Monday, August 1, 2016

RKS Developer Diary #12 - Your new name is "Mid-Boss".

Hi, everybody!

Things have been pretty hectic on our side of the pond lately.  Our work on the original Rosenkreuzstilette is more or less done.  Now that we finally have our hands on the sequel's source code, we've finally begun working on Freudenstachel in earnest.

As you may have noticed, a good chunk of the responsibilities for RKS fell squarely on my shoulders.  I penned the final version of the English script, localized the graphics, reprogrammed the game engine to properly support English text and optional subtitles, you get the idea.  It wasn't a one-man show by any means, but I did assume a disproportionate amount of the work.  And the result of that thoughtless decision?  Whenever anything happened that prevented me from working on the game for any reason (illness, hardware failure, problems at my day job, family emergency, and so on), our forward progress was halted until the matter was taken care of and I was able to work on the game again.  I became what we refer to within the industry as a "bottleneck".  As you can imagine, a few members of the project staff were less than satisfied with this state of affairs, and with damned good reason.

Moving forward with Freudenstachel, I'll be reprising my role as the resident graphics editor and programmer, but I'll be leaving the polishing of the script in the hands of my good friend Xander (who also handled the casting and directing for the English voiceovers until we were asked to put the English voice project on hold).  TrickMasterMint and DekuKirby are reprising their roles as well; we've simply reorganized ourselves to remove any bottlenecks and optimize our manpower.  You can rest assured that it's still the same team working on the English version of Rosenkreuzstilette Freudenstachel, so please continue looking forward to our finished release.

Onto today's developer diary!

This time around, we'll be having a look at the major enemies in the game that block your forward progress, but aren't quite on the same level as the bosses we shone a spotlight on last time.  Like pretty much every other enemy in the game, Isemiya named each mid-boss in his commented code.  Some of the names he chose are appropriate, while others have understandably been retconned by the sequel:

The Great Hydra
Trauare Stage

Japanese:  「大王イカ」
English:  "Great Hydra"

The "Great Squid" in Japanese, we have two objections to preserving this name as the official English moniker.  You probably didn't expect a company named "Darksquid Media" to veto a squid reference, huh?  Well, for starters, this boss doesn't look like a squid at all; it's more of a many-headed sea serpent.  Second, I'm sure you can agree that there's only one character worthy of the title of the "Great Squid" in the RKS series - and his name is Zeppy.

On that note, if you'll excuse a quick tangent: a few fans have speculated that Zeppy may be a reference to "sepia", the German word for cuttlefish (an aquatic mollusk loosely resembling the squid, one bearing distinctly-shaped eyes).  The English language adopted the word to refer to the characteristic reddish-brown color of its ink.  We looked into the etymology of the word to see if it justified changing 「ゼッピー」's name to "Seppy", and the verdict was a unanimous "no".  Word of God aside, the voicing mark on the 「ゼ」 makes it abundantly clear that the name is pronounced with a 'z' sound and not the 's' sound of "sepia".  Second, our favorite squid's ink is black, not sepia-toned.  Third, Zeppy does not possess the cuttlefish's signature W-shaped eyes, so he's definitely not a cuttlefish himself.  In the end, the evidence presented wasn't compelling enough to warrant changing a name we've grown to love.

On the flip side, reclassifying this mid-boss as a hydra reinforces RKS's link to the Castlevania series (namely, through Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles' remake of Rondo of Blood).

Back on topic: the hydra is a well-known sea serpent from Greek and Roman mythology.  In some versions of the story of Hercules, the Hydra of Lerna grew two new heads whenever one was cut off, leading many to believe that the creature was immortal.  It is for this reason that a certain clandestine organization in the Marvel universe named itself after the mythical beast.  Curiously, only more recent versions of the hydra myth claimed that the monster was capable of regenerating its heads...

Leviathan, the namesake of Trauare's spear as well as the Megaman Zero character she pays homage to is a great sea serpent in Norse mythology.  However, the Leviathan has a single head.  As fitting as it would be for Trau's signature polearm to be named after the beasts in her domain, the reference just doesn't quite match up.  Oh well...

Grolla Stage

Japanese:  「ビシュヌ」
English:  "Vishnu"

Though it looks nothing like Him, this skeletal totem is named after the All-Pervading One from Hindu mythology.  Vishnu has many incarnations, including Rama and Krishna.  He is part of Hinduism's Holy Trinity alongside Brahma and Shiva.

You may be surprised to learn that 1) my mother is Hindu, and 2) my younger brother's middle name is Vishnu.  Since the first time we watched another of my brothers play through Final Fantasy IV and VI, we've always been amused that Squaresoft decided to put a spin on Shiva's gender despite their titles featuring a long line of handsome, effeminate men (amusingly enough, said brother's middle name is Shiva).  Yes, Shiva has blue skin, but He is the father (not mother) of Ganesh, another Hindu deity you may recognize (Ganesh is featured prominently in Dhalsim's stage in Street Fighter II).

In any event, I like many of the incarnations of Shiva within Final Fantasy as well as the look of RKS's Vishnu, even if they aren't mythologically accurate.

Sichte Stage

Japanese:  「エスカルゴ カメ」
English:  "Tortoisnail"

A clear nod to Escaroo from Megaman 4.  Going solely by its environment, Tortoisnail ("Escargot Kame" in Japanese) could very well be mistaken for a terrapin.  For those of you who aren't aware of the difference: turtles are aquatic animals and tortoises are land-lovers, while terrapins prefer to live in swampy areas like sewers and marshes.  All three species have evolved different physical features appropriate for their preferred habitat.  However, the mid-boss's domed shell and lack of webbed feet show that the creature is a tortoise that decided to seek shelter from the rain.

As for why its eyes are able to detach from its face...  Well, that's most likely a nod to the source material, with a bit of artistic license thrown in for good measure.

A Lone Homunculus
Iris Stage III

Japanese:  「ホムンクルス」
English:  "Homunculi"

The Fullmetal Alchemist fans among you should instantly recognize the term "homunculus" (plural: homunculi) as the name for synthetic human beings created by alchemy (a hybrid of science and magic).  Fittingly enough, homunculi are described in the third manifesto of the real-life Order of the Rose Cross, Chymische Hochzeit Christiani Rosencreutz ("The Chemical Marriage of Christian Rosenkreuz").  The Swiss-German philosopher and occultist Paracelsus described at length the steps necessary to create a homunculus, which include (among other things) nourishing a man's sperm with human blood for 40 days and nights before implanting it into a horse's womb.  Ewww...

Referred to as 「ボスラッシュ ドクロボット」 ("Boss Rush Skullbot") in the game's code, RKS's homunculi are undeniable references to Skullbot K-176 (frequently mistranslated as "Doc Robot") from Megaman 3.  Like their skull-faced counterparts, the homunculi adopt the abilities of prior bosses.  Unlike K-176, however, these synthetic humanoids also take on the likenesses of the characters whose abilities they possess.  This detail is an important point in the plot of Freudenstachel, which may explain why WOMI decided to retcon the creatures' name.

Well, that's all for now.  Xander and I will be attending Otakuthon in Montreal this weekend (August 5-7).  If any of you are in the area and wish to say hi, leave a comment and we'll see if we can work something out.

See you later!