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SC2: Billboard Localization

Starcraft 2: Billboard Localization
Modeled & Textures by Phill Gonzales & Billy Barnes

Localization was a huge aspect of Starcraft 2 due to the international demographics we targeted for release. Starcraft 2 shipped in more than a dozen languages, translating the various elements of text in the game was an additional responsiblity shared across the whole team.

This billboard is a simple example of that process. Billy Barnes headed up the localization efforts on the Starcraft 2 team, his initial job was locating all the game assets which would need to be translated. This included cutscene dialogue, art with text elements, symbols, audio, etc. Regions like Korea insisted on full localization, which means EVERYTHING is translated to Korean.

Billy would coordinate with the foriegn offices and accumulate the necessary translations for various demographics. Some of the text could be literally translated while other countries needed to take liberties (countries that don't have an indigenous word for "Roadrunner" for example). The next step was generating a spreadsheet with all the translated text prepared so alterations could be made to the textures.

When accounted for, the process was actually very efficient. Artists had to account for their work with more global thinking in mind. Text elements in artwork can create enhanced immersion with an understanding that extra commitment is required to translate all the text.

© 2010 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved.
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LordDarkstarr's avatar
Yes, it was extra work for you artists, but when we players notice the little details like that, we appreciate it, believe me! These little details really add to the illusion that what we're seeing on the screen is actually real somewhere, not just pixels on a computer screen (or so I feel when I'm playing, anyway). ;) (Wink)

Great work all around, and thanks to all of you at Blizzard (and other companies) for going the extra mile like that!
digital-shuriken's avatar
if that references what I think it references, then cheers!
The amount of polish on Blizzard games never ceases to amaze, and gamers appreciate it. I've heard multiple positive comments on localized billboards.

Some unsolicited, yet constructive criticism: that's some ugly Cyrillic font. If picking something 'artistic' was TME, it would have been better to go with a generic bold sans serif like in the Polish localization. It's rather badly kerned, too.
Boarguts's avatar
HAH! Thanks for this unique comment!

The fonts are chosen for us. We have to acquire the license to use any font that appears in game, so to make things easier there are a handful of already acquired licensed fonts we get to work with. I'm not the best at typography choices, but the font choice on the billboards was more for ease of development reasons rather than artistic in the case of localization.
BluDrgn426's avatar
lol. The French one makes me laugh. "bip-bip"
FallenAngelOmega's avatar
hey man, I'm from spain, and that banner you used on that image was the banner used when Francisco Franco was the dictator of spain. Many people can feel a little "violent" seeing it hahaha. If you could change it we, all spanish people will thank you xDDD

awesome work on the billboards ;)
Boarguts's avatar
Ok, the internet informs me that this is the most current spanish flag. Better?
FallenAngelOmega's avatar
wow really better hahah ;)

thank you so much ^^

congratulations again for all you awesome work, man ^^
vonkoz's avatar
Family buisness FTW!!! Well done sir, well done! I'm sure pops is proud :)
Boarguts's avatar
Haha, I told him that he griefed me inadvertently when I had to work on getting these all translated.
Tit-For-Tat's avatar
I'm brazilian and have never heard of the word "novoplaneta" before. It might just be the accurate name for it, but I think you'd catch more of the audience if you used "Papaléguas" (freely translated as 'league eater'). Thats what we call the WB character..
Boarguts's avatar
I am going to present this as an argument to Billy Barnes and see if he looses his composure... I'll keep you posted.
Tit-For-Tat's avatar
Awesome man.. I guarantee that any brazilian you ask will agree with me :XD:
smurfbizkit's avatar
Localization sounds like a pain, maybe not for images like this one (where the text can be changed relatively easily).

A note on the actual billboards...I might be wrong, but it seems like most of them were done by you guys (ie the modelers/artists on the game). Did you guys ever consider just outsourcing to a graphic artist or two? I found that they could do much better looking billboards/logos than I could come up with (some examples below);

[link] (the above arabic)
Boarguts's avatar
I believe we outsourced some art for translation, but the development team did the majority of the work. I like what they did with the billboards and logos you've shown, it captures a bit more of the local flavor we'd never be able to duplicate.
Rat-Skull's avatar
man! spanish flag doesn't have any imperial eagle!! we're not a dictatorial country now!!
by the way, terraformación correcaminos is well translated
Boarguts's avatar

I blame Google for this one! The image search misled me!!!!!
pvtskwerl's avatar
Huh, this is interesting, some localization had different meanings.
Thanks for posting these along with the structures Gonzo <3
Stockschwert's avatar
FirstKeeper's avatar
Russian approved
Shinobik's avatar
but why blue bird, not road runner?
FirstKeeper's avatar
Дорожный бегун звучит явно не так круто, как синяя птица. При этом синяя птица сохраняет намек на этого мультяшного синего страуса.
Shinobik's avatar
он разве синий был?:)
хоть бы тупо страус, а то картинка вообще не в тему получается :)
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