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0verflow around the “world”

August 4th, 2010, by zalas
Posted in Feature, Translation , Tagged: , ,

The people at Sekai Project graciously filled us in on some details on how their relationship with 0verflow (or more precisely, the parent company STACK) started and progressed, and we thought we’d share the story from the point of view of the two parties involved.

To start the stage, let’s take a look at what 0verflow and Sekai Project had been up to before this year’s Anime Expo. Sekai Project had started in April of 2007, announcing the start of a translation project for 0verflow’s animated branching video game School Days. They are currently finished up through chapter three of the six chapter game. Meanwhile, as an April Fool’s joke for 2008, 0verflow released the trial version of the sequel, Summer Days, translated into Chinese, Korean and English using their new multilingual game engine. They had used this to see what kind of demand there was for the different languages, and English was on top by a wide margin. Then, in 2009, one of the staff traveled to Anime Expo and helped out with the HOBIBOX area in the MangaGamer booth. Furthermore, there were a few mechanized sex toys on display in conjunction with Summer Days. At this point, no contact had been made between the game company and the translation group.

Now Anime Expo 2010 came around, and the situation started moving. When the 0verflow representatives arrived on the first day of Anime Expo, one of them, Mathers Numakichi, wrote an email to Sekai Project. In it, he said that they had received several inquiries from their users about the translation project’s website. Apparently these users thought the project had received an official license from 0verflow. Since at that point, one of the posts on the top page was talking about the cancelled eden* project, Numakichi noted in the email that he was aware of the TLwiki issue beforehand. Apparently, there was a public lecture held at Tokyo University last year that talked about, amongst other topics, sites hosting translation projects undertaken without the original creators’ permission. This was a large lecture, with even member(s) of the Diet present. Thus, Numakichi said that the hardball response from minori was not unexpected and that many game makers had become overly sensitive to the issue.

However, according to Numakichi, 0verflow didn’t believe that hardball responses are the only way. They wanted to find some way for the game company and the fan translation group to coexist, if possible. Apparently, the game engine for their latest game, Cross Days, and their upcoming game, School Days HQ, ran on a multilingual core, and if it were possible for the company and the translation project to coexist, then insertion of translated scripts would be very simple. The prototype build of the engine was apparently used in the Summer Days translated trial version.

According to the email, 0verflow was apprehensive of their games being illegally distributed for free, but they also wanted to see if they would be able to answer to the demands of fans who want to see their games in English. In closing, Numakichi said that they would be at Anime Expo for the duration of the convention and invited the project members to visit their booth. They were not part of MangaGamer, but had borrowed a section of the booth from them. Numakichi then apologized for his English skills and said that another staff member who was better at English would be present at the booth.

In response to this email, the project leader of Sekai Project, Kanna, wrote that they would like to do everything they can to help get an English version of School Days and other games from the company out the door. However, the project group was done as a hobby and thus might not be able to adhere to a rigorous schedule. Lastly, due to residing in Canada, Kanna could not come to Anime Expo but offered to send representative(s) in the area instead.

At Anime Expo, a representative from Sekai Project met with the 0verflow staff, and it looked like 0verflow was willing to allow the fan translation project to move forward as an unofficial translation. 0verflow also wanted to talk to the project members about the legal framework needed in order to release their games overseas as well as using their scripts for an official release, should that be possible. Due to discussions being rather short at the convention, the project leader decided to put the translation project on hiatus until more discussions can be made. In a follow-up email, the project leader thanked 0verflow and made it clear that they would not distribute the actual contents of the game and that they had already implemented a disc checking system to make sure people playing the patches had the game disc. The reasoning for this was not just because they wanted to avoid copyright infringement, but mainly because they wanted to encourage fans to buy the actual game. Therefore, they did not want to become an obstacle to an actual official release from 0verflow and wanted to hear more about 0verflow’s plans.

0verflow, in their reply email, stated that they would actually officially recognize Sekai Project under two conditions — that they made it clear on their website that the project was done through voluntary interest and that 0verflow is not involved in the endeavor, and that they make it known that 0verflow is looking for information on what is considered inappropriate or obscene, how it may be considered that way and in what regions or countries do these rules apply. Once these two conditions have been fulfilled, 0verflow would officially recognize the group and link to the group’s website from their website. With regards to an official release, they currently had no concrete plans but are having discussions with interested commercial parties.

In response, Sekai Project agreed to implement the changes and then suggested that putting up a survey would help 0verflow’s goals as well as some additional survey questions with regards to pricing and copy protection. The project group also informed 0verflow that their stance has garnered a lot of positive responses. 0verflow then thanked the group for their efforts and agreed that a survey would be a wonderful idea.

And thus, after roughly one months time, we’d reached the point where Sekai Project had released a translation patch for chapters 2 and 3 as well as a survey. 0verflow stated that they wanted to use the fruits of their discussion with Sekai Project to suggest more optimistic dialogue to game production companies who are currently wary of the overseas market. Apparently 0verflow is also looking into the ability to custom tailor content for specific regions. As an example, Numakichi brought up a scene where Makoto was having a bath with his little sister, which was supposed to bring up the notion that even though Makoto was such an unfaithful person, he still cherished his family. This new system was intended to allow the game to skip that scene in regions where having brother and sister bathe together was forbidden or if displaying a small child in the nude was prohibited, should such regions exist. They also wanted to make it so that these content changes could be changed quickly should the law get changed. Therefore, they would be really interested in what types of contents are banned where. In closing, they hoped for more development with this cooperation and noted that they will post a link to Sekai Project’s website, which is currently up now, under the “officially recognized fan activities” section.

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  1. Tweets that mention encubed » News Archive » 0verflow around the “world” -- Topsy.com Says:
    August 4th, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John Pickett, zalas. zalas said: New article up about what transpired between 0verflow and Sekai Project! http://bit.ly/d9L1Wj #0verflow #schooldays [...]

  2. rigel Says:
    August 4th, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    thanks for the info! quite encouraging!!

  3. random.idiot Says:
    August 4th, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    “Apparently, there was a public lecture held at Tokyo University last year that talked about, amongst other topics, sites hosting translation projects undertaken without the original creators’ permission. This was a large lecture, with even member(s) of the Diet present.”

    any one have an news link to this lecture? I am really interested in they talked about. I remember that few years ago, someone made a report talking about fan subber and even comparing them to professional translators (in term of quality), but I don’t think that this is the report Overflow is referring to.

    any way, I do wander which path Overflow will take, but which ever it is, they have my support.

  4. drmchsr0 Says:
    August 4th, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    If overflow are serioous about breaking into the American market, then this is probably the best possible step.

  5. Doku Says:
    August 5th, 2010 at 12:08 am

    Ah~ I’m so happy that everything seems to be working out so smoothly here!
    This report just makes the whole relationship sound as friendly as can be, and frankly, I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t. Fan translations increase the market for games, so naturally they should increase sales. Even if some users do pirate, 0verflow will be able to sell copies of their games to people that couldn’t have bought them and played them before. Basically, my point is that the companies should be thanking fan translators, and that the fans should respect the companies so that they can have good relationships, and that is exactly what I see happening here.

    One thing does bother me a little, and that is the part about “selective censoring”. I would feel a little ripped off if I bought a game with certain content and then found out I wasn’t actually receiving said content because of the perceived “morals” or something… Of course, I guess if you were in a situation where certain types of content were actually illegal to possess, you would be grateful…

    I dunno, I think applying obscenity laws to unrealistic 2D drawings of barely-human-looking fictional characters is pointless, but that is a whole different issue… Glad I don’t live in the UK, anyway…

  6. Akira Says:
    August 5th, 2010 at 12:10 am

    Now let’s just hope that other companies jump on this waggon and decide to support fan translations or even release official overseas versions of they’re games

  7. KaioShin Says:
    August 5th, 2010 at 12:43 am

    Doku: I rather have the possibility to buy a slightly censored game in my country than to get potentially arrested for possessing it. If they really release different versions for different regions I’m sure you’ll be able to get an English copy from a region where nothing is censored (or nothing that would bother you).

  8. dawningblue Says:
    August 5th, 2010 at 1:14 am

    The bath scene shouldn’t be a problem if it’s non-sexual. Totoro has a family bath scene and it’s available in England.

  9. 0verflow Wins | krachb00ns Says:
    August 5th, 2010 at 1:15 am

    [...] Projekt schloss sich mit einem Entwickler zusammen. Wie das genau abgelaufen ist, könnt ihr hier nachlesen. Zumindest traf sich ein Mitglied des Sekai Projects und 0verflow auf der diesjährigen [...]

  10. Aaeru Says:
    August 5th, 2010 at 2:01 am

    This is just so heart warming to hear after a long onslaught of so much fallout and so much bad news.

    Thank you Sekai Project! You have my full support, both financially and in encouraging words.

  11. Anon Says:
    August 5th, 2010 at 3:25 am

    Very impressed with 0verflow and Sekai project that they worked it out so smoothly. See isn’t it nice that they all get along? Doesn’t have to be all bloodshed between the west and the east.

  12. Anon Says:
    August 5th, 2010 at 3:31 am

    I will personally be buying the fully translated School Days purely because of this most fortunate reaction from Overflow! I have no real interest in the game itself, but damn, I feel obliged to support those guys for stepping up and actually giving the western market a shot!

  13. pondrthis Says:
    August 5th, 2010 at 5:57 am

    This is awesome. I agree with 12 that I will be buying this come full translation release or, if I’m lucky, in an “English out-of-the-box” format.

    I would love to say that we’re hitting the aftermath of that lecture mentioned in the article and other companies might jump on the minori/0verflow bandwagon, but I doubt it. 0verflow was probably never concerned with sparking another RapeLay-esque scandal; I mean, “nice boat”, right?

  14. enthor Says:
    August 5th, 2010 at 6:29 am

    I agree with random.idiot. I’d also like to see a transcript of the lecture (in english, of course) to better understand why the slew of C&D orders came out.

  15. anonors Says:
    August 5th, 2010 at 11:16 am

    yeah, as long as the game is released in box form (jp or eng) for 50 bucks or under inc shipping, i’m all over it

  16. Guest Says:
    August 5th, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    I didn’t see overflow saying anything about reducing their prices for gaijin cheapskates. :P

  17. Lee Says:
    August 5th, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    I’ve spoken out pretty harshly before about Japanese companies, but I think that overflow has demonstrated an excellent response to the issue of fan translations. Let’s all hope that other companies can also reach an understanding with translators.

  18. someone else Says:
    August 5th, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    >he said that they had received several inquiries from their users about the translation project’s website.

    Is it only me or does this pretty much confirm theory about harassment of the game companies into sending C&Ds by someone with too much time on his hands?

    >they had already implemented a disc checking system to make sure people playing the patches had the game disc

    Break the Support Disk 2: Unlimited Kitchen Knife Works on a Nice Boat? ;)
    Sorry, I just could not resist.

    On a more serious note, I think local censorship and laws do not matter much for eroge per se. There are a whole lot of reasons why and I’ll try to describe most notable one. As far as I am aware, people who got sentenced over drawings up to this moment were either lured into child porn honeypots and then caught up in the raid or explicit manga was found in their post packages. The latter is usually of most concern for us. However games are not manga, content of the game could not be checked on the spot at the customs, full stop. And, let’s face it, this games are obscure enough so they almost certainly will not find their way into the customs’ stop or alert lists. The only thing which could cause suspicion there, is the box art.

    Nevertheless, Rapelay controversy, which is no doubt the most damaging incident to both the eroge-industry and to their relations with western community, was not caused by laws or censorship or judicial decision or anything like that. It was caused by a freaking sensationalism, moral panic and knee-jerk reactions all over the place. The problem is, the only solution in such case is to just ignore such thing altogether and let it die. If mass media want to defame or just present something in the bad light, they could always do it, they will twist the facts in a way they see fit to make a sensation and they will spoon-feed such “facts” to general public. And especially since “Games/Comics/Cartoons are for Kids”-mentality is still strong among the general public, there will always be an extremist minority which will call to ban almost anything they think might be somehow damaging to kids, and for exact same reason there is and probably always will be “market” for such sensations.

    Anyway I think self-imposed regional censorship is not a real solution. Yes, it could help in case when law criminalize possession of certain materials, but it will not help one bit in case of moral panics fueled by mass media. However it will still greatly penalize fans for something they have little control of and everyone will circumvent it anyway by either some kind of unofficial patch or by, ugh.., pirating the uncensored version.

    Still, despite all the concerns, I salute 0verflow’s decision to try to establish better relationships with western fanbase and fantranslation community. I hope it goes well and other companies will follow them sometime in the future.

  19. ETERNAL Says:
    August 5th, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    I cringed for a moment at the thought of selective censoring, but I guess that’s a minor problem in the grand scheme of things. I’m glad to at least see a success story for once; some days it’s just C&D after C&D and it’s almost discouraging to even read the news.

  20. Amoirsp Says:
    August 5th, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    Interesting read. The approach is quite good. Unfortunately it looks like Numakichi and Kanna couldn’t speak directly. In terms of coexisting it’s fabulous, but as the news itself said, the fantranslation is more of a hobby, while overflow is a company looking to expand more, thus I don’t see it as a large negotiative matter. Overflow’s engine is quite the device though.

    On the other hand it does make me curious what is in store in the future. Seems like a lot of these things started manifesting more in 2007 onward. Slowly and uncertainly, but forward progress I suppose. But hey it’s pretty cool for fans to directly speak with members of the company of the game they are a fan with on positive terms and actually make arrangements, now isn’t it.

  21. Kanna Says:
    August 6th, 2010 at 6:45 am

    If I had 4 grand I’d fly to STACK’s office.

    >18
    Maybe in some countries games get an automatic green light, but not in Canada. Our border services (customs) agency here do random searches even if the attached documents look to be in good order. Those unfortunate enough to have a box of eroge opened may find that one or two have been detained due to “obscene content”. I mean, they can appeal based on “artistic merit”, but you better be writing a good paper on why Kudwafter is art.

  22. someone else Says:
    August 6th, 2010 at 8:07 am

    >21
    Umm.. It is not really about green light or anything like that, it is more about me having hard time understanding how they could mark something as “obscene content” without checking the content beforehand. If the box art itself is deemed “obscene” then this understandable, but it could be easily toned down for international release without damaging the game. I doubt customs’ officers actually check the content of disks even after opening packages, there are simply not enough resources for this kind of work. I mean seriously, could anyone imagine customs’ officer sitting through such game to see if this “looks like underage character” from the box cover ever gets an ero scene or not? Detaining for “obscenity” of everything marked as 18+ is honestly kinda hard to believe either.
    If the content does not really matter and customs will detain package anyway because of their wicked suspicion, then selective censorship is totally useless, the game will be simply confiscated either way.

  23. random.addict Says:
    August 6th, 2010 at 10:15 am

    I agree with 22. a non-VN reader (thank God only a few select people are into VNs) will probably get tired of “inspecting” the game for about 30 minutes.

    Unless, if that customs officer is a VN reader, or at the very least, knows of the “nice boat” school days, then we’re doomed!

  24. Doku Says:
    August 6th, 2010 at 11:31 am

    If a customs officer is familiar enough with School Days to dub it “obscene content”, then I would hope he’s “one of us” >_<

  25. Unknown Says:
    August 6th, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    They seem to understand that an official commercial release overseas is difficult due to the censorship (or rather, moral panic) issues.
    I hope that they also understand that adding more censoring only makes things worse in the long run.

  26. boingman Says:
    August 6th, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    And this is my problem with School Days. I’d like to buy it, once a complete patch is available, whenever that might be, but don’t want to get into trouble with customs. Considering the price, it’s highly likely that I’d have to go to the customs office. I had no problems with Fate/Stay Night, since the box doesn’t contain any adult content.
    What about School Days? Considering the type of game, the back of the box is probably not devoid of XXX scenes, right?

  27. David-->Sweden Says:
    August 6th, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    OMG, where are you guys living where you have to fear the customs this much??
    I’m very happy about Minori and Overflow, now let’s get Type Moon and Key also.
    —–
    By the way, Getchu.com is blocking westerners form there site(not just me right?)
    I got on there site only after using a proxy.
    C U/dave

  28. nvsds Says:
    August 6th, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Getchu & Alicesoft has blocked foreign access, confirmed by this article at Hau~ Omochikaeri~!

    To further emphasize, Getchu is a custom 410 Gone error (content removed only for foreign IPs) while Alicesoft is a slightly customize 403 forbidden error

  29. random.addict Says:
    August 12th, 2010 at 7:19 am

    @26:
    this is the problem with eroge. Personally, its a good price to pay. but if media is involved, many contents are removed because of whatever morals they could ever say.

    And now we can see firsthand the distinguishing line between personal interest and local/global interest.

    And this is also the reason why laws of any country always has a “plot hole”. Now I have a vague idea as to why otakus want to seclude themselves from the “world”.

  30. jusef Says:
    August 12th, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    ZA WARU-oh wait, it’s not about that…

  31. 4nBlue Says:
    August 15th, 2010 at 12:54 am

    I can access Getchu, so maybe Getchu is blocking only certain countries and not all foreign access.

  32. random.addict Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    here’s another problem: if the customs officer SUDDENLY became addicted to school days and VNs in general, then we’re DOOMED!

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