The History of Translation Corporation
Let’s take a trip back to 1996. I established Translation Corporation after I found out I could use my newly learned ROM hacking skills (See the slightly updated, but infamous Quest for the Missing Hat page) to bring games that were never previously released in English to the English speaking world. It was a chance to help put things right in the world. I got to see the console fan translation scene develop from the beginning. It wasn’t until 1997 that I found that I could realistically join the ranks and do one of these projects.
Translation Corporation was officially established in summer of 1997. The exact day is unknown, but we were first mentioned on EmuNews Service July 25th, 1997 as having already begun work. So, demonstrating my superior artistic skills[/sarcasm], I made a lousy Geocities web page, and thought up the name ‘Translation Corporation’.
Final Fantasy was all the rage in the mid 90’s. Emulation and ROMs exposed the fact Final Fantasy II and III were lies and were in fact Final Fantasy IV and VI. We never got the real Final Fantasy II, III, or V. Because of this, a whole bunch of people wanted to help fix this problem. So, as a result, it was easy to get some help and get a group and project going. It seemed like a perfect fit.
Final Fantasy V projects had already been established. So, we set our eyes on Final Fantasy III for the NES. It really was quite an amazing game for the NES for it’s time and it’s a shame it was never officially brought here in it’s original 2D form. It was unknown to me at the time that any other individuals had started a project for this game.
Fan translation was booming in 1997 and it was easy to find a lot of volunteers to help out. I met a lot of great and talented people back then. I also met quite a few new people and trained them in the arts. One famous name was Stovetop who later went on to J2E fame. I’ve been training newcomers ever since for 10 years now, and that’s part of the reason it takes so damn long for me to finish my own projects! ;) Dark Force was another noteworthy team member from this time period.
At it's peak, we had 20+ members! Naturally, it was a task to organize large projects like that, but at the time, nobody had done assembly modifications or much script dumping or anything like that. So, it lent itself well to simply divided strings and game blocks/sections up amongst members. It was actually pretty effective for awhile. It just became a headache whenever someone made a mistake and overwrote something they weren’t supposed to and it didn’t show up until we compiled everybody’s work. Things went smoothly for awhile until…
It wasn’t long though before the infamous FF3j wars began. I don’t really remember how it started anymore, but it’s safe to say we were a bunch of teenagers who couldn’t get along. Undo criticism and comments were made and competition was formed. I do distinctly remember contacting Akilla about working together and ending the stupidity, but I was refused. Demi from Demiforce at the time had also started a project on this game and was also unreceptive of any communication. While it is a big part of our community’s early history, and I could look up some details, it’s really nothing worth digging up. It was the peak of the immaturity seen in our community of that time period.
TransCorp was more often than not at the front of the pack as far as progress went. We had somewhere around 30%-40% of the game done before an event that would change the face of TransCorp and my own life forever occurred…
In April of 1998, I was involved in a severe near fatal car accident. I was incapacitated physically and mentally for most of the year. Without me, TransCorp disbanded and the FFIIIj project was no more. I honestly believe we would have completed the game had that event never occurred, but we’ll never know. TransCorp dropped off the map for awhile, but Nightcrawler didn’t.
Eventually, I recovered and returned to normal life. Final Fantasy III was already being completed by a competent group. There was no sense trying to continue. During the next year or two, I could be found here and there lending a helping hand to notable hackers such as Antiraid/J3D in the early goings of DeJap for example. I have little memory of what my contributions actually were anymore, but I can be found in the readme file of several projects of that time period.
During TransCorp’s downtime, the scene really changed and moved forward. The groups of old died out in favor of new tools and techniques such as script dumping and inserting, assembly modifications, etc. It was now possible for small independent teams to be far more productive. It was during this time that most of today’s big names rose to success such as DeJap, Gideon Zhi and AGTP, Bongo` and Stealth Translations, Magic Destiny and more. The face of our community had changed and TransCorp having no notable releases faded away and few were even aware of my contributions as I kept very low key.
Fast forward to 2001. I entered into a long distance relationship with a girl in my personal life. As always, long distance relationships are hard to deal with. You’re probably wondering what this has to do with TransCorp. Well, it has everything to do with it. She encouraged me to find a hobby to help take up some of the time apart. Somehow, the thought of reviving TransCorp and resuming a translation project got kicked around. I’m not certain who’s idea it was, but it got me thinking. Amazingly, I’m still with that girl today and TransCorp still receives her support. =)
I spent a month or so scouring for potential projects, questioning if I could get back in the hobby and succeed in the new community in 2001. It was at this time that we moved to Parodius thanks to Neil and Koitsu. Geocities had gone from being the cool place to be with half the internet to becoming the crappy place to be that nobody wanted to be there.
During my trials, one game stood out to me more than any other. I knew there was something special about Dual Orb 2 a few minutes after I played it. I don’t have a lot of tolerance for playing Japanese games and not understanding what’s going on. However, the music, the graphics, and the presentation had me playing for hours. After consulting a few Japanese reading colleagues, I got a general idea of what the story was all about. It was everything I hoped for. It was then that I decided this was the game and it was time to revive TransCorp, shed new light on Dual Orb 2, and take my place in history with a finished project. The question of would I have ever finished FF3j was going to be answered by proving that I could finish Dual Orb 2. Finishing a translation project for an RPG is something only a handful ever do. So many start and fail. I was never a quitter and was going to prove it.
And thus on July 15th 2001, the TransCorp you know today was reborn. It was re-branded as Nightcrawler’s Translation Corporation in recognition that the groups of old were gone and it was now a small independent team headed by myself.
During the following year and a half, I ramped my skill level way up on the SNES tackling obstacles that others had failed at and went on to finish Dual Orb 2 on December 6th 2002.
It was also during this time I offered some compression help to D-boy on his Emerald Dragon SNES translation. That was originally going to be the extents of my part in the project. For reasons I don’t remember, D abandoned the project and I took it on as my own in August of 2002.
With Dual Orb 2 out of the way and ambitions high, TransCorp expanded by announcing three new projects. Wozz was now an official project at the start of the year after successfully cracking the Wozz script compression. Much progress was made on Wozz in 2003 on this previously un-cracked game.
Also announced were Herakles IV and Tenshi No Uta although both saw little progress while taking a back seat to Wozz for most of the year.
2004 was a solid working year for TransCorp. Work progressed on all projects and significant progress was made on all. 2004 culminated with an Emerald Dragon partial patch release translating all non dialog parts.
2004 also saw a major face lift for TransCorp. The site was overhauled and recoded to meet web coding standards and modern web design practices.
2005 was a rough year as TransCorp saw many setbacks. The failed partnership on Wozz between TransCorp and RPGOne was a huge setback to the project and caused many months of repeat work.
In addition much time in 2005 was spent waiting on translated scripts and finding translation support. Other factors included several weeks of no Internet access, and finally toward the end of the year, several months were spent on the creation of ROMhacking.net.
Some might argue that creation of ROMhacking.net was far more valuable to the community than anything TransCorp could have done, however it did then and it still does today divert attention away from TransCorp.
2006 was a much better year and saw some lucrative results. There was a Polish translation of Dual Orb 2. In addition, completed scripts were returned for Emerald Dragon and Tenshi No Uta.
Much of the year was spent furiously trying to complete Wozz as many unseen hardships cropped up toward the end of the project. Everything else took a backseat in order to finish Wozz.
Finally December 3rd 2006, Wozz was completed and a patch released. That was a huge accomplishment for TransCorp and made the entire year worthwhile.
After working on Wozz so feverishly at the end of 2006, I took a long break from all TransCorp related activities. Spring of 2007 saw more attention diverted to ROMhacking.net. The first half of 2007 was very quiet at TransCorp.
Finally in Summer of 2007, TransCorp work resumed in honor of the 10th anniversary, and was when I wrote this article. Once again, I found myself working feverishly. This time, it was Emerald Dragon.
During the second half of the year, I developed the inserter, inserted all the text, and completed most all non dialog work. By November, Emerald Dragon was in beta testing and a release was imminent!
2008 was another huge year for TransCorp. February saw the release of Emerald Dragon! Immediately after, work started on a follow-up patch to Dual Orb 2! 25 issues were addressed and polished. TransCorp returned to it's roots and released an updated patch for Dual Orb 2 in June.
The second half of the year was nearly as hot. Serious progress started being made on Tenshi No Uta around September. In November, out of nowhere, we released a follow-up patch for Emerald Dragon fixing all reported issues. Finally, in December, we resumed work on Tenshi No Uta. Additional progress was made on that project to end one of our most successfull years ever!
After an incredible 2008, 2009 had looked promising. However, thanks to a serious injury I sustained, progress was extremely slow most of the year. I was in and out of physical therapy and unable to work at times. Things started to speed up toward the second half of the year. I was able to work a bit more and started my universal VWF project in order to continue progressing in Tenshi No Uta. Unfortunately, things went sour again. I was forced to undergo surgery in December, leaving me unable to work again.
Thanks to the surgery at the end of the year in 2009, the first several months of 2010 saw no forward progress. Once again, I was in and out of therapy and unable to work. Finally toward mid-year, things started looking up again. After not being able to work for so long, I jumped in with a flurry of activity. I had wanted to develop some better tools for myself to better handle the many kinds of text encountered in Tenshi No Uta and Heracles IV. From this, things begain branching out to public projects. I begain work on a new Table File Standard for the community, as well as setting out to develop the most advanced dumping utility ever publicly released. Much time was spent on these new projects for awhile.
Finally toward the end of the year in an unexpected turn of events, focus shifted to Heracles IV as parternship with DaMarsMan on the game demanded my attention. The year finished with substantial progress being made on all projects, including Heracles IV!
What will the future hold for TransCorp? As we’ve seen in the past 10 years, anything is possible. I do look forward to seeing the road unfold as we progress forward and hopefully great things are to come.