Planning for Localization

:earth_africa: Welcome to our best practices for localizing your Roblox experiences! In this series, we’ll delve into the essential aspects of making your games and creations accessible to a global audience. While automatic translation is a great step forward for all experiences, developing your localization is essential to expanding your global reach and audience.

This is part 1 of a 4 part series on localization, primarily targeted to developers or studios that are using or are considering using translators for their localization.

The Benefits of Localization

There are various ways to expand growth to international markets. However, one of the biggest hurdles to reach a global audience is breaking the language barrier.

This goes beyond simple translation as there are several nuances to be taken into consideration when taking on the task to address users globally. This is where proper localization comes in to help your experience succeed on Roblox.

As the Roblox platform expands its International growth, localization becomes increasingly important for developers aiming to broaden their audience and attain lasting success. By localizing their experiences early on, developers can lay the foundation for sustainable growth and success in the global market.

Why should you invest in localization?

  • Expand Reach
    • More than 50% of Roblox users are NOT located in North America
    • Having a well localized experience will give you an edge against other experiences
  • Increase User Adoption
    • Localization will help your experience to not only grow users but also retain them.
  • Enhance User Experience
    • Cultural Relevance to ensure you are relevant locally
    • Brand recognition through consistency in your translation
    • Positive Perception in market

Planning for Localization

In order to successfully localize an experience and to ensure that our non-English speaking users have the same great experience as our English-speaking community, we break up the localization process into 3 stages: preparation, translation, and testing.

Preparation

Think about your localization strategy early on in the planning stages of your experience. Consider the following aspects:

  • What languages should your experience be available in?
  • What localization method will you use - human translation, machine translation, or both?
  • Where will you source human translators?
  • What budget do you have available for localization?

Scheduling

Include localization in the game development roadmap, especially if you plan to work with human translators.

  • Factor in time to source translators.
  • Agree on a translation turnaround time and/or deadline with your translators. Most translators translate at about 200-300 words per hour.
  • Start the localization process once most or all of the content strings are finalized. This way, you can avoid paying for translations of strings that you won’t end up using.
  • If you plan on having your experience fully localized on launch, finalize content strings at least 1-2 weeks in advance to allow ample time for translations and quality assurance.
  • Factor in time for in-context review of the translations and fixing potential internationalization bugs.

Budget

Plan for a localization budget depending on the target audience and production value of your experience. If you’re working with human translators, research their fee. Note that the average localization fee varies by language. Translators most commonly charge by the word or by the hour. An approximate word count of your content strings will help you estimate costs.

Sourcing Human Translators

There are various options to hire translators to work on your experience.

  • Publish a localization job opportunity on Roblox’s Talent Hub. There is a growing pool of currently around 3000 Creators in the Translators group of the Developer Forum (i.e. Creators that declared translation as one of their activities on Roblox). One advantage of working with Roblox translators (i.e. translators that have a Roblox account) is that they have direct access to Roblox’ localization tool Translator Portal, which allows for automated, agile workflows without the need for manual localization table uploads and downloads. Learn more about adding translators to the Translator Portal.
  • You can hire Non-Roblox translators (i.e. translators that do not have access to a Roblox account), e.g. by working with a localization agency or directly with freelance translators. Learn more about Working with Non-Roblox Translators.

Internationalization & Designing with Localization in Mind

Internationalization means preparing the code for localization. Without proper internationalization, in-experience texts cannot be translated. Learn more about preparing your experience for localization here.

Designing with localization in mind means understanding and accommodating the characteristics of different languages and cultures.

Did you know that many languages like German or Indonesian take up over 30% more space compared to English on average? Or that colors have different meanings in different cultures? White, for example, is commonly worn at weddings in countries like the US, whereas it’s the color of funeral attire in places like Vietnam.

These are some of the most common internationalization and design issues to avoid:

  • Truncations - Translated texts do not fit into buttons, dialog fields, etc.
  • Unlocalized number formats - Times, dates are shown in US format, not local formats. Learn more about Translating Dynamic Content
  • Unlocalized text - Strings may be hard coded or not activated for localization.
  • Cultural faux pas - Certain references or types of content can be offensive in some countries.

Context and Linguistic Assets

“Does the string ‘back’ refer to a UI button or a body part?” Translators are frequently faced with questions of this kind.

Localization includes the process of translating concepts, not words. This is why it’s important to provide translators with as much context and reference material as possible before they get started.

The following assets can be helpful for translators to understand the content they’re working with.

  • Any available specs, such as game design documents, slide decks, imagery or descriptions of the experience. These references will also allow the translators to detect and flag any potential cultural issues early on.
  • A screen recording of a playthrough of the experience once it’s close to being finalized. This can also help make sure that text strings get auto captured for translation and helps translators find all the strings during the in-context translation review.
  • Beta access. Grant translators access to closed beta versions of the experience if applicable, so that they can familiarize themselves with the experience, and flag internationalization issues before public release.
    • To do so, invite translators to join the experience’s Roblox working group and then add them to the experience.
    • Copy material for reference, e.g. dialogs with NPCs. Stings in the Translator Portal are sometimes fragmented, so having access to entire dialogs for reference in a separate document can help puzzle together those fragments.

In some cases, e.g. if you’re working with a brand, certain linguistic guidelines may already be available for some languages. Sharing that information with translators can help ensure linguistic, stylistic and brand consistency.

  • Linguistic assets - e.g. glossary, style guide, website links, DNTs (Do not translate - a list of words and phrases that should be kept in the source languages.)

Translation

Sharing source content

Once the source content is ready for translation, share it with the translators (note that co-creators also need to be added as translators to access the Translator Portal). If you work with Roblox translators (i.e. translators that have access to a Roblox account), share a direct link to your experience’s Translator Portal. Read more about Accessing the Translator Portal.

If you work with non-Roblox translators (i.e. translators that do not have access to a Roblox account), share the .csv file of your localization table with them. Read more about Working with Non-Roblox Translators.

Query management

Once the translators begin to translate in-experience content, they may come across strings whose meaning isn’t clear due to lack of context. The homonym “back”, for instance, could refer to a UI button meaning “previous”, or it could refer to an avatar body part, which would be translated differently:

Provide translators with a forum to ask clarifying questions by setting up or agreeing upon a query system, such as a spreadsheet or a chat group, and provide answers frequently.

Updated content notifications

In order to keep translations updated, please notify your translators about any newly added or updated experience name, description, strings or products.

Small changes to the experience description can be hard to spot, so it is recommended to provide a change log document that highlights the specific updates.

Testing - In-Context Translation Review

Once the translations have been added to the localization table, they will automatically be applied to the experience. Now is a good time to visit and test the experience in all the translated languages. Ideally, this should be done by the translators that are assigned to your experience, so they can fix any translation errors directly in the Translator Portal. Some internationalization bugs can also be detected by non-language speakers, so developers can go ahead and test the experience themselves if translators aren’t available for this step.

Here is a list of some internationalization issues to watch out for:

  • Unlocalized content - This usually happens when Autotranslate is not activated and the strings were not translated by manual translators. It is also possible that the strings were not added to the localization table, either automatically or manually. Try this:
    • Make sure that “AutoLocalize” is activated for the affected element in Studio.
    • Make sure that “Automatic Text Capture” and “Use Translated Content” is activated in Creator Hub
    • Make sure to collect the text strings into the localization table by “encountering” them in the experience as a player.
  • Truncations - Translated content sometimes takes up more space in the UI than English, leading to cut-off or trailing texts. Try this:
    • Ask your translator to shorten the translation if possible
    • Create larger or dynamically sized UI elements, such as NPC text fields, tables or UI buttons.
  • Unlocalized number formats - Times, dates are shown in US format, not local formats. Try this:
  • Culturally inappropriate content - Certain references that are appropriate for one country can be problematic in other cultures, e.g. Geishas in Japan, or World War II related imagery in Germany. Try this:
    • Consult with cultural experts, such as in-country translators.

That concludes our overview on localization planning! Leave any feedback and comments below. If you’d like to continue our localization best practices series, head on over to Getting the Best Out Of The Roblox Localization Tools.

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