Interview with Team Nemo: Checking in with the Ace Combat 3 Fan Translation Group
Updated: May 27
Featured in volume 2 of Miles Above Magazine produced by Electrosphere.info in May 2015. This interview was lost with the website's closure later that year. It is now being re-posted by Project: Lighthouse as the beginning of a series of future interviews.
We present a interview with the group behind the only on going multi-year translation project in the Ace Combat Community. Team NEMO is the group behind the fan based translation of the original version of Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere. The translation project as a whole is known as “Project NEMO”.
The original version of Ace Combat 3 is not to be confused with the export version of the game, which was only one disc long with a vast proportion of its content removed. After many years, a major mile stone in the timeline of the project has been reached. The release of Team NEMO’s AC3 International Edition demo would come on December 25th, 2014; nearly five years after the project began. In this interview with Team NEMO we ask questions about various aspects of the project throughout their history. Our questions are answered through DragonSpikeXIII, who is the leader of the translation team. The interviewer being Aaron "Ribbon-Blue" Mendoza, formerly of Electrosphere.info.
Greetings. I'm glad we're finally doing this.
It's great to be here for an interview, ask away!
Project Nemo has been around for quite some time now. With so much effort going into this translation over such a long amount of time, the first question that comes to mind is "Why AC3?"
It had to be AC3 because of how unique it is and it being the only Ace Combat that was never REALLY translated for English-speaking audiences. Me and the rest of the team believe this game is worth the effort and I believe it has something to offer unlike any game before or after, be it AC or not.
When more recent fans of the series hear about Project Nemo, a few questions come up, “Why translate a game that was released so long ago?”, “What's the difference between the two that makes Project Nemo's translation efforts so important?” “It was already translated, wasn't it?”
The game may be more than 15 years old but even though the game was localized, most of its original qualities were dropped during localization, back in 2000. Even as I played the stripped-down and streamlined U.S. version, there was always a feeling that something was missing. It felt like it had taken great steps forward in graphics, design and sound but there was no narrative, nor characters to populate the world they had created for AC3. It was a strange mix of going forward and backwards when compared to AC2. When I finally discovered, back in 2006 or 2007, that my suspicions were actually founded all along, it was an amazing discovery. After that a year passed and I just couldn't wait any more, someone had to at least try and start a fan-translation project for this game.
How did the effort to translate Ace Combat 3 begin?
My memory's a little hazy but the project had its official start when I met a like-minded fan, Iceman-UK, on the GameFAQS AC3 forum. I had posted a topic where I talked about my plan to crowd fund a translation for this game but he changed all that. At the time Iceman-UK was part of the team that had translated Front Mission 5 and was also translating Front Mission 2, so he had critical know-how that I simply lacked. He was the one who found a translator willing to help us out, BRPXQZME, and so in early 2009 the original game's translation finally began.
Meeting these individuals and the progress being made with translation would lead to the creation of the Project Nemo website and Usea Today blog, correct? What impact has the website and blog had on the project over the years?
Yes, the creation of our homepage and blog signaled the official start of Project NEMO. Our homepage is our official presence on the Internet, so to speak, while USEA Today, our blog, was created so we had a platform where we could post any kind of information not only about project but, more importantly, about the game itself. Ultimately they've allowed us to reach our audience and finally put AC3 on the map, in a way. So if someone wanted to find out more about AC3 and its fan-translation, there finally was place for that.
Promotional poster for the project.
Tell us a bit about Team Nemo themselves. How many have been on the team since it was founded? What were their roles in the project?
We were just three at first, me, Iceman-UK and BRPXQZME. Those two were already known and active in the fan-translation community when Project NEMO began. Over the years we gradually welcomed more people who joined the team proper, like pmt7ar, translator and spot-checker and Gipphe, the first one who took a look at the programming side of the game. After a few years of hiatus, where there was little to no progress, the project had the luck to welcome Dashman, our typesetter, and esperknight, the programmer who made it possible to insert our translation into the game. A few months into 2014, another programmer simply called "me", whose contributions were critical to our fan-translation project, joined us. We're currently eight in all, each member being absolutely crucial to this project.
The mission and in-game broadcast transcripts were the first items translated by the team. The time between these translations and the release of the AC3E IE demo was quite large. What were some of the obstacles that prevented these translations from being applied at first?
The game's compression is the main culprit. Simply put, the developers packed the game with so much content that they had to compress almost everything in order to cram it all on 2 discs. That meant that if we wanted to gain access to the text files, which are actually stored as images (TIM), we had to get past the compression. It took a really talented and experienced programmer like esperknight to crack it. It's a pretty hard game to work with on a technical level. Of course I wish we'd all been able to reach this much progress back in 2009 or 2010, but finding help has always proven difficult for us. The fact we've been able to get this far is something of a miracle actually.
That certainly puts everything in perspective. The playable demo for the first four missions of AC3E IE was released on Christmas Day of 2014. It was certainly quite the Christmas gift for Ace Combat fans everywhere. How do the members of Team NEMO and yourself feel about getting a solid, playable release available to the public?
Years ago I thought that since I speak Italian and Portuguese fluently, that I could translate the game from English to those languages in order to reach those audiences. That was a completely personal side-project I had in mind as Team NEMO is working to translate the game into English only. So it's sort of an unofficial side-project. Little did I know how much time and effort would be required in order to get the game translated even once into English. By the time I had uploaded the video containing the additional translations I knew that I wouldn't be able to do it by myself so I downgraded the idea to a " tentative side-project." Our tools have all been made available to the public since day one also because we'd love to see the game translated into even more languages but at this point I can't promise anything since the game's proving a handful just to translate it once.
Thank you for this interview and giving us all a better insight into Project NEMO. And again, thank you very much for the playable demo. Is there anything you'd like to say to the Ace Combat fan base out there?
We'd like to thank those who have followed our project since the beginning and who are waiting patiently for the they can finally play the real AC3 in English. We hope every AC fan, hardcore or casual, will give it a try once it's out!
Promotional poster for the project.
About the Author
Aaron "Ribbon-Blue" Mendoza is the Director of Operations for Skyward Flight Media. A lifelong aviation enthusiast with a special interest in flight simulators and games. After founding Electrosphere.info, the first English Ace Combat database, he has been involved in creating aviation related websites, communities, and events since 2005. He continues to explore past and present flight sims with his extensive collection of game consoles and computers. | Twitter | Discord: RibbonBlue#8870