Journey of a Localization Project Manager

Video game localization process is a complex and lengthy process, and it necessitates a dedicated localization team, from project managers and linguists to editors and quality assurance specialists. For a completely clear and transparent localization experience, we’d like to give our team at Orient Games a chance to walk you through this process. Today, we start with one of our project managers. If you want to see the behind the scenes of a video game localization project, don’t skip this one. Let’s hear from the one who manages the game localization projects!

Project Management and Parameters of Fun in Games

Project management is a great job for people who love fast-paced decision-making and work environment. It is always dynamic as you have to deal with lots of different problems, and it gets even better when you work in a field you are interested in. This field for me was video game localization. Video games may vary from genre to genre, but all of them have one common ground: They have been and always will be an amazing source of fun for everyone! I say everyone because it doesn’t matter who you are, you can always find a game that tickles your boredom. However, there are a lot of parameters that may affect how much fun you have playing a video game, such as genre, storyline, mechanics, and language. Not to be biased, but the most important one in our opinion is language.

game localization processLanguage is not just a big problem that we can solve by simply translating everything. Almost all the time cultural norms, sayings, and ideas that might not even exist in other languages get included and these create a whole bunch of new problems. And to fix these problems effectively, we have to make plans and stay organized. That’s where project managers come into play! Although all of these may sound exhilarating, as there are many deadlines and quality goals to meet, project management in this field can be tough and stressful as well. Nonetheless, it is always easier to handle all the bitter sides of the trade when you are at the end of a well-oiled machine. Let’s check out this machine!

Birth Process of a Game Localization Project

Each new client goes through a process until the moment they arrive at our emails with a request. They negotiate with our sales department, our account department runs the numbers, and our vendor manager finds resources if we don’t have any. And of course, at the end of this process, we have our great linguists who work alongside us to provide consistent quality. But ensuring the same level of quality among each task while providing creative localization services may be a challenge even for the greatest of teams because not every project is the same as others.

There are many variants that might affect the paths we take across the localization process. For example, some clients may be more cooperative regarding reference material and some games may just be harder or easier to localize. Nonetheless, these are the exact reasons why we can’t just go around and localize games away hoping to consistently provide the same level of quality. As project managers, we have to look at the bigger picture and evaluate the specific needs of the project and the risks we may face, and we have to take precautions for the sake of risk management according to these evaluations. And as to not go through the same evaluation for every basic detail, we have standardized steps integrated into our processes. Let’s explore some of them!

Localizing with Style and The Right Tools

First of all, regardless of how many languages we work with or the type of project, it is of utmost importance to create a style guide. One of the safest ways of creating one is to have a meeting with the client and discuss essentials such as target audience, DNTs (contents that are not supposed to be translated), forms of addressing, character limitations, and agreed communication channels for queries, etc. Once we have all of the information required, we finalize our style guide. This way, we assure that everything is under record and create a workflow that won’t be disturbed by constant back and forths. Of course, the style guide is just the beginning of our preparations. We also have to determine the specific needs of projects and choose the correct CAT tool for these needs. For example, MemoQ is great with online multilingual projects and Trados can do wonders in a snap with offline projects. Once we decide on our tool, we ensure that all the files are imported safely and everything we need is in order: assignments, deadlines, and most importantly, translation memories and term bases.

game localization glossary

The Importance of Keeping Records in a Game Localization Project

Working in a creative environment with a lot of people can be quite difficult as there might be many ideas coming from out of nowhere and going nowhere. We need these ideas to go somewhere safe in order to ensure consistency across the whole project because unrecorded creativity can majorly disrupt the process of a game localization project. For example, if three linguists decided to use three different translations for the same term and didn’t share their own translations with each other, we eventually would have to dive back into the files and fix all of these instances. So, we make sure to create new term bases and translation memories or choose the relevant ones while starting the project, so that our linguists’ creativity can run free, and after they agree on something, the relevant data can be stored ensuring that everything is neat. But even though we work with experienced linguists and keep everything under control, there might still be some problems that we miss. And we can’t call our work consistently great if we don’t objectively measure our quality. So, how do we objectively measure quality?

Looking from Another Perspective: LQA

A great localization should include an even greater LQA process to ensure good quality for both the current task and future tasks. Here’s how we do this:
We take the final file, check it for errors, categorize each error we find by predefined categories, and evaluate the project according to the ratings pre-assigned to each category of error. Some error categories may be defined as major and some as minor. For example, while omission is defined as a major error, a punctuation error would be defined as a minor one. After evaluating the project and categorizing the errors, we can calculate the final rating. And with this rating, we can objectively decide if the work fits our quality standards or not. Of course, not all the projects get a passing score after an LQA test; however, by safely integrating the standardized steps we have mentioned before, we immensely improve the possibility of a passing score. If a project fails the test, we take action depending on its rating. This means that we can go back and make adjustments or we may even have to work on the project all over again.

video games

It’s Time to Serve Our Localization

After all of the work in the kitchen is finalized, we start to prepare our localization plate for the client. Deliverables get prepared for the client, and once they are ready, we compile and share them along with our notes. The client integrates our work into their process and if they have any, they share their change requests. After this integration, we can start linguistically testing the project. This test includes stuff that would affect the functionality and aesthetics of our work, for example: Is the translation in the correct place? Does it fit its place? Are there any formatting errors? During this test, we take specific notes regarding the issues we encounter and then we go back to our production process and implement any changes necessary in order to make the final work ready to be published!

End Is Never The End

Subsequent to the implementation of changes and re-delivery, our work gets nearly finished for the project. We check if everything is archived correctly for future reference and evaluate our work process to see how everything went and if any action could be taken to improve it in any way. This way, we prepare better for upcoming projects.
These subjects cover most of the stuff we, as project managers, have to think about to create a safe and efficient work process for both our team members and our clients. And as the range of problems is so wide, it is only logical to work with professional jacks of all trades whose whole jobs are to work around these problems in order to get the same consistent great quality of work each time you need localization.

Written by
İlker Erverdi
Project Manager

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