Heroes in the Sky Dev Diary: Localization

GAMEScampus is preparing to launch Heroes in the Sky later this week. HIS is a MMOTPS (massive multi-player online third person shooter) based in World War II, combining PVE and PVP as it chronicles what happened during the war. Cannon fire, machine gun blasts, missiles, and bombs will be your weapons while you watch the skies for enemies with other 15 players fighting for air superiority.

GAMEScampus has sent us a Dev Diary describing Localization in Heroes in the Sky. It is a very interesting reading for a gamer that gets you closer to the issues that every dev has to face daily. In addition we have two exclusive screenshots related to the topic of the diary. Have a look at what’s new in Heroes in the Sky.


Localization is a fascinating job, largely because most people don’t appear to fully grasp just how difficult it is. One might assume, erroneously, that you just drop the entire text file into Google translate and walk away finished. If only it were that easy, that would perhaps explain the anger gamers tend to exude when a title takes months or even years to move from one language to another.

Think of it as something like baking a cake, you have various ingredients that do not initially look very flattering but once properly combined and processed they result in a delicious confectionary treat for many to enjoy (generally feeding the population of the party minus one, cake is magically devilish that way). We start first with the actual solid matter, that text, a massive and initially endless looking text in a language that few in the office will understand. In the case of HIS we were dealing with Korean, a fairly simple character system but it turns out just sounding things out is not the same as translating (as the odd looks I received reminded me).

Your translations will likely not be one for one either, it may come as a surprise to some people but there are even character limits that companies must restrain themselves within. Deciding on the proper font is critical as well; think of it as the difference between whole egg and egg whites. Your decision determines greatly how much you can have without getting bloated and stretching off your text box. I fear I may be stretching this analogy too far.

There is also the case of Human error, I personally looked at the same screen a hundred or so times before GM RainbowExplode pointed out “Both these modes say BATTLE”. I looked at one, and then the other, and it was startling. I had flash backs to oh so many wood shop assignments that ended with my realizing I had a half dozen pieces of wood left. Something indeed, had gone awry.

So there are thousands of lines, font choice, character limits, and human error. One would think that this would be it. But then you’ve got updates and consistency! Oh my! It is as if the process was designed to stress you out as much as it can. With each new update you have new texts that must be translated and you must reference that against previous contents. All this without even seeing 98% of it in game, so guessing becomes critical. A good example in English is if someone told you that X was fired, are we talking from cannons, was it in a kiln, or did this item just lose its job? Take this kind of ambiguity and multiply it many thousands of times.

This is why the process is so time consuming. In the end it is wonderful to see suggestions you’ve made or translations you’ve done in a product that is enjoyed by hundreds, thousands, and for some lucky individuals millions.
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