Translating Rising Constellation from French into English was always a crucial part of Blackflag Games Studio’s release plan. With that said, it wasn’t until questions and comments about the game’s English release started piling up that we recognized the urgency of such a project.
We had originally intended to translate the game into English directly following its full release and once all functionalities and features were soundly implemented. We wanted to wait until the game was finished before translating it. We predicted that the game’s text elements would be in constant evolution in the last months of development and supposed it would be more efficient to translate everything in one fell swoop once the French version of game was finished and we were satisfied with its lexicon.
However, after receiving questions and comments like the ones below following the game’s Early Access release on November 25, 2020, we quickly decided to push up the translation project on our list of priorities to satisfy the demand for an English version of the game.
We began the big English translation push in early January of 2021. Our hope was to have the entirety of the game’s text (or at least the portions of text that existed so far) translated within a few weeks. We had no idea how much text there really was to translate, how long translations of this scale took, nor what tools we could use to help with the translation process. Luckily, our colleague and one of the two translators, Gencive Kahn, stumbled upon an enormously helpful tool that became instrumental in the translation process.
The tool in question, Weblate, is a web-based localization software with Git integration that automatically pushes and merges changes into the code (in this case the game’s code). With this open-source tool deployed on our infrastructure we were able to locate all the game’s text elements and enter them into Weblate’s registry of terms. These terms, known as strings, can range from a single word to full paragraphs of text. They represent the various locations in which in-game text can be found within the lines of code. Once a string is located, it essentially turns into a placeholder and various versions of the string can be swapped in and out depending on the language chosen. It’s a great way to separate developing from translating and avoids the need for creating different builds for each language.
With this tool at our disposal, Gencive Kahn went about creating the strings and splitting them into different categories: error messages, game data, game UI, and portal UI. After a few days telling Weblate which parts of the would be subject to translation, we finally had a better understanding of how much translating needed to happen: 7465 words.
Error message: 99 strings (517 words)
Game data: 877 strings (2718 words)
Game UI: 498 strings (3291 words)
Portal UI: 217 strings (939 words)
Total: 1691 strings (7465 words)
Then it was up Floseidon, translator number two, to step up to the plate, comb through the strings and propose translations for each one. 7465 words is about 15 pages of text. Extremely experienced translators can translate around 500 words per hour and would take approximately 15 hours to translate these strings. However, neither Floseidon nor Gencive Kahn had ever worked on translations of this size, so they would be hard-pressed to match that kind of efficiency. What’s more, the fact that a lot of the strings contain words and concepts that were invented for the Rising Constellation universe, made this translation process quite a bit more complex.
In the end, after many late-night translation sessions and a few discussions between the translators and the developers regarding the fidelity of certain translations, the game was finally translated into English. Overall, a total of 30 hours over two months were spent translating and reviewing the translations for the game’s 1691 strings. Not bad for a team of two translators with no real translation experience!
The game can now be enjoyed by a much larger audience and its sales potential has increased dramatically.