English to French IT Translator Blog

LocJAM Japan Unofficial FAQ and Notes

This year I had the chance to be closely involved with LocJAM Japan‘s (Japanese to English game localization contest) organization. Anticipating some of the questions and comments that are likely to arise, I decided to put together a quick, unofficial FAQ. I will do my best to update it during the contest, but once again please note that this is a personal initiative and I can’t guarantee all questions will be answered.

Known issue: Under certain circumstances, the text can overflow a bit in the main message window

The frame width is set to a slightly too small value in the .css file of the game. Depending on the text used, it might overflow a bit as on the picture below shared by Thomas Bruckert.

15369016_1204549326299024_3192057755960753697_oSince the issue is on the game side, it is absolutely fine if it happens with your translation. More generally, minor display issues won’t be taken into consideration by the jury. If you are still worried, you may use non-breakable spaces to force a line return – for example, that would be between “big” and “threat” in the example above.

Known issue (typo): “ファイラ” >  “ファイア”

There is a small typo in the list of “じゅもん”: “ファイラ” should read  “ファイア”, as spelled in other parts of the game. The jury has been informed and won’t penalize the brave translators who tried to translate this exotic name.

typo

Known issue: unlocalizable brackets

15304544_10154122201018193_5287771767486086972_oThe Japanese brackets on the screen above can’t be localized – this one is on us, sincere apologies! Technically the issue can be fixed within the .csv file, but it won’t be taken into account by the jury.

The game won’t start when I click on “Preview localized game”

This is a known issue with the first package we shared. To fix it, you can either:

 

  • Download the latest package on locjam.org
  • Open transrator.csv in Excel and save it as it is

So what is this CSV file? How do I open it?

The translatable file is using the CSV (tab-delimited) format, with UCS-2 Little Endian encoding. It needs to be strictly preserved for the translation to be correctly updated.

You can use spreadsheet software (Excel, OpenOffice Calc, etc.), text editors (I personally recommend Notepad++) or your favorite CAT tool to open and translate it. Specific instructions for Trados/MemoQ, and Excel are available here.

My text isn’t aligned properly, am I going to be penalized for it?

The goal of the tool is to give you a preview of your localized game, rather than to generate a final product. Accordingly, you will not be penalized for cosmetic issues you have no control over, such as text alignment. You should however try to avoid overflows and text encoding issues.

transrator.csv, seriously?

Yes, the translatable file is named “transrator.csv”, not “translator.csv”. This is an innocent mistake from the tool’s developer. He is not an English native speaker (nor a language professional) and unfortunately didn’t have time to fix this small typo. In no way is this meant to make fun of our profession/non-native speakers.

I want to add spaces to my translation but I can only display one at a time

If necessary, you may use HTML entities in your translation (for example, “ ” for a non-breakable space)

What should I do with lines starting with ScenarioName?

Do not edit “ScenarioName    XXXX.ks” lines, or your translation won’t be read properly. If you’re using a CAT tool, it could be a good idea to lock these segments at the beginning of the project

I translated the file, but the old strings are displayed when I run the game

– If the translated strings are not updated after you edited the file:
1. Make sure the file was saved at the right location with the original name and encoding (UCS-2 Little Endian). Also make sure you didn’t add tabulations as plain text (if necessary you can add extra spaces with “ ”)
2. Delete the following:
– “maou/trans.json” file
– “trans/IkinariMaou” folder
Restart the app. Select the project again (maoh/index.html), and the tool should read everything from zero again.

I played the original version of Ikinari Maou and the graphics/text/layout are different

Yes they are. The game was edited in different ways and for different reasons to make it more easily localizable. For LocJAM Japan, the version shared on locjam.org is the only one that matters. But you are very welcome to try the game in its original format and enjoy the better visuals.

Some text is missing from the translatable file/I can’t seem to find a string of the translatable file in the game itself

While we did our best to include only relevant strings without forgetting any, we’re not excluding the possibility  we missed or added some by mistake. Please feel free to report such issues, but don’t worry, the official file shared on the LocJAM website is the only one that counts. You do not need to fix it and we will not edit the official file during the contest.

Ikinari Maou Walkthrough: How to Beat the Game (LocJAM JP)

1) After the introduction, don’t answer “こうさんしますか?” and click on どうぐ > エーテル > ゆうしゃ instead
2) Click on じゅもん > チェンジ(MP30) > まおう(1ぴき)
3) Click on どうぐ > エーテル > まおう
4) Click on じゅもん > タイムリープ(MP100)
5) Click on じゅもん >エーテル > (White arrow) > ゆうしゃ(1り)
6) Don’t answer “こうさんしますか?” and click on どうぐ > エーテル > ゆうしゃ instead
7) Click on じゅもん > チェンジ(MP30) > まおう(1ぴき)
8) Click on じゅもん >エーテル > (White arrow) > ゆうしゃ(1り)
9) Let the magic work!

[LocJAM Japan] How to Translate Ikinari Maou in Trados, MemoQ, Excel, LibreOffice

Ikinari Maou is the game offered for translation for LocJAM Japan, a Japanese to English game localization contest. This article offers pointers to translate its localizable strings in different CAT and non-CAT tools, and may be updated as questions arise. Please also note that this is an unofficial guide, with no guarantees whatsoever.

The localizable file was successfully tested in both SDL Trados Studio and MemoQ. You can create a project as you normally would, with the following settings:

SDL Trados Studio (2014 or later)

To translate in Trados, please use the following options for the .csv file type in your project options:

How to localize Ikinari Maou (LocJAM Japan game) in Trados

MemoQ (tested on version 2015)

When importing the file in MemoQ, please use the following configuration:
Localization of Ikinari Maou in MemoQ

In both cases, your CAT tool should be able to export the .csv file in the right format and encoding, without any further modification.

Excel

If you are working with Excel or similar spreadsheet software, you will be able to open/save the .csv file directly, but you may have trouble exporting files in the right format if you add certain characters (quotation marks, etc.). In that case, I would recommend the use of the free code and text editor Notepad++. Once installed, copy the source and target columns from Excel (or similar software), open the original (untranslated) file in Notepad++, select all the text (Ctrl + A) and replace it with the content of your spreadsheet content. Save the file, and everything should work smoothly.

Of course, you can translate directly in Notepad++, but you will most likely find Excel more comfortable to do so.

LibreOffice

A member of the IGDA LocSIG Group on Facebook, Anish Krishnamurthy, kindly shared the following settings to open the file in LibreOffice:

15317817_1546447495382355_7852266833573856023_n

Game Localization Link Roundup – October 2016

October was another exciting month in the game localization industry. This time, I’m sharing a few fascinating interviews with industry insiders as well as insightful articles about the localization business.

During the past month, we also made tremendous progress with LocJAM Japan’s preparation. We now have a fully functional tool and an internationalized game ready to be shared with the world. We were lucky to find a game of the perfect size for our needs AND incredibly fun to play. Even if you’re not joining the contest, look forward to playing it, next month in Japanese or in English when the winning entries are announced!
The importance of Localization Quality Assurance

Localizing a Unity Indie Game: The Hidden Costs

Sega, Ubisoft, Deep Silver, Gameforge: What’s New in Game Localization?

We Work With an Army of Translators, Says GameHouse Translation Manager

Interview: Localising DRAGON QUEST VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past
An interview with Oli Chance, who had kindly answered our questions about Ni No Kuni a few years ago

Japanese visual novel Steins;Gate 0 gets EU release date, new trailer – The game’s localization lead discusses the complexity of adapting the story to the west

8 Top Internationalization Changes in iOS 10

Game Localization Link Roundup – September 2016

After a relatively calm summer, September was richer in game localization-related content. Besides the Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse story, which ended with an official apology from Atlus, a few interesting interviews with veterans of the industry popped up, and the trend continued into the first few weeks of October.

We are also preparing to officially announce our plans for LocJAM Japan, so you can expect a busy end of year for the localization community!

Interview: Brian Gray on localizing Gotta Protectors

SMTIV: Faux Pas-calypse – Or how a string accidentally left untranslated can result in apologies from the developer. The issue itself is far from a first, but these things usually get swept under the rug and it was interesting to see a developer officially touch base with the gaming community regarding this

A Look At Untranslated Text In Video Game Localizations – A small compilation written after the above-mentioned story

An Interview With Mastiff: The Passion Behind Localization

Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment – Death By Localization

Video: How Capcom localizes games like Monster Hunter – Based on Andrew Alfonso’s (Capcom) presentation at the GDC 2016. In this video, he explains how Capcom’s localization directors address different challenges with the localization of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate as an example. A very complete presentation and a rare chance to hear the story directly from in-house people.

Game Localization and Internationalization Checklist

I’m taking the chance to share again the game localization and internationalization checklist we created at the IGDA LocSIG, a very useful resource based on our Best Practices. Ideally, you will want to read it and keep these points in mind during development, then use it as a final reference when you are producing localized versions of your games.

Game Localization and Internationalization Checklist

If you follow the general advice given here, the whole process should go smoothly. To take things further and make the most out of your localization initiatives, you can dig deeper and look for more specific resources. Most development environments offer some sort of internationalization and localization features nowadays – that is the case for for Unity3D (some interesting solutions are available on the Asset Store), XCode and Android Studio, just to name a few. No need to reinvent the wheel when great solutions already exist.

You could also save time and money by following the cost-saving tips that may apply to your project. In the end, being prepared and informed is what will save you from headaches and help you release your games in new markets at a reasonable cost.

Why Localization Quality Matters For App Sales

Improve app sales with quality localization services

The importance of localization is now well documented. You can find dozens of case studies out there, with stories of sales increased by a 2 to 3-digit percentage, sometimes simply by localizing app descriptions. This promising reward doesn’t come without effort, though.

Although localization can be a very powerful sales enabler, quality is essential to make the most out of it. Indeed, localization-related issues can ruin your globalization efforts, and even have a negative impact sales for your app’s native language.

Reviews influence downloads

Reviews are a decisive factor when people decide whether to download an app or not. A couple of bad reviews could be enough to cut your download numbers in half, and lack of/unproper localization is one of the most common sources of negative reviews.

Nobody likes an application that looks like it was processed through an automated translation engine. By releasing low quality localized versions of your app, you could cause ratings to dive and lose the trust of potential customers – even in the original language version. In that respect, localization can be a double-edged sword if not handled properly.

ASO: you need the right localized keywords to be found

Working on App Store Optimization (ASO) is one of the most important strategies to improve your sales. So when you try to reach new markets, it makes sense to localize every aspect of your app, from description to keywords, to ensure it shows up in search results – ideally ahead of competitors.

When you do it, it is vital to use the right keywords in each language. If you use low quality localization services or if your provider lacks market knowledge, the odds are high that you will lose out to rival solutions, because you won’t be targeting the right keywords.

You need to work with someone who perfectly understands the target market and is familiar with your industry. A synonym won’t do here, you need the one keyword that most people interested in your app are going to look for.

How to make the most out of localization?

– Hire a professional, specialized translator. The providers you hire shouldn’t just be native speakers of the target language. They need to perfectly understand your product, the market and what users will be expecting. Remember, a “good enough” translation won’t cut it. Only an accurate and perfectly localized product will allow you to truly optimize downloads and purchases. Look for experienced translators who clearly list applications as one of their main specializations. The more targeted the better. Ensure they have a good understanding of app localization challenges and concepts such as ASO, and check their track record.

– Test localized versions. It doesn’t have to be super expensive. Even if you have a good translation for your app, different types of issues can happen during implementation and harm your efforts. Only release your localized app when it is truly ready to achieve better ratings and the improved sales that go with. If you are short on resources or budget, start with just a couple of languages and expand progressively.

Is Localization Testing Necessary And How To Reduce Its Costs

Localization testing - How to reduce costs

Localizing your games for different languages and markets can be an extremely effective way to boost your game sales. Besides reassuring your potential audience, it is an important part of App Store Optimization (ASO) and can help your games get featured on mobile game stores.

Very promising on paper, but localization isn’t free, neither is localization testing. It can be tempting to skip the testing part once you have all the localized assets in your hands. After all, you spent enough time picking up reliable language service providers, so nothing can go that wrong, maybe a few cosmetic issues at most… right?

Proper localization testing IS necessary, no matter what

Compared to the console market, localization requirements for mobile game stores are pretty loose – and that’s a mild way to put it. It may sound like a blessing to developers, but it is a double-edged sword that doesn’t do gamers any good, as they are often left with games that look unfinished or impossible to decipher.

More languages = More sales? True, but only if you get it right. The only thing a bad localization is going to give you is a long string of bad reviews from upset users, potentially dragging down your overall sales – including in the game’s original language. You should strive for quality in every single aspect of your game.

Even if you hire a strong localization team, there are still lots of ways things can go wrong. Lack of context can lead to inaccurate translations that will harm user experience or make you the next Internet meme. Implementation issues, such as text overflows, encoding problems, missing strings and the like will make your app look buggy and unfinished. There will always be something, the same way games always have bugs before functional testing.

It doesn’t matter how much and in how many languages you localize: whatever you do, try to do it right. Any half-hearted effort could ruin an otherwise great game and prevent it from selling as well as it deserves.

Budget limitations are obviously the pain point here. However, you can get most of your localization testing needs covered at a reasonable cost.

How to keep costs down without affecting quality

There are lots of ways you can optimize the QA process and avoid overspending. Here are a few general tips to help you start out:

– You don’t need to do everything at once. If you don’t have the resources to properly localize your app, reduce the number of localized languages or start by translating store descriptions and texts essential to the understanding of the game. Players will be more tolerant toward a solid game written in a foreign language than a game that looks unfinished and buggy. Start with the languages you consider the most important, then add more as sales pick up.

You don’t need to outsource everything. Having garbled characters or overflowing texts in main menus, tutorials, etc., things every player is going to see, is simply unacceptable. Yet, these issues are very easy to detect, even without any knowledge of target languages. There is absolutely no excuse not to do any testing at all.

Your budget may be tight, but you can probably find a couple of hours to do implementation localization testing for your game. Reduce the scope for your external resources and save on QA costs, as your testers will be able to focus on the text itself, rather than spending time reporting issues you could have found yourself. You should also consider pseudo-localization to address some of these issues before any actual translation is implemented.

There are different levels of testing, choose what works best for you. If you really don’t have the budget to do extensive testing, you should at least aim at an acceptable quality standard, something people won’t be complaining about. You ideally want to have a perfectly polished product, but in general players will tolerate a small number of minor issues. At a minimum level, test implementation yourself and ask your translator or another professional to check the game in context (to make sure everything makes sense) and have a final look at spelling/grammar.

It will help to have a well-defined testing plan and cheat codes so testers go through your game quickly. If you manage to optimize that part of the process, you can probably keep testing costs at 30-50% of the translation fee. Once again, you should consider more thorough testing once finances allow, but it should be enough to achieve a decent standard of quality.

Don’t make it more complex than it needs to be. It’s really all about optimizing the process. Translators will be able to fix most issues by editing localizable files themselves. Technical issues aside, you maybe don’t need them to fill a complete report with dozens of fields, screenshots and so on. Again, the key is to have them focused on testing itself.

Game Localization Link Roundup – July-August 2016

The monthly link roundup is back after a short break. To tell the truth, this summer was fairly calm in terms of game localization-related content, and the list will be short this time, despite covering two months. Not to worry though, as September has already given us a lot to read about.

On a different topic, we’re making very interesting progress with our plans for the Japanese LocJAM. Things are starting to come together nicely, and we’ll definitely have a lot to talk about during the next few months.

Japan Localization – An interesting article about localization for the Japanese market, with lots of concrete examples

Modern Military RPG Long Gone Days Requires Interpreters For Some Of Its NPCs

True tales from localization hell – More horror stories from our translator friends

The impact of localization on reviews – A study over 800,000 reviews from games available on the Google Play Store.

Localization on Unity: Adapting the Game Environment – Part 1 – A two-part article from the same blog as above, with practical advice for developers localizing their games in Unity

Are Translation Rates Really Going Down? Reasons to Remain Optimistic

Translations rates: are they really decreasing?

Hardly a day goes by without someone complaining about dwindling translation rates on Proz or a translation group on some social network.

I’ve been in the industry for close to a decade now. Not anywhere near as long as some of my more experienced peers, but enough to say such claims are nothing new. When I started out, people were already complaining about how they kept receiving translation job offers at insulting rates, MT post-editing projects disguised as proofreading tasks and the like. If you spend too much time reading such posts, you may start thinking that, at the pace things go, we will soon have to pay for the right to work.

It’s quite possible there’s a part of truth there. Translation rates may well be decreasing with time. But how significant the phenomenon is, and should you be worried about it? To my knowledge, there are no authoritative studies about translation rate evolution over a significant period.

Still, let’s try to put things into perspective. Although I lack the hard data to back my ideas, I sincerely think translators shouldn’t be too worried about their future.

A perception issue?

When you are in the bad part of the feast and famine cycle, or just getting established, it can be frustrating to receive yet another job offer at $0.01/word (the language pair doesn’t really matter at that point) or some dubious “proofreading” project. These get more annoying with time, once you’ve built up a clientele and got more experienced. No time to waste for bottom feeders.

Worse still, you may get the occasional mass email from one of your regular clients informing you about they won’t be able to pay your current rate anymore or that they have a new ridiculously harsh TM discount grid. Some agencies will put pressure on their translators pretty much by principle. If translators accept their terms, it’s only beneficial to them, if they don’t the agency can always look for new partners. If this can give you any relief, I recently heard about a low-paying agency actually raising the rate they offer to their new translators because they had overused the above technique.

These frustrating moments may lead you into believing the translation world is only made of sharks waiting to bite into your salary. Yet, when I take time to think about it calmly, I don’t feel average rates have been significantly decreasing over the past few years. Clients come and go, and generally it’s just a matter of refreshing your client base, dropping low payers to better welcome more understanding ones. The thing is that you need to keep marketing your services to protect and ideally improve your income, and this holds for any industry.

Also, always remember: YOU set the rates. If you stay calm and courteous, you might be able to negotiate better rates than you’d imagine.

Are you targeting the right clients?

Most of the time, translators complaining about rates are the ones working mostly or exclusively with agencies. In fact, I’ve never seen a translator working only with direct clients complain about rates. And, if you listen to the most talkative ones, those rates pretty much match the ones some translators claim they used to charge “when translators were treated as professionals.” If you feel agencies are giving an unfair treatment, it’s maybe time to spend more efforts chasing direct clients. Easier said than done, of course, but no reward comes without hard work.

Not that I think there’s anything wrong with agencies in general. Some will reject the very idea of working through middlemen, but I like the stability and predictability agencies offer. There are lots of bad ones out there, but the good ones are plenty enough to keep me busier than needed. Thanks to them, I never get to the point of starvation during slow times. Once again, it’s all about picking the right partners.

I’ve had good success with boutique agencies, those that are mostly focused on one specialization field or language pair. They tend to offer better rates as their end clients are generally looking for quality rather than low prices. Some larger agencies will also accept very reasonable rates if you know how to deal with them. It’s often a mix of being specialized, putting your negotiation skills to use and talking to the right PM. It can be well worth the effort.

“Rates used to be higher, period.” What about your income?

I can’t tell whether rates are lower now than they were 10 years ago, but I have no doubt they were much higher 30 years ago. And I suppose agencies weren’t putting quite that much pressure on us to offer TM or MT-related discounts 10 years ago. Yet, it doesn’t necessarily mean translators are making less money now than they used to. Computers got much faster, the Internet became an incredible source knowledge if you know the right places, and in general there are many aspects of the translation workflow we can automate. Even if you focus on the last 5-10 years, CAT and productivity tools got a whole lot better. If rates ever went down, a smart use of the tools available should allow you to make up for it. Lifelong learning at work.

These technological improvements may be less relevant for the most creative specialization fields, but they also seem to be the ones that tend to resist the best to rate decreases.

In the end, per-word rates are just one of the many variables that determine how much you earn at the end of the month.

Back to my own case, I’ve seen my income grow steadily since I’ve become a translator, and there is no sign that this is going to stop anytime soon. Average rates may have been going down, but mine haven’t. Remember, the market is large and growing, and there are plenty of amazing clients out there. It’s only up to you to go find them.

And now, with machine translation…

One of my main specializations (IT, especially when it comes to documentation) also happens to be one the least creative ones (all things being relative). Understand one the easiest to translate for trained MT engines on paper. However, current MT engines are at a loss once you stray away even just a little bit from the patterns they’re trained for. The technology still has serious limitations, and I’m not the one saying it. Sure, the quality of machine translation has been improving over time, but it’s simply not there yet, even for relatively straightforward language pairs and fields.

I have covered this topic in length already, so I won’t expand too much here. Long story short: MT is improving and it is useful for a lot of things, but if you want to publish a professional text, just ask a human translator.

Once science hacks the human brain, maybe… but then we’ll probably have even more important things to worry about.

Closing words

If you are worried about your future as a translator, stop right now. You can still make a very healthy living from your job. Stay calm, ignore insulting requests, cherish your good clients, always be on the lookout for new ones, and polish your skills. Things will just work out naturally if you stay focused.

Anthony Teixeira

Anthony Teixeira - Professional English to French IT/Software/Video game translator
E-mail: contact@at-it-translator.com

Contact form - Freelance translation services
As an IT professional and an experienced independent translator and proofreader, I can help you with all your localization needs. My services cover various types of texts, from software UI to technical user manuals.

Quality, punctuality and professionalism are my values. I make the most of them to ensure your projects succeed in French-speaking markets.

You can ask me for a free quote or send me your questions anytime: you will get a reply within a day in most cases.