We are now done keeping things secret, and that means we have a lot to tell you so be patient and read carefully.
First, a summary of how the official deal has worked out for us. I'm going to leave out a lot of details and emotions to try and keep this reasonable.
We originally asked Mangagamer to talk to age about licensing MuvLuv and MuvLuv Alternative. During my chats with Mangagamer, they also decided they wanted to talk to Liarsoft about licensing Inganock and Sharnoth. Roughly six months passed without any concrete information, during which time our image editor did not work on the MLA images because we had no way of knowing if his work would have been used by age in the final product or not. Near the end of this period, we finished translating MLA, and unfortunately a complete patch of it was leaked. Even closer to the end of it, we declared secrecy (partly to avoid drama as we said before, but also to prevent people from guessing there was a Liarsoft deal in the works when we didn't release a patch for Sharnoth).
About a month after that, we were told that ML/MLA could not be licensed after all, and age had instead offered MG the option of licensing Kimi ga Nozomu Eien (at this time we still had not heard any news regarding the proposed deal with Liarsoft). Needless to say, the combination of this news along with the disappointing results of many other deals in the community left us pessimistic about licensing in general. So after much deliberation we as a group agreed to give up on the deal once we were ready to release a proper MLA patch (with all the images translated). We are finally ready to do that, and more than enough time has passed that we do not feel the need to sit on our completed Sharnoth translation any longer.
The upshot of this for our work as follows:
1) We have finally released a complete MuvLuv Alternative (Project #3) patch. As usual, download it here (though we've tweaked the page a bit). All the images we could translate have now been translated, there are automatically opening text files for the two voice-only speeches (and one voice-only line during a video), and since this is a real patch it should crash far less often than the leak did. Special thanks to [RoXaS] for editing the insanely large number of images (450 in total), including several very messy ones.
2) We have released a complete Shikkoku no Sharnoth (Project #4) patch. Download it here too. We also plan to translate the Sharnoth webnovel at some point.
3) We have already begun unofficially translating A Profile (Project #5). Yes we're doing the remake. As usual, watch our progress here (we've tweaked this page too).
4) After that we will unofficially translate Forest (Project #6).
5) We will never again keep secret what VN we are currently translating, or the existence of an official deal for a VN we're translating. We now know from experience that this is more stress for everyone involved than it's worth.
6) What we will work on after A Profile and Forest has not yet been decided, but we might return to some form of community interaction as a possible means of selection.
The upshot regarding future licensing deals is not so simple of course, since it all depends on what other companies do.
We are still very willing to do official translations in the future. But now we will require some conditions, namely: the company/ies will have to approach us instead of vice versa, we won't start to translate until we're given script files, and we won't tolerate a complete translation being sat on indefinitely. For more detail, see our new official statement on VN licensing deals.
Since this needs explicit confirmation: yes, if Mangagamer can get us scripts for Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, we will translate that. And if Mangagamer or anyone else secures a deal with Liarsoft, we will gladly work on whichever good game(s) they are most interested in releasing.
P.S. We expect someone to question what we mean by "told that ML/MLA could not be licensed after all", especially since one or two things MG has said since then explicitly contradict this (prompting a few group facepalms for us). So here is an actual quote from my logs: "age is unable to give us the rights to MuvLuv".
P.P.S. On an unrelated note, the group has inexplicably shrunk to only two editors and two QCers, so new members are more welcome than ever. Just make sure you actually know English and aren't a total flake.
Edit: We got about 7 volunteers the evening this was posted, and I think any more than 3 new guys at a time would be a bit tricky to manage, so I won't be taking anyone else for the time being. Thanks for offering though. The next time we need more I'll probably message the other 4 guys.
Edit: Make that 8 volunteers and 5 other guys. I missed a few blog comments.
P.P.P.S.: Read jp302's comment below. It's pretty significant.
These are our official statements regarding any Japanese VN companies or VN licensing companies who may be interested in asking us to translate a VN. If you have a question not answered here, or want more details, explanations or evidence regarding something I say here, simply talk to me--Ixrec--directly either by either emailing me at j-pop_addict [at] hotmail.com or finding me in [email protected] Note that the following statements apply only to myself and anyone editing or proofreading my work, so if any other translators are working with Amaterasu this may not apply to them.
Statement 1: I am not only willing, but eager to offer a completely free translation of any great VN to its original company/ies if they want to release an English version of it. Because I've been translating VNs for over two years, I can virtually guarantee that my work will be of professional quality and done in a reasonable time frame.
Now to clarify a few details about that statement.
1) A "great VN" means any visual novel I've rated 8 or higher. See my ratings list for ones I've rated already. If you're interested in releasing an English version of a VN I haven't rated and you think it's good, simply ask me to play it and I will do so right away. I might also be willing to translate VNs with lower ratings for free, especially if they are short or easy.
2) "Professional quality" means I have enough experience reading Japanese, reading English, and translating from Japanese to English that I feel my work is on par with that of official, salaried translators. I'm certainly not saying I make zero mistakes, but I do feel confident in saying that nothing of value will ever be lost in my translations without a good reason.
3) What I mean by a "reasonable time frame" can be easily estimated with the following rule of thumb: I translate between 0.4 and 0.5 MB of text per month during a project (though I take breaks between projects). In case you measure scenario length differently from us, assume the average VN has between 1 and 1.5 MB of text when using that rule. Also keep in mind that we may want to finish whatever our current project is before starting on yours. Naturally, if you contact us we can easily tell you how long that will take and estimate when we can have your VN completed.
If you're not interested in our services, stop here. If you are interested, read the other statements below and make sure none of them will be problematic for you. If they do sound problematic, just talk to us and we'll see if we can work it out.
Statement 2 (regarding licensing companies): Before starting an official translation, we must be given concrete evidence that a deal has actually been made and the Japanese company intends to officially release the VN. Simply providing us with the official script files we need to translate will be more than enough.
Now, this does not mean that you need to get script files from the Japanese company before talking to us at all. This just means we won't start actually translating the VN until you do that.
Hopefully the rationale here is obvious: we've been burned in the past by a deal we thought was being made but actually wasn't. So in the future we can't blindly trust a licensing company's word that a deal will manifest itself quickly.
That, and making a licensing deal for a given VN happen can legitimately take longer than actually translating the VN. So if we start translating before the deal is made, we could (and in fact did) end up with a complete translation on our hands that we have to keep all to ourselves for months or years instead of letting people read it. And when we don't even know if the VN will actually get released, that's unacceptable.
Statement 3 (regarding Japanese VN companies): In the past, some companies which have agreed to license deals for English versions of their VNs have taken years (yes, years) to ship an English version of a VN even after being given a complete translation of the text therein. Worded another way, some companies have spent so much time "sitting" on finished translations without releasing them that the Western VN community feels insulted by them. This is absolutely unacceptable, and if we see this happening we will back out of the deal.
Now, to many that will sound like: "If you don't release fast enough we'll leak a complete patch." That's not what we're saying. What we're saying is that if we finish a translation, and the company does absolutely nothing with it for months without telling us why, at some point we're just going to have to give up, assume they don't care and let people read it anyway.
All we want in return for our free translation is the respect to either release said translation promptly or give us a good reason why you can't (and some idea of when you can, of course). That's all.
For instance, saying nothing but "we're working on it" for months is going to make the entire community give up on you, including us. But say something concrete like "we're busy with making this VN right now, which should be out next month, so we'll get to releasing your translation right away once that's out" and we'll happily wait.
We promise to always wait at least two months after completing the translation before backing out of a deal.
Statement 4: As a minor detail, in the future we will always publicly state what we are currently translating, and if it's for an official release we will mention that too (since it means we won't be releasing an unofficial patch). Everything else we will keep secret by default, but those two details we insist on declaring openly. We've learned from experience that hiding them doesn't benefit anyone.
P.S. No, we aren't actually expecting anyone to approach us. This page is here mostly so that there is as little confusion or misinformation as possible regarding our stance on this very messy and controversial topic.