Nephrinn, the translator behind Dark Translations has decided to go ahead with a new and apparently controversial way of choosing and working on translation projects. Instead of simply translating a game and releasing a patch, Dark Translations will now be accepting commission for games that people are interested in. Since this is something new for the translator, he is looking for feedback on this system as well, so please forward comments to him.
According to the rules posted on his commission forum, games are eligible if they are “dark” games that either use KiriKiri or are compatible with Online Anime Game Translator (OAGT), a tool that hooks into the text engine of a game and can replace the Japanese text with English text on the fly using some external source for translations. Commissions start out as simply pledges to donate money and once $500 in pledges have accrued and each donator has donated at least “.50 cents[sic],” translation work will start on that project. However, a full commission amount based on the amount of text and to be determined by the translator will be required for the full translation of a game. If Dark Translations only receives a fraction of the full commission amount, then only that fraction of the game will be translated. The patch, whether for part of the game or the entire game, will be available to everyone, not just the contributors.
This isn’t the first time fan translations have asked for donations, whether it’s per product or for the entire group. For example, donations for anime fansubs back in the era of tapes were often used to offset costs incurred by the fansubbers, such as importing expensive Japanese laserdiscs or buying subtitling equipment. Nephrinn points to “H-manga translators, like SaHa and Desudesu, who accept community-driven contributions to translate H-manga” as examples of other translators accepting per-work donations. However, in modern day fan translations, there aren’t many costs involved and some translators/groups will resort to illegally obtaining source material to translate in any case. The most common practice nowadays for groups asking for donations seems to be a generic donation link, often supposedly used to offset bandwidth costs, etc.
Finally, perhaps in response to people’s comments on the quality of the English in his translations, Nephrinn has now hired a proofreader who will be paid at least 10% of the full commission rate of the game translation.