We’re all trying to survive 2020. Some go toe to toe in the boardroom, some fight and thrive through online platforms and video games, and some do it all. Carlos is one of the latter people.
Carlos Almeida is the Senior Localization Manager at Epic Games, the company best known for their notorious and award-winning game, Fortnite. The battle royale video game has captured the attention of gamers across the globe. Epic is also known for the Unreal Engine, the world’s most open and advanced real-time 3D creation tool. The survival-action video game appeals to both kids and adults alike and requires collaboration and teamwork to succeed. Players can carve out their own solo path and create layers of experiences on their own and/or come together with other gamers to delve deeper into the always-growing forum.
On this episode of The Loc Show, Carlos shares how he has mapped out his career much like players map out their domains in Fortnite: by expertly crafting paths with intention and strategizing thorough collaboration. Join us as he takes us through his ever-changing role at Epic Games, discusses his challenges and successes, and gives us tips for how to stay steady while navigating the churning waters of localization.
Hit play for entertainment and information- Carlos is a winner in both worlds!
On this episode you will learn:
- How Carlos turned his love of language, travel, and video games into a successful career at Epic Games
- How Carlos leveled up from Geek Squad to managing all localization for Epic Games and Unreal Engine, one of the most used game development tool kits in the world
- How Carlos tackles operations and continuously adapts to keep his team on top of all the localization needs for a rapidly evolving brand
- What urgent language translation support structures look like at Epic Games
- Words of wisdom for putting localization in the forefront of strategic planning
- How Carlos is working towards generating informational reports and hearing more from the Fortnite community
Press play for the hot spots!
[2:53] The only two English words Carlos knew when he arrived in the U.S. from Brazil at the age of 18
[3:53] How Carlos impressively took command of the English language
[5:02] The events that lead Carlos into the world of localization
[7:04] What happened when Carlos applied to a random job ad for Blizzard Entertainment
[8:45] How his life changed after having a two year conversation with a former manager
[11:35] Carlo’s thoughts on Epic Games’ brand
[13:40] Plot and purpose of Fortnite
[15:32] Scope of Carlos’ work and his team’s responsibilities
[17:07] What devices support Fortnite
[18:05] Carlos on his “very vertical process” of localization at Epic Games and how the team manages thousands of strings every week
[20:00] The “waterfall process”
[28:06] Differences in localization processes from company to company
[32:32] Improvements Carlos has witnessed at Epic Games and how he speaks about localization internally to the development teams
[34:59] How the feedback loop looks like at Epic Games and what he looks forward to by way of support
Full Transcript that almost certainly has typos (forgive us!)
Announcer: You're listening to The Loc Show, presented by Smartling.
Adrian Cohn: Hello, everybody, and welcome back to The Loc Show. I'm your host, Adrian Cohn, and I'm the Head of Marketing at Smartling. It is so good to have you back here. This has been an awesome podcast to produce, and if you forgot, the reason why we're doing it is because we want you to become an expert in all things translation and localization. The way we do that is by bringing on amazing guests to feature, so that you can learn from their experience. Who best to learn from than your peers? So that's why this week we have Carlos Almeida. He's the Localization Producer at Epic Games. He's got a really cool personal story, but he's also got a pretty tremendous amount of professional success. Let's dive into the show. Thanks again for listening. Carlos, great to have you on The Loc Show. Thanks so much for being here.
Carlos Almeida: Oh, of course. I appreciate you inviting me. I'm glad to be here.
Adrian Cohn: Yeah. So where is here for you? We're obviously on Zoom, but where are you located?
Carlos Almeida: I'm in a town called Holly Springs, North Carolina. It's in the Raleigh area, Triangle area.
Adrian Cohn: I absolutely love North Carolina, especially at this time of year. It's got to be quite beautiful. It's the fall.
Carlos Almeida: I'm looking out right now. The leaves are starting to fall, my grass is going dormant, and it's my favorite time of the year here.
Adrian Cohn: Is it?
Carlos Almeida: Yeah, I love it. One of the main reasons I love North Carolina is the fact that we have all four seasons. So by the time you're fed up with how hot summers are, then fall hits and you're like, "Okay, this is good." I really enjoy it, yeah.
Adrian Cohn: I took a drive up to the Hudson Valley over the weekend, and the foliage was ... I think it may have been at its peak. It was a beautiful drive. That is my favorite part of fall, is the foliage that we get here in New York. Even though I love the foliage and I love all of the seasons, my favorite season is the one that has just closed, which is the summertime. I'm an avid road cyclist, which, by the way, would be fantastic in Raleigh. I like the summertime. The excessive heat is not for me, but the sun being out and the longer days, that's what I like about summer.
Carlos Almeida: Yeah, my father-in-law is a road cyclist. I'll tell you that it might be good in Raleigh, but I'll tell you that in California, where we moved from, was absolutely stunning. I remember him telling me stories about riding along the coast and how you're just so close to the beach and the ocean. An hour ride will get you to beautiful places. Here, we're a little inland so we're much far from the beaches and things like that, but it's still a pretty area. Yeah.
Adrian Cohn: So, like many people right now, we're on Zoom, and a lot of folks are using Zoom backgrounds. You've got Rio de Janeiro. What's your connection with the city?
Carlos Almeida: Rio is where I was born and raised. I was born and raised in Brazil, in Rio, and I moved to the US when I was 18 years old to try and figure out what I wanted to do with my life.
Adrian Cohn: Wow.
Carlos Almeida: Yeah.
Adrian Cohn: That must have been quite the experience. You moved at 18?
- I didn't speak a word of English back then. It's quite a funny story. I have a couple of funny stories about this. One of them is when I first came in, my sister who lived here before and was one of the reasons why I moved, because I had a place to stay, she told me, "Hey, when you go through immigration, they're going to ask you where you're going to stay and who you're going to stay with and blah, blah, blah." So as I'm going through customs and immigration, the guy is like, "How are you," and I'm like, "My sister." "How's it going?" "My sister." "Where are you going to stay?" "My sister," because it was the only thing that she taught me how to say. And then the other funny story, too, is when I first met someone who was dear to me, like she's actually part of the family now, she said, "Nice to meet you," and I didn't even know how to respond to that. I just shook her hand and shook my head and we went on our separate ways.
Adrian Cohn: Wow.
Carlos Almeida: So, yeah, 18. That was, what? I don't like doing math, but it was a few years, 13, 14 years ago.
Adrian Cohn: Where did you learn to speak English? Because you speak it exceptionally well.
Carlos Almeida: Thank you. Yeah, it was here. I took some English as second language classes for seven months back in Florida. That's where I moved to. After that, it was just basically practicing with friends. My wife is American, so I joke around saying that we used to talk on the phone for two and a half hours and only have about 15 minutes worth of conversation because the other two hours and 15 minutes was us trying to figure out what each other was saying. She-
Adrian Cohn: That's commitment right there.
Carlos Almeida: Yeah, she definitely stuck behind me and by my side. It's been great, it's been great. Yeah.
Adrian Cohn: Well, that's great. You've definitely moved around a lot. Rio, Florida, California, North Carolina. There may even be a couple others in there. But that's quite a story, Carlos. Now, you're at Epic Games, and I'd love to hear a little bit more about your experience, and we'll get to that. But how did you get into the career path of localization?
Carlos Almeida: It's actually a reoccurring theme on this podcast that I've noticed that people say it's by accident, right? It's one of those things that ... So I used to be in IT. My first job here in the US was working for the Geek Squad doing some technical support for them on the phone. It was a 12-hour shift from 1:00 in the afternoon to 1:30 in the morning. The phone wouldn't stop ringing. I absolutely hated it. But it taught me a lot. It taught me about discipline, about work ethic, and all that kind of stuff. Then we decided to ... My wife and I, we got married. This was in Florida. Then her parents lived in California, and we wanted to be closer to her parents. My parents are in Brazil, so really don't have the option to be closer to my parents unless we move to Brazil. We wanted to be closer to her parents, so we actually moved to California, where I got another job at a smaller IT company. I was there for a year. I really enjoyed that job. But, one day, I was on a Brazilian website that I usually go to on a daily basis several times a day. It's a news website, and basically I saw an article that said, "Blizzard Entertainment is looking for Brazilian Portuguese speakers." I was like, "Oh, interesting." At the time, I used to live about 13 minutes from Blizzard, and I didn't even know. I opened that and read the job description, and it said, "You're required to speak Portuguese." Back then, my Portuguese was much better. Nowadays, my Portuguese is a little iffy. So I was like, "I'm going to apply. I have nothing to lose. I like the job that I have. But I've always been somewhat of a gamer." I haven't always been a hardcore gamer because I didn't have the means, I didn't have all the game consoles and things like that growing up, but I've always loved video games. So I was like, "I'm going to apply. They're never going to call me." It's Blizzard Entertainment. It's a Fortune 100 company. What are they going to want to do with me? They called me, and I got the job. I started as a localization QA analyst temp at Blizzard Entertainment. I did that for six months then got promoted to full-time. I did the whole loc QA thing for two and a half years. Then I started diving into the world of production on the audio side of things. I actually did a tour of the audio department at Blizzard Entertainment. I'd been a musician my whole life. I'm a saxophone player, and audio, music, all that stuff, has always interested me. I took a music production class back in Cali. Yeah, I basically created a position by telling my localization director, "Hey, we have a gap here that no one's doing. Can I fill that gap?" I was still supporting localization, but it was on the audio and dialogue side of things, where I was basically helping the localization producers to funnel a lot of the dialogue VO work that they were required to do. So I was organizing recording kits, I was working with the writers on the development team to make sure that the scripts were one-to-one, matching with the amount of files I was getting. So I did that for a little while, then I moved on to the cinematics and media team, which was a really fun experience because we got to work on a lot of those cool shorts and videos that Blizzard creates. Long story short, I was at Blizzard for seven years. Then, my director, Arthur Flew, he was also an ex-Blizzard employee who got a job at Epic to basically build Epic's localization infrastructure and pipeline. We worked together back at Blizzard, and I kept in contact with him saying, "Hey, North Carolina is one of the only states that my wife would be willing to relocate. We don't like Texas. It's too hot, it's too humid, it's too this. So North Carolina was one of the only states that she would be willing to relocate to. Let me know when you're ready to start hiring people to build your team. I'd love to be considered for it." That conversation with him took about two years, and they opened a localization producer position to come work at Epic. I applied, this was two and a half years ago, and now, today, I'm the senior localization producer at Epic Games, working on this little game called Fortnite. So it's been quite a journey.
Adrian Cohn: I love the story of the journey, and I think that there's an interesting lesson to be learned, actually, from how you got this particular job at Epic, which is the hook that you had when you messaged your former manager. "This is the only place my wife will move to." That was very clever, Carlos. That's a good hook.
Carlos Almeida: Yeah, she told me straight-up. She's like, "Look, I love California. I don't want to move back to Florida." She was born in Charlotte. She didn't remember everything. They moved around a lot when she grew up. So she was born in Charlotte, she moved when she was four, I think, she moved out of Charlotte, but she and her parents remembered how lovely North Carolina was and how lovely North Carolinians were. The weather, the seasons, like we talked about. We loved living in California, but one of the main things about leaving California, and you, living in New York, probably know what I'm talking about, is the cost of living. We just wanted to try and get ahead in life, so moving to a place that cost of living is much cheaper was also very interesting to us. So we made the move. My wife, my daughter, and I made the move, and her parents actually moved out here as well.
Adrian Cohn: Wow.
Carlos Almeida: Yeah.
Adrian Cohn: Well, I'm sure most people who are listening are familiar with Epic Games. They most certainly are familiar with the game, Fortnite. But walk us through. What is Epic Games? And tell us a little bit about the complexity of ... Let's just start there. What is Epic Games?
Carlos Almeida: Epic Games is a company that is most known for Unreal Engine. Unreal Engine is a tool where basically other ... Not only just gaming companies anymore, we've expanded to movies and architecture and automotive industries and all that stuff, a lot of virtual product companies are using it. It's basically a tool that allows you to run your pipelines on top of it, so kind of like a bed. You just lay on it, and you run all your processes through it. So that's what we're known for. A few years ago, we created this game called Fortnite. Right about when I moved here, Fortnite started to blow up. Back at Blizzard, I was already playing Fortnite even before I applied for a job here. More or less, I kind of knew what I wanted to be, so I wanted to be familiar with the project, right? We created the game, and the rest is history. Fortnite has exploded. It's the biggest game in the world now. It has been for quite some time. Yeah, I'm excited to be working where I'm at. We'll talk about a little bit of what are the differences between where I've been and where I'm at right now as far as the way we work and things like that. But in a nutshell, that's what Epic Games is. Over the past few months, we have acquired other companies, and that's how we've been growing. You must be familiar with Rocket League, used to be a Psyonix game. Now, it's still a Psyonix game, but Epic Games, we acquired them. So we've been growing quite a lot. The work has not slowed down. Yeah, does that answer your question a little bit?
Adrian Cohn: It does, and I'd actually love, maybe in a couple of sentences, what is the plot of Fortnite? What is the purpose of this game?
Carlos Almeida: Oh, Fortnite is a ... Well, we have a few modes in Fortnite now. Fortnite is a third-person shooter game, right? There's different modes. there's a Save the World mode, which is a you versus AI kind of mode. It's basically like you kill ... Or you don't kill people. You're fighting little zombies and little creatures. And then you have a Battle Royale mode, which is what basically exploded, which is you get dropped from a bus and you land on a map where it's you versus 99 other players and it's last man standing. One of the unique things about Fortnite is the fact that you can build things, so in order to protect yourself, you can collect materials and you can build stairs and walls and things like that, and that makes the game really unique because it adds another level of complexity to the gameplay that is really appealing to people. Then we have a Creative mode in Fortnite, which is basically people can make all sorts of games within the Fortnite universe. I've seen pinball games, I've seen go-cart type of games. There's thousands and thousands of maps out there that our community, who is an amazing community, has built. It's all free for other players to play, so it's really incredible.
Adrian Cohn: Wow. So there must be a lot of localization requirements in a game of this nature. How many markets is this game available in? Maybe walk us through what is the scope of you and your team's responsibility?
Carlos Almeida: Yes. We currently support basically 12 different locales. I don't really know in how many countries we're in. This is more of a marketing type of request. But supporting 12 different locales, we're definitely all over the world. And, yes, you're right. We have a lot of requests on a daily basis to localize everything. We localize things from the game strings that you see in the game to the website, the blogs, video content, marketing content, apparel. Some of the apparel that we make, if we wanted to make it into an international market, we've localized certain things in Korean and Japanese for apparel. We definitely support all teams across Epic Games, player support. So the amount of work that we handle on a daily basis is outstanding, and the amount of time we have to handle those is not that much, so we've had to definitely come up with great ways to handle that type of workflow and processes to be able to accommodate and support our teams that we support.
Adrian Cohn: Yeah. And the applications or the devices, rather, that you can use to play Fortnite, walk us through that landscape.
Carlos Almeida: Fortnite is available in virtually all devices nowadays, all mobile devices, computers, consoles, and you're also able to do cross-platform play. If I'm not mistaken, Fortnite was one of the first games that allowed you to basically play ... If you're a PlayStation player, you're able to play with an Xbox player for the first time. Fortnite was definitely one of the first games to allow you to do that.
Adrian Cohn: Does that also introduce a number of complexities that add more to your team's plate to work on, or do you all have a good process for managing content across each of these different devices?
Carlos Almeida: Not really. It didn't really add more or less complexity to what we do. What we do, I call it a very vertical process. That's what I call it. So all the languages are applied the same way. Whenever we're triaging bugs, for example, if a portion of the game isn't localized in one language and it's localized in another language, that's probably a problem because if it's localized in one language, it should be localized in all the languages because we apply the same process throughout all the languages. It's a vertical process. It's not a [inaudible 00:19:36] process. But we do have strings specifically for different types of consoles, so we have a team that works on different types of consoles. They basically just check in the individual strings, so there are strings that are only applied for Xbox or strings that are only applied to the PlayStation, and those just basically come through our processes in a seamless way. We don't really feel the weight of the different types of strings. We deal with thousands of words every week, so keeping track of individual strings for us is really not an option.
Adrian Cohn: Yeah. I see. Thousands of works, though, a week is not a small thing to be managing here. Before we started discussing or before we started working on the podcast, you had shared with me that one of the interesting challenges that you have is that Epic is a company that pivots and changes based on market forces and based on strategic direction. How has that impacted the localization team?
Carlos Almeida: That's a great question. When I first joined the team, I had come from a company that has a very, very waterfall-based process and workflow when it comes to localization and everything else that they do. What does that mean? That means that one process has to finish for another process to start, and localization being at the very, very bottom of those processes, usually, by the time things would get to us, they had been approved and written and approved and locked and loaded. That's what I usually say, right? So whenever we worked on a piece of content back at Blizzard, there weren't a lot of changes that were happening to that piece of content, so you could easily just work on it and know that that was final. So when I first joined Epic and I started to try to keep the same mentality of, "No, you said this was final, and you're telling me that's it's changed. What? You can't do that." Epic is very different, right? Epic prides itself in being able to adapt to, like you said, market situations and all sorts of things that they track to be able to provide the best product to our players and communities. So I had to learn a lot about how they operated. Initially, I tried to fight and I tried to basically battle with the teams that we support, saying, "Look, we can't be changing things because we work with vendors who are all over the place. By noon our time, most of our vendors are out of the office and they can't really tackle anything anymore. And you're saying that you're changing this 700-word blog. You're changing about 400 of those words, and it's 11:00 AM. How am I supposed to tackle this?" The answer has always been, "Figure it out," right? Basically, we're not going to change the way we operate. Localization as a support team, we basically had to adapt to the way the company was operating versus we try to impose onto the company the way we usually operate in the localization industry. I was like, "Okay, so what do we need to do?" We got together, my director and I, and tried to strategize how can we tackle this because it's not going to stop, right? They're not going to slow down. The change requests won't slow down or stop, so we have to figure something else out. Yeah, we put a few things in place ever since I started. We decided to build an internal localization QA team of one person per language, and that process has taken over a year to basically find a person per language to join us here in North Carolina. But it has also proven very, very helpful because not only are they checking some of the content before it goes out, they're also helping us out with these what we call emergency translations. Given that they're native, they're not professional translators, and the company knows that. The company knows. When we hired them, we're like, "They are not professional translators, but they're native speakers, so they can translate things that are fairly small and contained." So we worked with all the teams to basically say, "Hey, if you have anything that's, let's just say, under 300 words, we should be able to run them by our localization QA team and they should be able to tackle it to you within an hour, an hour and a half or so." That has been one of the most beneficial things that we've implemented so far because given that we change things so often, having that step or resources available to you, no matter what, no matter when ... Sometimes, every now and then, I'll send them a text message saying, "Hey, guys, I'm so sorry, but something broke. A server broke, and we need to put out a message saying, 'Hey, the servers blew up or something happened.'" So 8:00 PM or something, I'll text them and they will jump on and translate the 50-to-100-word request and then they'll jump back off. So that has been amazing for us to have in our back pockets. For more substantial requests, I've also worked with our vendors because we outsource 100% of our translation work. We got to the point where I was getting 6000, 7000 words on a Thursday to be able to turn that around by Monday, and it was getting quite complicated for our vendors to accommodate that. Again, the company is like, "Hey, this is how we do it. You just let me know what you need from me to make this work, to make this happen." I went back to our vendors and we had a conversation with them, and I was like, "Hey, this is where the company is going, right? And we at localization as a support team have to basically go with them. That means we may have to find away to offer translation support seven days a week." It took a few weeks because the vendors had to go back and strategize how they would do that, how they would charge us, hire people to do it. There's places in Europe, for example, [inaudible 00:26:39], it's against the law for them to work more than X amount of hours or something, so they had to go around a lot of these things. But we've also implemented that, and now our vendors work seven days a week. They rotate. They have rotating shifts among themselves to be able to accommodate that without killing anybody, basically. Those two things combined have definitely helped us tackle a lot of the work that before we weren't able to do it, not properly at least. So we gained two more days to be able to tackle those 6000 or 7000 words. Instead of having only two days to work on them, now we have four, right? Yeah.
Adrian Cohn: I think part of what you're describing here is the urgency to get content translated in a short period of time, maybe because you're trying to push a new feature, maybe because a feature's not working and you need to put out a message. But the common theme that I'm hearing from you and from other guests on the show is that translation is oftentimes considered in the last mile of delivery to the end user. What's your prediction for the industry in five years? Is this a problem in five years, or is this behind us?
Carlos Almeida: I don't think we can predict something like that for the industry as a whole. Like I said, coming from a company that handled and saw localization differently to a company that, basically, they'll respect what we do and they understand that there are processes in place. I don't even know where I heard this before, but some people think that localization is a dark room that you input text through one side and then you shake ... It's like a black box. You shake that little black box, and then something comes out the other way localized, and you don't really know what happened here in the middle, right? They have to understand that there are processes in place that we have to follow to be able to deliver something that's semi-decent, it's translated. It's not just translated, it's localized. So it's hard for me to predict where the industry's going to be in five years. I think it depends on the culture of your company, right? I can tell you that for different companies, they might look at localization differently and in a way that's like, "Hey, we'll give you guys two weeks to translate 1000 words, and we're just going to build that into our schedule." There are other companies, like Epic, that that will never be the case because, again, we release a new patch every two weeks for Fortnite, for example. So we're constantly, constantly iterating and changing it and releasing new updates. It's a curse and a blessing for us in loc because if we aren't able to fix something for this release, two weeks later, we can just fix it, right? We may not be able to test everything or check everything that's going out this week, and it's okay, but we know that we'll continue to test it. If we find something, we can basically fix it for the following weeks.
Adrian Cohn: How do you make decisions about that? If you don't have time, you don't have time, and you ship it? Or are there examples where you're really uncomfortable with what's going to be shipped, and you're like, "Guys, we're not going to ship the French version of Fortnite this week?" How does that work?
Carlos Almeida: We haven't really had that kind of an issue. Most of the issues that are localization-caused, meaning if there are bugs that are caused by localization, a typo or missing a translation here and there, those things are under our control. We can go in and fix the localization. Honestly, we are basically committing strings all the way till the day before we [inaudible 00:30:57] to release a new patch. We can fix localization bugs all the way to the end, but the bugs that get us sometimes are UI-related bugs where something is cut off or we're missing some accents for Turkish, for example. Turkish has this ... I don't want to butcher it, but I know there's this big I and small i. They look like i, they're not an i in the Turkish language. One of them has an accent, the other one doesn't. We run into these issues a lot sometimes in Fortnite, where we basically only find those things towards the end of the pipeline because we're constantly adding strings and by the time we find them, if it needs a designer's time to basically fix it and we're down to the wire, we're past hard lock, we're past string lock, sometimes those things, I have to basically get with the producer for that discipline and be like, "Hey, this is really important to us. What can you do to help us get this through?" But sometimes it goes our way, sometimes it doesn't, right? It's one of those things. It depends on what they're stacked against. If their director is giving them this big feature that they're tied up with, they need to finish it, they're not going to drop the work for that feature to be able to fix a string issue. It's not breaking gameplay. Yes, it's a less desirable experience to the end user, but they're still able to play the game, they're still able to understand what's being said more or less. It's a constant balance that we have to try and achieve with the development teams. And this is throughout the whole gaming industry. It's not just an Epic thing. I've been in the gaming industry for almost 10 years now, and it's just something that localization producers have to do. We call it influencing without authority because we have to get UI designers or map designers or engineers and programmers to do something for you, but they don't work for you and they have their own priorities. So how do you get your point across, your priorities across, to a team who really doesn't work for you? It's about building relationships. It's about educating them. It's about being an evangelist for the localization, for globalization, and that is something that we're still working on a lot here at Epic. We've seen great improvement over the last six to eight months. I did a presentation to the development teams where I showed them, "Hey, these are all the teams that we support throughout the company." We don't just support the game side of things, right? We support, like I said, marketing, publishing, video, player support, everyone else. And we started taking them through different examples of poor implementation of strings, for example, concatenated strings. Sometimes, they used to like to separate strings because it made more sense in English, but it creates a whole new set of problems for a lot of the languages. So after that presentation, I've seen a definite change of heart where I'm getting a lot more pings from producers and designers directly saying, "Hey, I'm about to implement this string. What's the best way to do so? Can I break that into two strings, or can I use a token here?" Most of the time, my answer is, "Look, I would rather translate 10 different strings than you try to go around introducing a token to one string that might break the whole process for a lot of languages." So we're having those conversations now, and it's all about continuing to have those conversations to make sure that we're doing things properly.
Adrian Cohn: One thing that I was thinking about is that your customers, gamers, they're very devoted to the product. Gamers are really into their products, the games. It's a very different customer than you would have for other products, like a clothing brand or, really, almost any other type of brands that I can think of. And I'm curious to hear a little bit about what does the feedback look like? Do you hear from your users about localization on forums, or do you have in-product feedback, or do you run surveys? How do you know if what you're doing is working for your customer?
Carlos Almeida: Yeah. We currently don't have any way to track what the feedback is from the end user. I'll tell you that ever since I joined, I've been taking this whole process in different phases, right? Phase one for me was coming in and cleaning up house. We had a few things that needed to be buttoned up within our own processes to make sure that I was comfortable running it. So there were things like we didn't have a query system, a question system where our vendors would be able to ask questions and me go into the development team and answer them. We didn't have a way to properly provide additional context to what they were supposed to localize. Phase one was that for me, was me coming in and being like, "Hey, this is how we operate. This is what need to be for me to be comfortable operating at this level." I implemented those things. Now, our vendors have a way to ask questions. We tend to turn them around in about 24 hours because, like I said, we can't really waste a lot of time because most of our requests are due next day. We tend to turn them around in 24 hours, then we get back to them, and they fix the strings within the next export or import. So that was phase one, right? Now, we're operating at a point where I'm comfortable operating. It's not 100% optimized, but it's where I'm okay with it, right? Phase two was me basically starting the educational process with the teams with support. It was basically pushing back on, "Hey, I have this 500-word blog that I need it right now," and I'm like, "I'm sorry, it's 3:00 in the afternoon, it's 9:00 PM in Europe, it's 4:00 AM in Asia. My vendors aren't allowed, they aren't working. Can we please push this? What can we do to fix this?" A lot of it, we've been able to create that awareness with some of the teams that we support, for example, community, marketing, publishing. They all know that we need a good one or two days to turn their stuff around. And that is due to me, when we were going to the office back in the day, having those conversations with them and fixing that kind of mentality, that they really didn't know what localization was and what it took to get localization done. So, for them, "Hey, I was able to write this thing in an hour or two, so I'm expecting you to be able to translate this thing in an hour or two." It's like, "No, good for you that you were able to write it that fast, but we have something called time zone differences and we have to respect that and all that." So while we're still getting a lot of rush requests, that has gotten much better for us. Like I said, those things like the presentation to the development team, all those things encompassed what I call phase two. Phase three is now starting for me because for the longest time the only localization production staff that we had was myself and my director. We then hired a guy that's been helping me a lot, Kevin. He's my production assistant. And then also we just hired someone else that starts next week to be able to come in and help me out, to offload a lot of the stuff that I currently do so I can then start to try and focus on phase three, which is how do we get to the next step of localization where we need to be. How do we track data? How do I generate reports that will allow the executive management to be able to make decisions based on how many people play the game in Japanese, how many people play the game in Korean? How much more can I do to be able to track all those KPIs to become a more data-driven department versus a more fire-fighting department? Because right now, we're still very much that fire-fighting department. So, starting pretty soon, I feel like the phase three, which will also encompass maybe in-game surveys. We already have that ability. We have in-game surveys that ask ... They usually ask the player, "How do you like this weapon? How do you like this?" Maybe there's a question there that we can add, "Hey, how do you like the localization of" ... I don't know that I really want to know that right now, but, "How do you like the localization of the game for your language," and all those things. Most of the time when we hear something related to localization, that information comes through our community teams, through our regional community teams, and they come to us saying, "Hey, I saw someone on Twitter saying, 'Hey, this thing is wrong or this thing could be better.'" They just pass it onto us, and we fix what we discuss about it. But, right now, we don't actively have any trackers and anything like that to be able to be that phase three team that I want us to get to.
Adrian Cohn: Having the vision is more than half the battle.
Carlos Almeida: Yeah.
Adrian Cohn: You need to map and chart your course, not just for yourself but for your whole team, your team not just being the people that report to you or that you work with day-to-day, but all of the other various players that you mentioned earlier, game developers, designers, you said map creators. There's a plethora of individuals that you have to coordinate with to make a product sustainable in various markets. Having that vision's important, Carlos.
Carlos Almeida: Yeah. I've always been a very process improvement driven person. But I've always had the time to put those process improvements into place, right? Right now, it's been the case for two and a half years where I have time to basically do things instead of sit and analyze how we are doing those things and how can we do those things better. So that's why I'm super looking forward to having more help, so I can sit back and be like, "This is how we're operating right now. This is where I envision us operating in the near future. How do we get there? How do we map that out?" One of the reasons why we reached out to Smartling is to see if you guys are able to help us get to the next place and things like that. So we're talking to some people. We're mapping out processes and things that should be improved, that could be improved, and if we do this again in the near future, I promise you that we'll be in a much better place than we are right now.
Adrian Cohn: Yeah, we'll do a check-in episode with Carlos. Carlos, this has been tremendous fun. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and a little bit about yourself on The Loc Show.
Carlos Almeida: Well, I appreciate the invite. It's been great being able to share a little bit of what we do, a little bit of the crazy world of Fortnite and Epic. It's fun. I often tell a lot of people, say, "Look, I don't know that I can work anywhere else after working the way we work." I'm so used to just going and going and going and going that if I were to just sit at a desk looking for things to do, I think I would go absolutely crazy. Yeah, it's always a challenge. You never know what to expect for the next day. What's going to happen, what's going to break, what kind of crazy idea we're going to have? I'm excited to see what the future holds.
Adrian Cohn: Carlos, wow, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being such an awesome guest here on The Loc Show. It was great to hear from you, and I look forward to seeing what you do next. If you loved this episode of The Loc Show, leave us a six-star review. And it would be amazing, it would make my day, if you shared this episode on your LinkedIn page or your Twitter feed or wherever you share things with your colleagues in the industry. It would just be awesome to continue growing the listenership of this show because the more five-star reviews we get, the more great guests we can feature. If you would like to be on The Loc Show, speaking of being featured, just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find me on LinkedIn or Twitter or, hey, at smartling.com. See you next week, and thanks again. Take care.