KaioShin retires from romhacking

I don’t know if this warrants a lengthy explanation or if a quick and short statement would be best. Anyway I decided to go with a bit of explanation. Only read on if are in the mood for a bitter, old man’s ramblings.

To clarify in advance – this only concerns the projects I’m directly responsible for. This means Devil Children, Haruhi and the SMT remake. Some others I’m not sure I ever announced officially. I’m still unsure about what to do with those. Kingcom’s projects are completely unaffected by this, you don’t have to panic over Tales of Innocence or SRWJ. There are obviously some delays on those, but they are still progressing and this really isn’t the right blog post for more about that.

So, where to begin…

I’m sure you all read a ton of “I quit” posts from various hobbyist projects over the years, some more convincing then others. More often than not you probably thought “That fucker is making all that shit up and is just too lazy”. I know, since I usually think that myself. It’s a convenient excuse, much easier to sell than “I have no interest in this stuff anymore”. If you chant it enough I’m you can even convince yourself that that was the reason. I’m not a fan of self-deception though, so I’m stating it clearly here: I just have no interest in romhacking anymore. I have more than enough free-time to continue with my projects. But I can think of a dozen things I rather do with it than sift through ASM code looking for code that loads an obscure string from only-god-knows-where.

So I guess I should explain why I ever started hacking in the first place. What do you gain by translating some obscure Japanese game into English?

I’m sure there are almost as many reasons as successful hackers out there. For myself it was a bunch of different reasons. What got me started in the first place was my involvement in Romhacking.net. When the site was created, I was just an enthusiastic fan of game translations like many of you are. I didn’t have internet at all for 2 years or so and when I came back online I noticed some of my favourite websites I used to check, like Zophar or The whirlpool were dead or dying. When I read about Nightcrawler’s plans to create a new community hub I was eager to help and become more involved myself. I basically grew up on translated SNES games, so I had a big desire to give something back to the translation community. At first that was RHDN, but over time I felt a bit awkward being the only staff member who had no real practical knowledge of hacking himself. (Though I’m a damn quick study and picked up most of the basics just by hanging around. I wrote most of the Romhacking Dictionary right after I had pretty much heard of those terms for the first time myself!) So I picked up what I needed and started my own translation project. Even then there were big stretches of time in between progress, where I just didn’t feel like spending time on it. Fortunately I also had a lot of help from awesome people like Gemini, D or Djinn who were there at exactly the right times to help me overcome major hurdles when I got stuck. Somehow, probably thanks to more luck than skill I managed to complete the translation too. I’m still damn proud of it and I hope you enjoyed the game. I know a few thousand people at least downloaded the patch, I hope at least a bunch actually played and enjoyed it.

Where should I have gone from there? I probably should have quit at that point and not now. The reason I had chosen DQM for my first project was really already nothing more than looking at screenshots of a couple of games and then seeing if I could find any text or not. DQM was taken since it was the only one where I quickly found the text and made progress. I wasn’t the greatest diehard Dragon Quest fan or something like that, I think at that time I had only actually played one DQ game myself. It was mostly luck that I ended up liking the game too, although I honestly can’t say if that’s entirely objective or just because I invested so much time in it I had to like it.

I had barely found a viable project the first time, what then? I basically got myself talked into various projects by people I had worked with before. I somewhat wanted to hack another game (I have the skills, why not use them!) but had no idea which, so I asked translators and friends from the scene about interesting games to hack. I then basically stuck with whatever they suggested and started working again. I guess you can already see where this is going and why I was never really in love with those projects. Instead of hacking something I want to do for myself I started a bunch of half-assed projects for other people and dragged them around for years before finally becoming fed-up with them. I’m really sorry, but I just couldn’t work on those projects anymore. As far as I am concerned they just aren’t good games too.

The biggest reason I can’t find good projects I want to do for myself is that I probably outgrew of the JRPG genre. I used to suck up anything Japanese with a turn-based battle system like a dried-up sponge. Nowadays I’m far far beyond the point where I’m so indiscriminate about the games I play. Those of you who know me from the RHDN board most likely even consider me a pretty big elitist when it comes to games, and I really wouldn’t say anything against that. I’m too old for mediocricy. There are a lot good to great games left I haven’t played yet and a dozen new ones being released every year. Why should I waste 50 hours of my time on some totally generic JRPG then? That genre is so fucking dead it’s not even funny anymore. Tired old battle systems consisting of nothing but pressing A on the attack option until the random enemies are dead, spice it up with a spell or item for boss battles, then move on. Level grind for 2 hours to overcome any lame artificial barrier the game puts in front of you. Click through completely pointless dialogue without even a shred of substance, getting my brain liquidified by tired animu stereotype characters without any depth. JRPGs suck. Yes there are exceptions to that. But if you delude yourself into thinking there are a lot of those that don’t suck left among the untranslated ones, … more power to you. I just turned 24 a week ago. I don’t want my intelligence to be insulted any longer by RPG developers who think they have to tell me about the incredible power of friendship and love to overcome evil. There is only so often you can hear the same crap over and over again. The stuff that wasn’t localized already, usually was so for a very good reason.

I have to look really hard to even find untranslated games I’m interested in. Those I found aren’t easy to hack, definitely not as easy as DQM was. DQM took me years, how much longer would these take? I’m interested in those games yes, but not interested enough to warrant that time investment by any stretch. And when it comes down to it, translating games should be about what you want to play for yourself. Translating stuff for others just doesn’t even begin to warrant the time investment needed. The only logical conslusion I can draw from this is to stop hacking. I think I contributed enough to the scene, I don’t owe anything to anyone but myself. The only person I’m indebted to is Tom who already translated the script. But I don’t think I would be doing him a big favor by dragging this out for more years.

Let me clarify something here. This decision is concerning my personal opinion of games and genres and nothing else. That I don’t want to translate or play most RPGs these days doesn’t mean I look down on all my hacking friends and colleagues who keep translating them. They still love those games and there are obviously a lot of fans out there who still love them. So I’m still fully behind all of the other current and future projects out there. When people invest a lot of their freetime to translate those games for free, they deserve nothing less than absolute respect from me or anyone else.

I’ll probably write a little blog post about which games it is I’d still like to see translated some day, just for kicks. And so you can rage about why I’d be interested in those crap games and not in Dragon Quest clone 27 instead. Who knows, maybe someone is also looking for a way to give back and would consider picking up those games! One can dream. I certainly wouldn’t ask of anyone to go through the hell of translating those.

So what will happen with those projects I started? That’s a good question. I would love it if they were being finished by someone with the skill and motivation to do so. Since I don’t have the motivation myself I can’t ask anyone else to do it. Maybe I’ll just upload anything I have so far on them to the site and if anyone wants to take a look at the stuff, rock on. But I’d have to clear this with the other people who were involved in them first. Except for one scene with a password question Devil Children should be fully playable from start to end. The menues aren’t pretty and some are damn glitchy, but it should be playable. Maybe I should just work around that password thing and release what I have, for everyone to use on their own risk? I’m not sure what to do. No promises, no predictions at this point.

I would honestly prefer not to allow any comments on this post, since there’ll probably be either angry kids yelling at me for dropping their favourite projects or good-luck cheers from people I’ve never even seen before. But those who absolutely want to get something off their chests would just do it in the comments of another blog post and closing them all would be unfair to Kingcom. So have fun flaming away.

Greetings to my respected friends and colleagues from the community (you know who you are). See you guys on IRC and the board.

142 thoughts on “KaioShin retires from romhacking

  1. Tom

    I did a lot of editing to Oriental Blue’s script, and I’m currently in the middle of yet another playthrough, even though the hacking isn’t complete.

  2. Mariog

    Tom, I know you probably won’t do this but since the patch seems to be still far away, can’t you at least publish the english script so we can play the game? I’m even willing to read it while playing because the game sounds like what I’ve been looking for since years (a reactive world).

  3. Mariog

    I just noticed (from the gamefaqs board) you already have a preliminary english rom. If you need betatesting or anything else i’m here at your service, because I’d really do anything to play the game. If you wish to contact me for anything, the email is mario.g@email.it.

  4. Tom

    The thing is that although it is playable, the game is not ready. I have been doing bug reports during my playthroughs, and there are nearly 30 glitches that need to be fixed, along with the image editing, and a mini-game that needs to be recoded slightly because it can’t be translated directly.

    I think fans deserve the best version of Oriental Blue possible. As for testing… The official testing hasn’t even begun yet, and it won’t begin until we have all of the glitches fixed.

    The only reason I’m playing through the patch is to spot-check typos and contextual errors in the script. I’ve managed to polish out most of them so far, so the testers won’t have to worry too much about that!

  5. Mariog

    Ok, thanks for your reply Tom. As I already told Kingcom, please consider me for testing when the time comes, or if you need anything else. Aside from being able to play the game, I’d really be delighted in helping to get the translation done.

  6. Tom

    As long as you’re actively participating in the discussions and eager to play the game, I think you’re helping the process by keeping everything alive.

    I’m excited to share the game with the fans. Not too many people know about the Tengai Makyou series yet. I will say that the beta testing will be done swiftly. The main concern right now is the hacking, so we can’t really discuss how the beta testing will be done at this point.

  7. Zeru

    That’s just great news!
    Tom, contact me on exxelord at gmail dot com, I may help you with images(hopefully they could be edited in tile editor or extracted with unlz). Though I don’t know japeness and should be instructed where draw what.
    Best of luck to aerie members and projects!

  8. Tom

    I believe that Kingcom already has an image editor. I’ve already sent the images and translations to Kingcom, and they’ll be edited later. I assume that’ll be the last step.

  9. Zeru

    OK, but if you would need help with something like that I would be glad to give a hand. 😉

  10. zaks

    good work Tom. It brings up the mood when you tell an update on a project. Thanks again.

  11. Tawd

    Hey, I don’t want to sound like a prick or snob or anything, but is there any new progress on SRWJ? I know Kaio retired, but I have been avidly following this project since it was announced, and I would really love to play SRWJ in english. Thanks.

  12. Tom

    Well, here’s another update then. I finished translating another file in DQM2. Now, all of the shops in Great Log are finished. I’ll work on the ranch text next. (I’m going from the biggest text files to the smallest, so the files get easier and easier.)

  13. KaioShin

    Currently all projects are on hold until Tales of Innocence is finished. There’ll be news with further info about that very soon.

  14. Tom

    Yeah, technically I shouldn’t even be working on DQM right now (there are still so many OB hacks that need to be done), but since ToI is so close to being finished, I guess I’ve been inspired to work on it again. 😀

  15. Asema

    Does that include Kyuuyaku Megami Tensei? I doubt it, but I’m just wondering why there’s been nothing to say about it — “no news is good news”, but at least dds hasn’t been seen around on youTube, so I dunno…

  16. Asema

    Oh, I just read on the romhacking.net forums that KaioShin, at least, hasn’t spoken to dds in a few months — nevermind me then!

  17. Hiroshi Mishima

    I won’t beat around the bush or go on about the whole leaving and such, because a couple of people already summed up my thoughts well enough, Tom and Keru in particular.

    However, I would like to say that while I rarely comment, I have lurked and looked forwards to many of these projects. I have long awaited the chance to finally play Kyuuyaku Megami Tensei and others in the series, and I am glad to know that they were still being worked on by someone, at least. Good job on what you guys have gotten done so far, glad for any updates, and to Kaio.. well, enjoy whatever it is you go on to do. I know from experience that working on something that doesn’t interest you takes a lot more effort than many are prepared to give, myself included.

  18. Tom

    Translation is not always interesting and fun. Here’s what translating menu text is like.

    This spell does fire damage.
    This spell does water damage.
    This spell does extra fire damage.
    This spell does extra water damage.
    This spell does a little fire damage.
    This spell does a little water damage.

    Over and over and over. It’s mind-numbing. I don’t translate simply for the fun of translating, but to let these games reach a wider audience.

    So I translate for others. My reward is only when I hear that other people enjoyed it. I’ve already translated Oriental Blue, but I won’t be satisfied until people are able to play it.

    Thank you for posting. I encourage all lurkers to interact and be a part of the community here.

  19. Time Diver

    It’s good to know that despite the annoying task at hand. you’re still willing to translate for us, Tom. Feel free to take as much time as you need as us lurkers will continue to wait patiently for new updates and hopefully eventual releases.

  20. Tom

    Well, there are also times when translating is genuinely fun, if the game has a well-written script in Japanese. I tend to do the annoying parts first, so I can end things on a fun note.

    One of my favorite parts of Oriental Blue were the poems that you’ll hear throughout the story. I did my best to retain the rhythm and rhyme while staying true to the meaning.

    The hard work is done for both Oriental Blue and Dragon Quest Monsters 1 and 2. I have just been doing replays, revisions, and translating a Monsters file here and there from time to time, until the hacking can progress.

    I assume things will move again once Tales of Innocence is done.

  21. Gale

    If Devil Children: Ice Book has been dropped by Kaio and he was working with Kingcom (stated on the Project Overview page), why won’t there be any more progress? Kingcom said he hasn’t dropped any of his projects so I’m confused. Is he working solo on this project now or will it have to be transferred to another ROM hacker?

  22. Time Diver

    @Late Fan Well that would depend on if WingZX is willing to continue without Kaioshin and if he finds a new hacker and translator

  23. Late Fan

    @time driver
    oh, well i wish i could help, but i dont know the first thing about hacking/translating -_-

  24. Tom

    Oh, good question about “Kingcom” on the project page for Ice Book. Technically, Ice Book was supposed to be Kaioshin’s project, but Kaioshin would often ask Kingcom for help with certain things, which is why he was also listed.

    There is a lot of difficult hacking work that remains in the game, and Kingcom is swamped with stuff already. I’ve given the project to EsperKnight, the hacker of Megami Tensei Gaiden: Last Bible 2 for the Gameboy Color.

    Kaioshin will not work on Haruhi. As far as I know, that’s been dead in the water for ages.

    The Super Robot Wars game will be given priority after Tales of Innocence’s beta testing is finished. I’m not sure why they didn’t announce the beta testing on this page.

    (By the way, they’re not calling it “Taisen,” because it’s a more than a little odd to randomly leave a Japanese word in the English title.)

    From what I’ve heard, the game has been hacked and edited, but there still needs to be graphics hacking before it can go into beta testing.

    On the plus side, Oriental Blue’s script has now been so thoroughly revised, it will be a breeze for any beta-testers.

  25. Other

    Tom, I think people are reffering to SRW as SRT since that’s the name Atlus brought to the US under, due tot the whole Robot Wars tv show thing, and they’ve grown used to it despite only being used for a small handful of games.

  26. Tom

    Ohh, so that’s why they couldn’t use “Wars.” At least fan translations aren’t bound by little things like that. 🙂

    By the way, there’s evidence in the Oriental Blue data that Hudson planning to release it in the USA.

    There are some extra splash-screen graphics and English text that looks like a preliminary English version of a word game.

  27. jitro

    video games are really meant for fun… you don’t need to apply the logical reasoning of real life on this. just to say that you don’t enjoy doing this anymore is valid acceptable, short answer to this..

    but if you feel bored and started to get interested on translating games again, choose the game that you really like.

    I REALLY thanks you for your contribution on the translation hacking community!. have a nice day mate. ^_^

  28. Gale

    Thank you for the update, Tom. It’s great to know I might get a chance to play the translated game. Then I’ll be able to figure out what the password is. <3

  29. Gale

    Oh also I can’t seem to find a site directly related to EsperKnight, so when or how will I know that Book of Ice has been translated?

  30. Ryshili

    Were you just translating Devil Children Ice?

    Fricken surfing the web everywhere for translations for Black. Just curious.

  31. Tom

    Esperknight doesn’t have a website for it. The closest he has to a website is the Megami Tensei Gaiden: Last Bible 2 translation page. I suppose we’ll put a trailer up on youtube if and when it’s done, but he’s not working on it at the moment. He’s working on a different project. The website will probably go up when the project is complete.

    I fully translated SMT Devil Children: Ice Book. I was waiting until it was hacked before focusing on Flame. I didn’t want to waste time on it if Ice wouldn’t even be hacked. I am glad that I didn’t.

    I also translated Black Book. I gave the translation to another German hacker named Tauwasser, but he’s going to use that English translation to create a German translation first (since German takes up more menu space)… Kinda sad. People will think that the English version was derived from the German translation, when it was the other way around.

    Black, Red and White are the best in the series, in my opinion.


  32. Sorsha

    I want to thank you in advance for Super Robot Taisen – Justice ^-^

    Destiny is much harder to play, but has interesting characters, so I will wait for that one as well

    -at least I appreciate your hard work

    Reversal still need someone to translate it, even if it is pretty much a prequel to Original Gaiden (just like Advance was for Original Generations 2) – but I think you have enough work with the current projects and the ones you wish to do next ^-^

  33. Gezegond

    Hi! I was just passing by, trying to find a translation patch for Devil Children: Book of Ice. So I click on the “Devil Children” title under the “projects” section. and the last news I see is a retirement statement. I think: “Oh god, is it gone? will I ever be able to play it?” But no! There are walls of text to read, and they imply the game is near-complete. So I have to read through tons of comments to finally know that the project is currently on standby, because the new hacker is working on something else.

    So could you please update the blog and write about the fate of Kaioshin’s dropped projects? If some outsider (like me) comes here, he would probably think the projects are dead, while they’re actually not.

    Also, this might not be the place, but the last news on “Kyuuyaku Megami Tensei” is 1.5 years old, so an update on that project would also be nice.

  34. Tom

    I passed the patch to my online buddy EsperKnight, who hacked Megami Tensei Gaiden: Last Bible 2. He has not made any progress with it, but he has never hacked a GBA game before. I have done another translation for EsperKnight in the meantime, so he has two translations to do. Devil Children is not something you should expect to play any time soon, short of a miracle or a mysterious hacker that pops up with a full hack, just needing the translated script.

    The game is fully translated, but you cannot play the current patch from start to finish. You would get stuck about an hour or two into the game at a password entry portion that won’t allow you to enter the password. The patch is not worth releasing in its current form.

    Kaioshin was only officially working on some Dreamcast game, a fan-made Haruhi Suzumiya game, and Devil Children, as far as I know. I wouldn’t expect to see anything for them in the near future. I don’t believe he had a translator for any of them, he’d only been tinkering with the code, I believe. Basically, the only translation that was really set back was Devil Children.

    The others did not make substantial enough progress to be passed to anyone. They’re all just dead.

  35. Gezegond

    @Tom: well, have you considered releasing one of those “translation guides”?

    (Those that are basically text files that tell the user how to play the game, like this: “http://lparchive.org/LetsPlay/SMTIf/index.html” or this: “http://www.gamefaqs.com/snes/581300-shin-megami-tensei-if/faqs/17751” for “Shin Megami Tensei if…”, afaik this game has no rom translation, but the non-japanese speaking user can play them, if not as easily as using a translation patch.)

    I’m just worried that your time spent on translating this game would go to waste if no one succeeds in hacking this game. I myself wouldn’t mind waiting, I’m not going to play this game right now anyway, I’m more hyped for Book of Black. 🙂

    1 question: I was thinking, if the only problem is a bug which wouldn’t let you continue the game, I would play the patched game to the point were I would be stuck, save the game (battery save), load it in an unpatched rom, go through the password selection screen, save the game again, and load the new save in the patched rom. and continue playing. I’m not sure if that can be done (i don’t know the first thing about romhacking), but if that’s possible, then I think releasing the unfinished patch would be a good idea.

    Anyways, just don’t let a completely translated game be left unplayable. Oh, and sorry for taking your time, I know you’re busy. 🙂

  36. Tom

    I haven’t heard anything from Tauwasser about Black for the longest time. I hope it gets released. But honestly, I have plenty of time to chat. I love to talk about games as much as I love to do translations of them.

    There may be text translations of Flame and Ice floating around the internet somewhere, but I am not sure. I did full direct-to-text translations of every Devil Children game except Messiah Riser and Call by Puzzle (and I actually did a translation for Jin’s story in Call… Akira’s quest was too hard for me to beat).

    I have PLENTY of completely translated, unreleased projects right now. I might start to lose track of them! Ha ha! But either way, I care about all of these games, and I don’t want any of them to be anything less than the best.

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