How to: Create a Localized Game

A localized game is one in which the UI displays alternative sets of text that are appropriate to the language and culture of the gamer.

This tutorial demonstrates methods that allow a game to display differing UI text according to the platform's current culture setting stored in CultureInfo. It also demonstrates how to extend the Content Pipeline so that the minimum number of additionally required font characters are included in the game executable for the localized text.

For more detailed information about localization issues, see How to: Build a Localized Application for Windows Phone.

Complete Sample

The code in the topic shows you the technique for creating a game that can be localized. You can download a complete code sample for this topic, including full source code and any additional supporting files required by the sample.

Creating Resource Files

A localized game should maintain its resources in resource (.resx) files in the game's code project. The game should maintain at least one resource file for every language/culture it is to support. Each resource file defines identifiers for each localizable UI string in the game, with a localized version of that string for the intended language/culture. In this way, localization can be maintained independently from coding.

To create resource files

  1. In Solution Explorer, right-click the code project node, select Add, and then click New Item.

  2. In the Add New Item dialog box, select the resources file, and rename it as appropriate, for example, Strings.resx.

    This file will contain the resources for the default language for the application.

  3. Identify strings in your application and add them to the resource file.

    Each string has a name, a value, and an optional comment. The name must be unique so make it as descriptive as possible. The value is the string to be displayed in the application to the user. Adding a comment is useful, especially in large resource files as a reminder of the purpose of the string and later as information for the translator to understand the correct context.

    Figure 1.  An example of English language strings for the Strings.resx resource file

  4. Add a new resource file to your project for each language/culture the application will support.


    Each resource file must follow the naming convention:

    name of the resource file for the default language.culture name

    An example of this format is, where the culture name—fr in this instance—is derived from the CultureInfo class.

    As shown in the next figure, the strings defined for the resource file must have the same set of identifying names as defined in the default resource file.

    Figure 2.   An example of French language strings for the resource file


    Figure 3.  An example of strings in the Japanese language resource file Strings.ja.resx

Ff966426.note(en-us,XNAGameStudio.41).gifWindows Phone Specific Information

To deploy resource files, Windows Phone developers must add values to the <SupportedCultures> element in the Visual Studio Project file (.csproj) for the Windows Phone game. For more information about how to use <SupportedCultures>, please see How to: Build a Localized Application for Windows Phone.

  1. Close the Visual Studio Project file (.csproj) for the Windows Phone game project, then open the project file in a text editor.
  2. Locate the <SupportedCultures> element and set the value to a semicolon delimited list of all supported cultures for the game. The default UI culture does not need to be included in this tag. For example:


Extending the Content Pipeline

To accommodate a localized game, you need to create a new Content Pipeline Library Extension project to process the resource files and fonts.

The new content library extension must extend the FontDescription class to support a list of the resource files that later will be included in the .spritefont file.

You also will need to create a new content processor that extends FontDescriptionProcessor to process the resource file list, and to include the required characters in the built game executable.

To create a Content Pipeline Extension Library project

  1. On the File menu, click New Project.

  2. Select the Content Pipeline Extension Library (4.0 Refresh) project type.

  3. In the Name box, type the name for the new library project.

    You might name the project LocalizationPipeline for example.

  4. Click OK to create and load the new project.

To extend the FontDescriptor class

You will add a new file to contain the new class.

  1. In Solution Explorer, right-click the newly created Content Pipeline Library Extension project, select Add, click New Item, and then select Class.

    Assign the new file a name such as LocalizedFontDescription.cs.

  2. In the new class file, declare a new class (for example, LocalizedFontDescription) that derives from FontDescription.

    class LocalizedFontDescription : FontDescription
  3. Within the class, define a new ResourceFiles property.

    This action results in recognition of a ResourceFiles element in the .spritefont XML file, which will contain the list of resource files.

    [ContentSerializer(Optional = true, CollectionItemName = "Resx")]
    public List<string> ResourceFiles
        get { return resourceFiles; }
    List<string> resourceFiles = new List<string>();

To extend the FontDescriptionProcessor class

A new file to contain the new FontDescriptionProcessor class will be added.

  1. In Solution Explorer, right-click the content pipeline extension project, select Add, click New Item, and then select Class.

    Assign the new file a name, such as LocalizedFontProcessor.cs.

  2. In the new class file, declare a new class (for example, LocalizedFontProcessor) that derives from ContentProcessor, and specifies the new LocalizedFontDescription class as input.

    class LocalizedFontProcessor : ContentProcessor<LocalizedFontDescription,

    Within the class, override the Process with the new LocalizedFontDescription class as input.

    public override SpriteFontContent Process(LocalizedFontDescription input,
                                              ContentProcessorContext context)
  3. In the new Process method, step through the ResourceFiles property of the LocalizedFontDescription object to load each declared resource file.

    foreach (string resourceFile in input.ResourceFiles)
        string absolutePath = Path.GetFullPath(resourceFile);
        // Make sure the .resx file really does exist.
        if (!File.Exists(absolutePath))
            throw new InvalidContentException("Can't find " + absolutePath);
        // Load the .resx data.
        XmlDocument xmlDocument = new XmlDocument();
  4. For each resource file, scan each string and add found characters to the LocalizedFontDescription object.

    // Scan each string from the .resx file.
    foreach (XmlNode xmlNode in xmlDocument.SelectNodes("root/data/value"))
        string resourceString = xmlNode.InnerText;
        // Scan each character of the string.
        foreach (char usedCharacter in resourceString)
  5. Using AddDependency, mark that the font should be rebuilt if the resource file changes.

  6. Use the FontDescription class to build the font.
  7.     return context.Convert<FontDescription,
                               SpriteFontContent>(input, "FontDescriptionProcessor");

Associating Localization Data and Processors With Fonts

Now that project data is divided into resource files, and has a custom content processor to consume it, the parts need to be bound together to help them work. This is accomplished by providing extended information in a .spritefont file, and binding the file to the custom content processor.

To extend the .spritefont file

Create a new .spritefont file.

  1. In Solution Explorer, right-click the content project node, select Add, and then click New Item.

  2. In the Add New Item dialog box, select "Sprite Font," and then in the Name box, enter a name (for example, Font.spritefont) for the new file.

  3. Click Add to create the new file.

  4. Double-click the newly created file to open it for editing.

  5. Change the asset type declaration to reference the previously created extended FontDescriptor class.

    <Asset Type="LocalizationPipeline.LocalizedFontDescription">
  6. Add a block within <ResourceFiles> tags that lists each resource file using the <Resx> elements.

    The example tags below specify resource files for the default language, as well as for Danish (da), French (fr), Japanese (ja), and Korean (ko).

  7. Save the file.

To assign the cusom content processor to the .spritefont file

  1. Compile the solution to build the Content Pipeline Extension Library project.

  2. In Solution Explorer, right-click the project, and then click Add Reference.

  3. In the Add Reference dialog box, click the Projects tab, and then select the previously created Content Pipeline Extension Library project (for example, LocalizationPipeline).

  4. Click OK.

  5. In the content project, right-click the .spritefont file, and then select Properties.

  6. In the resulting Properties pane, choose your custom processor (for example, LocalizedFontProcessor) from the drop-down list associated with the ContentProcessor field.

Using Localized Strings in the Game

The localized strings will be available in your game as a class with the same name as the base file name of the resource file for the default language (for example, Strings).

Setting the Culture property of this class from the CultureInfo.CurrentCulture property will cause the correct language version of the localized strings to be loaded according to the platform's current culture setting.

Strings.Culture = CultureInfo.CurrentCulture;

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