Thursday, November 16, 2017

After hours in the Electrosphere Dragon's Den II

<...Project/Blog/Everything report incoming...>

big butt gets your attention
Don't worry, no scenes this time. Also because I don't have much time so I'll just get straight to point. Here we go!

Remember when I said I'd take on translation duties in order to keep the project moving? I succeeded. I'm learning something new with every new sentence I translate and overall I'm managing. I've also become more organized and have something closer to a proper method when doing translations. I even thought of drawing a chart to illustrate my approach to translating but I think the master himself says it better just replace "practicing" with "translating" :). I'm kinda kidding right now but the reference to Bruce Lee couldn't be more apt under these circumstances, where I stopped thinking about what I couldn't do, and started thinking about I could do: "Be water, my friend." Not saying I'm a super-duper translator who can turn Japanese into perfect English in the blink of an eye but you won't see any more requests for new translators any more. I still ask for support regarding a line here or there, but I don't think Team NEMO will need any new translators at this point, also because the huge tasks have already been taken care off by people with mad skillz. The results are all uplifting (five smileys out of five) for both the Mission component and Search as well, but it's all very much work in progress. On top of that, I've tried translating some Search files here and there in the meantime, to get a feel for it and see what I could do, and I can safely say that yes I can absolutely do this myself without having to bother someone else. I wasn't sure last time when I said I'd do my best and see what I could do but I'm here to tell you that it's not a question of if, like "If we find a translator", but a question of when, and it doesn't involve looking for someone else to do the whole thing.

Regarding the technical side, I'm now actively looking for a coder, or coders, to help with some super important things, as of this posting. To go more into detail, it's about completing and refining EsperKnight's decompression of AC3 so that we can have a complete AC3 toolkit for both Disc 1 AND Disc 2 finally done, and properly (not my improvisation that somehow worked) and then add an actual recompressor to that set of tools as well because it has become necessary for a full translation. I've tried testing the fake recompressor for that other stuff but it only works for the radio chatter in-game unfortunately. Lastly, the end credits but that one seems to be a different beast as I never heard about that part being compressed, just different.

Now there's also a new goal that's unrelated to compression or textures and that is changing the music for mission 29. The last point is more of an extra thing, but the first two are going to be very important to us in the future. I've been working on a definitive revision of the script, this goes for the Search files as well and it only makes sense to bring the quest to decode the game to close as well. I mentioned keywords such as "Limit" and "Legacy" my last SotP report, now there's also "Definitive". It's been eight years since this project began, we've had our delays, but like I said last time shit just got real so I've stopped thinking about milestones and stopgap measures, that's all in the past for me. I didn't think about an end to the project at all in the past, maybe because this is something that comes with time, you change and so do your priorities, and then there's the fact that I just don't have the amount of free time, and with no worries, that I had back when I started the project.

When it comes to the compression, the main culprit of any fan-translation that has to deal with it, the list of issues that we're facing right now is substantial: if we don't recompress, then some menus or parts of them have to remain untranslated or the game will act up. Not to mention those parts that go from Japanese to English and then back to Japanese inbetween missions, those have been bothering me more and more actually while testing the new build. It's hard to put this feeling into words but people playing the game probably don't even think about the problems we faced and why it's not quie perfect, not that they should since those are our problem not yours, and just go "What the hell, I thought this was translated, why is Japanese still there?!". I still hope that doesn't detract from your experience when playing our current release version 2.0. I mean just getting it out there was like a miracle. I had to get past that when working on that release but after a year of looking at it from a different point of view instead of something I'm working on I think I'm starting to understand how some of you might feel when playing it.

Recently, I remembered a chat with a fan once who asked me about changing the music for M29 Betrayal to The Execution. My answer was that it was probably just a small HEX edit away and that it could be done with a little support from a programmer but after asking some preliminary questions about doing this on our RHDN thread I was told that it was gonna take more than just that. If that doesn't pan out for one reason or other, well, we can all turn the BGM volume down and play The Execution in the background :) (I actually do this sometimes) M29 Mind Flow=good, M29 The Execution=better.

Another thing which I haven't forgotten is how some of you have a physical copy of AC3 but not the edition we currently support, which is SLPS-02020~1. I've seen other projects add support for multiple editions so there's no reason we shouldn't do that either. I'll definitely communicate this wish to the programmer in charge.

I remember the end of 2013 when the project was dead with only the HTML script to show for. I just found the will and energy to try and ask around and look what happened. Then with the limited resources I was forced to prioritize but looking back I also grew complacent as if leaving things unfinished would be alright. Simply put, there's no reason I shouldn't 1) try to do it myself; B)  look for new help in the meantime just because past members left some things unfinished. I stated my personal opinions last time I talked about this project about how some parts still in Japanese aren't essential. But now I think that my opinions are one thing, and managing the project should be another entity completely separate from what I think. The truth is it's not 100% done and there's no way around that fact, it either is or isn't. In your interest and my interest that is now what I'm working towards, something complete, with some extras too, that I can look at and say "This is done, this is it, nothing more to do." Now my attitude has changed and the fact that we have anything done at all should be an incentive to try to finish it, not to stop. Things related to the compression which has so many ramifications to the overall translation as well as the end credits, which is an entirely different beast and the AppenDisc's original movie. These are things that if they get that extra push, then they're in.

In the case of the end credits, Dashman was working on them and he seemed to be pretty positive but then he had to redirect his attention to real life matters. I'm still looking for help in this regard as well as I haven't done any further investigation regarding the credits beyond what I showed you last time not just because I had both hands full with transcribing and translating but also because I'm not very familiar with the technical side things, but very willing to learn as I've done with translating. And we do have some information to work with at least. I don't know if he's gonna come back as it's been a full year since I've last heard from him more or less so I think this position is also open.

Back to translation, with the experience I've been gaining ever since taking on the Search files, I'm pretty sure you'll also be able to finally watch Original Movie subbed, in-game and out, as it is now extremely close to being ready for a complete translation (just a few kanji here and there that I still can't transcribe accurately). This would not have been possible in the first place with the work of one of our in-house translators pmt7ar. Just need a little patience but it's gonna happen.

By the way, I hope you enjoyed reading the second part of Relay Essay. Check it out if you haven't already, it's got some cool info in there. I did the translation for it in a few hours, and let me tell you, it was intense, no joke. But I'm happy that I did it, since I love this kind of stuff where we hear the voices of the creators themselves. The impetus that made me Just Do It came as I was reading some previews for the newly-released Ghost in the Shell README 1995-2017, which from the looks of it kicks all kinds of ass in that regard, so much so that I ordered a copy of it soon after, being the GITS fan that I am. After finishing it I got even happier when I discovered a old post of mine that I had completely forgotten about on RHDN where I was looking for a translator to do it all the way back in 2013 (insert comment about time flying here). Oh and work on Part 3 is already underway too but I'm focusing on other things right now. But it's definitely happening, and you won't have to wait years for it too! Adopting a "can do" attitude and taking on a new challenge can do wonders. One thing that this ongoing experience has taught me is that actual translators, the ones who know what they're doing, pro or otherwise, make it look easy when you're on the other end just reading it. There can be so much work behind the shortest phrase. Respect.

And after I managed to get a translation for that done, I found the confidence to do some other things that had caught my attention. I'm talking about the preface of the Namco Official Guide Book (the big, orange one) which from what I understand is an interview with Dision, all those little notes present in the walkthrough section, and the airplane descriptions. I still don't feel anywhere near ready to do something as long, wordy and conversational as the interview section though, just to put things into perspective. I would still crowdfund a translation for that to make sure it's a proper translation. Nonetheless, regarding some of the material found in this and the Mission & World View guide book, I think I've found some things that would be great to add to our next release, extra goodies like the AppenDisc translation that I'm working on, things to enhance the player experience, stuff like that.

With regards to the blog, I don't have anything ready to be published right now, just the initial skeleton of The Sphere Where the Thoughts Gather Vol.3 so expect some inactivity on the blog front. I do have the next two AC3 anniversary posts already scheduled, way in advance, PLUS the aforementioned part 3 of the relay essay (please look forward to it!) and I might come here to post something quick if it's a spur of the moment thing like "LOOK WHAT I JUST FOUND GUISE THIS IS AWESOME!", but nothing big or substantial. But don't freak out if you see USEA Today go months on end without a new post, the days of multiple posts each month are long gone, I knew it all the way back in 2014 I wouldn't be able to keep that pace even with maximum time and excitement.

This is the part where something called... re..re..rea..real l-l-life... creeps in. So, I've got some big stuff coming up for me very soon, something's I have not only been anticipating . Full disclosure, it's gonna take me away from the project for a while, I don't know how long but it shouldn't be too long, just until things have stabilized. I knew about it many months advance so what I did was just jettison things I could live without, like all those AC3 fan videos I mentioned in the past that I was working on (RIP), so I'd maximize time I could then dedicate to Project NEMO and get as much work done as possible in that timeframe. That's how life is sometimes but when it comes to the project this year, I have no regrets, quite the contrary. Anyway, there are three places you can find me at: here via comment section, Romhacking.net (both forums and PM) and GameFAQS (AC3 forum and PM as well). I also have YouTube (link under the image that says Data Swallow 1.0.1:) ) but I advise you not to use it as I recently closed down the discussion section and their PM service is just terrible, I don't even look at my YT inbox anymore.
For completeness' sake and just so you know, I used to go to Reddit and 4chan to talk about Project NEMO and AC3 but I don't frequent those places anymore, just so you don't think I'm lurking in the shadows, monitoring shizzle. Especially 4chan or any imageboard for that matter, I'm officially an oldfag from 10+ years ago and it's just not my thing anymore. But I do have fond memories (insert cliched comment about old memories here) of my first attempt at getting a fan-translation for AC3 off the ground on the /m/ - Mecha board of 4chan way back in 2009 with a fella named Antares (if you're reading this, hey look what happened o/), who I then found out also posted on ES.info, but that's a story for another day and another post!
I also used DeviantArt for a few years but in my effort to reduce places and inboxes to keep tabs on, I also made the decision to close my account down as much as I could without removing the images uploaded there. Thank you to all the followers and favourites and comments posted there over the years!
So just to recap, if you want to find me, it's here, RHDN or GameFAQS.

I'll come by from to time to take a look at things and see that everything's working ok, maybe change something here and there like the blog layout since I like to change the overall look sometimes (still looking for the perfect one...). I'll try to make myself available as much as possible, especially if someone tries to contact me with regards to the project, like offering a helping hand or a question about our v2.0 release, or a bug report, or if just know if the project is still alive (spoiler alert: it's not going anywhere if not forward). Just don't freak out if you don't instantly hear from me because I'm completely unplugged sometimes in order to concentrate on real life. Then again you might just get me at just the right time.

Forgive the unpolished nature of this post, I had to rush it because I waited until the very end to start writing it. I was just working on the project before this and then I got the idea of one quick update as a follow-up and there wasn't much time left.

So see you all next time, and until then: be water, my friends. Dragon, Voice of Team NEMO, out :-)