Game localisation: benefits and drawbacks of organising game texts into spreadsheets

Game localizationUsing a spreadsheet is one of the best ways of delivering your in-game texts to a translator. This can be an easy solution for small games and applications, but a complex task in case of larger games. Let’s analyse briefly the main benefits and drawbacks of using a spreadsheet to organise your text for localisation.


Benefits:

1)      It can make the translation process easier

A spreadsheet containing all translatable texts of the game helps the translator to understand the context and gives a clear overview of the text. The spreadsheet is also smaller than the original game files and it can be quickly delivered to the translator and sent back. There’s also less risk of introducing new bugs by translators, for example if they accidently delete a quotation mark or translate strings that shouldn’t be translated.

2)      It helps to add comments and necessary context

As the text is placed in a table, you can easily add extra information for the translator, such as context or remarks. All comments are placed in one file in
a corresponding cell, so the translator doesn’t have to switch between the files to search for necessary data. Translators will be also able to add their feedback in
a dedicated column or enter any questions related to the content. 

3)      It gives you an overview of all language versions

If your game is localised into many languages, you can use separate columns or separate sheets for every language. This will give you an overview of all translations and make it easy to compare the length of the text for each version.

Drawbacks:

1)      It’s time-consuming

Creating a spreadsheet with translatable text may take up much time, as you’ll have to pull out the text from all the game files to organise it in an appropriate way. The whole localization process may take longer, as after translation the text will have to be integrated into the game again. However, for games and apps with small amount of text, organising game assets into a spreadsheet is usually an easy and less problematic solution.

2)      Some texts may be overlooked

While placing the game text into a spreadsheet or adding the translation back to the game files, it’s easy to overlook some strings. This may lead to bugs or incomplete translations that will have to be repaired in the testing process. A great solution is to use a special tool that can extract the translatable text into
a spreadsheet to assure that all relevant strings have been provided for translation.

3)      It’s more difficult to track changes and updates

If the game text is updated after delivering the spreadsheet for translation, all the changes will have to be manually placed in a file, clearly marked, and sent to the translators. It can costs more time and effort than just sending an updated source file. Finally, it will be also more difficult to compare the text in a spreadsheet with the text in the original file.

 

All in all, organising your in-game texts into a spreadsheet may be a great solution if you want to provide the translator with more context and extra information as well as lower the risk of new bugs. However, if your translators have technical skills and understand the coding basics, you can save time and provide them with the actual game files.  

 

  (Photo by D. Pawlak)

 

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Dorota helps businesses and individuals to communicate successfully across cultures in the online and offline world. She is a qualified translator and an entrepreneur supporting other self-employed professionals on their path towards building a more successful business.

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