Soundless: a VN Recommendation

Introduction

Mercy sees things. It’s too bad that what she sees are warped distortions, filthy beetles, tentacles, horrifying flesh-beasts and all that, but at least it isn’t permanently on so she’s not quite Fuminori yet. Too bad it’s getting worse, though.

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Mercy lives in a small, secluded village; the village is strongly religious, ruled by the local church, and all the kids around see her as a convenient punching bag. But hey, it’s probably her fault anyway, she was cursed by sinning at the tender age of ten. She was seeing nice things before that.

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Mercy is the protagonist of Soundless -a modern Salem in remote area-, which is a bit too weeb of a title to not have me wrinkle my nose, but hey apparently they’re trying to pay homage to the old denpa game aesthetic, down to the 640×480 resolution (handily you can play at 2x window size…).

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Soundless is about knowing that you are never safe, you could be hit any time, you could start seeing horrors any minute, and you will be punished for your own misfortune. Soundless is about freaking out and watching distorted background upon distorted background parade in front of your eyes, the attention to direction making the NVL format much less stuffy than you might expect.

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Soundless is about surviving when almost everyone you know is trying to destroy you, whether slow or quick. Soundless is about being trapped by guilt. Soundless is about being exploited. Soundless is, perhaps, about breaking free from your tormentors – but it is not afraid to humanize them. Sometimes, you just have to let go anyway.

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Maybe a 1.5x setting would’ve been good for those funky 1366×768 screens?

Judgement

Soundless is written… acceptably well on the prose front, though it gets awkward more often than I’d like. There are a few standout moments, mostly during freakouts, but mostly it’s just… there. There’s also some annoying confusion in the tenses that 7 beta readers couldn’t catch, which I guess proves that you need not just QC but competent QC (though they did catch a lot of typos according to the dev). Overall I would recommend an editing pass by someone competent, but I think that stands for like every EVN I’ve read bar Lynne so whatever.

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I guess this is okay, though.

The music and ambient sound generally work well at conveying the atmosphere, though sometimes it suffers from short loops in ambient sfx leading to stops and starts in the track (a pet peeve). Sometimes the volume of the ambient sfx seems off, but I think that might actually be intentional. This is a denpa game, after all – you expect it to screw with you. A major bonus for adding sound effects to some of the distorted speech, though the VN is generally unvoiced.

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brb kms

If there’s anything to criticize, it’s the last part of the novel where things go seriously south. You could argue that the change in pace is too much of a break, but for me the themes remain consistent and carry it through to a natural conclusion.

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Soundless sets you on a bloody path to madness, gore, and suffering, horrors, despair, a crescendo – and then, the point. It ruined my sleeping schedule yet again. It was kind of fucked already. I guess I don’t really mind.

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Soundless is one hell of a ride and I recommend it to anyone into the horror/madness aesthetic that can take the content portrayed – none of which is sexual, but expect violence.

Download: https://milkplus.itch.io/soundless

 

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How good should your translation be before editing?

Despite there being a few good editing blogs on Fuwanovel, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of translation blogs. I think part of the reason for this is that editors in the fan translation scene are often doing things the translator could very well be doing themselves, often to the detriment of the final product. Look at, say, the “big back” entry Fred wrote. Now tell me why this issue couldn’t be avoided back at the translation stage.

There are two reasons why you would do this: one, you don’t know Japanese well enough to understand what is actually meant, so you put down whatever it says literally. In this case, the sane way to handle the issue is to ask someone who knows Japanese better than you for advice. Two, you’re just lazy. Who actually thinks “the date changed” sounds right in English? An edge case of this is prioritizing speed; Ixrec and MDZ* both prioritized speed and neither had very good results to show for it, but they did complete things. Personally I still think this is ultimately lazy; it is significantly more simple to translate literally than to try to actually write well. In this case, ask yourself if you really want to produce a shitty translation.

What I’m trying to get at is this: if you actually want to produce something good, you can’t just leave writing the thing up to the editor. Editors are not miracle workers; they have to deal with what they’re given. Furthermore, many editors working on fan translations, and well, translations period, are not very good at the job. Any time you leave something bad in, there is always the possibility of it sticking around in the final product. I’m not saying you have to be perfect. I’m saying this: for the love of visual novels, try.

If you ask me, before you hand your script to the editor, you should have already done an editing pass on it. Or two. The lines should connect with each other rather than float like islands in a sea of prose, there should be at least an attempt at character voice, and all ugly stock translations should be kawari-fucking-mashita’d, much like the 日付 at midnight, with extreme prejudice.

Sometimes you’re still going to come up short. Sometimes it just won’t sound right whatever you try. That’s when you should pray that your editor knows better than you  leave a note at the line explaining the problem, move on, and hope to hell that your editor is actually good enough to work it out. That’s what the editor is for. The editor should not be translating from weeb to English. The editor should not be doing your job.

*Its not just the fan translation scene that does this, by the way  there are companies, like Aksys, which demand its translators write a colorless literal translation to be punched up by superstar editors later. Unsurprisingly, they’ve put out some real stinkers; I have a lot of respect for Ben Bateman’s work on 999 for this reason.

Dawn.

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The view outside has no business calling itself a dawn. Sure, morning has just broken – but dawn has a warmth to it, a promise of brighter times, of new beginnings, of respite from the unfeeling night. The gloomy Swedish winter dawn outside brings me only a feeling of cold distance, steely gray sky falling softly onto the white fields below. Snow-laden pines clamber laboriously through the fog, watching the dawn with little more enthusiasm than I myself can muster.

It’s mornings like these that make me want to end it.

Not seriously. Not bad enough to be something I need to worry about. God, I don’t even check the “I don’t want to live but I also don’t want to die” box any more. I am absurd tiers of not actually depressed. But yeah, fuck this so-called “dawn”. Fuck this dawn for being so empty. Fuck this dawn for being so cold. And fuck me for writing about it; it’s only going to make things worse.

Slightly Unlucky: How My Computer Was Rendered Unbootable After Trying To Install Linux

Programming would be much more convenient if I could get a linux distribution to work. Unfortunately, what I managed to do instead was render my system unbootable, possibly even without it being my fault. This is my story.

Once upon a time, a young Zaka installed Ubuntu on his old laptop using wubi, an installer that actually runs under Windows! It worked without any major hitches and the Zaka was pleased.

Fast forward six or so years to the ugly future that is 2017, and things were very different. Wubi didn’t even work since he was using UEFI, and the unofficial fork that did work looked sketchy, so he tried to install it using a USB stick (okay, an SD card with an adapter to USB. It should work right, they’re both flash memory man… dad has a zillion sd cards and like zero pen drives).

The process was vaguely annoying but not too bad; download ISO, format the drive with rufus, try to install, get mysterious freezing crash! Okay, fuck that let’s try the acpi=off option for grub. Wew, setup actually starts. It’s sort of a pity how I couldn’t see any partitions and clicking any of the options on that screen caused a crash! Whew.

Okay fuck that, time to try this unofficial Wubi fork that supports UEFI and has unclear instructions clearly written by a very enthusiastic ESL. It seems to work, but I don’t use the MOK Manager the first time the option is given and then I never can for the rest of the time and eventually the boot seems to just skip over the grub thing and honestly fuck this shit.

Never say never! I download a Debian net install iso and do the now familiar bootable usb steps using rufus. It’s too bad my wireless firmware isn’t supported, because debian meow meow open source woof woof. Okay, I download the “with non-free firmware” iso instead, try again… it still doesn’t have the firmware I need, but I can do a minimal install at least. Wow. Ok so I actually have a working grub -> windows bootloader flow dual boot now, lemme try to manually install the firmware… oh yeah and I have to set it to not boot silently for some reason in grub to even get it to start, because for some reason not showing acpi errors (here we cum again!) makes the thing not boot. Wew. I put the firmware in /lib/firmware, it’s still not found during boot, the boot hangs later on, I wait, sigh, and hold the power button for 5 seconds to force shutdown for the umpteenth time that day, start it all up again, and…

I am currently using my bad old year 2010 faptop, getting a win10 install media thingy onto my totally-a-usb memory which is by now a micro sd in an sd card adapter in a usb adapter setup. It’s taking beyond forever. It may or may not let me reinstate the boot record. In either case, I should be able to preserve all important data SOMEHOW, though using a live usb for linux for recovery which would be my usual plan is kind of dicey when linux hates you.

All in all… this may or may not be entirely my fault, but my current message to whatever dev caused this is quite simply:

Thanks, Twelvestepsbeyondrecognition, for taking a pic of this so I don’t have to.


It is now the Future, and I am slighly less peeved. The Windows Media Creation tool is a piece of shit-stained vomit; it downloads a ~3gb iso in like four hours where I could get it in one through http or bittorrent. It also crashed with an unhelpful error after working for like five hours when I tried to use it directly with a USB stick, so I instead made it download the ISO (again, rip the hours of progress lost), formatted the usb stick with rufus, and used that instead.

I tried to recover the bootloader in some way using the windows installation media, failed, used the command prompt to backup some files, and reinstalled windows. I suppose if nothing else, I don’t have any hp bloatware on this thing any more! …and it’s working fine so far, with no data loss. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some studying to do to catch up for the time I lost… that I totally wouldn’t have used chatting instead. Adios!

Infinite stall works: jp edition

In honor of having finished reading Stargazer in Fapanese today, I figure I’d give you an idea of how I can simultaneously have read quite a bit of vn writing in Japanese yet also only have completed two short yuri doujins (my first was 明日終わる世界、その前夜). A lot of things here were sorta read in parallel with other things, which might not have helped (´・ω・`).

I started out with Amairo Islenauts; I got quite far into Masaki’s route, then stalled that ’cause I kinda didn’t want to read the drama or something. Much later I decided to go back and read a bit of Yune’s route… and that’s where we’re at now. Stalled.

I started reading Air in Fapanese as none of the two translations available impressed me; I knew Winter Confetti’s had taken flak for inaccuracy, and the start of Gao Gao’s patch felt worse than Winter Confetti’s on the editing and flow front, not to mention I was told it would be technically inferior to the Winter Confetti patch as the MC would be unvoiced for certain sections. I kinda got discouraged by the choice maze though and eventually stalled it because frankly it wasn’t that interesting.

Angel Beats -1st beat-… Honestly if it wasn’t for a bug and/or sneaky copy protection measure I might have read more of this;  I spent quite a long time with it and eventually got to like the second or third map location select, which didn’t work for some reason. Also you can’t transfer saves to other computers apparently, fucking rip. I might pick this up again, maybe even reading it together with the forthcoming English translation so I can shit on VA fucking it up like we all expect they will (´・ω・`).

Watashi no Real wa Juujitsu Shisugiteiru, or watajuu for short, was a really entertaining otomege that I’d recommend to everyone. Ultimately though after reading two routes I stopped midway through the otouto route because… well I didn’t like it as much, choices in-route confused and enraged me for some reason, and given how long the knife of unforgettable betrayal had been twisted at that point, I started reading…

Subahibi. I liked it a lot when it was a yuri harem, then I kinda liked it when it was denpa but it got harder to read and I stalled it about when a certain train arrived.

Then Kiririri eventually wore down my defenses, and I picked up Hatsuyuki Sakura. One of the better decisions of my life, as it’s consistently entertaining and seems well written both prosewise and plotwise. Finished the rather long “prologue” section, read a little bit of the “introduction”, stalled. Maybe I’ll pick it up again now though after finishing 11eyes and Stargazer.

I also read a bit of Zannen na Ane to no Love Comedy somewhere in there, but I think I’ll want to be able to power through silly SoL faster to not die reading it. Apart from that, I have like 20 minutes of …in white left or something, but I started reading that looking for short doujin vns to tl, so idk man ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Embracing the Void as Agenthacking

I have a lot of trouble getting started on things. One area in particular that has been consistently difficult for me is going places – work, school, the store to buy muh colas before they close for the night, that sort of thing. I have recently discovered and begun formalizing a technique which seems to help with it. However, it is creepy, because it involves partially dissociating your mind from what your body is doing. Today I fashioned for it a shitty chuuni chant: there is strength in emptiness: Automaton!

To be honest, I’m half hoping the chant doesn’t work as a switch-flipper, considering how terrible it is. My apologies, O chuuni gods.

It begun one day when I was lying around, trapped in a familiar sensation where I seemed unable to will myself to any action, enmeshed in repetitive and irrelevant thought and generally getting nowhere important. I felt out of touch with the world, like there were no thread connecting me to this plane – indeed, was the world even real?

A seductive call beckoned. Perhaps I should try something I had done piecewise before, but never so deliberately, so completely – could I give my estranged body over to an imagined automaton, let the automaton collect the knick-knacks and tie the shoelaces and lock the doors and ride the elevators, and take back control once I needed to once again be human?

The attempt was a resounding, if alarming, success. My body proceeded to smoothly go to work, while I, dissociated, observed that I probably tie my shoelaces faster and more efficiently when I’m doing it on autopilot. In the end I spontaneously reintegrated over time without having to force it, which was a relief – one time I was at the store and boredly (and likely boneheadedly) started practicing the mindfulness concept of framing your thoughts as things you are having rather than facts that are; while it didn’t really elucidate much, I did find myself unable to easily exit the frame, which was honestly a bit unchill.

I have used the automaton takeover concept like, two times after that, and it really does seem to work. It’s not just mindlessly doing things on autopilot either – the disconnect ensures that you have actual thinking time while carrying out business, and is the prime difference between this and pure distracted flow.

To use this technique you should probably be somewhat comfortable with feelings of derealization. The good news is that these correlate with depression, and I swear half of you fuckers want to kill yourselves, so it’s vaguely plausible that someone else might have had a similar experience. I do wonder if I have accidentally stumbled upon and formalized a Normie Technique(tm) that nobody told me about, but the fact that I’m worried that someone with psych issues will try it and end up being unable to return to united reality or fucked up in general does bolster me somewhat. Uhh, be careful trying this at home, I guess.

My personal motivation was that I was pretty derealized already, so making things more formal wasn’t really going to be that much of a problem. If you find yourself able to convincingly make that argument, this method may be worth trying.

Call of Duty: Modern Woodworking

I got my first welfare check in summer last year, just before I went on vacation with my parents.

There are some demands placed on those applying for welfare; one is that one must not unduly refuse suggested interventions. No interventions were suggested for about six months, but hey, cash money. Then I was summoned to a meeting, where I was given a plethora of options, except eight tenths of them were second hand shops and cafes and fuck anything where I have to do customer service. Also, everything had long waiting times anyway.

There were only really two options left: go back to the environment & ancient remains conservation agency where I worked in late 2013 / early 2014, or this other place that did carpentry – more specifically, in-shop manufacture of wooden items. My counselor was not particularly subtle in recommending the woodworking shop, claiming it had both rave reviews and, amazingly, the ability to accept new recruits right this moment.

I left the meeting put in queue for a potential spot at the agency and awaiting a text regarding an interview for the whole wood thing. “To start with you’ll build a box, and if that works out, we’ll put you straight into production.” Well, I’m not a huge fan of handicrafts, but it’s not like I hate it either; guess I’ll check it out and decide afterward.

About two weeks later I was given a tour of the premises, then an interview by the supervisor. I noted the structured approach to the interview; especially a technique used where, before asking about who I was as a person and where my problems lay, the manager volunteered some details about his personal life first – his kids, not enough time, how his work there gave him meaning, that sort of thing. It was pretty transparent; I figured it was likely an adaptation to help people with certain neurodivergences, but also wondered if it was part of the broader style of the therapeutic techniques used.

Earlier during the tour I was told about the “sharing” ritual, where at the start of your shift you sat with the other participants and could optionally share how you were currently feeling, if there were any special affordances you’d need or appointments to keep that day, and what you were working on briefly. This ritual was shielded from latecomers, which served to protect it, but also as a soft punishment for arriving late. I’m not sure how explicit he made any of this; I could feel myself starting to assign greater value to coming in time, realized I had been hacked, and figured that this was fine as the hack was desirable anyway. The boss seemed pleased, but in what might have been another affordance, he wanted me to go back home and think about it before taking any decision.

Two days after my social security contact had said she’d call me she actually did, and I accepted. I was then scheduled for a quick meeting where we would actually negotiate working times and other details. Some time later, I had agreed to work there from Monday to Wednesday, 12:00 to 15:00, with the assumption that I would eventually take on more hours. I was to start on a Tuesday, February the 21st. I was told by phone that day that, umm, I’m kind of sick so can we make it just tomorrow? Okay, fine, my sleep was all kinds of shit anyway that time rip me.

I woke up at like 2am on the 22nd. I had crisps for breakfast. Brewed tea, which is a pretty potent mindhack when you’re not acclimated to it. Biked through miserable snowfall on my mum’s three-speed bike, on which only the first two gears actually work. The front tire was inadequately pumped. It was not a good experience. I arrived twenty minutes early.