Allow language selection?

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Phil Steinmeyer, Nov 22, 2006.

  1. Phil Steinmeyer

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    Assuming it is technically easy for a game to support, should a game allow on-the-fly language switching?

    I know some sites will only feature, say, the German version of a game. It is also possible to put them all in a single installer, and the user selects at install-time. But a 3rd possibility is to allow on-the-fly language switching, via a choice in the in-game options menu or via a flag icon on the game's initial screen.

    This doesn't prevent the game from defaulting to a particular language based on an install-time choice, or based on an INI file flag tweaked by whoever does the builds for each language, or even based on what the game detects from the user's operating system language, but it would offer certain advantages:

    1) All languages always available - no special effort required by an underpaid technician at a small site who may not follow directions correctly when setting up the installer.
    2) If the user makes an error, it's easy to reverse without re-installing.
    3) Some foreign users who speak, say German, but are reasonably English-fluent may not be sure whether to run the game in their native language (risking a bad translation) or in English. This allows them to try it easily at run-time.

    The only downsides I can think of are:
    1) A bit more work (not much, I don't think)
    2) I haven't seen this in casual games downloaded from American-oriented sites. If I had this feature 'always on', it might confuse some American consumers (the bulk of the audience).

    Comments on this issue and/or ways to present language choices to the user?
     
  2. Phil Steinmeyer

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    Oh, and another question especially for the foreign developers/players out there used to looking at localized versions of English-originated games:

    The one area where I'm a bit unsure about localizing is certain legal text.

    Some libraries may require certain text be included on a credits screen or in a readme. The text is usually in English with no provision for a translated version. Is it common to see bits of English copyright notices and the like in an otherwise fully translated game?

    What about EULAs? My options are:
    1) No EULA in foreign versions - appealing on some levels, but again, some libraries may require click-through EULAs
    2) English EULA in all versions
    3) Localized EULA (yuck - expensive)
     
  3. soniCron

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    I won't even try to attempt to answer your question, because I'm hardly qualified. However, I'll point out that I've played a number of European console games over the years that feature language selection. Their American counterparts have never had the option, however. For what it's worth. :)
     
  4. ZeHa

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    Try "Clever & Smart" on the C64, it's available in English, French and German. Before the game starts, you see three flags on the screen and you may choose one of them.

    I think that would be the best solution. Don't make three different versions or allow the player to choose his language during install. Just let him choose once before the game starts. Then save his selection. If he wants to change it later, he can always pick it from the Options menu ;)
     
  5. digriz

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    -- double post, oops --
     
  6. digriz

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    soniCron is right when he says that American games tend not to have multi language support, at least in the retail sector. In fact i've only really seen multiple languages in European versions of games. On a side note, i've always thought it strange that the US versions didn't have a few languages implemented, America is a very big multi-cultural society after all.

    As a suggestion, if you're going to have it, on first running your game the first screen to show would be a screen with language selections. Flags are always a good way of depicting it; this way, you don't need translations for that screen. Once the language has been selected then this screen never comes up at the start of the game.

    Also add the language select menu into your options menu somewhere. If the player wants to change the language at a later date, then it's a pretty simple task.
     
  7. kevryan

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    I put multi language support in The Incredible Machine - it shipped with I think five languages. You could switch languages at any time from the options screen and IIRC it would ask which language you wanted the first time it ran.

    Technically it wasn't hard at all. The only problem that I can remember running into was certain German words turned out to be quite long. In some cases slightly longer than the space allocated for them on the screen. In the design/implementation I tried to limit as much as possible the amount of text used within bitmaps as it was more labor intensive to get the artwork changed.
     
  8. HairyTroll

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  9. samnova

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    When we did some preinstalled games for Siemens mobile phones (RIP) we had to support 34 languages, including Asian languages and Russian and so forth (so Unicode all over the place). Since then I always felt it was easy to support EGIFS (English, German, Italian, French and Spanish) (not sure about the normal order of these).
    I would in any case prepare any game I work on for localization and then at a later stage decide what and how much to support (beyond English of course).
    Also prepare your system for loading graphics in case you decide to localize some graphics elements (signs with text!!!).

    But one issue I have always annoyed producers/designers with, the selection itself. I strongly suggest a nice graphics screen with each language written (in the right language, so Danish would be Dansk). I dislike using flags as flags represent countries and not languages (but often it is easier for the user...). I'm living in Switzerland, so here people would select between 3 languages (and some English)… but we don’t live in Germany, Italian or France ;)

    Anyway, just my point of view…
     
  10. ninesquirrels

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    We do all of our languages (usually French, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, and German) in every build, and have an ingame selection option. We then do a check of the operating system on first load to auto-set the language on first load, and if they want to change it from that, it's their option. We have fouind that many Asian and European users enjoy playing the games in other languages, and have enjoyed the simplicity of a single build that goes everywhere.

    I am proud to say Magic Lanterns was in Chinese, Taiwanese, Finnish, and Norwegian as well, BTW. :)

    Cn
     

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