Logrus IT: Our Game Localization Journey

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Game Localization Journey

The new year is a great time to take stock and look back at everything you’ve accomplished. And we’ve got a lot to talk about! Our company turned 30 this year, and we’ve spent 26 of those years in game localization. We’d like to tell you a little about our journey, what we’ve learned, and what we’ve brought to the industry over the last three decades.

Our Origin Story

Logrus IT was founded in 1993. We mostly translated software interfaces and reference materials at first, but our game localization odyssey began just four years later. The first game we localized was The Pink Panther: Passport to Peril. As was often the case back then, the publishers basically gave us total creative freedom – our main goal was to make sure players enjoyed the game. And that’s what we did. Fans still have fond memories of our localized and voiced version of the Pink Panther.

We later helped two cult-favorite shooters break into the international market: Max Payne and Max Payne 2 from Remedy and Rockstar Games, Serious Sam from Croteam and Take-Two Interactive, After that, we localized and recorded voiceover for the legendary adventure game Syberia, which was famous for its visual effects and unique, mystical atmosphere.

And that was just the beginning. Since then, we’ve worked on titles in all genres – action games, RPGs, strategy games, puzzle games, you name it. We were drawn to new opportunities, we weren’t afraid of challenges and experiments, and our team dove headfirst into every new localization project. Speaking of diving, in 2006 we adapted Silent Hunter III, a German submarine sim set in World War II. We wanted to make sure the player felt like they were really in charge of a Kriegsmarine crew, so we painstakingly studied submarine technology and recruited a whole team of specialists to assist our translators.

By the mid-2010s we were already well known as a dependable localizer in the video game industry. Our clients included giants such as Blizzard and Ubisoft, and we localized legendary franchises such as Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry. Things never got stale because every new project gave us new challenges to tackle.

A few of our projects weren’t too far removed from localizing a movie or TV series. For example, the voiceover for the cutscenes in the outer-space RTS Halo Wars had to be synchronized with the characters’ existing mouth movements, and the sim Barn Finders, which has the player visiting various abandoned barns in the American South, was full of hard-to-translate regional expressions.

When working with other games, our main challenge is always making sure we get difficult terminology just right, so we look for specialists in less common fields to act as consultants. The subs in Silent Hunter III weren’t the only terminological challenge we faced. Other examples included the tactical shooter Vietcong and the civilian aircraft simulator Microsoft Flight Simulator X – we worked with a military translator for the former and brought three pilots in to help us with the latter.

We’re past masters at traditional fantasy worlds. The team that localized Might and Magic Heroes VII included sword-and-sorcery pros who had worked on all the previous installments in the series and could easily tell you how alternative units can influence combat or compare the archangel’s Inspiration skill to the orc’s Rage ability.

When it comes to artistry rather than magic, the most demanding project we ever worked on was Child of Light, a game whose text is composed entirely of rhyming couplets. It’s a 10+ hour game, and we localized it and recorded voiceover for it – all in rhyme, all with the right rhythm and emotion, and in far less time than is usually given to literary translators who specialize in poetry.

How Do We Do It?

We could go on and on about our projects past and present, but let’s focus on another aspect of what we do. People often ask us what our primary goal is as localizers.

Well, it all depends on the project. There are some games with almost no text – the characters don’t talk, and all we have to do is translate a few menu strings and a description for Steam. For others, even the interface is a kind of puzzle – for example, when translating from Chinese into English, all the text for buttons becomes several times longer, and sometimes it won’t even fit on the screen, especially in mobile games. And that’s just the beginning – there’s also lore, in-game encyclopedias, and dialog, sometimes with a host of hard-to-translate dialectisms, jargon, and puns. And even once the game comes out, our work still isn’t done – there are events and seasonal competitions, daily notifications, and even descriptions of bug fixes, and it all needs to be translated into various languages.

That’s why we take a unique approach to every project – for some clients, we handle every aspect of the project, but for others, we might only perform specific tasks. For example, the publishers of the mobile MOBA Mobile Legends: Bang Bang hired us to record voice over using an existing translation – they needed Turkish, Arabic, Russian, Khmer, and Burmese, and we work with these languages. Nexters hired us to evaluate the quality of existing localization of several of their games into English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Brazilian Portuguese.

Wait a sec... We just “evaluated the quality of existing localizations?” So someone else did all the work, and we just made sure there weren’t any mistakes in the translation?

Not quite. What we call linguistic quality assurance (LQA) at Logrus is actually a large-scale, multi-stage process. The first step is automated – we use specialized tools (including our proprietary app AssurIT) to identify any suspicious strings in the text. Then we and our native-speaker partners determine how accurate the translation is, how it sounds, and how well the text matches the standards of the language we’re localizing it into – and it’s not always simple or obvious. For example, did you know that in French, you’re supposed to use a space before certain punctuation marks, but not others?

Once this phase is done, our testers get to work looking for localization bugs in an actual build of the game – for example, they check to make sure the encoding doesn’t mess up and display a strange, unwanted character in some window or other.

This holistic approach to quality assurance allows us to eliminate even the tiniest localization issues, whether it’s in indie projects like the fantasy game Kujlevka or the noir game Gemini Rue, or AAA games with dozens of hours and hundreds of thousands of words of dialog alone.

Who are We Now?

Over the last quarter of a century we’ve transformed from a small localization company to an expert in the video game industry. We don’t just translate and test games for leading publishers and developers, we also follow developments in the gamedev scene. You can find our employees at international festivals, conferences, and other major events in the gaming world.

We’re always learning, and we’re more than happy to share what we’ve learned – we consult with developers on issues they can expect to face when breaking into new markets, and we give talks and interviews.

But Logrus IT is about a lot more than just translation and in-game text. If you want to be confident about your title’s release on a new market, we can draw art assets with your characters in them, write synopses of levels, prepare marketing materials, and provide tech support in multiple languages. Our clients can come to us with any problem, and we’ll provide a turnkey solution. That’s our greatest source of pride today. And, needless to say, we still aren’t about to rest on our laurels – we’ve got new levels to beat and new records to break in the new year!

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