LQA – Much more than just breaking the game

Playing video games from other countries can be an enjoyable experience when the game is made right.  Players don’t want to experience a game that has a language barrier and complicated language mechanics.  That can bring about a negative experience and an even more negative reception for that game.  That’s where the LQA team comes in. 

Language Quality Assurance is crucial to a localization team and development.  It’s not just about playing and translating a video game into different languages.  Even after translation, there is proofreading to be done, systems to check and there might be issues that came about from certain tests that weren’t there in the beginning process.  Without LQA, releasing a game to specific major countries may be a disaster. Here are some problems an LQA team might face.

1. Games Built Without Localization In Mind

It is going to be hard for a team to come into a project that wasn’t made for different languages, to begin with. If a game needs to be translated into a number of languages and the UI system in the game is limited, that makes it harder for the translators.  

In this scenario, some languages won’t fit into the system.  Certain scenes or gaming mechanics can be difficult to explain in text or language. This can potentially lead to a product releasing with missing text. In-game items can have their ID numbers show up on-screen. These things can be distracting for gamers and even frustrating.

It can be hard for developers and publishers to tell ahead of time if their game can be reached by certain cultures.  But making the time to determine this at the beginning of the project cycle can help the LQA team tackle the workload much easier.

2. Bugs!

Everyone in the industry winces and groans at the mention of these.  These software “critters” don’t just appear in gameplay mechanics but also through text and UI systems in the game. It is generally in everybody’s interest to steer clear of these. However, it is the job of any QA team to actively search for them and any other technical issue in the game. The LQA team will make sure that the team has the tools that they need to handle Language bugs that could pop up in-game such as “cheats” and bug report channels. 

In some instances, all bugs won’t always be fixed and the QA team will have to prioritize which problem to address first. Worst case scenario, the major bugs will have to get squashed and the lesser bugs are not severe enough to break the game. The LQA has to determine this. If this issue is not handled properly, the product can be dead on arrival.

3. Lack of Communication

If the Translators and game devs don’t communicate, the whole project fails.  It’s a simple concept to understand but every team that is involved understands what lack of communication feels like.  It can lead to the problems mentioned above and make them become more frequent or worse.

A way to have effective communication is to schedule follow-up meetings between the QA team and developers. This makes sure that everyone discusses the problems within the project as well as gives solutions. Ending on meetings with goals in mind will keep everyone focused, motivated, and on the same page. 

Having just one LQA team instead of multiple teams working on a project can also lessen confusion.  Handling major work tickets from teams across different companies can be a mess. Here’s an example:

One QA team can have a serious problem with a language bug in the game. That team sends a work ticket to the main developers to bring attention to it. A separate QA team can come across that same bug and send a message to the developers acknowledging the bug but stating that it’s not going to “break the game.” You can see how that scenario can drive devs crazy. It’s best to have one LQA team that you can trust in an already challenging task of making a proper game. 

More Than Just “Breaking The Game”

Finally, even though playing the game is the main perk of the LQA job, there is more involved.  It is important that teams keep in mind the potential issues listed above and more. The job of the LQA isn’t just to “break the game.” They are constantly testing…making sure their equipment is up and the theories on gaming technical problems are challenged. They are constantly reporting…finding any issues that appear and directing those findings to the proper channels. Again, they are communicating…talking with developers and other team members on a constant basis helps with a healthy workflow. When the QA team uses these steps and steers clear from potential pitfalls, it will put your game on the right path to be a successful experience for all.

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