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I created a puzzle game with gameplay about words using the English language. I want to translate the whole game into my native language (Croatian) and don't plan to have any other languages for now, other than English.

Language has a very major impact - from the title of the game, core gameplay, difficulty, all the way to leaderboards.

Should I create the game as a separate app in my native language or incorporate it into a single app?

I should also mention that my main platform of distribution is Google Play so I don't know how this will affect user reach.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What are the downsides you're worried about incurring if you make the wrong choice here? We can better address your concerns if we know concretely what they are. \$\endgroup\$
    – DMGregory
    Mar 5, 2022 at 14:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Imo it depends. Can the same impact be made in Croatian without damaging any part of the game? If not, then I would say create a separate app but make it as close as you can to the original one \$\endgroup\$
    – Arian_ki
    Mar 5, 2022 at 15:55

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Should I create the game as a separate app in my native language or incorporate it into a single app?

It depends on some factors. It is ultimately up to you, but you may want to choose depending on your design and development needs.

Localising games

When it comes to localisation, developers must consider both visual and audio content. Translators must work on texts, and actors may record dialogues for different locales. Regardless, both audio and text are assets that the game can load and use during execution without affecting the core gameplay. Many game engines support this methodology because it encourages asset management over scattering the same codebase across slightly different projects.

Localising wordplay

Words-centred games are hardly an exception here. However, whereas translating/localising the interface is a trivial task, you may give special attention to the design balance needed for different languages.

Games like Scrabble and Boggle heavily revolve around letters to create words. Different languages have different words and varying letter frequencies in that language. I expect the English version of Scrabble to feature more of some letters than, say, the Italian or Croatian editions, given the different letter frequencies of these languages. (Quick comparison: ENG vs. ITA vs. HRV). The same principle applies to Boggle and its digital derivative Ruzzle. The game rules apply to words, not letters. Balancing the letter draws makes the game balanced because players can easily find/create words common in their language – as they would expect. Some more examples:

  • Italian word games have fewer unique letters (no J's, K's, W's, X's, and Y's) because they don't belong in the traditional Italian alphabet. Nonetheless, the game rules are the same, with only the Reference Dictionaries being different.
  • Diacritics are taken into account by simply assuming them where needed. If a letter can have diacritics, the game will validate variants if they lead to a correct entry.

I must make a special mention to Wordle, the latest entry in the word games hits. While the above games treat letters as a limited resource, Wordle doesn't. You can write whatever you want to guess the hidden word, as long as it's a 5-letter entry. The only limit here is the maximum number of attempts.

In this context, the design focuses more on a word's 'rarity' in its everyday use in a specific language rather than the rarity of individual letters. This shift still adapts to different languages, and this is due to word frequencies. Italian Wordle exists and its rules are the same as the original, with only the reference words being different. A 5-letter word doesn't necessarily translate to another 5-letter word.

Localising your game

To sum up, all the above games (and probably many others) work well in different languages thanks to some tweaks about the game resources (namely, letters), but without altering the core gameplay at all.

Language has a very major impact - from title of the game, core gameplay, difficulty all the way to leaderboards.

Localising the game title could be just a translation/transcreation task. The game difficulty can rely on the target language without affecting the core mechanics. Leaderboards are an additional feature linked to the game difficulty and region-dependent for word games. But, I'm not going to discuss them further.

Usually, balancing a game requires extensive testing to find the correct parameters for any given level of difficulty the designer intended. For word games, the game difficulty tightly depends on the language used. Then, minor tweaks are perfectly fine if they help support your intended game experience.

If you still want to alter your core game mechanics, you must consider that the final result could be a different game or game variant. Users expect game variants to be in the same app they downloaded, not a different one. In the case of a different game, you should instead differentiate it from the original, pre-localisation project and create a separate app for it. This way, you will prevent users from being confused by a game that behaves differently depending on the geographic location.

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