Key-value pair is a commonly seen format to store phrases for translations. However, it is not enough for most of the cases especially for games that involve a lot of items and characters. Characters and items are commonly seen components in all genre of games. It is easy enough to develop the game in English with key-value pairs since there are only 2 different keys for an item i.e singular or plural. Things become complicated when it comes to European languages or Middle East languages, and the solution to that would be to use structural formats instead of key-value pairs.
Different forms for pluralization
There are many languages with different plural rules like English. For example:
There are 6 plural forms in Arabic.
There are 4 plural forms in Russian.
There are no plural forms (or, only 1 single form for all items) in Chinese.
If the phrases are stored as simple key-value pairs, you'll need to have 6 entries for every item in order to make sure it works fine in all languages.
APPLE_ZERO = "%d apples";
APPLE_ONE = "%d apple";
APPLE_TWO = "%d apples";
APPLE_FEW = "%d apples";
APPLE_MANY = "%d apples";
APPLE_OTHER = "%d apples";
APPLE_ZERO = "%d ?????";
APPLE_ONE = "%d ??????";
APPLE_TWO = "%d ??????";
APPLE_FEW = "%d ??????";
APPLE_MANY = "%d ?????";
APPLE_OTHER = "%d ??????";
APPLE_ZERO = "%d???";
APPLE_ONE = "%d???";
APPLE_TWO = "%d???";
APPLE_FEW = "%d???";
APPLE_MANY = "%d???";
APPLE_OTHER = "%d???";
You may check out the detailed plural rules of all languages at unicode.org
Different forms for genders
There are similar problems for the cases of masculine/feminine/neutral in most of the European languages. English-speaking developers can easily miss the handling until the translation needs come.
In some of the European languages, there is a gender attribute for a noun, either masculine or feminine. This grammar rule does not apply only to human beings, but also objects.
There are no strict rules to determine the gender. They vary in different languages as well. In Spanish, "computer" (La computadora) is feminine. In German, "computer" (der Computer) is masculine.
The adjectives or the verbs following the noun should consider the gender of the noun.
For example, in Italian,
GOOD_FEMININE = "%s is good."
GOOD_MASCULINE = "%s is good."
GOOD_FEMININE = "%s ? buona ." (when %s is a female character)
GOOD_MASCULINE = "%s ? buono ." (when %s is a male character)
A game usually involves a lot of items and characters with different genders. In order to deliver high quality translation, a well-defined structure that supports gender is a must so that the translators can fill in the corresponding translations.
You may also need to have a set of rules to define the gender of the characters and the items in the game for different languages. It will be nice to have the structure available at the very beginning in order to avoid the problems later when the project becomes really big.
Use Structural Format Instead of Key-value Pairs.
A more structural format converted from gettext for Russian:
This is the rule for it:
nplurals=3; plural=(n%10==1 && n%100!=11 ? 0 : n%10>=2 && n%10