"I'm Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite store on the Citadel." - English
"Jestem dowódcą Shepard, a to jest mój ulubiony sklep na cytadeli." - Polish (machine translation)
In a GDC 2010 session entitled "Localizing Large RPGs," which forms part of an ongoing localization summit, BioWare localization project manager Ryan Warden eloquently explored the revered developer's process of adapting a huge, dialogue-driven game like Mass Effect 2 for alternative markets and languages. It may surprise you to learn that BioWare's processes are significantly more elegant than hiring an army of workers to copy and paste lines of text into Google Translate.
With 450,000 words and 30,000 lines of voice-over in the English version, Mass Effect 2 demanded an active approach in its translation to eight languages, including Russian, Czech and Spanish. "Trying to manage this scope is almost unfathomable," said Warden. "For BioWare titles, we don't have the luxury of waiting for the title to be fully complete before starting localization."
The concurrent process was designed to provide as much information and context to translators as possible, allowing them to focus on the job without having to request further information for each new conversation. BioWare compiled a complete localization kit, complete with a pronunciation guide (that's crow-guhn, not kroggin!), an IP glossary, a collection of translator Q&A documents and an extensive character database. "Any time that a translator spends time asking questions and waiting for feedback ... that's wasted time," Warden added. The goal, he said, was to "eliminate any doubt in the confidence of the translator."