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A rant about the translation scene and the community revolving it.


Aizen-Sama

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Hello everyone, Aizen-Sama here. I’ve been only around this community and forums for around 6 months by now, and even though I may not be the most knowledgeable when it comes to VN’s in general, I think that I possess enough knowledge about the translation scene. That’s right, today I’m not writing a post about Luna Translations, but one about my opinion on the translation scene, translation groups, and the community revolving them.

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Let us establish how this community and market actually exist in the first place. Piracy and fan translating, they are both mutually exclusive to each other and they are the foundations of what we consider as the “western visual novel community”.

After some years where piracy slowly started to decrease and official releases started to be a thing I can safely assume that there are three types of people now, one who will support every single game localization and buy the Visual Novels instead of pirating them, one who will pirate everything and anything, or one that will mix between these two because either there is no other access to the game in Japanese to apply the English patch (in other words, you can’t buy the game legally because the Japanese market is already a very difficult place to access with Western VPN’s, mostly because Japanese publishers block them to not let people outside Japan buy these games online, which is usually the only way to get them in the first place) or the individual simply doesn’t support some releases or companies that release VN’s in particular (I’ll set people that want to buy legally a game with a fan-translated patch but can’t do it, so they have to pirate the VN even if they don’t want to as an example).

This last example leads to another concerning issue, the relationship between translation groups and the community itself. It’s partly human nature; when a group establishes itself and releases a patch (no matter whether it’s full or partial) we automatically create what is called a “power level” between these two types of people, the users that translate and work on translating games in one way or another (editing, QC’ing, etc…) and the users that simply play the releases made by the first ones.

This so called “power level” is what should be avoided at all costs, sometimes the community must remember that the people that belong to translation groups (whether they are official or not) are part of the community as well, and have their own stances and way of doing things.

Those “power levels” are automatically made, and they are the primary reason of this community’s fragmentation into several “sub-communities”, which is a problem mainly for the translation groups. What I’m trying to say here is that what is constantly happening right now is that what this “power division” has made is to categorize groups by number of patches released (the more they have released the more praised they are) and that has ultimately lead to two things; groups distancing themselves from the community, which is a very bad thing for both of the parties involved, and groups distancing from each other.

What I mean by this last statement is that there is no communication between teams, which leads to what is happening in the actual society that we live in: the individualization of people (Tl-teams in this case). But regarding that aspect, some groups have managed to find a solution to this matter. Let’s put @Arcadeotic's (Euphemic Translation) and @oystein's (Elevator TL) groups for example; both of them have found a way to make the community feel closer to their groups thanks to their “Public Discord Server Policy” (that’s how I call it) and both of them are in the TL Leaders Discord Server (basically a group to try to unite translation teams more, an initiative from Arcadeotic and I). That group has opened my eyes in many aspects regarding team stances towards piracy as well as opinions about the community and it's relation with the Tl teams. This group has also helped me in getting to know people that otherwise I would have never met even if we were active members of this forum and interacted with each other sometimes, like for example Dergonu, Oystein, Kardororororo, and many more.

What I’m ultimately trying to say is that banding together is a rare thing for groups now, and this is the first step to create a community feel again, something that, in my opinion, is being lost little by little and needs to be stopped.

I’ll mention another issue that many people find itchy, and that is the topic of “the sense of entitlement of a loud minority”.

I’d like to make myself very clear about this; I know that there is a silent positive majority, and that compared to the amount of people that complain about things about projects and English patches this majority vastly overcomes the “minority”, but the matter of fact is that this “loud minority” is what gives people that are new to the community a bad impression about it from the start.

I’ll set two examples to demonstrate the last point I mentioned: firstly, I’d like to address the Koiken Otome Project, one that took approximately three years to finish. It’s a topic full of controversy, firstly because people firstly speculated that Flying Pantsu was going to “definitely sell out to the localization companies” and they made a ruckus about it.

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First of all, what if they really “sold out” to one of them? That is, in my opinion, a good thing (primarily because I belong to the “buy everything” type of guy instead of pirating unless it can’t be avoided and tend to support official releases), but mostly because, the fact of the matter is that they spent working on an English patch of a game that contains more than 40K lines three years, and the entire effort is theirs, that means that even if they decided to not release the patch for whatever reason, I would have been totally in favor. Why? Because it’s THEIR work and THEY did it, not the people that feel entitled to have the English patch.

Same goes with the problem that revolved around the time of release. Again, I’ll repeat, the matter of fact is that they could’ve released that patch whenever they wanted because since THEY did the patch, they decide when to release it, simple.

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The second example I’ll highlight in this post talks about Shinku Translations and the controversy that revolved around the SakuSaku patch. If you don’t know what happened regarding this project I’ll quickly sum it up: Shinku Translations made a deal with Sekai Project to release the game officially, what ultimately made people who were waiting for a fan-patch very pissed. The comments on their website were mostly full of “sellouts” and “I already bought the game in Japanese, now I’ll have to buy it again, gg boys” and many more that blew my mind. That was the perfect demonstration of the entitlement that people slowly begin to have when a project is close to being finished.

 I’ll repeat myself once again, just like Koiken Otome and Flying Pantsu, it was THEIR work, so they had the right to make a deal with Sekai Project and do whatever they wanted to the patch. And, as Akerou explained in one of the comments, it could lead to more titles being localized, which, in my opinion, are good news!

 People have to start realizing that sooner or later, the entire scope if not most of the translation scope will shift towards official releases instead of fan-patches.

As a last argument regarding this matter, I’ll mention a couple of YouTube comments that I found in the official OP video of SakuSaku published by Sekai Project’s YouTube channel, they basically said this:

“That's a low punch SP. That's just low. The guy translating it is almost done. If you buy the translation from him and release it in the next 2 months I might forgive you. If you do it less than a month you are forgiven.”

“Well just pirate the release when it comes out. This is one of the cases when piracy is completely justified.”

These two comments are part of the “entitlement problem” that I’ve addressed before, and I hope they highlight what I’ve been trying to tackle (take into account that these comments are just the surface, just look at the ones in Shinku’s page and you’ll get a grasp of what this community broods sometimes).

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Last but not least, I’d like to address Fuwanovel as a platform for translation projects and my opinion about it as a Leader of a translation group (in this case, Luna Translations).

Don’t get me wrong when I say that. I love Fuwanovel as a site. It’s one of the principal, if not the main responsible for the appearance of a community that revolves around Visual Novels in general. I love this site, and I appreciate the people that back this site paying monthly (I hope I can do it as well when I get the chance) and the mods for doing their jobs correctly and every other person that supports this site. But, I’d like to tackle the issue of trying to host translation projects in a forum-based website.

 I’d like to point out that the system created in Fuwa worked very VERY well at the beginning stages of the creation of this community. Basically, the “Fan Translator Skills” thread and the “Translation Projects” thread were probably very useful and effective back when the community was niche and not a lot of projects and teams crowded the scene (I’m not directing this towards the “Fan TL Discussion” thread, by the way).

But, as a leader of a translation team (and I’m sure that many people will agree with me on this) I just think that Fuwa’s way of hosting projects is not as effective as it was probably two or three years ago.

What I’m trying to say here is that, just like VNDB exists, a platform that focuses solely on helping teams and individuals to work on projects will certainly appear at some point, or at least needs to appear at some point. Summing up, Fuwanovel as a forum focused on the discussion of Visual Novels and the fan translation scene is a very good and positive website, and it’s totally needed for the community to keep growing, but! Fuwanovel (the forums) used as a platform to support projects and teams may have been very effective in the past but not anymore, since now the scope is very broad and more complex compared to when all of this started.

Finally, to close this rant, I’d like to say that if I had to sum up things probably the most important issue would be that the community is losing the sense of being together, and groups, as well as individuals, are distancing themselves from each other, which is something that has to be avoided at all costs. I’ll personally try to do whatever I can about this matter and little by little this problem will hopefully be solved in the future, because together we can do great things.

Let’s try to make the translation world great again, as Trump as it sounds.

 

 

 

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I 100% agree with you on almost everything, and that's the reason we get so well along in this scene in the first place.

Anyways, yeah, the scene and groups is getting isolated, and it's pretty damn visible too; I doubt all the lunatic entitlement, putting TL-groups and the members within on a pedestal, and the clear lack of straightforward ways of communicating with the groups helps. Also, don't use IRC as a communication-hub for god's sakes, IRC is terrible.

The easiest way to leviate this "chasm" growing between TL-groups and people waiting for patches is just making that easy way of communication. So, if there's any groups and/or group members reading this post, just set up a Discord server, for fucks sake. Takes literally 30 minutes.

Joining hands with other groups as a group of your own really is a good way of helping other groups helping themselves and vice versa. Unity's also a really good thing, and the groups get things done more efficiently this way, which s why Aizen and I started that whole Discord server in the first place.

As for the entitlement, that's not goin' anywhere anytime soon. People will be salty shitheads until the end of time. All we can really do aside from communicating with them is to wait for quote-on-quote "selling out" to become more common and to more fan translation projects to start cooperating with the official localization companies.

As for Fuwa as the hub of translation projects, frankly, it's too outdated to work properly. Sure it gives publicity nicely, but that's basically it looking at what else it does well. Maybe at some point there'll be a better option for a hub, but only time will tell.

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The question Aizen is when are you releasing a patch? :makina:


Anyway, it is pretty much as stated. 

I get why people pirate games, not everyone have disposable income, heck lets be real not many here even earn money for that matter.
But heck gotta give em to Fuwa for fighting that fight and changing their ways. (Shut the hell up Oystein that was ages ago.) WELL EXCUSE ME

Excuse me I have been awake for soon a day and I am in the process of moving. (kill me now pls.)

So good post Aizen. I logged in just to tell you this. 

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12 minutes ago, Arcadeotic said:

As for Fuwa as the hub of translation projects, frankly, it's too outdated to work properly. Sure it gives publicity nicely, but that's basically it looking at what else it does well. Maybe at some point there'll be a better option for a hub, but only time will tell.

Do you have any suggestions on how to make it better or about what it's lacking?

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33 minutes ago, Tiagofvarela said:

Do you have any suggestions on how to make it better or about what it's lacking?

Well, there's a lot that can be improved upon, but I honestly can't be arsed to write another wall 'o text.

First up, if you want to make a great hub for TL projects, you need to separate us from the rest, so a forum-like platform just doesn't do at all.

Secondly, the Fan translation skill registration. Only the newest page is relevant, and the previous pages don't get looked at almost at all, which is a problem, but that comes along with forums of today.

Borderline, forums are a place of chatter, not hard progress.

The first place would be to get off from the forum-based platforms and build from there. That's essential.

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Most new VN addicts when I first started were definitely the type to feel 'entitled'.  Actually, this applies to some extent to all people who want an excuse to pirate video games...  The only way to get past that stage is to realize that you aren't the center of the world and people don't move to your convenience.  I guess I can be at ease because I just buy the Japanese versions and play them, but I remember it being harder before I started doing that... a lot harder.  Nonetheless, most people who start whining about 'selling out' are morons.  Selling fantranslations to localization companies is practically an established tradition in the community now, after all.

Edit: I guess it is because I actually had a good understanding of economics combined with having experienced the tug of war between Minori and NNL at a distance over Ef, but I honestly cheer whenever a fantranslation group 'sells out' that way.  The jackasses who want their free content can whine all they want, but they, quite frankly, cease to have any moral ground to stand on the second they decide not to pay for the official versions when they come out.   I'm not a hard-to-the-bone capitalist, but I still think that if you are going to play a game, you should pay the money if you have money.

Edit2: And, what official localizations do, in my mind, is provide a much easier way to purchase Japanese games... especially since a lot of the Steam versions have the Japanese text selectable, lol. 

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Another thing is that most people in the community will never even try to experience fantl from the other side of things... they don't realize how much time it eats up, that emptiness you feel when you realize you've used dozens of hours of your personal time only to put out a patch that people bash left and right for 'errors' and other shit.   If you make a fantl patch good enough to attract a company's interest in a localization, please do cash in.  I'll cheer for you with all my heart (this statement is a generalized one directed to all fantl groups). 

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You are right for the most part, but if I may say... Don't forget this translation group that asked for donation along their progress of their project, then lied about their statut updtate for years because they were waiting for an answer of localization.

That's not a bad thing in itself, but do you think asking donation and lying for the statut while they were trying to sell out to the localization is a good thing? Localization is a good thing, but as long as you ask donation, you have to be fair and square...

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2 hours ago, Kirashi said:

You are right for the most part, but if I may say... Don't forget this translation group that asked for donation along their progress of their project, then lied about their statut updtate for years because they were waiting for an answer of localization.

That's not a bad thing in itself, but do you think asking donation and lying for the statut while they were trying to sell out to the localization is a good thing? Localization is a good thing, but as long as you ask donation, you have to be fair and square...

Regarding what you said, I'll respond by saying that those are merely supositions. Nobody outside Shinku Translations or Sekai Project knows what really happened, so yeah, commenting about it is pretty pointless since we don't even know what exactly happened in the first place.

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Eh? Why are you talking about Shinku translation here? As far as I know, they never asked donation (or maybe they did?)

I am talking about Kohaku Translation... What they did is for the less kinda dishonest... Just meaning that not only people but some translations group  deserve blame as well...

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6 minutes ago, Kirashi said:

Eh? Why are you talking about Shinku translation here? As far as I know, they never asked donation (or maybe they did?)

I am talking about Kohaku Translation... What they did is for the less kinda dishonest... Just meaning that not only people but some translations group  deserve blame as well...

Sorry about that, you should've said that in the first place, I messed things up, sorry :P.

Regarding Kohaku, I'm not very informed about the matter, but if there was proof that they deliberately asked for donations and then went official knowing that they were getting some revenue then that action could be definitely suable. Again, I have no ground to stand on in this case because I haven't researched Kohaku too much myself, but in my honest opinion fan-translation teams (whether they go official in the end or not) should NEVER hold a donations button, because it's unethical and contradicts the principal of "Fan-Translating" anyways.

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The real "silent majority" neither whines about fan translations nor supports them.  They simply download the patch when it's done and disappear; no thanks, no complaint.  Apathy is always the default response.  Remember that.

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Also, I find that those who complain about fan translation quality tend to fall into these categories:

  1. Other translators (or their followers) who don't like sharing the spotlight with groups whose "quality standards" are less than their own.
  2. Those who know Japanese and who criticize others to satisfy their inflated ego or boost their social standing.
  3. Those who believe that quality standards must be enforced by the community to prevent works of art from being "defiled".

Note that the first two groups aren't even your target audience.

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11 minutes ago, sanahtlig said:

Those who believe that quality standards must be enforced by the community to prevent works of art from being "defiled".

Yeah, this category is pretty subjective anyways, since everyone as an individual has its own quality standard, so in the end nobody ends up completely satisfied with the released patch. It's a sad circlejerk but this is the translation scene in a nutshell.

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Its always interesting to see the reaction of a gaming community to translators going legitimate. There is always a backlash routed in an entitlement. Why wouldn't someone seize the oppurtunity to turn years of hard work into a career? They clearly loved doing it and after a point you need to earn a living if you put the hours in.

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