What deadlines are good for

It’s mid-April, and two somewhat interesting things have popped up that brought me to this editorial topic today. I had been meaning to jot down a few things about the topic since my last piece, but then another Gemot post post came up and tweaked my motivation a bit.

The second thing is all the procrastination and side-projects I’ve been working has finally caught up with the fact that I need all the work for my master’s thesis finished… by this May/June… yeah…

So deadlines are a big thing in my life right now. But, how does this all fit in with visual novel translation?

As that Gemot post above, as well as some other comments I’ve seen before indicate, the whole issue is a tricky topic, with some arguments for different sides. So, I’ll lay out how I feel first.

For us amateur translators, Deadlines are Guidelines. No matter how nice you might think it’d be to finish a project by a certain deadline, life, often has a say. We have to make a living doing other things, so it’s only natural that we’d be forced away from our projects for lengths of time without warning. And as I mentioned about amateur translation quality, out of personal standards and pride, love for the project, or whatever else motivated us to start the project in the first place, we should owe it to ourselves not to release shoddy work.

Now, but what about pressure from the community to release something? I know people working in the more competitive fansub/scanslation community seem to feel much stronger pressure to release. But the VN world is materially different, at least right now. The community is relatively tiny, the projects are mostly one-shot, all or nothing, and huge.

The one-shot-ness is actually the most important point. Since that means that you do the project, release, and that’s it, no tangible expectations of a follow-up because they don’t exist. This all means, any pressure of deadlines, is pressure that you place upon yourself.

Yup. it’s all your own fault.

If you make announcements about your project early on, hype it up, get all sorts of interest flowing, then fail to meet any deadlines and anger lots of people? You’ve only got yourself to blame. Even more so if you cheapen yourself to make it by slashing your project quality.

If deadlines give you motivation to keep working? Then by all means, add a few to pressure yourself. But in a way where it actually means something. Everyone is sick of cheap talk. As for myself, I’ll stick to a policy of “Every night, do something translation-related, even for only one sentence or research for a project” instead.

We are in a unique position here in that we have no economic pressure like professionals have, and no community pressures (if they don’t know about it). Just about the only thing that really pressures us is that a given game might be out of print, or obsolete by the time we finish. And to a degree, with creativity, there might be ways to work around it, such as my decision to translate Gin’iro in a book format instead of a game script format years ago. With Nekonekosoft gone now, it probably was the right choice in terms of portability.

In summary, I favor a “Shut up and unless you can put up” release policy. There are two major ways of gaining release notoriety in the community, one, is to release a finished product, hopefully while people can still obtain the product, but release is already difficult enough. The other, is to merely say you’re releasing a product, then disappear off the face of the planet.

One of those lasts longer than the other. Your choice.


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