If you translate something, you need to do some proofreading in order to avoid major (and minor) mistakes that could negatively affect reception of your work. It is important to read your text few times, be critical and probably have someone not involved check it. At least that’s how it works with text translations. Are there any differences when it comes to the video games translations?
I worked on my latest project, Qasir al-Wasat, with a small group of 3 people. Neither of us was a professional proofreader, so we had to brainstorm and analyse our translation, string by string. We had to discuss not only the words, but also the punctuation (which I truly hate) and ortography. Our first proofreading was done before sending the translated text to the developers. While without the context we couldn’t avoid making some mistakes, we did manage to systematise the vocabulary.
To me the lack of context is the most difficult part of translation and proofreading. In a language like Polish, the gender of an object influences the forms of nouns, verbs and adjectives, so it is crucial for us to know about the situation, who is talking to whom, what is going on. Apart from that, if in your script there is a conversation between two people and then out of the sudden you get simple „It doesn’t fit in”, you may get lost. This is why context is important. This is why proofreading and testing is crucial. Fortunately, when in doubt we could always ask Mauricio, a member of the dev team, about the context or the meaning. This helped us a lot.
After the first proofreading, there had to be the second one. With our translation being implemented in the game (it is before the final release, mind you), we could finally check how things are working. Apart from the wording, syntax, punctuation we also had to take care of more technical aspects: does the text fit in the speech bubbles, doesn’t it disappear too fast? Here, we had to go through the whole game, interacting with each object possible. We had to see every line in the game and then… compare it with the English version. Whenever there was something slightly off, something unnatural, we had to check how does it look like in the English version. And no, we didn’t have any app to note those errors. We had to make screenshots. Lots of screenshots.
Nevertheless, even if we do some serious proofreading, even if we check everything carefully, we might overlook some typos, mistakes etc. What do we do in such case? Luckily, we had access to a cool feature called: developer console. This feature allowed us to change rooms immediately, so we only had to write down what room it was (every room has its own name like B1_14) and who was there. Pretty cool, huh? Of course, it still had its flaws. We had to collect all the notes and all the diary entries on our own. We had to solve riddles on our own as well, to check it there’s something missing, if a player can figure out how it works. Still, developer console is a great feature which helped us in our testing.
In the end, we had few pages of fixes. We described who, where, how and why, what’s wrong and how to fix it, with some screenshots to visualise it. We had lots of work to do, but it was definitely worth it 🙂 However, it doesn’t mean that our job is done! I mentioned earlier that giving your translation to someone to check is a good idea: someone not involved may give you new ideas, may notice errors which you couldn’t notice. For us, someone not involved is the player. We’re waiting for any feedback that comes from the players, so we can improve our translation even more. Apart from that, we’re completing the game once again to ultimately check if everything is fine. You cannot ignore proofreading and testing if you want to deliver a good translation.
I hope that my entry was interesting and give you some insight on how proofreading and testing looks like. As always, feel free to ask in comments if you have any questions!