Insider Q&A: Machine Zone’s Gabriel Leydon

 

Image via Machine Zone
Image via Machine Zone
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What’s it like to rule the world?

That’s the question Game of War: Fire Age attempts to answer, as players build kingdoms and align with mobile gamers from across the globe in order to make the most dominant iOS empires possible.

And while the storyline might sound familiar in the free-to-play, realm-building MMO space, the innovation here lies in the translation.

While other games separate servers and players by region, Machine Zone’s Game of War actually translates real-time text into 32 languages, enabling people from all over the world to not only play together, but to communicate freely in their own language, while the game translates the text so everybody understands the plan of attack.

[contextly_sidebar id=”e4b817d75f28644b0d689989e254b32f”]And if the tech doesn’t quite understand the slang? No problem, as thanks to crowd-sourcing, players are actually rewarded with in-game bonuses if they are able to help correct words that the game doesn’t quite grasp.

Inside Mobile Apps caught up with the man behind the Machine, Machine Zone’s CEO and Co-Founder Gabriel Leydon, to find out more about the translations, his Game of War, and why he sees the future of gaming, not on consoles, but in the mobile devices already in your pocket.

Inside Mobile Apps: With the translation ability and the way you have people from different countries playing the game together, do you see Game of War as the first true worldwide game experience?

Gabriel Leydon: Yeah, absolutely. We’ve already seen some really interesting things, and if you look right now it’s the number four iPad game in Singapore, it’s top five in Saudi Arabia, in Brazil it’s top twenty, it’s top five in Israel, top four in New Zealand, and top ten in France. So if you look at this, this is completely a mixed-language environment. We are essentially networking the entire world together, and this is what my goal is, to network the entire world together into one real-time environment. I don’t think there has been a game that’s done what we’re doing and I think it shows how much desire there is for this type of connectivity.

IMA: When you first told your designers that you planned to launch a real-time translator into the game, did they even think it was possible, or did they just think you were crazy?

GL: When we were building the server infrastructure to handle a lot of players, the translation came out of the problem of having all of these players together from all over the world with the need to communicate. When you’re able to connect all of these people together in a real-time environment where communication is just so important, it became obvious that if we were going to put everyone into this one environment, we were going to have issues if they couldn’t talk to each other. For instance, the game is really popular in Brazil right now, but if I come into the game from the United States and everywhere I look everything is in Portuguese, I’m going to leave because I can’t play and communicate with people if they’re only speaking Portuguese. So the way I pitched it to people, it was more of something that we had to do. It wasn’t something that was crazy because if we didn’t do this, all of the other real-time stuff that we have wouldn’t even matter.

IMA: Any funny translations that just didn’t make any sense or made you laugh because the game got it so wrong?

GL: Oh yeah, there are tons of them. It’s not perfect, and that was really one of the concerns, that it just wasn’t going to be good enough and people would just be angry. The game was really good and people were having a lot of fun playing the beta, then we finally added this in and I thought the players might not like it or something, but it was really the exact opposite. When you make something like this, when you spend over a year building technology, you hope that everyone is going to be like, “This is the best thing I’ve ever seen!” But you’re also kind of scared that instead, they might say something like, “This is the worst thing I’ve ever seen!” You just don’t know what the reaction is going to be like because they’ve never seen it before. But when we put it out, it was like they just completely expected it to work. It was something that was so natural, they just adopted it within seconds. It was bizarre for me to see everyone adapt to it so instantly, and it got to the point where, during the beta, we had problems where it shutdown because of a bug and people would freak out because they couldn’t talk to their friend anymore. That was the light-bulb moment. When people were relying on it to talk to their friends, friends that they couldn’t have any other way, that’s when I realized how very necessary this really is. Even with its errors and issues, it’s necessary. After this game, game developers won’t be able to get away without having this.