Semi?Conversion – Phantasian Productions Interview Part 2

Semi?Conversion

In the world of unofficial fan translations for the Japanese “Tales” series of jRPGS there are probably few groups who share the expiration and longevity of “Phantasian Productions“, for your consumption an interview with the studio “head” (if those terms are befitting of a fan driven endeavor):

(continued from part 1)

SAM: Translations are no easy task, what do you think were some of the biggest pitfalls you’ve encountered while working on a project? Things you’ve actively thought to do better since?

CLESS: The puns. Oh God, the puns. They’re all terrible. Japanese has countless homophones, so there are a number of places where they’re used as an attempt at humor. Some of our attempts at localizing them have changed a few times over the course of the editing phase, trying our best to make them…less stupid. At least, as far as I know and from what I’ve gathered from others (I haven’t played much of the other English versions of Tales of Phantasia available, except DeJap’s–which I finished, but don’t remember well as it’s been eleven years), it sounds like our takes on them are mostly (all?) original.

I’ve also torn my hair out many times over the name of a certain location, being unable to come to an agreement with *anyone* with how it should be handled. It’s one of those things that’s really difficult to translate, and I felt a loose reimagining was required to truly smoothen it out.

I was also long hung up over a small number of scenes DeJap made very famous with their…embellishments. I was hoping we could come up with something at least nearly as memorable without taking things to the same extremes, but I’ll be honest: I’m not confident we’ve succeeded there.

DeJap

Guys... I'm not exactly sure this was the author's intended vernacular

SAM: What might you suggest to those interested in starting there own translation projects today?

CLESS: Start with the basics–ROMs for an old retro console–and work your way up. NES games and such are very small and relatively simple. Practice with them and learn the fundamentals. There are a lot of standardized tools for these. Maybe after that get some programming experience. Games for newer systems are more complicated with their file systems and tend to require a lot more custom programming to work on with efficiency.

SAM: What do you think of the recent official translations for tales games?

CLESS: They’re superb. Some of the best around. Especially when you consider the schedules and deadlines they have to put up with. I have much respect for the company that handles the bulk of the official localizations: 8-4, Ltd. I sometimes wish I had pockets deep enough to hire them!

SAM: What inspired you to start the Phantasia project (and for that matter the other two)?

CLESS:

Three for three

Destiny 2, Destiny R, Phantasia

Phantasia: At the beginning, people were still anticipating DeJap’s patch for the original with bated breath. But I was a now a much bigger fan of the remake, and I wasn’t satisfied with the idea that the “inferior” version would be the only one available in English. So I decided to take the matter into my own hands, as insane and hopeless as it seemed at the time.

Destiny 2: With all the new game systems this one introduced, I found the extra complexity particularly unfriendly to the non-Japanese speaker. After taking a good look at the game files, I decided I wanted to make a menu patch so that I could actually play the darn thing properly without having to rely so heavily on FAQs and discussions with other people to learn what every little thing does. Having to do that saps all the fun out for me, especially in a time where I have less patience with language barriers (and have a larger-than-ever and ever-increasing backlog of other things to do).

Destiny R: Everyone was looking forward to this remake finally happening, with the original version feeling so out of date compared to everything else. I ended up doing some preliminary stuff with the first release: dumped some of the menu text, did some quickie English text insertions, extracted some graphics, etc. Nothing beyond that, though. Taking note of this, throughhim413 of Absolute Zero Translations approached me for a joint project on the game shortly after the Director’s Cut version emerged in early 2008. I was quite interested too, and things just went from there. We wanted to give Namco a fair amount of time to announce it themselves before making any public revelations, though.

SAM: What \ who where some of the people you found most helpful while working on your projects?

CLESS: I want to name everyone who has contributed in notable capacity, but that would just make this far too long.

Skeud: He helped big time at getting the Phantasia project off the ground. At first it was simple ISO rebuilding, but he managed to obtain useful stuff like a disassembly of the decompression routine…which soon lead to file decompression and recompression tools. Almost everything that matters in the game is compressed. The project really started going places thanks to this. I wonder where we’d be today without this simple, yet very crucial step…if I hadn’t already given up in such a scenario.

gogs (aka Gogeta75): Our go-to man when we needed deeper insight and analysis on some of the finer things in translation. He’s got a great eye for detail. I considered him one of the very core people of our “group,” being with us since the beginning, but he stopped appearing regularly by mid-2009. He had one brief appearance about a year later, but has since vanished. Things didn’t appear to be going too well for him in real life around then, and I have no idea what he’s up to now. I hope he’s still hanging in there!

 

Thank you very much to Cless for agreeing to be apart of this interview. Join us in the near future as we follow-up with the final of the interview.

Meanwhile check out Phantsian Productions over at their website.

This is Semi?Conversion on Mod Informer, and as always, I claim to be:

-Sam Wagner (Goodnight!)

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