PavilionSmall indie game localized in 10 languages
Localizing Pavilion was an interesting experience. The game, a “fourth-person puzzling adventure from Visiontrick Media, throws you directly into its mysterious world without any text tutorials or beginning explanations. It is a puzzle game portrayed through exploration and audio-visual imagery. By interacting and observing you gradually, bit by bit, learn things about both the puzzling gameplay and the world itself.”
The game contains 10 words, UI elements. Though most of them were pretty common, one term was specific to the game, the “Memory Map”, which is a map of the level. This is the kind of term that needs extra attention because it is part of the game play. The translation needed to be accurate, not misleading the player, and also creative enough to fit into Pavilion’s unique atmosphere.
A common issue with UI elements is the lack of context. Is this word a verb? A noun? One English word can have multiple possible translations. Only context can help decide which is the best.
With menu elements also comes the design issue. Languages such as French, Spanish or German can take up to 30% more space than English. The design must be flexible. And there is the font issue too. Will it work with French or Spanish special characters? What about Russian or Asian languages?
In Pavilion’s case, neither were an issue, which was a good thing both on translator and dev side.
With little to no in-game text, the major part of the work was to localize the game description for online stores, with proper keywords and following store recommendations for title and description length, for example.
I worked together with a team of translators as we localized Pavilion into 10 different languages at once. My team being scattered all over the world, I had to make sure that everyone had enough time to work on the project, to raise questions and get answers, while respecting the client’s deadline. Mission accomplished!
This is an example of how indie devs can take advantage of games with low volume of text and focus more on making them visible to players on store platforms.