Strategy simulator of the Great Pyramids period, where you take your path from the unification of Egyptian tribes to the foundation of The First Empire. Developed with the assistance of Egyptologists.
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February 16

How to translate a game into a baker's dozen of languages?



Game localization is a very important, but not the most apparent step in game development. No matter how small your game is, a good translation can increase the number of potential buyers. On the other hand, a not so good translation can scare them off. Our games - Stone Age, Bronze Age, Marble Age, Predynastic Egypt and soon to be released Egypt: Old Kingdom are translated into 13 languages in general. We'll be glad to share our experience and talk about a few unexpected problems we had to deal with during localization.



The original language of our games is Russian, so the first step was to translate it into English. When our team still had only one member and when the first game, Stone Age, was created, there was no choice but to pay for translation. It wasn't the best choice not only because of money but also because translators-outsiders probably would not be aware of what game they are translating. It makes mistranslation possible. Thus, we decided to translate the next game, Marble Age, ourselves. The translation we made knew no proofreading, no editor's eye... well, you can guess how "great" this translation was. We got criticized for it a lot. Nevertheless, the goal was achieved - both games got translated into English. Later both translations were revised and edited by natives.

Now to get the game translated into English is only half a battle. It helps to attract more players among English-speakers, this includes people who speak other languages as well. Thanks to the fact that we put a lot of efforts in making our texts interesting and informative, we soon got many offers of help from people who wanted to translate our games to their languages! Needless to say, we were only happy to accept.

The first volunteer came from Spain, and Marble Age got its Spanish version. Since then our friend from Spain became one of our most supportive volunteers and helped to translate other games as well. Later another volunteer from Turkey appeared. Then another one from Germany. They all had to spend several weeks, helping us to localize our games. But as we all started to work together, we found out that our games are not designed to accommodate translations. These are basic problems we encountered:

1. Correct display of translated texts. Other languages can contain diacritics - special symbols which can be all around the letter, for example sometimes you can see the word "naïve" with two dots instead of one, or like in many French or Spanish words, like "Rêver" or "niño". The most extreme case of this problem, though, is when the new language is not Latin alphabet based, for example, Chinese or Hindi.

2. The screens of our games were designed to fit Russian language sentences. Sometimes when the text got translated into other languages, the length of a sentence changed, and it didn't fit into the screen anymore. Sometimes the translated sentence was too short, it also didn't look pretty.

This is how we shortened English words:


German also didn't look very well:


3. The most difficult problem was about words order. Every language has different sentence structure. For us, it was important because we like to replace some words with symbols for people, food, resources, etc. But in order to construct the correct sentence, all symbols must appear in the right places. During translation, words order was often messed up and we had troubles placing symbols in the right places.

4. Finally, the text files exchange with translators was very inconvenient. For smaller games, like Bronze Age and Marble Age, it was bearable, but it didn't fit for a bigger game.

While working on Bronze Age and Marble Age localization, we were looking for solutions. We uploaded more fonts and language packs, adjusted some settings for encoding. We worked closely with translators, adjusting the length of sentences to fit the limited space on the screen. Later we came upon Crowdin - a platform developed by Ukrainian programmer, which allows developers all over the world translate their applications, programs, games etc. with the help of volunteers. With the help of this platform, we slowly started to upgrade our localization process.

The first problem was solved relatively easy by uploading additional fonts and language packs. When Predynastic Egypt was created, we designed it with the thoughts of future translations. The text space was designed to extend automatically to adjust the text of any length.

Problem no.3 has solved thanks to a new text writing system, the idea of our programmer. We inserted text symbols everywhere where pictures should be inserted. For example, here is a short sentence: "The (number) dynasty came to power" we need to use different numbers. So we replaced it like this: "The {0} dynasty came to power", and this allows translators move the number around to suit the correct word order of their language. Here is the example of code, to give you a clearer idea of what we're talking about:




The process of localization became much more convenient. Bronze Age already got several localizations by the time we uploaded it on Crowdin, and it helped us to improve translations and attract more volunteers for new localizations. Our games gained some popularity and we even got a small community of fans from different countries. Thanks to that we had a chance to start Predynastic Egypt translation early, and the game was released both in Russian and in English. English language translation was supported by a volunteer from the USA, whose input is especially appreciated due to his respectable age. It's nice to know that our game in interesting to many different people.

The translating platform also offers a convenient way to leave comments on suggested translations. Volunteers can always contact us or other translators to ask questions or to check something, and the work goes smooth and interesting.

After Predynastic Egypt was released, another volunteer joined our team. He was from China, and right away he brought with him a whole team of volunteers who started to translate Predynastic Egypt in Chinese! That was a huge luck because it let us sell our games on the Chinese market. As you probably know, Chinese-speaking countries make one of the largest game markets in the world, if not the largest. But it's almost impossible to sell there a game which has no Chinese translation. That's why the help of our Chinese friend was truly invaluable, and he keeps helping us and consulting us about China and Chinese market.

As the game was released, more and more volunteers offered their help. They not only translated Predynastic Egypt but also other games. Eventually, we had our games translated into 13 different languages, including French, Italian, Czech, Polish, Japanese and even Hindi! And this is not the limit, who knows where our future volunteers will come from!

The new game Egypt: Old Kingdom will be fully translated into English before the release, and we have French, Czech, Chinese, Spanish and Turkish translations in progress. Most of the translators are our long-time supporters, who translated previous games as well.

We're doing everything in our power to reward volunteers' input. We provide them all necessary support, issuing certificates for their CV, confirming their work, we share free game keys with them and put their names in subtitles. We'll certainly keep it up and we'll think of new ways to encourage them.

You're welcome to join our new project on Crowdin, especially if you can help us with German, Portuguese (Brasilian), Korean, Polish and Japanese languages.

https://crowdin.com/project/egypt-old-kingdom

And that's the essential information about our localization experience. If you have more questions, please don't hesitate to ask!
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January 19

Developers Diary, Issue #10 The battle thundered!


When one's recreating the historical reality, battles are just as important as an economic development. Establishment of almost every civilization included some sort of military actions. Some computer games are sometimes more focused on the battles rather than economic development. Depending on developers' priorities and desires games' battle systems can look very different. For some games it's just a simple event, not outstanding at all, but in others, it's almost like a game inside a game, a huge event which requires a lot of actions and efforts from the player, something like what we can see in Total War.

We're making a historical strategy, and we're trying to make it as close to the truth as possible, so it's important for us to balance out every sphere of life in the same way as it was balanced in the Old Kingdom. Ancient Egypt was not a military state, and that's why we decided to let the player focus more on the development of the country rather than military actions.
Our first games had no separate battle mode, and the player got the result of the battle after a few clicks. In Predynastic Egypt we added the battle mode, but all the battles remained blended into the story, only slightly highlighted in comparison to the other events.

Predynastic Egypt battle mode:


Egypt: Old Kingdom battle mode:


In the Predynastic Egypt conquering hostile tribes took several steps. Preparation took a few turns, then a couple of skirmishes to weaken the enemy, and then the battle royale. Of course, players could go without skirmishes if they were sure they'd win. The process of the battle was demonstrated in a separate window, but a player could not influence it or make any decisions in the battle. The only thing (s)he could do is to retreat from the battleground.

This simple system was sufficient for Predynastic Egypt. But for the new game, Egypt: Old Kingdom, we needed something more elaborate. From the feedback we got from Predynastic Egypt, we also knew the audience requested to improve the battle. Some people even asked us to make something similar to Total War. With all due respect to this game, it was inappropriate for our game to have this kind of a battle mode. Not only because Egypt wasn't a military state, but also because there are not much data available for a detailed reconstruction of battles of the Old Kindom period. All we know is that Egypt had an army that they have had some kind of military actions, but there is no information about the enemies or about battles' dates, times and locations, no information about the number of troops. No information about the results of battles. Without this information, all we could do is to fantasize about what their battles were like, but that is not something we need.

Still, we wanted to improve the battle mode, and the question was - how could we do it? We went through players' suggestions, as well as through our own ideas. We wanted to keep the ease of Predynastic Egypt's battle mode, but add a few features to make it more interesting. In the end, we added a few buttons, which were the result of a painstaking analysis and synthesis. We had to analyze as much of possible battle actions as possible, and then synthesize this information to make a few new buttons for a battle mode. Eventually, we got a system that is deeper and more flexible, than the original one, but at the same time, it's not entirely different.
So, before the battle player's troops are going to the enemy's territory (Egyptians on the left, enemies on the right side):



As soon as the player will choose to fight, the battle preparation will begin. The player will learn basic information about the enemy, and on the screen below we can see the first added button "Risk". What does it mean?
Even at the Old Kingdom period battles started long before the troops stood on the battleground face to face. Scouts were sent to investigate the enemy's troops condition, sabotages, tricks and set-ups were used in order to weaken the enemy's army before the battle. If those actions were effective enough, they could upset the initial power balance and a less powerful, but more cunning army could win the battle. These actions are hidden under the "Risk" button. It does not guarantee the victory, but sometimes it can save the army when the battle is unavoidable, but the army is not strong enough. On the picture below you can see the exact case when the button "Risk" can be used. Without it, the battle most certainly will be lost. The "Risk" button increases the chance of both good events (by 100%) and bad events (by 75%). The battle will become highly unpredictable, but also with a chance of victory.


After the player chose his actions - to fight or to risk - here comes the second step of the battle. The battle itself. Here you can see two more buttons which allow the player to select the tactic. He can order the army to attack, and it will increase the damage to the enemy's army. Or he can order to defend, and in this case, the player's army will suffer less damage, but also the chance of bad events will increase.

In Predynastic Egypt, when the battle was over the player could only accept the result without the chance to react somehow. In Egypt: Old Kingdom the player can now choose his actions after the battle. He can exterminate the enemy or to let them go home. The first option will slow down the progress of the enemy's tribe. The second option will improve the relationships with all neighbor tribes/nations.



If the player loses the battle, his enemy can capture his troops. In this case, the player can beg his enemy to release part of them. Regardless the result, it will damage the relationships with the other tribes, and additionally, the enemy may not return the troops. So the begging only effective if the army was big. Otherwise, the player can just accept the defeat and do nothing about the lost troops.



Besides the main battles, the player can also do raids. They have slightly different results. The successful raid will allow the player to enslave the enemy or to desert their lands (to destroy the fertility of the land by mixing it with salt). This will slow down the development of the enemy's tribe. In case if the raid will be failed, player's troops will be enslaved.

Besides the number of troops, a few other factors will influence the results of the battle. These modifiers will randomly be chosen before every battle. There are organization factors and religion factors. For example, successful raid or god's support can help the player. On the other hand, long distance from Memphis to the battleground or god's indifference can weaken the army.
And that's all about basic changes in our new battle mode! Trust me, it will be quite challenging!
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About This Game

You are one of the multitudes of incarnations of the great Horus, and side by side with the pharaohs, you are fighting against the mighty Seth, who unleashes numerous disasters upon the lands of Ancient Egypt. Win wars and overcome crises, discover new technologies, worship your gods and conquer neighboring tribes! Are you wise enough to help the ancient kings to unify Lower and Upper Egypt, build a stable economy and to erect the Great Pyramids?

Based on real history

You will find yourself in Memphis, 3500-2140 years B.C., the time of the first six dynasties of pharaohs. You will unify the country and create a prosperous kingdom, which later will have to face the havoc of the First Intermediate Period.

Construction of the Great Pyramids

You will lead the construction of pyramids, choose their design and materials. This process requires tremendous investments, but it is the only way to keep peace and order in the country.

Ancient society simulator

You will not only deal with the problems of farmers and craftsmen but also make important political decisions, which will define the future of the kingdom. Numerous challenges and events of different scale await you.

Ancient maps

Discover the world of the Old Kingdom: exploit new lands, send expeditions to different places, and meet different cultures. Use every opportunity to learn about your surroundings and to expand Egypt's borders.

Differences from Predynastic Egypt

  • More diversity in the game, varied tasks in the regions, different tactics for playthroughs and unique bonuses from patron gods.
  • The game is longer now, after the main campaign there is a free-play survival mode.
  • New technologies: 3D engine and skeletal animation.

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    Minimum:
    • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
    • OS: Windows Vista SP2
    • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 1.8 Ghz or AMD Athlon X2 64 2.0 Ghz
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 1024х768, 512 MB VRAM
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Storage: 2 GB available space
    Recommended:
    • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
    • OS: Windows 10
    • Processor: Intel i5 or AMD analogues
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 1920х1080, 1 GB VRAM
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Storage: 2 GB available space
    Minimum:
    • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
    • OS: 10.9.5
    • Processor: 2.0 Ghz
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 1024х768, 512 MB VRAM
    • Storage: 2 GB available space
    Recommended:
    • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
    • OS: 10.10
    • Processor: Dual Core 3.0 Ghz
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 1920х1080, 1 GB VRAM
    • Storage: 2 GB available space
    Minimum:
    • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
    • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 1.8 Ghz or AMD Athlon X2 64 2.0 Ghz
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 1024х768, 512 MB VRAM
    • Storage: 2 GB available space
    Recommended:
    • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
    • Processor: Intel i5 or AMD analogues
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 1920х1080, 1 GB VRAM
    • Storage: 2 GB available space
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