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  1. Like
    tymmur reacted to Aizen-Sama for a blog entry, Dear Translation Requesters   
    Disclaimer: At the end of this post I get pretty salty, so be aware of that. This post endorses MY and MY OPINION ONLY. The numbers about the costs of a translation team were researched before putting them here.
    Hello guys. Aizen-Sama here with another spicy rant. Although I haven’t been around the forums as long as other users who have spent their time here several years (I have spent around 7 months more or less at the present time being) I have seen that there’s a huge problem that I’ve mostly seen here, in Fuwanovel, more than any other site that congregates VN fans. In fact, I think that this doesn’t happen anywhere but here, but again, what do I know? I don’t really visit Reddit nor 4chan that much, let alone interact there.

    Anyways, what I want to address is a problem that has been going on since the beginning stages of this site, and that problem is the Translation Requests, or what I like to call “e-beggars” (yes, I know this term has been invented already).

    First and foremost, the majority of people that make these Translation Request posts are usually new users and I’m fully aware of that. But this has been blowing up lately. I know that 4 posts in the last month and a half doesn’t sound like that much, but the proposals are getting so ridiculous that it’s hard to believe sometimes if the guys asking these things are for real or if they’re straight out trolling.

    Let’s take this post as a quick example. You’re scrolling through the forums and see this post, and then the thought comes to mind “Another typical Request Post. Sigh. Let’s see what this guy’s asking for…” and then you see this:

    These posts show nothing more than ignorance and arrogance, as well as no interest towards these groups they are begging to translate something for them. Do these people even understand what it takes to translate a medium length VN? A medium length, around the 35-40k line mark in my opinion, could easily take a year. And the guy in this post begged for 5 medium and long length VN’s to be translated, one of them being >50 hours long.

    But don’t be mistaken, the worst part about that post wasn’t the amount of VN’s he was begging for nor their length. It was the last statement: “Thanks in advance”. Although it sounds stupid, that’s what triggered me the most. A shitty “thanks in advance” is not something that motivates people to do these things. People have to put themselves in a translators’ shoes sometimes. Not only him, but also the people who aren’t translating, but the ones who edit the text, proofread it, the image editors, the quality checkers, etc… Do they think that the task can be easily done if the guy in question knows Japanese? Not even close.

    The secret of a translation project.

    I know this is hard to believe for the e-beggars, but the translation of a game requires an enormous amount of time, and one year to finish the TRANSLATION, not editing, of a medium length VN is a very decent deadline. And I’m talking about a medium length game, not a long one. Majo Koi has around 47k lines. Supposing it had one sole translator and the translator in question did 100 lines a day, the game would be finished in around 470 days approximately, this taking into account he diligently does 100 lines a day, no skipping, no nothing. Let’s convert that into hours spent in total, since that tends to shock people more; 470 days doing 100 lines a day, if the translator is an experienced one, meaning that he has done this before or is a professional in the field, he could get rid of that task in about an hour. But an amateur translator, basically the bulk of the community in itself when it comes to fan translations, could take around 1,5 or 2 hours to do the exact same number of lines. That could mean than in total, just translating could take from 470 hours for the experienced translator, which means around 20 full days translating something, to 705-940 hours for the amateur translator, which is around 30-40 days translating nonstop. And this would be just translation, I’m purposely taking out the other processes such as editing and QC’ing. Do you e-beggars understand the amount of work is being put in these projects? This is why Translation Request posts should be completely banned off this site and instantly deleted. Then again, where would I put my insulting memes towards the op’s to gain likes for no reason?

    Let’s throw in another question now that we’re shifting towards that matter: Is fan-translating Visual Novels even worth it in the first place?

    Before I answer (although it’s probably known what I’m going to say, given my tone) let me address this: I by no means think that fan-translation is bad, in fact, it has been the reason why we’re getting official localizations now and I think that no amount of praise of thanks can equate the amount of work the translators of these projects did in order for this genre to be known better in the Western community.

    But, as sad as it sounds, fan translating at this moment is not worth it. Why? I’ll put in some of the reasons:

    -          Although some members of the vocal community throw in the occasional thanks once the patch is out that’s all the team who translated the game gets. Nothing more, nothing less. Some people might say that recognition counts as some sort of reward as well, but personally I don’t think that’s the case.
    -          No reviews of the translated VN’s are usually made (this is what in my opinion spreads the awareness of these games), only discussion threads are made, which is pretty sad in my opinion.
    -          I’m going to quote something that Clephas said in one of my posts, that sums up this next point:  “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.”
    -          The work put in to translate the game itself is not worth, meaning that the compensation that the translator/team worked for it is not even close enough to what they should be getting.
    Lastly, I want to address the problem that comes with donations, awareness of localization costs/translation costs, and ignorance.

    I’ll cut to the chase; for the people that think that with donations alone you can “pay” a translator to do some kind of game, you’re WRONG. Let’s put an example of what could a medium VN translation cost: let’s suppose that the team consists of three persons, to translate a 1.5 million jp character VN (equating to a 45k line count approximately). The translator gets 1 cent per Japanese character, the editor gets 1 cent per English word and the QC gets a quarter of a cent for each English word. In total, the final price equates to 33k dollars JUST FOR THE TEAM TO TRANSLATE A SINGLE VN. And these prices are apparently pretty shitty for a translator, so yeah, there you go. Besides, why donating a random group of guys, who could easily run away with the money and machine translate the game, or not even translate the game at all, when you can just support the official localizers? Contrary to what some people think they are actually releasing more games than ever and the 18+ industry in the scene has never seen so many official releases ever.

    Summing up this 3 page-long essay of frustration:

    1.       Please for the love of god don’t e-beg or Request for translations. Just no, it triggers people off and it only shows how ignorant you are about what happens behind the scenes.
    2.       Fan Translating in this actual moment is NOT WORTH, only people who are very commited and have a strong resolution will be able to start one, and very few out of those will actually finish the project.
    3.       Donations are NOT a solution to encourage Fan Translation, it ruins the very concept of it and it’s also ILLEGAL. Don’t support an already illegal activity by paying it.
    4.       Before posting retarded shit on the forums please look for other posts similar to what you might want to post. Maybe looking at the responses could enlighten you and help the other users not waste their time by reading the same shit over and over again.
    5.       Before criticizing Translations and patches for “errors” and “typos” and being a little whining bitch how about you try to show interest on how much effort people put on the translation of these games behind the scenes? (This goes solely to the people that haven't experienced working on a fan translation and whine non-stop about "how bad the translation of this is" and blah blah blah.)
    Anyways, I think that’s all the rage out. For those of you who haven’t dozed off already have a nice day and all of that stuff.

    And if you smash that like button you will get your very own… DIES IRAE MACHINE TRANSLATED PATCH. Yes! This is not a scam at all, your own personal Dies Irae Machine Translated patch. If you leave a like you can choose between a Google, Bing, or a Skype translated patch. I’ve invested so many hours on them, it was totally worth though ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°).

  2. Like
    tymmur reacted to Aizen-Sama for a blog entry, A rant about the translation scene and the community revolving it.   
    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.

    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.

    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.

    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).

    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.
  3. Like
    tymmur reacted to Darbury for a blog entry, Shameless Plug: Majo Koi Nikki (Trial) English TL release   
    Another quick project plug: Luna Translations just released their v1.0 English patch for the Majo Koi Nikki (a.k.a. Witch's Love Diary) demo. And guess what? You should totally go get it. I've been helping out with their proofreading, and I can tell you they've done a bang-up job so far.
    Best part? It's super easy to obtain. Qoobrand offers the trial, which covers the game's prologue, as a free download on their site. (You'll want to grab the first one, not Trial 2.) Just download it, patch it up, and Robert's your mother's brother. Just so you know, he gets a little grabby after two or three scotches.
    It should also be said that Qoobrand jammed a bunch of H-scenes into the early hours of MajoKoi. Consider that fair warning... or the clang of a dinner bell, if you're hungry for that sort of thing. Unlike a lot of VNs, however, those sections are there for a reason.* MajoKoi is set up as an intricate puzzle, and the oddly early placement of the H is all part of the larger mystery.
    So go on — pull up a chair, order yourself a Dragon Burger (medium rare), and settle in for a small taste of what Majo Koi Nikki has to offer.
    Trial download: http://qoo.amuse-c.jp/01_mazyokoi/download.html
    English patch download: https://lunatranslationstestsite.wordpress.com/downloads/
    * Not a good reason. But a better reason than most, at least.
  4. Like
    tymmur reacted to Fred the Barber for a blog entry, What Is Editing? (baby don't hurt me)   
    My blog posts so far have mostly been about how to edit. That holds true for most every other VN editing blog I've ever seen as well. But I'm a really big believer in approaching any significant task from a "Why, What, How" perspective. So now, let's try to answer those first two questions.
    Even "What Is Editing" would be starting in too far (it made for a better title, so sue me). Let's start with this: why do translation projects, or even original fiction projects like novels, have editors?
    The goal of editing is to help the author achieve their goals.
    An author brings a whole lot of goals to the table: a story, characters with personalities and motivations, a setting, overarching motifs, style, ... probably a lot of other stuff I forgot. Anyway, you get the idea; there's a lot there which they're just trying to get out on paper (or bits, or whatever) and then into your brain.
    An editor doesn't bring any of that stuff. An editor instead strives to understand all of these things the author wants to communicate, finds the points where they can be better achieved, and refines the text to better achieve the author's goals. Although there's obviously some overlap, there are quite different skill sets involved in the raw writing and the editing, and thus the two roles are often fulfilled by two people.
    How about for a translated VN, rather than for, say, writing a novel? The story is roughly the same, actually. Although the translator has essentially the same goals as the editor in this case, the skill sets required are quite different, and thus differentiating the two roles is not uncommon and frequently beneficial to the project, for the same reasons as it is with original writing and editing.
    I'll also add that an original writer is usually considered "too close" to the original text to make a good editor. Even a writer who is also a great editor will benefit from having someone else edit their manuscript. I haven't heard the same thing said of translators, though, so that might not be relevant to this special case. But the skill set differentiation point still stands in the case of translation.
    Assuming you're satisfied with that explanation for Why, let's move on to What.
    Professional manuscript editing typically distinguishes four kinds of editing: developmental editing, line editing, copy editing, and proofreading. Those are ordered based on both the scope of changes they make, and also the chronological order in which you should do them: developmental editing is very macroscopic and happens first, while proofreading is very microscopic and happens last. Let's drill into each:
    Developmental Editing
    Developmental editing is, first, the act of identifying all of those authorial goals I mentioned, and second the act of cutting, rearranging, and adding large chunks (think: add this whole new scene, cut that whole character) in order to advance the author's goals.
    Obviously, that second half isn't applicable to VN translation. You're not going to cut whole scenes or change how characters behave. Those decisions have already long since been made by the original writers, hopefully with the help of an editor of their own ;).
    But the first half is essential, and is quite a bit harder in VN translation, since you generally can't actually talk to the writer. Read it all, understand the authorial goals, and build a strong, consistent interpretation of the plot, the characters, the motifs, the setting, the tone, everything you can think of. If you don't form an interpretation while translating/editing, you're liable to thwart the author's goals as part of your translation, and as a result accidentally obscure or entirely lose key points of the original intent. Of course, you'll occasionally make mistakes in your interpretation, resulting in mistakes in translation. But if you don't even form an interpretation, the result will actually be worse: you'll still make mistakes in the translation, and the resulting translation will certainly be internally inconsistent, but you won't notice those internal inconsistencies because you have no guiding interpretation. If you form a consistent interpretation and let it guide your translation, when the text goes against your interpretation, the resulting inconsistency means you'll notice it, correct your interpretation, and then go back and modify your translation to fit the corrected interpretation.
    Line Editing
    Line editing is about assessing and fixing the flow of a scene and the flow of a line. It's about logic, language, word choice, rhythm, the mechanics of a sentence, and the sound of human speech. It is not concerned with grammatical errors, punctuation, and spelling, but more with higher-level ideas like tone, emotion, and atmosphere. A line editor worries whether a sentence ought to be punchy or loquacious, not whether it has all the commas in all the right places.
    "Logic" probably seemed a bit out of place there, so let me give an example for that one in particular, since it's essential. For example, unless you're editing the VN equivalent of a Beckett play (and if you are, please point me to that VN, because I'm interested), one dialog line should generally be a logical response to the previous one. A canny line editor will ensure the logical flow from event to event, line to line, and even scene to scene, ensuring consistency of the narration.
    This is also where all that authorial intent mentioned above comes into play: an editor in this capacity should also be ensuring consistency of a line with those overarching goals. A good line editor will help ensure that characterization is consistent, for instance, or that a motif is not buried inappropriately. An editor, in their avatar as the keeper of consistency, is crucial to achieving those authorial goals.
    The prose side of line editing is also key simply because stilted speech, unnatural utterances, redundant repetition, awkward alliteration, and their ilk all kick you out of the immersion. Your brain wants to keep reading something when it flows well. And nothing hits softer than shitty prose.
    Line editing is the meat of VN editing. It's what most existing VN editing blogs are about, not coincidentally. If you're an editor for a VN, line editing is what you should be thinking about constantly.
    In addition to recommending other VN editing blogs, notably Darbury's blog (mostly about line editing, though all the punctuation ones are more about copy editing) and Moogy's now-ancient blog post (basically all about line editing), I'll also suggest you go read up on line editing in a general setting. A quick search for "what is line editing" will lead you to mountains of useful links. As a random example, this is one such useful link, and it's hilarious, well-written, and edifying: http://www.thereviewreview.net/publishing-tips/short-course-line-editing. There is a veritable sea of such articles on the internet. Read them.
    Copy Editing
    Copy editing is about the nuts and bolts of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. It's not the same as proofreading, but it's getting close. The copy editor typically should select and enforce an appropriate style manual (AP, Chicago, MLA, take your pick). The copy editor is the person who gets mad when you write "I baked 7 blackbirds into that pie." instead of "I baked seven blackbirds into that pie.", and who calmly, patiently replaces all your misused hyphens in the middle of sentences with em-dashes.
    You're unlikely to have a dedicated copy editor on a VN project; if you've got the "editor" role, you're probably it. I think this is along the lines of what most people think of already when they hear "editing" anyway, but really the line editing is the most important to the enjoyment of the text. Still, the picky people among us can get awfully uppity if you start putting in stuff like ellipses with four dots and inconsistent use of the Oxford comma (sidebar for the attentive: I'm for it, as you've already noticed). Copy editing is a particularly thankless job, since it's not like you can do an exceptional job of copy editing and really salvage a bad manuscript, but poor copy editing can certainly hurt an otherwise-good manuscript. So it's worth investing the time in doing it carefully.
    One important recommendation for copy editing: take notes and build up a style document and glossary for your VN as you go. Are honorifics being used? What about name order? If you're going to romanize some words, is your romanization consistent? Do you 1) always write "senpai", 2) always write "sempai", or 3) mix and match? I don't care if it's 1 or 2, but it better not be 3. Write conventions like this in a shared document and make sure everybody knows about the conventions and the document.
    Proofreading is the final stage of this pipeline. The role includes checking for grammatical errors, spelling errors, punctuation errors, typos, and perhaps some more exotic things like incorrect English dialect. It's straightforward and mechanical. Like copy editing, it is essentially thankless. It is, nonetheless, important. While you're making big sweeping edits doing all the stuff above, you're going to create tons of errors at this level. They need to be fixed. Make sure you have someone (preferably not the "editor", because they're too close to the text) do a proofreading sweep. You can lump it into QC if you like, but make sure that whoever is assigned to do this is looking at it carefully. Check. Every. Single. Word. There are errors in there, I guarantee you, and they're embarrassing. Getting the number of errors down to near-zero before you release your translation is going to make both you and your audience happier.
    In Summary
    There's not one editor; there are four. In an ideal world, with original fiction, you'd actually have someone separate filling each role. For a translation you don't need a developmental editor, leaving you needing three editors. In the non-ideal world you live in, you've probably got at least two of those roles to yourself. Push for someone else to handle proofreading, at least (call it "QC" if you have to), and make sure said person has the necessary ability and attention to detail. If you're the "editor", then you're almost certainly doing both line editing and copy editing. When that happens, make sure you keep a balance amongst all the things you need to do: for instance, spend 10% of your effort trying to understand what the author is trying to achieve, 88% of your effort on line editing (it's the meat, after all), and 2% on copy editing the little details like punctuation, romanization, etc.
    And If You Can Only Remember One Thing
    Focus on line editing.
  5. Like
    tymmur reacted to Fiddle for a blog entry, THIS LAMP SUCKS   

  6. Like
    tymmur reacted to Fred the Barber for a blog entry, Writing more powerful sentences   
    Last time I talked about trade-offs in editing and high-level motifs; macro-scale stuff. This time, I want to talk about a micro-scale topic: how to make an individual line better. As before, I'll be demonstrating this with examples drawn from recent editing experience. Before writing this post, I went around looking for other people talking about similar things, and I found this reference: http://kristensguide.com/Writing/powerful_sentences.asp. Frankly, it's great; probably better than what I have, especially in terms of breadth of topics. Give it a read and get your editing learning on. For this post, I'm going to deep dive into one single topic mentioned there, though, for which I've been saving up examples: putting the first and last words of your sentence to good use.
    The first and last words of a sentence are powerful. They're memorable. Forgetting the middle of a sentence is natural, so put a word at the end of a sentence when you really, really want that one word to be remembered.
    Okay, so what did you get from that last paragraph. I hope it was "first", "powerful", "memorable", "forgetting", and "remembered", because that's the point of this blog post.
    Anyway, let's look at some examples from my recent edits to Majo Koi Nikki, some to the prologue patch we're about to release, and some later. I'll point out other things that I changed as well and why, but this one point is going to be the running theme.
      Looking in the mirror, she pondered for a second and answered with a shy smile on her face.
    Potential problems:
    - "on her face" is extraneous
    - that extraneous phrase is squatting on valuable real estate at the end of the sentence.
      Looking in the mirror, she pondered for a second, and then she answered with a shy smile.
    - drop "on her face" (for both reasons above - it's less verbose, and now I get "smile" as the last word in the sentence, which is great)
    - the comma after "she ponders for a second" is intended to give the reader that same mental pause as "she" has, to better set up the last part
    - "then she" somehow pushes you out of that mental pause and into the most important part: that shy smile, lingering at the end of the sentence.
      Tokeizaka-san irritatedly flips through the book, but her hand stops suddenly.
    Potential problems:
    - With the benefit of spell-check, "irritatedly" => irritably
    - "suddenly" is often overused
    I actually really like the original; if you left it alone, aside from the spell-check correction, I wouldn't fault you for it. The verbs are great, "irritably" is a good use of a modifier, and the sentence communicates multiple events very concisely. But there's always room for improvement.
      Irritated, Tokeizaka-san flips through the book, until her hand suddenly stops.
    - Drop "suddenly." "Stops" is strong enough to carry that feeling of suddenness on its own, so "suddenly" is only making things weaker. I've also noticed a tendency for raw JP translations to overuse "suddenly", which makes me especially biased to remove it. It's the typical problem of overuse: if everything is happening suddenly, it might as well all be happening normally.
    - Move those good words, "irritably" and "stops" to the memorable points of the sentence. "Stops" we got for free, "irritably" requires a small bit of juggling. Unfortunately, Tokeizaka-san's family name is a bit unwieldy at best; better to bury it in the middle of the sentence and let the nice, emotive words take pride of place.
    - Swapping "but" for "until" made for a clearer plot to the sentence, I thought.
    - The colorful beauty article are displayed neatly.
    Potential problems:
    - Engrish
    - Passive voice
    - Not flashy enough
    - Iridescent beauty products dot the shelves, arranged with flawless precision.

    On that last potential problem: normally my style is pretty spare. My typical goal is to drop adjectives and adverbs, and make verbs and nouns stronger to carry the weight of description, without going overboard on vocabulary. More often than not, I'm trying to make long sentences shorter and punchier.
    I didn't do that here.
    For context on why, it would help for you to hear the ridiculously high-brow BGM accompanying this scene and see the gorgeous background art. So, here:

    Equally important for context, you need to know about the surrounding narration: basically, the narrator is currently marveling at just how amazing this beauty parlor is.
    One of the benefits of generally being spare with your adjectives and adverbs is that they then work a lot better when you actually do pull them out. A good mental model is that you have a budget: don't spend your nice words if you don't need to. Only pull them out when you're going for the razzle dazzle. The analogy breaks down fast, but basically, if you're constantly using flowery language and overdecorating the ordinary scenes, nobody's going to be impressed when something extraordinary happens, just like the overuse of "suddenly" I mentioned earlier. Since this actually is an extraordinary moment for our narrator, I'm spending a few nice words now.
    And again, I want to call attention to the first and last words of the sentence. Those are strong places in a sentence (or, especially in the case of a VN, a line). Previously there were pretty weak words there ("The colorful" and "neatly"); now we've got "iridescent" and "precision". Good words in good places.
    One last thing to mention. I wrote each of these up in the middle of editing, and then later edited that up into a blog post. I made changes to the edited line itself in the process of writing all this stuff up, which made it better. In fact, I even noticed a problem while writing up this blog post and further refined the line. You'll never know what it was (probably). The point being, simply spending time reflecting on an edit, and especially writing down your observations and motivations for certain choices, will help you do better work. You don't have to be this thorough all the time (I certainly am not), but every time you do an exercise like that, you'll learn from it, and then you can write up your own blog post and teach me something.
  7. Like
    tymmur reacted to Darbury for a blog entry, Waving goodbye to the wave dash ( 〜 ) in VN translations   
    Another day, another deep dive into the esoterica of visual novel punctuation. Next on our chopping block: the wave dash ( 〜 ), which looks an awful lot like the Western tilde (~) but functions nothing like it. Our refrain here is a familiar one: the wave dash has no place in well-localized English VNs and should be removed or replaced wherever possible. No ifs, no ands, but one very small but.
    How 〜  functions in Japanese
    The wave dash has several fairly pedestrian functions in written Japanese, including separating ranges of values, which is handled by the en-dash (–) in English; denoting geographic origins; and separating title from subtitle, which is handled by the colon in English (e.g., Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo). These are all fairly boring, however, and if you’re an editor, your translator should already have converted such wave dashes to their Western equivalents.
    Where things get interesting, and by “interesting” I mean “annoying,” is when we start looking at some more colloquial uses that pop up in translated VNs with alarming frequency.
    The wave dash can be used to elongate and modulate a vowel sound, much like the long vowel mark (ー) in katakana. You’ll sometimes find 〜  applied to the end of a word, and it’s implied that this longer sound is audibly “brighter.” Terms like “uptalk,” “vibrato/tremolo,” “kawaii” and “girlish” get thrown around a lot. (Think of the stereotypically perky “Ohayooooo” morning greeting you often hear in VNs or anime.) It’s usually a deliberate choice by the character, done to sound cute, funny, etc.. The wave dash can also be added to the end of a sentence to suggest the entire line should be read with that same brighter inflection – a happy sing-song of sorts. Or sometimes, it can signify literal musicality, as in the line should actually be sung. “Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day〜 ” Less frequently, and usually in the context of digital communications, the wave dash can be used to suggest that a word or sentence should be read as being ironic/sarcastic. “Oh great. What a beautiful morning 〜 ” As you can see, there are a bunch of possible readings of any given wave dash, and the correct interpretation depends largely on textual and cultural context. Add in the fact that 〜 is non-standard English punctuation that your average non-otaku isn't familiar with (never mind its various nuances), and it seems like a no-brainer to dump it and convey the intended meaning in clean, clear English instead.
    But no. For some fecking reason, VNs are littered with these fecking squigglers. They’re fecking everywhere, like that scene in The Lost Boys where one of the Coreys, I don’t know which goddamn one, starts eating a takeout container of lo mein but Kiefer Sutherland or some other vampire guy gets all vampirey and is like, “Nuh-uh, Corey” and that selfsame Corey suddenly looks down and his delicious noodles have turned into thousands of these wriggling, white maggots and he can’t vom fast enough.
    It’s literally like that. Literally.
    The answer? Get rid of them.
    Do your readers a kindness and remove wave dashes wherever you encounter them. If your translator has done their job right, you’ll have all the context you need to turn those dashes into well-formed English that anyone can understand. That doesn’t always mean stretching out the last letters preceding the wave dash, mind you. That ways lies disasteeeeeer. All you need to do is ask yourself one simple question: How would it sound natural if a native English-speaker rephrased this line? That’s it!
    Let’s look at some examples. The easiest is where the English usage matches the Japanese, such as stretching out a vowel. So imagine a character walks into a dark and spooky house, then calls out to see if anyone’s home.
    What about cute inflections? Well, English is a rich language; there are plenty of ways to make a sentence sound perkier:
    There’s no magic formula, and it's not rocket science. It's just sitting down and rewriting. And if you’re doing your job as an editor, you should pretty much be rewriting every single line anyway, so it’s no added hardship.
    The one, small exception
    If you remember, I mentioned digital communications a little earlier. This is the one place where I’d recommend you let a sleeping wave dash lie. Typographical oddities (such as emoticons) are part and parcel of the electronic vernacular, so it feels much more natural to let them stay in a text or an IM that’s being quoted verbatim. You want your reader to feel like they’re seeing exactly what the character has on their screen. Just make sure you’ve edited these lines so the English meaning will still be clear if the wave dashes were removed.
    After all, there’s a world of difference between “Great advice, Darbury 〜 ” and “Great advice, Darbury 〜 ”
  8. Like
    tymmur reacted to Fred the Barber for a blog entry, Everything's Coming Up Roses   
    Since the translated prologue script for Majo Koi Nikki is more or less finalized, I decided to kill two birds with one stone. So here I am, kicking off the editing blog I've been meaning to work on for a while, and also trying to build some hype for our TL project, where we are planning to release a patch for the official free trial version of the game soon, as a signal of how things are going towards our final patch for the full game.
    Like many things in life, translating occasionally means making trade-offs. With a large text, some detail and nuance isn't going to come through, regardless of how good at it you are. As a translator, TLC, or editor, one prime responsibility you have is to identify as many of those nuances and references as you can. But even if you're quite successful on that mark, you'll still occasionally be faced with a set of translation options that precludes maintaining everything; even among the nuances you found, something must be lost in translation. What should you do? Simple: evaluate your options and choose the best trade-off available. This is a story about a trade-off.

    The first sentence of the VNDB summary of Majo Koi Nikki (courtesy of these fine fellows) is: "Alice lives alone in an old barber shop in the shopping district of the rose-colored town." Rose-colored town? Now, don't get me wrong, there's a whole lot of pink in this game, especially in the UI, but the city itself isn't anything you could call rose-colored, unless you were talking about plant stems. See the below night-time aerial shot of the town for reference to how not pink it is, as well as just how pink the UI is. So where did that oddly specific phrase come from?
    Well, it turns out there's this Japanese phrase, バラ色, appearing all over the original script. It'd be pronounced "barairo", and literally translated, it of course means rose-colored. It most commonly appears modifying a word for town/block/neighborhood (that's their "rose-colored town"), and then with that it also appears modifying a shopping district (finally giving the "shopping district of the rose-colored town" in the VNDB summary). It also modifies a train station; obviously the train station located in that neighborhood. The first translator to come across this phrase, recognizing it as a neighborhood name, just romanized it: "Barairo District", "Barairo Station", "Barairo shopping district". The last phrase has a minor issue (you might wonder, is it a subset of Barairo District, or just a different name for the same whole place? it's the former), but there is a bigger problem here.
    First off, having multiple translators on the project gave us an interesting view: the phrase got translations as varied as "rose town" and "the pink district". And that spurred us towards consciously thinking: isn't some obsession with pinkness, flowers, or roses kind of an important thing in this game?

    Definitely more green than rose-colored. Alas, this map view and its cute chibi sprites aren't part of the free trial.
    I'm writing this blog, of course, because the answer was yes. Rose-colored stuff are an obvious and important motif. And better yet, pretty much every time the writer wanted to put that motif to use, this exact adjective, "barairo", is the word used in the original JP text to signal it. One late-breaking character in the prologue actually has "Barairo" in his full title, and his nickname is a portmanteau of his title: "Baragon". If that's not enough, meanwhile, the adjective "barairo" is the crux of what I view as probably the most important line in the whole prologue (which I'm not going to say any more about; gotta save the goodies for later, after all).
    To a Japanese speaker, all these things will layer over each other with no problem; it's the same word, after all. But we're not going to literally change that character's name even if it sounded remotely natural to call this guy "Rose-coloredgon" (or, God forbid, "Rogon"; sounds like a hygiene product), and we can't start using "barairo" in English as an adjective to say something is rose-colored; something's got to give.
    So here's the trade-off we made. First of all, the "Barairo District" gets an English-translated proper name: Rose Village. Sounds nice and quaint, though we technically lost the color from the literal translation. The whole English phrase "rose-colored" starts sounding cumbersome when you try to put it in a proper name, hence, Rose Village. Doesn't it sound like a great place to go get a haircut? "Rose Village Station" and "the Rose Village shopping district" fall out of this naming pretty naturally and sound fine.
    For the cases where the phrase was simply used as an adjective, rather than a proper name, we're consistently using the adjective "rosy", to get maximum resonance with all the roses we just strewed around the text.
    Now what about that guy with "Barairo" in his full title? Similarly, it got turned into "Rose"; his title sounds pretty good that way. I'm not telling you what it is. And his nickname? Still Baragon. Which is no longer a portmanteau. That's what we lost. That's the nature of a trade-off. It's unfortunate, but all things considered, it's a small sacrifice for the greater good.
    And what did we get in trade? Why, only all those lovely roses that the English readers will now see and connect together in their minds, consciously or unconsciously, and which should resonate strongly with the pink UI and pink CGs you'll come across while reading this lovely VN.
    The patch for the free trial of Majo Koi Nikki isn't out yet, but it's on its way. If you're the romantic type, maybe think of it as a bouquet of roses, from us to you. Enjoy!
  9. Like
    tymmur reacted to Darbury for a blog entry, Kiss Kiss, Interrobang Bang (?! and !? in VNs)   
    Next up in our parade of visual novel punctuation: the interrobang. That’s right, I said the interrobang. Can you believe it?!   Huh?! What the hell's an interrobang?! "Interrobang" is the term we'll borrow to describe that little dogpile of punctuation, usually represented as ?! or !?, that sits at the end of nearly every question in a visual novel. It's meant to convey incredulity, combining elements of both a question and an exclamation. And, since the typical VN's stock-in-trade is exaggerated emotion, you'll end up seeing it a lot. Because why have your characters simply ask a question when they can GODDAMN SCREAM IT at Samuel L. Jackson levels.   I mentioned we're borrowing the term. The actual interrobang (‽, a ? combined with a !) is a bizarro punctuation mark crowdsourced by an ad agency back in 1962, along with the term “interrobang” itself. (If Wikipedia is to be believed, other suggested names included “QuizDing," “exclamaquest," and “exclarotive.”) It fell out of fashion after the 1960s, though, so you'll rarely see it in the wild. Still, it lurks in the Unicode of a few fonts here and there, lingering on like some creepy conjoined twins left chained to a steam pipe in the dark basement of the English language.   In the meantime, we'll appropriate it here to describe its unpacked counterparts, !? and ?!.   So is it “!?” or the other way around?! Now that we know what our faux interrobang does, our next concern is how it should be edited. Do we (!?) shoot first and ask questions later or (?!) vice versa? There’s little agreement among language mavens as to which is correct, and most VN scripts I’ve seen switch between the two on a whim — sometimes in the very same line. Thus, it falls to the editor and/or translator to impose some order on the situation.   The simple answer: Pick one and stick with it; I don't really care which. Consistency is our primary concern here. The standard emoji character set uses !?, so you'd be entirely justified in rolling with that. Some argue that !? is also more typographically appealing, and I'd tend to agree. However...   The advanced answer: My own preference is to switch between the two on a case-by-case basis, with ?! winning out 95% of the time. That's because I tend to think in terms of nested levels of punctuation, rather than a monolithic model. Which is to say, the sentence   should be read structurally as:
    with the ! modifying a base question and turning it into an exclamation. Since that’s what the interrobang typically does, I end up using ?! in almost all instances. But there are exceptions. Imagine some friends who find out they've won a contest to meet David Hasselhoff. Mid-celebration, it occurs to them they didn't actually enter, so there's no way they should have won.
    Here, a base exclamatory statement is being modified into a question: (We did it!)? so !? would be the more appropriate choice. This kind of usage requires an editor or translator to make lots of judgement calls, however. If you don’t feel comfortable getting that deep into the contextual weeds, there’s absolutely no shame in going the simple route and using one option across the board.
    What about interrogangbangs?!?!? Last but not least, we have the situation where a character goes into full freakout mode and says things like:   In these cases, make sure the first piece of punctuation aligns with the intent of original sentence — is it an exclamation or a question? — then keep the rest of the punctuation exactly as it appears. Or, if you’re opting for the simple method, don’t change a thing. Just stick with the punctuation as provided and keep on walking. It’s what The Hoff would want.
  10. Like
    tymmur reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, The spirit of an older gamer: Why I play games and why other people play games   
    I've been playing video games more or less constantly for over twenty-five years. 
    That's a very simple statement that holds a surprising amount of meaning, considering how much video games have changed since I first began playing them.
    It began with the NES, for me... with Mario, Luigi, and the ducks.  I shot ducks out of the air, I jumped Mario across gaps and on top of turtles, without ever really understanding what was going on.  As a kid, this was fun, seriously.  Understand, this is the biggest point I am going to try to get across here... the difference between addiction and fun with video games.
    I played rpgs, primarily jrpgs, throughout most of my first ten years as a gamer, starting with Dragon Warrior (Dragon Quest), eventually reaching levels of true love with Final Fantasy II and III (IV and VI), Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, Secret of Evermore, and Ogre Battle.  When the era of cd-gaming came, I played D&D dungeon-crawlers on a shitty dos computer setup, and I played every jrpg I could get my hands on, with a lot of shooters, strategy games, and sports games mixed in. 
    Throughout all of that, I was still having fun.  Fun was my reason for continuing (I've always been a story-centric player, so I tended to stick with jrpgs, but I did play a lot of other stuff) and my reason for playing in the first place.
    It was in the PS2 era that I first came to recognize the difference between taking pleasure in playing something and merely being addicted to it.  I picked up FFXI and started playing it on the PS2 (yes, it was possible to play it on the PS2), and for the first time, I knew addiction... for the first time, I poured hour after hour, day after day, into a game that I wasn't having any fun at.
    I was constantly irritated, constantly driven to continue, whether for social reasons (friends I'd made in-game) or simply because I felt like I was 'almost there'. 
    Then, one day, I suddenly looked up and realized... I was immensely depressed and not enjoying anything about the game.  The sense of having wasted my time... sent me into a funk that lasted the better part of a year.  I still played games, but the color seemed to leech out of the screen even as I played them.  I realized that I was seeing bits of FFXI in other games, and that was enough of a reason for me to actively hate them.
    No game hit me this way more than FFXII... because FFXII's battle system is essentially that of FFXI with some tweaks.  Visually, it was a nightmare, and the weak story and characters only made it worse for me.
    Ironically, it was the realization that I honestly didn't trust Squeenix to provide pleasurable games anymore that led me to start playing a lot of the weirder stuff out there... such as Eternal Darkness for the gamecube and the SMT series.  Ultimately, because I'd become very much aware of the difference between pleasure and addiction, I lost interest in games that I would once have jumped onto simply because they were jrpgs or done in a style I found interesting.  I started abusing Gamestop's used game 'seven-day return policy' to demo games, and I slowly but surely came to realize that I honestly and truly hate multiplayer games that aren't played in the same room. 
    I am now an unabashed solo gamer, even outside of VNs.  I won't play most multiplayer games at all, and I hate games where the social element is as or more important than the actual gameplay or story.  Of course, if a game has an interesting concept, I'll try it... but if I feel that sensation I used to get from FFXI, I drop it immediately, cancelling all subscriptions and discarding all related materials without a second thought, even if I paid a good deal of money for them. 
    To be blunt, life is too short to waste on playing something that is merely addictive (this coming from a VN junkie, I know).  That sensation of false social interaction you get from online gaming and the high you get from winning in competitive games is highly addictive... but are you having fun, really? I wonder, how many younger gamers actually know what it is like to enjoy a video game, rather than simply being addicted to one?  This is a question that seriously bothers me, as I saw my young cousin playing Call of Duty (whatever the latest one is) online, unsmiling, for two days straight while we were staying at their place a few months back.  He really, really wasn't enjoying himself.  He was angry, depressed, and frustrated, but I never saw even a hint of a smile when he won, only this vague expression of relief he probably thought was a smile.  Was that relief that his team-mates weren't treating him like a worthless noob or an incompetent, or was it simply because the match was over and he could relax?  I don't know, because I didn't ask.  I know from experience that the difference between addiction and fun is fine enough that most people don't even recognize it is there until they are forced to.
    What are your experiences, gamers of Fuwa?
  11. Like
    tymmur reacted to Arcadeotic for a blog entry, The Best Eroge Ever   
    Let's find out then, because I have way too much time to waste to do something ACTUALLY useful, and thus we arrive at this point, with a brand-new mistake I can lament about when I eventually get ripped apart by a group of ravenous 12-year old, overly sexually active fuccboi-weebs who can't see a difference between the totally obviously right opinion and their own.

    It already seems like the greatest thing ever seen by man
    I remember when I played Kusoge. I also remember the gallons of dead cells I vomited and the amounts of fecal matter I 'outsourced' after I finished that, well, shit. Now I'm experiencing that joy and masochistic heaven again. Goody.
    But still, The Best Eroge Ever, or TBEE, which I'm going to adress it in the future because writing words are hard, is created by our very own omnipotent shitlord, hipster and Twitter connoseur, Moogy. And oh boy, did he do good. Where as Kusoge was a satire with actual effort put into it for god know what reason, TBEE is just a pile of flaming poop used as ammo for the hate- and sick-burn-catapultsTM for all things in the VN medium. From Jun Maeda to Nasu to Japanese culture (sort of. Melon bread and shit. I have no idea).

    Yeah. The game's pretty ruthless and it's funnier that way.
    The game follows some guy named Muugi, who's name totally doesn't reek of nihilism, who attends at Sugoi Gakuen (TL Note: Sugoi Gakuen means 'Amazing' and 'School' respectively). Nothing else is really built upon the character, except that he enjoys the lifestyle of screwing every shoujo (TL Note: stuff means girl, oki?) in sight. Apparently, every morning going to school, he fucks about five to six nekomimis or whatever along the way, so he has to leave to school an hour early, probably a pan (TLN: bread, you dirty weeb) in his mouth, possibly of the meron type. His parents also were killed by evil vampire demon zombies, so that's a thing. He also has some amounts of imoutos (little sisters), osananajimis (childhood friends), iinchous (class represetatives) and lolis (NO), possibly amounting in thousands each, but the largest we see is the MC mentioning Loli #71, but apparently there's over 9000 heroines and the script is over 5000 MBs. We never see more than 5 minutes worth of text, possibly amounting to 2 kBs, but hey, it's there.

    No words left to give. I'm pretty tired. FeelsBadMan
    All in all, I'd say the story is pretty goddamn ridiculous and all over the place, but it's all just a flaming shitstorm-inferno so I guess it's all par to the course. There's some sensei-fucking (meaning a black screen and a text 'And then we fucked.'), some utter pwnaged and fucking every girl in sight, and that's about it for the game. Sorry Moogy, I won't be giving you a hundred bucks.
    If I were to say which one is better, Kusoge or The Best Shitstorm Ever, I'd had to say Kusoge. While this abomination has more references specifically to the VN-scene, Kusoge just has better everything. I'm also pretty sure that this was made while not being high on thousands of different shrooms, which can't be said about Kusoge. This was a nice, maybe 5-10 minutes of wasting my precious life away for the sake of making this shitpost on my blog. Was it worth it? Nah, thanks Narcosis. Was it fun as hell? Well, yes, obviously. Play it and possibly donate 100$ to Moogy-sama.
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