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Blizzard GDC panel elaborates on the challenges of localization

Localizing Diablo 3 was no easy task and required thousands of new audio lines, hundreds of movies and more for each localized game, a team of Blizzard employees revealed during a GDC panel.

"Implementing Blizzard's Localization Vision in Real Time" featured senior manager of global localization William Barnes; Arthur Flew, associate producer; Ines Rubio, European localization manager; and Jason Walker of project management and analytics.

According to Flew, with male and female hero options, each new translation required 125 movies, 17,000 audio lines and more than 600,000 words.

Diablo 3's randomization system also made the process tricky. Diablo 3 contains more than 400,000 items and 80,000 monsters that had to be correctly matched to a language's grammar. Affixes on base names didn't always work, Rubio said, due to the placement of nouns and adjectives according to different languages. The team created a base name list of nouns and a limited number of word combinations to combat this.

The trick is to plan ahead and discuss potential problems early, Rubio said, or face "banal issues" in translation.

"[Your team] won't be able to spend any time trying to re-create it," Rubio said.

Outside of the Irvine, Calif., Diablo 3 development team, there were 11 localization teams, 11 studios and four development teams that worked on the game. Teams were able to track their progress through the game's Act system, Walker said. Although the game was "in good shape" for an April release, Diablo 3 was delayed in part due to translation issues in Brazil and Portugal, Walker said.

"Blizzard doesn't release a game until it's ready," Walker said. "I think they make the right decision every time."