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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Interview: Sekai Project’s Samuel Munson on localisation and crowdfunding


It’s no secret to anyone that here at Digitally Downloaded, we love Japanese content. From manga to video games to anime, there is something for everyone available worldwide. Two years ago, the Sekai Project was (officially) born. The company brings Eastern content to Western audiences while also focuses on aiding indie developers. We were lucky enough to chat with Samuel Munson, Executive Assistant/ Project Manager at Sekai Project, about the company.

Digitally Downloaded (DD): Can you tell me about how Sekai Project came to be?
Samuel Munson (SM): It was a passion turned profession. A group of us decided that we wanted to try to bring more creative works over from Japan; this was something we were doing on and off for many years until we decided in 2013 to make it an official, fulltime thing, and that's when we founded the company.

DD: Why do you think there was a need to start a new localisation business?
SM: I'm not sure if it is was a need per se, but everything seemed to fall into place at the right time where we had the resources and expertise to start working on games.

DD: What is the best part of using a crowdfunding platform such as Kickstarter?
SM: Using Kickstarter allows us to validate what titles fans want to see released and what perks they wish to have accompany the titles. It is also very rewarding to work directly with fans, letting their feedback and support shape, not only the title, but the future of visual novels...be it a localised title or an original title.

Sound of Drop - fall into poison

DD: What is the biggest drawback?
SM: One of the biggest drawbacks to using a crowdfunding platform is not being able to incorporate everyone's feedback while trying to answer and implement the feedback within the campaign timeframe.. We receive such amazing feedback from fans and we want them all to know that every bit of it is appreciated.

DD: How does it feel to be making the jump from exclusively translating video games to also working localising manga?
SM: Fortunately, it isn't as big of a jump as you think. Our goal is to evolve beyond gaming into more of a mixed media company, and translating manga is just a small part of that goal.

DD: Is there any progress on Sekai Project translating to languages other than English?
SM: It may still be a little early for us to officially expand on that market with every release, however we are working with other partners to localise games to other languages. Speaking of which, Sound of Drop — fall into poison — will be receiving a French-language localisation soon.

DD: What are some of the barriers to get that off the ground?
SM: Being a relatively new publisher with a limited team size certainly has its restrictions, but we are growing with each release. And as visual novels become more popular among western audiences the opportunity to translate them into other languages will hopefully be a natural progression that we will be able to smoothly adapt to.

Clannad

DD: If you had to pick one, what is the upcoming game Sekai Project is publishing that we should be keeping a close eye on?
SM: It's tough to pick just one (it is sorta' like asking a parent to pick their favorite sibling), so I'm going to have to say the upcoming Grisaia games, the Labyrinth of Grisaia and the Eden of Grisaia...and for recent releases, definitely CLANNAD.

Related reading: If you want to take a crack at developing your own visual novel, check out TyranoBuilder.

DD: What is it that you’re playing right now outside of work hours?
SM: Time permitting, Fallout 4 has been really popular. A lot of time went into MGS V and Witcher 3 as well. Though the guys in our Seattle division have been playing a lot of a secret upcoming project.

DD: Do you have any advice for someone about to pick up a Sekai Project-produced/distributed game for the first time? What should they expect from one of your titles?
SM: For someone who is picking up one of our titles for the first time we hope that they are able to fully immerse themselves in the story and gameplay, and that it will be a highly enjoyable experience for them through and through. Whatever the genre may be (comedy, drama, mystery, thriller, horror, adventure, etc.) we are here to share a common love with the fans, and it is that love and passion that gets crafted into each and every one of our releases. And for someone who is completely new to visual novels, we offer a wide spectrum of titles that vary in length. Many of them even have demos, so they have an opportunity to try before they buy.

- Lindsay M.
News Editor
Interview: Sekai Project’s Samuel Munson on localisation and crowdfunding
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