Originally published on Indie Stash
This post was inspired by a publication by Vlad Magdalin of Webflow.
Unlike web designers who now can build websites from scratch visually, without a line of code, video game localizers still work in the black and white of their translation tools, without visual clues.
Hopefully, this post will inspire someone to create a WYSIWYG or visual translation app.
First, let’s take a look at how other creatives work.
Can see their design, real time
Can see right away the violin is white where it needs to be brown
Digital Magazine Designers
Can read a magazine at work
Copywriters & bloggers
Markdown on the left, live preview on the right
Need to have a basic design sense and see their design preview
Can hear audio output, they don’t guess how that beat feels in a song
Use their cameras’s front/flip screen to keep their handsomeness in check (and shoot a crisp picture for us)
Game Character Designers
Know their character’s inner thoughts and even can see it in context of the game
Can make a timid eye contact with their furry character
3D Modeling Artists
Will know right away if one eye of the lizard is missing or something hasn’t been transl… created
First build computer models, then construct buildings (because any reworking would be way too costly)
Video Game Localizers
Have no clue how long their translation is allowed to be, nor whether “psychic attacks” requires following plural rules, nor what “perfect size” refers to:
In the best of cases, their tool allows to see where the original string appears in the game (but no way to see the translation):
Concept Visual Localization App
In the mockup below, it’s clear to the localizer that the cat-boy speaks about the hat. Now, they can play with this string (the impersonal “it” can be replaced with “the hat”) and make it the sweetest line it can be — since clearly there’s plenty of room on the screen
Today, it seems only back-end devs, unicorns (designers who code), and game localizers are forced to work in the spartan beauty of their text-based UIs.
But the real problem being the strings that are taken out of context: Localizers are never fully sure about the success of the whole effort — until all the job will be compiled for a test run (and more reruns) and debugged.
Visual video game localization is not genome sequencing. The technology is there, somewhere, one needs to simply start building