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03-31-2011   #1 (permalink)
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Default Nest Building With Lucius and Princess K: Entry 5 Localizing the Game, Part 1

Welcome, Dragon Nest fans! I’m Desmodeus, the Lead Producer for Dragon Nest. We wanted to keep you updated on the progress of the game. The thing is, two of my Associate Producers wanted to handle this blog. So I decided to let them work on it together in the hope that the two of them might somehow balance each other out. If nothing else, it’s an hour a week where I don’t have to deal with either of them.

-- Desmodeus



This week: Localizing the Game, Part 1

Lucius: I think it’s safe to assume that people know Dragon Nest is originally a Korean game. As a result, bringing it over to the US costs us a lot of time, money, effort, and sanity. The time and effort comes from our skilled translation department. The sanity mostly comes from me. That’s because localizing the game with Princess K is very likely to make me go berserk.


Princess K: Why are you such a negative Nelly? Sure, localization is tough, but that’s why we have such a super-cool and super-talented localization department! Since Dragon Nest is an RPG game, there’s tons and tons of text that goes into the game. Every line of dialogue you read or listen to, every NPC you meet, every item you collect, every map you enter, every game tip you see, they were all originally in Korean. They’re also all in Excel. Do you know what that means?

Lucius: A huge headache from looking at hundreds of thousands of Excel cells.


Princess K: Maybe for you, whiney-butt. Our localization team looks at this as a challenge. They take all of this text and turn it into English. But there’s much more to it than that. First they need to decide on the style of the game, then they translate, then they rewrite the translations.
Lucius: I’ve got to admit, the way they plan this out is actually pretty impressive. It goes like this. Prior to the launch of every game, the localization team declares a war—a war to rid the game of Korean text and replace it with English text that reads well. First, they form their war plan. They call this their style guide.

Princess K: War plan? Leave it to you to come up with that kind of stupid metaphor. I prefer to think of it as transplanting a field of pretty Korean flowers to English soil where they can blossom anew!

Lucius: What’s the Korean word for “barf?”

Princess K: The style guide includes basics like grammar and spelling along with things like characters, monsters, powers, and background story on the world. That allows the team to determine not only what the translation is, but how to properly translate it. You see, a word in Korean might have several possible translations in English. A character saying “Thank you” in Korean might come out in English as “Thanks,” or “Thanks a lot,” or “I am most grateful for your assistance,” depending on the context, such as whether the person saying it is a child, a bartender or a prince. The style guide lets the translator make those determinations.


The style guide is also used by other departments including marketing, who use it when creating ads or promotions. The guide makes sure everything stays consistent. Of course, sometimes we’ll get into long involved discussions about the right way to phrase something…

Lucius: Those are always fun meetings. Princess K always wants to know if we can change phrases like “blood-engorged” and “dripping with slime,” to things like “cute and fluffy,” and “smelling like rainbows!”

Princess K: You use phrases like that to describe kittens!

Lucius: Anyway, equipped with the war plan—err, the style guide—soldiers known as Localization Specialists are sent to the front lines.


They battle through every Excel cell—that’s EVERY SINGLE cell—and translate them into English.

Princess K: This is actually the toughest part of the whole process. Those cells they’re translating aren’t listed in any particular order that makes sense to humans. Sentences are riddled with codes. Sometimes it’s just impossible to make sense of a sentence without doing a ton of research online.

Lucius: When the specialists claim victory over the Korean cells and the cells are all English, that’s when the cleanup crew comes in—the copy editors.


Just like the job title suggests, these people edit copy. That means they revise and rewrite almost everything to make it read well and fall within the rules of the style guide.

Princess K: What the copy editors do is especially important because very often the direct translation just doesn’t make sense in English. Sometimes it makes a reference that’s really funny because it refers to something in Korean culture that doesn’t have any analog in English. That’s when they have to get creative. If you find a hilarious line in the game, you have our amazing copy editors to thank. More than likely, that joke was added during the translation process.

Lucius: So there you have it—the headache inducing process of localizing the game text. When Dragon Nest goes live and you’re in the game, take some time to read everything that’s in front of you, okay?

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