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  • Writer's pictureFreejam Chris

Look at this Tank! Localisation!

Hello Robocrafters!

We have an update coming very soon, many players may have read through the Robo Herald we published yesterday and started to theory-craft what new features we were teasing!

Recently the dev team has been playing quite a lot of Ma’adim Terminus, I’m particularly fond of this tank.

The team has been working hard to localise Robocraft 2 so that players whose first language is not English can also enjoy the game. This involves not only translating all of the text strings in the game into each language but also involves some other things including:

  • Making sure all text strings in all languages still fit within the UI spaces provided them on screen (German for example is often ~30% longer than English)

  • Making sure all character sets are supported, for example, the thousands of characters in Japanese, Russian and Chinese.

  • Making sure the detailed characters in languages like Chinese are legible in all places on screen at all resolutions.

  • Making sure that subtitles in the tutorial videos and for the in-game callouts work OK in each language

The first set of languages we will be supporting is English, French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Simplified Chinese and Russian. We do plan to add many more though (read on to find out more).

As a small indie developer we don't have the resources to professionally localise all languages (it's expensive) and if we had we would have needed to keep the number of supported languages small to keep costs under control so we opted to implement a cloud based TMS (Translation Management System) using an open source system called Weblate. Into this system we hooked up the ChatGPT4 API which Freejam has been given permission to use.

Using ChatGPT4 we have been able to provide some global context to all translations, for example, since Robocraft has been around as a game for a long time and ChatGPT knows about Robocraft, we could even say "You are a translator for a sequel to the hit game Robocraft". We have invested a fair bit of time into getting the global system prompts right so that the output we get seems pretty good. We can also provide custom context prompts for each string, for example we can say the word "Charge" specifically relates to "Charging a battery" as opposed to "Charging like a bull". We can also tell it to maintain custom text we add for keyboard shortcut prompts etc. Gabe speaks fluent German and so was able to make sure every string in German was translated correctly and provide more context if required. We also have French, Polish and Italian speakers in the studio so are able to verify that those languages are OK. We don't have fluent speakers in all languages so need to hope that ChatGPT4 has used our context well and has translated those correctly.

Of course, this process can lead to mistakes and errors. The Weblate system we have implemented in the cloud allows us to manually alter any string in any language to override the output proposed by ChatGPT4, so any issues you report, we can fix. We also have the potential in future to invite community members who're interested into our Weblate system with special privileges to edit text in specific languages which will get updated in the game (with Freejam able to double check changes made by those community members before they go live).

This system does have some drawbacks, but also has some potential advantages. It means we can support all major languages in the world including variations (like European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese) and potentially even Space Pirate and Cockney Rhyming Slang as normally the costs of supporting those languages that are less widely used prohibit publishers from translating into them. It also means we can introduce new features and changes to you more quickly as we don't have to wait for a localisation company to translate the new strings and QA those translations in a build before releasing them to you, and so it speeds up a key step to deploying new features and content. Remember, the playtest is live ALL WEEKEND, so make sure to download the game from our website:

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