Localization Academy

Inside Game Localization Testing – Maria Lee

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Unlock the mysteries of game localization testing. Dive deep with Maria Lee from Terra Localizations as she unravels her journey from a passionate gamer to an expert LQA specialist, mainly focusing on video games.

Welcome to this episode of The Localization Podcast where you’ll gain insights on:

  • The integral role of an LQA specialist in ensuring game quality
  • The specific builds used in the testing process and their importance
  • How test cases are chosen for maximum efficacy
  • A closer look at what exactly test cases are and their significance
  • The multifaceted challenges faced when localizing games
  • Getting a glimpse into a typical day for someone in Maria’s role
  • Why to start your argument with… penis?!

Andrej Zito 

How do you get into localization?

Maria Lee 

Okay, I love this one. No, honestly, I do love this question. I’ve answered it. I think every time I went into a job interview they asked you that I don’t get tired of this one. I love it. Um, so I was, I think I was 19 going on 20 When I first heard of such thing as like game localization, I was a very passionate gamer. It got me through a lot in my life I gained since I was three. Honestly, yeah, my first game was Bananas in Pyjamas. It’s a kids game. Loved it. Yeah. But yeah, so I was approaching the time where, you know, I was getting my bachelor’s soon. And I was thinking about the next steps. And also, I was thinking of what to do during the summer. And then I came upon this little thingy that takes place. In some Moscow suburbs. It’s a bit further than that, but like somewhere in the Moscow region called Summer School. And it’s such as it’s like the summer school, I’ll just sell summer school. It’s basically kind of like camping slash workshop situation, where young specialists of very different backgrounds come together. So it gets sorted into different workshops, and work on their projects, kind of exchange their knowledge, do networking, stuff like that. So and there were different workshops there. So starting from, you know, medical stuff to physics, or like, sociology and stuff. And I saw this workshop called translation and game localization. I was like, what’s that? Kind of? I mean, I have heard the word localization before I just never put, you know, much thought into it. Yeah. And I enrolled, there was a test, ask everything. And I got accepted. And so for a week, I stayed. You know, in some suburb, it was like, an X Soviet camp for kids. That was abandoned some long time ago and got transformed into this kind of place. Yeah, with other specialists in very different fields. This particular workshop was hosted by Lucia game localizations. This company, they’re really cool. Yeah. So there are actual professionals in the field who wanted to pass on their knowledge on to people who are interested in in localization and translation. Yeah, and for a week, I slept in tents. And when I woke up, I went to, you know, work with catch tools get to know what the hell is that? You know, basics of game localizations. We even managed to come together to localise a very, very small game during the span of this week. But this was my first kind of hands on. Experience with game lock, and I was smitten, honestly, what kind of

Andrej Zito 

game was it?

Maria Lee 

Oh, it was very starship like thing, but very indie. I honestly don’t remember the name on it. And I don’t think I can say it. Because I mean, I didn’t find any ID inside any NDAs. But just to be clear, but yeah. So with this particular movement, kind of and with live chat games, and specifically on Bongo Shankar, from Lucia games, who then went on to create game localization School, which is I think, the only one in the Russian language for Russian localization specialists. He created that and after this, you know, summer school, we started talking me and Athan kind of got together a little bit. And I enrolled in some of his courses. Yeah. And the rest is history.

Andrej Zito 

Explain to me, you said that you liked this question a lot. What Why do you like telling the story? Have you ever thought about it? Do you like going back to those memories or why? Because, for example, for me, I don’t like answering the same questions all over again. I feel like I feel like whenever I have guests, usually when they say that, Oh, Andre, that’s a good question. It’s something that they were never asked before.

Maria Lee 

Yeah, I think this is why I specify that I haven’t heard it more than once. But it’s like it. I think that I personally enjoy hearing other people’s stories of how they got into what they truly love. So I asked this all the time to people that I meet. So like, why this, if this is what you love, why this. And I think their stories are fascinating. It’s always kind of sweet to see the sparkle in the eyes of someone who’s telling the story of how they found that what they really wanted. And I think I do have the sparkle in me as well. I am very, very glad. And I’m very thankful to like to live shot, to atone, and to summer school, but mostly to myself, because I was a student who could, you know, just do nothing all summer, you know, like, drink with the buddies or whatever. But I thought of like, I thought ahead, I thought of something more. And I did not succumb to my laziness. And I actually went through with this task tasks, and I got into the bus and I went into that camp, and I slept in the in those stands, I actually got extremely sick. Because the weather was horrible. It was like, plus eight Celsius at night. Pretty cold for July. So I got a cold. But that didn’t stop me.

Andrej Zito 

Is there something when you answer this question that you never said before? Is there something that you leave out? Did you have any negative experience from the summer school? Or was it all just,

Maria Lee 

I like how you dig into stuff? No, I do like it. You are just a tiny bit provocative. When you talk and I actually love that. I don’t know. It’s fun. It’s fun. It prevents people from saying same things over and over again. And I think that’s what you’re trying to avoid. Yeah, sorry for a little bit of psychoanalysis here. Yeah, so, um, I was trying, I’m trying to think of something that I’m leaving out, but I can’t this was such a transformative experience. It was just all positive. All good. The views were amazing. It’s this camp on the river. Dawn, I think. Yeah, it’s huge. It’s like absolutely wide. I’ve never seen it before I went there. And, you know, this combo of mind work. And nature was just, you know, you don’t need drugs, you could just do that. No, really, I was I think I really was in some different state of mind. When I was staying there. My sleeping schedule fixed in like matter of one day. I didn’t need to, like, you know, stay long or like, browse tick tock or whatever. I was just tick

Andrej Zito 

tock at the time.

Maria Lee 

Ya, wait, what time

Andrej Zito 

was where are you?

Maria Lee 

I was well, so Okay, let’s figure this out. I am 24 now. So this was five years ago.

Andrej Zito 

Pizza was already there five years ago.

Maria Lee 

Sure. Yeah. Yeah, of course, it was good. Like four or five years ago, I was like, 19 going 20. So

Andrej Zito 

So now.

Maria Lee 

I totally understand. I totally understand. Yeah, but yeah, so also, you know, the place was also the people I have never experienced, you know, this. This was very adult of me. I have never went into you know, some group of unknown adult people. All of them were older than me. 95% of everyone who was at that, you know, camp. They were older than me and usually much older. So like in their 30s and it wasn’t even that was barely in my 20s So I felt incompetent for like just a tiny little bit, but then we got on to working and to realise that it was such an awesome networking opportunity. I loved being around all of these people from very different backgrounds who were all fixated on kind of the same thing. He has me. So I’m sorry. I can tell you any tea. On that experience. It was just kind of

Andrej Zito 

you have a cold right so we can count it as something not perfect.

Maria Lee 

Yeah, I don’t always tell about the cold. But even the cold was exclusive right now. Yeah, but truth be told, even that was cool. So like, they let me sleep in on campus, which was usually just for day working. But they transformed some furniture into like makeshift bed and slept the during the nights. And I remember, you know, sleeping there while on the last day while everyone was watching a movie. I don’t remember what movie was because I was high on fever. But I actually enjoyed it so much. It was very cosy. I would just snuggle up like a little under a blanket, and everyone who was watching a movie and like quietly discussing something, and I was just my fever stuff. It was kind of sick, but cool. community. You know,

Andrej Zito 

I really like how you answer questions. I feel like I could answer you have questions about all the things that you have in your background, like all the different plans, and we could be here for the next hour. But that but that is but that is not my question. My question is, you mentioned that you immediately can, like fell in love with what they taught you like you got that spark? How is that feeling? How can other people know that? This is the right thing for me, because we talk we talk a lot about this a lot with our guests. And I do think that a lot people, a lot of adults don’t do the things that they love. So how did you know that it was for you?

Maria Lee 

Mm hmm. Tough one. I think you know, dissecting feelings is actually much, much harder than you think. I’ve realised that when I went to therapy, and my therapist started asking me, Is this really how you feel? So like I was I say, an emotion. And she’s like, is this truly it? Or is it something else? So now, when I get asked questions about, you know, how do you feel, it takes a long while to pinpoint the exact motion or the executive feeling. But to me, this was very close to childlike excitement. So I felt at that time that I was a very serious person who was doing very serious PC stuff to get by. And when I saw this, I was like, I don’t have to get by anymore. I can do this. I, I’m very lazy. I’ve said this a couple of times. It’s true is true. I am. Absolutely. And I know that I really liked something is when I choose this overdoing nothing and just chilling. So when I went home, and I took some time to watch some, you know, horses, some little videos on YouTube on different CAT tools, and stuff like that, instead of watching, you know, funny cat videos, that was kind of a signal to me that maybe I should definitely start looking into it more, because it didn’t feel like a chore. It felt like my genuine interest, even though sometimes I still have to consciously choose to improve here. I think it’s very, I think everybody has heard, you know, this phrase, like, choose, you know, do what you love, and you won’t be working a day in your life. I think this is very false. I think this is very false. It’s, you cannot be fascinated by anything. You know, all the time. There. Yeah, I don’t believe that. I don’t believe that you can, you know, even the love. I mean, even the job that you love and enjoy the most, you will still hate one day, one particular day or like one particular situation, you will want nothing to do with this. And I think this, this is how I define it. What I want to do, I know it when I can, and I do make a conscious decision to do this, even when I’m not really feeling it. And it doesn’t feel like pure torture. Yeah. So something like that is the combination of you know, kind of like Wondering discipline?

Andrej Zito 

I think I have a bunch of questions about the discipline and your resilience. Because you mentioned that that is your superpower, when we first connected, but okay, we’re talking about localization. So maybe let’s get present. What is it that you actually do right now? So you recently started working with Tara, and you work as a Russian l QA specialist, what does that even mean?

Maria Lee 

Well, so, to kind of simplify, I am a Russian language quality, especially as I’m a tester, I test games. And I test, they’re specifically the quality of the translation that they have in game, or in marketing everywhere. So any texts that are connected to these particular games we’re working on, they will definitely go through me or one of my colleagues in my Russian l QA team, this is what I do. So I check the texts in game, I verify different, you know, marketing texts, solely based on how well the translation is written. I translate sometimes little bits and pieces when needed. So it’s also tutorial work. Yeah. So kind of the scope.

Andrej Zito 

Is the quality always based on comparing it to English one? Or does it also make sense to just look at it purely from the Russian perspective without

Maria Lee 

English? Yeah, this is an awesome question. Because I think not many people understand that it’s very often about, you know, the Russian tax, of course, you have to compare it always. I mean, if you, if you don’t, then you’re in big trouble. But there are different sides to working on translation, and like editing translations. And of course, you check it against, you know, just to identify some factual mistakes, to identify some discrepancies, stuff like that, you know, broken tags, et cetera, et cetera. If the translation conveys the same meaning, and tone, and stuff like that as the original text, but you know, many people think that to be for example, a English to Russian translation translator, you have to know English very well. And that is true, you sure do have to, but you know, what else, you have to know Russian extremely well, even better than English, because it’s always about your target language. The focus is always there. So it’s, yeah, you have to be you have to excel truly at your target language, and know your source language. Extremely well. That’s how I approach it

Andrej Zito 

when you said that you review the translations in game are there also situations where you review it in the standard? I don’t know, spreadsheet, like, you know, like source translation. And and what what is the purpose of that versus checking it in game isn’t checking something in game always better?

Maria Lee 

Hmm. Okay, so a good one. Basically, you have to do it over and over and over. That’s why it’s testing so we are working in testing and I am testing specialist you have to verify it multiple times. And usually you verified it verified against multiple different criteria. So for example, I think is well I’m not you know, that fluent in you know, in depth in these workflows. But FYI, it is easier to check, you know, the actual texts, like you know, how well how good this was station is there any, you know, mistakes and stuff in the spreadsheet, this is what you do, usually, and then when it’s important in game, you suddenly take a look at it and you realise that, oh, this text, you know, overflows the boundaries of the text box. And, you know, you know, the managers or anybody else did not know that they did not have have any character limitations, for example, for this text, so, you know, that this text is well translated already. You just have to amend it, so it fits. This is why you go for multiple steps and I think checking F Every thing in game would definitely not be better. Because this is why we have capitals. This is why I mean, you have no translation memories you have no. From bases in game, you cannot check it against, you know, a whole bunch of other translations in game, you just have this text. Good luck. But when you work in a cap tool, it’s way, way, way more convenient. I love them.

Andrej Zito 

The way I would say, based on what I’m hearing is that when you do though, let’s say the spreadsheet review, it’s more like from the perspective of a linguist, when you do it in game is from the perspective of the end game user, the actual gamer, right?

Maria Lee 

Yeah, that’s definitely how I would put it as well. This is why there are multiple stages. It’s not to say that, you know, when I take when I test something, some texts in game, and I look at it, and I suddenly realise, oh, you can phrase this better. I will, I will check it, I will fix that, of course. This is why also, it’s fun, because sometimes translations look good on paper. But sometimes when you check it against, you know, this particular character, this particular I don’t know, layout of the screen. And this kind of puts you into a different perspective, and helps you realise that even some linguistic stuff can be a little bit off, and you can fix that. So it’s fun.

Andrej Zito 

A lot of the times when I talk to people who translate in general, or maybe more specifically for games, they’re complaining about the lack of context. And I guess, I’m not sure what is your experience with that. Of course, if you’re testing in game, you have all the context, I guess, that you need. But when you are doing the previous step, let’s say you’re just reviewing something in the spreadsheets, what is your experience currently? Do you already have some context at that stage? Or is it really just like all blank and just shrinks?

Maria Lee 

Yeah, well working, you know, in house because I do technically work in house? Well, I mean, Tara does not produce games, we are the main vendor for our clients. So it’s almost like working in house in the meaning that I have all the connections to the actual devs that I need, or to the managers and it’s very direct, it’s not going filtered through a bunch of other different managers. And you can expect an answer in like a month or two. The communication is very direct, and it’s a huge, huge plus as a huge bonus. When working on endgame tax. So I’m in my current position, I to have all the context that I needed. If I don’t, I can ask, I can look around, you know, search some stuff up, it may have come up in some other teams not even locked in. But I did have I mean, previously, I did not work, you know, kind of in house, I worked in multi language vendor company. And yeah, the lack of context is truly is the main issue, you know, trying to come up with what the hell does that supposed to mean? Is this Canon? Is this a skill? What is it please just tell me when I was a manager. This was one of I think the main things that you have to do is support your Linguistic Team in their questions, trying to come up with the answers. Like when I was working on some games that have come out a long while ago and they’re making remasters and stuff like that. So you have to worry watch through hours and hours of Let’s Plays of these games just to find out, like, where that little bit of text was, and screenshotted and sent it to your linguist stuff like that. So yeah, it’s tedious.

Andrej Zito 

So how does the ideal context for linguists or testers look like? Are we talking about screenshots? Or is there a way how you I don’t know, in some way in the CAT tool, you see a string and you click a button and it directly takes you into the placing the game is that science fiction or?

Maria Lee 

I think that is I think that is I mean, science fiction is assuming that translators specifically have any connections and any access to builds. Most of the time you don’t if you if you get to play the game at any stage. That’s like a huge gift from the depths I I mean, I have not worked in production. In management of linguistic projects that much only, like two years, I think around that. But during those two years, I’ve only got one time where the dev actually was like, Oh, do you want us to send you the keys, let us send you the keys to steam. And that was a huge help, that really helped a lot was a huge project I was managing. So they did well. This is bare minimum. Like, if you can do that, too, you’re like, if you just can’t do that you in the name of your Linguistic Team, you’re looking, you know, when you’re working on your game, the least you can do is just please do that. Please try and sand. You know, any keys if possible, because usually localization is an afterthought. in game development, it’s something that is done last minute, and with, you know, this craps of the budget. And this is, I think, where a lot of issues come from, because if you thought of localization of your game and beat earlier, you may have been able to prepare it a little bit better. And about your initial question regarding the context. For linguists, I do think that, you know, the best you can do is just send us the build, let us play it. But if that is not possible, ideally, you know, short clips or screenshots that will do to linguists. And of course, that’s better if they are ingrained in the cut tool, giving comments or with the links to some, you know, archive, stuff like that. If the mentor can prepare that, that would be awesome. I prepared that myself, when I was a manager, you know, attaching all those screens, all those, you know, IDs, stuff like that, so that the linguists finally understand what they’re working on, just not seeing the dark.

Andrej Zito 

But explain to me how it works with the build, because you said that’s like the ideal situation. But let’s say I’m we’re working on I don’t know, what is your favourite game? Let’s say Witcher three. That’s a big one, right? And I assume there are many linguists working on this. And there’s your game. What do you do with the built? Even if you get it? Like? Do you just start playing until you find it a little string that you’re translating?

Maria Lee 

No, no, no. This is, I think, where the help off the testing team comes in. Because like, for example, like right now, when I’m testing look, in game, I mean, do you don’t think that I just play through the game until I get to the bit where I need no, you have a bunch of cheats, you just use the cheats, you use cheats, to grant quests that you need. You use cheats to brand items that you need, or like skills and abilities that you need to spawn an NPC you need to talk to, or like a book that you need to read and check the texts, stuff like that. So ideally, an access to the game with a list of existing cheats to help that that would be perfect. So and this is why you need both the Linguistic Team and the testing team to you know, this is why our QA is important. This is why you can’t just translate a game, you need Oh QA as well, because they’re a bit more well versed in gaming actually. And you know, testing, actually,

Andrej Zito 

right. So so it’s not a built that will go to steam and be released to public rights.

Maria Lee 

Usually it’s known. Usually it’s not Yeah, it’s interesting. Is it testing build? We have different ones, for example, currently, when I’m working in terror, it for various purposes and stuff like that. Yeah. It’s a bit different. But they wanted to look at the contract is the same. I mean, text x constant, of course, like that. The models can be a little wonky, the graphics, but that doesn’t matter.

Andrej Zito 

So how exactly does the testing work? What kind of instructions do you get? What is the framework for testing? Do you just launch the game and do whatever you want? Then whatever you encounter, you report, is there some systematic approach to it? How does it look?

Maria Lee 

Well, I think it really varies from team to team and from project to project I can only talk you know, off my own experience. So for example, I’m back in the day when I used to do regression testing for itI, Europe. I worked mostly non games but on how As a core, you know, opera OS, I worked mostly on OS, and stuff like that. So I had like the screenshots that I need to verify if everything is good, like no text, you know, overlapped with the buttons, yada, yada. When I saw something I reported in reported in JIRA, you know, the main. But by fixing hub, stuff like that, it was pretty easy. My current workflow looks a little bit like this. So you choose that test cases that you want to work on. There’s a bunch of them, with every release of the game, every version manager is released. In test rail. This is like a testing hub, where we work at they release all the test cases that are available for this build, you choose whichever one you want, because we’re very democratic in our team.

Andrej Zito 

Well, you, I have to ask you, based on what do you pick the test cases? Is it like, what is easy? What looks interesting,

Maria Lee 

I tried to do a little mix. So I have this in a persisting issue, the it is very hard for me to test things that I’ve never tested before, you know, psychologically, I did, I can’t say I love the challenge. In this particular sense, I do not, when there, there comes up a test case that I don’t exactly know how to taste, to how to test. It kind of rubs me the wrong way. But precisely because of that I tried every time I tried to take at least one test case that I don’t know how to test. Because I know that otherwise, I will be stopped doing same things over and over again. And to me, I will lose my own professional value. Because you know, I will stop kind of evolving. Because there’s always something new, they’re always some new algorithms, you know, working on, you know, upsetting calendars, stuff like that. And you have to be aware of that, you have to kind of follow the stream. So yeah, usually I try to have like a mix back, I usually get something easy. Particularly for days where I don’t feel like working, and I’m tired or you know, something comes up in my personal life, but you still have to do something. And for this particular days, you have the easy test case that you know how to test precisely and you just go over it and you’re done with it. Then I tried to pick something challenging, usually, to keep myself kind of out of my comfort zone just a little bit. And then I pick something that I like, just stuff that I like to do if possible. To me, for example, I like working on testing NPCs I like talking to various characters. This is a professional tabletop RPG player in me talking. I love characters. Yeah. So I love testing them. I like dialogues, basically. So I this is how I do it personally. Yeah.

Andrej Zito 

My question was, since you mentioned that you liked testing the NPCs. What is the best NPC in your experience? And it could be one that you actually tested and one that you just experienced as a gamer?

Maria Lee 

Awesome question. I have so many God, I really really have to think about this because I do get attached to, you know, video game characters quite easily. And I have a lot of

Andrej Zito 

my favourites maybe start with the one that you actually test it because I assume that would be a smaller set than what you experienced in your whole life.

Maria Lee 

I again due to NDA, I can say who is it but I can describe the character. So this is henchmen. He has really cool nautical themed design. He’s this kind of, he’s a very fun character because he’s both supposed to be scary, but also funny. And all of all of his lines are very mixed in this way. So they’re kind of you know, like, Ooh, what the hell but also then they end with a punch line and it’s funny, and he has this you know, scary kind of like, kind of boogeyman demeanour. But also he’s basically kind of just a henchman who thinks a lot of himself. But then like when you test, for example, you can test him using his boss’s outfit, you know his boss’s skin, you can equip it as a player and then talk to these henchmen as his boss basically kind of like and then his demeanour changes. He’s like very true Millward, stuff like that. I don’t know, I just found this funny, because he’s this very kind of, like, creepy guy. But then when he talks to his boss, he’s very, like, kind of timid, but also funny still, he’s, he’s very funny. This is what I liked about it, and he has a lot of funds in his lines. Fun fact, translating funds into Russian is a nightmare. Because funds are very, very English, in terms of, you know, it’s they’re very typical to the English language. But they are not typical, for the Latin for the Russian language at all, this is just not the type of humour that we use a lot. We don’t use it a lot. So translating lines like that, and, you know, or reviewing lines, like like that, it’s very challenging, because it’s also you have to, you know, make it sound well, kind of cohesive, make sure that some kind of fun, is it it’s understandable that it’s there. And also, you have to keep it funny. So that was a challenge when I tested this particular NPC, but I loved him. But

Andrej Zito 

how do you deal with that? If you, like you said, you don’t use that kind of humour in Russian.

Maria Lee 

I mean, it exists. Just not, it’s not very prominent, I’d say that. Usually, we don’t know, we come around, kind of switching to some different type of joke, honestly, most of the time, because when I review translations of these lines that contain a lot of buttons, if you try to retain the mall in Russian, it will sound awful. It will I mean, in English, it’s corny, but it’s still kind of funny, you know, for the for the lovers of dad jokes and that type of stuff. This is not the case in Russian in Russian, it just sounds extremely forced extremely. So you just usually have to change the type of joke and retain some similarity. Yeah, we usually brainstorm that with our whole team. Yeah, really. Usually, when there is some kind of difficult Bundes our workplace, we just, you know, come to the whole team. There’s currently six of us working in the game department. And we’re like, okay, okay, guys, girls, let’s do this. Let’s just collectively brainstorm how to translate this joke.

Andrej Zito 

So the NPCs, which is the one outside of your work, that you can actually name?

Maria Lee 

Yeah, I definitely can name some I just need to think of one.

Andrej Zito  

Well, we were just talking about me getting Red Dead Redemption, I assume there will be at least one character from there.

Maria Lee 

Oh, for sure. I mean, truth be told I do love rd or to if my favourite game, but I absolutely love it. But if I had to name someone from rd or to this will be very niche. This will be extremely niche. There is. There is an NPC who is a homeless man. Yeah, he’s a homeless man. I don’t remember we in which town exactly, he meet him. But everyone who played RDR two probably will know who I’m talking about, maybe remind what the town was. But so he’s this very kind of sweet, homeless guy who kind of like lies to Arthur, that he’s been in a war and he’s trying to you know, come up very pathetic, because, you know, he needs the money. But mostly, when you interact with this homeless guy, nicely, you realise that he mainly just needs human connection. And you can actually be very nice to this homeless guy and he reveals that he didn’t actually fight in a war, but that doesn’t you know, tain the relationship that they, you know, very briefly formed with Arthur, the main protagonist, and why I left him this particular little guy, he was funny, first of all, he was very, you know, charismatic, this kind of, you know, jester type of character, and I realised that I have to spoil the game to reveal why I like this character precisely. Just now I realised that I have to spoil the game to you.

Andrej Zito 

Maybe, maybe, you know.

Maria Lee 

Well, do you know how RDR two ends?

Andrej Zito 

No, I don’t I know. Please don’t tell me. You know, it’s on my wish list.

Maria Lee 

Well, sorry, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Well, scratch that. Forget that. Cut this out. I will choose some other. Well, if it’s not this random guy, huh? This is so hilarious because there’s so many great NPCs with awesomely written storylines, and I’m talking about some very random homeless guy. This is big me behaviour. I really, really enjoyed Dutch. This is very, this is a very basic answer. You probably don’t know who that is. He’s the guy who orchestrated the game that our protagonist is in. He’s the mastermind behind. Yeah. He’s like, an extremely Shakespearean character. He’s writing is peak. He’s dialogues are out of this world. You know, everyone who worked on writing Dutch, his character and his storyline, they really excelled. I, I did not expect this level of writing from the game. Yeah. And like how your perspective changes towards this character. While you play like first love him, then you hate him, it’s all comes very naturally, you really get played very well, when it comes to this particular character?

Andrej Zito 

Do you think that when you test something, or when you localise something for a character that you really love, you can do a better job? Because you want to kind of like, you know, like, fine tune that character? Or do you feel like that emotional connection, even though it may sound stupid for people who don’t play games, like you know, that you build with a character actually makes you do a better job?

Maria Lee 

I personally do think so I’ve encountered other opinions. And I think they can both like this. And the opposite can simulataneously be true? Because I have encountered cases where letting a huge fan work on a piece of media can be actually bad for the end result. Because they get caught up in the process in their own feelings towards the content that affects the work negatively, for example, they get stuck on trying to perfect everything, you know, to the tee, or they become very defensive. They become Oh, no, it’s actually not like that, he would not say that this would not happen. Stuff like that. So sometimes, it’s, I think, most of the time, it’s good to have someone aware of, you know, the franchise, if it’s a franchise, for example, on board, you know, to catch these, like easter eggs and references, stuff like that. But sometimes employing a huge fan can be tricky. It just can be tricky. It has huge benefits, but it also can be very tricky and have downsides. Talking about characters. To me personally, I just don’t think that I have personally ever worked on a character that I loved. Like, truly, like with all of my heart, I wanted that. I’ve worked, for example, on texts for characters that I really like, like this, you know, henchman guy, and that definitely helped me because that boosted my creativity. I’m just oh, he’s just a silly little guy. Wonder what we can come up with for him so that he sends out kind of a little bit, you know, just be just a tad more creative, working on this particular character than the others. For example, I think, I mean, working on what you like, is always better than working on what you don’t like, but working on what you love is not necessarily better than working on what you like, to me.

Andrej Zito 

You mean, like the output of your work?

Maria Lee 

Yeah. Yeah, I just think so. Yeah, sometimes also working on what you love is too much pressure. You know,

Andrej Zito 

is it isn’t it more about being perfectionist? Like does this working on something that you love necessarily mean that you want it to be perfect all the time?

Maria Lee 

Yeah, I think I think my answer tell us a little bit more about you most He tells you about me than you know other people. Because yeah, I don’t think I just think that I don’t think I know that I can become a bit perfectionist when it comes to things that I truly love. And it’s a bad thing. You know, perfection is not a good quality at all. And this is something I’ve been working on for quite a while to be content with, you know, what I do in terms of this is good. This is not the best. This is not perfect, but this is good. And I’m content with this. This especially comes up with when I’m working on personal projects, because like I cannot like release, these are released that or, you know, show this to someone because it’s not perfect. It’s not as good as I wanted it to be. But step by step. These past few years, I’ve realised that maybe good is enough. Hasn’t doesn’t have to great.

Andrej Zito 

Yeah, well, that is another topic that we could start discussing, but maybe not. Let me ask you one more question about the NPCs. Have you ever come across an NPC that reminded you of yourself?

Maria Lee 

I have. I have I definitely have I have to choose carefully here.

Andrej Zito 

Wait, why carefully so that we don’t learn too much about you? Is it is it some NPC like who had no murderous people in their free time?

Maria Lee 

Oh, no, no, no, no, no. No, no. I think the MPC that I saw a little bit of myself in was it Do you know if the game night in the woods?

Andrej Zito 

I heard about it? Isn’t it the one where like people chase each other? Like, there’s like a murder or something then and

Maria Lee 

that’s Dead by Daylight? I think or like not, yeah, Dead by Daylight, I think

Andrej Zito 

Sorry, what is Night in the Woods?

Maria Lee 

Night in the Woods. It’s an indie game. It’s kind of like this cartoony. It’s, like, lose you into the sense of it being a kids game, because the style is pretty cartoony, but it’s actually kind of teep hashtag deep. It’s kind of like a coming of age story about a girl who fails college and goes back to her hometown. And then she encounters that, like, you know, how her town has changed when she was away? Have friends have changed. And then there’s also a called what? Yeah, the the plot, the plot thickens. The plot thickens. But yeah, it’s kind of if I had to, you know, describe it in one sentence. It’s what it’s like being 20 compressed into one game. It’s extremely fun, very chaotic, super sad. And kind of underwhelming, in a good way. At times. You know, it doesn’t give every answer that you wanted it to give what I like most about this game. And in this game, there is an NPC called B. She is our protagonists best friend. They didn’t talk for like, two years, like three years while she was in college. Yeah, and then she comes back to her hometown to find out they’ll be kind of moved on, from their friendship a little bit. And basically, in this game, you can choose as if there’s a protagonist whose name is me. You can choose who to put who to stick with. It’s either B, and her issues, her problems, her kind of hobbies and stuff and your other best friend. Who’s this like chaotic? You know, fun yet a little bit depressed little guy. His name is Greg. Yeah, this game also, you know, explores, you know, friendships, how they form, how they fall apart kind of thing. And be kind of reminds me of myself. Yeah, in some ways.

Andrej Zito 

So did you decide to go with B? No, no, you didn’t. You went with Greg.

Maria Lee 

Yeah, I went with Greg. I actually don’t can say that. I really liked B. I mean, it’s a person I like. I like her as a character. She’s an awesome character, but I can’t say that I love her.

Andrej Zito 

What does that say about you? Go?

Maria Lee 

Well, I think, you know, sometimes you see yourself somewhere where you maybe wouldn’t necessarily only wanted to and you feel a little cold out. So you kind of you know, distance yourself from those parts. Yeah. Hashtag deep. Yeah, like Uber would have, you know, truly, truly Yeah, that is hashtag deep. But yeah, it’s an awesome game. Very fun. Also not very long. So if you ever want to, you know, just watch a little kind of emotional story, any even hope what heartwarming, I’d say unfold with very pretty graphics. I mean, the animation is really good. The style is fantastic. If you ever want that. I would really recommend night in the woods and the soundtrack is amazing.

Andrej Zito 

It reminded me of Life is Strange when you’re talking about,

Maria Lee 

huh? Yeah, it is a little bit akin to life is strange. I also liked that one. I mean, I don’t know the first one.

Andrej Zito 

Okay, let’s leave the world of NPCs for a while. And let’s go back to testing. Let’s go back maybe to the basics. You were mentioning test cases, to people who don’t know what test cases are? What artists?

Maria Lee 

Yeah. So, um, well, interestingly, at his case, is a case that we test. Basically, it’s a bit of kind of like info that you need to check, for example. And you gun comes up in the game, it’s introduced, and you have to test it. For me, as I do not test the gameplay, I test. You know, the text, I go and gain, I acquire this gun. And I check its name, its description. If I drop the gun and take a look at it, the text that comes up, is it okay, if I kill someone with this gun? Does the kill feed? Turned out? Oh, turnout turnout? Okay. So this is what I do. And this is basically the test case, the test case is this particular gun, or like a test case, a test case can be again, NPC interactions. So go out and check the interactions with this particular NPC. What he says, does he freeze? Maybe, you know, some wrong test comes up. So this is a test case. Is this good enough?

Andrej Zito 

It is good enough, I think. But one thing that I remember when you were saying that how you operate right now is that you go into test rail never tried before. And you pick the test cases that you like, and then you figure out how to test it. To me, in my experience, when I used to be involved a little bit with testing, the QA team would actually prepare steps how to test each test case. So do you also have experience with that? And what is the I don’t know the pros and cons, where you already given the steps, whereas where you have to somewhat, improvise and figure out on your own how to test it.

Maria Lee 

There are absolutely no pros in figuring out how to test stuff yourself. Because you don’t know.

Andrej Zito 

But But isn’t that what you’re doing right now? Or did you just miss a Sunday? I

Maria Lee 

did not specify we do have a script kind of like so. Okay, acquire this. Try and fire the gun. I don’t know, like, check the kill feed, check the description check its name in your inventory. So yeah, we do have the steps. And it’s absolutely detrimental. Cuz if you, I mean, nobody’s discouraging you from trying something new. I don’t know. If you think of something else, you can try and test game yourself. Maybe if you come up with an error, you can then flag it. It’s all good. But there are standard procedures to testing editors important to know how to follow them how to execute this stuff. So there are steps there are also you know, various spreadsheets with, you know, the tax that should be there actually. There’s screenshots sometimes, which can be helpful. So yeah, there are absolutely no pros to me in trying to figure that out yourself. I don’t know if anybody actually does that. I think from what I know, even in high school in game testing, let’s call it that way functional testing. That’s called even in functional testing. There are guidelines when you actually have to test like everything. You know, much more than what I do personally. You have to equip this guy and unequip this gun and equip this gun standing you know, is to equip this guy in a bar. I don’t know, you know, all of this stuff, but there are still guidelines. So they’re absolutely detrimental. That can be huge errors actually, if the steps are not communicated properly, we have encountered, if you situations of similar nature when steps were definitely not clear, and you could not test something because you didn’t know what you were looking for. And then you have to go to, you know, the devs and ask them. So, yeah, prepare your steps. It’s important. Previously, you

Andrej Zito 

mentioned that localising pawns and I guess humour in general is very difficult, especially into Russian. What other areas of game localization do you think are challenging

Maria Lee 

in terms of translation translating into Russian?

Andrej Zito 

In terms of localization? It can be also besides translation.

Maria Lee 

Okay. Yeah, true. True? Absolutely. Well, from my personal experience, the main issue that I come up with is lack of knowledge, how to work with variables. So I have to give you a little bit of context here. I did not ask you before, but can I ask you what’s your mother tongue?

Andrej Zito 

Yeah, so I know exactly where you are heading with this? Yes.

Maria Lee 

Yeah. So then you know, exactly. Then, you know, so for example, yeah, in Russia, like an English, I don’t know, if you have an apple, then you have plural apples. And that’s it. So when they are constructing a variable in game, so you can have one apple or two apples or three apples, they will kind of, you know, construct a variable that way in English. So there there is either the word Apple as an E or with the s, but in Russian, it can be annoying. Jablonka via Jablonka. Okay, be it ebook. Yabloko me. Anything Yabla, calm, Yabloko? Because we have a lot of cases in Russian. So as you can see, the I believe in slower to you do also have cases? Yes, so the word changes a lot. So there comes an issue. You have a sentence, you have a variable, apple. So you can have 123 500. In Russian writing, every possible ending of the word would be impossible. So you have to improvise. Usually you do that by kind of modifying the sentence, so that the word Apple does not have to change. So like number of apples, column variable. It doesn’t mistake does it make sense?

Andrej Zito 

Yes, yes. To me. It does. And yes, I have seen it mentioned in some of the, I don’t know, guidelines, where people, especially when you’re trying to teach this to Americans, because I guess they don’t

Maria Lee 

yeah, they don’t have this problem. Or you i alternatively speaking of this case, you can use some popular short forms of the word. For example, like gold Yeah. Of Gold in terms of currency. So if you have like 35 gold in Russian, you would probably write them in it says short for gold coins. Gold Coins, Xavi. Manyata xmR. Yeah, you just write two letters. And all gamers already understand that this means you have gold coins. Yeah. So you have all sorts of sorts of shortenings for various words, kind of the concepts that come up in games a lot something like speed, or attack, defence, stuff like that. So you use a lot of short forms. And you have to work around that really well. And a lot of people who don’t have as much of experience in game lock precisely, they may have a huge background in translation of role, but they don’t precisely know how game lock works. So they make a lot of mistakes. With variables. It’s just a huge issue. Yeah, this is what I come up with Come over this like, pretty often, especially in, you know, test desks when somebody wants to apply. And you have to take a look at their, you know, text, a lot of candidates get rejected in my personal experience because they don’t know how to work with variables, because and also, this is a mistake that is really, really prominent and you really can, it kind of draws attention to itself. Because like some people who don’t know grammar very well, for example, can not know that you missed a comma, for example, somewhere, like there was supposed to be a comma, but you missed it. The player who may not be very well versed in grammar can just skip it. But this is like wrong wrong. It very, is flashing.

Andrej Zito 

So do you think it’s important that people who work in the game localization have experience or are enthusiast when it comes to game games?

Maria Lee 

Yeah. I actually do think it’s an advantage, but only if you played in your target language. To me, I mean, but not only, but mostly if you played in your target language, because then you know, all the nitty gritty of linens and bolts of the communist texts that people make, you may have come up with this list of mistakes on your own in your own head when you’re playing, even before you came to game walk. Even even when you didn’t know why this was a mistake. You were like, Ha, this is wrong. This looks very wrong. And then someday when you work on game block, you will realise why, but from my experience, my personal experience, I have met more gaming enthusiasts with not enough, let’s say linguistic experience, professional linguistic experience, who turned out to be very great professionals. I have met more of those people than people who are good linguists that never worked on games, that turned out to be a good fit for game lock. Team. That’s just what I’ve seen.

Andrej Zito 

Why do you think it’s like that? Is it just like gamers have their own culture?

Maria Lee 

They sure do. This sure do have their own culture. That’s like no denying that. But I don’t think that’s the case. I think enthusiasts definitely is a force to be reckoned with. Because for a lot of people who came to game lock, from a lot of people who came to came on, I’ve heard the same thing that I said today was that they were trying to find a way to connect their gaming passion and their linguistic kind of like background, a lot of them were, you know, studied to be translators. They were not looking forward to translating legal documents, or they own their life. And they were trying to find some alternative for that. And also they gamed, and when they found such thing as game walk, they were like, hallelujah. So a lot of these people that I have come across, they were just very thankful for finding this opportunity. And they were very eager to get into it. They may me including, honestly, me, including I personally lacked the, you know, knowledge in terms of linguistic stuff sometimes definitely. Well, especially comparing against, you know, matured linguists, but I do think that I was very eager to learn and I was very eager to stay. I was very eager to stay rooted in this industry. And this is what I’ve met a lot. I think many game lock specialists who really love gaming truly don’t want to do anything else, and they know that they have to keep doing this so you have to get good, one way or another.

Andrej Zito 

Do you think that he also has something to do with it? Uh, can you imagine someone who has, I don’t know, 2030 years of experience, and they are, let’s say more senior or legislative like they’re older? Yeah, do you think like they would be a good fit to localise a game that’s mostly aimed at I don’t know Millennials or Gen Z.

Maria Lee 

Um, why not? I, honestly, really, why not? Because I mean, personally, I’m pretty young. And I have just, you know, entered this weird phase, where you know, when you’re around 18, or like maybe a little younger, you don’t usually talk to people much older than you, your your friends Friendship Circle is usually people your age or other. But once you hit a little bit over 20, that changes, at least for me, and like for a lot of my friends, you start connecting with people of all ages, and all backgrounds. And me being technically Gen Z. Awful. I just don’t don’t feel that much connection to Gen Z, but technically I am. So let’s stick with that. I have found that all the stereotypes that I had of, you know, millennials, for example, are people who are even older, there were just stereotypes I’ve met people who are amazingly in touch with everything that’s going on, in a way. And when I say in touch, I don’t mean that they know the word hip. Like they know what fortnight is, or something like that. I mean, like, actually deeply in touch, they watch new movies, they play new games, they, you know, are open, and they don’t feel like, you know, their life is kind of, you know, coming to an end that are withering just because they’re like 45 or something. Because, for example, in my culture, like in Russia, this is a very prominent issue, especially for women. Like if you’re 45, you’re old man. You’re a weathering actually, it’s time to stop, you know, like dressing fun. It’s time to stop, you know, going out as much you’re practically grandma. This is like very disparate, damaging bit of my social culture. So it’s kind of been hard for me to realise that it’s all just been in my head ages. In this case, age is a number. So answering your question, I definitely don’t think that age matters. In that way. Your broadness of Mind Matters, your ability to do your research matters. This is everything you need, basically, you just need to do your research. And then you can become you know, then then you can localise anything. If you do a research, that’s good enough. Is there something you didn’t expect?

Andrej Zito 

Can you maybe describe to us how does a typical day for you as an earthquake specialist look like?

Maria Lee 

Okay, so, picture this. You live in Russia and work at time. So you work 2pm to 10pm. So that means that me being a night owl, I usually wake up around around noon, honestly, around noon, then I have little time to wake up, do some stretching, walk my dog, feed my dog, grab some breakfast, and then I usually get breakfast while I’m already working. So in the beginning of my workday, I usually check all the chats, as you do, as everyone does check your email, check your slack. Take a look at your workload if you have any. Because sometimes you have finished your previous day with all your test cases. And other tasks finished. So you start fresh. You try to snatch some tasks away from people who have started earlier than you this day, because our team works multiple time zones. So we have people who are starting earlier, and people who are starting later, and people who are starting earlier. Usually get you know, to the tasks first. Yeah, but we’re very democratic. People who start earlier try to leave some work for the rest of the

Andrej Zito 

team. It could mean But shouldn’t you be the person who starts earlier since you’re?

Maria Lee 

I’m not the first. There are people who start at 1pm I started to Yeah, to me, it’s just a bit more convenient. Currently. I will change my schedule once I moved because I’m moving in August to Argentina and There’s a different timelines with timezone time

Andrej Zito 

changing, are we? Well, I just I just I just watched Spider Man, the new Spider Man on Tuesday.

Maria Lee 

This is a Canada event. Right? Yeah. So yeah, there are people who started earlier than me, it’s pretty convenient, actually, because there is no bigger coverage of the work hours. Yeah. So when I get to the tasks, I pick what I want, truly, because in our team, for example, we are very democratic. So you can do what you want in terms of tasks. So there are no assigned topics, like this guy only does this type of tasks, and you only do the tasks connected to this project, there is no such thing. So if you want, you can do anything.

Andrej Zito 

But I’m pretty sure there has to be some team member who’s like, who only gets the leftover snow that you think,

Maria Lee 

um, we are actually, we have just had this conversation with the team, like a few weeks ago, and we just, you know, settled on people who are starting earlier, try to not take all the tasks and just pick some, just just a bit. So that and then when I start, I also don’t take the rest of the workload, I wait, I choose something to work on. And while I do that, I also wait for the people who start even later than I do, so that they can get a chance to pick something. Yeah. And also, don’t worry, there are tasks that come late in the evening, when people who started 1pm are working, so nobody gets offended. Yeah, we are a democracy. Everybody kind of is content with the system. Well, at least that’s what they say in this what I say. Yeah, so going forward to my typical day, I spend I think, like, half the day, so like, five maybe hours actually working. And then I do it gets a free time. In the free time, I other will, I can take my lunch break, which was an hour, and I don’t have to actually eat lunch during it. So it’s just an hour of spare time, I can usually go out and you know, maybe run some quick errands in this hour or whatever, then come back home lunch in front of the laptop. Yeah, I try to alternate between different types of tasks throughout the day so that I don’t get cross eyed. So usually, you know, if you start working on Revision, so like what proofreading and I do a little bit of that, then I tried to switch and do some in game testing. So that the mind kind of alternates between different types of activities, and I don’t get tired, as soon. Thankfully, my job allows that. So for example, like when I worked on text solely, when I was an editor, and translator, back in the day, I found it a little bit hard to concentrate and do the same thing over and over and over and over again. I mean, the texts are different, but you’re still working in the very same programme with a very same layout and you’re doing the very same type of task. That was a bit tedious for me. So now I’m very thankful for my workload being diverse. Yeah. So I do that I attend some meetings from time to time, they may be corporate, they may be engaged in team. So like a weekly meetings, or maybe I you know, schedule some call to explain something to the New York League. So walk them through some type of tasks. Also, kind of I think, like, about an hour, like an hour and a half a day you spend in Slack, chatting, I mean, not just you know, idly chatting, although, of course that happens. But you know, answering various questions, helping the team, you know, with brainstorming, for example, because we brainstorm a lot like so there’s a new season coming up, we have a name, we need to translate it what do you think guys? And then there is like just a huge bunch of messages trying to brainstorm the name. That’s also what you spend a lot of time on. I think. Like 30% of my work day is research because when You work with texts, you constantly have to research stuff all the time. Starting from Do I need a comma here? And then ending with? Like, I don’t know, what is this type of gun? Is this even like, is this a pistol? Or is this you know, I don’t know, some other type of gun that I don’t know because I’m bad with guns. Yes. You have to research just like a huge load of information. Yeah fact checking fact checking and fact checking in

Andrej Zito 

and just imagining like Google or someone else your government collecting the information on what you search.

Maria Lee 

I search all types of shit honestly. Sometimes add on top of that, that I’m also writing, you know, in my free time, of course, not in my work time. That’s for my EHR. I work during my work hours. I don’t write personal novels in my work done but when I do I have to because I write you know, stuff that’s close to Detective sometimes, you know, there are detective elements. So you have to research a lot. You know, like body decomposition stages. Guns Yeah, my.

Andrej Zito 

Well, that already sounds kind of weird. Like searching for body composition. But what is the weirdest thing that you ever had to research? Yeah. for work purposes? Yeah,

Maria Lee 

we can for work purposes. Weirdest? Ah. I mean, it sounds really weird. But like the recent the recent stuff that comes to mind is there are type of this type of gun. Like, like the tommy gun, which has this round thingy on top. It’s called a flap Jack. I didn’t know. Yeah, and in our translators. So like flap Jack. It’s also you know, kind of like a type of pastry, right? Kind of like, what’s they called in English? Pancakes. Flapjack is also kind of like a pancake. So in Russian, they translated that as like actual pancakes. You know, like blini, like Russia, Russian blini. They had something like that in the translation. And I was like, What do pancakes have to do with guns? And then I forgot that flap check actually means a pancake and have to google you know, guns, and then flap checks, and then pancakes. And then believe me, and I’m like, is there just some kind of easter egg that I’m missing? Because in Russian, this, the name of this mechanism has nothing to do with objects. It’s a very different name. So that was pretty, pretty weird. But I think I’ve Googled, like, everything, all different types of weird stuff working on different projects I had to Google. I remember tarot cards a lot in their meanings. Because I had a project back in the days where the bosses in game were named, based on tarot cards, the Major Arcana, like the sea, you know, the sort of the sage, like the mage, the chariot, Wheel of Fortune, stuff like that. Yeah. Want to hear for a funny story about that project is short. And it’s localization themed. It’s also about you know, the issues that you face. So received, I was working as a manager, then I was managing this project. So we received as a term base from the previous translators, I don’t know who they were, and when they translated looks like in the early 2000s. And all these names of these bosses like chair like the chariot, the hermit, were not translated in their term base. Rather, they weren’t transliterated. So the chariot became chatty, old. And then mage became mug but it’s okay because mug is made in Russia, but there was the hermit so the hermit Oh, Hey, but they can rush him, he became him it. And little did you know at here is a curse word in Russian, it’s like the main penis, basically. Yeah, it’s not exactly a curse word. So for example, you could save on TV, but it’s in bad taste. It’s like pretty much in bad taste. And the vendor manager on the side of the client, they were not rushing, they didn’t know. And I remember we had just a really long exchange of emails where I was like, Hey, can you change the names? And we’re like, No, we got this from the client. And I’m like, well, they will not get the the memo, the players would not would not understand that we are talking about real cars, because they have specific names in Russia that exist and are known to the public. And they are not transliterated, they’re just translated. And the mentor was like, No, this, this is already verified with the client. No, let’s stick to this. And this was probably one of the funniest and a little bit like, serious things I had to do in my professional life is writing an email, where I explained to the manager that we cannot write him it. Like, we cannot include this word, this actually sounds like this is an insult, this is a bad word. Everybody will laugh at a localization like this, please just let us let us change it. And they did after like five or so emails going back and forth, like for two days, they let us change it to you know, the actual names of the cards. So I was very happy. But it was a funny situation.

Andrej Zito 

What do you think was the thing that actually convinced them? Like, what didn’t think five emails? Did you always use different arguments? Or did you know, gave them some references? Or what worked? In the end?

Maria Lee 

I did use different arguments, because I do think that in the end, the profanity thing convinced them because you don’t want this because from what I understood, I mean, I totally get it. When you have finalised the TB, the term base, the glossary, with the client, going back to the client, and actually saying, Oh, well, there were some discrepancies, something doesn’t sound right. Can please change that? That can be difficult. It’s, you know, it’s a process. And I understand that. You don’t want to go through this, again, as a manager. I mean, I’ve been in that position, you don’t want to go back to your client and say that you messed up somewhere or something like that. So I understand why the manager was reluctant. But I think that, like not saying the word penis in your game where there are no penises involved. And it’s actually about, you know, tarot cards. That was pretty convincing that I think, really hit the nail. Yeah, I think that’s it. I should have started with that. I was trying to be kind of diplomatic at first, I didn’t want to touch on that. Because I was trying to be very, you know, well, this, like, this translation does not reflect you know, the original meaning yada, yada. should have just said, hey,

Andrej Zito 

hey, this is Venus. You don’t want that?

Maria Lee 

You don’t want that. Yeah, exactly. I should. Well, we learn I probably now, if I had the situation nowadays, I would probably start with that. Because that’s very, you know, strong argument. Can’t argue against penis.

Andrej Zito 

Yes. Start with the penis. That’s the lesson of this interview. I have maybe this will be a weird question. I’m not sure. How are you going to answer but you always find good answers. I want because you said that a lot of what you do is research. And I would have never guessed this because I don’t think I have issues Googling something. But I know that my roommate, who happens to be Japanese, she says that she sucks at doing research. So my question would be, how do you do research for what you need to find out? Is there some specific tips that you could get or is it just like putting the term that you’re looking for into Google and then triangle the different links,

Maria Lee 

I totally get how you can suck at research. I think first of all, it comes to just how your brain works. And if you like in which information type you respond to better, because for example, as you could have guessed, I respond to text very well. So Googling, you know, in actual Google, like searching stuff up there or like encyclopaedias, sometimes even I do sometimes use, you know, paper sources I have them. Especially when it comes to translation stuff, because I have some proved really good, you know, books on English to Russian translators from some legendary Russian linguists, I have them in paper form. And sometimes when I need to find something, I usually I can go and check there. But you can be bad at receiving information for text, for example, you can, like for example, it can work better if it’s pictures, or some people or videos or audio. And then googling becomes more difficult because not a lot of information is in video or audio format, or is more difficult to find it is more difficult to distinguish between all of this. So I think it’s just important to have your resources. So trusted links is not just usually it’s not random googling. It’s usually just some sources that I check. For example, if it’s some translation stuff, I’m like, okay, so how do you transliterate Japanese names in Russian, I forgot. I have, you know, my, kind of like translation encyclopaedias. I have verified sources from back back from when I was studying translations, stuff like that, I check against those. When it’s something I don’t know, just some random stuff, like flab Jack gun thing, me. It’s the combination, I usually try to Google in text format, and then look at pictures and videos. So this gives me kind of like, full scope of information. Like when I for example, like here, I don’t understand what what is this? I need to understand what is it? I usually try to search up for reviews? Because like some people review guns, and you and here you are at work, watching a gun review. Because you need to know you’re getting paid. Yeah. And you get paid for that. Cool, right? Hi, HR. Yeah, but um, you need to know, kind of like, how to Google it. It’s not just going straight to Google and hoping for the best. It’s what type of question you have. It’s what type of content you want to see. Do you search for an article? Do you search for a video? Sometimes you have to, you know, impersonate someone who knows the topic, Googling something specific? Because you’re like, Okay, what Wishon? Can I ask the Google to get more specific, more kind of like maybe professional information on this topic? And you have to figure out how to formulate your question. So that you can come up against, you know, you can find some forum for Flapjack gun lovers? I don’t know. And then you will find like, everything that you need there. Yeah. So yeah, I think that’s kind of the process I go through. But I’m curious why were you surprised to find out that a lot of what I do is research?

Andrej Zito 

No, I was, maybe it wasn’t clear. I was surprised that my roommate had trouble googling stuff, because to me, just very simply, you just typing the keywords, the search terms,

Maria Lee 

sometimes for some people coming up with search words is difficult. So sometimes you cannot kind of like distinguish what exactly you’re searching for, you know, the keywords. It’s harder than you think. I’ve encouraged that when I was writing my thesis for my bachelor’s and you have to you know, give an annotation and write the keywords and my, you know, chat with all of my group mates, I made University was full of people who like how the hell do you do that? Like, what are the keywords with that? What are the effective keywords? It cannot be too general. It cannot be too specific. So A it’s, it’s also kind of an art form of being specific.

Andrej Zito 

But when you when you were searching for Flapjack I think that’s, that’s a very good example. Do you search in English first? How do you how do you find what you need in Russian? Are you searching for Russian? Are you guys even using Google? Don’t you have something like Yandex or whatever it is?

Maria Lee 

Oh, we have Yandex. So I usually use Google and Yandex for different purposes. So Yandex is amazing at finding pictures. IE, it’s much better than Google for finding various pictures on what you need. Doesn’t matter if you’re writing in Russian or English. visual references in Yandex, are the best. Yeah, just an FYI. But mostly, I use Google because I like the layout more. And it doesn’t censor things. Because yeah, Yandex censors stuff. Yeah. So what was the question? But But

Andrej Zito 

do you search? So if you’re using Google, do you search in Russian?

Maria Lee 

Both I search in Russian, I searched in English, I know that some things are better searched in Russian, and some things are better searched in English, for example. Like, if I want to so for example, I always try to watch movies, with original voice track with subtitles, or without them, depending on the language, if I understand the language, then without the subs, but when I want to find some movie that I cannot buy here. Because it’s just the present on our, you know, hosting platforms. When I want to find a movie in original. I always type it in Russian, always, because like, English speaking countries are very, very kind of, you know, serious about pirating that pirate movies. And it’s almost like the industry, it kind of the industry is not there as much as in Russia, because in Russia, you can pirate anything. Like, we are like, like the seven seas, you know, Black Sails type of stuff when it comes to internet pirating. And it’s so much easier to search stuff that you want to pirate, in Russian, because it’s just more prominent. And this goes for different topics. But if I want to find something, I’m translating, like some linguistic stuff, then of course, I try different, like food formulas in different languages. Because the information comes up can be also different.

Andrej Zito 

Or maybe to bring the bring the story of Flapjack to conclusion, how did you find the Russian equivalent of that?

Maria Lee 

Oh, I Googled. I did Google, I think some collection stuff. So like, I tried to go from the perspective of, for example, someone interested in guns, trying to find, you know, this particular gun to purchase, or this particular characteristics of this particular gun, how it works, because this was a bit specific. So I thought that it would be best to assume that my perspective is specific. I am someone who kind of knows their guns. And I looked up for some reviews, some historical bits, because this is kind of a historical type of Con. Yeah, I think there were some annotations from, you know, museums, or something like that. Which was very good, since usually, museum annotations have the name of the thing they’re exhibiting, and this is what I needed. I needed to know how they call this type of thing. And what’s this round thing is called the flap check. Yeah, so I think this is how I found it.

Andrej Zito 

Has it ever happened to you that when you search for the Russian equivalent, something, you find to, let’s say, different versions, and it’s not like one of them is more common? What do you do in that situation?

Maria Lee 

Sure. Absolutely. This comes up a lot. Definitely. We don’t have you know, some official translations for stuff that happens in every language. Ah, usually you take a look at how these translate Asians differ. So if one of them is more colloquial, or the or the other one is more kind of like official, you look at the tone of these translations. So you basically look at how they differ, what are the characteristics that makes these translations different. And then you pick the option that best suits the content you’re working on. So if it’s more, something more colloquial more casual, then you take the more casual option. If it’s something more scientific, you will, the more say difficult. And so I think you get what I’m saying. Yes. Makes sense. Yeah, I think this is how I approach it usually.

Andrej Zito 

All right, let’s start wrapping up the interview because it’s already one hour 42? I know, I wouldn’t have thought that. What question am I going to select for you? Now let’s start with the simple one. What are you curious about right now. And this doesn’t have to be related to work.

Maria Lee 

Hmm. This will sound a little bit self absorbed. But I am currently most curious about my own projects. I have kind of a difficult history with writing and creating overall. So like I wrote a lot, up until I was around 14. And then I spent two years in a creative type of college that actually took the creativity out of me, and kind of the desire to actually create stuff. And then I did not write a single thing up until I was 20. And then I kind of started going back into it. And currently, I am feeding my own curiosity for what I do, I try to constantly hype up myself for what I do, not the others, because this is the hard part for me. You know, feeling like my own projects, my own ideas, my writing my, you know, tabletop games, they are worthy of my attention, just as much as everything else that others do, and others create. So I try to kind of divert my attention back to what I do, and pick that apart and pay attention to that. Because this is where I this is like a pillar. This is where I tried to kind of this is where I get strength. You know, this is where I get my mental resources, currently. So kind of To summarise, I mean, what are my projects? Also, I am currently curious about my own culture. I’m curiously I’m curious about my own mythology. I mean, Russian mythology, my language, not in professional terms, but in terms of the beauty of my language, like, I have started reading poems, something that I have not done in a very long while. I didn’t like poems back in the days, but now I get back into it. I think this is because a big move is on the way for me because I am migrating. And I want to take in as much of my culture, my take on my culture as I can, because I will carry it somewhere else where it will stay with me. So this is what I’m currently curious about. Yeah,

Andrej Zito 

I was thinking about this question before, but what is it that you love about Russian language, my truth? If it’s something that can be expressed with words, but I guess you could word so you can give it a try?

Maria Lee 

I can try. I also don’t think they can really explain it. Um, I first of all, love the sound. I think Russian language is extremely versatile in its sound. I know that too many foreigners who do not speak Russian. It sounds harsh. But I think it’s because you have not heard you know, poems or songs or something like that because I have I have seen a video of on YouTube have a guy who is a polyglot, and he was standing outside with a sign. Like come up to me speak language. If I don’t speak it, get 20 euros, stuff like that. And I know for a fact this game, this guy knows Russian. But a lady came up to him and started reciting a poem, classical poem in Russian, and he did not get it, he did not understand that she was speaking Russian. And he actually gave her 20 years, because he didn’t guess that it was Russian. This was very kind of symbolical, to me, of how different this language can be, how versatile, it’s, um, it changed a lot. Not for the best, in some cases. But funnily enough, there is so much history in this language that I can kind of go back to, when I’m feeling down, because of everything that’s going on around me. In my country, for example, just a simple example. In current Russian, feminine tubes, you know, the feminine endings of words are a huge debate. There’s like, for example, in English, if you say, like someone is a doctor, in this word does not specify if they’re male or female, but in Russian it does. And most of the words, I mean, naming professions, or something like that, you know, like Doctor politician will like teacher, stuff like that. Most of them currently use male forms. And the Russian femme, like Russian speaking, let’s say, feminist movement, they often choose to kind of create these feminine forms to signify the like, I’m not a man. I’m a woman. I’m a woman and a professional, for example, like, there’s a doctor, doctor, and it’s male in Russia. But if you’re a feminist, you might say that you’re not a doctor. But Dr. Carr, and this signifies that you’re female, and for the general public, this is like, all crazy female feminists taking over, what are they doing to the beauty of the Russian language. But the fun thing is, if you look at the Russian language, though, as it was before, like around the revolution, each had all the feminine forums book that occur was a normal word. Literally, it was a norm, it was absolutely okay to use it. I think yeah, I think Dr. could definitely existed. Yeah. Stuff like that. So like, there were feminine options, for many words for careers. And now, they have become redundant, and kind of unacceptable to the general public. But when I look back at the history of my language, I see that there was an option, I see that things were different in my country, and things were different in my language. And when I see that, in it, I feel like maybe there is a chance of a positive change. Because, you know, not only regarding, you know, the feminine forms thing, but overall, and I think this is why I love this language,

Andrej Zito 

I don’t understand, tanned, it’s fully. So we in Slovakia, we also have Dr. and Dr. Carr, exactly like you said, and what does it mean? Those words are not used or allowed, like you. Like when I’m talking to someone, and let’s say you work as a doctor, and was speaking in Russian, when you introduce yourself, I asked you, what would you do you say I am booked Orca? Does it mean that you’re not able to say it? Or is it just that this feminine form is not? I don’t know, somewhere on? I don’t know, like it’s on your door? Or like where you have those tags or something like officially?

Maria Lee 

Yeah, so first of all, is definitely not in any official documentation or anything you are a doctor, regardless of your gender. And if you if you say instead of saying your doctor, I’m a doctor, you say your doctor can do this to the listener? You are definitely signifying that you are a feminist. Oh really? Yes. And this may start a discussion this may result in the listener, you know, the listener has negative reaction. So like if you take a look at, you know, like Russian media about anything is possible. I mean, usually, you know, nongovernmental Russian media, they will say something like, I don’t know. Okay, yeah. So for example, these photos are made by this lady who is a photographer. So they would like, right? Not photography. So photographer, they read photography. So like, photography, this lady. And in the comment section, they will 100% be a huge debate of people saying, Oh, why can’t you just say that choose a photographer? Why are you writing photography? Like these crazy feminists are taking over? So this is a huge, huge, huge debate. And yeah, so when you use that feminine words of the words that do not have them, because for example, there is like teacher, for example, the Eat has a feminine word, I think, because most of teachers in Russia are female. So like, there is cheating and cheating. It’s yeah, but if you were your profession does not have the feminine chef, but you’re using it. You’re definitely a feminist and somebody will call you.

Andrej Zito 

Okay, not now I get it. Yeah. And to me, it sounds insane.

Maria Lee 

Because it is, why should you Why shouldn’t to, you know, include these options, since Russian is already a heavily gendered language. But there is I mean, you understand, as someone who speaks Slovak so like, table has a gender chair has a gender, you have a gender? Why should your profession have a gender?

Andrej Zito 

See this got you going?

Maria Lee 

It is, it is a little. Because, you know, in my university days, they always taught us that this phrase like language, is an alive and ever changing organism. So that like language is something that constantly changes and adapts to your reality, there is no way that the language will stay the same when the people and the society is changing. And so, to me, as a linguist, it pains me to see these debates. And it’s strange to me, because I’m like, how, what do you expect? How can you expect for the language not to change? When times are changing? demands are changing, people are changing. And you want it to stay the same? Like the language does not conform to your conservative ideas. It will change whether you want it or not. That’s what the language

Andrej Zito 

is. Right? I will not comment on that. Don’t

Maria Lee 

Why was this a bit too passionate?

Andrej Zito 

No, no, no, no. Let’s forget about it. Let’s move on. Let’s actually use that momentum to let me ask you the question that I asked everyone. What do you think is wrong with our industry?

Maria Lee 

With localization game localization?

Andrej Zito 

Yeah, localization, but I guess you have most experienced with game localization, which may be its world on its own? Yeah,

Maria Lee 

it is a bit, I think. Um, to me, currently, what’s wrong with gemach? are two things that are a little bit connected. So I actually mentioned one of them. So first of all, is people think they think blog is an afterthought. So they consider it too late, which results in an unpolished product, often. So people start slowly to realise that you have to take localization into consideration when you’re creating product, not when it’s, you know, three days until the release of the product yet. But even those who do recognise that localization is important, it’s detrimental to the success of your product of your game. Let’s talk about games because that’s what I know is the only thing I know. Even those who do get it. They don’t get to me. They don’t get that. You can’t do it without the linguists. To them. linguists are not professionals, not to a lot of people. They’re an asset. This is where the issues with the lack have credits comes from. This is like a huge, huge issue and it’s painful. I have worked on so many projects on so many products. I have not been credited yet in any of them. Because this isn’t an afterthought. And I kind of am an acid, because professionals get credited. And I think that’s an issue. I think this is something that needs to change. Like right now it needs to change yesterday. Because I mean, especially with the rise of AI, and this very, very attractive idea that you could replace translators and you could replace editors with AI. I think we might be on a dangerous bath to kind of dehumanise linguistic specialists in games even more. Because the it seems like they’re becoming more replaceable? I don’t think so. I think this is a very dangerous thought. It’s a very dangerous idea, which people should not consider. But I think this is something that’s very wrong with the industry. Currently.

Andrej Zito 

Final words from you, Maria, he could now speak to the minds of everyone in the industry. What would you tell them?

Maria Lee  I need a sip of water for that one. This is big. Um, well, if I could say something to everyone in the game lock industry, I would say that it’s awesome that we keep this industry afloat. Because the text as a medium is getting more and more redundant. Over the years in games, overall, games tend to have fewer text, currently, and then narrative and the game design relies on texts, less and less. But I do think that it’s also us who have continued contributing to Tex being their wishes, awesome. And I think that everyone is doing such a magical work, being able to broadcast all of his products to everyone else, this is what I love. And I think this is what every person who works in localization secretly or not so secretly loves is you opening doors for other people, if not for you, people who are reading this in your target language, could not they would not be able to enjoy this they would not be able to use this they would not be able to understand this, but now they do. So everyone like if I have to say one thing, I think I will say you all are doing magical work. Honestly, you are doing magic. Because I remember my favourite translation teacher in my university used to say that you are not translating words, you are translating meanings. So like its meaning into meaning. And to me this is more that you know, just some typing stuff. This is pretty magical. This is kind of even philosophical. So don’t forget that you’re doing something pretty magical. And get your credits. Everyone gets credited now

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