It has been two years since the last interview with Team Nemo was done by Electrosphere.info. Team Nemo is the group behind the English translation of the Japan only version of Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere. As the one year anniversary of the full English patch release for both discs of AC3JP nears, Project: Lighthouse catches up with team founder DragonSpike XIII and co-founder Iceman-UK. This is the first part of a two part interview series with Team Nemo for 2017. Part two features questions sent to Lighthouse for Team Nemo.
A full mission utilizing Team Nemo's translation. Video footage by Enigma.
We must ask: after the release of the full English patch, how did the team members enjoy their vacation?
The first thing I did was clear my mind of all things AC3. Me and translator Greenrose worked on it very fast and very hard during the months leading up to release day and, as a result, we both felt very tired. The light was flashing red on my burnout meter and the siren about to go off, so to speak.
Another passion I have, besides AC3, is watching Japanese TV series (also known as J-Drama or Dorama), especially those from the 90's and early 2000's, so with the experience I gained with my AC3 fan-translation project, and with some much-earned time off from the project, I'd finally found the right time to help out.
I only got to help sub one series before heading back to AC3 to organize and begin work on our next release but, after that, I want to be more active in the J-Drama scene in the future.
It was an amazing achievement after so many years starting the project. To be honest, the credit is to DragonSpike and the rest of the team. I was mainly involved in the website side of things.
As we near the one year anniversary of the patch release for both discs, how do you feel about the overall reception of Team NEMO's release?
I tried to visit as many places as I could that would be interested in AC3 or our fan-translation (YouTube, Reddit, acecombatskies' forums, Romhacking.net, two anonymous imageboards and even foreign websites) and the reception was overwhelmingly positive. I noticed how a lot of people were really happy that this was finally a reality and it seems to me like our v2.0 release didn't let anyone down.
There was one moment in particular on an imageboard where someone posted this image of an anime girl, with a stern look on her face, holding a banner saying "This is a magnificent event!". That was a pretty funny moment, I got positive vibes from everywhere but that was the moment I enjoyed the most.
One thing worth noting was how the project received attention from gaming publications online and gaming channels on YouTube for the first time, even in languages other than English. I felt very thankful for the sudden spike in exposure that our project got during that time.
It's always gratifying seeing the notes of encouragement and thanks. They were there even when the project was dormant.
Iceman-UK had a very interesting experience this August at OggCamp, an IT industry conference. While there he did a presentation on Project NEMO and showcased some footage of the game running International Edition patch. His overall experience was discussed in a post on his personal blog "Eject Disc". Can Iceman tell us about his presentation?
Thanks for mentioning this - I should say that OggCamp is actually a "free-culture unconference" where the talks are all crowd-sourced. It's a pretty amazing concept! Anyway, I wanted to contribute to the 2017 OggCamp and thought about what I could talk about. I formerly talked at the 2009 OggCamp about another translation project I was involved in: Front Mission 5 on the PlayStation 2. That got a lot of interest and went very well so I thought I would do the same for Project Nemo. I had a LOT of help from DragonSpike who put together some amazing videos for me to show off and gave me technical information about some aspects of the translation. The majority of people voted for my talk so I got to deliver it in the main auditorium of the venue in front of 200+ people with a massive projector screen show-casing Project Nemo.
On July 30th, 2017 a blog post on Usea Today announced that DragonSpike was back from vacation. With Team NEMO officially back into full swing, what are some of the things the team hopes to accomplish before 2018?
Many new things have been implemented, some smaller in scope such as translations for the title screen, some more menus and loading screen, which were made possible with help from German programmer Krishty. We're also working on some pretty big things as well, such as the entirety of the in-game encyclopedia which has dozens of entries on the people, organizations, places and various technologies of AC3.
This, to me, is the main component that we're adding to our fan-translation with our next release. Another important focus is improving our translation from every possible angle, sometimes enlisting the help of translators when necessary. It's painstaking work but I think there's a very good chance the script for the story-line will be finalized with our next release.
As an added bonus, I'm also going to include a fan-translation patch for the AppenDisc, the second disc of the game's soundtrack which also doubles as a game disc.
As your efforts continue has the team picked up any new members? Have other individuals or groups outside of Team NEMO come along that have had an impact on the project?
Greenrose, a translator, was the last one to join us in a long-term capacity involving a high volume of work. For the most part that is my criteria for who I consider part of the team. That is not to say that the project hasn't benefited from the help of other contributors. I've mentioned Krishty, whose extraction tools allowed me to find and translate new parts of the game.
But it's worth mentioning the support I, and by extension the project, have been receiving from M-35, the developer of the jPSXdec program, who not only sought to improve the compatibility of this rather nifty and powerful tool with AC3 but also took time to look, on more than one occasion, into the data files in order to help us find out whether it was possible to edit other parts of the game, such as the intro video and the credits scroll. As far as outside contributors, he was the first one, going all the way back to 2009, the first year of this project.
There's also a number of translators who have helped us during the translation process: Absent Abyss, DarknessSavior, Ein Ni Hen, Momomeno, Seihen and tanukisuitup. All people who had a hand in translating AC3 and whose fine work will always be part of our translation.
Another person whose presence can still be felt when playing our fan-translation for AC3 is Agness Kaku, a professional localizer who once did a demo translation for Namco-Hometek before they decided not to localize the full game. She gracefully gave me her permission, even if only symbolic, to make use of the contents of that demo translation and so I included as much of her work as I could when inserting our translation into the game's first mission (that was the scope of her demo), so there are even some professional-quality translations in there too!
It's also worth mentioning DrMefistO from Lab313, who made TimView+ and its successor Tim2View, who gave me some much needed support when inserting our translations had finally become possible. Both programs are central to this fan-translation project as well.
I make it a point to write down every person's username and contribution so I don't forget, but there are many more who have made a tangible contribution to the project even through something as simple as a comment or reply or even by just spreading the word about our project. Especially when I was just starting out, every answer or comment I got helped me move the project forward.
Concerning the in-game term database in AC3: how will the translation of that information be handled? Will it be strictly done through translating the data entries in game or are some articles planned for release on the Team Nemo website?
Aside from some raw Japanese text that I found on the Japanese side of the Web, it's being worked on pretty much from scratch. That means we're identifying the characters, transcribing it file by file, and then translating it with little reference outside. There is an old, incomplete and not very reliable translation that can be found on GameFAQS, by user HJerng that has been there since AC3's release in 1999 but we're doing it all from the ground up.
At this point I think it's possible to have them all translated and viewable in-game but I can't say for sure just yet because only a fraction of them have received translated, and those are also very much work-in-progress and not fit for release. Nonetheless, I plan on having the same in-game translations readable on our Project NEMO homepage when the time comes. Translating these entries hasn't been easy so it's gonna take a long time to get them up to the same level of quality seen in our translation for the story line.
What was the most surprising thing you discovered about the plot or lore of Ace Combat 3 during the translation process?
I'd say I had a number of smaller ones as opposed to one big revelation during the past few years. Some of the biggest surprises I had overall were before we ever released our first full script back in 2009 but there's plenty that I found out after we started improving the translation when inserting finally became possible.
Nonetheless, the biggest one I can think of was understanding what happened during the DOE (Darkness of Enigma) Project and why it was shut down and swept under the rug.
One of the more recent surprises I've had is how subtle the briefing for mission 14 Pawns in the Game is and how it tries to convince the player, a peacekeeping pilot, that they're suppressing weapons factories in the middle of a city and how they explain you flying a plane from a different company. It's in moments like these that a good translation comes in handy, so you don't miss the point the game is trying get across.
Another is finally getting closure on a small issue that I've had for years: Was the Geofront city a full-fledged city and did people live there during the events of the game? This is not very well explained, if at all, during game play but according to the second Search file has on General Resource, the Geofront is still referred to as an underground city plan or project.
Over on Romhacking.net the tools used by Team Nemo for the AC3 English translation were gathered and some were re-uploaded by DragonSpike. What do you hope will happen now that you've made these tools easy to access?
The ones who are going to benefit the most from these tools are those who wish to translate the game into their own language. I think some of these tools could help people working on other PS1 games too, I know I used one of them while testing a possible fan-translation for another game but the would-be project leader disappeared so it didn't take off (second time that's happened to me). The tool worked flawlessly though, so other fan-translators might be able to save time by trying ours.
Does Team Nemo have any updated plans to begin translation of AC3 into languages besides English?
We don't plan to do any more languages, that's really up to those interested in translating the game into their own language. Project NEMO was born as an English-only project and will remain as such. The tools are all there so have at it!
Project: Lighthouse would like to thank DragonSpike XIII and Iceman-UK for allowing us to conduct this interview on behalf of the rest of Team Nemo. Best wishes to Team Nemo and their ongoing effort to translate AC3 into English.