Hi all! The head translator for “ef – the first tale” here. It’s almost hard to believe that two years have passed since we signed the deal with MangaGamer and minori to release ef officially. Seeing as how some of the other posts have introduced the game and characters, I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about the process of getting ef out. It certainly has a long history…
When I personally got involved with ef, it was December of 2008. NNL had started and then dropped “ef – the first tale” for the better part of half a year, but with the pledge that they would resume work if someone would handle the translation side of things. It was at that point I decided to go for it. I originally planned to merely finish Miyako’s story (part 1 of first tale) and simply release that as a fansub. However, things went really well, and I started work on Chihiro’s chapter in latter tale. This helped convince the other NNL translator to work on the Yuuko chapters. Down the line, we convinced another group that had been working on Kei’s chapter to combine all our work, which motivated all of us to actually see the full translation of both tales to completion. (In the end, I personally translated half of Miyako’s story, part of Kei’s, and all of Chihiro and Mizuki’s stories in latter tale.)
As we neared the final release date, we at NNL received a Cease and Desist letter from minori. After much discussion we decided it was worth the risk and ended up releasing our fansub anyway. We eventually started to work on eden* (minori’s next newest title), and upon announcing that got a second letter. It was at this point that we emailed minori and stated our intentions. Without going through the entire length of the email, I can include this snippit which I believe captures the heart of our message. (Of course, the original letter was in Japanese.)
“We respect that minori has created great games requiring much time and money to create. We have spent hundreds of hours translating your games so that English readers can appreciate them. Regrettably, this is completely illegal. Without translations, these English-speaking fans will most likely never get a chance to play your games at all.
We believe the latter would be even more unfortunate, and this is why we devote our time to this volunteer project. That is what ‘keeping minority spirit’ means to us.”
Amazingly, minori’s next response was to offer us an official release and to get into touch with MangaGamer. We were so excited! We immediately took down the unofficial work (and our entire site at the time), and began work on the official version.
What sort of work, you might ask? Considering we had a working fansub at the time that was fully playable in English, that’s a valid question. A lot of work went into it on minori’s side especially. We did a lot of particularly hack-y things to get our fansubbed version running, so they had to create proper implementations. minori even went the extra mile and made it so that users could select to use the original presentation or our modifications to things such as fade in/out time between CG (among other things), and totally reworked the engine to support this. We were pretty shocked when we saw it!
And of course, on our end, we decided to go through the entire script one more time and check for any errors we could find. This included checking for translation errors, editing errors, revising translation style to better reflect the original, and the like. In the end, we changed over a thousand text blocks! (A text block being defined as any chunk of text displayed on screen before you click for the next one to appear.) So suffice to say, even if you played the fansubbed version, this is worth a buy!
It’s also worth noting that every time we were presented with a new build, someone always went through to make sure no new bugs were introduced. This lead to a lot of back-and-forth since coding can be touchy.
After all that, here we are. “ef – the first tale” has quite the story in real life to go along with quite the story in game, so please do be sure to enjoy it! We’ll strive for just as high-quality a release for “ef – the latter tale”!