VN translation - 2008 in hindsight

Mmm. I kept wracking my brains for good material for one final end of year post on Neechin, and all my good material is bound up in comike 75, so that still will have to wait until next year. So, instead, I’ll put my head on the chopping block, and take a look at some highlights of the VN translation world in 2008.

Of course if you just wanted a simple list, you can go to the cube instead. What I’ll be talking about here are the news items that caught my eye, going vaguely in a chronological order. Things that aren’t mentioned are things that I either didn’t care about, or just don’t know enough to write anything interesting on. As such, you’re only seeing a slice of what goes on

Also, my commentary will be pretty cynical, it’s not that I don’t particularly have respect for this or that person doing something in the world, but to me that’s totally orthogonal to critical commentary. As always, there’s good things about everything too, but the things that leave the strongest impressions in memory tend to be bad things.

Time entries are essentially the time stamps on the news item on the encubed, not the date of actual occurrence

2008-02-12, NNL starts the ef project

Aha, the year certainly started off with a bang on this one. One of the larger mistakes of my career I suppose. I joined the team as something of a translator mentor, keeping an eye on the new translator that was tackling the scripts at a rather ferocious pace. Well, as time will tell later, that whole enterprise was a mistake.

2008-02-14, Saya no Uta project page comes up

The Saya no Uta project. (or was it here instead? I have no clue) In private, I call refer to it as “Cthulhu”, as in “Cthulhu has eaten yet another translator.”

I’ve lost track of how many have been sacrificed to the great being. Of course, the whole premise of Saya just doesn’t agree with me. I get the creeps just thinking about the basic premise and story summary, so I kept my distance well away from the project.

2008-02-17, BL games get patches too

Totally outside my genre, personal preferences, and general interest, but wow, someone’s translating BL games too. Good for them, considering that the standard eroge patch count is also pretty low, on a titles to patches %age basis, they probably caught up already.

2008-02-28 + 2008-03-08, ef project DIES

Well, by the time I quietly announced my vanishing off the boat, the ef project had been withering for quite awhile already. New staff that had come in were just irritating to me, and some of the executive decisions that were being made didn’t sit well with me. As an advisor anyways, my disappearing wouldn’t have killed the project either way, but looks like the whole thing collapsed due to natural causes soon after.

After the death of this project, I’m not sure what happened to the rotting corpse. I vaguely remember talk of someone hauling some fraction of the scripts onto a wiki someplace… or not. Either way, it’s not my dead horse anymore.

2008-03-17 Demonbane project launched, restores some of Agi’s faith in humanity

I’ve said this on numerous occasions, but I have strong doubts about translations done using a wiki. It can work, in theory, with the right people, but damned if I ever saw it actually happen. Well, Demonbane was the first time I saw it happen.

I was idly poking around random files on projects, just to get a sampling of the horrors on TLwiki. Usually, a few clicks around is enough to convince me that I don’t want to work with these people, whoever they are, since they’re doing things like, misinterpreting the meaning of “ない” (nai) at the end of verbs… which would do tiny things to the sentence, like flip it’s meaning 180 degrees, minor detail.

While there, I came across something that actually had very few, if any, silly errors of that sort! What was this?! Why, it was the Demonbane project!

So yes, thanks to Makoto over there for restoring some of my lost faith in humanity. He happens to live on some IRC channel somewhere, though I have no recollection where. If anyone sees him, tell him “Good Job”.

(I still don’t think wikis are the best way to go for projects though. Faith in humanity wasn’t restored that much)

2008-03-16 Fate/Stay Night v2 releases

Geh, Type-moon and Nasu. I can’t stand the writing in those games, however much I may like the scenarios, reading them just makes my skin crawl and head hurt. I can only imagine the pain that Taka went through to slog through that script… in fact, I remember hearing screams about “mollusks” and “leeches”… during an ero scene no less….

2008-03-25 Gamepatch keeps absorbing Navel projects

First Shuffle!, then Really?Really!, then Tick Tack, it seems like the gamepatch people are obsessed with Navel’s games. While I like the seiyuu in the games, the scenarios were always a bit thin and redundant for me. Sorta like a fun trip to the carnival for a day, once is okay, more than that and you’d go nuts.

2008-05-16 Narci2 micro-test

On the 365th day of the project, I hacked together a little teaser clip showing off some of the features of the incomplete ponscripter engine. It was also teh first time I had taken a shot at trying to translate a song into a singable version… That felt like pulling teeth, hours spent counting syllables under my breath, and wrangling with how things didn’t line up without the help of a crowbar…

A more refined version exists in the actual release, it’s still clunky, but slightly less so.

2008-05-26 Cthulhu hungers for more

… Yeah. Eventually, at some point later they do find someone, but for a while, Cthulhu lies waiting…

2008-07-10 Mangagamer appears with games on sale

And much drama and laughing on the Internet ensues for months after.

Whether it’s games being pulled, repeatedly, or initially bad translations (that apparently improved later, I’m not too aware of the situation), Mangagamer continues on in fits and starts. From recruiting volunteer proofreaders over the Internet, to pulling games out because of release bugs, to delaying a battery of games off and on throughout the year, it’s never boring around them!

2008-07-15 CountPacula appears with Sonohana 1 project

I’ve always had a quiet amusement for the Sonohana series, not because they’re particularly moving or anything, but the art is good and the characters are fun to watch. Enough that, had I not been occupied with other things, I might have started a project on it. Well, now I don’t have to since someone else is working on it.

What’s sort of nice is that even though I’m not doing the main translation on the project, a short while later, I’ve somehow become a minor editor, dipping in and making many furious red pen marks on the script as needed. So at the least, when the project ends, it’ll be something where if there’s a major screwup in the translation, I’ve no one else to blame ‘cause I’ve (supposedly) had the chance to find it before. Attention and time permitting, of course, otherwise it’d be the same as if I had my hand translating it from the start.

2008-08-10 A translator for ‘dark’ games appears

Most of us in the VN translation community are interested in games with heavy story content, as such we often gravitate towards games that involve romance, mystery, horror, and so on, with the ero taking a back seat in many cases. So, to our surprise, someone comes up and wants to work on games that, to us, look like nothing but ‘pointless ero’. A great “???” was raised in some circles.

At least the translation is somewhat easier since a large fraction of the lines are “iyaaa” and “aaah”, right?

Jokes aside, that segment of the market is underrepresented. Considering the story-centric games that the rest of us translate are probably in the minority title-count wise compared to the shorter, lower budget, eroero games released every year. The market’s there, so if someone wants to go at it, all the better for the people who enjoy that sort of thing.

2008-09-26 Itsusora project announced

I really do like this game, that I did briefly think to myself “am I crazy enough to try to translate it.” The answer was a pretty quick no. It’s very long, and there’s plenty of elements of norse myth, kanji wordplay, some radially different speaking styles, myths from a few other cultures, a plot that can tie your brain in knots at times, and plenty more traps along the way.

I feel a certain amount of pity for those who are translating it, because they’re in for a rough ride. It still makes me curious how they’re doing from time to time though.

2008-11-01 Fate is finally over

Heaven’s Feel is finally out. Mirror moon is finally free of that game! Who knows how much head-to-desk maneuvers TakaJun did during the time he’s spent on the thing. Then there was of course all that drama in the meanwhile with Message’s now-famous installer.

2008-11-27 insani launches al|together 2008

With much vitriol in the opening ceremonies, the closed invite-only portion of al|together 2008 opens with a project-a-day theme for a week.

2008-12-04 al|together open entry submissions due 2/14/2009

Going back to the roots of the al|together tradition, anyone who feels up to the job can submit a completed project to be considered whether it is acceptable or not for release under the a|t2009 umbrella. Certain restrictions and limitations apply, offer void where prohibited, please see your local certified translated project dealer for details.

2008-12-23 70% of Cthulhu reaches forth from the depths.

Pray that you’re among the first to be eaten…

Okay, I promise this marks the end of the bad Cthulhu jokes.

Things that don’t have dates but Agi remembers happening

Fall/Winter 2008 Deja vu temporarily pulls old projects, loses some faith in humanity

Starchanchan of Dejavu had been reworking all her previous releases, bringing them from Onscript to Ponscripter, with it’s pretty font support, UTF8 features, and all sorts of nice goodies. As she’s reworking the scripts, she starts noticing lots of errors on her previous translations. After much pained reworking and eventually throwing out of many old scripts, she decides to pull her oldest releases because they horrified her that much.

It’s a thing all of us translators go through and need to deal with, so nothing particularly surprising about this. Some of us pull our old work, some of us leave it out as “done is done”. That’s how it is.

Then comes a few more or less expected supportive posts. While certainly well meaning, they ring a bit hollow on the ears of someone who’s staring down the barrel lines where the meanings are upside down and shaken with a twist of lime.

Higurashi pieces keep popping out all through the year

Too many to count, Shion and Mion have been steadily cranking out Higurashi releases all through the year. It’s certainly nice to have a second person to just bounce your work against. At the very lease, you can be sure the voices in your head aren’t totally insane.

Rome burns down to the tribes of evil

Someone proposed a supposed panacea tool for fansubber and scanslator people, it was called ROME. Through the power of naive marketing and design, blatant plagiarism, and ridiculous stubbornness, the whole enterprise was assaulted on many fronts on animesuki’s forums. By the end, the whole thing became so ridiculous, I remember it inspiring an article all about translation tools selection for us VN translators.

Later half of 2008, Gamepatch keeps disappearing

Off and on, in and out, gamepatch slips and slides by on a crate of overripe citrus. They might have something released by now, but I don’t recall seeing anything in my brief glance over news postings. And their web server used to behave something like a MTG card with phasing.

Whatever happened to….

Things that I sort of remember existing at some point, but really haven’t heard anything about recently…..

  1. That Clannad project out there…
  2. That Kanon patch/leak/something/or/other drama…
  3. That Muvluv Alternative translation screenshot that briefly appeared on 4chan a long while ago

And finally, Agi prepares to die of shame in 2009

Posted as a light joke in September of 200*7* about how if you do a naive linear projection of how long the ef-demo took by plotting lines to days taken, then narci2 would finish in September 2009, well…. it seems that Narci2 has fallen into a 2009 release. If that really does happen anywhere in or after September. I shall die of shame.

Of course, if I go, I’m taking that crafty ninja Haeleth down with me!!!

And yes, there’s still no firm word on when it’ll be ready for release. But I will say that the number of standing showstopper bugs and issues is certainly much less than the 9 months it would take for me to die of shame. It’s just that it’s not good if you’re playing and the thing explodes your screen, flinging shards of burning hot LCD backlight into your unprotected eyes and causing you to stumble back into some candles, turning your home into a blazing inferno of death.

And during a key scene no less!
(This author lived to tell because he wears proper protection clothing whenever testing software. And they said asbestos was bad!)


  1. adam
    01/15/2009 06:20 PM | #

    You complete forget Umineko no naku koro nii (translated by witch hunt.)

    SHAME best vn all year,

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