2 Jul 2015

We’ve already wrote about localization and challenges that developers may encounter in the  process of integration locales into the application.

You want to involve the user? Talk to him in his language!

There is one important moment which often goes underestimated: it is the quality of translation. And there are objective reasons for this.

First of all, localization of mobile apps has its own pecularities. Large projects are usually translated, for example, from English / Korean into Russian. But mobile games are another case. They need to attract attention of an increasing number of users around the world, so it is better to localize them into the maximum number of languages. Here developers face an expected obstacle – there is hardly one person who can freely read and edit texts on ten or twelve languages. A search for such a specialist can be as long as life.

The second reason is the priority of the code except of the text. It is quite understandable that usability, monetization and graphics are placed at the forefront. Ultimately, the user does not come into play in order to read! No one will pay attention at the letters! (Take a candy if you are a developer and these kinds of thoughts have never crossed your mind – then you are really an exception to the rule). But most developers fall into this trap: the tasks of localization preparing and testing are often postponed to the very last moment. As a result, users pay much attention to the text because it is full of errors, inaccuracies and mistakes. Remember the saying: “You are judged by appearances at first but by your mind later on”. Localization and graphics is your appearance. The user won’t appreciate magnificent game mechanics, if the application will greet him with the cheerful “Helo, mai frend!”.

If the user is grammar-nazi, he’ll just leave the app. If not, he’ll switch to the basic locale and join the ranks of those who hate unskilled translators.

How to ensure that localization is accurate enough even for the most prejudiced users?

5 Simple Tips

  1. Unification of the entire gaming terminology. The same terms should be used everywhere to describe the same process, characters and features. The best tip for it is to make a glossary. It’s better to prepare it in conjunction with the developers, who will help the translator by comments and explanations.
  1. Native speakers! Let the native speaker translate or at least proofread the text! Of course, this option is relative. The choice between a certified Russian to Italian translator and the Italian you’ve accidentally encountered on the Internet is obvious. But we have to admit that a native speaker is more likely to make a lively and accurate translation. Take the time.
  1. Proofreading. In this case the amount of proofreadings influence the quality. A well-known fact is that even the most competent author can find some places to edit after proofreading of his text. The same situation is with translators. Try to find an opportunity to send the text for a second or eve third review. Ideal situation is when the text is translated and proofreaded by a native speaker.
  1. Let the translators play. Or at least send them screenshots of the game interface. It often happens that the translator has done his job very well, but the users are still confused by some game phrases. Do not rush to blame the translator, remember that one word can have several meanings. If the translator works without knowing the context, the errors are very likely to occure. Make sure to let the translator review the text which is already integrated into the application. This will allow you to avoid many problems.
  1. Test, test, test. Let the testers read and check the text. Is the right text picked up? Are there phrases, which don’t fit into the scope of the interface? Are all the variables understandable? Imagine that this is your cake – it’s unreasonable to spend all the day on making it, and then spoil everything, decorating it with rotten cherries.

These 5 simple tips won’t create miracles. They will simply let the user enjoy a “stunning graphics, an intuitive interface and addictive gameplay”.

P.S. The reader will make a remark that the indie developer can not always afford such a range of services – and it is right. There is one more tip out of the list: work with the audience, guided by the ideas of customer development. Ultimately, you can find a linguist with experience among your fans.