LOCALIZATION: A CASE ABOUT “PIPE”… Pipes… Cripes

A pipe isn’t always a pipe, even when you really want to save money

Here’s a little case that happened to us once.

Unsuspecting Nadia come into work that day, turned on her computer, said hello to her coworkers, poured herself a cup a tea and got down to it.

At the moment she had a localization project for a hidden-object game; you know the kind “Help Judy find the 3 titanium shrimp forks in her second cousin’s deep-space man cave,” that type of thing. As you probably know, one of the main aspects of those games is essentially matching item names to pictures. So it’s crucial that players be able to read the name and know basically what to look for since the image is designed to make them difficult to find. For this reason, translators need not only pictures of the items, but also information about which items will be in which locations.

For example, English distinguishes between clocks and watches, but many other languages do not. So if the source has a watch and a clock in one location, they have to find a way to set them apart, because people can get frustrated when they don’t know which of the two they’re looking for.

Now, back to the story: the client had decided that they could save some money if they only localized words once. So they took all the words that were repeated, and removed all but one instance of them, then gave us this condensed version to localize. The client probably did save money, but we’re not sure on what, because we had to come back to them and ask for a full file with all the words in it anyway.

Why? Well, the word “Pipe” was in the file only once, and the item was in four different locations. In the first two, it was a smoking pipe, and in the last two, it was a steel pipe for plumbing, naturally. So their thrifty idea costs a lost of time in translation and certainly took a toll of poor Nadia’s and the localizers’ nerves. Plus, in the end, the client had to send five emails explaining the situation, plus another with the actual file instead of just the one email they might otherwise have sent us.
The moral of the story is a simple one. Don’t try to be too clever pinching pennies—unless you really know what you’re doing

Yours sincerely,
The Inlingo team