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  1. Ah, market research. Just seeing those words probably sent shivers down your spine. Market research for indie game devs is often your worst nightmare. But it doesn’t have to be! There are plenty of free resources available online for indie studios that can’t afford to hire a professional market research team and need some DIY guidance. Follow the guide! Article outline The role of market research What market research tells you about your localization needs DIY market research strategies Free resources for video game market research The crucial role of market research for indie game developers If you’re still unsure of what defines market research, it can be summed up as a compilation of data about games, trends, player interests, and forecasts for the industry. It’s basically everything you need to ensure you’re making the right game for the right people at the right time. As an indie game developer, your best route to success in this increasingly saturated market is to find a niche audience and then leverage this niche. It’s no longer good enough to make a great game that just anyone will like and then launch it in the hope that it will make waves. Does a market opportunity currently exist for the game you want to make? And how can you leverage this opportunity? If an opportunity does indeed exist, you need to know the size of your potential audience and understand what they’re interested in. That’s what market research is for. Doing market research mitigates the risk that’s often associated with indie game development and allows you to identify the needs of your audience - so that you can deliver the kickass game that they crave. It takes the guesswork out of figuring out the unique selling point of your game. Plus, if you’re looking for funding, as Robert DellaFave explains in his guide to funding indie games, you’ll most likely need a market analysis just to be considered. But most importantly, market research is the most reliable source of insight for your localization needs. And when starting a new indie game project, you should always have localization in mind. What market research tells you about your localization needs Your game’s localization should be carefully planned - don’t just localize in a certain language because you feel like it’s a good idea! First off, market research will help you figure out where in the world your audience is located. Do the players from these areas prioritize localization in the games they play? For instance, Brazilian players list localization as the 4th most important criteria when shopping for their next game. This means that if your key audience is in Brazil, you’ll probably need to localize for Brazilian Portuguese. Source: Pesquisa Game Brasil 2016 Secondly, you need to know the English level of your players. If this level is low, they probably won’t buy your game unless it’s localized in their language. And if they do end up buying your game, this could result in negative reviews. You should also note that not all languages have the same localization costs. Let’s take Scandinavian languages as an example - they’re quite expensive to localize, which means you should be 100% sure you have a large audience in these countries before planning to localize. This is especially important when you consider that the Scandinavian market is relatively small and that English proficiency is generally excellent. Source: English Proficiency Index 2018 As another example, consider the Japanese market, which is much bigger than the Scandinavian market. Even considering the relatively low English proficiency and huge audience available in Japan, the language is relatively expensive for localization, so your market research should help you work out whether your game meets the Japanese gamers’ preferences or not. By figuring out all these key facts, you’ll know which languages you should include in your localization plan. Proper market research helps you plan out localization in advance and establish an accurate budget. Market research strategies for indie game developers Now that we’re pretty clear on the importance of market research, how do we get started? Here’s what we’ve found to be the most helpful for indie devs. 1. Find out where your community hangs out online Most gaming niches have vibrant online communities. Do some research and find out where your chosen community hangs out. Reddit is a good resource for this. With endless sub-reddit forums available for discussion, there are all sorts of nooks and crannies to help interact with your potential community. Once you’ve found out where this community hangs out, get to know them! Spend some time reading through forum comments and get to know their style. What features do they like in a game? What don’t they like? Often, you’ll see passionate community members discussing the drawbacks of certain features of a game they would otherwise enjoy. These discussions provide you with valuable insights into what your market does - and doesn't - want. 2. Poke the forums Of course, you won’t necessarily be able to find out everything you need to know by reading what’s already on the forums. Asking open-ended questions on these forums will help you gain a sense of your community’s opinion(s). For instance, you could ask them what they would improve in their favorite game, or what localization options they feel are missing from other games in this niche. 3. Read through the Community Hub on Steam The forums found in the Community Hub section for Steam games are an excellent source of market data - especially considering those forums are chock-full of early access games! This means you can look through Steam to find games that share some points in common with yours, and browse through the community discussions to view feedback quite early on in the development process. Most online forums harbor discussions surrounding games that have already been released. This is what sets apart the Community Hub on Steam. Be sure to check out game reviews as well - they can tell you a lot about what elements of a game work or don’t work for a particular set of players. 4. Send surveys What better way to find out specific information than to send surveys? There are plenty of free tools available, like SurveyMonkey and Google Forms. Surveys can provide you with both qualitative and quantitative data to help you analyze your market. 5. Get out there - go to conventions Let’s exit the online world for a second and talk about conventions. Gaming conventions and other industry gatherings are the largest live gatherings of the gaming community. No doubt many of your target players will be found hanging out at such meeting places. Spend some time at these conventions and try to meet potential fans of your game. Take this opportunity not just to spread awareness about your company, but also to ask questions and find out the needs of your target players. 6. Build buyer personas To gain a fuller understanding of what your ideal player looks like, spend some time building buyer personas. Source: Indie Game Girl Buyer personas are detailed representations of who your target player is as a person - they detail age, occupation, playing habits, the types of games they purchase, what influences their purchasing decisions, their common frustrations with games, and so on. You can build these personas based on your research - it’s also a good idea to interview those people who fit the description of your persona to validate the facts you’ve gathered. By building a buyer persona, you’re essentially creating a list of factors you, as a developer, need to consider if you want your game to be a success. Free online resources for indie market research SteamSpy This resource extrapolates data from Steam users and presents it in easily digestible formats. Although it isn’t free per se, it’s quite cheap - and you can become a patron via Patreon and get access to their complete database. You should note, though, that SteamSpy isn’t 100% accurate anymore since Valve changed their privacy policy. Nonetheless, it does provide a good starting point for player stats! SuperData SuperData has loads of data and reports that are available for free! For instance, you can get their 2018 Year in Review or sign up for a free live webinar. This gives you solid insight into the current overall trends in the industry. Indie Game Girl Emmy Jonassen provides plenty of free information on her blog, “Indie Game Girl.” She also has downloadable resources, like her buyer persona template and a bunch of other buyer persona-related blog posts. Newzoo Newzoo is an awesome hub of valuable info! Their blog provides free and up-to-date trends about the games market. But their free info goes way beyond blog posts - they also have white papers, trend reports, rankings infographics, key numbers for market estimates and forecasts, and videos. Wrapping it up Market research doesn’t have to be that dreadful task or onerous service you’re making it out to be. For indie game devs who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get digging, there are plenty of free resources available to save you loads of time for your research. And seeing as appropriate market research can make the difference between a successful game and a flop, you should definitely take advantage of these resources! Figured out which localization options you need for your game? Get in touch and tell us about your game! --- Level Up Translation offers specialized video game localization services. Our small team of seasoned game translators delivers kickass localized versions of your indie or AAA games in 20+ languages. Website | Twitter Note: This article was originally posted on the Level Up Translation blog, and is republished here with the kind permission of the author.
  2. 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: 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!
  3. Level Up Translation

    Top 5 Most Expensive Game Localization Mistakes

    This post was updated earlier this month. A great documentary about The Witcher III's localization that recently came out is now featured in it. The part were CD Projekt explain how they adapted their game for their Arabic audience is totally fitting #4: Ignoring cultural factors. I highly recommend watching this. Very, very insightful interviews for devs and game translators alike. Hope you enjoy it!
  4. This blog was originally posted on Level Up Translation's blog. As the developer or publisher of a title that took a considerable amount of time and money to develop, the localization of your game is clearly a point you should not neglect. Localization strategies differ from one platform to another though. Here are a few tips to help you decide what languages to localize your Steam game into. 7 languages cover 65% of Steam users Your game is going to hit Steam and you don't even know where to start with its localization? Don't worry, we've got you covered! Here are the 7 languages (including English) you should absolutely consider localizing your game into: 1 - Russian 10.88% of Steam users are Russian. They make up the second largest gaming population on Steam after the US. Russian players also own a whopping 8,66% of the total games owned on Steam, and PC is by far their favourite gaming platform. Don't think twice, localize your game in Russian! 2 - German 4.93% of Steam users are German and they account for 6.23% of the games owned on the platform (31.87 per user on average, against 20.09 for Russian players). Germany is also the first European country in terms of game revenue, so localizing your game in German is not only a safe bet, it's a must. 3 - Brazilian Portuguese The share of Steam users from Brazil keeps on increasing. 4.72% of Steam users are Brazilian and they account for 3.55% of the total games owned on the platform. Brazil is the most important market in South America and English proficiency is relatively low. Still hesitating to localize your game in Brazilian Portuguese? Think again! 4 - French 3.61% of Steam users are from France and they account for 3.49% of the games owned. Localizing your title in French also gives you access to Quebec as well as French-speaking countries in North and West Africa. However, if you are specifically targeting French-speaking gamers located in Canada, we do recommend that you localize your game into Quebecois as well. 5 - Chinese Chinese gamers mostly play on PC (57% of the Chinese gaming population) and with 4.86% of Steam users coming from China, your game definitely has to be localized for that market. Chinese users own relatively few games (2.46% of total games owned on Steam) but this is probably due to the relatively low number of games available in Chinese on the platform at the moment. Who said niche? If your game has the potential to find an audience in China, you know what to do next. 6. Spanish, but... Although "only" 1.43% of Steam users are from Spain, as much as about 6% of Steam users come from Spanish-speaking countries. Spanish is a pretty special case though. Should you decide to tackle the Latin American market (the second fastest growing region in terms of game revenues), we highly recommend that you go for specific locale versions. Localizing your game in the above 6 languages will have more than 35% of Steam users covered. Providing your game was developed in English (an additional 30%), this makes your game available to 65% of Steam users! Raise your hand if you would like to miss 65% of the Steam market! Anyone? No? Good... Other languages worth considering for Steam Italian Looking at the numbers, the Italian gaming market is far from its days of glory. However, one could hardly recommend to ignore the "I" in the traditional FIGS (French, Italian, German, Spanish). Not only has Italy a relatively low English proficiency, but choosing not to localize your title in Italian might expose you to negative criticism for not living up to the expectations of Italian gamers. Many consider the lack of Italian localization an eliminatory criteria for playing a game, and just like many French and Spanish players, Italian gamers tend to swiftly uninstall a game if it is not available in their native tongue. Polish, Ukrainian Given the share of Steam users speaking these two languages (respectively 9th and 11th population of Steam users), localizing your game in Polish and Ukrainian is a pretty smart move. They are also cheaper than French, German, Italian or Spanish, so if you have the budget, go for it! Turkish 2.04% of Steam users speak Turkish. For comparison, Swedish players represent 1.54% of Steam's audience. On the other hand, translating from English to Turkish takes nearly 50% longer than translating into FIGS. Turkish is therefore relatively expensive when it comes to localization, and we only recommend it if your budget can handle it. Has this post helped you clarify where your Steam games could sell best? Then gear up for your global quest and work with our game localization specialists who will pour their heart and soul (as well as a considerable amount of coffee/tea) into the localization of your game! Contact us now! Follow Level Up Translation on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to get all our tips and insights to help you with your game localization! If you like what you just read, there's more for you! Just follow us for more game localization tips and insights: Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Got a game that needs to be localized? Tell us about it! We've got plenty of XP to help you level up! Level Up Translation - Expert Video Game Localization Services - www.leveluptranslation.com
  5. Level Up Translation

    Top 5 Most Expensive Game Localization Mistakes

    Glad you liked our post! If this is your first game, you might want to check and eventually print this too: https://magic.piktochart.com/output/18317297-9-steps-to-cheaper-game-development-with-localization Feel free to get in touch if you have questions regarding game localization, we're here to help! :)  
  6. This article was originally posted on Level Up Translation's blog on August 19th 2016. Gaming is one of the few truly global industries, filled with passionate fans (like us) who really care about their favorite titles. Which means simply doing localization isn't enough. You have to nail it. Poor localization can make your games more expensive to produce, hurt sales and create all kinds of bad press. Yet we see publishers large and small making the same mistakes time and again. Here are five of the most expensive game localization mistakes you want to avoid. #1: Embedding text into the game's core files One of the most costly mistakes we often see is text being hard-coded into the core files. This will include things like the title of your game, menu text, and any dialogue printed on-screen during gameplay. It can be tempting for developers to embed this text directly into the game's code - especially if you're launching in one language first. This is a bad idea, though - even if you don't have any plans to expand into other languages at this stage. Instead, you'll want to store all text as variables in a separate resource file. This way nobody needs to plough through source code to add translated text into the game. You can simply add the new variable and place the translation inside its own dedicated file. This not only makes future localizations easier for your team but also for the translators you call in. #2: Cutting corners on translation This isn't only a problem for game localization but any project that needs accurate translation. The fact is, cutting corners on translation only creates more work further down the line - and that means spending more money, too. Forget machine translation and don't even think about free tools like Google Translate. Not only are they world away from producing the accuracy you need, they're a security threat for any sensitive content. Such translation tools are vulnerable to hackers via your Internet connection - especially via WiFi. These risks are widely publicized but they may not be something you associate with online translation. More worryingly, anything you type in is handed over to the translation provider (eg: Google). It becomes their data and they can do anything they want with it. Speak to your translation agency about non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). These contracts make sure everything in your game stays completely confidential - so you can relax while translators are working on the localization of your game. Money-wise, the reality is, if you cut corners on translation, you'll only end up paying more for it later. We get far too many partners who need to start all over again because they tried to take the faster/cheaper option on translation. Take shortcuts and you'll end up with the kind of mistakes we still mock the arcade classics for - or worse. #3: Using translators who don't know your game (or video games at all) With context being so important in game localization, the more a translator knows about your video game, the better. We still see too many publishers handing over spreadsheets full of text to translators who basically know nothing about the game they're working on, or worse, nothing about gaming at all. Instead, you should seek out experienced video game translators and give them the chance to play your title whenever this is possible. The more they know about the gaming experience you're trying to build, the better equipped they'll be to recreate that in another language. If you can't give translators access to play your game, then at least get someone in with a track record of translating games in your genre. Be sure to hand over as much information about your title as possible: glossaries, visuals, style guides and any translations you may have from previous releases. And if your game is about to hit platforms like Playstation 4, Xbox One or Nintendo's consoles, make sure way ahead of submitting your build that it meets Sony, Microsoft and big "N"'s strict naming conventions in all languages, or risk getting it rejected. Here as well, it takes an experienced localization service provider to go smoothly through that phase. #4: Ignoring cultural factors Accurate translation isn't the only goal of localization. You also need to be sure your titles are culturally sensitive to each market - or risk alienating one of your target audiences. Much of this comes down to the actual content of your game: the story, characters and events that take place. Just ask Nintendo how important it is to get video game localization right. It spent the first quarter of 2016 embroiled in a localization row that escalated into debates over sexism, homophobia, child pornography, slut-shaming, prostitution and a hate campaign against one of its most infamous employees. It was pretty intense. It all came down to a localization vs censorship debate that peaked with Fire Emblem Fates. The version for US and EU markets was heavily altered from the Japanese original and fans were less than pleased. Shortly after, there were protests in Hong Kong after the firm decided to alter the name of beloved Pok?mon Pikachu. It sparked a centuries-old sentiment of China encroaching on Hong Kong culture - all of which was reignited by the slight change of a name to one character. Source: Quartz #5: Thinking of localization as the last step of game development Perhaps the most expensive mistake you can make with game localization is letting it sit at the bottom of your to-do list. It's easy to think of this as the last stage of production - but that's a costly assumption. A classic example is the humble game description; vital to selling your game but something often overlooked. These few words are your only pitch to convince new gamers - especially if you're not creating a famous brand title (eg: Star Wars, Final Fantasy, etc.) All you have to do is visit Google Play to see how little effort many publishers put into these descriptions: A lot of words in there but not much that makes any sense. And this publisher didn't even bother trying... It rarely ends with game descriptions either. Publishers who are happy to settle for this kind of first impression tend to take similar shortcuts in other areas of development. The amazing thing about video game localization gone wrong is that most mistakes could have been avoided with the right planning. Just go back to our first point about hard-coding text into a game and you can see how poor localization planning makes production costs skyrocket. Or think how many problems Nintendo could have avoided this year by localizing its content during the writing process, rather than leaving it until post-production. The fact is localization should be included at the very beginning of game development - and you need to allocate enough time and budget for the entire process. This way you can avoid extra workload and costly mistakes further down the line. So there you have it - the five most expensive game localization mistakes. They're all completely avoidable with the right planning in place from day one and the game localization company with the right experience and methodology. If you like what you just read, there's more for you! Just follow us for more game localization tips and insights: Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Got a game that needs to be localized? Tell us about it! We've got plenty of XP to help you level up! Level Up Translation - Expert Video Game Localization Services - www.leveluptranslation.com
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