[games_access] Implementing Closed Caption

Reid Kimball rkimball at gmail.com
Sat Jun 25 14:06:36 EDT 2005

Hello Dean,

As the designer of the Doom3[CC] mod I am very please to see that you
are interested in adding closed captions into Heavenly Sword. I will
try answer all your questions below.

There isn't much public knowledge regarding how long it takes to
develop a closed captioning system since very few developers have done
it. I've asked Ken over at Valve Software if he can share with me
Valve's experience in designing their closed captioning system. I'll
relay the info to everyone as soon as I get a response.

There were two programmers, both full time college students that
worked on implementing my ideas for the Dynamic Closed Captioning
system which took them about 2 weeks. There were many bugs and almost
no captioning, but what we did have, worked as intended. We spent the
next two months tweaking the system and mostly creating the closed
captions for the game.

We were able to utilize Doom3's GUI system to print text to the
screen. Not having to write the GUI system saved us a lot of time, how
much, I don't know to be sure, you may have a better answer than I.

One of the programmers developed a tool that's currently in beta right
now that took him about a month to do. It's hard to know for sure
because he wasn't working on it full time.

If you'd like to see the tool we developed you can download it from

You will need Beta 2 of Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 to run it.

To type in all the captions, it can take one person a couple week and
that's for dialog alone if the script is over 10k words, which Doom3
is. Then there are monster and environment sounds that need to be
closed captioned. I think the script writer for your game should think
about ways to make it easier to use the script as a starting point for
the dialog captions. Copy and paste is the most basic way.

You'll also need someone to manage the localization of the captions
into other languages. On the mod, I outsourced that to other people
who knew the languages better than I. The French translation team had
1 person that did most of the work, the german translation team had 2,
spanish had 1, portuguese 1, and english had the largest team of 3 for
most of the project.

As for implmentation guidelines:
Doom3 is a fast paced game that requires the player to focus on the
screen at all times. I tried to design a captioning system that
provided information as quickly as possible without being distracting.
I also wanted it to be compact, not to obscure HUD elements or the
first person view of the game world. but it couldn't be so compact
that the text was too small to read, it's a fine line to balance
between compactness and ledgibility.

We thought about color but didn't have time to research how other
cultures may perceive the chosen colors. We assigned evil characters
with the color red according to American color psychology. but the DCC
system allows each language to have it's own color definitions. In
color definition file it's easy to change the color that is
represented by various characters or game entities when they emit

I recommend that all closed captioning appear on a black background
which may be transparent to a degree. The reason for this is so that
text is not hard to read on the game background or HUD.

Another option that I think should be standard in the future is for
games to use a widescreen aspect video mode. The top and bottom of the
screen have black bars being used for HUD elements or closed
captioning areas. This will leave the game view completely clear of UI

As for the radar, that feature is new for version 2.0 and we don't
have a lot of feedback on how useful it is. The usefulness of it will
probably vary from game to game. Doom3 is one where the attacks can
come from any direction so I personally felt it was helpful when I
used it. I also wanted the DCC system to allow hard of hearing/deaf
gamers access to the same information that hearing people have. I
determined that hearing people only know the distance and general
direction of where a sound is located and not the exact location. I
hope the radar provides those two bits of information without allowing
the player to cheat.

Please any other questions you may have and thanks for considering
closed captioning in your game. :)


On 6/25/05, Deano Calver <deano at rattie.demon.co.uk> wrote:
> Hello,
> I'm working on a PS3 action game (Heavenly Sword) and I'm looking for
> information on Closed Captioning.
> I've already mentioned the subject of Closed Caption support to the
> bosses, and I'm now looking for actual implementation details.
> Particularly regard how much extra work for the schedules etc. My
> initial thoughts are that there is some extra code work for the run-time
> captioning system, some tools work to enhance the sounds tools and then
> work for the sound designers actually adding the captions, then there is
> extra QA work. Anything I've missed?
> I've seen the CC faq, but I've not seen any real guides to how to
> caption? (Colour, placement and reading level).
> Are there different standards for different countries? (i.e. is red
> unacceptable in country X) Any links for international closed caption?
> I've noticed the Doom3[CC] has an audio radar, I'm curious to know how
> important such a feature is?
> Any help would be much appreciated,
> Deano
> Dean Calver,
> Senior Programmer,
> Ninja Theory Ltd.
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