Interview with Life Bottle Productions, Tales of fan translators

Life Bottle Productions is a fan group of translators who have the translations of several Tales of installments behind them, the most recent being Tales of Destiny DC. Today on the blog we have the great pleasure of interviewing them to better understand their way of working, as well as to thank them for the enormous work they do altruistically.

  • First of all, thank you for your hard work. Right now I’m playing Tales of Destiny DC and it’s amazing to revive this PlayStation 2 classic that many of us never thought it would have a patch.

Thank you from all the Destiny DC team, it means a lot to us. We worked really hard on the game and hearing comments like that reminds us that it is all worth it. We still have a little left to do but it will be done.

  • I would also like to thank you for patching Tales of Innocence R, a remake for PS Vita that did not reach us in the West unlike its companion Hearts R. Is it very different to translate games for different platforms?

Because of the differing architecture of different gaming platforms, they require different knowledge and expertise. There’s also the issue of having an appropriate emulator to consider; when we began work on Innocence R, there wasn’t any working Vita emulator so we had no debugger and patches had to be tested on hardware. Most of the improvements on Vita3k actually came from the emulator devs being interested in our project and wanting to help us.

  • It can be translated literally from Japanese or try to make a localization more in line with our land. How do you approach translations, what type of dictionaries or ways of translating do you use?

We mostly try to be faithful to the Japanese script. Sometimes we modify things if we feel it better captures the intent like changing a pun to something western fans would know that’s similar or giving characters an accent. We also make sure to keep known terms consistent with official translations even if it’s not the literal translation. For example, Apple Gels would be Apple Gumi if translated literally but we keep it consistent with the official localization.

  • Our friend AschluDio asks: What motivates you to do this hard translation work even if it takes years?

Each member has their own reasons for sticking to it. Some just really love the franchise and want more people to play these older titles, some love the experience of translating and localizing games themselves, and many of us just enjoy the community we are forming and all the friends we make while working on these projects.

  • Another friend, Synyster, asks: how complicated is it to translate a game from scratch? I am very interested in the world of romhacking and I have always been overwhelmed by trying something with hexadecimal things.

Translating games from scratch is very difficult. We try to avoid it by asking for access to anything that’s already available such as programming tools and translations. We keep all our tools and translations open to prevent others from having these similar issues. Even if they aren’t with Life Bottle, we want to support anyone who’s trying to romhack or translate games. We made a discord server to help with this very thing called «Tales of ABCDE

  • José Miguel Gómez, a follower, asks: How did you start working with the patches for the Tales of games on PS2 exclusive to Japan and what are your favorite Tales of games?

We all started as just some tales fans stumbling onto Pnvnd initial work trying to get Destiny DC translated. It was advertised as a project anyone could help with so as more people joined we ended up becoming a team. We keep that spirit of anyone being able to help now and it’s the core of our group. As for our favorite tales games, just about everyone has theirs but the couple responding to this interview say Rebirth, Destiny DC, Berseria, and Graces F.

  • What has been the biggest problem you have encountered, and how did you solve it?

Our biggest issues tend to be bugs. Imagine how bad it is for a couple of fans when Bamco with all their resources can’t get Symphonia 60 fps.

  • Many people say that fan translators take away the work of professional translators, do you think this is true?

We do not think this is true. Most of the games we work on are unlikely to be released in the West any time soon, and a lot of professional translators either got their start working on unofficial translations or do them in their spare time. There are also far more untranslated games being released than translated games and it’s only getting worse, so there will always be a demand for translations.

  • What do you think about AI translations, and do you think they will solve the problem of companies not wanting to translate a game in a certain language in the future? In relation to AIs, do you feel «relieved», in a way, that they can take a burden off your shoulders so that you don’t have to look for dedicated translators? How reliable do you see this way of translating in the future?

AI translation has its issues and we do not see it completely replacing human translation for the foreseeable future. In some ways it’s a bit of a frustration because we’ve had to go back and comb through machine translated stuff to fix it.

  • TwinGameFactory, a Spanish YouTube channel dedicated to talking about JRPGs, and especially Tales of, wants to ask you about the developer. If Bandai Namco forced you to delete all links to your translations, would you do it? Do you know if there is any law that can defend you?

The number of fantranslation that receive C&D letters are very very rare.  With this in mind we don’t have comments as to what we would do. Life Bottle isn’t an organization that is based in one country in particular, we have people around the world so any interpretation of the law would be futile. Some of our members think that Bandai doesn’t even know we exist, some others think they know but they don’t really care about it. Pegi thinks some companies might frame it as a way to keep the brand alive and active even though they can’t officially endorse it because of legal reasons.

  • Have you ever received a “letter bomb” from Bandai Namco?

Bandai Senpai please notice us.

  • One of your projects that we, your fans, are most waiting is the translation of Tales of Rebirth, one of the most beloved games in the franchise, and it has not left Japan nor is Bandai Namco expected to release it. Can you give us any news about the development, do you know more or less when the patch will be released?

Mostly at this point it’s slogging through NPC dialog. Rebirth is a ridiculously wordy game and those guys have an opinion about everything that happens in the story, and due to the character you walk around as affecting how they talk to you (due to all the racism) there’s a lot of permutations of their dialog. There’s 30410 strings in the scenario files of Tales of Rebirth and we have 4798 left as of writing. Probably the biggest bottleneck right now is having reliable translators.

  • In addition to you, there is another team of fan translators called Lumina Tales, who are making their own Tales of Destiny 2 patch.

Yes Lumina Tales is working on Tales of Destiny 2, we did a little bit of discovery on this game as well but knowing their Programmer personally (hi Lost Templar) we know the Technical challenges will be handled wonderfully.

  • What other projects has your team participated in?

Lauren says she doesn’t really have time for any big projects outside of Life Bottle stuff, but sometimes she does bits and pieces of translating for other things I’m interested in. Pegi says he’s been doing some Gundam stuff on the side but the technical aspects are very challenging. Ethanol our programmer is working on the side on growslancer (technically we stole him so I guess he’s working on the side for us lol)

  • Anything else you want to tell us?

We are thankful for the opportunities that Life Bottle has given us and are very grateful that we were able to find  and create this wonderful community. And even if Bandai Namco fumbles a bit with the franchise, we still remain optimistic about the things the fandom is able to do in their love for the franchise. We hope that Life Bottle, Tales of ABCDE and Lumina Tales can reignite the passion people used to have for tales.

  • Well, thank you very much for dedicating this time to us and we wish you the best in your projects :)

The patched Tales of games at spanish and english (only spanish)


Por Sergio Ortuño Fernández

Graduado en Comunicación Audiovisual. Jefe de Relaciones Públicas (PR) de VidaoPantalla y creador de contenido. Guionista, doblaje, locución y presentación de radio y TV.

Deja una respuesta

Tu dirección de correo electrónico no será publicada. Los campos obligatorios están marcados con *