Project Update - Update on Vagrus Localization
12 Oct | 10:00 am


Hello everyone,

This one is going to be an update on localization. A while back, we cited the game’s complexity, size, and it being a niche game that resulted in a relatively low sales volume as factors that made any kind of localization unlikely. Despite that, we have been encouraging players to still wishlist the game and let us know what languages they would like to see it translated into in a dedicated localization thread and promised to reassess the situation after a while to see what is desired and viable and what is not. A year has passed since, and it is time for us to do just that, which led to a good and bad news kind of situation. The bad news is that sales figures and declining wishlists in non-English-speaking regions made the prospect of official translations not viable.

BUT the good news is that we have been – and still are – eager to reach people to show them the world of the Riven Realms. We would like to ensure that even those whose level of English proficiency represents a language barrier can have a chance at adequately understanding and enjoying the game. Thus, we have already started working on things that would help them. Sadly, the way we built the game and stored data were unconducive for effective localization. We had to restructure our Event Editor tool and change several things in Unity, etc. This was quite tiresome and the process has been ongoing for months now. However, we’ve been gladly dedicating working hours to pave the way to localize larger chunks of text. Smaller things in the UI, however, are very tedious work, so we cannot promise to make it work for every little detail. Admittedly, our focus lies in making the story and the most used elements translatable.

Since the base game and the DLCs combined contain about 1.3 million words’ worth of text, volunteer translators are unlikely to pop up. As a result, our approach was to subscribe to a machine translation tool called DeepL and generate localization files in various languages that will be made accessible and editable in order to facilitate fan translations through polishing said files. We are still not entirely sure as to the demand for such an endeavor or if the underlying technical facilities are indeed there. In case it could work and it garners sufficient interest, we are planning to allow fan translation groups to add their own translations and improved machine translations through Steam Workshop. Signups for such groups will be open for whoever wishes to undertake translations. This is all still subject to deliberation along with the exact details and the way of going about the entire process. A reason for this approach is that we are not planning to actually incorporate the fan-translated texts into the game proper, merely to facilitate translation for community translator groups who would be actually working on them and under whose banner their respective addons will run.

As a result of all that outlined above, we still don’t know how much interest this project will generate and how enthusiastic our players will be, so we are not expecting quick developments in the matter. Naturally, the quality of machine translations is very far from the level of an official translation, making them rather unfit to create the kind of atmosphere and immersion we believe is needed to fully enjoy the game. Thus we cannot in good conscience recommend using them as the main language, of course. In short, these machine translations are more likely to be a sort of an aid for those who, from time to time, wish to look at raw translations in their native tongue. The player will first have to acknowledge a disclaimer stating that what is to follow is machine translated and not intended to be taken as a full-fledged official translation for the game. Once that is out of the way, the player will be able to set a primary and a secondary language through the UI. All events and codex entries will be displayed in the primary language and the secondary language texts will assist in understanding the primary language texts.

The machine translation tool DeepL has its limitations and so we go as far as the subscription options go. Thus, initially, only some supported languages will be covered. We aim to create this localization model in a way that will allow contributors to set up files that match the structure. The game itself will then be able to manage these files and make new languages selectable as primary and secondary languages in-game. Due to version tracking, every non-translated text will automatically be displayed in English.

That said, we are looking for community translation coordinators for each language. Since we are not going to have adequate capacity or competence to review translations, we welcome volunteer groups to form and start working together, but we cannot take on the role of an arbitrator either. Eventually, if enough progress is made and the files become available through Steam Workshop, they can be submitted and maintained by said volunteers as well. Coordinators will receive beta branch access to the game to cooperate with us to set up this localization file system. During the selection of coordinators, prior participation in such projects and credentials will play important roles to make sure they are reliable and competent, as they will be responsible for the translations and reviews. In order to improve translations based on machine learning, compiling a dictionary of specific words and expressions for the machine would go a long way, so that the AI does not come up with its own strange translations. Teams working on such a dictionary will also be encouraged.

Last, but not least, we are overjoyed to have been able to afford long development hours to lay down the groundwork for the localization environment and for the whole thing to even be able to kick off. The whole venture, however, will be tons of effort and consist of countless iterations, so we kindly ask for your patience.

Take care and conquer the wasteland!

The Lost Pilgrims team

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#2022 #projectupdate #localization