Hey, Vojtěch. Please, tell us a bit about yourself...
To take it from the professional side, I have been translating since 2007. I hold an M.A. in English Language Translation, and I have been in the world of video game localization since 2009 when I started as a video game localization tester, and slowly started even with game translations. Since then, I have participated in some 120+ video game localization projects for various clients, including the ones of Bohemia Interactive. I have been with Bohemia Interactive for four years now, both in-house and remote. I chose the field of video game localization because this way I am able to connect my hobby and passion with the skills I have and can offer. The field itself is very dynamic, fun and challenging, and somewhat more relaxed than perhaps a regular corporate career.
Can you tell us a random fact about yourself...
I used to play milsim Airsoft and was always interested in military topics, so working on games like Arma is kinda a dream fulfilled.
What was your first positive interaction with video games, that you can remember?
As a small kid, playing some old game on some old Atari or whatnot my father had borrowed for a week, where you were a gardener and had to destroy molehills. Then there is a memory of playing on PC with my friends; playing Alone in the Dark and Wolfenstein 3D: Spear of Destiny, Commandos, Heroes of Might and Magic I-III. What a blast!
And your most memorable video game moment?
Hard to say. Probably stalking the plains of Gothic, saving the world in TES: Oblivion, or having a blast in Half-Life 2. Or being absolutely consumed by the darkness of Fallout 1 and 2. What stands out is finding an Alien Blaster in a random encounter in Fallout 1 — that is like a one-in-a-million chance — then not saving the game, dying, and never finding it again. And, of course, I will never forget the dense, real, and addictive atmosphere of playing Operation Flashpoint, where I was scouring the forests for enemies, escaping without a weapon, or rolling into battles in a tank.
What's your all-time favourite video game? And what sort of game do you like to play generally?
All-time? Oh, man. So difficult. I really like the Gothic series, and The Elder Scrolls series. Half-Life 2 comes to mind, too. Crysis, Commandos, Battlefield, Wolfenstein, S.T.A.L.K.E.R., Metro, Operation Flashpoint, and The Witcher 3. But if I absolutely had to pick one, it would be Fallout 1. Probably thanks to the nostalgia and the strong impression games make on you when you are a kid. In general, I enjoy RPG, FPS, and military simulation games. Also some adventure games, the likes from Telltale.
What’s the worst — or most memorable — bug you’ve come across in a video game?
Probably something that prevents you from finishing the main quest or so. This is always annoying. Or falling through the floor, serious glitches, etc.
What's your favourite movie, TV show, and/or book?
My favourite movie is The Lord of the Rings. My favourite TV show is The Young Pope, closely followed by House of Cards and The Walking Dead. My favourite book is all The Witcher saga from Andrzej Sapkowski.
And your go-to music playlist is...?
I really enjoy electronic music, namely techno and house. Although, I still enjoy some metal music from time to time — I used to listen to it as well.
So, as a Localization Producer, what do you do?
My main responsibilities include making sure our new games, their updates, and other company materials get localized (translated) into requested languages up to the quality bar, within budget and within the deadline. I work with text imports and exports, assign translations, proofreading, and manage linguists who work for us. I instruct, oversee, and manage the whole localization cycle and communicate with localization and development teams regarding implementation and localization bug fixing, as well as ensuring the quality of English text is as it should be in some titles.
I also communicate localization needs with individual development teams, manage localization testing, and implement any fixes I can (or ask our developers to assist). I also make sure our future localization needs are well mapped — so we are prepared — and I try to keep everybody informed. I also generally try to gently step in whenever there is some existing or planned issue that would negatively impact localization, and try to proactively think of a solution to avoid any unintended behaviour of the localized product — always keeping everybody on the same page so that we can avoid surprises as much as possible. Sometimes you have to ask people a lot.
Can you tell us about some aspects of Localization that people might not be aware of?
Localization does not involve just taking the text and translating it. It involves a rather complex set of tasks and procedures that need to be completed before a successfully localized title reaches the players. Be that the linguistic or technical side, everything from making it possible for the game to display different characters, to the actual translation, revision, and localization testing itself.
What are the requirements of a good translation, and how do you ensure translations are good? (@polpox_avenger)
There are several ways to look at it, but in general I would say a good translation is appropriate for the context it is in; appropriate for its intended audience (readers), is grammatically correct, uses an appropriate style (and appropriately changes when needed), and uses correct terminology. It should also use an appropriate register (register is a variety of a language used for a particular purpose or in a particular social setting). In general, a good “test” is that the translation should read as if it was not translated but written in that language — a good translation should not look like translation at all. The reader should not recognize it. So, if you read something and do not understand it because it makes no sense, it does not read fluently or it feels weird, it may be due to bad translation and this will disrupt your experience of the game (or book, movie, etc.).
A good translation should have all of this while also carrying the intended message of the original, without leaving something out or adding something else that does not make sense to add. If you have to pause because the language seems off, something is wrong, and this should not happen with a good translation. How we make sure the translations are good? We cooperate with skilled professional translators, proofreaders, and localization testers who can produce high-quality translations. We adopt revisions and run localization testing which should give birth to translation up to the quality standards. I also make sure it is crystal clear what is expected and try to support my localization teams as much as I can. We use various professional localization tools that help us achieve this. That said, even if we all are perfectionists, the work is never done and there is always something that slips through the cracks. But if we find it, we always try to fix it, provided we have the time for it.
And if you do find a localization issue, feel free to report it on our Feedback Tracker (https://feedback.bistudio.com/) — for any of our games. We will do our best to fix it.
What do you think are the most important skills / traits to have for someone in your position?
You certainly need very sharp attention to detail and the willingness to leave no stone unturned under given circumstances and timeframe when it comes to quality. Sometimes, however, you have to let go and work with what you have, because sometimes it is simply not possible to catch absolutely every issue or error. Furthermore, you of course need to be an organized person as you organize not only yourself, but also others, as you coordinate the work of many people both outside and inside the company.
You should be a good communicator and organizer, and have a good understanding of not only the work you do, but also of the work the people do under your supervision — and you should be prepared to own the localization process and ask people to finish what is necessary. On top of that, some managerial skills are needed, and some linguistic understanding of the needs of various languages you work with. Sometimes, a certain level of flexibility is also needed.
What do you enjoy about your job, and game development in general?
I enjoy the freedom I have to do things my way, which benefits the company in the end. I like being part of something bigger and to cooperate on releases of world-class games. I like the friendly atmosphere of game development and the creativity around it; intelligent and capable people who inspire you. I also enjoy that I have the luxury of doing something I am good at while having fun doing it (for most of the time, at least), and I am really grateful I have an interesting job where I can grow as well.
Is there anything else you're currently working on in your spare time?
Originally, I am a translator, so I still have a few clients for whom I provide translation services. I still want to keep in touch with my original profession. If I have the time, apart from managing, I translate Bohemia Interactive games into Czech, and, for example, the whole Czech localization of DayZ is my work, as well as for Arma 3 Tanks, for example. I chipped in for our other releases as well.
To finish, tell us one of Vojtěch's Top Tips...
If you truly want something, go for it, work towards it, and the hard work will pay off one day, provided you will not stop until you get it — be that in personal or professional life. If you put your mind towards something, the universe will follow.
Our next Featured Bohemian is right around the corner, so keep an eye on our social media pages for the latest updates. But until then, feel free to learn more about working at Bohemia Interactive by checking out our Careers Page – we may just have the perfect job opening for you. Until next time...