本土化一款基於文本內容遊戲的挑戰

作者:Ubrain Bruno

在《Epistory》,輸入內容是玩家與遊戲互動的唯一方式。你將以各種方式有趣地敲打許多單詞並最終創造出許多文本內容。我們不會只使用一些隨機的單詞,而會使用那些滿足各種條件的單詞(遊戲邦注:如有關主題和遊戲玩法)。所以對於那些並不是使用英語的玩家來說,我們的翻譯工作尤爲重要。

讓我們着眼於本土化文本內容所面臨的主要挑戰以及我們的解決方法。

故事腳本

首先,最簡單且也是最無趣的便是故事腳本。我們的故事是基於一個很有趣的主題(我們的作家還爲其寫了一篇文章)。但故事的本土化卻只是基於常規的翻譯。

在遊戲中,腳本文本是以分散在遊戲世界中的句子的形式呈現出來,即玩家將在探索的過程中看到這些內容。結果便是腳本看起來就像是一些不相關的句子。所以翻譯者所面臨的挑戰便是讓這些句子練習在一起去組成一個完整的故事。我們爲每個句子的上下文編寫了一些評論,結果似乎還不錯。提供給翻譯者最重要的文本部分很重要:是字面意思,還是潛在含義,或者只是一種風格?

文字輸入

除了故事腳本,對於文本我們的其它用途便是呈現提示詞。我們會在“互動元素”旁邊使用單詞去促進某種互動,如種花或摧毀一塊岩石。我們的目的是賦予玩家輸入的內容意義並避免出現重複。但是我們並不能手動將特定單詞分配到每個元素上。我們還需要控制我們所使用的單詞的複雜性,並努力保持難度的平衡。最後我們需要處理擁有不同單詞長度和特殊字符的語言。

對於遊戲玩法,我們的解決方法是提供給每種元素一個詞典如此我們便可以隨機從中挑選單詞。該詞典具有特定在主題和單詞長度限制。舉個例子來說吧,創造花的這一行動是簡單的,所以詞典中便會出現8個字符以內有關花名的單詞。而因爲摧毀岩石更復雜,所以其詞典便會使用8到10個字符間的礦物質名稱。

Epistory(from gamasutra)

Epistory(from gamasutra)

關於本土化,翻譯者需要爲每種語言使用相同的限制條件去填滿詞典。

Early Access中的多種語言

如今《Epistory》已經到達了6個月的early access(遊戲邦注:Valve在Steam平臺上推出的一個項目,讓用戶可以在遊戲正式發售前體驗這些遊戲)的尾聲。從early access第一天開始所有的內容便都包含了英文,德文和法文版本。之後還將添加西班牙文。

一方面,基於多種語言進行early access是合理的。除了將遊戲帶向更多玩家外,它還讓我們能夠審覈early access架構的質量。就像如果沒有這些內容,我們便不會想到去創造一個德文和瑞士文轉換的詞典。一個德國粉絲甚至主動幫我們校對腳本內容!

另一方面,這將推動我們多次執行翻譯過程,即我們將在腳本和關卡設計中進行迭代,而這是非常消耗時間的。這裏存在的挑戰便是如何輕鬆地整合我們的迭代版本。

在經過多次調整後,我們最終創造了一個可行的配置:在Excel文件中編寫腳本它將直接輸出一個XML文件,同時在帶有自制腳本的谷歌電子表格中創造詞典將輸入一個JSON文件。

這裏的關鍵便是在early access期間保持有限的語言(在發行時我們又會增添3種語言)。但考慮到翻譯需要做的事並且我們需要遵守截止期限,所以我並不建議你們創造需要大量文本內容的遊戲。你最好仍然堅持以英語爲基礎,至少你需要確保源內容不會有太大的改變。

特殊字符

所有華麗的語言都有其自身的“怪癖”,如果那並不是你的母語你便很難搞清楚它們的使用方法。而我們最關心的便是那些特殊的字符(如法語中的?,德語中的?,波蘭語中的?等)。我們甚至需要翻譯俄文,即關於西裏爾字母。

對此我們採取的第一種方法便是與專業翻譯者進行緊密合作以更好地理解每種語言。我們詢問了各種問題,包括特殊字符的使用,出現頻率,怎樣的鍵盤佈局更受歡迎等等。

這些信息幫助我們爲玩家輸入創造了適當的文字規則。我們認爲常見的特殊字符也是語言中非常重要的一部分。並且我們會盡力避免那些很少出現且需要進行多次按鍵的字符。總之我們會努力避免玩家因爲面對自己本土語言中一些最複雜的單詞而感到受挫的情況。

關於這一問題的另一面便是使用特殊字體去呈現這些單詞。基於文本在遊戲中出現的不同位置我們會使用不同字體,但是我們卻不希望因爲不同語言而去改變字體。所以我們選擇了最簡單的解決方法:即仔細選擇我們想要呈現的字體並親自添加任何特殊字符。我們必須購買一些專門的軟件授權,但我們卻不可能找到一個包含所有所需字符的合適字體。

允許玩家進行編輯

最後,我們希望添加一些沒有太大挑戰但卻充滿機遇的內容。我們以大量基於文本的內容作爲一種優勢:即只要改變詞典任何人都能夠編輯並創造出某些內容。

這也是我們爲什麼要想辦法讓玩家去編輯並分享自己的詞典的原因。我們已經見過一個想要在外語課上使用《Epistory》去教授自己學生的老師。所以我們希望看到更多用戶創造的詞典的誕生,即不管是來自有趣的玩笑還是真正嚴肅的創造。

本文爲遊戲邦/gamerboom.com編譯,拒絕任何不保留版權的轉發,如需轉載請聯繫:遊戲邦

Challenges of localizing a typing game

by Urbain Bruno

In Epistory, typing is the sole interaction the player has with the game. You get to type a lot of words, in fun, varied ways, so we end up with a lot of text content. We don’t just use random words, but words that fits with several constraints (of theme and gameplay). That makes the translation work crucial for the experience of the non-english speaking players.

So let’s take a look at the main challenges we had with localizing our text-based content and the solutions we came up with.

The Story’s Script

First of all, the easiest and less interesting one, the story’s script. Well, the way the story is made is a very interesting topic (and our writer wrote an article about it). But its localization is just a regular translation.

In the game, script text is displayed as sentences scattered across in the game world, that you can read as you explore. As a result, the script looks like a list of unrelated sentences. The challenge was to give our translators a sense of how those sentences were linked together to form a whole story. We wrote comments about the context of each sentence and it worked just fine. It was particularly useful to give instructions on what was the most important aspect of the text to translate: was it the literal sense, an underlying meaning, or the style (like when there is an alliteration)?

Words to Type

Outside of the story script, our other use of text is to display prompt words. We show words alongside “interactive elements” to trigger some kind of interaction – like planting a flower or destroying a rock. Our intention was to give meaning to what you type while avoiding repetition. But we couldn’t possibly manually assign a specific word to each element. We also needed to easily control the complexity of the words used, to keep the difficulty balanced. And finally, we had to deal with languages having different word lengths and special characters.

Gameplay wise, our solution was to give to each kind of element a dictionary from which a word is picked up randomly. The dictionaries have a given theme and word length restrictions. For example, the action of creating flowers is defined as easy, and so its dictionary has words which are flower names under 8 characters. The destruction of a rock is considered harder (thus it gives more points), therefore its dictionary uses scientific names of minerals between 8 and 10 characters.

For localization, translators were asked to fill up the dictionaries using the same constraints for every language.

Several Languages in Early Access

Epistory is reaching the end of a six-month early access period, during which we added story content as well as gameplay features. All that content was available in English, German and French since the first day of early access. Spanish was also added later on.

On the one hand, it was a good thing to make early access available in several languages (at least, that’s what our German and French players said). Besides opening the game to more buyers, it allowed us to check the quality of the early access builds thanks to our most dedicated players. For example, without them, we would not have thought about creating a German-Swiss dictionary (which uses “ss” instead of “?”). One German fan even proposed to proof-read the script directly!

On the other hand, that forced us to go through translation process several times as we iterated on the script and level design, which is quite time consuming. The challenge here was to allow an easy integration on our iterative versions.

After several adaptations, we ended up with a configuration that works (surprisingly) well: the script is in an Excel document that directly exports an XML file, while the dictionaries are in a Google spreadsheet with a homemade script that exports a JSON file.

The key was to keep a limited number of languages during early access (3 more languages will come at release). But given the amount of work required to do the translation and keep it up to date, I would not recommend to do that for games with heavy text content. It is preferable to stick to English, at least until the source content is sure not to change too much.

Special Characters

All those beautiful languages have their own eccentricities and colloquialisms, and it is far from obvious to know how they are used when you don’t speak that language. What concerned us the most were the special characters (? in French, ? in German, ? in Polish…). We even have a Russian translation, which means cyrillic alphabet.

Our first approach was to work closely with professional translators in order to have a good understanding of each language. We asked a lot of questions about what special characters are used, how frequently they occur, what keyboard layouts are popular, and so on.

That information helped us set up the rules for the words that players have to type (the dictionaries). We decided that common special characters are an important enough part of a language to be conserved. But the very rare ones (that exist mostly because of etymological history) and the ones that require more than one keystroke have to be avoided. In short, we wanted to avoid any frustration from players confronted to the most complex words their native language can provide.

The other side of the problem was to display those words with a unique font. We have several fonts depending on where text is used in the game, but we did not want to change the font depending on the language. We choose the simplest solution: which was to meticulously choose the fonts we wanted and add any special characters ourselves. We had to buy a specialised software licence, but finding a good font with all the characters required would have been an almost impossible struggle.

Editable by Players

Finally, I want to add something that is not a challenge but an opportunity. We are leveraging our heavily text-based content as an advantage: it’s easy for anyone to edit and create something by just changing the dictionaries.

That’s why we will find a way to let players edit and share their own dictionaries to be used in the game. We’ve already met a teacher who wanted to use Epistory to teach foreign languages to his students. So we hope to see a lot of inspired user-created dictionaries, from the funniest jokes to the most serious creations.(source:Gamasutra