new culture, you need more than just translation.
Game localization process can be broken down into a few stages. Each stage has its own significance and must be carried out only by professionals. A simple mistake in a voice-over of your game can ruin your reputation. Here are the stages of game localization:
- Glossary and Style Guide Creation
- Voice Over Production
- Linguistic Quality Assurance
- Master Up and Sign Off
Familiarization is the first and perhaps the most important stage of a game localization process. Every translator needs to familiarize with the game before starting to translate documents. This is an important note because it avoids any mistake that can occur in future.
For small games, 3 days of game play and reading background documentation. This period depends totally on the translator and the size of your game. For large MMORPG games for instance, a month of previous game play might be required.
Glossary and Style Guide Creation
When the first stage, familiarization, is over and the translator is familiar with the game content, developers should provide the source language style guide and list of common terms so that the translator use it as a base to create the target style guide and glossary. If there isn’t a source style guide, translators need to create it from the source files and the notes they took during familiarization stage.
Development team should be able to answer translators’ questions in this stage to achieve the best outcome and wider audience.
The style guide lists every grammar, spelling, punctuation rule that apply to the game. If the developer team is using a specific grammar guide or dictionary as the base for style, it should be made available to translators.
Once the style guide and glossaries are completed, translator or translation team can begin translating. If possible, it is recommended to have specialized editors and proofreaders on the team which would ensure the consistency of the work.
A game localization team usually consist of three translator and one editor. For bigger games, the number of translators and editors may go up to ten. Editors working on the localization project don’t have to speak the source language as fluent as translators. However, having an editor that is bilingual will bring extra control over the translation quality.
Translation speed depends highly on the translator and audio scripts will take longer than UI text. When you are planning, two thousand English words per translator per day can be allowed until you have the actual metrics. When audio scripts are involved, you can expect the speed to be dropped. The speed of audio script translation depends on lip synching and time constraint text.
Voice Over Recording
If the game contains audio, recording script is translated prior to voice over recording. Voice over recording can require large amount of space and development team should be ready to store recording files.
During voice-over recording sessions, a translator should be present to help explain the script to the director and actors/actresses.
Linguistic Quality Assurance
A QA team should be set up to test the localization. This team should consists of strong linguists in the target language and gamers as well.
Master Up and Sign Off
It is advised to have a translator present during the master up phase to check if the translations are properly integrated into the game.