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  • 12/21/17 07:13 PM

    Game Localization Tools - Collaborative list

    Game Design and Theory

    Level Up Translation

    Ever feel like your inventory could use a couple of extra localization tools?

    We asked the studios we work with, skimmed forums and analyzed product reviews to gather some of the most popular pieces of software, Unity assets and resources in the game development community.
     
    This localization toolbox is expected to grow and become a handy guide to the best game localization tools available for developers, so feel free to suggest new additions!

    Unity assets

    TextMesh - A must-have text rendering solution

    The reviews from the Asset Store say it all: TextMesh is a must-have if you're developing your game with Unity. Advanced text rendering, great flexibility and FREE. What are you waiting for?
     
     
    Lean Localization - Simple but powerful

    Another great free asset, probably more suitable for smaller projects that don’t have a lot of UI text. Lean Localization has a practical feature which allows you to change language while your game is running.
     
     
    I2 Localization - All inclusive

    Despite being paid, I2 Localization is a favorite in the gamedev community, which really says something. The fact that localizable strings are stored in a Google Spreadsheet that can be reloaded while your game is running is probable no stranger to that. Oh, and it’s also compatible with TextMesh Pro!
     
     
    Bad Word Filter - Keep it friendly, keep it safe!

    This asset’s name is self-explanatory. Keep your game suitable for younger audiences, or filter haters’ bad language in 24 languages. You can even let your creativity flow and add words to the list! How ******* great is that?
     
     
    SmartLocalization - Fallen, but not forgotten

    Even though development was discontinued earlier this year, SmartLocalization remains a pretty practical and popular asset. It allows you to create your folder structure for different languages, as well as import and export your files.
     
    The machine translation feature powered by Bing Translator can also serve as a way to test your UI and spot problems with the length of text (say “Hi” to your German-speaking friends).

    Fonts


    Font Creator - Pimp my font

    Recommended by many developers, including our friends at Jumb-O-Fun.
     
    Afraid to take the leap with custom fonts? Fear not and follow the guide:
     

    Quote

     

     “We create our custom fonts with High Logic's Font Creator in combination with Photoshop.

    Our first step is to use a basic font like Arial and type out all the characters we need into a big Photoshop doc. Then, using a Cintiq tablet, we draw over the Arial font using solid black until we're happy with the look of all the characters.

    From there we copy each pixel based character from Photoshop into Font Creator. When that's done we may add some kerning pairs if necessary and then export as a TTF. That TTF is then used in Unity.” - G. Pothoven, Jumbo-O-Fun

     


    Google Noto Fonts - Google is your friend for fonts too
     
    Google has been developing a font family called Noto, which aims to support all languages with a harmonious look and feel. Noto has multiple styles and weights, and is FREE.

    Localized strings

     

    Polyglot - Free localized strings

    There are several free game localization projects out there, but very few can actually be trusted. Although it doesn’t match professional localization quality, Polyglot is definitely your best option for free localized strings, as our professional game translators attested to.
     
    A good way to save a couple of bucks if your game has a lot of generic strings or minimal content!

    Translation tools

     

    SmartCAT - A solid & free translation tool for your localization team
     
    SmartCAT is probably the best free CAT tool at the moment if you manage localization yourself for confidentiality reasons, or you have your own localization team.
     
    It has all the main features you would expect from a translation tool (translation memory, glossary, workflow, ability to restrict access to source files) without all the cumbersome settings and functions nobody really uses for game localization.
     
    It’s cloud-based, which means your team can access your localization project from anywhere. All you need to do is assign everyone a role (translator, proofreader, project manager), invite them and they’re good to go.
     

    Crowdin - Easily crowdsource your game’s localization
     
    It’s easy to understand why Crowdin is so popular with studios that decide to crowdsource their game’s localization.

    With this platform, you can easily set up and automate the whole process.To crowdsource translations upload your files, invite fans to translate and allow them to vote for the best translations.
     
    You can order professional translations from the vendors cooperating with Crowdin, assign tasks to your in-house translators or your localization service provider.
     
    Set up integration with GitHub, GitLab, Bitbucket, Android Studio, Google Play, and more to automate the synchronization of source and localized files.
     
    Last but not least, easily ensure quality and consistency of translations with features like glossaries, translation memory, screenshots, quality assurance checks, and other features Crowdin has to offer.

    These could also come in handy...

    TinyTake - for contextualization
     
    If a picture’s worth a thousand words, a 60 fps video is priceless for your translators!

    They can finally make sense of that super weird creature’s attack no one can really describe then translate it accordingly.
     
    Just upload your videos to the cloud directly from TinyTake and share the link with your localization team! They’ll love you for that *hearts*.
     
    Free up to 2GB, which is more than enough for a localization project.
     
     
    Fastlane - for ASO
     
    Automate taking localized screenshots of your iOS app on every device.
     
     
    ChatMapper - for branching dialogues
     
    ChatMapper makes it easy to test conversations, control their flow and visualize nonlinear branching dialogues – it can even generate scripts for your voice actors.
     
    All this in one tool, yep!
     
     
    Professional game translators - for context-rich and error-proof translations
     
    Well, no matter how good all these tools are, there will always translators at the end of the line and the quality of their work does make a difference.

    Those guys better be good too if you don’t want to see all your efforts ruined by either hilarious or offensive translations.
     
    So if you truly want to take over the world and make the most of your hard work developing your game, drop us a line and get kickass localization by our game translators  ;)

     

     

    What are your favorite localization assets? Got some awesome tool every game developer should know about?

    As usual, let us know in the comments.

    This post is YOURS, so let's make it a reference for the whole gamedev community!



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      Note: This article was originally published on LinkedIn.  If you enjoy my article, please click through and consider connecting with me.
       
      Can programmers art? How far can creativity and programming take you?
      I have summarized what I learned in several months into 7 key techniques to improve the visual quality of your game.
       
      "Programmer art" is something of a running joke. For those unfamiliar with the term, it refers to the "placeholder" or "throw-together" art that programmers tend to use while developing games.
      Some of us don't have the necessary artistic skills, however, sometimes we just can't be bothered to put in the effort. We're concerned about the technical side of things working - art can come later.
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      I worked on a game jam with some new people a few months ago. I just wanted to make sure that my gameplay and AI code was doing what it was supposed to do. This would have to interface with code from other teammates as well, so it was important to test and check for bugs. This was the result.
      That's not what I'm going to talk about today though.
       
      I'm going to take a different angle on "programmer art" - not the joke art that programmers often use, but the fact that there's a LOT that a programmer can do to improve the visual appeal of a game. I believe some of this falls under "technical art" as well.
       
      My current job kind of forced me to think in this capacity.
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      The first thing that comes to mind is using HD textures, PBR materials and high-poly models. Add in a 3D terrain using a height map, some post-processing and HDR lighting, and BOOM! Gorgeous 3D scene. I'm sure you've all seen loads of those by now.
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      So here's what I actually did:
       
      The 7 things I did to improve the visuals of my Unity game
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      This could be considered a pre-production step for art or any visual project. Ideally, what should it look like? What's the goal? What are your references?
      In this case, the viewer had a hologram-like feel to it (also there were plans to port it to a HoloLens eventually). I liked the idea of a futuristic hologram. And the metaphor of "AI bringing us towards a better future".
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      Holograms became a key component of my design.
      This is a HUD design from Prometheus that I found on Google -

       
      In this case, the colours appealed to me more than the design itself. I ended up basing the UI design on this concept.
       
      Key takeaway - Your imagination is the very first tool that helps you create impressive art. Use references! It's not cheating - it's inspiration. Your references will guide you as you create the look that you want.
       
      2. Shaders can help you achieve that look 
      I had some shader programming experience from University - D3D11 and HLSL. But that work had been about building a basic graphics engine with features like lighting, shadows, and some light post-processing. I had done some light Shader programming in Unity before as well.
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      I familiarized myself with all the samples Unity had included with this new tool. That wouldn't have been enough though. Thankfully due to my previous experience with Shaders, I was able to make some adjustments and improvements to make them suit my needs.
      Some tweaking with speed, scaling, colours, and textures led to a nice hologram effect for the UI panels.

       
      I wanted the viewer to feel good to interact with as well, and some work implementing a glow effect (alongside the dissolve effects) led to this -
       
      Key takeaway - Shaders are an extremely powerful tool in a Game Programmer's repertoire. Tools like Unity's Shader Graph, the old Shader Forge asset, and Unreal's material editor make Shaders more accessible and easier to tune to get the exact look you want.
      PS - Step 5 below is also really important for getting a nice glow effect.
       
      3. Visual Effects and Animations using Shaders
      I was able to extend the dissolve and hologram shaders to fake some animation-like visual effects.
      And a combination of some timed Sine curves let me create an animation using the dissolve effect -
       
      The work here was to move the animation smoothly across individual neuron objects. The animation makes it look like they're a single connected object, but they're actually individual Sphere meshes with the Shader applied to them. This is made possible by applying the dissolve texture in World Space instead of Object Space.
      A single shader graph for the neurons had functionality for colour blending, glow, and dissolve animation.
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      4. Particle systems - more than just trails and sparks
      I have no idea why I put off working with the particle systems for so long!
      The "neurons" in the viewer were just spheres, which was pretty boring.
      Once I started to understand the basics of the particle system, I could see how powerful it was. I worked on some samples from great YouTube tutorials - I'm sharing a great one by Gabriel Aguiar in the comments below.
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      Once again, I referred to my sources of what neurons should look like. I wanted a similar look of "hair-like" connections coming out of the neurons, and the core being bright and dense.
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      Lastly, I decided to add a sort of feedback effect of neurons firing. This way, you can see where a signal is originating and where it's ending.
       
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      5. Post-processing to tie the graphics and art together
      Post-processing makes a HUGE difference in the look of a game scene. It's not just about colours and tone, there's much more to it than that. You can easily adjust colours, brightness, contrast, and add effects such as bloom, motion blur, vignette, and screen-space reflections.
      First of all, Linear colour space with HDR enabled makes a huge difference - make sure you try this out.
      Next, Unity's new post-processing stack makes a lot of options available without impacting performance much.
      The glow around the edges of the sphere only appears with an HDR colour selected for the shader, HDR enabled, and Linear colour space. Post-processing helps bump this up too - bloom is one of the most important settings for this.
      Colour grading can be used to provide a warm or cool look to your entire scene. It's like applying a filter on top of the scene, as you would to an image in Photoshop. You can completely override the colours, desaturate to black and white, bump up the contrast, or apply a single colour to the whole scene.

       
      There is a great tutorial from Unity for getting that HD look in your scenes - if you want a visible glow you normally associate with beautiful games, you need to check this out.
       
      Key takeaway - Post processing ties everything together, and helps certain effects like glows stand out.
       
      6. Timing and animation curves for better "feel" 
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      Basically, if you're animating something, it's rarely best to do it with linear timing. Instead, you want curves like this -

       
      Or more crazy ones for more "bouncy" or cartoon-ish effects.
      I applied this to the glow effects on the neurons, as I showed earlier.
      And you can use this sparingly when working with particle systems as well - for speed, size, and similar effects. I used this for the effect of neurons firing, which is like a green "explosion" outwards. The particles move outwards fast and then slow down.
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      7. Colour Palettes and Colour Theory - Often overlooked
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      Here's the before -
       
      Here are some of the afters -
       
      I implemented multiple themes because they all looked so good.
      I used a tool from Adobe for palettes, called Adobe Colour - link in the comments.
      I basically messed around with different types of "Colour harmony" - Monochrome, triad, complementary, and more. I also borrowed some colours from my references and built around that.
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      Bonus - consider procedural art
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      Procedural art is definitely something I want to explore more.
      A couple of interesting things (Links in the "extra resources" section below) -
      Google deepdream has been used to generate art. There's an open-source AI project that can colour lineart. Kate Compton has a lot of interesting projects and resources about PCG and generative art. I hope this leads to tools that can be directly applied to Game Development. To support the creation of art for games. I hope I get the opportunity to create something like that myself too.
      Conclusion
      These 7 techniques were at the core of what I did to improve the visual quality of my project.
      This was mostly the result of the unique set of constraints that I had. But I'm pretty sure some famous person said: "true creativity is born of constraints". Or something along those lines. It basically means that constraints and problems help channel your creativity.
      I'm sure there is more that I could have done, but I was happy with the stark difference between the "before" and "after" states of my project.
      I've also realized that this project has made me more of an artist. If you work on visual quality even as a programmer, you practice and sharpen your artistic abilities, and end up becoming something of an artist yourself. 
       
      Thanks for reading! Please like, share, and comment if you enjoyed this article.
      Did I miss something obvious? Let me know in the comments!
       
       
       
       
       
      Extra Resources
      OpenWorm project
      Great tutorial by Gabriel Aguiar
      Unity breaks down how to improve the look of a game using Post processing
      Another resource on post-processing by Dilmer Valecillos
      Brackey's tutorial on post-processing
      Adobe Colour wheel, great for colour theory and palettes
      An open-source AI project that can colour lineart
      A demo of generative art by Kate Compton
       
      Note: This article was originally published on LinkedIn. If you like it, please click through, get in contact, and consider connecting.
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