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Four Years Later…Is the Project Still Going?

December 17th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Today is the four-year anniversary of the Front Mission: Series Translation Project! It was December 17, 2007 when this whole shebang started, and now it’s December 17, 2011!

So anyone who’s been following this blog and our website might notice that there’s been practically NO updates since June of this year. And maybe that there were new people running the whole gig…this is correct. Oh, and maybe some people are wondering if the Front Mission: Series Translation Project is dead or alive. Well, speaking on behalf of the founders (since I did help co-found it with Angelo, Imran, Kyle, Wilson and the others – see the About page on the website), I’ll make this as straight and clear as I can.

On the “New” Management…

Basically, around fall of 2010, some “fans” of Front Mission were sucking up to us and saying how they wanted to help contribute to the project. After about a few months of this suck-up job, the team decided to let these people take over the mantle. The main reason for this, in my opinion, was that all of us who had been here since day 1 were moving on to new things…and we didn’t have the time to dedicate work on the projects. I myself can’t dedicate much work because I’m in the process of starting up a small, “indie” game development studio and that’s been eating up all of my free time. I know that Imran, Kyle, and Wilson have all had new jobs since spring of 2011, but I’m not in the know of what they’re doing. And my good pal Angelo (we go way back since university) has been bogged down with software localization in his new job, only now he’s being paid to make it happen. Not sure what everyone else is doing, but I’d assume they’ve moved onto new things as well.

So with everyone’s productivity dropping like a rock because of new jobs and other real life issues, we thought it would be a good idea to pass down the torch. Around June-ish, we gave the new team all the materials and notes we had, and wished them well in progressing the Front Mission projects. Finish up Front Mission 2 (the translation and editing were long done by spring of 2011), going further into Front Mission Alternative, and doing the side projects too. Now with December’s arrival, it is disappointing to say that the new management did not fulfill their end of the deal. No monthly updates, no reported progress on Front Mission 2, only minor changes to the web pages here and there, and quite honestly, no real interest in getting the job done! As a game developer in real life, this reinforces my point that game development of any kind should remain in the hands of those who actually want to see something done.

Anyhow, we’ve fired those “fans” from their jobs and rightfully so. We’ve also switched to a new web provider because our original one was closing down. The website and this blog will be alive for at least another year. So what happens now?

On Front Mission 2 and Front Mission Alternative…

As I said above, Front Mission 2 from the pure text work is already done. The problem is getting past the game’s encryption…which pretty much has been our major roadblock since fall of 2010. Without getting too much into the technical jargon, Front Mission 2 has a unique encryption scheme that requires advanced programming knowledge to manipulate. When we tried to work around it, the game would spit out all sorts of glitches. An entire mission script could be fully inserted, yet when played in game may randomly spit out Japanese sentences. Another issue involved words mysteriously disappearing (or appearing garbled) from the text window, even when the script was double-checked for technical and linguistic errors! It’s a real pain to deal with, and solidifies my personal thoughts on why games localization isn’t an easy thing to do.

Front Mission Alternative on the other hand, is a more interesting case. The game’s language change option actually changes a little more than just the interfaces and game data from Japanese to English, and vice versa. It took quite a lot of testing for us to figure that out, but eventually we did. So like Front Mission 2, it’s obvious that this game was also meant to show up on English-speaking shores. (which wouldn’t be a surprise, since both games were being worked on at the same time) The main issue behind Front Mission Alternative is the game’s unique font coding. Unlike every other Front Mission, the font is synchronized with the in-game story events in that its appearance is timed with the presentation of the said event. So as the story plays out, the font slowly appears on the text window in a typewriter-esque fashion. Personally I think it’s neat, but this does present programming and linguistic challenges since there is no auto-scrolling of the text (can’t add new lines or a “page” in the text window). And everyone who is familiar with the Japanese language should know how many characters can be compressed into a mere kanji symbol!

So with the original team back in control, we will find a way to deliver the Front Mission 2 localization to all of you, the fans, in some form. Don’t expect us to churn it out quickly since we’re all busy bodies in real life at the moment, but in the words of Adam Jensen from Deus Ex: Human Revolution, we’re going to get the job done! At best, we can release a patch for Front Mission 2 with content equal to our Revised Patch 3 for Front Mission 5: Scars of the War because that’s all we’ve been able to crack…so far. We might try this and release a text guide for the non-mission story events, as that’s an option we were considering during the start of this year. Front Mission Alternative needs quite a lot more translation and editing before it would be ready, not to mention the font programming roadblock.

On Other Things Front Mission…

Frankly, I think the only thing that we can absolutely finish in the near future are the translations for the Front Mission Series: Gun Hazard radio drama series. It was something one of our members wanted to learn more about, so we managed to find the scripts after much searching…another nifty little “holy grail” of the franchise. Front Mission: The Declassified Documents (we changed it, Declassified sounds cooler and more 24-ish!) is pretty much 99% done in terms of data collection. The only thing that needs to be done is stitching it all together in some massive 500-1000 page tome (200 is too low a number, even if we were only covering the video games alone!). It’s pretty sick looking at all the data the team’s collected, and that data pretty much shows the all-encompassing power of Front Mission as a brand of various media, or a transmedia (Google that, it’s dead-on of what Front Mission as a whole really is). Maybe we’ll do a Mother 3 and sell these tomes haha! The video series…ehhh, I think it’s a lot easier to work on the big reference book. Too much effort to try and capture the whole thing in a show format. That’s just me though.

Dog Life & Dog Style Coming Soon in French!

Speaking of other Front Mission things, Front Mission Dog Life & Dog Style is going to have French releases produce from publisher Ki-oon. This is in addition to the original Japanese and the fairly recent Korean translations of the comic series! The first volume is coming out on January 26, 2012, if you can’t read French. Maybe this means Square Enix Co., Ltd. might just release it in English some day…I hope.

Four-Year Anniversary Stats…

Visitors: 592,898

Downloads: 176,209 (162,682 for Front Mission 5: Scars of the War patches and 13,527 for Front Mission 2 patches)

Top 10 Visitors by Country: United States (1), Russia (2), Poland (3), Brazil (4), Canada (5), France (6), Germany (7), Indonesia (8), Philippines (9), United Kingdom (10)

5 Unusual Visiting Countries: Afghanistan, Dominican Republic, Iceland, Myanmar, Turkey

Money Earned if Front Mission 5: Scars of the War was Localized in English at a Price of $50 USD Per Unit: $8,134,100

Money Spent on Purchasing Front Mission Media: At least $500 USD

Time Spent on Learning Political/Military/ Scientific Concepts and Terminology: Too many to count…

Coffee and Energy Drinks Used: Too many to count…

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  1. m|m
    December 19th, 2011 at 11:27 | #1

    Great news. Actually, any news are great at this point. >;]

  2. Amadeus
    December 21st, 2011 at 10:34 | #2

    This is amazing, well, not amazing that the new management didn’t do their job, but it’s amazing that one of the original founders came back to post this message. It’ would have been awesome enough for you to have just posted the explanation, but the fact that you’ve come back to work on the project really shows your dedication. Thank you so so much.

  3. FM Fan
    December 21st, 2011 at 17:31 | #3

    Wow, I just checked around here several days ago and it looked like everything was dead. I was pretty disappointed. (I absolutely understand though, as I’m an oldschool ROM hacker/translator, and have an unfinished project or two still lingering on my hard drives from well more than a decade ago…)

    Very excited to see that you’re back, and I really do hope you can manage to get FM2 and hopefully also FMA finished. You’ve had an excellent track record so far and seem to love the series.

    I still feel like I should go complete those old projects (which had like three fans eagerly anticipating them, nothing major) even though I barely remember how and my skills are pretty outdated by now. Don’t let something this big nag you for the rest of your life.

    The main point here is just work hard and see it through to the end 🙂 Don’t let the ball stop rolling.

  4. December 22nd, 2011 at 18:23 | #4

    GREAT news, these “fans” who stayed in the “new management” are just idiots who dont know how to do shit and wanted to help…and did nothing all these months, nicely done guys, i dont care if u guys take 5 years to finish it, but im sure u guys have the ability necessary to do it, so its ok. Gotta love u guys for returning to the project! Srry about the bad english, not my main language.

  5. JMAN
    December 23rd, 2011 at 10:13 | #5

    The irony makes me smile. I wrote Angelo about this very subject on December 17th. I didn’t realize how important that date was, but it’s a neat coincidence. Or was it???…

    But anyway, I’m extremely happy to see the update and to see that the new “management” was turned out of doors. After reading this update I have no doubt the project(s) will be done. They are in good hands once again. It’ll probably take longer than anyone wants it to, but the technical issues will be resolved in time and the patch will be released. To borrow (and paraphrase) a quote, “When a thing is done well, no one will ask, ‘how long did it take?’ but only, ‘who did it?'”

    Thank you for the update, and for listening to fans like myself. You guys are probably one of the best independent translation groups out there because you bring grit to the task, and will see the project through, real life and technical challenges notwithstanding. Keep it up!

  6. FM4ever
    December 23rd, 2011 at 11:28 | #6

    How about translating and releasing the FM novels? That wouldn’t have any programming obstacles and would be a great addition to the project.

  7. pelham123
    December 23rd, 2011 at 12:37 | #7

    Thanks Tyler, for remembering us. Front Mission: The Declassified Documents? Sounds amazing. I found a scanned copy of World Historica years ago, blew my mind how much information they’d created for the Front Mission universe. Couldn’t read a word of it of course. To have a tome that would allow fans to fill in the gaps of the story whilst jumping from FM1 to 3, then 4, then 5, would really help in piecing the world together without that sinking feeling that you were missing something.

  8. Private Prinny
    December 23rd, 2011 at 15:19 | #8

    Hell Yeah!

    I am about to finish the O.C.U. Campaign in Front Mission First before new years eve and will be delving into U.C.S. Scenario afterwards. Still hoping to play Front Mission 2 before I revisit FM 3 and unseal my new FM4 copy as well…..

    I was fearing the project was dead…I can understand that a “new managment” needs a little time to get things going but also expected that “fresh guys” also bring new energy and have something to prove so a update after 2-3 months was expected…as nothing went up til now I was very concerned, but thanks on that update.

    I also am now in my thirtys and know how problematic it is to spent time on hobby projects and let aside playing games each day untill past midnight (this times are sadly over) because of family and job obligations…so I can understand your problems. I will patiently wait for the next patch as I wait on countless other SRPG-patches for other games…..

    Have a nice Christmas and know that we the “real” fans admire you for what you do (^.^)=b

  9. Tsuska
    December 26th, 2011 at 07:16 | #9

    And Merry Christmas XD

  10. December 27th, 2011 at 12:03 | #10

    I also am now in my thirtys and know how problematic it is to spent time on hobby projects and let aside playing games each day untill past midnight (this times are sadly over) because of family and job obligations…so I can understand your problems. I will patiently wait for the next patch as I wait on countless other SRPG-patches for other games…..
    Have a nice Christmas and know that we the “real” fans admire you for what you do (^.^)=b

    Thanks for your kind comments. Speaking personally, it is exactly your comment above that are a challenge for me sometimes. It’s a bit easier for me because maintaining site is directly related to my job – I’m a professional Systems Administrator.

    Just as a closing thought – I would urge anyone out there in school/college age or in their 20’s with time on their hands to think about comitting to groups similar to FMTP, or maybe even “having a go” and starting your own project. Just take a look what is out there (be it games translation, ROM-hacking or opensource software) and what “gap” can be filled with your skills. IMHO it is “win-win” because you get to work on a valuable project and also learn some skills/experience in the process which looks good on a CV/resume.

  11. Matthew Capps
    December 28th, 2011 at 08:20 | #11

    Thank you very much for the update. One thing that I liked about the Front Mission Translation Project is that you guys always handled things like industry professionals. Good job on giving the boot to the new guys for not holding themselves to that sort of standard (or, any standard really.)

    I think we all appreciate the news, and will be glad to see how the FM2 project finally shapes up.

  12. GoaFreak
    December 28th, 2011 at 21:08 | #12

    This made my day. You guys are basiucally keeping the Western Front Mission fans spirits alive with these translations, since Square-Enix sure as hell have abandoned us, so I’m gladd to see that fellow fans haven’t! Kudos to you all (on the team)!

  13. Michael Skerritt
    December 28th, 2011 at 23:02 | #13

    Really glad to hear this is back on track. After finally having been able to play FM 5 in full english i’m stoked to know i might get the chance to play 2 in future.

    Welcome back from a happy FM fan

  14. Tyler
    December 29th, 2011 at 04:18 | #14

    @Matthew Capps
    It’s funny how you mentioned that because some of us on the team just happen to be those said industry professionals! Well, maybe not me back in the day but when Angelo started this whole thing, it was for a final year capstone project. I and another friend of ours, Kevin, just tagged along for the ride for the hell of it. None of us ever thought that a pet project like this could actually be finished – it was more of a show-and-tell thing so we could coast to an easy pass. Though as you may already know if you’ve read our team interviews at Path of Valour (check Press, Reviews, and PR), the boss man had this brilliant idea of running it as if we were industry professionals…and the rest is history.

  15. Tyler
    December 29th, 2011 at 04:50 | #15

    Ahh, the infamous World Historica. Yeah, it’s a reference book with a ton of information on most of the Front Mission games. I say most because it was written in mid-2006 and doesn’t take into account Front Mission 2089-II, the story events of Front Mission Online after that time, the changes to Front Mission First NDS, and the changes to Front Mission 2089 NDS. Front Mission: Gun Hazard only gets a small blurb, but that’s just Gun Hazard (for better or worse). So I’d imagine a COMPLETE World Historica would be around 650-700 pages…I think.

    While almost everyone over here thinks World Historica is the alpha and omega of Front Mission reference books, that’s actually not the case. The book presents a mammoth amount of information, yes, and does delve into the games’ storyline. However, a lot of story data is highly condensed and it does nothing in terms of linking all of the plot threads. Lastly, it doesn’t cover the other Front Mission media…but then World Historica would be over 1000 pages. In a nutshell, it’s about as useful (or useless) as the reference book 24: The Ultimate Guide – covers most of the “seasons”, but condenses tons of data and doesn’t even scratch the surface of the expanded universe.

    The original goal of The Declassified Documents was basically to make a complete World Historica, but in light of the team’s awesome journey into the unknown universe, that has changed. Now, that goal has been expanded to include ALL of Front Mission. We’re actually going to talk about this and of Front Mission’s true nature in the near future, so don’t forget to drop by every now and then!

  16. sHiNoBi
    December 31st, 2011 at 14:54 | #16

    Great work guys.That is a GREAT game series, the best!
    Thks for share 😀

  17. Tsuska
    January 1st, 2012 at 09:09 | #17

    Happy New Year XD

  18. Ralph
    January 3rd, 2012 at 09:22 | #18

    I have recently started to work on a project called “Wanzer Catalouge”, a 200 to 300 pages documents which will detail all wanzer models and mobile weapons. It will have basic information about each arm manufacturers (but won’t go into details since the declassified document probably will do that), and than introduce the wanzers and mobile weapons each of them produce, with detail information on each wanzers, such as how well it performs in various areas, how many variant models it has, what special features it has, what military organization deploys it and so on.

    Anyone interested in joining me?

  19. Ralph
    January 4th, 2012 at 07:06 | #19

    Hi guys, I am still working on the wanzer catalogue. All of my information comes from the in-game network and the World Historica (along with some in-game observation). But I have heard that some wanzers such as Schakal have additional information that are revealed only in the manga. Can you give me a list of such wanzers (and mobile weapons)? Apart from Schakal, what other wanzers and mobile weapons have such additional information.

  20. January 9th, 2012 at 02:32 | #20

    This site’s worth checking, too

  21. January 9th, 2012 at 02:38 | #21

    OOT fun fact: In Front Mission Evolved, Zephyr mesh models were named under Gracilis name. Coincidence?

  22. Ralph
    January 9th, 2012 at 07:12 | #22

    Well, I have heard that Zephyr’s design was actually based on Gracilis.

  23. January 9th, 2012 at 10:50 | #23

    Shame Gracilis itself was completely underused, though. What a cool wanzer, could rival Brutal Wolf as well (I think?).

  24. Ralph
    January 9th, 2012 at 15:19 | #24

    Well, both Gracilis and Brutal Wolf are designed to be used by S-Type Pilots, both are said to have “nearly human” motions, and are created at the same era, so it seems to be reasonable to suggest that they can rival each other. But Diable Avionics has always been better than Iguchi…

  25. January 10th, 2012 at 04:09 | #25

    Oh, BTW, I’m working on these ‘vehicles in video games’ list for Front Mission series (currently FM3 & FM5), any help shall be appreciated 😉

  26. January 13th, 2012 at 10:40 | #26

    I know this sounds ridiculously stupid and impossible, but I think we can bring Front Mission Evolved’s full potential if it can be…

    …open source’d (or moddable, at least).

  27. January 13th, 2012 at 10:45 | #27

    ..honestly, that’s what I’m dreaming of.

  28. Faselei!
    January 14th, 2012 at 14:46 | #28

    at #25

    Nice find, RVR-72GV.

  29. January 19th, 2012 at 13:05 | #29

    Great. Why this reminds me of Front Mission 2?

  30. Ralph
    January 19th, 2012 at 15:16 | #30

    Not surprising. There has been demonstration in Europe about gaining independence from the European Union. I smell nationalism vs globalization when I saw that news. I kinda wonder if there is a neuroscientist behind those conflicts…

  31. January 27th, 2012 at 09:11 | #31

    At least, I glad that Mr.Tsuchida still have a proper job

  32. Ruben
    February 27th, 2012 at 11:53 | #32

    Hey, dont know how to contact you people so im leaving this comment.
    Theres a site/person that released the artbook/content book Front Mission World Historica, translating that or at least seeing it would interest you?

  33. March 22nd, 2012 at 03:32 | #33
  34. April 12th, 2012 at 23:21 | #34

    “Money Earned if Front Mission 5: Scars of the War was Localized in English at a Price of $50 USD Per Unit: $8,134,100”

    Do any of you have contacts with Square Enix in order to let them know there’s a MAJOR DEMAND for Front Mission 5 in the U.S.!? I recently submitted a request at blog.share.us.playstation for it to be released on the Playstation Network, even if it is still in Japanese. With the efforts of this amazing site project, I wouldn’t mind having to reading through your translated scripts and charts to enjoy this, QUITE POSSIBLY THE BEST, Front Mission game in the series!!!

    P.S- Front Mission Evolved blew chunks!

  35. April 12th, 2012 at 23:31 | #35

    Since my PS2 quit and I haven’t been able to play Front Mission 4, don’t own a J-PS2 for Front Mission: Scars of the War and wont touch Evolved with a ten-foot pole, I’ve been reduced to getting my mech fix playing Ring of Red (PS2), Front Mission 3 (PS) and Herzog Zwei (SEGA Genesis PC emulator)! hahaha


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