by Jenny McKearney, Partnership Manager, XLOC – a Keywords studio
You have probably seen for yourself over the past few months that we’re now living and working in a new normal.
When companies around the world closed their office doors earlier this year due to COVID-19, not many could have foreseen that the trend towards remote working would become part of everyday life.
The video games industry was no different, as publishers and developers got to grips with staff adjusting to different schedules and practices.
Kassi O’Connor is Director of Outside Services for 3D freemium gaming developer Glu Mobile, where she supports all of the game studios with localization and external development. She has been part of Glu for 11 years; two of which have been with Griptonite prior to being acquired.
She had been working remotely for three years prior to the onset of COVID-19.
“I was originally based in Bellevue, Washington [State],” she explains. “In 2017, Glu restructured that portion of the business and kindly allowed me to continue my work remotely from Washington state. I have been a remote employee ever since.”
Miguel Corti, meanwhile, has been working at Capcom for almost 13 years. He is currently Senior Manager of Global Production, overseeing a 30-plus team charged with localizing most of Capcom’s titles for the global market, having originally joined the company as an English-language translator.
Similarly to Kassi, Miguel has familiarity with being an offsite employee. “My first experience with working remotely happened many years ago. Prior to the [COVID] pandemic, I would travel a lot for business.
“I spent many a night doing work in my hotel room and coordinating with the office in Osaka, all with just a laptop.
“Because my job doesn’t require access to specialised software, I can get by with just a laptop and an internet connection. I never actually worked from home proper until the pandemic hit.”
Working smarter from home
The mental association employees make between work and an office can often result in increased productivity. According to research by Airtasker, on average, remote employees worked 1.4 more days every month, or 16.8 more days every year, than those who worked in an office.
However, there is likely to be different kinds of distractions at home. So how do Kassi and Miguel ensure that they retain the same levels of output while they’re telecommuting?
Kassi explains: “I start work between 7am and 8am every day. Not having a commute to and from work makes it so I can be more productive. A commute can be draining, so it is nice when work is over, I can walk across my hall to relax instead of having an hour drive home.
“I set a schedule and try my best to keep to it. I get up at the same time every morning and get ready for the day as if I’m heading into an office.
“Glu is a global company and sometimes emails come from our international studios late in the evening. I can easily access my workstation to get work done if I need to.”
Miguel adds: “I find working remotely to be less stressful overall, but that’s only because most of my team is working remotely as well. Since my schedule is no longer a solid block of meetings, I have more time to focus on tasks and support my team.”
While there are many benefits to working from home, on the flip side, there are obviously adjustments to make and associated challenges associated, including retaining enthusiasm, team interaction and different feedback loops.
“The biggest challenges are probably time management and staying motivated. It’s important to have office hours. After work is done, then you can do things around the home,” Kassi says.
Miguel adds: “Not having instantaneous feedback or the course correction that naturally occurs from discussing your work with someone is a challenge. It’s hard to get interim feedback on what you’re doing, and no one may notice you’re on the wrong path until after you make the delivery.”
This interaction and collaboration with colleagues is something many people miss but both Kassi and Miguel believe that quickly adapting communication practices is key to the remote model.
“My advice would be constant, but effective communication,” says Kassi. If you notice that an email or Slack message is taking too long, jump on a phone or video call. It goes the other way too; make sure to keep simple things to an email or message instead of scheduling a call. Keep in mind that everyone’s time is complex right now. Have patience.”
Echoing Kassi’s point, Miguel says: “For a team to work together competently, I recommend finding communication tools that work best with your team. What you relied on in the office may not be as efficient as you thought it was when it becomes the sole form of communication.”
One such tool is XLOC. The content management system (CMS) is dedicated to the interactive content creators and helps manage global assets including text, audio and art, throughout the multilingual development process.
As both Kassi and Miguel are heavily involved in managing the localization process and as both Glu and Capcom currently use XLOC, they’re best positioned to explain how the tool lends itself to remote collaboration.
“Because XLOC is web-based and documents are stored on a secure sever, my translators and I can access it anywhere and anytime,” Kassi explains.
“This has been great in that everyone is working from home and in different counties, but XLOC had made it so there were no delays to our localization process.
“As a leading developer of mobile games, Glu can easily have multiple titles being developed or updated simultaneously. XLOC keeps localization for all titles organised and easily accessible by our translators. Updates are easy without having a mass amount of emails.”
Miguel adds: “Because we can host on our server, we only need to whitelist IP addresses. We even use it with external partners that way, and have done so for years.
“We have been using XLOC for over seven years, and in that time it has gone from just a receptacle for a game’s text to the primary external software we integrate with our games’ engine so that text created in engine automatically populates XLOC, and then the translated target languages can be put back into the engine seamlessly.
“Specifically, we use XLOC for complete and total management of the localization, so we know exactly the status of the text in each language and what steps need to be taken next.”
Leveraging XLOC during the localization process
Kassi sees the benefits of being able to monitor and measure any issues and remedy in real time.
“In uploading all of our localization files to XLOC, it tracks every update and catches errors for us. Having the error report is a great feature because it lets us fix an issue before it can break our build,” she says.
“Also, the translators have great UI to translate our files in an organised way. The XLOC team itself is great in customizing our projects and XLOC tools so it does exactly what we need it to.”
A seamless interface with your software is often one of the most powerful features when it comes to successfully utilising software as a service and this is something Miguel has experienced with XLOC.
“XLOC is fully integrated with our game engine, so we know exactly when new text is added to the game,” he explains. “Because text can be sectioned off or managed on a case-by-case basis, we never worry we will be caught unawares by new text, or that we won’t be able to manage the translation.”
Communicating for increased success
Getting back to remote working. While everyone has a process that works for them when working from home, being flexible is vital as we adapt to the new normal. This, and effective communication, are what Kassi and Miguel feel will see companies excel.
“My team and I have weekly meetings. It ensures we’re all on the same page, but also provides valuable face-to-face interactions. Working remotely can get isolated, so it is important to check in on each other.”
Miguel expands on the point.
Miguel: “Once your company is ready to accept the reality and support it properly, I find everyone goes above and beyond to ensure their individual productivity.
“I’m not convinced remote work should be done 100 per cent of the time, because you lose something without the social interaction and camaraderie of the office. A mix between in-office and at-home work would be best for both employees and their employers.”
For more information on how XLOC can help you increase efficiencies through streamlined localization processes, download our latest solutions brief here: