Amaterasu Blog

31Aug/096

Amaterasu Voting Procedure

Originally copied from Ixrec's post: http://amaterasu.tindabox.net/forums/index.php?topic=25.msg438#msg438
It may have been changed since then. What you see here is the revised version for the 3rd poll (which will happen after the Inganock project). *edit* This version has been further revised to reflect policy changes made during the nominations stage. This will most likely be the version used for the 4th poll.

Amaterasu Translations Project Selection Procedure

Amaterasu Translations will select the subject of our next translation project through a three-stage voting process and a subsequent logistical process as outlined in excruciating and binding detail below. This process will formally begin when our current translation project is completed, although the first stage may be informally started before that.

== Voting Process

- Stage 1: Nominations

There will be or already is a thread in the forum for nomination of candidates. By convention this thread will probably be or was created about a month before the current project is likely to end. Any user may post in this thread and nominate any number of candidates, as long as they meet the requirements for eligibility (see below). A nomination post ought to demonstrate reasonable effort for each game nominated, by which we mean pictures, external links, plot summaries, pro/con lists and other extras should be included to prove you care about what you're nominating. There is a maximum of 50 nominees, after which no more nominations will be accepted unless one of the existing nominees is disqualified.

- Stage 2: Preliminary Voting

If nominations have finished, there soon will be or already is a poll set up for preliminary voting. By convention this poll will probably take place within about a week of current project completion. The location of this poll will be posted in the forum once it is created. Users will use their names and passwords from the forum to log into the poll and declare a total of three votes for separate candidates. Less is fine, but no more than three. This time, there will not be any downvotes. Any votes made via proxies may be deleted or ignored if they are deemed suspicious. The preliminary poll will run for 24 hours (starting time will be announced at least 24 hours in advance), at which time we will choose a number (likely around ten) of the top-scoring candidates as finalists. The list of finalists will be publicly posted shortly thereafter, however the finalists will be listed alphabetically, with no indications as to how many votes any received or even which received the most votes. The full results with vote counts will be posted after the final poll.

- Stage 3: Final Voting

If preliminary voting has finished, there will be or already is an online poll with detailed information on the finalists, protection against multiple voting, and results only visible to a handful of us. It will probably take place within a week of current project completion. The location of this poll will be posted in the forum once it is created. Users will use their names and passwords from the forum to log into the poll and select one candidate. Each user gets only one vote. The final poll will run for 24 hours (starting time will be announced at least 24 hours in advance), after which time the results will be made visible to all users. The candidate with the most votes will then be declared the winner, and will most likely be our next translation project. See below for probable exceptions.

- Future Voting

Once the winner is fully translated, or dropped and something else fully translated, this process will be repeated in much the same way. This document will be reposted at that time with appropriate changes. All finalists from this time will be automatically nominated next time, but they will receive no special advantages in the second or third stages of voting next time. Also, anything I've rated on this blog as "excellent 8/10" or higher that meets the other criteria will be also be automatically nominated.

== Logistical Process

At the moment, it remains unknown how much time and energy for translation I will have while attending classes in college. However I am committed to working every day once I decide to start the project, and I will never again work full-time on more than one project at a time.

But, in the event that the winner is extremely lengthy or unable to be hacked at the time of its victory, we will have to devise a long term project queue. The winner will in that event be in some form of "hiatus." This means that we have committed to translate it, but not immediately, and not without halting it periodically to do other projects. Whatever queue we devise will be publicly posted before any translation project begins.

If the winner cannot be hacked within a reasonable time after its victory, it will be put on hiatus and the runner-up translated first. If it cannot be hacked within a reasonable time after the runner-up is translated, another vote will take place, and the winner will have to win again in order to avoid being dropped.

If the winner is extremely lengthy, we will most likely split the project into two or more portions of manageable size, and alternate those portions with other, shorter game(s) that also placed highly in the poll. The first portion of the winner will be done immediately, and other portions will be on hiatus. The runner-up (unless it's also extremely lengthy) will be translated between the first and second portions. All projects taking place after the second portion will be determined by future voting.

If both the winner and runner-up are extremely lengthy, we will have a second poll in which only relatively short games may be nominated in order to determine intermediate projects.

==Requirements for Eligibility

In order for a visual novel to be accepted as a candidate, it must meet the following conditions, as determined by me:

1. I must personally find the game to be of "excellent 8/10" or higher quality upon playing it. Any review posted on this blog may be interpreted as proof that the game does or does not fulfill this criterion.

2. I must decide that I am able to produce a translation of acceptable quality upon playing it.

As I simply do not have the time to play every single candidate, I may not be able play the winner to confirm these conditions until after its victory. If, when I do play it, I find it fails to meet one of them, it will be dropped and the runner-up translated instead.

It must also meet the following conditions, as determined by us:

3. It must be possible to hack. If it has not been hacked, it may end up on "hiatus" (see above).

4. It must not have a preexisting active translation project, or a completed translation project of good quality (this does mean inactive and bad projects may be "stolen," although the people being stolen from will have the right to disqualify the candidate during nominations).

5. It must not be a likely candidate for licensing by any commercial translation company.

If the winner is found to not meet one of these conditions after its victory, it will be dropped and the runner-up translated instead.

== Vote Skip

There are three conditions on which a project may be selected without the kind of voting procedure described above.

1) Amaterasu Voting is outright abolished. This is only likely to happen if I become convinced that polling has inherent (read: unavoidable) and extremely negative side effects, such as leaving massive portions of the fanbase butthurt for weeks. At the moment, I believe this was only due to a number of mistakes in the design of the poll, which I have attempted to remedy for next time.

2) Any project small enough to be called a "side project" that I want to do (or more accurately: that much of #Ammy wants me to do) for whatever reason will be declared an official Side Project with no public input. This will usually be done between major projects, as I strongly dislike working on more than one translation project at a time.

3) I play a game and give it a perfect score of 10/10. If I find something *that* awesome, democracy be damned, I'm tling it (some of you may recall my "I'll tl this if it's the last thing I do" post in the old forums after finishing Cross Channel). The games I currently think might have a shot at this are MuvLuv Alternative, Forest, YU-NO, and Saihate no IMA, all of which I intend to play at some point.

4) If I choose to stop translating for a while in favor of some real life pasttime (heavy college workload, girlfriend, job), then obviously polls will cease to matter. However, this is exceedingly improbable for at least the next few years.

== Definitions (basic legalese; feel free to ignore this)

- "forum" refers to the Amaterasu Translation forums.
- "user" refers to anyone with an account on the forum.
- "I" and "me" refer to Ixrec.
- "we" and "us" refer to the Amaterasu Translation staff. (more details in this list)
- "candidate" refers to any and all visual novels that might be translated in the future by us.
- "list" refers to the list of candidates
- "winner" refers to whichever candidate receives the most votes in the third and final stage of voting
- "this time" refers to the project selection process which will probably occur in winter of 2009-2010 following completion of the Sekien no Inganock project.
- "binding" as used in the opening sentence of this document does not mean legally binding (duh) but instead that everything herein written constitutes an intentional and heartfelt promise by Ixrec to the English-speaking visual novel community.

31Aug/094

Sharin no Kuni, Himawari no Shoujo Review

Much of Sharin focuses on three girls with deep emotional baggage and how the protagonist helps them overcome it. These central characters are all absolutely wonderful. Though they fit certain well-known moe tropes, it's soon clear these are merely their outermost personalities. As you go through the process of helping them, they consistently feel like extremely real people, as they deny their problems or resist help until the very last minute, nearly taking you down with them (and if you make a wrong choice, they actually might).

The setting and backstory are perfect for this, as they give all the characters some shared baggage on top of their individual problems, as well as plausible means for the protagonist to be able to help all three of these girls within a relatively short timespan, and of course something to rattle your brain about in between major events. Then in the end, all of that backstory is revealed in full to create a new, much larger conflict that all the major characters band together on to produce a truly epic and largely unexpected conclusion.

It's hard to say why I can't consider this game perfect. This is probably one of those cases where a lot of little semi-subjective errors eventually add up to an objective imperfection. Things like a handful of scenes taking longer than maybe they should, a couple of developments being a bit on the predictable side, and some of the minor characters' mysteries getting more or less forgotten about during the ending and never explained.

Score: 9.5/10

Polarization: Low (+/-1)

At first glance, one could conceivably mistake this for "boy returns to hometown to make a harem with the osananajimis that all conveniently forgot about him", but that misunderstanding should quickly dissipate, and other than that there's really nothing I can think of which would turn anyone off.

Routes/Endings Played: Harem End

30Aug/092

Amaterasu Translations Project #2 Selected: Sekien no Inganock

Copied from Nagato's post: http://amaterasu.tindabox.net/forums/index.php?topic=57.0

Sekien no Inganock -What a Beautiful People-: 85 votes
Baldr Sky Dive1 "LostMemory": 82 votes
Gore Screaming Show: 49 votes
Swan Song: 48 votes
Hoshizora no Memoria -Wish upon a shooting star-: 36 votes
Rui wa Tomo wo Yobu: 38 votes
Never7 -the end of infinity-: 32 votes
Himawari: 20 votes
Saihate no Ima: 17 votes
Extravaganza: 4 votes

Roughly 5% of the total votes were proxies and were not included in the final stats. Of those proxies, Hoshizora no Memoria had roughly 26% of its votes removed due to proxies and was also the most game voted for using a proxy.

The optional stats were mostly for our entertainment but it did confirm a few ideas we had. The most visited board among voters was /jp/, followed by None. 2-5 years was the most selected choice with 1-2 close behind.

I might make some more stats in the future using the data but currently that's undecided.

30Aug/092

End of CC Project General Announcement

Copied from Ixrec's post: http://amaterasu.tindabox.net/forums/index.php?topic=19.msg583#msg583

1) There will be a "complete" CC patch within a week. I do not know at this time exactly when it will be out, but it will have every single word in the game in fully edited English. *edit* It's out: http://amaterasu.tindabox.net/index.php?page=downloads

2) Long after that there will be a "final" CC patch, with whatever other corrections and improvements we (and you soon-to-be readers) can think up.

3) Nominations for the voting will end tomorrow. If you still have something you want to nominate (that's actually worth nominating) you'd better do it now. *edit* Polling is complete: http://amaterasu.tindabox.net/forums/index.php?topic=57.0

4) I will cease actual work on long-term translation projects until I am "settled" in college. I will be moving in September 19th, and it will probably take a week or two to get fully settled.

5) During this month-long "break" I will work on a handful of side projects, including the following:
--Overseeing what's left of the CC editing
--Overseeing the re-editing of MOON.
--Assembling a timeline for Amaterasu Translations so we can decide when to celebrate assorted anniversaries in the future
--Manage the Amaterasu Translations Fall 2009 Project Selection Process (ie, the voting and the poll)
--Translation Checking work for the G-Senjou no Maou Project
--Other stuff too, if I finish some of the above quickly enough
*edit* --And make a blog, lol

6) Amaterasu Translations staff is now open again. Anyone who would like to work on our next project (whatever it'll be) may ask to join.

30Aug/095

Shuffle! Review

This is probably one of the classic moefests, and still my favorite.

Unsurprisingly, there is a "plot", but only in the sense that I have to put quotes around it; the same way Touhou games have a "plot". If you actually care about good storytelling, you're playing the wrong game.

The characters are all flawless waifus. None of them are just moe archetypes but actual personalities based off the archetypes. Of course, these are glorified and exaggerated far beyond anything conceivable in reality, but that's what you're here for. Each of their routes also provides a significant conflict or failing point, but only just long enough to give the illusion of character depth and not long enough to actually get in the way of the moe or provide annoying real depth. And of course, the art and voices are perfect for these purposes (unless you've seen way too much Nishimata and it all looks the same to you).

There's really nothing more to say here.

Score:  7/10

Polarization: Mild (+/-2)

If you're jaded (or in your own words, "have good taste"), this is a 5/10. If you're a moefag like me, this is a 9/10. That's probably all you really needed to know.

Routes/Endings Played: All

30Aug/094

My Reviews in General

I figured I ought to have some general statements up here that apply to all my reviews, just so that everything is as clear as possible.

First, I always read VNs/eroge in the original Japanese. I never read one in English, except the ones I translated myself (in my opinion, Japanese is an objectively superior language for storytelling). So if you're reading a bad translation of something I review, don't be surprised if it's not as good as I say it is. The sole exception thus far is Hatoful Boyfriend, and that was only because I couldn't get the full version in Japanese.

Second, although I like being unconventional, the 10-point rating convention makes perfect sense to me, so I use it. Since everyone's definitions of the 10 points vary, here are mine:
10: Flawless; beyond objective criticism; potentially life-changing
9: Awesome; must-read; unforgettable
8: Excellent*; well worth your time
7: Good; if you want to read it, you should
6: meh, no real point in reading it
5: bleh, do not read
1-4: since I have standards, I'm probably incapable of reading anything this bad
*This "excellent" cutoff determines which VNs I'm willing to translate. Anything I give an 8.0 or higher I will probably translate someday unless someone beats me to it.

Third, story, writing and characters will always be the most important to me, although hopefully this is no surprise whatsoever. If the other parts of the game (art/voice/music/gameplay if any/etc) made any impression on me, they will be mentioned, but they often don't.

Fourth, since opinions vary wildly, simply giving a flat score doesn't seem nearly as useful to me as giving a range of scores. So each of my reviews will have a "polarization subscore" under the main score. This represents the degree of variation in perceived quality which I would consider rational. For example, if I give a game 8.5 (+1/-2), that means you should feel the game to be somewhere between 6.5 and 9.5, barring some form of irrational bias. Since I always list specific reasons for these ranges in the reviews, you should be able to get a feel for where in this range you will personally fall before playing the game.

Fifth, I like comments. Please talk to me. Not because I'm ronery, but because I want to know if there's a point to me writing these.

Sixth, I like short reviews. Everything that's really worth saying can be said in a few paragraphs, and anything else (especially plot summaries >_>) would be just cathartic ranting you don't really need.

Seventh, I like TV tropes. I will use terms from it, and I will link to it. If you are unfamiliar with this site, make sure you have a lot of free time before clicking on a link to it.

Eighth, I rarely go for 100% completion in VNs where it's nontrivial to get, so each review will list the routes and endings I felt like playing at the bottom. I may go back, play more routes and rewrite a review if given a compelling reason to do so.

30Aug/097

G-Senjou no Maou Review

The main draw of this game is the battle of wits between the main characters. And on that point, it delivers in spades, with each major case containing numerous twists, many of which can probably be reasoned out in advance if you are a god or have way too much free time, but for the most part are beyond human ability to predict. Especially in the final chapter, the true nature of what's going on can be simply mind-blowing.

But there is other stuff. Particularly in the first chapter (where else?) there's quite a bit of slice of life content to fledge out all the characters--especially the narrator's--and in that respect it works perfectly well and is consistently interesting and/or hilarious. Many of these scenes even bordered on being critical to plot or character development.

Now the bad news. The characters are all perfectly fine, and certainly qualify as multi-dimensional, but in and of themselves simply aren't that deep. As a result, most of the character's routes (ie, anything but the true end that leads to the final chapter) decline into somewhat more ordinary drama plotlines, all of which are good, but they don't come close to the awesomeness of the main plot.

Score: 9/10

Polarization: Mild (+1/-2)

If you skipped all side routes and went straight for the true ending, I can see giving this a perfect score. However, the fact that the first four chapters technically aren't necessary for any of the mind-blowing events in the final chapter is likely to leave some asking what the point of them is.

Routes/Endings Played: All

28Aug/097

Ever17 -the out of infinity- Review

This is one of the iconic mystery/mindscrew VNs, and for good reason.

The way the game is set up, you have to retrace the plot through four separate routes before unlocking the final "Coco's route". The first four routes amount to a mix of slice-of-life, sci-fi, and stingy hinting about the greater truth behind everything. The SoL parts are consistently entertaining, the sci-fi is usually pretty clever and the hints drove me absolutely insane.

The characters are a mixed bag. Each of them have their moments which can make you laugh or feel sorry, and they all feel entirely believable, but there's simply not that much going on with the majority of them. I'm pretty much neutral on this point.

The real flaw with this game is its persistent tendency towards treating you like an idiot with overly long explanations, profuse weasel words and some gimmicks which simply aren't as cool as it thinks they are. Fortunately, this is primarily the case during the early parts of the routes, and its completely absent from Coco's route.

But what makes the game a legend is the veritable roller coaster of huge reveals and plot twists that bombard you in the final route. This part is presented perfectly, with the very fabric of spacetime (literally) twisting itself to make the developments flow seamlessly and quickly. Some of them I kinda-sorta expected, but most were complete bolts from the blue.

Score: 9/10

Polarization: Mild (+1/-2)

If the characters and the slice-of-life bore you, or the game treating you like an idiot at first really irritates you, it could be as low as 7. On the other hand, if you completely ignore the first four routes (and the scenes from them repeated in the start of the fifth route) you may be inclined to give it a perfect 10.

Routes/Endings Played: All

28Aug/0911

CROSS†CHANNEL Review

This is probably the only thing I have ever read which I would dare call "flawless." It is that good.

First, Tanaka Romeo's writing style is absolutely insane. It actually manages to make me feel like every single line in the game has a point, and that if you removed any one of them the scene simply wouldn't be complete (this probably isn't true, but it sure feels like it). When asked how to describe it, I usually say it's something like a combination of Shakespeare's elaborate descriptive flourishes and Hemingway's straightforward exposition.

Perhaps more importantly, the characters are all masterpieces. It's obvious from very early on that each of them is a complex person with their own secrets and/or ulterior motives. Thanks to the plot, we even get to see multiple versions of a number of them, the contrast between which is downright fascinating.

Then the plot. For about the first half of the game it more or less stays in the background and lets the characterization do its thing, but the reveals it eventually makes range from the amazing to the downright mind-boggling. I literally read the entire final week in comatose disbelief over the mere premise of it.

Art and music aren't  major focal points of the game, but both are really nice and do the characters and plot justice.

I would go into more detail, but almost everything about this game is a spoiler.

Score: 10/10

Polarization: Extreme (-4)

If you dislike Romeo's writing style, and all of the characters  (despite being masterworks, several of them are unlikable for much of the game), and feel there isn't enough plot early on, your experience could fall all the way to a 6/10. The protagonist is especially easy to dislike since he spends much of the first week being little more than a crazy pervert.

Routes/Endings Played: All