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Video Game German Localization Guidelines

Job 10001


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These guidelines are far from being complete and thus, work in progress. This text is not intended to belittle or question your expertise or translation abilities. Please do not view these guidelines as criticism of your work so far, but rather as an attempt to make things easier for all translators involved. If you have any suggestions, remarks, criticism or additions, please feel free to comment.


The game is a fantasy-online-role playing-game, set in a presumably medieval fantasy world with strong Chinese elements. Technology may have advanced far, although there is no electricity, steam/gas-powered motors. Weapons include swords, bows, batons, maces, bills and various Chinese arms but apparently no firearms. Transportation is by foot, by horse or by magic (flying swords and teleporters). Generally, magic and sorcery, as well as magic items, powers, abilities and beings are commonplace. Many animals are intelligent and able to speak.

To match the overall style of the translation to this background, and in order to achieve an atmospherically and stylistically adequate translation, it is probably advisable to translate in formal and old-fashioned style. The language of popular fantasy films (e.g. Lord of the Rings) or that of books such as Michael Ende’s Neverending Story may act as an example. Foreign words (Latin and English) should, where possible, be avoided and old-fashioned or obsolete terms are to be considered quite appropriate. The translator’s grasp and feeling for the language is crucial here. Much can be derived from the style of the English original.

It is difficult to set up general rules for this, apart from advising an antiquated style. A “Wie geht’s” may be barely in order, whereas an “Okay” should be avoided.


<mention medieval?>

I thought about the ancient formal way of speaking and I think we could go for this because most of the time, as far as I can see that, dialogues are between nobles and adults, there are not necessarily children involved in the game. So yes, I agree with using this mediaeval form of talking to people.


All characters in the game will generally address each other in old-style formal: “Ihr/Euch”. This goes for players, between players and towards non-player characters (NPCs).

If the player is being addressed as an individual (“by the game”), modern informal will be used (Du/Dich; e.g.: You cannot login to this server=Du kannst dich nicht an diesem Server anmelden).

Distinction between these is not always easy. Specifically, it is sometimes hard to determine, if a text belongs to out-of-game or in-game text. Please try employing formal old style in these cases of doubt (to be on the safe side on style terms).

In very emotional dialog, in proverbs or mock proverbs and in cases of severe differences in social standing or age, the modern informal may be appropriate (Du). Due to the difficulty determining these cases, it is recommended to use Ihr/Euch here, too.



It is hard, in German, to employ the politically correct gender terms without rendering the translation text somewhat clunky and sacrificing atmosphere if the gender is not known.

The tailor can be found in Sunstream City.

Ihr findet den Schneider/die Schneiderin in der Stadt Sonnenstrom.

We are working on compiling a list of characters (NPCs) with gender information (or hopefully will receive one from the client), as it is often impossible to tell from the English source text’s vocational terms or even names. In these cases, the male form is advised (conscious of the lack of political correctness here). If possible, you could also check in-game or ask a lead translator. Be aware that you should try to deduct the gender from the given text, but where it is impossible, translators cannot be blamed for the unavoidable translation errors resulting from it.



Unlike in English, German compound words cannot be formed by simply putting nouns together in a sentence (Example: Athan attack). For this translation, many new compounds will have to be formed. While merging them to one word (Fire Giant  - Feuerriese) may look nicer, it is not always a clean solution (e.g.: Athan attack – Athanerangriff).  Therefore, English compounds should generally be translated into hyphenated German terms (Athaner-Angriff) for the sake of consistency. Exceptions from this rule are not capital offences, but we are aiming for consistency and this rule should make that easier.

There seems to be a problem with the Transit software for the hyphens: Entered hyphens disappear when closing and reopening a file (rendering Athaner-Angriff as AthanerAngriff).  In some cases, the hyphens entered in a confirmed segment (ALT-INS) can not be deleted afterwards without removing the tag protection. This problem is being worked on. A preliminary solution could be to enter “^^^” instead of the hyphen. This can later be substituted (by the proofreader) against the hyphens on exporting to Excel.


English Terms:

Names that cannot meaningfully be translated (Shaw Danon, Bilu, Jadeon, Kunlun) will remain as in the original. English proper names and names such as Skysong, Royal City, Celestial Guard, Skyblade) should be translated (with some creativity). Also, atmosphere and style benefit from translating terms like Celepenalty (for example: Himmelstrafe).

Names/terms of skills and game proceedings (e.g. Skill: Accuracy) must be translated. For these, though, consistency is most important, because vital functions in the game may depend on consistent names for certain actions.

In some (technical) cases, it may be advisable to leave the English original (e.g. Critstrike), as it does not seem to be intended for in-game text or belongs to the command language of the games software, so atmosphere may not be an issue here. Please consult the lead translator in these cases, though.




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