Taking games localization into print

Client:

A major games publisher with diverse brands, including an iconic game with a twenty-year legacy.

Challenges

Game complexity and legacy

Translating into eighteen languages, while keeping consistent terminology with previous editions, was never going to be easy. As a constantly evolving, complex game, any translation had to account for the temporal mechanics of the game - past, present and future stories. With a need for audio-visual elements as well as printed ones, it’s not surprising that the company was finding translation of its materials a challenge.

Different audiences

Different brands within the company are targeted towards different audiences, from adults to children; shopkeepers to business partners. Each brand must to appeal to its audience, whilst taking into account the many different cultures it is selling into. Additionally, each one also had a different set of legal considerations to add into the mix.

Multi-faceted workflow

Production of the publisher’s products, and in particular of their iconic game, involved a multi-stage workflow. With both internal and external stakeholders, the client had a huge number of variables to manage.

Solutions

The key to solving this publisher’s issues was flexibility. The Alpha Games team first discussed the requirements at length, and completed a series of initial projects which established a pattern of high quality product delivery and easy working relationships. Then Alpha set about creating a full solution to the publisher’s challenges.

A tailored team

Alpha saw the need for a specific localization team for this publisher. They needed not just translation experts, but experts in their lead game title. This was the only way to guarantee the quality and consistency that translation of the game required. So Alpha recruited a localization team for our client, consisting of translators and project managers across ten languages, all of whom had direct and in-depth experience of the game. We also absorbed the client’s review team, to eliminate gaps in communication between development and the final review stage. As a finishing touch, we placed one of our project managers onsite with the client for 5 weeks. Co-locating enabled immediate response to any emergencies and to work on day-to-day localization. During those weeks, the PM trained the in-house team. As a result, at the end of the project the in-house team was prepared to independently address future emergencies or needs.

A total localization solution

To match the client’s complex needs for cultural adaptation, we drew on our team’s in-depth experience in localization. Our role involves far more than simple translation. We offered advice on font substitution for flash and subtitling projects, and on 1-byte vs 2-byte Asian characters. We converted US and UK metrics into local measurements, and guided them on every aspect of translation, including parental guidance ratings and capitalization.

A new workflow

Technology can have a huge impact on workflow, and our knowledge of the client’s translation management system allowed us to alter it to fit their needs much more effectively. Our engineers programmed the system to incorporate all of the internal and external stakeholders, along with our own input. We were even able to put our project managers in charge of POs and payments to lessen the client’s workload. A great solution all round.

Audio-visual and artwork

Our client was able to benefit from Alpha’s audio-visual and desktop publishing departments to deal with all their subtitling, banner and image localization. Rather than simply sending each project across and returning it, we worked with our client’s team and with our own AV and DTP departments to produce end-to-end localization for all their multimedia needs. This meant we could pick up on any potential cultural issues, and also had staff constantly checking on context and consistency.

Results

An Ongoing, Evolving Relationship

In games localization more than in any other field, there is no finished solution. The market and the games themselves change constantly, and must adapt. So although we are proud of the solutions we have provided this iconic client, we do not see it as a finished job. We make it our goal to keep up with every new update and development, and we recruit new members for our specialized team continuously. We also provide constant localization advice and support, and continuing IT support for the client’s chosen translation management tool. Our eye is constantly to the future. We plan for our in-house team to include Korean, Traditional Chinese and Russian language leads. We are set to take on intellectual property security for the client as well. This involves the installation of security cameras and personalized access control to ensure absolute security over our client’s IP. We hope these great systems ensure that everything runs smoothly for our client. But if they find themselves facing a new challenge, we will be ready to deal with it, and to provide them with the best possible solution.