UE4 Tool "Yellow Subs Machine" Focuses on Subtitles and Accessibility

Yellow Subs Machine is an Unreal Engine 4 tool that allows developers to create subtitles in video games and has been created with a lot of research to make it stand out.

While not a video game for smashing your WASD keys, or flicking your analog sticks about, Yellow Subs Machine is a tool to be used with video game creation, specifically the Unreal Engine 4. This tool, launched today, is designed to aid developers with creating subtitles in video games.

Created by game designer and programmer John Kane from Gritfish, Yellow Subs Machine was brought to life through months of research and development. Kane spent the time to go through all the legal requirements and practices by popular companies who have clear guidelines for subtitles, such as BBC and Netflix. As a result Kane lists the tool as  “better researched and far more customisable than any subtitles solution you can find online for Unreal or Unity”

Yellow Subs Machine has a blog post available over at Gamasutra in which the very first quote is the quote from Activision that sparked outrage when it was discovered that Activision and Toys for Bob didn’t implement subtitles into the Spyro Reignited Trilogy game. It also mentions the CVAA as part of the research behind the tool.

Kane also explains that despite all his research, “turning it into practice was harder than I expected”. The result from struggling with the current process led to him creating Yellow Subs Machine to really help developers create subtitles. There’s even a preview video available to watch, showing the various examples developers will be able to create.

Apparently, developers simply need to add the widget to their level and then call the “Add titles to queue” function. This will return a reference to the audio file allowing them to play it in 2D or 3D space. The subtitles can be heavily customized, allowing custom fonts, sizing, spacing, color, and even update the preferences in-game with a menu that comes with it.

In addition to the tool in general, Kane has also published a totally free document with all of his research and best practices so that anyone else wanting to create subtitles in their games have a source to use. It’s incredibly detailed with diagrams, facts, placement suggestions and more. You can check that out here.

Not long ago I was tagged in a Twitter thread regarding this tool and asked for thoughts on subtitles and what I thought of the video you can find above. It’s fantastic to see that this has come so far and is being offered for a low price of $20 over on Kane states in the Gamasutra piece that Yellow Subs Machine will also be available from the Unreal Marketplace making it even more easily obtainable.

The launch version of the tool includes:

  • 2 Widgets (Subtitle overlay, and subtitle options menu)
  • 3 blueprints
  • 3 structs
  • 1 datatable
  • 1 Example map
  • 8 fonts are include with the package and you can easily add your own

After doing some research myself into how subtitles are created in video games, this tool looks as if it’s going to really open up the gap for games that need subtitles. We’re starting to see games with decent subtitles such as Apex Legends. But also games that allow us to change how they are presented such as Marvel’s Spider-Man, Far Cry New Dawn, and The Division 2.

Seeing games such as Borderlands 2 VR not including subtitles, or games with terribly designed subtitles is always disheartening.  Yellow Subs Machine appears to be making the process simpler and more to the point, hopefully meaning that more video games are going to be providing subtitles. It’s certainly a topic worth talking about to ensure more players can play games.

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Ben Bayliss

Based in the UK and adores venturing through FPS horrors and taking photos in pretty much anything with a functioning photo mode. Also likes car games.

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