I’ve decided to reveal all my secret projects. Read more to find out what I’m working on!
I will continue to reiterate what I’ve said before – as long as I’m still alive and haven’t got some kind of C&D, I will get this game translated. That said, I feel terrible that I’ve been stringing it along as long as I have. There really hasn’t been major progress on Destiny since we first released screenshots. The menu remains very near completion (excluding the summary text). At this point, the goal is still to get a menu patch out in the near term. We’re pretty close. The backend transition from text files to spreadsheets is taking longer than I think Cless or I originally anticipated, which has resulted in this unfortunate delay. In the long term, it’s going to make the testing and editing much easier, so while I know we can’t make up all the time we’ve lost, hopefully it will be worth it in the end. The script is not yet in a format that I can work with, so I really haven’t even started on that save for a few test scene. There are still a lot of unknowns in PS2 translation, so it’s rarely smooth sailing with this project. Every time it seems like we’re near a breakthrough, there’s another wall waiting. If it’s any consolation, Tales of Destiny is closer to being an active project than it has been for over a year.
Absolute Zero is doing a joint project with KAJITANI-EIZAN’s Patch Site: Reimagination. I’m handling the translation side of Tales of Hearts. I officially joined his project when he was getting ready to release his first demo. I was originally just going to be doing a little bit of QC on the script, but, well, here we are. If there is a project that actually was delayed by Tempest, it’s Hearts. My goal with powering through to the end of Tempest was to clear my plate for Hearts and that’s why Hearts is my primary focus right now. Kaji has been working his ass off on this game. Seriously. The stuff he’s put into his Translator’s Cut is crazy and awesome. Some people have ironically been giving Kaji a hard time when the fault really lies with me, so please redirect all complaints about slowness to me in the future. The game is currently translated up to Hansella, which is the third town. My goal is to have the first continent done by the end of the year, but I really hope I’m further along than that. I can’t really give you a timeline on the final release, but I can pretty much guarantee that my next Tales release will be our collaborative Hearts patch.
Until a few weeks ago, I had intended for Destiny and Hearts to be my final Tales translations, but there was always a caveat – I had long since decided that I would jump at the chance to work on the best version of Phantasia and it’s sequel. Just recently the addition of an excellent debugger to the PPSSPP emulator has made it possible to start my dream project. I’m going to be translating Tales of Phantasia X basically from scratch. While it will remain an Absolute Zero project, I talked to Cless and we’re going to coordinate on the terminology to try and create what I hope will be the ultimate version of ToP. Hopefully this will once and for all end the debate about which version of Phantasia you should play. Additionally, I’m going to be translating Narikiri Dungeon X, the fantastic remake of the sequel to Tales of Phantasia. While these two games were released on a single UMD in Japan, we’re going to treat them as two separate releases. Right now NDX is actually further along because it’s easier to hack than ToPX will be, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be released first. These projects are still in their very early stages. I would say the NDX menu is probably around 50% complete.
Prioritizing Translation Projects
There was recently a question on the Phantasian Productions forums that more or less “Why have you been working on crappy games instead of Destiny?” I thought it was a good question because I know that many of you are wondering the same thing. I’ve addressed this to some degree previously, but much of it bears repeating. So now that you know what all I’m working on, I want to try and answer that question as best I can.
First of all, let me say that what Tales fans want from us is a moving goalpost. There are a lot of people that want Tales of Destiny done, but many of those same people were thankful for Innocence and even Tempest. I personally consider Tales of Destiny to be the best game that I’m working on, but I have never considered it a waste to translate other games in the mean time. It’s really not possible for me to give you a complete idea of all of the various things I have to juggle and I know that most people probably don’t care anyway. I try as best I can to keep all of my projects moving, but you have to understand that these kinds of unpaid team efforts have their ups and downs. Destiny has been “down” for a while. I could have kept poking at Destiny and it would be a little bit further along than it is, but I know that Cless has a lot of things to juggle too. Sometimes Kingcom doesn’t have as much time as I do to work on a game, but I just do what I can and occupy myself until he can get back to it. Often he’s the one waiting on me. Kaji has been working a lot harder than I have on Hearts, but he never demands anything, he just keeps up his hard work and tries to help motivate (or, necessarily, guilt) me into getting things moving. This isn’t a full time job for any of us, so I just do the best I can and trust that my partners are doing the same. It wouldn’t be fair of me to put pressure on them because I have different expectations for the project. That’s the shared understanding that allows us to work together on something over what can be years.
I do want to talk briefly about the various projects that I’ve worked on and why I worked on them.
When I started on Tales of Phantasia, the SNES version had been around for ages, Cless was working on his version, and the GBA version had just been released, wasn’t that good enough? To be honest, it really wasn’t for me. I managed to play the GBA version once through, but that’s something I can’t say for the SNES version. The PSX version of Phantasia and the PSP versions that it spawned are Tales of Phantasia as it was meant to be experienced. So to me, it was worth every second that it took to get it translated and patched. I’m sure that Cless feels the same way. Cless and I could have worked to combine our efforts into a single project and I sometimes wish we had, but looking back on it, we wouldn’t have so many translated Tales games if it weren’t for us deciding to go our separate ways at the time. I think we both learned a lot by doing things our own way and it has made every project since better for it.
A lot of people liked Tales of Innocence less than I did. I thought the cast was really fun and the reincarnation concept was pretty neat, but I’ll admit it’s far from the best game in the series. The dungeon design is terrible and it’s pretty rough around the edges. That being said, there is nothing I have worked on that helped me to grow more as a translator than Tales of Innocence. For that reason alone, the project was worth doing. Also, if Kingcom and Tales of Innocence hadn’t come along, I am almost certain that Tales of Destiny would have been my only Tales translation project after Phantasia. I’ve decided to spread my efforts out rather than concentrate on that one project. I’m sure people who love Tales of Destiny above all else wish I hadn’t, but there are also hundreds of thousands of players who were able to enjoy other Tales games in the mean time because I made that decision. It’s really hard for me to consider that a waste.
Tales of the Tempest is a downright terrible game. We worked on it because, well, just the idea of it was funny to us. It’s a game that surely would never have been translated if we didn’t do it. We’d watched several GBAtemp efforts to translate it fall apart. We could do it, sure, but no one would ever seriously want us to. But what if we did? What would people say and think if we provided a good patch for a bad game? When I’m watching anime, I try to watch a good mix of shows – I want to watch masterpieces, yes, but will I really be able to appreciate just how good they are if I don’t see how badly they could’ve gone? I think that if you really want to call yourself a fan of the Tales series, you should play Tempest to see what once passed for a main entry in the series. And in the end, as much as we laughed at ourselves for working on such a stupid game, it really wasn’t holding up much else. I have invested much more time working on the yet unreleased Tales of Destiny menu than I did on the whole of Tempest. It’s a short game and I think the Tales fandom is better off now that they have the opportunity to experience it for all of its flaws.
I guess the thing to keep in mind is that we’re dealing with a lot of competing expectations from the fans on top of having our own lives and priorities to deal with. What I choose to work on at any given time isn’t necessarily going to be what the majority of people want me to work on. I’m weighing all of my options, I’m considering my free time and my schedule, and I’m doing the best that I can to get you more translated Tales games as soon as I possibly can. I know I might not always meet your expectations, but know that I’m thankful for those of you who stick around and give me a chance. I hope I won’t let you down.