Part 9: Quality Assurance
Various quality tests to catch and correct issues, as well as to maximize the overall quality of a game, can be performed at any time during the localization process of a game, whether it's before, during or after the development process. After the LSP delivers the localized game, complete with translated and reintegrated strings and files, game designers, developers or publishers receiving the finalized version should always consider post-localization testing.
Common localization test methods
There is a fairly extensive range of options for in-process, pre- and post-localization tests that can help stakeholders ensure their games' quality and minimize any risk of problems emerging after the game has gone to market. These are some of the industry's most commonly used approaches to testing:
- One approach is for game developers to simply provide translators with screenshots of localized UIs. Translators then review the photos and provide lists of errors, usually through an online repository, or just in a shared spreadsheet in Google Sheets (for example) as indications of what needs to be corrected.
- A more robust approach is for game developers to supply translators with abundant contextual information by having them actually play the game through to the end before obtaining their feedback on localization issues. In some cases, developers can provide translators with cheat codes to help move them through the game faster.
- Working with abundant information on how the game's logic works during play is immensely helpful in achieving quality translations. Development teams should leave notes for text strings to provide translators with as much information as possible. Combined with full-scope linguistic testing post-localization, game developers can better ensure top-quality results.
- Having translators play the game is a superior approach on several levels. It ideally provides the necessary context and allows translators to fully engage with game, thereby forming a first-hand connection to the game's characters and environment. Be sure to communicate in advance with any legal teams to ensure that it is permissible for translators to acclimate by playing the game.
- It is recommended that the localized game product be subjected to a third-party translation review (this is a standard approach in the industry). After localization is complete, a third-party reviewer can evaluate the work using a range of QA metrics.
- If budget or time limitations prohibit a full review, at least try to conduct brief QA checks in-house before reintegrating the localized content back into the game build.
- At a minimum, it is recommended that stakeholders compare two post-edited translation variants using TQAuditor, Change Tracker or any other tools for monitoring translation quality.
- Interim test measures can include using Xbench or CAT tools, for example, to conduct in-house quality checks of the localized multilingual files before reintegrating them back into the game's architecture.
- To help ensure the smoothest and most productive localization project possible, start early with implementation of CAT tools and the establishment of QA environments. Using these resources and QA strategies early in the process is essential, especially when working with budgets that does not permit full review. Applying QA tools will also help you to identify who are the producers of the best quality translations.
NOTE: Some file formats may not support the QA software applications you want to utilize, so please do find out about compatibility before you select your testing tools.
Today's game makers usually depend on beta testing to locate flaws of any kind in a game before officially releasing it. Such testing should be conducted before the initial release of a localized game into an international market as well. If possible, choose testers who are highly proficient linguists in the language in which the game has been localized and who are skilled gamers.
Guidelines for game testing
Here are some things you can do to increase the efficiency, robustness and benefits of your game localization quality testing:
- Provide clear directions for testers — Write a list of objectives that clarify what testers are evaluating, what the recognizable benchmarks for quality are (accurate translations, words, symbols, images, behaviors, references, etc.) and what may be offensive in some cultures, among other quality measures.
- Provide methods of sharing feedback — Your game testers need someplace to submit their feedback. Compose clear instructions for submitting feedback and distribute these to your entire body of testers in order to give everyone the opportunity to offer their input. The more feedback you generate from your team, the less likely your project will be to encounter negative feedback from gamers who buy and play the game.
- Assign team roles — Assign translators, QA testers, lead translators, lead testers, etc., to establish a chain of authority for resolving disagreements on translations, test findings and so on. This should subsequently maintain forward momentum throughout the process.
- Test during development — Testing during game development can reduce the risk of negative surprises after the product is released in the international market for which it is being localized.
- Thank people — Remember to demonstrate your brand's business etiquette — incorporate a method of thanking people for taking time to help improve the game by providing their feedback.
Testing throughout all phases of game development and localization, right up to the release of the game into international markets, is the first fundamental for meeting a game developer's obligation to deliver a quality experience for consumers who buy and use a game. In-country reviewers can arguably provide the strongest line of defense against quality issues, and testing with gamers in the international target market is among the ultimate QA testing options. Discuss the most practical testing options for your game based on the unique properties of your game, as well as on time and budget considerations.
So with that, quality assurance is done. Next time in Part 10, we look at localization markets for video games. We will cover which are the most common languages/countries for games localization, what influences companies' decisions to have their games localized, and what the localization market looks like for translating home console games vs. the rising popularity of mobile games. It will be a deeper insight into the market and serves to provide our readers with a greater understanding of how localization decisions are made on both sides. We look forward to seeing you there.