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What Alex Has Been Doing

Hmm. I've been meaning to do a post for ages to tell people what I'm up to. But now NaNoWriMo is upon us again. So okay, I'll make two posts. This one is the "what Alex has been doing in the past six months" post; the next one will be the NaNoWriMo post.

One of the most delightful things to characterise the past several months is that Rachael and I have acquired the two most wonderful cats ever, Pepsi and Tango. There are many photos of them linked from their ToothyWiki page. They just bring us such delight and joy. They're the most sociable cats I've ever met: neither of them are bothered in the slightest by large numbers of visitors, and Tango will happily run right up to you, jump into your lap, and curl up. In fact, if he's resting on a chair or sofa, and you pick him up and put him in your lap, he'll stay there and start purring, which is unlike almost any other cat I've met. Pepsi is a little more aloof, though she has her soppy moments, but she'll generally like to be in the same room as us, and will reasonably often let you cuddle her. And the two of them continue to play with each other, just like they've been doing since they were kittens: just this afternoon they were chasing each other round and round one of our armchairs, (play-)fighting furiously, and then a few minutes later relaxing in a chair, gently grooming each other. They're just such an utter joy.

And there are frequent occasions when they loll.

As people may know, I've released a couple of visual novels (story-driven computer games), called Elven Relations and When I Rule The World. I've also been doing proofreading on the Lemmasoft forums of other fan-created visual novels.

There are many commercial visual novels that are created in Japanese and never get an English translation. (Most of those that do get commercially translated to English, in fact, are rather more focused on sex than a good story, which is rather disappointing.) For a long time, it looked like Da Capo was one of those games that would never be released in English. I'd seen the fansubs of the two anime series based on the game, and loved them. I'd have loved to play the game, but my Japanese isn't really good enough.

And then, it turned out that a translation company called MangaGamer had acquired the license and were shortly to release an English version of Da Capo. My heart leapt... Until I read some other things that had been said about MangaGamer. It seemed that their translation quality was distinctly subpar. So I decided to just send in an email to MangaGamer, on spec, saying "I've heard you're translating this game. I've done a lot of proofreading in contexts X, Y and Z. Would you like me to proofread your game before release?" I was pretty much certain I'd receive no reply, or just a standard form letter.

To my astonishment, they said yes. And so for most of August and occasional other periods, I've been proofreading the Engrish text (produced by their translators for whom English is not a native language), and turning it into English. I've been delighted that the game's storyline is actually excellent - I really liked four of the seven main characters' stories, which is an unusually high hit rate, and two of them (Nemu's and Yoriko's) were just beautiful.

The English I've been producing isn't great, because I've discovered that when I'm correcting awful grammar mistakes and comical mistranslations, I find it very hard to also keep an eye out for subtle clarifications or edits that could be made. But at least now when the game is released, it won't have phrases like "Kotori's voice was dry and horse", or "Grabbing me by shoulder, Mako stopped me who took a step."

Rachael and I went on holiday to Egypt in October. We didn't take many photos, because they'd basically be copies of those that we took when we were there last time, because we went back to the same hotel. But the holiday was wonderfully relaxing and just what we needed. We did extremely little, apart from one morning where we went scuba diving, which was a first for both of us. I quite enjoyed it, though Rachael wasn't so keen.

Rachael got a dance mat for her birthday, from robhu. We've been playing lots of StepMania, an open-source DDR clone. It's lots of fun, and exhausting enough that it must be good exercise too.

It was a bit of effort to find a good collection of songs to dance to, though. The majority of the stepfiles out there seem to be random interchangeable dance music. I pulled together a collection of songs that Rachael would have actually heard of from assorted places, but if anyone's got any recommendations for stepfile sources, I'd love to hear them.

And of course I've been up to the usual board games, watching anime, playing with kids at City Church, and so on. So that's what I've been doing.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 1st, 2008 11:24 pm (UTC)
I read this.
Nov. 2nd, 2008 12:06 am (UTC)
it had your name in it. i only read it to see if it mentioned anyone I know...
Nov. 2nd, 2008 12:06 am (UTC)
Are you stalking my flist?
Nov. 2nd, 2008 03:14 am (UTC)
Your kitties are very very cute! I love those sudden burst of insanity followed by reserved grooming and the who-me?-face.
Nov. 2nd, 2008 07:12 pm (UTC)
best of luck for NaNo! and yay the joys of dancemat! i got a couple of second hand dancing stage games on the cheap, but that means most of the songs are turn-of-the millenium pop ~ouch~ >.<;
Nov. 2nd, 2008 11:11 pm (UTC)
Surely the first rule of translation is that you always always hire someone to translate _to_ their native language?

Nov. 2nd, 2008 11:12 pm (UTC)
Yeah, you'd think...

Alex has suggested that to them for next time.
Nov. 2nd, 2008 11:55 pm (UTC)
You'd think so. You'd really, really think so. But MangaGamer don't.

To their credit, however, they realised that their first couple of games were becoming a laughing-stock in certain parts of the community, and they immediately got to work producing a patch to update the English to what I hear is very reasonable levels, and also issued a full refund to everyone who'd bought the horribly-Engrish versions.

They realised that Da Capo was their highest-profile release, their flagship product, and it needed to be high quality. So when I pointed out to them that the other proofreader they'd got working on the game wasn't exactly doing a very consistent job, they delayed the release to let me proofread his versions of the files too, because they don't want bad English impairing the game's reputation.

(Incidentally, yes, I was being paid for this. Not especially much, but more than I'd expected.)
Nov. 3rd, 2008 06:08 am (UTC)
It's very very cool that they got you proofreading for Da Capo.

Do you know what format it's going to be released in? I may have to pick that up.
Nov. 3rd, 2008 06:09 am (UTC)
Uh. That was me...
Nov. 3rd, 2008 10:27 am (UTC)
You may not be happy ;)

They're available as download-only games for PC. That much seems reasonable - I don't have a particular attachment to getting a cardboard box and a magnetic disc with my game.

The bit you may be less happy about is that one of the conditions of MangaGamer acquiring the license from the Japanese owning company... was that the games be distributed with DRM. They allow five "activations" per purchase.

robhu has ranted cogently at length about the problems with DRM. I'm broadly inclined to agree with him, but if it's a choice between there being a DRM'ed English release of Da Capo or no English release at all, it's a rather tougher choice.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )