al|together is a festival of short doujin visual/sound novels, translated into English by members of the English-speaking eroge localization community. It is a celebration of many things -- the vitality of our small but growing community, the joy of a collaborative production process, the artistry of the original works, the craft of translation. Perhaps most importantly, it is an opportunity for both translation teams -- old legends and new favorites -- and readers alike to discover material that they might have otherwise passed by.
al|together 2005 -- the inaugural year of this festival -- has its roots in Narcissu, a short doujin visual novel published in August of 2005 by Tomo Kataoka of Nekonekosoft under the auspices of his doujin circle, stage-nana. Shortly after its release, Seung Park of insani and Peter Jolly of Hæleþes áwendende independently began work translating the game. They very quickly decided to join efforts and to present two different translations in one package -- one for the voiced version, another for the unvoiced version. This translation was released on 21 August 2005 with full blessing from Tomo Kataoka, and has gone on to become one of the more highly-regarded visual novel Japanese->English localizations out there.
On 05 September 2005, Seung Park decided to try his hand at translating another short doujin piece, this time around それじゃ、またね。 by LUNA BLESS. It was short enough that a less-than-24-hour turnaround was feasable, and on 06 September 2005 insani released its full translation of the work. Not two hours later, LUNA BLESS itself had taken notice of the translation, and posted a note of thanks on its website's front page.
It was in the aftermath of these two translations that a challenge was posed on the Hæleþes áwendende forums. In a matter of a week, eight individual translators had decided to participate, and were registered as official presenters at the first-ever al|together -- and this is where we stand now.
al|together 2005 officially opened on 11 September 2005 and ended on 11 October 2005.
All translators out there who have any interest in this genre at all are encouraged to participate. One can participate as an individual translator or as part of a team; collaboration is not only allowed, it is encouraged. As for project selection, it might be best for you to head on over to the links and read up on some of the listings/review sites. They should give you a good idea of a piece you might want to do, and whether or not it would be feasable to do it within the timeframe. Once you've decided on a piece, you'll want to contact this year's festival coordinator at spark-at-insani-dot-org to (a) register yourself as a participant and (b) ensure that the piece you want to translate has not already been claimed by someone else.
Remember, the point of a time-limited festival is to take a piece and completely localize it within that timeframe -- that means that you will need to work intensely on a single small piece for an amount of time that is no longer than 30 days and complete all localization work in that period. While there are no set deadlines, remember that you should always aim to finish as quickly as is feasable while maintaining a (relatively) high standard of localization. If you're having trouble, it might be a good idea to consult some of the more experienced participants -- after all, this festival is as much about building community as it is about getting work done.
Let's all strive to make al|together 2005 a success, and to leave a solid legacy for the coordination team for al|together 2006 to follow.