A Look Behind the Scenes at Localization Project Setup: Where the Time Goes and What Altagram is Doing to Make Things More Efficient

If your company has ever gone through the process of having a video game localized, then you’ve probably seen that there’s a significant lag between the initial request for a quote and the project kickoff. That’s a problem: as we all know, no gamer likes lag! So where does all that time go, and what can localization agencies do to speed things up?

In this article, we’ll explain what goes on behind the scenes when a game localization agency is preparing a quote and getting everything ready for a new project, and what we do at Altagram to save you, our customer, time and money during this phase.

How long does it take to get a quote for a game localization project, and why do some quotes take longer than others?

The first part of the localization process is almost always the quote. At Altagram, you can expect a waiting time of anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour when you email us during regular business hours—assuming you give us all the information we need in the first go.

Some of the details we need when drafting a quote:

The exact amount of time we need to create a quote depends on a few different things:

Have we worked with you before? And have we previously worked on this particular game?
If we have worked with you before, and the requests are similar, we are able to provide detailed quotes very quickly because we already have the pricing framework from the last project. If we’ve already worked on the game in question, then we should have the pricing ready in a flash—but we’ll always take the time to check whether we can offer any discounts based on similarities with the text in your previous projects. That takes a few extra minutes, but it allows us to provide you with the best possible price.

Do you have detailed information about the project yet, or are you asking for a more general estimate?
We can usually respond to a request for a general estimate in a few minutes, but when there are more details to take into account, we spend more time researching and calculating so we can give you a fair and accurate quote.

How small or complex is the project?
Small, text-only projects can usually be quoted in a few minutes—such as the metadata text in a multilingual project, for example. However, if you have a project with a script, the voice over needs voice actors with special skills, and you need everything translated into several languages, we will need to do some analysis and research before getting back to you. For voice over projects, in particular, we like to get feedback from our studio partners before finalizing your quote, and that might take anywhere from a few hours to a day, depending on where they are located.

The waiting time will also be influenced by any differences between your time zone and ours, which is one of the reasons we value our international offices so highly. Having offices in different time zones lets us respond to customers all over the world quickly and talk with them in real-time—and on their schedule. By involving our partners and offices around the world, we can even keep working on a project or quote around the clock, if necessary.

What else creates lag before a localization project kicks off?

Once you receive the quote and confirm the project, the real work begins. Ideally, when creating the quote, the project manager should set up and analyze the project in such a way that work can start as soon as the final files are received and imported. Localization engineering should be involved right from the beginning of the analysis. If projects aren’t organized this way, then some work will need to be repeated after the quote is confirmed, which makes the whole process less efficient.

There is also a period in most projects when the project has been confirmed, but localization can’t yet begin. This could cause lag—or the downtime could be used to take care of some of the “invisible” background work that is so essential to a successful, high-quality localization project.

Once work begins, other little things can eat up time, too. For example, if you add new files to the project, you might need another quote, and the project manager will have to add the new files to the existing project. Requests for status updates and back-and-forth emails also nibble away at everyone’s time. It might not sound like much, but these little details can add up over the course of the project. As a seasoned pro in the games localization industry, though, Altagram has found a lot of ways to deal with this type of communication as efficiently as possible—for example by automating the process of file handling, quotation setup, and workflow with all the stakeholders, including the sales team, project managers, and localization engineers.

How Altagram streamlines the order management process

Not only have we streamlined communication—we’ve streamlined the entire quote creation and order management processes from start to finish. We can usually give our customers a quote within an hour, even for complex projects. And we are extremely methodical when setting up our projects, including the technical side of things like software and servers, which saves time for everyone.

Perhaps most crucially, we don’t let that downtime between project confirmation and product kickoff go to waste. You might not be aware of it as a customer, but we’re already hard at work while you’re finalizing all the details on your end.

What are we doing? We’re:

• setting up the project
• familiarizing ourselves with any games you have previously released
• researching forums to learn about their localization quality
• learning all we can about the game concept
• familiarizing ourselves with the game build

Moreover, we are already putting together the best team for the project—which gives us plenty of time to take care of this essential step. This includes checking out database for linguists, voice actors and/or testers who are not only available during the required timeframe but who have experience with similar games. And, even though translation work can’t start yet, we’re likely working with the localization teams to create the glossaries that we’ll use once translation starts.

After all, we don’t like lag any more than you do! And saving time means that we can provide the premium localization service you expect with the quick turnaround times you need.

What’s coming next: our mission to end localization lag!

All these steps are a good start, and we’re proud of how efficiently we organize the workflow for quotations and project setup right now. But we think things could be even better.

Having offices in time zones all around the world is a big step in the right direction, but wouldn’t it be great if we had a platform that could give customers instantaneous quotes for simple projects 24-hours a day? What if the user interface was available in multiple languages? We don’t have this technology available quite yet, but it’s something we think would be great to have in the future.

And that idea is just one of many. Based on our in-depth, real-world knowledge of the localization industry and the feedback we’ve gotten from our customers, we’re now working on a complete software solution to streamline and consolidate the localization process from start to finish. It’s precisely the tool that our customers—and we—need.

The platform is still in development, but we are excited to start telling you about some of the ways it will help to revolutionize game localization. We don’t want to give away too many details quite yet, but you can expect to hear more about things like simplified quote requests, instant project updates, and streamlined project setup in the near future.

If you would like to learn more, or to find out how you can become an early adopter, fill in this form with your contact information and we will get in touch with you.

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