Wednesday, September 2, 2015

RKS Developer Diary #1 - The Title Screen

Hello, everyone!

During the lead-up to the official English release of Rosenkreuzstilette, I figured it'd be a good idea to start a Developer Diary to give everyone a behind-the-scenes look at our work and show off some of the tweaks we've been making under-the-hood to make the game the best it can be.  Every now and again, we'll upload a few screenshots with a bit of background and our rationale for making the decisions that we did.  If we changed anything from the original, rest assured that each change has been made with WOMI's expressed support.  Hell, in some cases, he was the one that asked us to make the change in the first place.

For our first entry, let's have a look at something everyone will encounter within seconds of launching the game:  the Title Screen.  First off, you'll notice that we decided against integrating an English rendition of the title ("Blades of the Rose Cross") into the game's logo.  This is for two reasons.  First, title is already a mouthful, especially for non-German speakers.  Second, given the naming scheme for each game and bonus mode in the series, localizing the main logo would set a messy precedent for every logo in the series to follow.  How would we integrate every word of "Rosenkreuzstilette Freudenstachel ~Blades of the Rose Cross - The Sting of Joy~" into the logo without having the elements of the logo compete for the player's attention?  From a design standpoint, it just wouldn't work to our satisfaction, so we opted to take the purist route and drop the localized subtitles from the game's logos.  The localized renderings will still be present in the finished game (they're the names of the Final Stage of each game mode), so it's not like we're leaving anything untranslated.

Now, you might have noticed a subtle difference in the screenshots above and to your left.  Yes, the order of the menu items has been changed.  This tweak was made in order to address an issue pretty much every player has encountered during their first time playing the game (myself included).  Now, when you launch a game for the first time, it stands to reason that "New Game" or "Game Start" would be the option you'd pick to, y'know, start a new game.  In the original version of RKS, this wasn't actually the case: "Prologue" would start a new game, and "Game Start" would skip the opening stage and take you straight to the Stage Select Screen.  So, we tweaked the Main Menu to be more intuitive.  In addition, it makes more sense to select your game mode before choosing your starting point instead of afterwards, so we reversed the order of these selections accordingly.  It's no surprise that a good chunk of the people who decided to do a blind Let's Play of Rosenkreuzstilette had absolutely no idea that there was an entire stage that they might have missed just because they made the logical choice at the game's Title Screen.  We felt that this was an issue that just had to be addressed in the official English version, so we've done just that.

Also, you might notice that we no longer have a character limit for the flavor text in the bottom right corner.  That's right: the descriptions of each menu item can now accurately describe what each menu item actually does instead of being a truncated mess.

Well, that's it for this first edition of the RKS Developer Diary.  Feel free to comment on our progress, including whether or not you agree with our decisions.  If there's something in the game that you're curious to know about, just drop us a line and we might devote a future Developer Diary to it.

See you later!


  1. Looking forward to seeing the rest of the changes!

    1. And I'm looking forward to writing about them. Being forced to stay quiet about something for four years leaves you feeling a bit repressed, y'know? I'm definitely glad to finally have the opportunity to show off our work (and mine in particular -- every single graphics and code tweak was handled by yours truly).

  2. Very nice read, TDOMMX!
    I'll be looking forward to the next diary entry.

  3. Yo! I was wondering if you will release sometime an Original Soundtrack of both games... You know, it's hard to find these songs, as some composers like SHW deleted their music, and others like AM3 just deleted their websites...

    Please, it would be really pleasant if you give us an OST...

    1. Speaking as both a longtime fan and as the executive producer of the English version of RKS, I'm very sorry (and extremely disappointed) to say that an official Rosenkreuzstilette: Original Sound Version soundtrack (that is, the tracks as they are heard in the game) is not possible.

      Like you, I scoured the net when I first fell in love with the original game and downloaded as many of the original tracks as I could find. Unfortunately, three of the original musicians' sites (Blue Sky, Maru's Place, and Njomo-Z) had permanently been taken down. I was never able to find the sources for the six tracks I was missing through verifiable channels. I've since been able to find a zip file archiving all of Njomo-Z's songs in MIDI form with an official HTML readme, which in all likelihood is authentic (though not 100% confirmed). Even in light of this, I still haven't been able to find the five remaining tracks.

      When I started archiving the soundtrack for Freudenstachel, SHW removed the two tracks I needed from their offerings for some reason (even the corresponding YouTube music videos were taken down). Three of the sites that I'd previously been able to access (AM3, Silver Chaos, and Unlimited Hellest) had been taken down as well (meaning I could have secured the tracks if I had downloaded everything the first time I was there -- oh, the joys of hindsight). Curiously, I was able to archive every track from the musicians new to Freudenstachel without any issues whatsoever...

      As I recall, Mint was archiving the OSV independently of my actions (he forwarded many tracks from the RKSF trial demo to me as soon as he'd found them). He had compiled a more complete version of the two soundtracks than I'd been able thanks to his own proactivity. Unfortunately, he lost everything in a hard drive crash a year or two back and understandably has been unable to recover some of the lost files.

      From a professional perspective, we have two major hurdles to publishing an official soundtrack. The first and most obvious is the source material. If we can't get the original tracks, we can't publish them. Not even WOMI has the original tracks anymore (he only seems to have the looped versions used in the game, not the originals). Many of the tracks that we were able to obtain are heavily compressed -- the vast majority of them being of significantly lower quality than what is required by redbook audio standards. We could fill in the missing tracks using the OGG versions found in the game, but that unfortunately wouldn't address the sound quality issue. Second, we would need to secure the rights to distribute the tracks. WOMI has been unable to reach many of the original artists; without the consent of every artist whose work is used in the game, distributing the soundtrack, whether as a purchased album or as a free download, would be certifiably illegal.

      On the positive side, releasing Mat Valente's retro remixes of the soundtrack would be fair game; the Terms of Use pages for the sites that are still up grant permission to use their tracks (provided that the compilation is being distributed and not sold). Fair Use grants the right to use the tracks in transformative contexts, so remixes are permitted under the same constraints. So, we can make a retro soundtrack as a bonus, but we can't sell it.

      That was enough material to make a Developer Diary of its own! As a reward for reading this far, here's a preview of Mat's work on Silver Chaos' "To the Burning Grounds" (Engrish Title: "The Ground Which Can Shine"). Which style do you prefer? Capcom (Megaman I-III) style? Or Konami (Castlevania III) style?

    2. Hey, awesome remixes! The intro stage theme happens to be one of my favorite songs from the game, too!

      Forgive my possible ignorance, but this doesn't have any of the songs you are missing in the proper quality, does it?:
      I have those files saved if the site ever dies.

    3. Heyya, Dialga.

      Actually, you just linked to the Darkside Translations site! Try typing into your browser -- it's the exact same folder. Originally, we were hosted on Mirai Gamer, but my friend / webhost SkyeWelse decided to change the URL to Retro-Type. Every single file in that folder was uploaded by yours truly. And every single mistake you see in the text files is entirely my fault. ^_^;

      I uploaded that collection when Overclocked Remix expressed interest in remixing the soundtrack in-house with suggestions on how the tracks could be remixed. I received a lot of great works-in-progress, but never any finished tracks despite being told that many of them were complete. Eventually, communication between us just broke down. If you want to poke at the OCR staff to find out what's up, I won't stop you; I've kinda given up on sending emails that never get any responses...

      On the positive side, since the tracks were already up, I just had to pass Matt the RAR links to give him all of the tracks that I had available. That let him get to work on the retro remixes immediately.

    4. Feels bad man...

      I think both arrangements sound cool, Konami style is so charming, but i prefer Capcom style :p

    5. BTW... If you're publishing Mathew remixes, will these have a fading outro, or a normal outro like the original tracks? (Example: The original track Closed Garden had a proper outro).