Localization now available: German and Dutch

If you’re a big gamer you might have noticed that most games support multiple languages – even indie-games! As a Dutch person I’m not used to having content localized at all. Of course there are movie subtitles available in Dutch, but aside from that I wouldn’t even consider switching language from English to Dutch. Yet the topic of ‘localization’ kept lingering in the back of my head.

Past work experience taught me that not all countries feel the same way about English-only content. My country’s Eastern neighbour (Germany) for example is very accustomed to translated content. Additionally, there are countries where the population percentage speaking English is quite low. All in all, it seemed worth some investment to try to get my game localized.

Localization challenges

If you ever made something that you wanted to localize you might know this video. Whether you were translating, using different time zones, currencies, or something else, it’s just not that simple. For my game localization meant changing the date format (24-05-2021, 2021/05/24, 24.05.2021, …) and the language itself. Since I don’t show a lot of dates and the C# programming language has some built-in features for that, this was the easy part. Getting everything translated was a bigger challenge though.
This video perfectly depicts the topics you’ll have to think about when it comes to localization.

Plural forms

The thing that surprised me the most was that the number of plural forms may differ across languages. What does that mean? Well, I’ll illustrate it with the word “Dog” in English, German and French.
English: 0 dogs, 1 dog, 2 dogs
German: 0 Hunde, 1 Hund, 2 Hunde
French: 0 chien, 1 chien, 2 chiens
In English and German, having 0 or 2+ dogs would result in the word “dogs”, where having 1 dog results in “dog”. In French however, having 0 or 1 dog results in “chien” where 2+ dogs results in “chiens”. The rules of which plural form to apply are different!

Alright so that’s something you can program, right? A basic if/else statement for French, and maybe for another language, sure. But what if I told you it gets vastly more complex then this? The table below already shows how complex it can get for Russian for example, and then I haven’t even mentioned the 6 forms of Arabic and Welsh. This blog tells you all about the challenges with plural forms.

I was lucky to find that Unity, the editor in which One More Island is built, has a Localization system that actually supports all these shenanigans. Now it was just a matter of collaborating with the translators, nothing I couldn’t handle 😉

Localization to which languages?

Before actually starting the translation work, I had to determine which languages to support. Although only roughly 0.4% of the world population speaks Dutch, the fact that I’m a native Dutch speaker made this the sensible choice to start with. While translating and changing my game piece by piece to work with translated content, I encountered a lot of parts that needed refactoring so I’m really glad I did that before hiring a translator.

Since One More Island focuses around logistics and about 4% of the Steam userbase speaks German, that seemed the best next language to support. The market is well-suited for simulation/logistics games (Anno and The Settlers are German ;-)) and since the language is very similar to Dutch, it was still easy to support for me.

Coming months

Now with those languages tackled, I’m being approached by freelancers that want to translate my game into Russian, Portuguese, and some other languages. Although having the game translated sounds great, I do see a lot of risk in not being able to read these languages myself. My German translator did a fabulous job, there were some words that didn’t fit the context, or there were some (critical) line breaks missing. How would I be able to correct this for languages with an entirely different alphabet, like Russian…?

That’s a challenge for the future. For now I’m preparing for the release on the 20th of July with English, German and Dutch. And who knows, perhaps the Community is willing to do some translation work in the future 😉