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!


  1. Really don't see why you're surprised by the indifference. Only one Mega Man fansite talked about it and it was because you're also planning Mega Man X work later. Everyone else ignored it, which actually is what I predicted would happen on this very site.

    In short people take one look at RKS and see "Weaboo Panty Quest" tune it out and instead either whine about there being no games or instead play fan games of questionable design quality. The Dark Witch series suffers from the same thing.

    1. BTW while you censored the guys username in the image you posted, you didn't censor his name at the bottom where it says he edited his post. I dunno if you wanna fix that or not though.

      As for topics for you to write about first, I guess I'm most interested in the Game Over screens.

  2. Nah, I'm not surprised, but I am disappointed. We received tons of emails from parties interested in checking the game out when it first debuted on Steam, including hearing back from many of the gaming outlets we reached out to. Nathaniel Hoover (a.k.a. GeminiLaser) stuck to his word and livestreamed the game on Twitch (though his chat was largely populated by hecklers). Unfortunately, the majority of the people promising to give the game exposure pretty much lied their way into getting freebies...

    Actually, Protodude's Rockman Corner and The Megaman Network both covered the game when it was first released. I had to contact them with a handful of corrections since they tried to flesh out their articles with incomplete (and sometimes incorrect) information about our prior work in the fan translation scene. I definitely appreciate the extra effort they tried to put into their reporting, even if they were a bit off the mark.

    On the flip side, one of the webmasters of Rockman Perfect Memories promised to pimp the hell out of our English fan translation back in 2009. Suffice to say, she has yet to say a word about the fan translation on her site in eight years, far less anything about the game's official English release. The author of the Hardcore Gaming 101 article on RKS did eventually give said article an update... to briefly mention the "[erka:es] The Best" re-release and nothing more. The article still asserts that the original RKS is the only game developed by [erka:es] and makes no mention of its sequel or any of the English versions of the game. I know that the author knows better: plenty of people have chimed in on the HG101 forums and via email to tell him about the sequel and English language versions. It seem HG101 is more interested in reprinting their more popular articles in book form than on keeping their site up-to-date...

    Compare that level of professionalism with, say, Legends of Localization...

    Yeah, a lot of people tend to look at a game's graphics and art, then move onto the next big thing if the game looks to be more than a few months old (assuming they even get past an art style that isn't right up their alley). I remember when Ys: The Oath in Felghana first came out in English -- people dismissed the game as being graphically unimpressive and dated (i.e.: they judged a 2005 game by 2010 standards). That is, they did until the guys at Kotaku started singing Falcom's praises. Seriously, I could get whiplash from that kind of turnaround...

    Fun fact: even a few of my IRL friends do the same superficial garbage on their YouTube channel, even titling one of their segments, "Creepy Anime Bullshit"...

    Oh, snap. I noticed the "Last edited by" lines initially, but forgot about them while I was stitching the posts together. Fixed.

    I'm planning on saving the Game Over references for a little later on, but I'll definitely be showcasing them in the RKSF Developer Diary and on my DeviantArt (I figure it's about time I started putting together a proper online portfolio). The Game Over "answer key" will probably be the third or fourth entry; I don't want to start with potential spoilers right out of the gate. It'd make more sense to cover stage titles, weapon names, background graphics, character references, and that kind of jazz first before getting into late-game material like bosses and Game Overs. Still, it's a good suggestion, and I can promise I'll be tackling it in due time.

  3. I wonder what kind of new feature would you add as bonus except the already known ones :D

    The original author is not that involved into game projects as what I know... Really a shame, if any.

    1. Oh, you definitely already know about this feature. WOMI has written about it on the [erka:es] blog before, and I made a point of porting it into the main executables of both games. Assuming our publisher handles the planned achievements properly, you should definitely earn an achievement for completing this mode with any character (I'd consider it a real disservice if you didn't get anything for your efforts).

      Yeah, WOMI makes a better living off of his adult manga work than off of developing games, I hate to say. I can't say I'm a big fan of the direction his style has gone (I prefer more realistic physiques to exaggerated ones), but I'm not going to knock anyone who enjoys it.

    2. Indeed... he did say "Mega Man play style is too obscure and being left behind the time nowadays" It's so sad but it's the truth of indie game design.

      Back to Topic... You mean the new feature of upcoming English RKSF release is already been talked right? OK.

  4. A real pity it didn't come to light to more of a fanfare... but at the same time I hate to say it, but I'm not surprised. I love the game and even I can't get excited over it.

    It's not that it's an old game that people have played already, it's an old game where people have long since played the English version already. At the end of the day this is an updated English patch to a game that many of the people that this would be marketed to, have already played cause it was quote popularized back when it was first translated.

    Good to know you're still around and still working on stuff. Personally I can't wait to see your translation of Freudenstachel. That one in particular I've been waiting for ages to finally see the translation to.

    1. As much as I'm inclined to agree with you (your logic is pretty sound), there have been many instances of previously-translated works becoming huge successes after making their official English debuts. Danganronpa, Final Fantasy Type-0, Melty Blood, Clannad, The Fruit of Grisaia, Muv-Luv, ef, and Time of Eve are just a few notable examples. ef is now seeing its third official re-release since the title has done so well despite being having a fan-translated release ages ago (I would know since I was its original editor). This kind of success is pretty common in the visual novel fandom; I'd be overjoyed if fans of all kinds were as passionate about supporting the stuff they once loved.

      Of course, it doesn't always work out that way: the original Kickstarter for Sharin no Kuni -The Girl Among the Sunflowers- failed due a poorly-planned-out Kickstarter campaign (when you're locking key components of the main story behind stretch goals, fans know you're trying to price-gouge them). Thankfully, the team took fan feedback to heart and the do-over was wildly successful.

      Oh, I'd keep working on localizations even if I'm doing it for free. I find it a rewarding challenge in its own right (though the owner of the restaurant I work at doesn't seem to understand why). I'm just a bit disappointed that I couldn't tackle Freudenstachel's script myself (I left it in Xander's capable hands since my expertise was needed in the graphics and programming department). I'm perfectionistic to a fault that way - I'd rather make something the best it can be than make it "good enough" and rush it out the door. Of course, in the world of commercial art, that tends to conflict with trying to making a profit...

    2. Oh, I can't believe I left a major title off of that list:

      Monster Hunter.

    3. To be fair, all those titles had MASSIVE exposition, with very rabid fanbases.

    4. That's oversimplifying things a bit, though. Muv-Luv was released in English in 2010 and gained quite the following upon its English debut; its popularity was a direct result of word-of-mouth buzz. Sure, its anime spin-off (released two years later) gave it wider exposure and likely helped its Kickstarter become a rousing success. But the same can't be said for ef (whose anime version was largely ignored). Time of Eve wasn't particularly popular outside of a small niche, either, so it's a huge surprise that its Kickstarter did as well as it did.

      Credit where it's due: Danganronpa, Clannad, and Grisaia all benefited from great cross-promotional timing - their anime adaptions were airing (or had just concluded) at the time of their campaigns / releases. Would an RKS anime boost the games' sales? Probably, but we'll likely never know for sure...

      As for Type-0, it's Final Fantasy. And the C&D levied at its already-released fan translation gave the title the benefit of the Streisand effect (not unlike AM2R or Pokemon Uranium).

      Still, the two of you allude to a fair point that our translator has echoed: in the otaku world, even six months is a seen as a very long time. Something that hasn't been at the forefront of public consciousness for that long is often treated as "yesterday's news"...

  5. An article I'd love to see is one comparing and contrasting Tia's abilities in RKS with Freu's abilities in RKSF.

    I don't care what anyone else says, my opinion is very solidly "Keep up the good work!"

    (I will admit that RKS and RKSF is what got me interested in MegaMan style games, interestingly enough.)

    1. Oooh~! That's a good one! I think I'll explore that one at the same time as I tackle the ability name localizations.

      Thanks for the encouragement. I've been pretty down lately, so every seemingly-pointless pick-me-up really does help.

      Alright, here's what I'm thinking for the first few topics:

      #1: Materials from the prequel reused in the sequel. This'll serve as a logical bridge between the games and let me get the "old" stuff out of the way in one shot before focusing on the "new".

      #2: Abilities (I save the term "weapons" for armaments like Grollschwert and Leviathan). This would be a good opportunity to look at the decisions behind the English names as well as compare and contrast Spiritia's and Freudia's movesets. I'm undecided if I'll look at the alternate playable characters at the same or if I'll save them for later (y'know, to curb spoilers).

      #3: Stage Titles. This'll be a long one going over all 34 stage titles and the decisions behind each of them. This being my take on RKS, there's naturally a lot of esoteric references that may slip by you unnoticed. You can blame my inner geek for that - if I noticed a nod of some kind that fit with the spirit of the game, more often than not I ran with it.

      #4: Game Overs. Because, like Nate Hoover, I too enjoy a bit of showoffery. What can I say - I'm damned proud of my handiwork with these. In the first game, I added two bonus "Humiliation" Game Over references (you'll see them as they were originally intended in v2.10a instead of just the placeholders). In the sequel, I've done the same and worked in two more. I'm debating whether I should spill the beans on all of them at once, if I should edit this entry after the builds are up to showcase the new ones, or if I should dedicate an entire post to the stuff I personally added to the games later on.

      #5: Bosses. Primarily focusing on newcomers and delving a bit into the character designers (including one artist whose other works I'd love to localize officially). Surprisingly fun fact: one of the bosses is actually a nod to us! Holy smokes!

      Those are the ideas I'm throwing around for the first few topics. Obviously, that's not everything I'm able to cover (just what's coming to mind at the moment), and some of the above can easily span multiple entries. Feel free to throw in your own suggestions and I'll see what I can do with them. If there's anything you'd like to know, ask away!

  6. Guys, knock it off with the obscene ASCII art. I don't want to have to re-enable comment moderation or resort to banning anyone, but I will if I have to. I've already had to delete 18 dick pics...

  7. I do not really have anything to say other than thank you for all your hard work on the first game and I am glad to hear the second game is getting the same treatment.

  8. Me too, in fact, I can't wait to see what the first entry in the Freudenstachel developer diary will be like.

  9. Any news (or even just wink-winks) about the status of the release candidates? There's only like, 16 days before at least a few thousand people see it played during SGDQ, and if the problem is no one paying it any attention, that's something...

    Thanks again for everything you do, though - I have a lot of good memories of playing Flagelstaechen when it first came out, but it's been a long while and I can't wait to do it again.

    1. Oh, our first release candidate was sent to the publisher back in April. I just shipped off a new release candidate today, too. If the SGDQ crew wants me to hook them up with an English version of the game for the festivities, they just need to hit me up at my Gmail.

      "Flagelstaechen", huh...? Are you sure you're an RKS fan and not just an old-fashioned Norwegian troll? (o_o)

      I kid, I kid. I've heard worse, too. One venue insisted on mistranslating "Freudenstachel" as "the prick of pleasure", making the game's title: Rosenkreuzstilette: That's a Penis!

  10. Wow, those activist-wannabes are pretty dumb. Don't let them hurt you man, they're just some pricks without anything else to do.

    1. Oh, I'm not taking it personally. I was tempted to ban the guy the day his thread went up, but opted to quietly delete it instead. Our community manager is glad I held back.

      Still, guys like this give grassroots activists with legitimate grievances a bad name...

  11. I for one have done my best to give the game exposure. For some reason, I found a coupon for the game in my Steam Inventory. I gave it to my best friend since he was a bit short on cash and I already know the game's great, and he ended up enjoying the game and promoting it on the Discords he moderates. Whatever happened next I'm not sure about, but I hope we can keep up the good work. Maybe we'll see that dub one day.

  12. A Youtuber named Alpharad that I'm subscribed to just did a video on the first game. Despite his presentation style, he actually seems to enjoy it, with his only complaint being that it's quite hard, which we know. Still, that might give the game some good exposure.

  13. The Grolla mode demo has an alternate intro music and a unique rank system like MMZ series, I'm interested if they got a proper revive in future update.

    1. I sure hope that the lowest rank is the one you get in a certain game over screen lol.