Cryohazard Steam RU localization

Cryohazard Dev Log: And then along came a Russian translator

To set the scene- it’s less than a week until the release date of Cryohazard. This was going to be my very first full-fledged game launch. I was fixing bugs, reaching out to influencers, and all-around feeling surprisingly prepared for the day of days June 14th. A day over 6 months in the making.

And then I got an email from Stepan.

Localizing games is hard

Stepan is a Russian fan of the Cryohazard who had been keeping an eye on its progress and decided to reach out with an opportunity. He has been trying to break into the games industry by helping localize indie games for free. At the time, he was working on a few other games, but had enough of an opening to be recruited if I was interested.

But I knew there was a lot wrapped up in this decision. Game localization is a process that involves more than just translation, and affects more than just the game. On the publishing side, having a Russian version of the Steam page available, reaching out to Russian content creators, posting updates, in both languages, etc.

So, with only a few days left until launch, it would be ill-advised for me to steer so far of my well-prepared course. I would have to be spending all day working on the game’s backend to add language support- things like:

  • A way for the game to know what language to use
  • Extended characters for fonts
  • Language toggle that supports easy debugging
  • Adjusted spacing for cutscenes and UI where text is a significantly different length than native EN
  • Method of swapping between different versions of sprites

So yeah, bad idea right? I should just wait and add this as a post-release goal.

T-Minus 4 days to RU localize Cryohazard

Snippet of the Sheets doc used for RU localization
An snippet of the translation doc

There was something in that email from Stepan that sparked my ambition. Following up with him via Discord, he proved to be really genuine! An obvious fan of the game who wasn’t just looking for a list of game names to add to his resume, but someone who enjoyed indie games- including mine.

So we set up a Sheets doc and went to work, me extracting text from every corner of the game I could find, and he taking passes at converting it to Russian. A strange detail that I became more and more aware of through the process was just how GOOD Cryohazard looked in Cyrillic script. There was some kind of unplanned kinship shared between the industrial aesthetic and this new translated version.

After days of consistent work, dealing with some strange language bugs, and getting to peek into the world of Russian Let’s Players, I had a build of the game solid enough to be the official release. Cryohazard would be available in Russian on launch day!

Never would have guessed that would happen.

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