"can't stress enough" how critical tools are.
Studios must "have patience and think long term" when localising, and everyone should be involved as it grants you "extra checks and balances" that way.
BioWare policy dictates that their products ship fully localized simultaneously, which is no small undertaking especially for RPG titles. Dragon Age: Origins had around 1 million words needing many languages, Mass Effect 2 had around 400,000.
"...to make localization work, it has to be a requirement that the team embraces. Which means that whenever you start building a game, in the very beginning you need to say which customers we're going to reach and how," said Gordon Walton at GDC 2011, a former BioWare Austin studio director.
"If you don't do that at the beginning, you are doing it at the end, and what you end up with is a Frankenstein's Monster." He admits getting staff on board is tough.
BioWare also touched on the issue directly at this year's GDC. "At BioWare, we really strive for sustainable localization, and that's really challenging," said Ian Mitchell, a localization project manager for the studio.
"There is a big difference. It's a really good business practice that will make localization a really good return on your investment."
BioWare titles demand a huge investment of time, and "you don't sit down and spend 60 hours playing a game that grates on you in terms of the VO or the text." He revealed they run educational seminars for their staff to "bring it up from the grassroots."
"Excel sheets don't work for us very well because they're so big, so we have to build very robust processes," he adds. "The more specific you are about your process, the better the tools you're going to get out of it. You're going to build a better GUI and better cinematics design tools if you're specific about what you need for localization up front."
It gives development "extra checks and balances," which "mitigates risk on high impact features... They get to make sure their features don't require refactoring or intense rework." BioWare is making MMO Star Wars The Old Republic, which is fully voiced.
"Dedicate your time to teaching the development team about localization. Let them know your time is there for them as well. Get to know how they develop their features and content. Sit down with the guy who builds maps for your game and... get to know those tools."
"Being there and aiding them with that is invaluable. The greater you involve your dev team, the greater commitment you'll have from your team," continued Mitchell.
"The number to do one more localization in The Old Republic is a 'make another game' number for most companies. It's a 7 digit number." Star Wars The Old Republic is due out later this year. Dragon Age II releases on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC next week.