We really did release a legit Tales of the Tempest patch yesterday. April Fools! Of course, the patch wasn’t a joke. The joke, I see now, was on us.
How much time would you be willing to put into a joke? Thirty minutes? An hour? A day? A week? Our core team members put in hundreds of hours each on this project. That’s not to mention the innocent bystanders like deets, Kajitani-Eizan, I.S.T., and Carnivol that we roped into helping us see this thing through. They suffered greatly for our ill-conceived prank. We did too, of course, but I can’t help but feel that we probably got what was coming to us. Kingcom and I have gone through our old chat logs to see which of us deserves the blame for this project. I think it’s fair to say that we were both at fault for getting to that point, but I was the one to push us over the cliff. Since you all literally learned of this project yesterday, let’s walk through its progression a little bit.
We began the project on July 2, 2010. For those of you keeping score, that’s less than 3 days from Innocence’s release. Yeah, we’re bad at taking time off. From the outset, it was planned as an April Fools joke. I estimated the project would take a month. I was very, very wrong. As with most projects, the initial month did see a lot of progress and the menu translation was completed on July 28, 2010. Things slowed down after that. April Fools 2011 passed without a release. I completed the initial script translation on September 11, 2011 with most of the translation happening in the month leading up to it. Progress remained slow as we headed into 2012. In early 2012, a programmer named StorMyu contacted Kingcom about a project he was starting on Tales of the Tempest asking for some advice. Rather than let him start a second project on a game that doesn’t even deserve one, Kingcom thought this would be a good project for StorMyu to learn some more of the tricks of the trade and would let him devote less of his attention to Tempest and more to his other projects. On March 9, 2012, StorMyu officially joined the project. It goes without saying, however, that April Fools 2012 went by without a release, although with a new programmer on-board, things were looking up. As we approached the end of 2012, the game had progressed to the point where I could start finalizing my translation and checking it in-game. But with only a few months to go until April 1st, things weren’t looking good for an April Fools 2013 release. The team had mixed opinions on how much was left to be done and how feasible it was that we’d be able to finish. Thankfully, we kept at it with the April deadline in mind. Were it not for StorMyu’s participation, I think it’s very likely we wouldn’t have made it. January and February were shockingly productive and the patch progressed rapidly. By the end of February, I had completed the alpha run and edited my script. The beta kicked off as planned at the beginning of March and although it got off to a slow start, we had plenty of time to get the necessary testing done. And thus, we were able to release the patch on April 1, 2013 much to our relief and everyone else’s dismay.
Of course, I’m sure many of you are wondering something very fundamental – why did we do it. I think that asking why we did this project is perfectly reasonable. We asked ourselves the same question countless times. I’m not entirely certain that we ever came up with a completely satisfactory answer. In general, we thought it would be funny to release something completely unexpected. Something that, honestly, we felt was probably not deserving of the effort that we put into localizing games. The idea of “wasting” all of that effort on a game like Tempest was and still is quite funny to me because it’s based on the idea that there’s a right and wrong way for us to manage our time. In the end, we’ve got another Tales game translated. Are there more deserving Tales games still untranslated? Absolutely. But I think there’s a good laugh to be had that Tempest came out first. So that’s a good enough answer for me. Of course, that’s a rather philosophical answer to the “why” question. A simpler answer is that I wanted something short to fill the gap between the end of Innocence and the end of PP’s Phantasia project. The Destiny project wasn’t yet at the point where we were ready to start cranking on the story translation and the menus were on hold because we were transitioning from text files to spreadsheets on the back end. Even without the Tempest project, the speed of the Destiny project would not have changed. Tempest was just a little busywork to fill the time.
When I reached the end of Tales of Innocence, I looked back and felt that I had really grown as a translator as a result of the project. It gave me the opportunity to refine my skills. So did we learn anything from Tempest? We did, but it didn’t help us improve our technical skills. I would say that the project afforded us the opportunity to do some introspection. Kingcom and I are in complete agreement that releasing a patch without any prior announcement was awesome. It allowed us to just focus on the fun part – the project itself (at least as fun as Tempest can be). Much though I enjoy running this blog, it isn’t what I feel I’m really good at. My limited time and energy is better spent researching obscure mythological references and trying to provide the best possible translation that I can. So while I did miss feeling like a community of people was cheering us on toward the finish line, it was also very satisfying not to have to deal with any external pressures. I think any future project from me and Kingcom will probably be influenced by that realization. The key is figuring out how to balance that with the need to keep you guys plugged into what we’re doing somehow. (Speaking of being plugged in, how come so few of you are subscribed to the Tales subreddit? Get over there and help populate it with some content!)
Man, this is a long post! Anyway, I hope you all get whatever it is that you were looking for out of Tales of the Tempest. It’s not a good game, but even I can’t say that it’s completely irredeemable. I’ll be very interested to see what they do with that reimagining next year, but I do think it’s important that everyone experiences the true Tales of the Tempest at least once. See it for its deep flaws as well as its faint potential and then let’s hope for the best with the remake. If you find any bugs or typos, please report them in their respective threads!