We build amazing iPhone and iPad apps. We recently built ABC Play School Play Time and Art Maker for iPad, and recently wrote Learning Cocoa with Objective-C Fourth Edition and the iOS Game Development Cookbook for O'Reilly. This is our blog.

Yarn Spinner Localisation

Earlier this year, we were approached by the rad folks at Infinite Fall with a very interesting challenge: could we please add support for localisation in Yarn Spinner, the dialogue system we wrote, for Night in the Woods?

Yarn Spinner was written to be a more advanced interpreter for the Yarn language, a Twine-inspired tool for writing interactive dialogue. Yarn Spinner lets you write your game's dialogue in a very natural way, with minimal technical syntax and a strong focus on getting your words into the game.

Because Yarn Spinner has such a strong focus on minimising the amount of stuff you have to write on top of your dialogue, we have to be careful whenever adding new features to the language. Our goal is always to reduce the amount of stuff you have to think about when writing. However, any kind of localisation system requires you to add additional information, in the form of a key that links a line's original text that of a translated version.

We created what we think is a pretty neat solution to this: hashtags. To localise a line of text, you add a hashtag that contains a short tag, like this:

However, Night in the Woods has a lot of dialogue. Like, buckets of it. Tagging each and every line would be hugely laborious. Fortunately, we already have a tool that's very good at quickly and thoroughly processing large amounts of Yarn dialogue: Yarn Spinner itself!

We therefore put together a little tool that can extremely quickly (like, 2 seconds quickly) tag every single line of dialogue that needs it. The tool only counts text that needs localisation - that is, anything that a player will see. It ignores all other stuff, like if statements and other behind the scenes stuff, as well as any line that already has a tag, which allows you to run the tool on files that have been partially tagged. In other words, it's a tool you can feed your dialogue through without worrying about anything it's doing.

Once you have some tagged dialogue, you can then generate a file that contains every line's text, as well as its localisation tag. The tool generates a CSV spreadsheet, which is the easiest format for most people to read.

Once you have the spreadsheet, you can send it off to your translators. In our case, we sent it off to a translation team in Italy, who converted the entire text of the Night in the Woods demo into Italian. They then sent back a spreadsheet that contained the Italian versions of all of the lines. We then dropped this into the Night in the Woods demo, and presto: localised!

The code for the localisation tool has already been merged into the development branch of Yarn Spinner, and we'll be putting out more info on how to use it soon. We can't wait to see more games in more languages using Yarn Spinner. Stay tuned for more!