Localization to English, Any Advice?

CleanWater

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Hello,

Someone here who is not English native have some material (maybe books, articles) or any hint based on your own experience translating your work to English?

When I started working with game development, I direct translated them myself to English, but the result was a big wave of negative feedback. The main point of the games being parodies was completely lost. However, when I decided to release my first RPG game again commercially without translating, I had a good feedback in the release, but missed a big share of the market and eventually had to close business for a while.

Now I'm giving another shot on game development and want to make things right this time. Direct translations doesn't work for games, specially if they are parodies. I need to localize it if I want to have some success.

Can you help me out?

Thanks in advance!
 

mlogan

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I've moved this thread to General Discussion. Please be sure to post your threads in the correct forum next time. Thank you.

 

ATT_Turan

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There seem to be a variety of online professional translation companies. I have not used any of them myself, so I can't make any recommendations.

I can only support your choice - I have tried many game demos and app games where the English is translated terribly, and I delete them before I even complete the tutorial to see what gameplay is like, or before the developer has a chance to earn any money from me.
 

orochi2k

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I am using this to correct some basic errors. (Free version, thus the function is limited)
I am also trying to get help from some native-speakers for proofreading. But, their help is very limited so far.

In addition to that, I am making my localization function as open as possible. So that...in the worst case, I may seek help from players to make a better language mod.
 

Nolonar

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I haven't seen your translation, so I can't really be sure my advice will help you in particular, but as I see it, the biggest mistake most inexperienced translators do can be summarized with these words:

"You're not a machine translator. Don't translate like one."

Most inexperienced translators focus too much on the words being said, and try to find the closest possible word in the target language, but this is actually wrong. It leads to stuff like "A winner is you" or "All your base are belong to us", which might be an accurate Japanese-English literal translation, but isn't actually a good English translation.

Translation is more about the message than the words. For example, the French sentence:
"Je viens de partir" literally translates to: "I come of leave", but actually means: "I've just left".

Or maybe the famous Italian:
"Mamma mia", which translates to: "My mother", and actually means: "Come on", or "I don't believe it", depending on the situation.

These may be extremely obvious examples, but people have a tendency to translate just like that: They try to convert the original text to another language when they should try to convey the original meaning instead. This means there should be no difference between a writer and a translator. Both are telling a story, the same story, just in different languages.

This also means translating your own work is harder than translating someone else's work, since you're essentially writing the same story twice. Writing it once was exhausting enough, so it's no wonder you'd rather turn off your brain and convert the text from one language to another instead.

Whenever I feel like that, I use a simple trick:
I let Google translate the text, then I correct whatever nonsense came out. It's much easier than trying to write the same text again in a different language, and since I'm correcting mistakes instead of converting text from one language to another, and I know what Google is trying to say, since I'm the one who wrote it, I'm much more likely to end up with a decent translation. Sometimes I have to completely rewrite the entire sentence from scratch, but it's still better than doing it for the entire script.
 

Crazya

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Hey! I saw someone post Grammarly, and that is a good option for someone bilingual. I love Grammarly, and I have the pro version. I used to write almost every day, and it picks up grammar and spelling errors (and more).

However, you are looking for a translation. I am not picky, and I know some people are when it comes to a game that isn't translated correctly, and I think Nolonar's tips are great.


Worse case, if you think you aren't "good" enough (which I think you'll be fine!), you can hire someone to do it. I'm not sure if this is allowed, but private companies or online translators can/are too expensive. I'd try fivver: "Video game translation."



Either way, Good luck! Since you seem to have a good game that is successful without translation, I think it's wise to localize and target a new market!
 

watermark

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I think your best bet is to find a translation company who has a good record of translating games from your country to English. The ideal translator is one who is proficient in the linguistics AND culture of the two languages. Like @Nolonar said, it's not just directly translating the meaning of words.

It's especially difficult because your game is a parody. Something that is funny to one culture is not to another. A very recent example is American comedians making fun of a government official who said "Give me liberty and give me death." Now, people who aren't familiar with American history would not understand why that is funny, or even know that the official incorrectly quoted the famous line.

For a parody, you would need a very good translator who can somehow translate what's funny about your lines to the other culture. Sometimes it may be impossible to do.

The only comedy that seems to cross cultural barriers easier are physical or slapstick, like say Mr. Bean. For a game you plan to release worldwide, maybe focus less on language and more on game mechanic? Just a thought.
 

CleanWater

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@ATT_Turan

Many thanks for your feedback. I can't afford to hire professional translators right now, but I agree with you that sometimes it's better to not do something instead of doing it poorly.

I'm also a big fan of Magus from Chrono Trigger. =P

@orochi2k @Crazya

Grammarly is really a good software! Thanks for the hint. I surely will use it from now on.

@Nolonar

Your advice was really great! I surely will give the Google Translate hint a try as well!

@watermark

It was funny when you mentioned Mr. Bean because this show did a lot of success here on Brazil. Mr. Bean is mentioned as "the only man who can make you laugh without saying one single word". It was the only show I remember of not being dubbed, and still it always reached high audiences here and gathered many fans.



Thanks everyone for all your advice. I probably will try to make a "serious" translation and keep the jokes only for the local market. I don't know if it's a good marketing strategy, but who knows?

Anyway, I'm still open to more advice and ideas.
 

ATT_Turan

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Jokes can be fine, they just require you to use a good native speaker of the language. It will also help if it's someone who's familiar with your language so they can understand the idioms or jokes that you're using and what the parallel concept would be in English. It will almost certainly not be possible using translation software + Grammarly.
 

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