In order to deliver kickass localization, great collaboration with our partners is essential. Not everyone is suited to working with us though—and that's fine, as long as both parties are aware of it before engaging in a project together.
Keeping in mind that we want to create a mutually beneficial relationship (no midi-chlorians involved), we believe it's fair we share with you the main reasons that will definitely lead us to "swipe left."
#1: You don't have time to communicate and be a part of the localization process
Localizing a game is a team effort between the development studio and the translation team. Great communication and good preparation of your game for localization are key. If you want the best possible localization for your game, doing your part is essential.
Before we translate a single word, we'll send you a Project Brief document to fill out with as much information about your game as possible, so our team can understand exactly what it is about, who your audience is and what you want from us.
Reference material such as character descriptions, screenshots, gameplay videos, a plot summary and clear translation guidelines are key to our work. Without them, we're blind—and we would much rather reject a project than work with no instructions.
It does take some effort on your part to gather such material and information, as does being available to answer our translators' queries during the translation process, but it's absolutely necessary if you want accurate and context-proof translations.
Great advice from Paul Gardner, SeithCG - Localizing an 80,000-word RPG
#2: You need your translation delivered yesterday
The more time you give to localization, the better. Think of it as a slow cooker (yes, we're a French company). If you rush it, it may look fine, but it won't taste nearly as good as it should. It may even taste bad! Well, it’s the same with translating.
On average, you shouldn't expect a translator to (properly) localize more than 2,000 words per day. Any translation agency claiming they can top that daily output doesn't value quality as much as we do.
"15,000 words within 3 days? WE'RE ON IT! No need for reference material, we'll figure it out. No questions asked either."
Over the years, we've developed a very efficient workflow, but some parts of it, like our translators' daily output, cannot be compressed. This also goes for the project preparation part, which includes preparing the aforementioned reference material and instructions, but also all the tedious but necessary paperwork (quote, contract, NDA) and processing of down payments. It can take up to several days, especially if this is the first time we're working together.
If you didn't allow sufficient time for your game to be localized, don't be surprised if we recommend that you postpone the release. There's "rush job" and "rushed job"—we will never settle for the latter.
#3: You value price over quality
“If you think hiring professionals to do the job is expensive, wait until you hire amateurs.”
There are plenty of ways to localize a game on a shoestring budget, each with their own risks and relative guarantees regarding quality—for example, free game localization resources, fan translations and free translations from aspiring translators who just want to gain experience.
And we're absolutely fine with that. It's a great opportunity for developers with absolutely zero budget to reach a broader audience and expand, or for game localization novices to grind their teeth, as long you don’t abuse it and remain aware of the risks.
If you want high-quality and context-proof translations that meet industry standards and gamers' expectations, welcome home! If you expect it to be cheap though, you will be disappointed, because quality and experience do come at a price.
You've probably noticed it by now—we've got strong ethics at Level Up Translation. All our translators have many years of experience. We pay them well and want the best possible working conditions for them too. As it turns out, it works pretty well :)
We may not the be cheapest around, but this doesn't mean we're unaffordable! Being a small team, we are able to keep our margins pretty low, which allows us to remain very competitive compared with the big "translation factories," as we like to call them. We also have indie-friendly payment plans that offer up to three installments.
What we can guarantee you is that whatever coin you put in our service, it will be worth it—we actually have plenty of testimonials from indie studios and game reviews to back us up on that.
#4: You think you're a translator or can't trust the experts
We understand it can be difficult for small studios to assess localization quality. If you're lucky enough to have someone who speaks a foreign language and can have a look at the translation, that's great.
Keep in mind, though, that our game translators are handpicked qualified linguists with many years of game localization XP under their belt. We localize video games for a living and have been doing so for quite some time.
If you can't completely trust us with the localization of your baby or want to keep control over all those full stops and commas, perhaps it would be better for you to have your own in-house localization team.
This doesn't mean we're not open to suggestions or that our translation is THE only possible translation: you can always let us know (ahead) of your preferences, or get back to us if a typo slipped past our radar, and we will fix that ASAP.
However, if you're going to nitpick our choice of words, come with irrelevant suggestions from uncle Johnny “who speaks Italian, French and Japanese,” or argue without any solid evidence that we're wrong, we'd better not get involved with your project at all.
#5: Payment terms don't mean anything to you
As partners, we're building a relationship, and there's one big thing that's absolutely essential here: trust.
We're truly lucky and grateful to have worked with so many nice and respectful people over all these years. Sadly though, after eight years, we faced our first non-payment case ever, and well… it really sucked!
When we deliver work, we expect full and on-time payment. If this doesn't resonate with you, please save us both the trouble—we would much rather work on our next game localization project...
Will this next project be yours? If you don't check any of the above, we'd surely love to hear from you! Contact us and tell us about your game - we might be a match! :)