Teaching the Pathfinder new languages

How Mass Effect: Andromeda and other titles are localized for international markets – part two

Going Local:

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In part one of our series on game localization at EA, we followed the journey of Mass Effect: Andromeda from the storywriters in the studios through to the EA Loc Multilanguage Localization Specialists and the translation process.

Meet Chloe Anon Pasleau, Audio Capture specialist at the EA Localization department in Madrid, Spain. She and the team make sure that the characters in Mass Effect: Andromeda hit exactly the right tone when they are localized to French or German.  

First, tell us a bit about yourself: what’s your professional background and when did you start working as an Audio Capture Specialist?

I specialized in Audiovisual Translation in Barcelona after studying Translation and Interpreting in Granada and Glasgow, so my background is related to linguistics, which is a common field of study among people in Localization. I started working as an Audio Capture Specialist in February of 2015 after an enriching experience as an Assistant in Dragon Age: Inquisition, but I had already worked in many other departments at EA.

What’s the first step when you receive the translated copy for Mass Effect: Andromeda?

Once the lines are translated, my main task is to group them in recording scripts for each language and send them to the external recording studios. These scripts need to reflect the nature of the content, such as characters involved, scope (the number of lines) for each, availability of talents, time schedules, and a lot more. Taking the right decisions in order to properly manage the recordings are the core tasks and responsibilities of an Audio Capture Specialist.

For Mass Effect: Andromeda specifically, we’re recording more than 77,000 lines for each localized language.

How many lines of text are you handling for a Localization of a game like Mass Effect: Andromeda?

For Mass Effect: Andromeda specifically, we’re recording more than 77,000 lines for each localized language. BioWare games are generally the biggest in terms of scope, which is one of the reasons why they can’t be dubbed to as many languages as other EA titles.

When choosing the recording studio, what are you specifically looking for when it comes to BioWare titles?

BioWare titles are quite unique in many different aspects. As mentioned above, they have huge scopes and the number of characters to record is quite large, with up to 1,500. So, a recording studio handling a BioWare project needs to be very skilled at Project Management, and needs to have access to a very large pool of talents. Also, since BioWare games feature characters from different fantasy or alien races, different recording techniques and equipment might need to be used.

What do you have to keep in mind while casting actors for a character in the game (style, cultural aspects, consistency with previous roles)?

The general challenge for Localization is to ensure that a local version of a game is not a mere translation, but a whole true experience for the players. Style, cultural aspects and consistency are factors to have in mind, but also many others such as experience, professionalism, believability, tone of voice, adaptability, how recognizable the voice is. The talents are not selected by Audio Capture alone, but in agreement with many other involved parties, including external partners. 

How many voice actors are needed to localize a game like Mass Effect: Andromeda?

Around 150 per language. This means that many of these talents act as different characters. An advantage that the Mass Effect franchise has in this regard is that one talent can play several minor roles, since the audio processing for one race can be so different from another that it’s impossible to tell that they are being played by the same actor or actress.

For instance, Salarians in the Mass Effect Universe speak in a very fast pace and their pitch is shifted to higher frequencies. This allows us to use the same actor to play another character from a different race. Also, voice talents are professionals that can perfectly play different voices. Here’s an example: If you have ever watched the show Rick and Morty, have you noticed that both main characters are voiced by the same actor?

What factors are influencing the Audio Localization (specific requirements: legal, linguistic, timelines, etc.)?

If I had to choose two over the rest, that would be time and quality.  Think of a game as a painting, or a book. A self-demanding painter or writer will always have the feeling that his or her work can be improved, so they need to impose themselves a finishing date. A game is exactly like that, but it’s created by a team of several hundreds of people, from a storywriter to a voice talent and everyone in-between.

Quality is the other important factor, because everyone at EA Loc is committed to a great product, and a great product comes from each and any of us doing our best in that regard.

 


 

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