MyCafe: Recipes & Stories localization case study

In this case study, we’ll talk about our work on the Polish translation of Melsoft Games’ business simulator MyCafe — a game featuring recipes and an incredible amount of dialogue.

The task

Localize a popular “tycoon-style” game with a large fanbase.
Over 400,000 words from English to Polish.

This is a “tycoon-style” game, which is a genre of infrastructure management games where players run anything from a hospital to a city. In MyCafe, the player manages a coffee shop. The project is targeted at women 18-35, and the game centers around collecting recipes while talking to customers and listening to their stories.

For the INLINGO team, this meant translating countless dialogues between characters, recipes for drinks and desserts, and daily trivia text, totaling over 400,000 words overall. As far as we can tell, looking at how successful the Polish version has been, we did an exceptional job. The game was released on iOS and Android.

The main interface has hardly any text, so it looks the same in every language.

Renata Suleimanova
INLINGO project manager

I get the feeling that restaurant games are on their way to becoming my specialty. It just so happened that three of my major projects are cafe and restaurant business simulators. MyCafe is an easy, fun game, and there’s always incredible things happening to the characters in every update. And just like there are in-game stories, we have our own localization stories as well. For example, localizing the characters’ names into Polish. We always look at not only the cultural nuances of the target country, but also the context, character’s age and personality. So Margaret became Małgosia, Bill turned into Bartek, Villson became Gadziński, and our Polish translator even named one character after himself.

Evgeniy Gilmanov


Małgosia is a polyglot, so in every version of the translation, she always greets
the player in another language

Localizing names raised a lot of questions at the initial stages. It turns out that some players played the English version before the Polish version came out, and so were already used to the English names. A vote was even held on the game’s official social media page to choose the best name for Margaret/Małgosia. One player commented that since she’s an old woman, she should be called by the full name Małgorzata.

Fortunately, the client agreed with the translator’s opinion and kept our version. This is how our translator explained it:

“Age is one thing, but Margaret is a very specific, chillaxed person and I would expect she would get more offended by being called Małgorzata than the more amiable Małgosia”.

How to localize a game with the game community’s help

MyCafe players are a very active community, and we worked with them on localization errors and translation suggestions. The client collected player comments and forwarded them to us. These were screenshots with ideas and notes marked on them. Then the translation team discussed whether these moments needed to be changed or not. Some ideas were accepted, and some things stayed the way we wrote them, whether because of cultural context or the main idea of the game. There were different reasons for choosing not to use fan versions, like a term in a dialogue that isn’t used by young people and so doesn’t work, and so on.

The translators, the client, and the editors carefully discussed every edit. Everyone left their linguistic or cultural justification for why each option is suitable or unsuitable

Why is JSON problematic for localizers?

The thing about working with the json format is that it doesn’t support multiple translation versions, and automatically resets the translation to its original version when you export it to other platforms. And the most interesting thing is that we only found out about this nuance halfway through the project, once we’d already translated 15 levels. This technical limitation forced us to come up with universal translation versions, and in some places we had to go back to the previously-translated text and correct it with this json quirk taken into account.

How do you translate from two sources and still meet deadlines?

The project was unique in that the client managed it through CrowdIn. However, the source file there was Russian, and we were translating from the English version. The translator could only view the English text by opening an additional new tab each time, which gets cumbersome after a while. It is also distracting and can lead to mistakes.

For large volumes of text, memoQ automatic check has better results, so we translated from English in memoQ, then re-uploaded the translation to CrowdIn

Moreover, we had a huge file where not all the text needed to be translated, just certain strings. We solved this problem with Excel — we used macros to split every string into columns with string IDs, then searched for the ones we needed. This gave us the ability to sort the data by level, ID, and file, and we have our senior project manager Alexander Bukhonov to thank for it all.

Without this spreadsheet, we wouldn’t have been able to work simultaneously on two platforms: memoQ and Crowdin. It allowed our translator to easily translate from English without having to deal with the Russian source on Crowdin.

So the whole process looked like this:

1. Download the .po file, import the database into Excel.

2. Filter the desired strings, import the Excel file into memoQ.

3. Download the translation, copy it to Notepad++, save it as a .po file.

4. Upload to Crowdin.

The resulting PO file opened in a text editor. It’s extremely important not to drop a single tag during the translation process, otherwise we’d end up with some ugly artifacts in the translated text.

We managed to surprise ourselves: we localized the first 15 levels in just two months — that’s over 150,000 words. This was chiefly made possible due to the well-thought-out distribution of the work between two translators.

Do you need a barista to translate a game about coffee?

A large part of the game text is recipes for a wide variety of hot drinks and treats. All the recipes you see in the game are real, by the way, so the translators had to make sure they matched what people actually call them in the target country. The client was able to provide us with the detailed context in most cases, and Wikipedia helped us everywhere else, so we didn’t need to hire a coffee expert or barista.

Revelations from MyCafe localization testing

We did over 30 hours of localization testing. The translation was high-quality, but we still found a lot of minor typos and spots where Polish fonts were showing up incorrectly. There were also some contextual errors related to character age and gender, but this is par for the course — there’s no other way to find these other than by testing.

The players’ opinions of the localization quality are always very important to us. This can come in the form of store reviews or feedback from the client. With MyCafe, the game’s success in the Polish market was the best review we could have asked for. And right after this project, the client ordered another localization into another eastern European language from INLINGO.

Key project points:

  • 400,000 words translated from English to Polish;
  • First 150,000 words translated in just 2 months;
  • Individually localized every name into Polish without sacrificing context;
  • The nature of the translation did not affect the deadline thanks to well-planned work on two platforms (Crowdin for the Russian source and memoQ for the English source);
  • 30+ hours of testing done;
  • Listened to player feedback on the translation.

Feedback from the client

We started working with INLINGO a year ago, and overall, we can say that we were fortunate to work with such a fantastic team of project managers, translators, and editors. All communication happened through a single PM, and whenever we had a new task or request, everything went incredibly smoothly.

The INLINGO team is a group of people who are devoted to what they do and proud of their work; they always ask the right questions and make sure everything is crystal clear. We feel like we are getting a high-quality service when we work with them — not only in terms of communication, the work process, and consulting, but also in terms of the translation itself.

Olga Sinichkina
Melsoft localization manager

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