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Optimistic;Nihlist

Fan Translations Are Nearly Dead?

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    I've noticed very little active development in Visual Novels or anything of the sort. Some of my favorite games are visual novels, but I can't say I'm too aware of the translation scene. I looked at translation projects happening right now and... well there basically are none. How long has this decline been happening for?

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VNs in general are doing fine, but yeah, the fan translation scene is running out of steam fast. I'd consider it a natural evolution of things - most dedicated fan translators worked to create the official VN market and now they're mostly working there, or moved on with their lives and can't afford to put in hundreds of hours in free labour anymore. They won, in a sense, creating the foothold that now proffessional companies stepped into and while the official scene might not be all hearts and flowers, it puts out more quality content that an average person can ever hope to read through.

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There are definitely alive projects around, and not all of them have threads on this forum, but look around and you'll find them. However, what @Plk_Lesiak says is basically correct, the fan translation scene has mostly achieved what its aim was - to make for more consistent and a wider range of English releases on a professional level. It hasn't reached the level of success that the anime market has, but it's improved out of sight compared to a decade ago. Most people with enough skills to actually do a decent VN translation are usually looking for translation work long term (unlike myself) and eventually get snapped up or contracted by an official company. This usually kills off their ability to work on fan translation even if they want to.

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2 hours ago, ArgentstR said:

If you haven't seen it, this thread probably lists most of them.

Oh yeah, I should frequent the subreddit more often; it's how I discovered many pretty good (though still untranslated VNs) like Axanael.

 

It's pretty unfortunate the way it went, but I guess if there is more professional translation happening that works out too.

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If we look it from the another angle, actually fan translation was still around though. Except that most of the translation was becoming legal, and therefore we need to purchase it. I admit that it sounds confusing, so let me to explain it. To put it simply, some of the VNs out there was translated by the people who coincidentally the fan of said work. Said work was including stuff like Damekoi, Evenicle, and Dies Irae, so I think it wouldn't be a stretch if we call those works as fan translation only that it was sold. Therefore, the right name for the usual fan translation here should be unofficial localisations, but I understand that it might be cause some stigma so people was keeping the term fan translation for the convenience.

As for the topic that the OP want to discuss, well I admit that this is one of sensitive topic because it make the future for VNs translation looking grim because it could mean that in the future all of unofficial translation would be dead, and the only solution would be waiting for official release which if we unlucky could be slow like both of Sekai and JAST. That said, as of now there's still some dedicated unofficial translations project though although it's not as frequent in the past. As for when the decline is happening, I think it was started at around 2015 when the official translation was slowly become more prominent with Sekai managed to released both of Grisaia and Clannad, and the trend was continuing in 2016 with the unofficial translations releases were decreasing along with Mangagamer increasing their prominence in VNs localization with their releases and announcements.

Keep in mind that all of those above were mostly just my conjecture so I may be wrong on that, but still I hope that I could answer the OP question here.

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Yeah, I've noticed that lately being on these forums. Although I do see west-made VNs becoming more popular. I can't say I've been too interested in them since there's a sort of expectation/bias of low quality, but I have played Katawa Shoujo and that remains one of my favorite VNs to this day. Do you see that sort of field growing? It almost seems as though that section of the forums has almost as much activity as the translation section no?

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On 10/21/2018 at 11:16 PM, Optimistic;Nihlist said:

Yeah, I've noticed that lately being on these forums. Although I do see west-made VNs becoming more popular. I can't say I've been too interested in them since there's a sort of expectation/bias of low quality, but I have played Katawa Shoujo and that remains one of my favorite VNs to this day. Do you see that sort of field growing? It almost seems as though that section of the forums has almost as much activity as the translation section no?

 

On 10/21/2018 at 11:19 PM, UnlimitedMoeWorks said:

For that, you should go to @Plk_Lesiak. He's pretty much this forum's OEL VN expert here, so he'll tell you about that.

As I was called out, I guess I should say a few words at least. I'm not sure if EVNs are getting that more popular, I would more likely say they matured a lot. You'll see more well-thought-out and artistically pleasing projects nowadays and even studios that once produced utter crap, like Dharker, learned enough over the years to make things that are half-decent. There are also some studios that consistently make EVNs with a decent budget and proper art direction, like Love in Space or PixelFade (although those still live on crowdfunding and would most likely wither and die without it). The market got competitive, making generic imitations of JP VNs a bit less viable and driving innovation. I'm not sure if there's that many more EVNs being made nowadays, but they're better on average than 3-4 years ago, so the niche grew a lot in that respect. It's also way less dominated by freeware/hobbyist stuff, so you'll see devs coming here and giving actual effort to market their products, so the Original Project section with feel a bit more lively (although really, it was pretty quiet in the last few months, just like the rest of the forums - if you want to see the scale of the current EVN community, try Lemmasoft Forums).

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On 10/21/2018 at 3:54 PM, Optimistic;Nihlist said:

Kind of like Steins;Gate's JAST release by the translator Reading Steiner no? I wanted to dabble in translation as my Japanese improved, so I wanted to join a translation group short-term intern-style to see if I could make my skills more practical, but I guess it's not that sort of climate nowadays huh?

Just to correct a slight (and common) misunderstanding: Steiner did work on Steins;Gate, but the lion's share of the translation was done by Blick Winkel. Also, the JAST release is very heavily edited versus the fan TL, to its benefit, which is in my experience the norm for when fan TLs get picked up for official release. The quality invariably rises because the people involved are more committed to it, and because more resources become available to the project, particularly on the QC and programming side, and often on the editing side. You certainly do see cases where the resulting official release of an acquired fan TL is bad... and in those cases, I tend to think the fan TL itself would likely have been even worse, though perhaps there are exceptions, where the project management of the official release is bungled or where certain licensing restrictions imposed by the Japanese license-holder tie the hands of the people responsible for the official release.

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Just a random thought: do you guys think that, as localization companies focus more and more on newer VNs, fantranslators will flock towards older ones? Do you think it's a matter of time before stuff like Sayooshi and Carnival has a fantranslation pop up out of nowhere like Baldr Force?

Edited by onorub

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16 hours ago, onorub said:

Just a random thought: do you guys think that, as localization companies focus more and more on newer VNs, fantranslators will flock towards older ones? Do you think it's a matter of time before stuff like Sayooshi and Carnival has a fantranslation pop up out of nowhere like Baldr Force?

To be quite frank, many older VNs are much better than nowadays releases. You don't have to look far to find many VN fans from the JOP circle who think older VNs had generally better stories and more love put into them. I think even a discussion on this happened not too long ago here on Fuwa. So fanTLers focusing on oldges wouldn't be such a bad development, not at all. I myself am quite interested in many oldges, and yeah, that includes Sayooshi.

Speaking of it, there already is a fanTL of Sayooshi. If I remember correctly, Cafe did a translation of it back in the day, but never released it as he wants Visual Arts to do it officially.

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lTtbnZm.jpg

 

That said FTL are dead (almost), same as most tl's that was bought by Sekai (Situation with Dracu-Riot is hilarious. Though at least we have a leak with full tl version).

Just for reference - in 2016 was two big FTL vn - Koiken Otome and 11eyes. In 2017 - Hatsukoi 1/1 and To Heart 2. 2018 - Kono Oozora ni, Tsubasa o Hirogete (Re-TL) and Tsujidou-san no Jun'ai Road. In 2019 - I think it will be only Hoshi Ori Yume Mirai (if nothing goes wrong). Thanks god we have tsurezurescans.

 

Edited by ShinRaikdou

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12 minutes ago, ShinRaikdou said:

Just for reference - in 2016 was only one big FTL vn - Koiken Otome. In 2017 - Hatsukoi 1/1 and To Heart 2. 2018 - Kono Oozora ni, Tsubasa o Hirogete (Re-TL) and Tsujidou-san no Jun'ai Road. Thanks god we have tsurezurescans.

And 2019 - Hoshi Ori :) Indeed, thank you God for bringing us Triplicate and irru to this world :D

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18 hours ago, onorub said:

Just a random thought: do you guys think that, as localization companies focus more and more on newer VNs, fantranslators will flock towards older ones? Do you think it's a matter of time before stuff like Sayooshi and Carnival has a fantranslation pop up out of nowhere like Baldr Force?

Older games might have had better plots, but the problem is, they're old.  Most of the people who would know about them have been in the scene for awhile.  At this point, that more or less means they're either gone, or they went pro.

When the same thing happened to anime, the fansubbers just evaporated.  Yes, some folks continue to fansub the new popular shows (no, stream rippers don't count), but not many.  Most of those groups just closed up shop.  For the most part, fansubbers did not pivot to subtitling older anime.  In exchange, we now have a vast smorgasbord of legal anime for free.  In general this is a good trade-off.  Old shows like Akazukin Cha Cha, Mizuiro Jidai, or Tokimeki Tonight weren't getting a lot of love before (from the pro companies, because nobody cares about old anime so nobody buys it; from the fansubbers, because nobody cares about old anime).  They still don't get a lot of love now.  The number of subbers doing old shows is probably down, but they were always few.

The VN fannotation peak was not nearly as high as the heyday of anime fansubbing .  VN fannotations never threatened to smother the market both because the pirates were already smothering it, and also because they never managed to get anywhere near fannotating the majority of the industry output.  Look at the number of games Omochikaeri covers every month.  Every one of those games a multi-year commitment.  And that's the problem: VNs can't attract the kind of community that anime fansubbers could, for two reasons.

One, a big draw of being an anime fansubber was fame and attention.  Tens or hundreds of thousands of eyes on your thing.  Getting your sub out first for bragging rights.  Fan patches take forever to do.  It's just a much slower, much more involved type of thing.  Two, fannotating a VN requires a much higher level of Japanese skill than dealing with an average anime episode.  (Not that the average fansub quality was terribly good; it varied by group but often was horrible, especially with the speed subbing groups all competing to get the thing out the fastest.)

The VN companies are much less likely to go after people fan translating older VNs, especially from bankrupt companies.  There are a lot of those.  In fact, it's likely that eventually those will be the only real projects in existence, if only because any "fan translation" worth playing of something recent will just go pro.  But I just don't think there will be many of those projects.  There aren't many of them in the anime world, and there were always more anime fansubbers than VN fan translators.

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Well, now how we talking about it, fan-translation scene in Russia, for example, is completely terrible, so... You, guys, still on waves, I can say.

We can only dream, ahaha, f*** that, sorry, when VN will get official other languages, even based on fan-translations, that's too rare thing. So, yeah, only enthusiasm, only that... 

I am sometimes sad that I wasn't born English speaker... 

 

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52 minutes ago, Veshurik said:

Well, now how we talking about it, fan-translation scene in Russia, for example, is completely terrible, so... You, guys, still on waves, I can say.

We can only dream, ahaha, f*** that, sorry, when VN will get official other languages, even based on fan-translations, that's too rare thing. So, yeah, only enthusiasm, only that... 

I am sometimes sad that I wasn't born English speaker... 

Well you just have to work on english and get better at it, most people here are probably not native english speakers but rather have it as a secondary language. Considering the popularity of VNs you pretty much need to know english or japanese if you want to be able to read a decent amount of titles.

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5 hours ago, Infernoplex said:

To be quite frank, many older VNs are much better than nowadays releases. You don't have to look far to find many VN fans from the JOP circle who think older VNs had generally better stories and more love put into them. I think even a discussion on this happened not too long ago here on Fuwa. So fanTLers focusing on oldges wouldn't be such a bad development, not at all. I myself am quite interested in many oldges, and yeah, that includes Sayooshi.

Doubt it. In every art form there is always a notion that the past was better than the present, but it's my firm belief that this is universally the effect of time making people remember only the better releases and forgetting how much other shit was released at the same time. A classic only becomes a classic because it's stood the test of time. A modern work cannot, by definition, be a classic till it has become old. We only remember the classics of the past and compare them to the broad landscape of the present.

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12 minutes ago, ittaku said:

how much other shit was released at the same time

This. Recently I often browse VNs on VNDB using random screenshots from the front page. Often I click on promisingly looking oldschool art only to be disappointed that it's just another one of countless shitty 90s nukiges.

I'm probably hoping of discovering another YU-NO (or at least Sakura no Kisetsu ;)) , but well, there was a reason that those games became classics, while hundreds of their counterparts didn't.

 

OTOH If by "old" one means "between 2000 and 2010" then yes, there are many good titles in that timespan.

Edited by adamstan

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4 minutes ago, ittaku said:

A classic only becomes a classic because it's stood the test of time. A modern work cannot, by definition, be a classic till it has become old. We only remember the classics of the past and compare them to the broad landscape of the present.

Indeed. And that brings me to my next point. How many VNs from 2013 and then onward to, say, 2024, do you think will be considered classisc in the times to come? Sometimes for hours, I browse VNDB entries from the last 6 years, and I can't help but wonder how many of these will be talked about in a couple of years from now, if at all. I seriously doubt we'll have as many classics as we had in the years between 2000 and 2012.

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13 minutes ago, Infernoplex said:

Indeed. And that brings me to my next point. How many VNs from 2013 and then onward to, say, 2024, do you think will be considered classisc in the times to come? Sometimes for hours, I browse VNDB entries from the last 6 years, and I can't help but wonder how many of these will be talked about in a couple of years from now, if at all. I seriously doubt we'll have as many classics as we had in the years between 2000 and 2012.

Sorting that list by rating gives the following 1st page to date:

Sakura no Uta -Sakura no Mori no Ue o Mau-

Kara no Shoujo - The Second Episode
Chaos;Child
Rance 10
Steins;Gate 0
Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm
Monmusu Quest! Shuushou ~Makereba Youjo ni Okasareru~
New Dangan Ronpa V3 Minna no Koroshiai Shingakki
Grisaia no Rakuen
ChuSinGura 46+1
Summer Pockets
Maji de Watashi ni Koishinasai! A-1
Sengoku † Koihime ~Otome Kenran ☆ Sengoku Emaki~
Maji de Watashi ni Koishinasai! A-2
Rance IX - Helman Kakumei -
Fault Milestone 2 Jou (Side: Above)
Kin'iro Loveriche
Fata morgana no Yakata -Another Episodes-
Hello Lady!
Evenicle
Island
Ken ga Kimi
Eiyuu*Senki GOLD
Miagete Goran, Yozora no Hoshi o
Tokeijikake no Ley Line -Asagiri ni Chiru Hana-
Angel Beats!
Flowers -Le Volume sur Été-
Hoshi Ori Yume Mirai
Monobeno -Happy End-
Rance 03 Leazas Kanraku
Soushuu Senshinkan Gakuen Hachimyoujin
Gin'iro, Haruka
Kyonyuu Fantasy Gaiden 2
Senren * Banka
Maitetsu
Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai
Fureraba ~Friend to Lover~
Tenbin no La DEA. ~Ikusa Megami MEMORIA~
Madou Koukaku ~Yami no Tsuki Megami wa Doukoku de Utau~
Nora to Oujo to Noraneko Heart 2
Sorcery Jokers
Clover Day's
Monmusu Quest! Paradox RPG Zenshou
Baldr Heart
Hanasaki Work Spring!
DRAMAtical Murder re:connect
Nora to Oujo to Noraneko Heart
Sanoba Witch

Akeiro Kaikitan

I expect history will be kind to some of these, and not so to others. Clover Day's is one of my personal favourites of all time for me and it's in that list.

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3 hours ago, ittaku said:

I expect history will be kind to some of these, and not so to others. Clover Day's is one of my personal favourites of all time for me and it's in that list.

I think that at least 1/3 of titles on that list will fall into oblivion (Hanasaki?! Flowers?! Really? Those will hardly be remembered as classics xD). Especially those that had no translation. And that reminds me... VNDB users often vote on untranslated stuff based only on art and popular opinion. I know some of these were taken as disappointment at large by those who actually read them. Aside from a chunk of really good titles on that list, others will surely not be considered classics at all.

Speaking of which, my original point was about how many titles produced in this era will be remembered and talked about. I didn't say there aren't some amazingly good titles that came out in this era. I tried to do the same rating comparison for VNs between 2000 and 2012, and... it's not good data represantation. The list is skewed toward titles that have been translated. Yeah, I know it's expected considering what the main VNDB demographic is. I guess finding untranslated classics with this method won't be an easy task using VNDB xD ...

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I wonder how many of those people who claim everything was just so much better in the past actually went through a lot of the titles back there and didn't just read the clasics that most people praised. Hard to know how legitimate the claims are when there are so many more titles being translated into english now than previously which of course means not all of them are going to be samples of the best current VNs have to offer.

Edited by bakauchuujin

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