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!

29 comments:

  1. Super-rad, been awaiting this release since a few years ago when first I sampled the demo version.

    Congratulations so very much to you & all else involved. (: I realize that's horridly insufficient and terse, in light of all the work input...heh, well, in any event, here's to great sales success for the release, as deserved reward!

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  2. Congrats on the full release! It's been a great eight years with SaSA and it was well worth the wait for this version.

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  3. Yay I got it! I can't believe how much I missed this game. Nice to be playing it again! I can't wait for Freudenstachel. Do a great job!

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  4. Congrats on the release. Hard to believe I've been following this blog for so many years, but man I'm glad to have seen this happen. I haven't pick the game up yet since I kind of already own this via the old purchase link, but I'll be sure to pick it up again to help support this old favorite series of mine and your fine work. Looking forward to picking up the sequel in the future (in english this time to be specific) from you guys and congrats once again.

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  5. Ah, it will be nice to play again this game... And hear it's perfect soundtrack once more.

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  6. WOMI posted about the Steam release on his blog.

    I think he acknowledged that Trauare was kinda a badly designed boss fight.

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  7. What's your idea about the drastic different Boss AI in Freudenstachel 0.02a-0.05a prototype? Prototype exclusive stages/graphics? And the normally inaccessible Snow Palace in C75 prototype?? Will they become some form of bonus in the English release of Freudenstachel?

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    1. Or 0.02b if my memory serves me wrong (0.02 is the C76 non-web trial version).

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    2. Oh, I'll be working in at least a few of the early trial stages as unlockable bonuses in the final version of Freudenstachel (though I can't say if they'll make it into the launch build just yet). Unfortunately, I can't include them all for a variety of reasons, including graphical corruption, critical bugs (i.e.: crashes and hangs) and other things that render them unplayable or unfit for release. The Prologue and Liebea Stages from the C75 trial are good examples: there's no point in including those when the graphics won't load and you can't fight the stage boss (either because the boss trigger hasn't been implemented or because the boss door won't even open!).

      It sucks that I can't include the C75 version of Liebea's Stage. Her whole level was all kinds of challenging -- especially that boss fight! Serious Liebea is scary! But, I can confirm that I got at least a few other trial stages working properly in Story Mode as both Freu and Pam. I'll probably use a single code to unlock them all rather than gate them all off individually.

      Oh, the boss AI varies depending on how their moveset was updated. Some bosses had their AI completely overwritten, while others had new attacks coded while their old ones went unused. At least one of the trial bosses will use their pre-release AI, but sadly not all of them.

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    3. Glad to hear it! The trial versions really made my blood boil.
      Oh. And

      http://jul.rustedlogic.net/thread.php?id=17638

      I have a copy of C76 Trial version (the content was copied on a disc, it's not Web Trial), if you face any reference-wise problem, contact me if needed.

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    4. I appreciate the link, but I already have this version. The only version of the trial I don't currently have is v0.04a (and Archive.org doesn't have the official v0.03a->v0.04a patch archived). Not that this is a huge loss; many of the files remained unchanged between versions v0.03a and v0.05a, so there's no reason to assume there was an interesting change in between.

      That said, I did not enjoy replaying multiple versions of the Fire Dragon's Crypt in tandem just to compare the negligible differences. The final version really has the best difficulty balance of the bunch; the unlockable version is, naturally, the hardest.

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    5. OK. I'll be looking forward to future update.

      Actually I spent lot of resources and time to find the "Long Lost" non-Web-Trial C76 Version and eventually got a disc. It did have critical bugs and NOT worth it, but what was really caught by me were the pieces of unused/hidden/replaced-early-version graphics dumped from game data. (The Phantom Skull shock wave! Early Golden Castle!)

      Is there any plan after Freudenstachel English release?

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    6. Were some stages completely different? From what I know stages got adjusted to be easier(less pits, bigger platform over spikes, less enemies or different placement) and I guess bosses used to have different patterns, maybe even different attacks.

      Now I don't know how the engine works(and why such critical bugs can happen, unless objects and ressources no longer exist/were modified and don't work in such a way anymore)

      Guess that it could be possible to recreate some things but this would take a lot of time, same for making a complete hard mode(little idea that came up while reading this, would also be a nice reference to RKS having a easy mode and FS getting a hard mode, but I can understand that this would take a long time and way too much work than what's worth it)

      Looking forward to those bonus stages.

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    7. The C75 (v0.01a) versions of the stages were completely different; v0.02a (C76) onward were prototypes of levels that eventually made it into the final. Your guess is right on the money: because WOMI revamped and overwrote the background assets and AI, removing some parts and replacing others, that completely broke the earlier stages' compatibility with the game engine. Restoring the assets needed to play those stages properly would break compatibility for the normal stages in the retail version of the game, so that's a no-go.

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    8. I see, could be possible by manually switching the object ID's to new ones in the level file(or making a copy of the old build, adjusting the objects to use a different ID(the same one which the copied objects will have in the new build)) and then importing those into the new build, but both would probably be more effort than it's worth it.

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    9. You're right on the money. WOMI's level editor isn't very accessible -- it requires both technical proficiency as well as a strong grasp of Japanese to even start it up. As you said, trying to rebuild the levels has a high barrier to entry and ultimately amounts to more trouble than it's worth. And, even if we could rebuild the stages easily, there'd be no way to restore that awesome battle with Liebea, which defeats the whole point of wanting to include her stage...

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  8. Hey, I recently found out about this update.
    Nice to hear that this happened. I do have a few questions about the game, which I plan on getting soon.
    (I've heard about it years ago, then read about it again about half a year ago(as well as finding this blog and reading that this big update was planned))

    Who was exactly part of this new team? I guess you got to contact the developer and then this idea appeared, if so it sure must've been fun to do this.

    Are the other versions getting this update as well? I can imagine that the playism version from 2013 got it.
    Does this new release include the option to change voices to the japanese ones if players prefer that?

    Did the publishers request certain changes to the game?
    Also, have you thought about publishing it in your team or was a publisher required for certain tasks/made it much easier?

    Personally I'm not a fan of Steam(although I'm ok with people getting their games there, it's their decision after all) so I was more than happy to hear that there's still DRM free releases.
    Was the Steam release something you guys had planned at first, also are there plans to launch the games on other DRM free platforms such as GOG(DRM Free) and Humble Bundle(Steam+DRM Free)?
    It would make the DRM free version available to more people but I'm already fine with having it available as DRM Free game on playism.

    Think that's all I wanted to ask, thanks for reading this far ^^ and thanks for making this updated version. Usually I'm not a fan of games getting things adjusted but I can agree with all the changes I've seen so far and they seem to improve the game more like a later(long awaited) update than anything. Guess Freudenstachel will be next?

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    1. Glad to see you again, Anon!

      Since you asked so nicely, I have no qualms answering your questions:

      Due to scheduling conflicts, our translator Akira had to step down in order to pursue his studies. Chris from Sekai Project took over his role for Freudenstachel, with our resident translation checker Tyler reprising his role from the original RKS. I stepped down as lead editor for Freudenstachel to handle the programming and graphics work within our target timeframe; Xander (one of the editors for the original RKS alongside Mint) took up the mantle in my stead, making sure to keep the writing style and characterization consistent across both games. Aside from that, the division of labor for RKS and Freudenstachel is identical.

      Yes, WOMI was actively involved in the development of the English version, providing us with the source code and original graphics files for the bulk of the game's assets (not all -- the assets Isemiya created on his own could not be retrieved for obvious reasons). WOMI was a huge help, especially with the graphics work for Freudenstachel. And, yes, chatting with the man himself was quite the experience.

      There are technically two releases of the game (the Steam release and the Playism one), but they're really one and the same. One has Steamworks integration, and the other doesn't; other than that, they're identical. Playism helped keep us on-track and coordinated the Japanese and North American sides of things for us while we did our thing with minimal interference. At their request, we held off on adding subtitles to Freudenstachel in the launch build to ensure the game was released on schedule. We hope to add them in in a subsequent update.

      Playism always planned to release on their storefront and on Steam simultaneously, which matched our vision just fine. I can't say anything about a GOG or Humble release since that's not for me to say (I don't know, and even if I did, I'd be bound by NDA to say I didn't).

      I'm very much against changing things without good reason. That's why I decided to revert "Karl Palesch" back to his official name, Kahl. All of the names we used reflect their correct German spellings: Michael Zeppelin (I was really tempted to use "Mikhail" to ensure the correct pronunciation, but that's a Russian name, not a German one), Doris Warmind (pronounced "varmint"), Pamela Arwig (pronounced "arvick"), Recht and Link Refraktia, and, of course, Kahl Palesch (yep, "Kahl" is an actual German name!).

      I originally wanted to keep a few things secret, like the inclusion of Easy Mode (the code was hidden in the DRM-free version's Terms of Use); the publisher convinced me to spill the beans on some of the secrets. I had nothing to do with them adding them to the Steam page, though; I just dropped hints in the forums whenever anyone asked about them. I'm still playing coy about a few of the other bonuses, though -- those are exclusively for people who have earned them in-game.

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    2. Oh hey, didn't expect a reply that fast.
      Don't think I've posted here before so I'm a different anon in case you're thinking about a different one(Guess I should get an account when posting more stuff here to avoid any confusion)

      Ah I see, that's interesting info about Freudenstachel(actually I was asking about the main game rerelease)
      Oh nice, I just got some info on erka:es(it was late when I wrote that comment so I sadly missed some things) and how WOMI was one of the original two members and the person that finished Freudenstachel. If I'm allowed to ask, how did this project idea start?

      Oh, I meant the old releases such as on the erka:es site(or the other ones that could be obtained via online stores, guess there you got the main game installer and got the patches over the main site)

      I can understand if those don't get the update since this is basically a "remade" version(even if it's more like a big update), but I was wondering if the playism japan versions got the update(they were released in 2013 so I guess that's still the old version? The links on erka:es' site to the playism japan site are broken(they changed the link structure, you can still find them via searching however) and it looks like they didn't keep track of release dates back then, FS doesn't have one while RKS uses the same release date of January 2017 as the new version on the English Playism website, so I guess that version did get the updates?)

      I guess that you mean the Japanese release with the Launch Build of FS? Or is that hinting at a soon release? Well I don't want to get you into trouble so I won't ask anymore regarding that ^^.

      For some reason I thought someone else other than Playism was the publisher, must've been too tired yesterday. I don't know if you can publish on their platform without having them as publisher or if they allow releases on other platforms, but I don't mind steam releases as long as there's still DRM free ones, having the steam key as a added bonus on playism is nice as well.
      It sounds like the guys at playism are friendly, hope that was the case and that it was nice to work with them.

      Ah I see, did read the description of the Playism version on how the codes got changed as well as a few modes added, can see why this is done for new releases(will give players something new to try out, just like the MMX passwords with the secret weapons you posted some times ago, it's just a minor annoying thing if one wanted to look up passwords and only found the old ones, but it's really no big deal)

      I guess "Karl Palesch" was the fan translation, I do know german, think I haven't heart Kahl through, maybe once but must be rare. Not sure if H was one of those characters which could be a different character depending on how it's translated from japanese(a bit like L/R, however there are different translation methods)

      Ah I see, such secrets can be nice for the player to find(on the other hand however it should be possible to find them, not that they'd be hidden for centuries or possibly for forever, I was quite surprised to read about the MMX 1-3 codes as everyone believed that it was impossible to have them as password since you didn't get a different password and all kinds of combinations gave nothing, yet one needed to HOLD certain buttons for it to work!) mentioning easy is good for people who want to get into this series.

      One last question, one of the added things are subtitles which can be disabled(via F2 and possibly a menu option), can the voice(japanese/english) also be changed via a option or is it all english for this version? Just curious since I prefer to have both options.


      Thanks for taking your time and answering the questions.

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    3. Nah, I didn't confuse you with anyone else. You said you popped in from time to time, and I just wanted to welcome you back.

      If you're asking how the English localization of RKS started, Clyde Mandelin (a.k.a. Tomato, the translator of Mother 3) asked me to write a guest article for his Legends of Localization site. I answer that very question in the article.

      If you're asking how RKS itself got started, WOMI recounts that story in the R05 artbook. Here's hoping we'll be able to localize the book in its entirety in due time...

      Since our release is based on the latest version's source code (1.06b for RKS, 1.04a for RKSF), it already includes all prior bugfixes. There's no real point in going back and "updating" the older versions; it's very much akin to downgrading an already-upgraded system.

      I have, however, been asked to reverse-port our enhancements to the Japanese-language release. That'll happen after we've ironed out all the kinks in the English version.

      The release dates listed on the Playism site are a bit inaccurate. Freudenstachel was released October 20, 2012. To the best of my knowledge, the Japanese Playism versions were released November 26, 2013. The Japanese re-releases on Steam and Playism are unchanged from 2013.

      Actually, the SNES Megaman X series did give you new passwords after you picked up the hidden capsules. If you weren't holding the requisite button combination when you tried to reload those passwords, the relevant flags were reset to zero and it seemed as though the passwords didn't save your secrets even though they really did. X2 didn't give any new codes for the X-Hunter Stages, though; I had one hell of a hard time figuring out how to start beyond Violen's Stage (that experience was well worth it -- it's how I figured out how to reprogram Freudenstachel's password scheme to do something similar).

      Yes, the guys at Playism are great to work with. There was a bit of turnaround since Josh left to join Comcept and Michael disappeared. All of the people who have since left Playism, Darksquid, or Darkside are credited in our Special Thanks, where they rightfully belong.

      Oh, until Schwesternschaft is restarted and we resume work on the English voice recording, the voices will remain Japanese-only. Whenever when the English voices are done, they'll remain purely optional; the F2 button will change from a subtitle on/off toggle to a dub/sub toggle.

      Kahl is written 「カール」 in Japanese ("Kaaru"). "Karl" is a typical German name meaning "man". "Kahl" is a much less common German name meaning "bare" or "unhidden" (or, in some contexts, "bald"). Given the character's straightforward personality and his ability to see through a certain psycho's deceptions, the name truly fits. Also, the crest of the Schwarzkreuz is directly modeled after a German military decoration, which was awarded to (among others) Captain Bruno Kahl and Captain Konrad Kahl during World War II (note that Kahl is used in Germany both as a boy's given name and as a family name). Since solid cases can be made for both "Kahl" and "Karl", we decided to stick with WOMI's original decision and recognize "Kahl" as the official name for the character. I think the name suits his muscular physique a lot better, too.

      As long as you don't ask me to say anything that might step on our publisher's toes, I'm willing to discuss anything and everything!

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  9. Ah I see, thought that, wanted to avoid confusion.

    Thanks for the article, interesting to know about this.
    Just now read it, it was nice to read and amazing that you got to do this.
    Guess the idea to improve some things such as the tilesets or adjust the colors appeared later when working on this version?
    I didn't know there's an artbook, are there multiple?

    Oh, I didn't mean updating earlier versions of the game, I meant the Japanese language releases(or well, all releases before this version in general, but there only are the Japanese ones), would be good if both versions could be 100% the same.

    Not inaccurate, they're simply missing ^^, I found a blog post on the erka:es site from 2013 which mentions the release of RKS and FS on the playism site, later on playism most likely updated the site and either didn't keep track of release dates before this or didn't port them over=no release dates. When the updated FS now released, that date got added(also on the Japanese site, guess because both sites are linked), and I see, didn't know that there's a Japanese version on Steam.

    Ah I see, so without thinking about the button combos, people simply thought that those passwords wouldn't work or that the function to have those abilities saved was cut.
    It's been a while since I last played X2, did the game give a password after you cleared the X Hunter ones and got to the fortress(if there was such a stage, I do know that the stage with the final boss was a short one)

    Good to know that, they looked like friendly guys.

    Ah, Schwesternschaft is a different project, I remember reading about it a long time ago when I found the website, is that project the translation project or is there more to it?
    Think it would be better to move subtitles and voices to the options(or some kind of option launcher) so that people could decide if they want subtitles or if they want english, japanese or maybe no voices(I've heard that the voice clips were added with a later patch and before that there weren't any, so maybe that could be added as option as well?), guess the text language will always be set to english(adding a option to change that would really be a pain, and it's more of a nice to have thing, not something that's required)

    I do know of the name Karl and the word kahl, think I've seen the name Kahl somewhere before through, really fits well with the character's personality and it's best to keep it as it was originally intended.

    Ah I see, thanks, I did have a question which I forgot to ask before:
    With original graphics file you mean the source files for them? Must've been useful for the graphics where multiple layers were merged into one, as for the others, I don't know what game engine is used here(the game could really be anything, most likely is custom coded) or how the game graphic are saved but I guess that there was a way to convert the game files back into editable graphics?

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    1. Oh, I retouched the background graphics and tilesets back in our fan translation! When WOMI granted us access to his original Photoshop files, I made a point of going over everything and further polishing anything that needed it. Being able to reposition anything granted me the freedom to do everything I felt was necessary. The perfectionist in me had a field day, to say the least.

      The R05 artbook is currently on DLsite for $0.96. You can grab it here. Please be advised that it's entirely in Japanese and has yet to be translated. It includes a chronicle of the development history of RKS, a playable prototype of the very first incarnation RKS (which looked very, VERY different), and plenty of characters bios and unused graphics / character designs (including every entry in WOMI's RKSF boss design contest). Some of this unused material ultimately made it back into the English versions of the games... :3

      Like I said, I'll be incorporating many of our changes into the Japanese versions once we've ironed out all the issues in the English ones.

      It's not that they thought the Megaman X passwords wouldn't work; it's that they tried using them without knowing about the "kill-switch" button combos and assumed the new passwords didn't do anything new. None of the Super NES games gave new passwords after each fortress stage; the passwords only changed if you found a secret in that level (i.e.: the Shoryuken capsule in Agile's Stage in X2, the Hyper Chip capsule and Z-Saber in the first two Doppler Town stages in X3).

      I'd say Schwesternschaft is an extension of the English localization project, not a wholly different one. A complete translation has to translate everything, and translating voicework requires either subtitles or dubbing. Back in 2011, subtitles weren't an option since we didn't have access to the source code; dubbing was the only option to fully complete our translation project. When the game was licensed and we could do whatever we needed to the code, we had alternatives we could pursue...

      You first saw "Kahl" on the [erka:es] site, two years after our original fan translation was released. Seeing his character design for the first time, we thought that, yep, dude definitely looks like a "Kahl".

      Answering your question: yep, I was talking about the original Photoshop files for the graphics. The game uses its own engine in C++ extended by a handful of programming libraries, but the graphics are just regular bitmap files compressed into protected archives for the sake of space and security. I released a data archive decoder for the original game on the Darkside Translations site; since I've updated the modules in the official English version, this tool only works with the Japanese and fan-translated versions.

      Pre-emptively: no, I will not be updating the decoder to work with the English retail version. That decision is non-negotiable and based on our new relationship with WOMI, so please don't ask me to reconsider. If you wish to decode and modify the graphics in the original Japanese game, go right ahead -- that's how Mint made his music and graphics mods. But we can't release any tools for the latest versions of the games.

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    2. Oh, I didn't know that, repositioning must've been in the game levels(I guess there's a self programmed level editor that was used to build the stages?)
      Ah I see, interesting, wonder how the unused material made it back(possibly as new content? don't think it would be replacing old ones)

      And that's good, was wondering if both, the english and japanese version would be the same game in the end.

      Oh I see, Schwesternschaft is basically this project with other planned extras, looking forward to that.
      Subtitles are nice, I just meant it's best to allow the players to pick if they want subtitles or not.

      Ah I meant the name, although I recently saw those images, looks like it would've been a fun game mode.

      I see, thought it would be it's own C++ engine.
      That's sad, I can see the reasons why this is done(the erka:es team never wanting such software/so that noone can "steal" your hard work and so on) even through data ripping isn't always bad and there will always be sites like the spriters ressource that will try to collect sprites and game ressources, and there will be people that will always try such things as well.
      Ultimatively this means that the Japanese versions will be incompatible with this tool one day as well(guess the update of the archive files was also requested so it's no longer decodeable), I find it sad when games get updates which change things like that, but not much that can be done about it.

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    3. When I say repositioning elements, I mean the positions of graphical elements onscreen. For instance, the position of the Vitality gauge on the Status Subscreen, the position of the Extra Life and Cross Tank counters, etc. Being able to move these around allowed me to fine-tune and rebalance the compositions of a lot of graphics. We didn't actually modify any of the level data.

      Playing as Kahl would be pretty fun, yeah. WOMI also had screenshots of a new mode starring Freudia on his blog years ago. I hope something comes out of that, but I'm not holding my breath.

      Nah, it's more an issue of ensuring there's a barrier to entry to people modifying our work. If anyone could modify the game to include copyrighted material and upload footage of their mods to YouTube, it's entirely possible that a lawyer could hit us with a lawsuit for copyright violations, citing those videos as evidence. If anyone wants to modify the game, they have to retrace the steps we took when we figured out how to modify the game in our fan-translation days and prove that they have the technical proficiency necessary to do a good job before we even think about giving them full control. We (WOMI and I) want to be sure that our work is in good hands.

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    4. Ah when I first heard of repositioning I thought about stage background objects(just visuals) didn't think about the hud even through I've seen one of the latest posts that talked about the Mario Section.

      Ah I see.

      Thanks for the info, that's good to know. I was planning to get the game anyways but knowing this info and understanding the developer even more makes this better.

      Technically that's a modified copy and you guys can show that the original game doesn't have this(literally every game has to fight with the same) but I fully understand why you're careful as some strange things can happen with law and all(even if you're in the right)
      Sadly this doesn't stop that issue from happening as I'm sure that one day someone will release new tools(with no negative intent) and some people might just make those mods(however, like before, you guys should be on the safe side of things since you did nothing wrong)
      As long as the RKS fanbase is big enough(which I think it is) and has people who have the interest and knowledge to do this, tools should arrive sometime in the future.

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  10. Different Anon here, on the subject of old unused content being the English version is there anything specific that triggers the alternate game over screen in Freudia's stage?

    And is that the only stage with an alternate game over screen?

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    1. There are two "new" Game Over references in the English version of RKS. Both of them are unlocked by getting two consecutive Game Overs in a given stage without returning to the Stage Select Screen, then losing your last life (triggering a third consecutive Game Over) to Freudia Neuwahl. In the launch build, the two new references are identical (the one in Freudia's stage is actually a placeholder); the second reference is already in place in our internal build and will be accessible once v2.10a is live.

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  11. I noticed something strange about Grolla's charged attack before desperation mode. Sometimes it does two units of damage and other times it does three. Is there some sort of variable that determines how much damage her charge attack does before desperation mode?

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    1. The shock wave part produced by charge slash does 2 damage (when the shock wave hits boss) and the blade itself does 3. (When boss is close enough to be inside the blade's range)

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