Improving the French localization of René Bühling's indie game A Room Beyond

Game Localization Case Study

About the project

A Room Beyond is a dark pixel-style fantasy point and click adventure game inspired by literature, art, games and movies in the genre of Victorian horror fiction.

René Bühling is the indie dev behind A Room Beyond
He reached out to Level Up Translation after French players complained of the localization of the first two episodes, which was problematic for a game with a heavy focus on narration.

Service:           Editing
Language:       French
Game type:     Point and click
Word count:    8,200 words

Platform:          PC
Game studio:   René Bühling

Project Management

We love and care for video games. This is why we have the most rigorous and professional standards when it comes to their localization.

Challenges

 Improving a bad translation

Ensuring translation consistency throughout an episodic game

Reflecting the influence of H.P. Lovecraft's work in the French translation of the game

• Meeting the requirements of an indie budget

Bad localization ruins the experience of the players, your reputation and ultimately your ROI.

I. Text analysis

Reviews from the French players on Steam had pointed out several problems with the localization of Episode I & II that were disruptive and detrimental to the immersion into the game.

We analyzed the existing translations and indeed found a lot of spelling mistakes, syntax and grammar issues as well as mistranslations like this one:

 

Source:            Select Save Slot

Original:          Sélectionner fente pour sauvegarder

Problem:         "Slot" was literally translated as
physical slot for memory cards

Edited:            Sélectionnez un emplacement de sauvegarde



We also noticed inconsistencies in the use of imperative and infinitive form (-er/ez).

The style was quite poor, not well defined and the name of the main threat in the game, the “Fog Wanderer” was poorly translated as “Le Nomade” (literally “The Nomad”)

II. How we improved the translation

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In order to get a better understanding of the game and do the best job possible, we asked the studio to provide us reference material. René sent us his Conceptual & Style guide that contained information about the plot, but also detailed the personality of the main characters as well as their way of speaking, which of course had to be reflected in the French translation.

We also set up an online Questions & Answers sheet in order to communicate with René and get more information regarding certain strings from the game (context, references, addressee, etc.).

Quick feedback and extensive explanations provided by René were key in order to significantly improve the existing translations.

We started with renaming the Fog Wanderer as “Le Rôdeur (dans le brouillard)” as this name translates much better the vagueness of a threat lurking in the fog and the predatory nature of the Wanderer.

We paid special attention to improving the style, following Lovecraft's advice that “Prime emphasis should be given to subtle suggestion”. We added touches of eerieness and a sense of indefinable danger whenever this was missing in the original translation.

Also acknowledging that “The average student is gravely impeded by the narrow range of words from which he must choose” as Lovecraft says, the translation also got a vocabulary overhaul.

Episode III introduces Cthulu and several references are made to this myth created by H.P. Lovecraft, so we carried some research on the topic. The game also features an excerpt from The Call of Cthulu. In order to be consistent with the novel, we looked for each of the many existing French translations and decided which one would fit the game best.

Our French game localization specialist finally made sure the translation was free of the typos or grammar mistakes that spoiled the experience of the French players in the original translation.

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Challenges

• Improving a bad translation

• Ensuring translation consistency throughout an episodic game

• Reflect the influence of H.P. Lovecraft's work in French translation of the game

• Indie budget

Project Management

Services

Level Up Translation

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