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    Technical Director John's Avatar
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    Technical Blog #7

    2015/08/16

    Hello again. It's been a long time since we've spoken, and I've kept very busy in the interim. Allow me to inform you about some of the things we've been doing, starting with some more in-depth information about our Localization process.

    Throughout my entire career, I've always felt very strongly about the localization of games. My opinion is that if you're taking on all the considerable effort and cost of making a game, it's a waste to not go the extra step and make it available in as many languages as possible. Especially a text-heavy game like Banner Saga. So the first thing we tackled post-launch is localization.

    The first order of business was to complete the technical infrastructure for our localization system. The Banner Saga engine was designed from the ground up to support this, so 95% of all player-facing strings were already provided in a localizable manner. There was a bit of work required to go through all the user interfaces and dialog boxes to ensure that there were no hard-coded strings remaining anywhere. Also, the Russian language uses a character set that is not supported by our standard title font (Vinque), so we had to look for an alternate solution. The localization system had to be extended to allow certain languages (Russian in this case) to specify an alternate font. We used Arial at first, since it contains all the necessary glyphs. However, based on negative feedback from Russian users about the appearance of the Arial font (compared to the English version), we obtained a Russian-ized version of Vinque to use for this purpose.

    Beyond the infrastructure, a good bit of tools pipeline support was added to our content tool, Zeno, to allow me to more easily import, export, and synchronize different localizations. It is important to be able to export all the strings into a format easily usable by a localization team. In our case, we used a CSV format to export all the strings.

    We investigated several options for Localization services, and ended up going with a Polish firm called Roboto. They got to work quickly on 6 languages: German, Russian, French, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), and Polish. The total word count of Banner Saga is around 105,000 words. Different firms charge various amounts but on average localization costs about $10,000 per language for Banner Saga, plus testing expenses. We went through several rounds of beta testing and player feedback, and released the localized versions of the game in June 2014.

    This update contained many other fixed and improvements, including re-tuning of the infamous Bellower fight difficulty spike. You can take a look at the entire list of changes here:

    https://steamcommunity.com/games/2379...16131234760364

    Earlier this year, we were generously provided with an Italian translation by Omar Busoli. We integrated that into the game, and as part of the process of testing and QA required to produce an update we hired the translation firm Testronic Labs to make any necessary edits. Furthermore, based on plenty of negative feedback on the Spanish and Brazilian translations, we had Testronic Labs do a thorough revision of those languages. Additionally, they reviewed and edited the French translation, and made some minor fixes to the other languages. We released this update in June 2015, and we hope you enjoy the improvements.

    Next: Technical Blog #8 (Mobile Porting)

    Previous: Technical Blog #6
    Last edited by John; 08-23-2015 at 01:23 PM.

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    Senior Modder YaK's Avatar
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    As always, thanks for sharing information with us!
    My mods: YaK's SSLTBS1 Unofficial Fixpack ( www.nexusmods.com/thebannersaga/mods/1 ) and Drake's & YaK's BS2 Unofficial Fixpack ( www.nexusmods.com/thebannersaga2/mods/2 )




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    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    Hi John, thanks for the update! It's been a long time since we last heard from you here, indeed

    So, now we know who the culprit is for the complaints about the localization. Polish was the localization with the fewest complaints, so now it all makes sense I hope this other/new firm you work with did a good job revising the Spanish and Brazilian translations!

    I suppose you're gonna work with this Testronic Labs for TBS2 localisations, right? Speaking of which, you're gonna include all 6-7 languages right from the first release of the game, or gradually introduce them like you did with TBS1? Finally, do you have any information on how to help community/fan translators dealing with languages using "exotic/alternative" fonts (e.g. Chinese, Vietnamese etc), similarly to how the Russians did it?
    Together we stand, divided we fall.

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    I recall being surprised by the big number of languages that were available for this game.

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    Technical Director John's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aleonymous View Post
    Hi John, thanks for the update! It's been a long time since we last heard from you here, indeed

    So, now we know who the culprit is for the complaints about the localization. Polish was the localization with the fewest complaints, so now it all makes sense I hope this other/new firm you work with did a good job revising the Spanish and Brazilian translations!
    Yeah I hope so to. It's really hard for Stoic to evaluate the end quality, it really comes down to having eyes on it and getting feedback. And feedback is a bit tricky, too, because much of it is subjective. People have widely different ideas about how text and prose should be composed and written. You can't satisfy everyone. In particular, if someone is very familiar with the English version of the game already, they might be able to provide very detailed critique, but ultimately what matters the most is if the player is enjoying and understanding the game, not that it is exactly precisely a direct literal translation of the English version.


    I suppose you're gonna work with this Testronic Labs for TBS2 localisations, right? Speaking of which, you're gonna include all 6-7 languages right from the first release of the game, or gradually introduce them like you did with TBS1? Finally, do you have any information on how to help community/fan translators dealing with languages using "exotic/alternative" fonts (e.g. Chinese, Vietnamese etc), similarly to how the Russians did it?
    Yeah, Testronic has been solid so far, so we plan on using them for TBS2. We'd like to have all the languages at launch. It takes about 6 weeks to turn around the full translation, plus some testing time, so we have to make sure to start feeding them text early. For instance, TBS2 has 8 chapters (chapter 8 - chapter 15). Once we have all the text locked down for, say, chapter 8 - chapter 11, we'd want to send that over and have them start translating it. Then by the time they finish, we can send them the rest.

    I'll have to get back to you on the alternative font issue. I think that requires a code change to be able to specify.

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    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    Yes, it's true that there's a lot a subjectivity concerning the quality of translations. Nevertheless, some players went as far as to surmise that automated-translation (e.g. Google!) was used Maybe it would be worth having a couple of the Spanish and Brazilian players of the community to do an evaluation fo the revisions of Testronic. You know, just so you know before working with them for TBS2 I am sure they would jump up to the task, if properly approached.

    Concerning fan-based translations: Seeing that you eventually "adopted" the Italian translation, I recall there were fans working on more languages, e.g. Hungarian. Having these officially added to TBS1 and/or TBS2 is outside your current scope?

    If (text) translations are such a time-consuming process, I can't imagine how much trouble voice-over would have been! You'd have to nail down the text/story months ahead of the release...

    EDIT -- Looking back at the fan-based Italian translations of TBS1, there a was Steam-community member who pushed a translation through a site that apparently required a small fee or something. The pertinent discussion was in this Steam thread, where he deleted all his posts, but you can still see fragments of the discussion in the quotes though. I don't think that Omar Busoli is that guy...
    Last edited by Aleonymous; 08-24-2015 at 05:03 AM.
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    Technical Director John's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aleonymous View Post
    Yes, it's true that there's a lot a subjectivity concerning the quality of translations. Nevertheless, some players went as far as to surmise that automated-translation (e.g. Google!) was used Maybe it would be worth having a couple of the Spanish and Brazilian players of the community to do an evaluation fo the revisions of Testronic. You know, just so you know before working with them for TBS2 I am sure they would jump up to the task, if properly approached.
    I'd be happy to receive some more feedback on the current translations, and get some player opinions on how successful the revisions were.

    Concerning fan-based translations: Seeing that you eventually "adopted" the Italian translation, I recall there were fans working on more languages, e.g. Hungarian. Having these officially added to TBS1 and/or TBS2 is outside your current scope?
    Over time I certainly want to include as many languages as possible. After we've launched TBS2 I will have more time available to start considering player-made translations. It's quite time consuming and monetarily expensive even to integrate a donated translation, so until TBS2 is done, I don't have the bandwidth. Also, once TBS2 is off my plate, getting cracking on Japanese, Korean, and Chinese is at the top of my list. Japanese and Chinese translations are quite a bit more expensive than western languages (more than double).

    If (text) translations are such a time-consuming process, I can't imagine how much trouble voice-over would have been! You'd have to nail down the text/story months ahead of the release...
    Yeah we've talked internally about the pros and cons of voice over. You're right about the huge lead time needed. We all worked on Bioware's Star Wars the Old Republic, which was fully voiced, and it required a whole team of people just to manage the voice over. Not to mention the technology to make the lips and face move in a believable way when speaking. Ultimately, for a game like the Banner Saga, we feel that voice over (in dialog scenes) would only detract from the game, and we wouldn't add it even if we had unlimited money. We do, however, try to use flavor VO whenever possible, such as narration while traveling, or during video cinematics.


    EDIT -- Looking back at the fan-based Italian translations of TBS1, there a was Steam-community member who pushed a translation through a site that apparently required a small fee or something. The pertinent discussion was in this Steam thread, where he deleted all his posts, but you can still see fragments of the discussion in the quotes though. I don't think that Omar Busoli is that guy...
    I believe that Omar Busoli's translation was stolen and resold on p2p networks. Perhaps the member you reference was involved in that. Now that the translation is incorporated directly into the game, any further sales of the stolen translation are pointless.

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    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    Thanks for the response and the details, John

    I'll try to motivate a couple of trustworthy Spanish and Brazilian players to give the latest version of TBS1 another go, in order to see how fares the revised localization compared to the first one.
    Together we stand, divided we fall.

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