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How to translate a Hidden Object game into 10 languages. Localization case study: Seekers Notes and Ravenhill

INLINGO talked to MYTONA and found out how the idea to create a hidden object game was born, why it's so successful, why gamers love Ravenhill, how many editors it takes to localize two stories, and how to translate over 2M words without going crazy.

INLINGO Game Localization Studio, Blogger

September 10, 2020

28 Min Read

About Seekers Notes

Version 2.0 was released with an updated design and logo.

  • Top 100 highest-grossing applications in 98 countries.

  • Featured GAME OF THE DAY in the App Store in 15 countries. 

  • 3rd highest-grossing game for iPad in the USA.

Seekers Notes was the first mobile market project for MYTONA as a publisher. The prototype of the game was first conceived in 2013, in Yakutsk, where gamedev was something people could only dream of at the time.

From the very beginning, MYTONA's goal was to develop a mobile project and release it on their own. When the iPad with Retina display—a technology that allows for very high-quality graphics—came on the market, the company set itself the goal of creating a beautiful and atmospheric hidden object game.

Cafe location, 2015.

Cafe location, 2020.

Seekers Notes was released globally in 2015, after many months of laborious development. The team didn't know how the game would be received, but a year later it had reached the Top 50 highest-grossing games for iPad in the USA. 

In the story, players become the Seeker, holder of a powerful artifact called the Magic Map. They'll have to show real ingenuity and bravery to solve all the mysteries of the old city and save Darkwood from the dark forces of the Curse.

Beginning to work with MYTONA

INLINGO contacted MYTONA with a proposal as soon as they discovered Seekers Notes. Everyone at the studio was amazed by the degree of detail in every component, from the plot to the graphics. The large amount of text in the game also seemed like a great professional challenge. The company sent its portfolio, completed a test task, and MYTONA gave this new contractor a chance. 

Our first project together was localizing and testing of Seekers Notes. Game updates are released monthly: content text can reach 6000 words, event text up to 4000 words, and when you add in the community texts, the word count sometimes exceeds 12,000. INLINGO translates all this into 9 languages, plus edits the English version. 

Even back then, we realized that such a huge volume of monthly updates would require a large team. We now have 15 specialists working on the project: 10 full-time translators, one English editor, and 5 editors for French, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese.

20,000 words every month
9 translation languages

Seekers Notes in figures

  • 9 languages

  • 1,750,000 words translated

  • 3 years working together

  • 10 translators

  • 814 tasks per month

In hidden object games, one of the most important aspects is translating item names correctly so that players can find them. This means the translators need to see pictures. Brush could be a hairbrush or a cleaning implement, and Bow could be a weapon or a tied strip of fabric.


Item table used by all the translators.







We recently encountered a situation where there was a mask in the art, but the word 'respirator' in the source. 

Turns out it was actually a respirator.

To prevent these kinds of mistakes from making it into the game, INLINGO carries out testing. During testing, the tester and the editor agree on all the details, and the client receives the final texts.

Originally, MYTONA planned to localize Seekers Notes and all updates into European languages.This is how it works: once a month, an update arrives. It includes a new location, new items, and a new section of the storyline. At first, INLINGO edited the English and translated the plot into German, Spanish, French, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese. 












INLINGO translates at least 12,000 words for each update. This number includes in-game and marketing texts, as well as texts for social media and stores.




We hired full-time staff, which brought stability, but this didn't make the task less challenging. On the heaviest days, we were sometimes dealing with 12 tasks at 2000-3000 words totally. We had to make sure we had a good system for directing this task flow, then track completion at all stages.




Because of employee turnover, at first we even had a special file of stupid questions like 'what does this look like?'. We tried to answer them on our own without sending them to the client. We ended up making an FAQ for new translators so that the client wouldn't have to waste time answering the same questions.

A separate file where translators ask the developers clarifying questions. Our experienced translators clarify details in advance, even before they get the references.

There are a number of instances where the INLINGO translators came up with a better translation for a term, and requested all the previous lines that used it in the game texts. However, there's always a risk that players who are used to the old term will not appreciate the translation being changed. In these cases, we use our judgment: If the audience is already accustomed to the first translation, then it's a bad idea to replace it with a new version.

Ravenhill comes to us


  • In 2019, Ravenhill was nominated for an International Mobile Gaming Award.

  • The Top 10 best games that help people cope with social distancing, according to Wired magazine.

INLINGO joined the project in June 2018. By that time, we had already been successfully working on Seekers Notes for over a year, and had also started localizing another MYTONA game, Cooking Diary.

In the first stages, Ravenhill was similar to Seekers Notes. Even the protagonist was the same person. Later on, the game transformed into something new, and now it's an independent project with its own regular updates. MYTONA gave Ravenhill a 12+ age rating (as opposed to 4+ for Seekers Notes) and is also testing a combination of match 3 and hidden object mechanics in one game.

Ravenhill in figures

  • 10 languages

  • 480,000 words translated

  • 2 years working together

  • 10 translators

  • 35 tasks per month

INLINGO translates about 20,000 words for Ravenhill per month. That's 2-3 chapters, one event, and UI texts, and posts for the game community.

20,000 words every month
10 translation languages

The game storyline takes part in Ravenhill, a city isolated from the rest of the world. The town is being terrorized by an evil force called  the Darkness. Its influence and power are vast: The Darkness interferes in all the citizens' lives in some way or another and causes a lot of paranormal incidents. It's difficult to show all of this in the overall storyline, but the events do a fantastic job of complementing the main plot with additional detail. 

Ravenhill's storyline appears as separate chapters, similar to visual novels. Separating the story into chapters is an idea inspired by the popularity of TV shows, and from a game design standpoint this allows for allocation of rewards: Players are rewarded for completing a chapter, and the reward will help them move forward in the plot. 

Ravenhill combines hidden object and match 3 mechanics.

The Ravenhill events are not connected to the overall storyline, but paint a picture of daily life in this fictional city from new points of view. Each month, a new HO event with a unique plot is released in Ravenhill. These events are often related to real-life events or holidays.

MYTONA is constantly testing the game's visuals to pinpoint the most attractive design. Mid last year, MYTONA started updating certain locations where the old versions no longer meshed with modern market trends and the gaming experience was less-than-optimal on some devices. First and foremost, locations were updated according to player feedback.








In the Mansion, one of the first Ravenhill locations, MYTONA removed unnecessary details and reworked the lighting.

How we set up the localization workflow for these projects

Thanks to MYTONA, localization work starts while the game is still being created.



At the beginning of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began spreading around the world, there was an update where several in-game moments touched on the topic of infection. The translators recommended skipping these details to avoid a negative reaction from the gaming community. 



The hidden object genre requires an intuitive link between the object images and the translation. Because of this, we do localization and regression testing for every update to find out-of-context translation bugs. This helps keep update reworks to a minimum and speeds up the production period. 

However, a person who knows the language is the ultimate weapon against inaccuracies, which is why we reinforce our process with additional editors for French and for Asian languages—most comments have been about these. That's also why we decided to put into practice the idea of having a specialized localization team for key clients.




For example, in the Pumpkin Nostalgia event, there was a watermelon-headed creature who was angry that people only use pumpkins on Halloween. In Russian it was called A.R. Buz, in English it was Mr. Walter Mellon, in Italian it was Signor Anguria, and in Brazilian Portuguese it was senhor Mel Lancía. Names like this one are always translated based on the culture and language features of each target language. 

Mr. Walter Mellon himself.



This is how the White Day gift looked.

Working with player feedback has a special place in both companies, because it is an opportunity to make the game even better and more engaging for the audience.




Here's an example of this kind of feedback:


Thank you for such a fun game! May I humbly point out that the "pie" is better referred to as cake in the City Bridge location, and the "kettle" is actually a coffee pot in the (I think) the Veranda (the beautiful, autumn themed back porch, with the wheelbarrow, puppy, and the smoker, location).

Pie is made in a circular dish and is usually cut into triangles.

Cake is made in square or rectangular dishes and is generally cut into squares.

A kettle is only used on the stove for heating the water.

A coffee pot is tall and elegant in appearance, as in the location.

A tea pot is short and stout (as in the children's rhyme which teaches us the different between the two).

Please forgive me any perceived rudeness; the creators have done such an elegant job with this game that I thought they would like to know of these small, yet important, differences.

Thank you

Localization Examples: Difficulties

When localizing any project, translators constantly come across situations that require special solutions. Seekers Notes and Ravenhill are no exception.

The mysterious podstakannik

The translators encountered an interesting case while working on one update.

When any post-Soviet Union citizen hears the word ‘podstakannik', they imagine traveling on a train and hot tea in crystal glasses, with tin cupholders that let you drink without scalding yourself. But it turned out the translators didn't know this, and they were imagining it as a cork drink coaster from IKEA. So to make sure the name of this item was clearly understandable, we searched for each language's translation of the specific item from the picture the developer sent. 

At first, it seemed we would have to use transliteration in some languages because the descriptive translation was over the character limit, but all the translators successfully found short, correct, translations that players could understand when looking for the object in the location.

Translators take initiative

Sometimes our Chinese translator who lives in Germany finds and sends us mistakes in the German translation of Ravenhill—that's how invested she is in the project. 

There are heroes among the Seekers Notes translators too: our new Japanese translator plays through every game update and constantly makes corrections in the text at his own initiative. He doesn't just note his own mistakes, but also searches for less obvious things that may affect the authenticity and cultural quality of the translation.

And our German translator does more than just use correct grammar: 


In German, Hot Mulled Wine became Hot Cranberry Drink, which is unmistakably non-alcoholic.

Coffee pot or teapot?

We once received feedback that we should double-check the art for an item called Teapot. The image was of a coffee pot. We asked the translator to make the fix in the file, and he noted that we needed to check all the pictures with a teapot, coffee pot, or coffee maker, if there were any in this update. 

It's important to refer to the images in the original file when translating.




Where are the roses?

There was a situation where the translators were given an item called браслет с розой (Rose Bracelet) in the source text, which was changed to браслет с розами (Rose Bracelet, but with 'rose' in the plural) after editing. Fortunately the mismatch was found during testing and the tester made the fix, so the players saw the correct translation.

This is how the Rose Bracelet looked (2017 screenshot).




Family ties

Seekers Notes has a deep and detailed world where the relationships between characters are fully fleshed-out. It's important to remember the details when you're working with Asian languages that have very specific family terminology. For example, unlike in European languages, the correct Chinese translation may depend on who is older or younger, and whether a relative is on the mother's or father's side. 

The translator asked for more information, so we decided that Nicholas's cousin, who was mentioned in one of the events, would be older than him (表哥). This word is made up of two characters: 表 (biÇŽo) — 'cousin', and å“¥ (gÄ“) — 'older brother'.

Chinese also has two different words for cousin: å ‚ (táng) and 表 (biÇŽo). The first one is used if the cousins have the same last name, and the second one is for cousins with different last names. The second word would be used for children of your father's sisters, or your mother's sibling's children.

Taking into account age and gender, there are a total of 8 words in Chinese that mean 'cousin':

  • father's brother's son (older than you) — å ‚å…„ (táng xiōng)

  • father's brother's son (younger than you) — 堂弟 (táng dì)

  • father's brother's daughter (older than you) — å ‚å§Â (táng jiÄ›)

  • father's brother's daughter (younger than you) — 堂妹 (táng mèi)

  • father's sister's or mother's sister's/brother's son (older than you) — 表哥 (biÇŽo gÄ“)

  • father's sister's or mother's sister's/brother's son (younger than you) — 表弟 (biÇŽo dì)

  • father's sister's or mother's sister's/brother's daughter (older than you) — 表å§Â (biÇŽo jiÄ›)

  • father's sister's or mother's sister's/brother's daughter (younger than you) — 表妹 (biÇŽo mèi)

We choose 表哥 (biÇŽo gÄ“) in this case, meaning that the owner of the Clock House is older than Nicholas and has a different last name. 

Game screenshots, 2017.

Parasol ≠ Umbrella

There were two umbrellas in the game: one for the rain, and one for the sun. We needed to make them different so players could understand which one was being referred to. The changes in each language were different: in Russian we used the words for 'umbrella' and 'sun umbrella', in English it became Parasol/Umbrella, and in German it became Sonnenschirm/Schirm.

But a Japanese person would never get these items mixed up.








Gender-neutral Seeker

The player's character in Seekers Notes is called the Seeker, and this term has to be gender-neutral, which is impossible in some languages. 

This is how we do it in Spanish.

Seekers Notes Christmas special

Seekers Notes events have many different plots. These include merry adventures, family stories, magic that finds its way into the townspeoples' lives, and mystical stories about spirits. These stories are fully self-contained, which helps players take a break from the overall storyline and the mysteries and puzzles that require quite a lot of time to solve.

The Christmas event location in December 2019.



Seekers Notes art is updated for every event.

Creative adaptation and believability

The most important part of Seekers Notes is the plot and the relationships between the citizens of Darkwood. Each of them is a unique person with their own personality, and the style of the text reflects this. Players should enjoy reading the game story as much as they would an interesting book. This means Lord Delacroix talks like an old, rich, and pompous alchemist, Mr. Gray is mysterious and talks in riddles, and so on. Children especially should stand out. Amy is a little girl and talks like a little girl, but when the spirit of an ancient writer possesses her (and compares a sound she hears with 'the song of mermaids amidst the storm'), this is shown in the way she speaks. To emphasize this, the way 'possessed' Amy speaks is different from her 'normal' speech style in French.



Amy's possession reveals itself in the floridness of her syntax (constructions like "moi qui pensait que" are not commonly heard in the everyday speech of French children) and in her more sophisticated lexis.

"Normal" Amy hopes that nobody will bother her (embêter) in the attic, while "possessed" Amy chooses a different word—troubler—that, like the verbs trouble or disturb in English, has more adult connotations. Such words appear far more frequently in literature than in the mouths of little girls, which helps the player understand that something about Amy is different.

Sweet treat

Translators vs incorrect information. One example that stood out was the situation with the Sweet Bar item. 




This is what the dialogue looked like before the fixes: 


— We need to take a healthy snack with us. We won't have time to cook, but we'll certainly need energy. 


— Нужно взять с собой питательный перекус. Готовить нам будет некогда, а энергия понадобится. 


The translators for these projects are always willing and able to help each other out. They're now a unified team and can solve most problems on their own, without help from managers or editors. 



Seekers Notes, as the first project, became a significant one for us. INLINGO and MYTONA listened to each other, became accustomed to working together, streamlined workflow tasks, optimized communication between the translators and developers, and implemented best practices. Cooking Diary and Ravenhill have reinforced the good relationship between our companies even further—we have learned to work at peak efficiency together and are ready for new projects.


  1. Over 2,230,000 words translated for these two projects.
    On average, there are approximately 849 tasks each month for our team of 20 people.

  2. An organized, uninterrupted work process.
    One important feature that came out of this work is constant exchange of experience—not just between INLINGO translators and editors, but also with the client.

  3. A hand-picked team assembled specifically for MYTONA projects.
    The team includes editors, translators, and project managers who know and love the hidden object genre. The 15 permanent team members are always ready to complete any task, even despite the 5-hour time difference.

  4. We work together with MYTONA to refine and improve both projects. 
    Moreover, we not only do the work our contract specifies—our editors and translators happily test the games and give thorough feedback about cultural nuances in both games.

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