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The Game Production Handbook, 2nd Edition by Heather Maxwell Chandler

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LOCALIZATION
In This Chapter
• Introduction
Creating International Content
• Localization-Friendly Code
Level of Localization
• Localization Plan
Organizing Assets for Translation
Integrating Translated Assets
• Testing
• Console Submission
• Localization Checklist
21.1 I
NTRODUCTION
A
s international markets continue to grow, there are many opportunities
for publishers to profit from localized games. It is now common practice
for publishers to simultaneously release French, German, Italian, and
Spanish versions of the game at the same time as the English version. Other
languages such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean are likely to be released a few
months later, depending on the genre and content of the game. In addition,
gamers in other countries continue to raise their expectations about what consti-
tutes a quality localized title, and they want to have the same gaming experience
as their international counterparts.
Chapter 21Chapter 21
344 THE GAME PRODUCTION HANDBOOK, 2/E
If not properly planned for, localization can be a frustrating and time-
consuming process for the development team. However, if the development
team starts planning for localizations in pre-production, many issues can be ad-
dressed and eliminated, so that the localized versions can have minimal impact
on the overall game development cycle.
This chapter presents an overview of how to plan a successful localization.
The topic of localization is quite large, and it is beyond the scope of this book to
delve into specific details. For more information on localizations, please refer to
The Game Localization Handbook by Heather Chandler. Full reference infor-
mation on this book is available in Appendix C, “Resources.”
21.2 CREATING INTERNATIONAL CONTENT
When developing localized versions, consider how the game content may be
received in other countries and try to develop content that is culturally sen-
sitive. For example, if the game is going to be released in Germany, don’t
include references to Nazis—the game will be banned in Germany, and gen-
erate some bad publicity. Be aware of how the game uses humor and slang, as
these elements are difficult to translate and may end up making no sense in
the translated versions. Figure out ways to tailor the content for international
markets. For example, some sport titles include players from several different
countries and the game will default to displaying the appropriate nationali-
ties for each player—a French player will see a French sports team when the
game initially starts, a German player will see a German team, and so on.
During pre-production it is important to seek input from native speakers
on the game design and story. A native speaker will be able to advise the team
on what might be a red flag in the localized version. These natives will also have
advice on what type of content will best appeal to international players. There
are many cultural issues to consider, so be sure to use whatever resources are
available when developing content for the game.
21.3 LOCALIZATION-FRIENDLY CODE
Localization-friendly code is easy to localize. This means that text and other lan-
guage assets can be easily swapped into the game and that builds can be quickly
compiled for testing. Localization-friendly code takes into account all technical,
translation, integration, and testing needs. Even if localizations are not initially
LOCALIZATION 345
planned for, it is good practice to create localization-friendly code, in case the
publisher decides to localize the game at a later date.
Many factors are considered when planning for localization-friendly code,
such as:
How are language assets organized?
What support is included for fonts and special characters?
How are international keyboards supported?
Does the game support subtitles?
If issues like this (and others) are planned for in the pre-production,
localization-friendly code can be easily created.
Retrofitting code to be localization-friendly is not recommended; it is time
consuming, challenging, and introduces a number of bugs. In situations like
these, more time may be spent on retrofitting the code, than on working with
the current code to create a localization.
Language Assets
Centralize and organize all the language assets into a separate language-specific
directory within the game. This makes the translation and integration process
more efficient. Figure 21.1 is an example of one way to organize this for multiple
languages. In each of the English, French, and German folders are subdirecto-
ries for “Audio,” “Cinematics,” and “Text.”
FIGURE 21.1 Directory structure for organizing language assets.

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