We'd first like to thank all of you for your interest and support for our project. It's been fun working on it for the past year and few months.
However, we recently heard back from 07th Expansion regarding our translation of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. We regret that we need to shut down the project.
We hope you enjoyed reading our Onikakushi adaptation, but I'm afraid this is goodbye. ;_;
Just kidding ^^. Sorry, the timing was too perfect to resist.
Update: the Acquiring our releases post has been updated with links to the new version1.1 of Onikakushi. Sorry about the wait.
Actually, we did get an email reply from BT of 07th-Expansion, which said that he's impressed and grateful that we're translating the Higurashi PC games into English and allowing them to be enjoyed by a wider audience, similar to the message that Witch Hunt got. So we basically have their approval to continue this project, and we're happy to be able to do so.
However, it turns out that we didn't really need their permission or official recognition to do this project. We found out from chronotrig, at the Witch Hunt Umineko translation project, that they actually consider translation groups like ours to be doing 'derivative works' (二次創作). They address groups who do such works at the top of the FAQ (よくある質問) page at the 07th-Expansion website. I suggest you check the original Japanese more carefully for the details, but in short Ryuukishi07 is allowing anyone to make derivative works based on his characters and story setting, within reason (he references an infamous Pokemon doujishi as an example of going too far). So long as you "do it with love" and take responsibility for what you produce as ultimately YOUR product and not theirs, they don't mind. Frankly, they've given a very generous gift to the rest of the doujinshi and fan-works community.
This goes beyond the usual idea of 'fanfiction' or 'fan-made manga' to also include use of the text and command script that he wrote, the character art that he drew, and the backgrounds that they devised - basically the parts that he owns the copyright on. This means that people can even make their own scenarios to use within the Higurashi game framework, like the outtakes we added ^^. Ryuukishi07 explains this in the second of these two forum posts here.
He also explains that this does NOT include the sound effects and music used in the games, which he used either by licensing or by permission of the owner/composer. He's not the copyright holder, so it's not his place to allow other people to use those. This is why we're particularly glad that our releases consist of small patches that contain only the translated script and a few translated images, which can be applied to the original game.
Please also note that all this only applies to the original PC games that Ryuukishi07 & 07th-Expansion have released themselves; the PS2 and DS games were released by Alchemist, and the images, music and voice effects used for those belong to Alchemist, not Ryuukishi07. That's why we are only releasing patches for the PC games, and not for the PS2 or DS games - I might consider making a 'PC version' of one of the extra arcs (like Miotsukushi-hen?) that only uses characters and locations that can be found in the original games, but that wouldn't be until after finishing the original PC games, and that's going to take a long time.
Anyway, if you want to translate Higurashi into your own language and make your own patch, go right ahead! You don't need to ask them for permission, though they might enjoy hearing from you about it if you're translating into a more obscure language - BT seemed pretty amazed at the possibility of it getting translated into Turkish ^^. However, they're very busy making the Umineko games right now, and their hands-off policy towards derivative works includes not getting involved with those works themselves, so you really shouldn't bother them with lots of questions about the game or requests for approval of changes you make. There are many sites maintained by detail-obsessive Higurashi fans that can answer questions you may have about the story, and it's ultimately up to you to decide if a change is worth making. If you want, feel free to use our translation as a guide to figuring out your own translation - we'll even send you the text file of the script if you ask for it.
One difficulty for most of you interested in translating to another language is that the game engine we use, Onscripter, doesn't work well with characters beyond the normal Roman or Japanese set - it can do ugly full-width versions of Russian characters, but no Latin characters with diacritics, for example. Mion is helping out with a version of the game engine that, when ready, will be useful for making your non-English game translations. Meanwhile, happy translating!
We have new links to the corrected versions of our Onikakushi patches, both full-game and demo. We made a new version of the demo credit scroll, since BT was able to answer some questions we had about the staff names. As for the script, one Japanese reader noted a few places that we'd made mistakes in things such as rendering a Japanese name. We fixed those, as well as the other grammar errors that observant readers pointed out for us [Thanks Nick!]. Nothing major was changed, and definitely nothing important for the plot, so you don't have to reread the story with the new patch unless you really want to ^^.
It's been busy for both of us recently, but we have made progress on Watanagashi and hope to make somewhat more rapid progress once things have settled down. We'll provide more details once we're closer to the testing stage.