Monday, May 23, 2016

RKS Developer Diary #11 - Who's the Boss?

...And we're back!

Today, we'll be having a look at the names of the RKS stage bosses.  Not the lovely ladies of RKS, mind you.  I'm referring to the bosses that never get a character overlay on the Stage Select screen.  Wouldn't you know it:  Isemiya provided official names for each of the bosses in the game's source code!  Where appropriate, we'll be canonizing these names as the official English names of the game's bosses.  In a few rare instances, we'll be promoting some fan-made nicknames to the level of canon, with our rationale for choosing these names over the original Japanese ones available for all to see.

Are you ready?  Let's get started!

Demon's Wall
Zeppelin Stage I

Japanese:  「デモンズウォール」
English:  "Demon's Wall"

While the circumstances in which this boss is fought are a clear homage to Mecha Dragon from Megaman 2, the boss itself is a Japanese role-playing game staple.  You can find Demon's Wall several times throughout the Final Fantasy series (though not always with the same name), as well as in Secret of Mana, Breath of Fire II, and many, many other titles.  The little crosses it releases that move like Telly from Megaman 2 are officially known as "Demon's Cross" (「デモンズ十字架」).

Zeppelin Stage II

Japanese:  「ピコピコグラス」
English:  "Poltergeist"

"Picopico Glass" is intended as a reference to "Picopico-kun" (literally, "Bleep Bleep Boy"), the boss of Wily Stage II in Megaman 2.  "Picopico" (or "pikopiko") is a Japanese onomatopoeia for the bleeps and bloops made by a computer or robot, though its meaning has been expanded to include other cutesy sounds.  You might recognize the "Pikopiko Hammer" as a recurring gag weapon in Japanese games:  a rubber mallet that makes an amusing squeak upon impact.

While the RKS boss attacks in the same way as its Megaman 2 counterpart, the sound it makes is decidedly more harsh.  We briefly considered localizing the name as "Smashy Smashy Glass", but ultimately couldn't get over the fact that the name sounded ridiculous.  Moreover, RKS is as much an homage to Castlevania as it is to Megaman, and poltergeist phenomena are a frequent occurrence in the former.  Since "Poltergeist" has already been accepted as the English name of the boss, we figured we may as well make the name official.

Zeppelin Stage III

Japanese:  「タナトス」
English:  "Thanatos"

Ah, death incarnate: Sir Raimund Seyfarth.  Thanatos is the god of death in Greek mythology, commonly depicted as a cloaked skeleton wielding a large scythe.  Seyfarth earned this nickname with his merciless demeanor on the battlefield.  It's only fitting that, after he is brought back from the grave by Zeppelin's necromancy, he appears in the form of the Grim Reaper himself.  As I've mentioned before, "Thanatos" is also the name of the stage he appears in (for Tia, at least), and the German subtitle for the stage, "Der Sensenmann", is one of the many German names for the Reaper.

Count Michael Zeppelin
Zeppelin Stage IV

Japanese:  「ミヒャエル・ゼッペリン伯爵」
English:  "Count Michael Zeppelin"

There's no real need to include this boss in the list, but I figured I may as well throw him in for the sake of completeness.  Since the Japanese script uses the honorific 「伯爵」 ("hakushaku") instead of 「グラフ」 ("graf"), we decided to translate the count's title into English instead of rendering it in German.  Count Zeppelin is an obvious nod to Count Vlad Tepes Dracula, so we figured it was only appropriate that their titles match as well.

Amusingly enough, Zeppelin's primary attack (which fans have dubbed "Höllenfeuer", German for "Hellfire"), is identified as 「ウェーブ炎」 ("Fire Wave") in the source code.  Come to think of it, the attack does look like a charged Fire Wave from Megaman X...

The Nightwalker
Japanese:  「夜を往くもの」
English:  "The Nightwalker"

A nod to "True Dracula" (a mistranslation of "True Ancestor Dracula", or "Pureblood Dracula") from Rondo of Blood, Symphony of the Night, Dawn of Sorrow, The Dracula X Chronicles, and Harmony of Despair -- though the similarities are purely on the superficial level.  The name may well be a reference to the nighttime form of the God of the Forest from the Studio Ghibli animated film Princess Mononoke.  The RKS demon's posture is similar to that of the forest deity's, at the very least.  Coincidence?  Who knows.  It's a pretty fitting name either way.

Webmaster Spider
Iris Stage I

Japanese:  「アミダクモ」
English:  "Webmaster Spider"

A pun and a two-for-one reference!  Naturally, this battle is intended as a nod to Bosspider, the boss of Sigma Palace I in the original Megaman X.  The 「アミ」 in the RKS boss's name means both a spider web and a computer network (i.e.: the World Wide Web).  When a pun in the original Japanese just works in English, I'm honor-bound to preserve it.  As a nice touch, both spiders are susceptible to ice-based weapons, and those who know the children's song may notice that rain can wash the spider out...

Deviled Egg
Iris Stage II

Japanese:  「イエローデビル」
English:  "Deviled Egg"

Naturally, this guy is an obvious reference to Yellow Devil from the original Megaman.  As tempting as it is to use that name in English, the name "Yellow Devil" is pretty much the property of Capcom.  Rather than step on their toes and name one of our bosses after theirs, we decided to go with the visual pun lampshaded by the stage's Game Over reference: the Wind Fish's Egg.  When a pun that delicious presents itself, we just can't resist.

Speaking of deliciousness: deviled eggs are quite tasty.  If you haven't tried them before, give them a shot.  They make for a great snack.

Iris Machine
Iris Stage III

Japanese:  「イーリスマシン」
English:  "Iris Machine"

This one's a no-brainer; it's a reference to Wily Machine 2 from Megaman 2.  At first, Iris Machine is reinforced with raw mana crystals, both as shielding and as a power supply.  Once the shielding is destroyed, the real battle with Iris Zeppelin begins.  The two forms are identified as such in the source code: 「イーリスマシン 岩足場」 ("Iris Machine - Mana Crystal Reinforced") and 「イーリスマシン イーリス」 ("Iris Machine - Iris"), respectively.

Iris Capsule
Final Stage

Japanese:  「イーリスカプセル」
English:  "Iris Capsule"

Ever since Megaman 4, you could always expect the battle with a Wily Machine to be followed by a nerve-wracking showdown with a Wily Capsule.  The series of battles with Iris Zeppelin is no different.  Iris's disappearing capsule is modeled after the Wily Capsule as it appears in Megaman 4 and Megaman 5.  Curiously, despite her narcissism, Iris doesn't have a personal crest prominently displayed on the Iris Capsule like good ol' Albert...

The Wings of Madness - Iris Zeppelin
Japanese:  「ラストイーリス イーリス発狂羽」
English:  "The Wings of Madness: Iris Zeppelin"

Here it is: the final battle. With an Ocarina of Time-styled subtitle, no less. I'm quite happy to see that, for the final battle, [erka:es] decided to do its own thing instead of channeling the final boss battle of another game for RKS's grand finale.  They could have easily had Final Iris channel the Alien from Megaman 2 or something along those lines.

The only real difference between the English and Japanese renditions of this boss's name is the styling.  The Japanese reads, "Last Iris - Demented Wings Iris".  As you can see, the final name we decided on isn't much of a stretch from the original.  Had we retained the "last" bit, we would have definitely reworded it to use "final" instead.  Y'know, for the sake of consistency...

...Whoa, it's this late already?  Looks like I need to get some shut-eye; even if we're in the final stretch, we're not done yet!

See you next time!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

You have got to be kidding me... Part Deux

Artist's Rendition
Hello, everyone!  Good God, it's been too long since my last entry.

We've had another series of unfortunate events since my last post, one not unlike what happened in November.  Another inaccessible hard drive, another series of departures at work resulting in me being drafted for overtime (this time, my boss refused to hire a replacement -_-;), another multi-week bout of insomnia, and another period of health problems and burn-out (...comes with the territory when you have to juggle too many responsibilities at once).  Thankfully, the local college (my alma mater) has wrapped up for the summer, meaning my workload during the day is now back to some semblance of normalcy.

Before anyone asks:  no, we didn't have another hard drive failure.  It's something far, far dumber.  The USB connection on my external Western Digital My Book Essential came loose, meaning I had to way of hooking up the drive to my computer.  This drive is my personal storage drive, not my project drive, so don't worry, all of the RKS project files are safe.  Anyway, I decided to remove the enclosure and hook up the drive to my roommate's tower directly so I could migrate my stuff over to my other hard drive.  What should have been a simple procedure that I've done thousands of times before instead resulted in me discovering a ridiculous design flaw and experiencing an unhealthy amount of buyer's remorse.

As you may or may not be aware, Western Digital's external drives are self-encrypting.  More specifically, the SATA-to-USB bridge automatically encrypts the contents of the drive as it's being written to the drive, and automatically decrypts data as it's being read from the drive.  The encryption key is stored on a chip on the bridge's circuit board.  If you remove the hard drive enclosure and try to hook up the hard drive to a PC motherboard via SATA, said PC thinks the drive hasn't been initialized yet because its Master Boot Record is unreadable without the encryption key.  Already, this is a pretty stupid design flaw; you effectively have a safe that can no longer be used because you have no way of inserting the key into its keyhole (remember, the SATA-to-USB bridge is broken).

The story gets worse.  As it turns out, the USB connection on Western Digital drives are quite flimsy; I came across tons of people who had their USB jacks simply fall off the way mine had during normal everyday use.  When this issue was brought to Western Digital's attention, rather than take responsibility for releasing a faulty product, their support staff instead chose to insult its customers, insisting that any damage that might have occurred was their own fault and their responsibility.

...Please excuse me while I facepalm.
Artist's Rendition

I'll level with you here.  A design oversight can be forgiven.  If someone accepts responsibility for their mistake, honestly apologizes, and makes some semblance of trying to make amends, I don't think I'd have any problem putting the issue behind me.

This is the exact opposite.  This is scapegoating.  An adamant refusal to accept responsibility.  To the people who invested hundreds of dollars apiece, no less.

I'm tempted to go on a rant here seeing as scapegoating is my #1 berserk button.  But I'm sure nobody would enjoy that, least of all me.

(To anyone who honestly wants to see me pissed off:  dude, you need a better hobby.)

On the positive side, I've been in touch with a data recovery specialist who has successfully defeated Western Digital's self-encryption and salvaged the contents of many WD drives (he's filmed the process, and I'm quite impressed).  His estimate for a successful recovery is $400 USD plus shipping (which, in all fairness, is dirt-cheap as far as data recovery rates go -- most charge by the megabyte).  So, in the end, my $200 investment in Western Digital will ultimately cost me over $600.

I don't think anyone will hold it against me if I choose to never give Western Digital any of my business again. 


Please excuse the lack of professionalism in this post.  I really needed to get that off of my chest.

Back to business:  I'm pleased to report that Rosenkreuzstilette has officially entered its testing phase.  Version 2.0 of the English script has been fully inserted, and the crew at Active Gaming Media is hard at work bug-testing the game while we're working on the rest of the release.  There's still a bit of fine-tuning to be done, but thankfully not a whole lot of work overall.  I've also implemented more than a handful of secrets into the game that I'm sure everyone will appreciate.  Instructions on how to access these secrets are scattered throughout the release; I'll say no more on that subject since I don't want to spoil the surprise.

...Okay, I'll give you one factoid to tide you over.  The original game had just one secret code.  The English release has at least quadruple that amount.  What do they do?  You'll have to play the game when it's ready to find out.

Now that that's out of the way, onto the next RKS Developer Diary!  I've got a few screenshots I need to grab for this entry,  but I'll be back in a few hours!  This time, we'll be going over some details that'll have a few of you rushing over to the wikis...

See you soon!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

PSA: RKS at Anime Boston 2016!

Hello, everyone!

Our good friend Kilgamayan, who you may remember as the first Let's Player on YouTube to cover our English fan translation of Rosenkreuzstilette, will be hosting a special panel on the Rosenkreuzstilette series this weekend at Anime Boston 2016.  It'll be an entry-level, spoiler-free panel that will give new players an idea of what to expect from the series as well as what newcomers and veterans alike can look forward to in our official English release, as well as some amusing bits of trivia that you'd never have guessed!

To make things more interesting, we've passed Kilga a little something that's bound to make the panel much, much livelier.  Consider Kilga as our official proxy; we've already briefed him on what details he can safely let out of the bag and what needs to stay under wraps until we're ready to roll.

"Mahou Shoujo Megaman: the Rosenkreuzstilette Panel" will take place Saturday, March 26th at 7:00 pm in Hynes panel room 310.  If you can make it, by all means go ahead and check it out!

Monday, February 29, 2016

RKS Developer Diary #10 - I Understood That Reference.

Hello, everyone!

I've been wanting to make this post for quite some time.  Thanks to my day job, changes around the homestead, a series of untimely developments, and a bad case of insomnia, I had little choice but to prioritize the urgent over the important for much longer than I'd like.  Now that the interruptions have been taken care of (and my sleep patterns seems to have returned to normal), I'm proud to showcase what may be the most significant improvement to the Rosenkreuzstilette localization since our original fan translation: our real-time subtitle feature.

The first time you boot up the new version of Rosenkreuzstilette, English subtitles will be enabled by default.  If you would like to disable subtitles at any time for any reason, just tap the F2 key to toggle them on or off.  The game will immediately save your choice to config.dat, so if you're a purist who'd rather not clutter up the screen, you don't need to worry about disabling subtitles every single time you launch the game.  Originally, F2 toggled whether Vertical Synchronization (V-Synch) was enabled or not.  In version 1.06a, [erka:es] decided to disable the hotkey since activating V-Synch required a restart, rendering a real-time V-Synch toggle effectively useless.  We decided to put the disabled hotkey code to good use.

As tempting as it would be to go over every character's dialogue and point out all of the references present in their voice clips, I have to save something for the full release, don't I?  So, rather than doing that, I figured I'd go over some of our localization choices with a bit of trivia thrown in.  As usual, feel free to leave any feedback in the comments:

Spiritia Rosenberg
"I'm not done yet!"

(Zero, Megaman X4 / X, Megaman X8 / Vile, Maverick Hunter X)

Tia cries this out the moment her vitality falls below 50%.  Those of you who have played through Megaman X4 in the original Japanese might recognize this cry as the same one Zero uses in the same circumstances.  Interestingly enough, variants of this line are used throughout the series, by Zero, X, and even Vile.  We decided to use X's rendition from X8 for Tia, and save Zero's more iconic X4 rendition ("It's not over yet!") for Freudia in Freudenstachel.

Freudia Neuwahl
"You could use a nice, cold nap."

(Frost Walrus, Megaman X4)

One of Freu's one-liners is a nod to the boast Frost Walrus uses in the Japanese version of Megaman X4.  Unfortunately, Capcom USA decided to cut the voices for the eight boss Mavericks instead of dubbing them into English, meaning there is no official English rendition of this line we can reference.  Literally, the two say variants of, "I'll lay you to rest on a bed of ice"; we revised the line to sound more like the subtle threat it's supposed to be (and downplay the cheese in the "ice" pun).

Bist du bereit?
Zorne Zeppelin
"I'm not gonna hold back!"

(Colonel, Megaman X4)

If you can believe it, this Zorne line is actually a reference to the Japanese version of Colonel's "I'll show you no mercy! Now, get ready!". Unfortunately, the British mannerisms Capcom decided to give his character don't flow well from the fiery redhead, so, unfortunately, the reference just had to go.  We rephrased the line to sound like something Zorne would actually say.

Nothing personal, but she's got orders.
Trauare Wrede
"Maybe a jellyfish would put up a better fight?"

(Jet Stingray, Megaman X4)

If you choose to fight Trau before defeating Zorne, Trau uses the exact same boast as Megaman X4's Jet Stingray, which was also left on the cutting room floor by Capcom USA's decision to remove the boss Maverick voices.  Jellyfish are quite lethal because of the poisonous barbs that cover their bodies; even a dead jellyfish can kill you if you touch their corpse.  There are two possible interpretations to the Japanese in this line: Trau and Stingray may be implying that even the dead stand a better chance against them than you do.  They might also be insinuating something to the effect of, "it looks like this jellyfish still has some life in her".  Which of these interpretation do you prefer?

Luste Teuber
"Let's play Tag! Tia, you're it!"
「ヒーローごっこしよ! ティアが悪者ね!」

(Split Mushroom, Megaman X4)

Yep, another deleted X4 reference.  "Hero-gokko" is actually a play on "Oni-gokko", the Japanese name for the game of Tag.  Japanese children love giving traditional games new names when they've implemented rules of their own (see: "Old Man" in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, a variant of Old Maid that ultimately plays a strong narrative role in the story).  Luste refers to Tia by name, whereas Split Mushroom uses "kimi" ("you") to refer to both X and Zero with the same line.  Unlike Mushroom, Luste's AI actively seems to be playing Tag with Tia, rushing to the other side of the room whenever Tia gets close.  This line is a perfect example of why a literal translation isn't necessarily an accurate one.

The typesetting has not yet been finalized;
we're aware that Sichte's lines are difficult to read.
Sichte Meister
"For the honor of RKS, I shall strike you down!"

(Jet Stingray, Megaman X4)

More X4 references?  Looks like Isemiya and WOMI love the game just as much as I do.  Sichte's line is a variation of Stingray's, replacing his reference to the Repliforce army with RKS.  We're still on the fence as to whether we should preserve the (officially-untranslated) reference as-is or if we should go for a slightly more fluid, "In the name of RKS, I shall carry out your sentence" (remember, Tia has been charged with treason -- a crime punishable by death -- and Sichte is her commanding officer).  Your thoughts?

That's "Freeze!" in German.
"Time, be still!"

(Dio Brando, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure / Zephyr, Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin)

Dio is a fairly popular character among Japanese game developers, and many of their original characters are inspired at least in part by the deranged vampire.  His iconic Stand, "The World", allows him to manipulate time itself, and the words he shouts when he does so are instantly recognizable, even to those who aren't Jojo fans.  Project Touhou's Sakuya Izayoi, Castlevania's Zephyr, and RKS's Sichte Meister are just a few examples of the characters he has inspired.  Given how many different official renditions of "toki yo tomare!" there are to choose between, we decided to go with the one that would resonate best with RKS's target audience.  Given no less than five different characters in the Castlevania mythos use Dio's line (Richter Belmont, Soma Cruz, Julius Belmont, Jonathan Morris, and Zephyr), it only made sense to follow their lead and render the line as, "Time, be still!".

Liebea Palesch
"Stay with me, Brother...!"

(Iris, Megaman X4)

Yet another Megaman X4 reference.  On one hand, the major characters of X4 all have their dialogue dubbed in English.  On the other hand, their lines are somewhat over-localized: "Stay with me, Brother...!" doesn't mean the same thing as "Brother, protect me...!"...  Given Liebea is thoroughly an embodiment of Iris's character -- a pacifist caught in the crossfire who just wants the ones she loves to stay safe -- we decided to go with the official localization, even if it's not 100% accurate.

Raimund Seyfarth
"That was a magnificent battle...!"

(Armored Armadillo, Maverick Hunter X)

Believe it or not, one of Seyfarth's victory cries is a reference to the Maverick Hunter X incarnation of Armored Armadillo.  In Japanese, Seyfarth and Armadillo both follow the creed of the samurai.  Unfortunately, this element of Armadillo's personality was lost in translation; in English, he comes across as stoic and stubborn instead of honor-bound and dutiful.  In Maverick Hunter X, "Tatakai datta..." was rendered as, "It was a good fight..."; we revised the line to fit better with Seyfarth's battle-hungry personality.

I'm tempted to keep going and shine a spotlight on the remaining characters, but this post is already long enough as-is, and I need to make sure that at least a few of the references can still surprise you in the final release.  We're regularly submitting debug builds to the publisher, so it's only a matter of time before the game is ready for release.

Well, that's all for now.  See you next time!