Sunday, May 21, 2017

State of the Schwesternschaft

"My fellow Rosicrucians..."
Hello, everyone!  It's been a while!

I have to apologize for the extended silence on this blog since the official English release of Rosenkreuzstilette.  Without going into too much detail, our free time has become somewhat of an endangered species these past few months.  Juggling getting Rosenkreuzstilette Freudenstachel ready for its English debut along with lots of overtime at my day job, some personal drama, and the death of a good friend has left me with little time to write up any meaningful posts.  As you probably already know, I'd rather wait until I have the time to do something right than attempt to half-assedly wing it, so I've resisted the urge to write any insubstantial "still alive" posts here on Schwer and Schwer Alike.  I'm sorry if that decision has caused any of you to worry about the fate of Freudenstachel.

It's been three and a half months since Rosenkreuzstilette's official release, and I have to admit that I'm a bit conflicted about the game's reception.  On one hand, professional translators and longtime doujin games enthusiasts have been ecstatic about the game's official release.  Clyde Mandelin (whom many of you may know as the man behind the Mother 3 fan translation) invited me to tell our story on his Legends of Localization website.  Censored Gaming, much to my surprise, adapted that article into a short video congratulating our professional debut.  A small handful of YouTube Let's Players have shone a spotlight on the game, and I couldn't be more flattered by their starstruck reactions when identifying myself in the comments section of their videos.  The positive vibes have seriously helped me with some of the pain I've had to work through in my personal life as of late.  I never imagined anyone would be that excited to meet me; it's the perfect remedy for treating a broken heart.

On the flip side, there's been a whole lot of indifference and even some outright hostility towards RKS's English release.  In the span of over three months, not one major gaming news outlet has reviewed Rosenkreuzstilette, not even the ones we passed free review copies to.  According to Metacritic, a single enthusiast website has reviewed the game, giving it a satisfied 4 out of 5.  Metacritic doesn't assign its own score to a game until at least four high-profile outlets have given it a shot, so RKS currently has a Metascore of "tbd".  Given how stoked the Megaman fanbase was for a spiritual successor to the Blue Bomber, you'd think classic gaming sites would be all over this release...

To be totally honest, I wanted my first post-release blog entry to showcase the coverage the game has received; I can't really do that when there's barely any coverage worth showcasing...

This would-be activist doesn't seem to
realize that The Emperor's New Clothes
isn't pornography.  If s/he does, we
have a clear double-standard here.
To top it all off, although Steam reviews of the game are overall "Very Positive", there are what I can only describe as Social Justice Wankers harassing players on the Steam forums, openly calling them basement-dwelling pedophiles and questioning why Steam allows the "sexual exploitation of young girls" on its service.  I won't dignify this accusation beyond what you see to the left; I'll let the screencaps speak for themselves.

Anyway, onto more relevant news:

We submitted our release candidate of Rosenkreuzstilette Freudenstachel to Playism in mid-April.  I'll be submitting a revised release candidate later this week to correct a minor bug that slipped by us (in the previous build, random large Vitality Orb drops were automatically being replaced by small ones...).  We also submitted Version 2.10a of the original Rosenkreuzstilette a few weeks ago.  This version integrates a certain well-known official mod into the game, fixes up a few minor bugs, and touches up the graphics here and there (including a good chunk of the Game Over references).  Per our publisher's request, I've left any remaining tasks (bugfixes, achievements, subtitles for Freudenstachel) in their hands for the sake of expediency.

Unfortunately, I have some bad news to share.  Playism has officially pulled its support for hard copies and English language voicework for the game.  That isn't to say that these two key elements of Schwesternschaft have been scrapped; Playism just isn't able to cover our costs.  However, they've gracefully stepped aside on the subject of the R05 artbook and will allow us to work with another publisher to get the artbook financed, localized, and printed.  We already have a party interested in partnering with us for R05 as well as the production of merch like keychains and postcards.  We'll keep you posted on that topic whenever we have anything to announce.  If things go well and these physical goods sell as well as we hope, we may well be able to salvage everything we've already invested into Schwesternschaft...

Well, that's enough out of me for now!  Next time will be the inaugural entry of the Rosenkreuzstilette Freudenstachel Developer Diary.  I'm curious to know what you'd like me to shine a spotlight on first.  Feel free to look back on our original RKS Developer Diary and suggest a debut topic in the comments below.  There's a lot to cover before the game's English debut, and I'll try and add new posts whenever I'm able to make the time.

Until then!

Friday, February 3, 2017

It's Official: Rosenkreuzstilette Now Available!

Hello, everyone!

I've been wanting to write this post for ages.  Well, the wait is finally over, and the years of hard work have finally paid off.  Rosenkreuzstilette -Blades of the Rose Cross- has now made its official English language debut!

It's been a little over eight years since Alex / TrickMasterMint and I first met on this very blog.  That first encounter has had an enormous impact on my life these past few years.  Sure, we butted heads often, but we remained fast friends.  I'd like to think that our work is all the better for it.  Seriously, man, I couldn't have done this without you.  If you're ever in the Montreal area, I need to buy you a drink.  It's, like, a law or something...

Anyway!  You can buy a copy of Rosenkreuzstilette from either Playism or Steam for $9.99 USD (with a 10% discount if you grab your copy within the next week).  Like I said in my previous post, I highly recommend going through Playism since that route nets you a free Steam key.

On a related note, I'm sure many of you have chanced upon a YouTuber by the name of Hadriex and his cheeky-but-fair review of Rosenkreuzstilette.  Well, he reached out to us and offered to make us a special trailer to commemorate the game's official release.

What do you think?

Be sure to leave your comments on Hadriex's trailer and our revised localization below.  And, of course, have fun!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Let the Countdown Begin!

The time has finally come.

After years of hard work, I'm proud to announce the official English release date of Rosenkreuzstilette!  Guess what?  It's next week!

Don't take my word for it, though.  Here's the official trailer:

You can preorder the game from Steam or Playism.  I recommend going through Playism; it comes with a free Steam key.

The curtain has risen; who can say what has yet to unfold?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

RKS Developer Diary #14 - Background Info

Hello, everyone!

As promised in my last Dev Diary, this will be the final Developer Diary entry devoted to the original Rosenkreuzstilette.  A few aspects of the game's localization have changed since I last shone a spotlight on them in earlier entries, whether because of developer / publisher requests or because we were hit with a sudden burst of inspiration (for instance, "Escargot Kame" / "Snail Tortoise" has been officially renamed "Tortoisnail").  I've gone back and updated the text of earlier Developer Diary entries for the sake of consistency, but I've left the original screenshots intact so that you can compare development screenshots with the final release.

Naturally, some of you may want to update the wiki to make sure the information it contains isn't out-of-date.

As you can see from the screenshot above, we've revised the heads-up display for the Super Mario Bros. segment in Schwer-Muta's Stage.  Because of the extended homage in Schwer's Freudenstachel level, we needed to be sure that the display worked with the "Welcome to Warp Zone" area.  The mixed-case look we modeled after New Super Mario Bros. didn't quite look right, whereas the all-caps rendition was a much better match.  In the end, we backported the changes to the original RKS for the sake of consistency.

Since I'm sure many of these tweaks will go unnoticed, I figure I may as well draw attention to some of the changes we made to the stage backgrounds.  If you have an old, low-contrast cathode ray tube (CRT)  monitor, the color corrections we made to the tilesets of Luste's and Sichte's levels are practically invisible.  On the other hand, if you have a more modern display with an adequate level of contrast (an LCD, OLED, TFT, or plasma screen display), the difference is obvious.  As usual, click on the images to get a closer look.

For the walls of Sleipnir, Luste's flying fortress, something about the gray-and-blue coloring of the pillars and statues just seemed a bit off and clashed with the look of the rest of the stage.  It's a bit difficult to put into words, but I guess you could say the elements felt like they didn't really belong on the same screen.  To correct the issue, we applied a collection of adjustment layers to the level's tileset so that the foreground and background elements properly complemented one another.  It may be a subtle difference, sure, but it's something we felt was worth doing.

As for the masonry of Zwerberg's clock tower, take a good look at the screenshot to the right.  For some reason, the bricks on the left side of the antechamber as well as the rear wall and ceiling are a different color than the rest of the stage.  In fact, the entire tileset has a reddish tinge to it that isn't present in any of the background graphics -- something that really stands out when the tiles are placed side-by-side (like the area just below Tia's feet).  We addressed the issue in the same manner as we did with Luste's stage, using a color dodge layer to remove the excess red and ensure that the color scheme was consistent.

Onto more substantial changes.  I'd bet that many of you took a Crossbone Tank to the face the first time you reached the midpoint of Schwer-Muta's stage before noticing the large sign in the background.  Naturally, "warnung" means "warning" in German.  We felt that adding such an obvious translation to the sign was unnecessarily redundant (just like the phrase "unnecessarily redundant").  In our fan translation, we added the line "beware of hazards" to try and hint to the player that they needed to think fast.  In retrospect, that line of thinking was self-defeating; if they stop to read the sign, of course they were going to get hit in the face.

For our official release, we decided to instead warn players about the contents of the canisters and update the sign to match something you'd find in an actual factory.  So, with that kind of setting in mind, the choice was obvious.  "Warnung: Hazardous Materials".  We doubt that the new sign will prevent newcomers from getting smacked in the face by an overzealous portable suitcase, but at least they'll be able to laugh at themselves when they read the sign and realize what might have been in the tank.

Last, but not least, we have the background of the teleporter room in Iris Stage III.  The rear wall sports the mirror image of a sinister message (with some random gibberish thrown in for some reason).  In the official English version, we cleaned up the Engrish and formatted the text to give astute players a subtle hint regarding what lay ahead:

Eins, Zwei, Drei...
God knows
her death
is drawing near...
Hide your fear...

sleeps in
Heaven Hell
Delight Love
Joy Spite
Despair Sorrow
Foresight Anger

Dry her tears
with blood...
You can stop
screaming now...

As you can tell from the screenshots, the text was formatted a bit differently in the original Japanese version.  In both versions, the final lines are hidden by the teleporters leading to the Zorne and Sichte homunculi.

Look closely at the positions of each of the emotions in the second paragraph.  Where have we seen these words before...?  Are they alluding to something...?  Hmmm...

Well, that's enough out of me for now.  Thank you for following along with the Rosenkreuzstilette Development Diary.  The next time we meet, it should be for the debut of the Rosenkreuzstilette Freudenstachel Development Diary.  Since the actual game is complete (my only remaining tasks involve the manual and the installer), feel free to request in the comments what you'd like me to explore with you first.  Unless it's something I'd consider a spoiler, I'll be happy to oblige.

Oh, one more thing.  I'm not sure how accurate this thing is, but if it's spot-on, I'd be very much looking forward to next week if I were you: