Update (2013/03/29): herp derp, I forgot to make the donation reward descriptions include all of the rewards up to that point. So if you donate $50, for example, you get crayon drawings as well! Same goes for crayons and a song for the the $600 reward. Thanks for your generosity thus far!
Visual Novels are a sort of interactive fiction, and they're the most popular in Japan. Localization companies like Aksys Games, JAST USA, and MangaGamer bring these genre-cum-medium pieces to the western world, and have the financial clout to translate games on a regular basis.
However the indie visual novel scene in Japan, the doujin market, rarely gets to get a taste of the western community. Sometimes a title like Hatoful Boyfriend smashes straight through the ceiling to be enjoyed by a large western audience, but sadly the vast majority of these games rarely get to enjoy a place in the spotlight.
As a contractor with JAST USA, I can tell you that it is quite cost-prohibitive to go out and translate doujin visual novels. This project is meant to fix some of that.
My goal here is to create an open source translation toolchain in Python for the LiveMaker3 visual novel engine, one of several visual novel-making engines available to doujin authors for free.
I've dubbed this toolchain irl, started developing it,and will release it under a permissive software license so that both commercial and fan translators can use these tools for free.
I've been working on it for a little while now, so here's a Bitbucket link and here's a small list of what I've already done.
- Reversed the archival format for game files packed in a separate archive
- Reversed enough of the script format to extract scripts
- Created different ways to export game scripts for translation or analysis
Here's what still has to be done.
- Allow different ways to create game patches or full releases (bindiff, new files, etc)
- Reverse the archival format for game files packed inside executables
- Repack new game scripts into an archive or executable
- Create a command-line interface for the toolchain
- Insert translations into game scripts
- Fully reverse the LiveMaker 3 scripting engine
Why the Kickstarter?
Right now I'm a university student, juggling my work time outside of class between a web development job and editing for JAST USA. I wish I was able to work more on irl (what a pun), but my finances don't really allow me to work on it outside of random nights throughout the month.
By contributing to this project, you'd essentially be allowing me to take some time off of web development, letting me sit myself down to work on coding irl instead. This should also make the project take significantly less time, since I wouldn't have to take as much time figuring out what I was doing the last time I sat down with the code.
So in a nutshell, you'd be contributing to make this toolchain come out faster and more confidently than a vague promise of "it'll hopefully be done soon." I'll buy a few more doujin games past the ones I own with some of the funds to make sure that irl works for more than just a small set of visual novels.
The Due Date
If this project is funded, I'm guesstimating that this will take about a month to finish nicely in newly created spare time. I can only create this time if I can guarantee that the funds will be coming (two weeks' notice and all that), so I'll only be able to really get crackin' once this project gets fully funded.
With all of that considered, I should be able to finish by June 2013.
If people are feeling particularly generous, additional funding for this project will go towards the following:
- $750: Addition of legacy support for the LiveMaker 2 engine. I'll tack on support after releasing LiveMaker 3 tools by the deadline.
- $1000: Addition of a GUI frontend and distribution of easy-to-run executables.
- $2000: I'll start a commercial translation project for a short LiveMaker game.
Risks and challenges
I've worked for JAST USA before on commercial visual novel translations, and I have extensive experience writing and designing translation toolchains for the KiriKiri2 and Nitroplus Scripting System 2 (NSS2) visual novel engines. With this experience, I know what a successful translation workflow demands from its tools.
The project is already in progress at the moment (at something of a crawling pace), and will be finished regardless of funding. This Kickstarter project exists to make it go faster, and optionally create additional functionality via its stretch goals.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)