So I’m getting Democracy 3 translated into German, if you didn’t already know :D. This has involved quite a lot of hassle, so i thought I’d jot down some thoughts and lessons learned. Firstly, I’d like to make the business case for it. The case is based on this:
- Germans love strategy games
- Germany is the top selling market for the game that does not have English as its first language.
- The non-English speaking German population is non trivial. (src: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_English-speaking_population) at 36%.
- If I assume that the game has only reached the 64% of potential Germans who speak English, and do the maths, if there is a corresponding bump in sales of the German version, then this will put the port into a decent profit.
Add to this the fact that a lot of people outside Germany also speak German, plus that percentage of people who speak English but would prefer the game in the first language, and I think it makes economic sense. I’m also figuring in some ‘goodwill’ value for translating a small indie game to German.
Ok, so it makes sense, but what are the costs?
Firstly there is the cost of the actual translation. The game has 34,000 words of text, so that is quite a big expense. I know many indie games ‘crowdsource’ this stuff, but I find that a bit risky. Don’t forget some people on the web are just maniacs, how do you *know* that half way through the description for income tax there isn’t a huge racist rant, or maybe a load of swear words? or in my case, more subtly, how do I know the descriptions of the voter types and policies have not been skewed to suit the persons political views offering the ‘free’ translation? I prefer to have a contract, and right-of-redress for any lawsuits/damages/grief…
Secondly, there is the fixing of the code. German is loooooooooooong. A simple word in English is often about 10,000 syllables in German. Don’t believe me? just listen to Henning:
But I digress…. What this means is that a lot of text blocks in the game no longer fit. Buttons are not big enough, titles need to word-wrap or be cropped, and so on. Plus of course there are exciting new characters to be added (only a few), and because Democracy 3 uses bitmapped fonts (pre-rendered) I needed to change code to support that (and re-render them all). The vast majority of this work is just scanning through the code and adding scrollbars to text and ‘…’ where it might be needed. The GOOD news (and another reason to do German first) is that once this is done, if I choose to do French, Italian or Spanish, the text should already fit fine.
And lastly, there is the admin cost. The steam promotional graphics need to be changed. My own webpage will need changing. I’m planning on translating the trailer. New builds need to be made, and the translated content checked so it works ok. Plus I actually need to upload the stuff. Democracy 3 is about 200 MB on disk. It comes in mac,Linux & PC, so thats 600MB. It goes to my site, BMTMicro, Steam and GoG, and the mac game store. This is a huge number of builds. Now double it for German. I have rural broadband. This literally starts to take days to upload… (You can do a ‘shared content’ thing on steam, but thats only for steam, so I’m keeping it simple and just doing totally fresh builds for everyone).
Will it be worth it? Who knows! I hope so, and I’ll certainly blog about it’s success/failure.
BTW Redshirt is 25% off for a while. Go get it.