January 5, 2005
Production covers a wide range of localization tasks and contains several areas in which things can quickly get out of control. Production pitfalls can be easier to rectify than technical pitfalls, since they do not need to be fixed by adding new game code. Most production pitfalls can be avoided if the localization process has been thought out thoroughly and planned for accordingly. Poor Planning
Poor planning is the number-one cause of difficulties during localizations. As discussed throughout this book, a number of items must be planned for and considered when developing localized versions. For example, localization-friendly code is not something that happens late in the project, it must be planned for in advance. Moreover, if the assets translation is not planned in advance, the developer cannot expect to have the assets translated, integrated, and tested a week before the localized versions are scheduled to release. People often make the mistake of putting localizations on the back burner instead of working on them throughout the production process. Localizations should be an integral part of the production planning because there are many external and internal resources to coordinate. Items such as translations, foreign voice recordings, and linguistic testing all need to be planned ahead of time. These things can't be planned until the developer knows the scope of the localization, which includes what the code can handle, how the assets are organized, and how many assets there are to localize. A good practice is to complete the asset overview sheet in Figure 1 as early in the project as possible. This sheet is discussed in detailed in Chapter 3. Even if the information included in this sheet is unknown or not final, the developer can start thinking about localizations by making estimates about the product. This sheet can continue to be updated throughout the pre-production process until the scope is determined. Throughout this process, the developer and the localization coordinator will work together to determine the production schedule.
Figure 1. Asset overview form.
Achieving Simultaneous Release
A mistake developers make when trying to achieve sim-ship of localized versions relates to poor planning. Sim-ship of all localized versions can be done, but only if well planned and well executed from the beginning. Since doing this is heavily dependent on the English version, if the English version of the game is running behind schedule, the localized versions will as well.
Things often not taken into account when working toward sim-ship are the resources needed to integrate and test all of the languages at once. For example, if the developer is planning to sim-ship nine languages, there will be a lot of linguistic and functionality testers to coordinate. Additionally, all nine versions will need to be integrated, built, and available for testing at once. A project of this undertaking will require a few production people to coordinate all the resources, integrate the assets, and track the schedule to ensure everything is going as planned. If the developer works closely with the localization coordinator and the necessary resources are planned for, sim-ship can be a reality. Other aspects that contribute to a successful sim-ship are localization-friendly code, well-organized assets, and a clearly defined localization pipeline. Sim-ship is a group effort, and if everyone knows what the expectations and deadlines are beforehand, they will be able to deliver the localized versions when needed. Linguistic and Functionality Testing
The main pitfalls regarding linguistic and functionality testing are underestimating the amount of time testing takes and not having enough testers to complete...