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Anime Expo 2008 – A Chat with Circus

July 7th, 2008, by zalas
Posted in Conventions , Tagged: , , , ,

On Day 3 of Anime Expo 2008, we had a chance to sit down and talk with tororo, CEO of Circus, about the English localization project of games such as Da Capo and Suika AS+ in more detail. During the interview, tororo described the general outline of MangaGamer’s operation and responded to feedback we presented about the current state of the games. Furthermore, he’s open to what the fans think, including what level of quality would be “good enough” for the fans to purchase the game as well as what games they would like. Please leave your comments in response to this article and we’ll forward your suggestions to Circus.

Starting off, tororo clarified that Circus was not in charge of the main localization operation, but that they are supporting the project to their fullest. In order to make it easier for other game makers to join this operation, Circus opted to work together with a few other companies to finance the operation, leaving control of the operation to a third party.

The person in charge of the operation is a Japanese person living and working in the United States, and he also has contacts in Europe. Circus and the other companies got into a dialogue with him and thus MangaGamer.com came about. In order to avoid legal complications with US law, it was decided to have the server hosted in the Netherlands. However, being in the Netherlands, payment would have to be collected in euros.

The expectation with MangaGamer is to reach 20,000 potential customers in Europe and also around 20,000 in the US. According to tororo, a Japanese company had previously released a game in Italy, netting 10,000 sales. Thus, he’s hoping he can reach that magnitude of sales with this new operation.

When asked about the high price for something that is a download-only product, tororo explained that they were not sure how many copies will actually be sold and that they need to recoup costs like the translation fees with the revenue. According to him, if more copies were to be sold, then perhaps the prices would become cheaper.

We then mentioned to him the current state of the English script from some of the games we purchased, noting that the English contains spelling and grammatical errors. He seemed interested in listening about the type of issues present and would like to improve the game up to a point where the fan would be satisfied. Furthermore, tororo wants to know exactly at what point would the script be “good enough” for the fans. We will collect the comments here and relay them to Circus.

When asked about packaged versions, tororo commented that perhaps if the site gets popular, they’ll investigate packaged versions. We suggested to him that maybe some sort of program could be set in place for people who have already purchased the download version to receive a copy of the packaged version at either a reduced price or for free. He thought that was a good idea.

Finally, we talked to him about the possibility of releasing other games, such as OVERDRIVE’s Kira Kira and NEXTON’s ONE. He thinks they’re a possibility, but he doesn’t know right now. Kira Kira would actually be more likely, since in order to release ONE, they would have to not only get the approval of NEXTON’s president, but they would also have to obtain the approval of the staff at Key who originally worked on ONE.

We would like to thank tororo-danchou and the rest of the Circus staff for taking the time to answer our questions.

UPDATE: Olf Le Fol talked to a representative at Japan Expo in Paris and posted his writeup. Among other things, the representative noted that the purchases made before the official opening of the site were of a beta version of the games, so the images we posted earlier may or may not reflect the finalized version of the games.

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  1. Message Says:
    July 7th, 2008 at 7:42 am

    To start off, unless I could get a guarantee that I would get a hardcopy before the year is out, I would not buy any game regardless how good it is. I would gladly pay 5 euro more for a nice carton box with a nice art booklet etc. If the difference amounted to 10 euro… I would have to think about buying it. But it’s either that or nothing for me, I’ll only buy something I can put on my shelf.

    As for localization quality, I’d like to see either a translation without spelling/grammar errors (aka: hire not only a good editor but also good proofreaders), or an easy way to report errors to the localization company. The company would then have to churn out patches to fix mistakes reported by the users.

    It may be difficult for companies to compete with fan translations, but if commercial translations remain only of ‘acceptable’ quality, and never more than that, people will eventually stick to the fan groups entirely.

  2. Ayo Says:
    July 7th, 2008 at 8:57 am

    Let me use this chance to say something about the maximum 3 times activation system. I don’t really mind paying the current price for a download edition (boxed is better of course), but if it’s really true that I would only be able to activate the game just three times, then I won’t be buying anything from them until there’s some way to get around it. I can kind of understand why they developed such a system, but it isn’t going to help anything. On the contrary, I feel it’ll only motivate more people to wait for a pirated edition.

  3. Moogy Says:
    July 7th, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Absolutely no DRM of any sort. DRM is nothing but a hindrance to legitimate users. I think the way that G-Collections, et. al., handles piracy issues works best. Users are much more likely to listen to an anti-piracy message if it’s not shoved down their throat in the form of DRM, at least.

    Also, localization quality on at least the level of companies such as NISA and Atlus would be a nice step. I think the main issue with eroge/VN localizations is the amount of quality control – so maybe stepping that up would be in their best interests. Hiring native English speakers to do it would be ideal, of course.

    Newer games and quicker turn-around time would also be great, but, hey, I’ll take what I can get…

  4. Moogy Says:
    July 7th, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Oh yeah… if it’s at all feasible, lower prices. I mean, damn. 50 EUR/80 USD is pretty damn expensive for a 6 year old game, don’t you think? Honestly, I think G-Collections, Hirameki, etc. had pricing just about right.

  5. Anya Says:
    July 7th, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    “Absolutely no DRM of any sort. DRM is nothing but a hindrance to legitimate users.”
    DRM is also a PITA to pirates. Either the leecher community gets pirated copies for free and we lose another English localizer or we pray to get good DRM protection that will hold. Pick your poison.

  6. Aza Says:
    July 7th, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    I, for one, prefer the downloadable version over the boxed one. If the physical and DL version cost the same, I’ll take the DL any time. Of course, the “same price” refers to the game itself. Boxed version should always cost a little more because of the printing expenses and/or extras.

    I agree with Moogy on behalf of DRM. There isn’t an anti-piracy scheme that can’t (and won’t) be defeated, so it’s only a burden to the legal owners.

    For me, “good enough” quality is when the script can be read by a native English speaker without realizing immediately that it’s a translation. Of course, idiosyncratic differences between Japanese and English will make the script “strange” at some parts, but weird sentence structures and word order look awkward and distract the reader, even if the meaning is perfectly understandable.

  7. Christopher McCormick Says:
    July 7th, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    I have to say that this price is way too much for a download version. If you expect any good sells you need to have an excellent translation and I recommend allowing trials for all your games. If you must use DRM you should go the G-Collection route with just limited downloads for the product. I’d much prefer a version of the game that has a nice box and manual and would pay extra as long as it isn’t as the prices come down some. Even games on PC and consoles are typically in the $50-60 range here so you should understand that price-wise you should come down if you hope to sway people from buying their garden variety games.

  8. marus Says:
    July 7th, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    I wouldn’t mind paying an extra 5-10 euros if it meant I could get a nice boxed copy. Nice packaging really makes a difference for me. If you’re absolutely set on releasing DL versions you need to make sure the DRM is either minimal or flawless enough so that the customer has no problem running the game. Unfortunately sales will be lost to piracy, but a non-interfering DRM system will minimize the loss.

    About the localization, having a way for users to report errors in the script would be nice, but a system like that usually is only good for spelling errors and obvious syntax errors. It’s hard for a large, unorganized group to consistently fix problems with sentence structure, so the localization team would benefit most from having a native English speaker proofread the script before release. If the synopsis and character summaries from the preview pages are indicative of the translation quality, then I’d say a proofreader is something they really need to invest in. DRM or no DRM, people aren’t going to want to pay for your work if it reads no better than a rushed fan translation.

  9. mutio Says:
    July 7th, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    - better translation than what we’ve seen until now
    - more customer friendly activation possibilities, it can’t be that you have to reactivate the game when you change the hardware, and just 3 times to activate the game is way too less
    - a warning: the rules like they are now are against common European law (I study law and I’ve also showed the rules to a professor). So only the advise for Manga Gamer to make the whole activation projedure more user friendly, otherwise they’ll likely receive post from some lawyers – which neither they nor we want nor need

  10. X-Calibar Says:
    July 7th, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    The point at which the script would be good enough for fans, is when an english reader can read for five to ten minutes at a time, without reporting any errors. In best case there would be no errors, but I myself will accept occasional problems as long as they are accidents, rather than the norm.
    Fans want to be drawn into your games, desiring to read each line to see what happens next. You don’t want to fans thinking about script errors. Because if they are, they aren’t thinking about the story you have created.
    Finally, ideally you should want to have a script that is comparable or competitive to your competition’s work (JAST USA). This is when I’d say the script is truly “good enough.”
    As for DRM, boxes and pricing…

    DRM has a negative connotation for users to begin with. So to sell DRM to fans, you should sell DRM in a positive light. Tell the readers exactly why you have chosen to use DRM and what benefits you hope to obtain by using the said DRM. You may win a lot more potential buyers if they are sympathetic or understanding to your reasoning. Language is very important in selling something people don’t want.

    About boxes, I love to have hard copies of games that I purchase. If only there was an alternative solution, such as a company that the seller could refer the customer to, so they could have a great quality box and disc printed, on demand; at cost to the user and not the seller.
    Finally pricing. Going higher than 60$ (USD) for a download game will be a barrier and will limit customers. However, I can see paying up to 80$ for a boxed/hard copy of the game.

  11. Moot Says:
    July 7th, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    As the above users have stated
    -Less cost. 80 bucks? I’m afraid not everyone here is ready to reach for their wallet with that kind of price, especially for only a download version of a game. You could buy 2 (perhaps even more) brand new, physical console or pc games with that money.
    -Quality translations (Use Atlus and NISA as a reference) It would be in your best interest to hire native english speakers for proof reading and editing
    - Fix the DRM. I don’t want to have to pay for a game again just because my hard drive decides to fail on me three times.

  12. Shinikenshi Says:
    July 7th, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    In my years of selling visual novel/eroge/etc. at anime conventions, I have found that people are more ready to accept higher priced items if there are extras included with the game. Certainly, embellishments such as a free artbook, telephone card etc. would be pointless if the game was crap but at least it seems the cost may be more justified. The high end cost for a download version does not seem like a good idea and although it is true that it may be necessary to have higher cost at first to allay low sales, I think it would look better on the part of MangaGamer to make a gamble and start the game sale price at the price that is intended. You would win more supporters by doing so rather than lower prices later on.

  13. anonymous Says:
    July 7th, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    Kira kira!

  14. Raven Says:
    July 7th, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    Quality is an issue for me. Since I’m not reading VN just for the shake of understanding what’s going and getting my anime fix. No matter how cheesy it may sound and what people think of VN, I do consider them as a form of literature appreciation. It’s not only about the meaning, but also the flow of the sentences. From some the pictures I saw, I think it’s pretty much safe to say currently it’s way below my acceptable level. What brings me to tittles like Da Capo and such would be the story (the hental part is just a bonus) so not only I like the accurate translation, but also the ability to write “good English”, and that goes beyond the usual grammatical correctness. Translation needs to be done in context, and I believe that will requires people with good understanding of both language. Being a tri-language speaker myself, I can say that a lot of time, a direct translation from one language to another – while may be grammatically correct and make sense – will still be very awkward and ridiculous. In which I must say from what I see, is the current quality of MangaGamer, actually they don’t even pass the point of being grammatically correct. Especially, in my humble opinion, for two language with very different orientation like English and Japanese (say as opposing to French and English, all of these are just more important.

    I’m neutral on the DRM issue, as long as I have the guarantee if the company ever go under, my copy does not go with it. And I don’t mind the hefty price tag, being a fan of a niche market (at least over here) I’m willing to cash out the big buck, but one thing for sure I would want to make sure my money is worth and well spent. As of now, for what I pay and receive, I don’t think it can justify even at half cost.

    Yes, the best one is still fan translation, but that sector has its own rich. You don’t see a lot of tittles and a project can get axed and go under for years and never come back, so fan translation is something rare every once in a while. For a steady distribution, I would say PeachPrincess and its relative company is doing a fairly good job. The price tag is ok although it’s never an issue, the translation quality while is not comparable to the best fan translation, but it’s at a very good and coherent level that I can appreciate and enjoy the story and writing.

  15. dork at large Says:
    July 8th, 2008 at 12:40 am

    Other people have cited various recent Atlus and NIS works as the current standard of high quality video game translations. I’ll agree with that — Summon Night Swordcraft Story 2 had few if any typos, and the overall dialogue/characterization was good enough to make up for the fact that it was a fairly average action RPG. Also, I was pretty impressed by the localization of Dragon Quest 8. It had comical accents, but I thought they were well written, and not a victim of the “let’s throw in an accent to make the character distinct” problem.

    Seung Park of Insani shares his insights on his approaches to visual novel translations throughout this page: http://sekai.insani.org

    On the anime/manga side, be sure to listen to Ninja Consultants’ recording of the Manga 101 panel at MOCCA, circa fall 2007. [Look for the "Podcast" link near the top of this page: http://ninjaconsultant.livejournal.com/26367.html It's a fairly large file.] The panel includes several pro translators, and there are numerous insights on their works.

    I’ve played an H game in which the script was inconsistent at best, and (to use a phrase from TVTropes) “they just didn’t care” at worst. If the Mangagamer and Circus staff can read through Nocturnal Illusion and only notice a few flaws, then they may need an advisor or two. (According to a review I read of The Maid’s Story, that H game had quite a bit of awkward phrasing.)

    Some cynics might say that if a game/story contains porn, then the writing and characterization are irrelevant. Back when I’d only played Three Sisters Story, I might have agreed. But since then, I’ve learned that H games can have good characterization, plot, etc. To be specific, after reading a few hours of the unfinished fan translation of Da Capo Plus Communication, I realized that even a heavily merchandise-driven H game can be more than mindless porn or fanservice.

    I’d be hesitant to purchase a game which “dialed home” every time it started up. Also, I’d prefer a game which can be easily uninstalled and reinstalled. Hopefully that isn’t too much to ask.

    Finally, I don’t know if it would be foolish — or too late — to ask for licenses of “gamer friendly” and “girl friendly” titles in the near future. By the first comment I mean titles with strategy/simulation/RPG elements, and by the second comment I mean BL games and otome games. While I acknowledge that there is a demand for boy-seeking-girls harem games in English, I believe there also is a growing demand for other types of ren’ai games. Perhaps it’s just me, but I feel that games which cater to gamers and girls could be very important in bringing new life into this community, which is currently just a small sub-set of the English-speaking anime/manga fanbase.

  16. Beowulf Lee Says:
    July 8th, 2008 at 12:41 am

    >>>DRM is also a PITA to pirates. Either the leecher community gets pirated copies for free and we lose another English localizer or we pray to get good DRM protection that will hold.

    LOL@”Good” DRM. If it can be cracked (and it can by the way), it will be and the leechers will get it. If you don’t have DRM, the leechers will get it. Either way, the leechers will get it. Maybe later rather sooner, but they will get it. The difference is the first option screws over the people who bought the game. DRM could also deter people who would buy the game to not buy it and pirate it. Why would you pay for lesser product (one with DRM) when you can get a better product (one without DRM) for free? Especially considering the leechy nature of anime fans hardcore enough to actually play these “reading” games.

    >>>Tell the readers exactly why you have chosen to use DRM and what benefits you hope to obtain by using the said DRM.

    I’m really hoping that there aren’t enough stupid people to buy that bull that they’d actually try to gain “sympathy”.

    As for quality, if this was the best of worlds, I’d like to have something close to the Ace Attorney level of translation/localization. I’m not sure this is feasible, so I’ll say to do something like No Name Losers’ “dynamic equivalence”. I don’t think that GipFace is the most beloved guy in the fan-translation sphere, but that’s just that. Let’s leave the horribly worded Engrish direct translations to “pure” fan translators.

  17. Beowulf Lee Says:
    July 8th, 2008 at 12:49 am

    Oh yeah. I would also love to see them bring over more modern visual novels (ie, stuff made after 2004).

  18. Kefit Says:
    July 8th, 2008 at 3:50 am

    I’m not a stickler for English quality. For instance, although I recognize the numerous problems with Hirameki’s localization of Ever17, I don’t particularly mind them at all and have no problem ignoring the errors when they occur. However, the English text I have seen on Mangagamer’s site and in screenshots for their games leads me to believe that their level of English quality is far below even what was seen in Ever17. It’s to a point where it is problematic for me. It’s not simple grammar errors either – it’s very obvious that the language on the site isn’t written by someone who is at a native level of fluency in English.

    Also, the pricing is problematic. $80 USD is too much for a six year old, download only game. I’d consider $50 USD for a high profile game such as Da Capo, and perhaps even $60 for a nice hard copy. I’d also have an easier time paying more for newer games, as they tend to have far higher production values than older games and are more contemporaneous with current trends in the otaku community.

    Finally, the DRM is problematic. Honestly though, I expect it to be cracked regardless. The visual novel audience in the US is, for the most part, a technically inclined one. At the very least, it is an audience that has connections with those who can crack DRM without much difficulty. As such, DRM is largely pointless, and probably not much more than a waste of money.

  19. stranger Says:
    July 8th, 2008 at 6:42 am

    1) I think clickandbuy doesn’t mind accepting payment for adult material… well at least that how I understand their terms and conditions.

    2) as for the boxed copy, they can go the VALVe way with OrangeBox. Both download and physical copy are sold…. but *both* need to be activated online. The boxed copy is there for those who can’t download large files and who prefer to own a physical copy of the game.

    3) DRM, 2 points, 1st they should consider an extended download service (where you pay a *bit* more for unlimited number of downloads) or they can go the direct2drive and steampowered way, your purchase already include extended download service. 2nd they should consider “account” style of activation (like what steampowered does) instead of PC style of activation, so you will need to login to you account every time you install the game, and they should give you the option to deactivate a PC (older PC) from your account. (with steampowered, you can install the game on as many PCs as you want, given that you only login once at any given time).

    4) maintain the Japanese honorifics (-chan, -san, -kun) so that we know how friendly the characters are with each other.

    5) include translators notes for events that are common to the Japanese but are unknown to others

  20. shadow_Hiei Says:
    July 8th, 2008 at 8:55 am

    More than $40 is too much, especially if its not a hard copy. $80 is nothing short of a ripoff, ESPECIALLY if its not a hard copy. It doesn’t matter how good of a job you do with it.

    Aside from that, proofread thoroughly.

  21. circuit Says:
    July 8th, 2008 at 10:01 am

    >>>4) maintain the Japanese honorifics (-chan, -san, -kun) so that we know how friendly the characters are with each other.

    This, please. Also, keeping stuff like “onii-chan” in is a deal breaker for me. “Big brother” does NOT convey the original feelings from the character. There’s vast differences between “onii-chan,” “nii-san,” etc.

    As stated earlier, price is an issue. I’m a BIG D.C. fan, but $80 is pretty harsh for a download without packaging. Somewhere around $50-60 would be more reasonable. This becomes even more of an issue with the questionable translation that we’ve seen so far.

    Lastly, I guess depending on how well these first games go over, I’d absolutely love to see D.C.II localized as well. If we could get a D.C.II + Spring Celebration pack, I’d certainly be reaching for my wallet.

  22. mutio Says:
    July 8th, 2008 at 11:12 am

    People, the company is from Europe! 50€ is pretty normal for a game here (though too much for a download version). Complain that the $ sucks so much as that’s the problem for the US people. Prices will probably drop when selling goes well.

  23. marus Says:
    July 8th, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    >>>4) maintain the Japanese honorifics (-chan, -san, -kun) so that we know how friendly the characters are with each other.

    >>>This, please. Also, keeping stuff like “onii-chan” in is a deal breaker for me. “Big brother” does NOT convey the original feelings from the character. There’s vast differences between “onii-chan,” “nii-san,” etc.

    Absolutely not. This is the biggest gripe I have with translations today, there is no good reason to keep Japanese honorifics in English other than to be lazy. They sound unnatural in English and they’re constant reminders that I’m reading a Japanese translation. It’s true that English has it’s weak points, but expression of emotion certainly isn’t one of them. Recreating the same feeling those words portray is hardly impossible, although each sentence may need to be looked at on a case-by-case basis; this is where a good editor and proofreader comes in handy.

    If you need an example of fan translations which do this, just look at insani’s releases. I can’t recall a case where they used any Japanese idiom, and this alone helps to make a more natural sounding English that’s a cut above every other translation I’ve read.

  24. Bluenight Says:
    July 8th, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    I am myself quite a big fan of visual novels and I really appreciate the effort you are showing us by trying to localize japanese visual novels, but in my opinion there are 2 fundamental flaws with your service;

    -The price, and the fact that you are offering only digital downloads.
    -DRM

    Why spend €50 ( that’s one brand new Xbox 360/ PlayStation 3/ PC game ) on a direct download game, which I can only reinstall it 3 times? Just to ensure more games will be translated into English ?
    The visual novel scene is small enough as it is, as not every anime and/or manga fan got the time or motivation to read through hours of story. Most of the current visual novels can be labeled as pure hentai games (like ‘Lightning Warrior Raidy’, ‘Jewel Knights Crusaders’, ‘X-Change franchise” ), those games focus more on the sex than the story. I am pretty sure the majority of purchasers of those games will be very reluctant to try out a game like ‘Da Capo’, which is a very story-heavy game and only includes sex as a little extra, on the terms you are setting. To reel these people in (and get you more customers) you will need to change quite a lot to be honest. The price of €50 for a game is nearly 3 times as much as you will have to pay for a hentai game of Peach Princess. I am not whining about having to pay a little more for a game, but I do feel sour if such a price is unjustified. If for example I go and buy a japanese RPG for my console for €50, I get a nice box with a handbook and if I’m lucky even a little artbook or some other nice gimmick. On the other hand, a game bought at Mangagamer.com will give me a downloadable setup of the game, which I can only install 3 times …rather plain and unattractive, isn’t it?
    People don’t care too much about the price, if it feels right. You will barely have people paying €50 for a virtual product. Throw in a box and maybe some little extras ( people are suckers for extras ), heck even a soundtrack cd with rip offs of the game will be enough, and you will make your products a lot more attractive to new groups of people.

    Now the DRM ,what have you thought when you were opting for that option? I know you want to keep your games safe from piracy, but a DRM which only lets you activate the game 3 times is a joke. I can promise you, within a week you will have a torrent of the game with a hacked .exe on the internet, no, even within 24 hours on 4chan.org .You will have people wondering if they should either download the torrent or buy the game for €50 and only be able to activate it 3 times. I’ll be honest, I personally would be very tempted to download such a torrent, as I like being able to reinstall a game whenever I want to without having to worry about reactivations rather than keeping the game on my hard-disk forever out of fear I might run out of activations.
    Just get rid of the DRM, you will just scare away most customers that way. People who would have pirated the game will pirate it anyway, but you will have a fair chance to attract all those people who were still trying to decide if its worth it.

    I am pretty sure, hardcore visual novel fans will still buy your orginals, but is that base wide enough to keep up with your expenses, I dare to say no. To attract people to this genre I would suggest you to offer your games in a box and get rid of your DRM.

    So, to make it short:

    - Make a boxed version of the games available.
    - Get rid of the DRM.

    my xxx cents.

  25. Levi Says:
    July 8th, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    These are my thoughts on localization projects in general, not just the current subject.

    Prices have always been troublesome for me due to the exchange rate, specially for games. If it would be kept in mind that there are fans from all over the world and that the exchange rate can make the game REALLY expensive for some of them it would be greatly appreciated I think. The price should be considered carefully, as even if it may seem reasonable to some there are places where it can cost up to 5 times more because of the exchange rate. In Malaysia for example 1 Euro costs 5.10 Ringgit malaysia so: 50 EU x 5 = RM 250, that is NOT a reasonable price for a game..

    On the subject of quality however, I think that it would be best if the overall localization held true to the original(Japanese) version of the game as much as possible. For some things that do not translate well such as jokes or references, changing it into something else can make it less meaningful especially if it has connection to previous or later parts of the story. Providing a short explanation with it would be the best solution IMO, it may take away from the plot/joke somewhat but at least the reader will be able to fully understand what was meant to be conveyed in the original(Japanese) game.

    Seeing as how Japanese is a complicated language in itself, this will obviously take allot more effort and some amount of research as well as requiring a firm grasp of both languages(Japanese and English), the game’s plot and background. IMO it is here that fan translations have the advantage over companies, they are fans of the game so likely possess a deep understanding of the plot/background and they actually take pride in their work as it is more then just a “job” to them. If a company wishes to surpass this, they either have to be dedicated fans themselves, or alternatively hire dedicated fans to do the job. It is not unheard of for localization companies to hire fans who were previously working on a fan translation of the project to work on the official version. It will likely cut into the companies profits however and thus increase the price of the game, so it may not be considered as an option. For me however that would likely produce the best results, well that’s my two cents on the matter anyway.

  26. Ekowc Says:
    July 8th, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    About DRM, I think its pretty much useless, it just dealys the spreading of your game. If I ever decide to get one of your games I will warez download it and then buy the game from store. I will get unlimited reinstalls and still I have paid for the game.

    Another idea is to implement license system, if someone has downloaded it illegally they can buy a license for the game and thus unillegalize the game.

    €50 is the absolute max price for download only game (only if the translation is good enough).

  27. TET Says:
    July 8th, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    Translation: If possible, please translate out the honorifics and whatnot. Leaving them in is lazy and immediately erects a barrier to the average ‘mundane’. Even if the actual concept of honorifics is simple, seeing Japanese words inexplicably dotted about through English text is going to give the impression that the reader needs a crash course in Japanese to understand it. In order to win more customers rather than set up an expensive “Gentlemen’s club” the bar needs to be kept relatively low. Yes, some die-hard honorifics fans will be upset but they’re in the minority and will have to suck it up and accept the fact you will not find “kun”, “onii-chan” or “nee-san” in any English dictionary. A good translator/editor combination can mould the English language in very elegant ways to get across an equivalent meaning. It’s a great shame that such a practice has been dropped in favour of “preserving the spirit of the original Japanese” and other such inanities.

    Accuracy: I’ll accept nothing less excellent spelling and grammar. I don’t want to read how someone was not “phased” by something (God, that annoys me) nor do I want to tell people that “naturally, I knows the hacker”. God help the editor who puts an apostrophe in a plural.

    DRM: Take a leaf out of Stardock’s book. They seem to be managing just fine and they don’t use DRM at all. Their content delivery system is also shaping up to be an interesting rival to Steam. Rather than get upset about sales lost through piracy, work on maintaining your current consumer base and not alienating them through universally unpopular software.

    Price: You would have to really sell a game to make me prepared to spend more than £30 on it. This is especially true for download only games (although if the company goes bust or I can’t activate it any more, I’ll just download a pirate version). Since most of these titles appear to be selling for two or three times the going rate for new games, demos or trials are absolutely essential if you don’t want disillusioned, impoverished gamers illegally downloading future releases.

  28. Moogy Says:
    July 9th, 2008 at 12:11 am

    I’m gonna have to throw in another vote for keeping honorifics and such, by the way. I think it sounds more unnatural to take them out than leave them in. It also reminds me that, yes, this was originally a Japanese work – which is something I WANT to be reminded of.

  29. Message Says:
    July 9th, 2008 at 12:56 am

    I suggest we focus on the quality, technical and economic aspects of localization – the actual translation strategy is not under debate here. Most specifically, the question ‘which translation strategy is better’ is *definitely* not under debate here.

  30. Anath Says:
    July 9th, 2008 at 5:10 am

    Regarding translation quality, I desire a translation that keeps the feel of the original text, and stays accurate to the original script (i.e., no mistranslations that get the meaning of something completely wrong). Though I can handle varying amounts of typos, I’d prefer to see a product that has minimal proofreading errors.

    As for cost, €50/$80 is WAY too much for me to consider purchasing a download-only title that I can only install five times. I am definitely interested in playing Da Capo/Suika, and I could convince myself to pay that much each for the games if I were to get a physical copy. But for something that can disappear if my computer crashes, or that I can’t install again if my computer messes up enough times? A potential waste of my money, and not something I could convince myself to buy.

  31. PrinceOfShade Says:
    July 9th, 2008 at 5:25 am

    Reading through all of the above comments, I must say that first of all, honorifics must stay. Yes it serves to remind us that the piece of work was originally Japanese, but as Moogy said, it is a reminder that people (such as myself) want to be reminded of. Also, different meanings behind each honorific also matter greatly. I find that when I often read/hear “big brother” in any Japanese media, I automatically think “Onii-san” either way. It has just become ingrained into our culture as American fans of Anime media. It is a uniqueness that belongs in the Japanese language, and for the sake of accurate translations, it should stay in our English localizations.

    DRM and Price: I also agree with most people that DRM would be hacked anyway. When I read that Da Capo was going to be released, I instantly looked things up in this order: 1.) When 2.) How much 3.) Specific details. The price shocked me at first at a whopping $80, but the killer was that it was download only, and limited to only 3 activations at that. Yes I understand that if enough people buy the game then HOPEFULLY the prices will go down. However, $80 for an online game that can be activated 3 times… is simply not worth it, even for Da Capo (which I have been wanting an English Translation of for about 2 years now). Coupled with the fact that the level of grammar might actually detract from the enjoyment of the game.. and I see a game that I just simply cannot afford to buy at the price of $80. If $80 meant a nicely boxed game that was proofread at the level of Mirror Moon, or one of the G-Collections games, then it would be worth it in a heartbeat.

  32. Moot Says:
    July 9th, 2008 at 5:34 am

    I also vote to keep the honorifics and other various Japanese terms. I don’t think that’s “lazy” at all, as long as notes are added.

  33. AALLx Says:
    July 9th, 2008 at 8:39 am

    I also agree with honorifics being maintained, and I do believe that this is very important for all the fans of the games. I’ve always hated what would be referred to by me as “Americanization”, where they change all the Japanese idiosyncrasies, so that the local readers would feel as though they are reading something that is made by their home country (I’m not singling this to America only, but American companies tend to do this a lot). I especially hate it when they westernize the names, or change “onigiri” into “hamburgers”, etc. Fact is, these are Japanese games, and they should maintain their Japanese feel. What I believe is most important in reading Visual Novels is being able to read how the author intends it to be read, and localizing things in order to make gamers at home simply takes away from the author’s true intentions.

    Also, the translations shouldn’t be so literal. This becomes a common problem, because professional translators tend to translate things word for word, thus, making the sentence either robotic or very out of character. Just as someone above has mentioned, I think it is important for the translator to actually know the game, and have an understanding of the characters and the setting. Liberties should be taken as long as it does not stray far from the original meaning nor does it change the original meaning completely and thus not contradict with the author’s original intent.

  34. Pendant Says:
    July 9th, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    In an ideal world, we’ll have English text (that sounds English) accompanied by Japanese voices (where applicable). While it is a good idea to maintain honorifics if there is no other way of deducing the original Japanese, if we have an audio track to go by (like that Fate Realta Nua version) then the translator can safely Anglicise the text – remove (translate where appropriate) honorifics and replace any titles with what one might say in English (e.g. nii-san becomes the person’s name – no English-speaker would call their brother “brother”. That’s stupid and that sort of ‘translation’ is bad).

    Do not confuse thorough translation with localisation. This ain’t 4Kids. No-one’s going to take away your precious onigiri. What they might do is call them “rice balls”. If you can’t stomach that (no pun intended) then learn Japanese and buy the original games. You can’t get more faithful to the original than that.

    By the logic of some of the people here, we should include honorifics in anime dubs. Won’t that be interesting…

  35. stranger Says:
    July 9th, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    so basically 3 main issues and they are, Boxed copy, the DRM and the quality of the translation. The translation should be at bar with what we are getting from JAST. Otherwise it will only be sold to the disparate few (like myself) who have been waiting for those games for a really really long time.

    Maybe they should take another approach to the boxed copy problem. Release the download only copy for a *month*, then later add the boxed copy as an option. And make a point of telling everyone that a boxed copy will be released, otherwise they will end up with lots of complains.

    As for the price, considering the size of the expected market, I can’t really blame them for it…. but, if the Japanese company is in on it… didn’t they already sale their product in Japan?

    [offtopic]
    As for the honorifics, yes, I’d love for them to be there and I’d love to be reminded that it is a Japanese product. But again, the targeted audience might not know what they stand for (I’ve been there!). And some of those audience might only have Dub anime background (which removed Japanese honorifics even in their subs), so do I have a problem with the game like ‘Hitomi’ where the text suddenly changed from ‘brother’ to ‘bro’ instead of ‘onii-chan’ and ‘onii-san’, the answer is ‘no’… I can/do ’suck it up’ as TET pointed out.

    Then again, I don’t think that we are a ‘minority’. Looking at the b-games forums, I really do doubt that any of the visitor doesn’t know what the Japanese honorifics/titles stand for (in fact Dub anime use words like Sensai and Senpia in their “Dub”). And even if they don’t know what they mean at first, they will catch up soon, and then there at the translators notes that they can read.

    So for me, the Japanese honorifics and titles are an added value to the “translation of Japanese work”. But I’ll still enjoy the title without them. And I won’t make a big fuss over “onii-chan”, “onii-san”, “wataru-onii-chan”, “wataru-nii” becoming “wataru” (even though an aspect of the characters personalty is lost). But how are you going to translate something like “Tomoya-kun” in Clannad without changing the relationship between Tomoya and his father? (Mr. Tomoya won’t work)
    [/offtopic]

    zalas and Message, sorry for going offtopic…… again!

  36. Infoceptor Says:
    July 9th, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    It’s as simple as this: why would anyone decide to buy an inferior version when they could pirate a better version for absolutely free? There are only two things stopping you, your morals and your impatience. Problem is, are they worth a high price of 50 euros? Either reduce prices or create more incentive to be a customer, whether it’s promise of physical extras in the future or removal of DRM or something else. But whatever you do, don’t go out of your way to make people regret buying your products with a gimpy version. In any case, whoever cooked this idea up isn’t going to change it just for a couple of whiners on the internet but please keep this simple logic in mind.

  37. Aza Says:
    July 9th, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    About the honorifics, I think they should not be left out. If for any reason, than for the fact that a part of the target audience will not have English as their first language and those people (me included) prefer to see the script anglicized/localized as less as possible. Especially since the company is based in Netherlands and IF they put out boxed versions, they will only be affordable in Europe. Than may actually be a part of the reason the are going for a DL versions only. Shipping boxed versions overseas to the States would inflate the price even further.
    I’m from Europe, and while €50 is not what you’d call cheap, I’ve seen stuff overpriced even more.

  38. Message Says:
    July 9th, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    People, whether or not to use honorifics is a bottomless discussion. As I said before, translation strategy is NOT on debate here. Please stop talking about honorifics.

    For those who don’t understand what we DO want to see people talk about, please allow me to spell out what questions we would like to receive answers to:
    1) What do you think about the downloads-only selling method and DRM?
    2) What do you think about the prices?
    3) What do you think about (required) translation quality?
    Bonus question: What do you think about the titles being selected for translation?

  39. Zelnick Says:
    July 10th, 2008 at 3:39 am

    Regarding online distribution. Yes I like to have a nice, shiny box, but I also like being able to get my product (almost) instantly. I don’t really care either way as long as I can get my product in a reasonable amount of time. So I believe there should be an option to buy a digital copy or a boxed one. DR