In this series of articles, I will discuss the process of translating Warzone 2100, a free and open source RTS game. Warzone 2100 was originally released in 1999, and it is now maintained by a dedicated group of fans, and available of almost every PC operating system. In this and the upcoming will focus on the changes I made, why I did them, and any other challenges I faced while working on it. I decided to translate the game in 2021, and as with many open source projects, the translation is hosted on the Crowdin platform, which greatly facilitated the process.

The game is set in, obviously, the year 2100. After all the world’s civilizations are wiped out in nuclear strikes, an event called the “Collapse”, you command a group of survivors named the “Project”, that aims to rebuild the world using pre-war technology (Artifacts). To achieve this goal, the “Project” sends out three teams to different locations in the US to gather artifacts, where they meet with other survivalist groups, namely the “New Paradigm” and the “Collective”, and leads to the breakout of a war, and eventually the discovery of who initiated the “Collapse”.

Like similar other RTS games, Warzone 2100 is features a fully 3D world, with a free-moving camera. It offers two main modes: a campaign, and single- or multi-player skirmish. What makes it unique however, is the fact that units are fully customizable, with a wide range of upgrades. This gives players a great freedom to choose their units, and allows for a variety of strategies and tactics. Additionally, the game breaks new ground by putting more emphasis on sensors to detect enemy units, and long-range artillery.

I really enjoyed Warzone 2100. Despite being over 20 years old, it still packs a punch against other strategy games. The range of upgrades and weapons is unsurpassed, and the persistent nature of the campaign, gives you a greater sense of progress and achievement. If you are looking for an endless series of thrilling and challenging battles, with immense replayability, then you should definitely give it a try.


The Arabic translation is not available yet. It will be added in the next release, however, there are some technical issues that prevents the game from displaying bidirectional strings correctly, but I am working closely on it with the developers, and the problem will hopefully be solved in the upcoming weeks.

Translation Strategies

Before embarking on the project, I had to do some research into the different kinds of weapons featured in the game. You do not need to be a military analyst to translate it, and a basic knowledge of cannons and artillery will go a long way.

The in-game text is about 15k words, and can be divided into 4 categories:

The first category includes the UI strings. These are short fragments that appears in the menus. As usual with kinds of text, the translations should be brief, clear, and user-friendly.

The second category consists of system messages. There is some overlap between this and the previous category; however, these messages tends to be very technical in nature, and address things that are not related directly to the game, such as drivers, network protocols, and directories.

The third category comprises the in-game tutorial, and descriptions of weapons and research items. These descriptions appear during the campaign, once you unlock a weapon or an upgrade, and they details its properties and effects. All descriptions read like paragraphs taken from a military encyclopedia, and there is no use of a dramatic or literary language. When translating these strings, I took too much liberty, since I was trying to remain faithful not to the text itself but to the original instructive intention.

The final category are the subtitles of campaign videos. They provide a backstory in a dramatized manner. There are about 4 main characters (or speakers, to be precise), and Modern Standard Arabic fits the setting really well. Their translation will be discussed in part 3 of this series.

One of the main strategies I followed was to explain whenever its necessary (you can find a discussion of it in this post). You will find here many examples of explanations that were added to Arabic translation, despite not being in the original, usually to compensate for the lack of Arabic content that covers the explained concept or item.


There are three main campaigns, one for each team sent by the Project. The word “campaign” has 2 senses in English, the second being a series of missions that forms a narrative and uses the same players (or army in our case). When translated literally into Arabic, the word حملة is not associated with the latter sense (probably because there are few RTS and RPG games translated into Arabic). Arabic players usually describe this mode as “plating the missions” or “playing the story mode”. Therefore I avoided حملة altogether, and used “story mode” (طور القصة) instead of it, and referred to each campaign as a “chapter” (فصل). Similarly, when referring to Skirmishes, Arabic players do not use its literal translation (مناوشة), and use “game” or “match” instead. To avoid the overuse of “game”, I went for for “match” (مباراة). For the names of the three main factions, I opted for almost literal translations. Of course, literal does not mean unnatural; it just means that the meaning of the name was not changed significantly. Since there are treated as proper nouns in English, and due to Arabic not having different cases for the letters, I made sure that whenever their names appeared in the game, they were surround by Arabic quotation marks (« and »).

Faction Arabic Translation
The Project المشروع
The New Paradigm النهج الحديث
The Collective الرابطة

For “Nexus”, things were a bit more complicated. Although most translators would immediately go for a transliteration, I hesitated at first, because although the word is used repeatedly in the names of several English works, this time the choice was not arbitrary. At one point during the campaign, while addressing the Project, Nexus says: “We will create the perfect nexus of man and machine.” Nevertheless, in the end I decided on transliterating it, since his English name appear in the videos graphically, and besides, almost all the translation of the word “nexus” are feminine in Arabic, which immediately ruled them out due to nexus being depicted as a male. As a last attempt to avoid making the name completely meaningless for the Arabic player, I opted for a less-than-ideal solution of making Nexus explain it by replacing the previous liine something similar to “We will create the Nexus: the perfect connection between human and machine” (سنبني “النيكسوس”: الرابطة المثالية بين الإنسان والآلة). Finally, I translated “intruder program” as “برنامج مقتحم”.

One notable change is the how “Scavengers” was translated. Literally, scavengers are those who search abandoned items for useful material. In the game, they represents humans fighting for their survival. The concept is familiar to the Arabs (probably too familiar, unfortunately). However, when resorting to dictionaries, you get obscure translations like “القمّام”. In Syria, we usually refer to those people as “garbage collectors” (جامعو القمامة) or “those who search garbage” (من يبحثون في القمامة). Obviously, these alternatives stray too much from the intended meaning. The correct translation is قطاع الطرق, thieves who wait for people on roads and ambush them. It is a very old Arabic concept, but one that all Arabs are familiar with, and fits the theme of the game very well. If I was originally developing the game in Arabic, this name would be the first to come to my mind.

Lastly, the ‘S’ in NASDA is pronounced ‘Z’, similar to NASDAQ (/ˈnæzdæk/). Strangely, the widely used transliteration of NASDAQ is ناسداك (/ˈnæsdæk/), but again, it is pronounced as (/ˈnæzdæk/). To avoid any confusion, I opted for نازدا /ˈnæzdə/.


The game make several references to a variety of real-life weapons. Unfortunately, many of them has no official translation in Arabic, nor there enough online resources that explain or discuss or them.

Turret vs. Tower

One of the issues I faced was translating “tower” and “turret”, which are used extensively in the game. Unfortunately, both are always translated as “برج” (tower). This creates a problem, because the player will not be able to tell the difference between “Sensor Turret” and “Sensor Tower”, for instance. As a workaround, I decided to translate “turret” as رأس (head). Personally, I find it to be a good choice, since players can now talk about “the head and body of the unit”, and similar to how dragons can have multiple heads, the “dragon” body in the game can have multiple turrets.

Assault Gun

I went for “رشاش هجومي” (Assault Machine Gun). In real-life, an assault gun was a form of artillery, while in the game it is an anti-personal machine gun. I opted for a literal translation for the “assault” part, also it is probably meaningless for most Arabic gamers, since all weapons can be considered “assault” weapons.

Hypervelocity Cannon

I went for “مدفع فائق السرعة” (literal translation), and explained in the description that hypervelocity refers to the speed of the projectile, not the ROF of the cannon.

Rocket vs. Missile

A rocket differs from a missile by lacking a guidance system, and early missiles was known as “guided missiles”. The Soviet RPG-29 and US Bazooka are examples of anti-tank rocket launchers, while TOWs are an example of anti-tank missiles. Unfortunately, Arabic lacks a dedicated word for “missile”, and it is usually translated simply as “rocket”, or, when accuracy is a priority, as “guided rocket”. I followed this convention because it explains the difference very well, even if it makes the translations somewhat long.

Lancer Rocket

I went for “الرمّاح” (literal translation). Admittedly, the noun “الرماح” is not widely used, but it is not incomprehensible either. I could have chosen “lance thrower” (رامي الرمح) which is far more common, but I prefer to keep the names of rockets/missiles one word in length.

Types of warheads

Arabic is does not fare too well when it comes to abbreviations, and almost all acronyms needs to be replaced with their original phrases. Many upgrades in the game refers to different types of warheads and explosives such as HEAT or HESH. To keep translations as short as possible, I dropped some parts that I deemed redundant. Examples of some of the changes:

HEAT Rocket Warhead” became “High-Explosive Warhead” (رأسٌ حربي شديد الانفجار), since the Lancer is anti-tank rocket

“HEAT Cannon Shells” became “Anti-Tank Cannon Shells” (قذائف مضادةٌ للدبابات), since in this case the fact that these shells can penetrate heavy armors is far more important than the high-explosiveness property.

HESH Rocket Warhead” became “Squash Head Warhead” (رأسٌ حربي بمتفجراتٍ طرية).

“HEAP Missile Warhead” became “Armor Piercing Warhead” (رأسٌ حربي خارقٌ للدروع).

Ripple Rockets

“Ripple” is usually translated as “موجة” (wave). Obviously, this is kind of misleading, and does not produce the same effect as “ripple”. Therefore, I decided to translate it as “صواريخ الصدمة” (Shock Rockets).

Bunker Buster (Wikipedia)

For now, I opted for “هدّام الملاجئ”. Unfortunately, the two parts doe no rhyme as in the English original. I felt that “يدمر” and its derivatives are somewhat, therefore I opted for the verb يهدم.

Seraph and Archangel

There are two missiles that are named after biblical angels: The Seraph Missile, and the the Archangel Missile. Both can be considered a type of artillery, and while the Seraph has a range of 15 tiles, the Archangel can travel a whopping 120 tiles (for comparison, the mortar has a maximum range of 18 tiles, while that of the howitzer is 50 tiles.)

According to the bible, both angels are of high rank, however, the seraphs are tasked with protecting the seat of God, and for this reason they are considered to be of a higher rank. Unfortunately, both concepts are unknown to the average Arabic speaker, especially when you remember that the majority of Arabs are Muslims, and so I had to find alternative names for these two weapons.

The Bearers of the Throne could be considered the Islamic equivalent of archangels. However, it sounds too religious, and might offend some Muslims. I opted for “ملاك الموت” (Angel of Death) instead, which I think is very fitting, since in Arabic tradition, this angel can reaches the person wherever he/she is.

The problem with the seraph is that the name is not really important. As far as I know, there is no connection between the two missiles, whether obvious or hidden. Also, the name has no bearing on the function of the weapon, especially when you consider that this missile is the weakest of the two. So besides faithfulness, there is no reason that prevents you from choosing another name, and I went for “Satan”.

Shaped Charges

The description of the HE Mini-Rockets upgrade mentions “shaped charges“. Again, I attempted to explain the concept as concisely as possible.

Scrambler Turret

I went for “التشويش” (Jamming). Scrambling is very similar to encryption, but the main difference between them is the domain, with the former being applied on analog signals, and the latter dealing with digital ones. Sometimes however, this term is used when jamming is meant, and this is probably the case here, since the turret’s description reads “Electronically attacks and disrupts enemy structures”.

Mass Drivers and Railguns

A mass driver is a linear motor that accelerates projectiles (masses) to a high speed using electromagnetic forces. When used as weapons, the projectiles are usually not explosive, and rely on their kinetic energy to cause damage to targets, and they can achieve high muzzle velocity compared to conventional weapons.

In the game, there three weapons that are variations of mass drivers (they all are described as being rail guns). They are Needle Gun, which fires needle darts; Rail Gun, which fires armor-piercing darts; and Gauss Cannon, which fires large darts.

The railgun consists of a pair of parallel conducting rails, along which the projectile slides. The gauss rifle (also known as the coilgun), on the other hand, is made up of several coils that are arranged along the barrel. Besides the design, the two weapons differ in the direction of acceleration, and in the fact that railguns require sliding contacts to pass a current through the dart, while coilguns do not. “Gauss” is a reference to Carl Friedrich Gauss, who wrote the mathematical formulas that describes the magnetic forces used by these mass drivers.

To avoid adding all these info to the game (since there are no Arabic resources that discuss them), I translated “railgun” as “المدفع الكهرومغناطيسي” (electromagnetic gun), “Needle Gun” as “مدفع الإبر”, “Gauss Cannon” as “مدفع غاوس”, and explained the Gauss reference. So to sum it up, in the Arabic version, all three weapons simply use electromagnetic forces to accelerate darts, and differ mainly in power and ROF.

Electromagnetic Pulse (Wikipedia)

Since “Railgun” was translated as “Electromagnetic Gun”, EMP will be translated as نبضات الطاقة (“Energy Pulse”, exactly “Pulses of Energy”), to avoid confusion, and make the name shorter. I also explained in the description the kind of energy.

Additional examples

The following are upgrades where the name had to be changed or explained in the description:

APDSB MG Bullets

Information about “discarding sabot” was omitted for brevity.

طلقات رشاشٍ خارقةٌ للدروع (Armor Piercing Machine Gun Bullets)

Chaingun Upgrade

Explained the difference between chaingun and usual machine gun.

رشاش السلسلة (Literal)

Composite Alloys

Probably similar to “composite armor“. I opted for the singular of “alloy”, since the plural is obscure.

خليطٌ مركب

Turbo-Charged Engine

Gave a brief explanation of how this engine works.

محركٌ بشاحنٍ توربيني

Gas Turbine

Gas turbines can power too many things including airplanes, ships, tanks, and electrical generators. I explained the basic components of a “Gas Turbine”.

عنفة الغاز

The following list is for those who are interested in more examples. Most of these weapons and upgrades either had literary names that needed to be recreated in Arabic, or their names were self-explanatory, and did not require adding more information to their descriptions.


قاذف لهب (Flame Thrower)

Inferno (Heavy Flamer)


Plasmite Flamer

قاذف البلازما الحارقة (Burning Plasma Thrower)

Mini-Rocket Pod

منصة صواريخ مصغرة

Mini-Rocket Array

راجمة صواريخ مصغرة (Multiple mini-rocket launcher)

Scourge Missile

صاروخ الجلّاد الموجه

Flashlight (Laser)

الفلاش (Transliteration of “Flash”)

Heavy Laser

ليزرٌ كثيف (Dense Laser)

Pulse Laser

ليزر نبضي



Pepperpot (Rotary Mortar)

رشاشة الفلفل


هاوتزر (Transliteration)

Hellstorm (Rotary Howitzer)

إعصار جهنم

Groundshaker (Heavy Howitzer)

مزلزل الأرض

Avenger SAM


Vindicator SAM

النصير (The Supporter)


ملقمٌ آلي

Laser Designator

محدد أهدافٍ ليزري

Fuel Injection Engine

محرك بنظام حقن للوقود

Laser Rangefinder

مقدّر مسافاتٍ ليزري للمدفع

Improved Wire Rocket Guidance

تحسين التوجيه السلكي للصاروخ

Thermal Imaging

كاميرا حرارية (Thermal Camera)


جهاز تصويب القنابل

Target Acquisition

تحديد الأهداف (Target Selection)

Depleted Uranium

اليورانيوم المنضب

Heat Signature

البصمة الحرارية

Bomb Bay

حجرة قنبلة

Next Post

We have now reached the end of our first post. In the next post, I am going to discuss how certain structures were translated, some terms that appear in the menus.

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