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Chantelise Unleashed: What To Expect, What Took So Long

So apparently people are excited about a certain little thing we’ve been working on for the past few months. It’s a little surprising, to be honest, but then I am such a terrible judge of these things.

Snark aside, we have indeed unleashed our second game translation project on the world today; our English-localized version of EasyGameStation’s first “original-content” title, Chantelise. This is something we’ve been wanting to do for a while now, and I’m glad we can finally get it into your waiting, eager hands. We’ve worked hard to make this every bit as good as our Recettear localization, and I’ll be publishing some “loc notes” on the game toward the end of August, after people have had a chance to get to the spoiler bits in the game proper. Needless to say there is some stuff to discuss there, as we simultaneously made fewer changes overall compared to Recettear, but a few of them are bigger in “scope”. (Though not without reason!)

There’s a few things worth addressing here, though. One is exactly what this version of Chantelise, which is 1.1 both here and in Japan, has over previous releases (including DHM Interactive’s previous multilingual release)… but, more importantly for a lot of our longer-time fans, I suspect: what in the bloody hell took so long with this game?

– A Tale Of Two Herpaderpers

As many Recettear fans likely remember, Chantelise was first announced in an offhand, casual fashion way, way back in the blogpost I made to kick off this year. We did, in fact, have early binaries and an open client for script translation and insertion when I made that post, and the contract for Chantelise had been signed but a week prior (we having just gotten word of DHM’s impending demise and the freeing of the Chantelise license for Europe, which was the clincher for us pulling the trigger on the project). We were pretty much ready to begin work right then and there.

We then proceeded to do precisely dick-all with the game for two and a half months.

This isn’t actually nearly as “SpaceDrake is a monument to the concept of durf” as it might be made out to be. January and February were devoted almost entirely to the fairly significant enterprise of shipping my scrawny caucasian buttocks clear across the continental United States. You see, even before Recettear went to market, a decision had been made. Recettear’s localization development took a period of approximately eight months – largely due to the fact that Robin and I were telecommuting from clear across the damn country and were having to constantly wrestle with timezone issues  and schedule synching, never mind the fact that I wasn’t even living on my own at the time and had to deal with housework and the like (unsurprisingly, my folks were rather skeptical of my claims that this could become a Real Job while Recettear was in loc-development). Given this, if Recettear made enough money for everyone involved to make a living wage on – and this would mean it would have to be a reasonably robust success –  then I’d move from my home in Fairfax, Virginia out to the area Robin lived in, in Portland, Oregon. Being able to work a) together b) without interference and c) in the same timezone and on the same schedule would speed up future efforts immensely. It was just a question of whether or not Recettear would allow it.

Once the Carpe Fulgur bank account crested the six-figure mark, the question was pretty well answered.

Of course, crossing one of the largest countries on Earth, with possessions, while simultaneously moving out on your own for the first real time (college not really counting) is no small undertaking, and in the end it consumed the entirety of January (including an epic trip across the U.S. in a U-Haul in which my Volkswagen Beetle dangled like a worm on a hook for 3000 miles and came close to needless destruction at least twice; furthermore, many Frappucinos perished in the line of duty), and February was consumed by dealing with the thousand minutiae of moving in to my new place and getting settled and ready to be productive.

The beginning of March, of course, saw me attending the 2011 Game Developer’s Conference, where Important Stuff DID happen, but it basically delayed the game for a week. And then, driving home, my left arm almost died.

I still have no explanation for exactly what happened – the best guess I have is that I managed to pinch a nerve or sprain my wrist SOMEHOW. Either way, right after getting home from GDC my arm was in a full-arm splint for a week, pushing us back even further. So I announced Chantelise at the beginning of the year and we didn’t even get started on it until late into the second week of March. That was the biggest delay.

The good news is, moving paid off; Chantelise’s script is small compared to Recettear’s monster of a script (which includes all those optional events you can see), but even then we blazed through the gametext incredibly fast. We started in mid-March and basically had everything save a few odds and ends wrapped up by the beginning of May, so in the main, the translation and localization process took only a month and a half, a massive increase in speed over Recettear’s generally slow crawl.

Once we hit May, though, Things started happening that required our attention. Late April saw us enter into real negotiations with Lizsoft, and those ended up consuming a not-insignificant amount of our time. Real negotiations also began on Project Four, also eating into our time. The last bits of Chantelise kind of crawled by as a result, and debug and last text insertion was slow as a result. Ditto June, although by early-mid June we more or less had the game ready to ship, or so we thought.

The original release date we had pegged was exactly one month ago, June 29th. Valve, however, pointed something out to us: this was one day before the start of the Steam Summer Sale.

Oops.

In the end, it was deemed smarter for everyone involved that we push back Chantelise’s release even further, to ensure that its release wasn’t swallowed in the blast radius of the Summer Sale (especially since Recettear was chosen to be a headliner for the first day, it would’ve been bad if the games stole one another’s thunder!) and so a date was set for exactly one month later. This turned out to be a bit of extra time that EGS wanted, but more on that in a moment.

So the Summer Sale came and went, and, despite one or two small attacks of derp at the last moment, the game was ready to go by the weekend. And so here we are – later than originally planned, but still out before Recettear’s one year anniversary.

– Sharpening the Blade: What’s Better

As I hinted above, the extra time was not spent idly. Some improvements were made earlier on, but EGS was able to use the delay to improve the game in another way. To explain in detail:

1) The game has been completely re-fonted. The original release of Chantelise, as well as the DHM release, used a rather ugly system font to handle all in-game text. EGS went back and plugged in their new, scaling font that they developed for Recettear and Territoire into Chantelise, meaning the ingame text looks much, much nicer than it used to.

2) The game now has full Xinput support. Previous releases of Chantelise (and of Recettear for that matter) didn’t include “proper” full support for Xinput gamepads like the Xbox 360 controller or the PS3 controller using the MotionJoy drivers. CF’s release of Chantelise features full support for all Xinput devices, including mappable triggers and using the right-hand joystick for additional (and crucial) camera control, making the game even easier to control and far more enjoyable to play.

3) The bosses have been completely re-tuned. Some of the boss encounters later in the full game suffered a bit because EGS, during the game’s original development, wasn’t able to do the bosses the justice they wanted to, due to time and money constraints. Between the sale-induced delay, and the fact that EGS hardly has cash-flow issues any longer, this wasn’t an issue with the English release of Chantelise. All bosses in the fourth and fifth (final) dungeons have been extensively redesigned and retuned to provide for a more compelling, interesting challenge.

The short version is this: it was our, and EGS’, intent from the start to produce the definitive version of Chantelise with this release. Even if you’ve played the original release or the DHM release before, this is a different game.

 

So there you have it – the ways in which our Chantelise release are Way Better, and just why it seemed to take so long from announcement to release.. The good news is, Chantelise exposed the few remaining holes in our workflow, and we’ve taken steps to improve even further with Fortune Summoners and Project Four. We’re ripping away at FS, in fact, and if this pace is kept up we may well end up pushing the game out the door a bit earlier than projected… though don’t quote me on that!

You’ll be hearing a lot more about Fortune Summoners soon, either way. Never fear.

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