So, on very nearly the third anniversary of Recettear’s launch, we can at last say that yes, our fourth project is a collaboration with XSEED Games to localize and publish Trails in the Sky SC. This has, on some level, been in the works and worked on since before the first reveal of Fortune Summoners. So very much, from so very many, has gone into making this a reality, and at long, long last we can finally tell everyone everything about the long-discussed “Project Four”, which is not just our largest localization to date, but is without hyperbole one of the largest projects in the history of the industry.
This marks many things for us: our largest and perhaps most “important” game to date, the proper realization of the other half of our business model, and the end of our long silence. Let us begin with the latter.
The Lengthy Silence, The Health Of Carpe Fulgur
First of all, an apology is in order: I am sorry that we’ve had to be quiet about this for so long, and more importantly that we ended up scaring a number of our fans with our silence, as the quiet led many to believe that Carpe Fulgur had folded. This was not the case at all; we have been, at many times, busier in the period after the release of Fortune Summoners than we have been at any other time in our history until now. There have simply been so many moving parts to this particular project, so many interests to align, that speaking of what Project Four was until now was not possible. In a way, Project Four has not just involved Trails SC; elements of this extend all the way back to the Steam release of Ys: The Oath In Felghana in March of 2012. Though CF did not participate directly in the localization of that game, I, myself, did have a small hand in making that release happen. Getting Felghana, and its siblings, onto Steam to help prove a market even existed for a product like SC was pivotal to the project moving forward. There were so many pitfalls that the project could have faced that announcing it would have been, until very recently, premature.
Our silence does not reflect inactivity or a lack of will to continue on our part – just the opposite, in fact. Carpe Fulgur has never been healthier. Our warchest and cash buffer, even post-taxes, is quite large. And it’s in part because of our legions of fans, both old and new – in the midst of this new announcement, we can also say that Recettear has now sold three hundred thousand copies since its launch nearly three years ago to the day. Chantelise and Fortune Summoners have also been very successful for us – all our products have, to date, turned a profit for us inside of six months, and then proceeded to produce nothing but pure profit from there on out. Carpe Fulgur will not be going anywhere for a very long time.
The Grand Project & The Other Side Of The Coin
Which is, really, no small part of the reason we agreed to work on Trails in the Sky in the first place. Trails is unquestionably our largest project to date; the main scenario alone is larger than the entire script for Recettear. It is a project that we knew would take an extraordinarily long time to actually finish – a project that we knew many companies had previously rejected for this very reason. Because of our significant, continuing profit and large reserve of assets, we knew that we were in a unique position to work on the game – we could do so without fear for our future, and our time investment would be “wasted” only if the game tanked in a catastrophic fashion – which, between the PC and PSP releases, should not happen. We were, in short, in a unique position to make English Trails SC a reality – one which would not come in time to others to get the game out in the sort of time-frame necessary for it to be well-received.
And this ties in with the mission of Carpe Fulgur, the principal reason we are in business: to ensure that deserving, excellent games can get exposure outside of Japan, and are given the localization they deserve. This is a subject Robin will be discussing at length in a post of his own very soon here. (Edit: that post can be found here.)
This is the greater part of the reason Carpe Fulgur exists – our “grand project”, if you will. Previously our focus has been purely on independently-made software, but ever since CF’s inception it has always been our intention to offer our services to anyone who desired them. Trails SC is the first project to be the other side of that coin – working with another company to bring a product they wish to publish to English-speaking audiences.
Does this mean we are “selling out”, abandoning the independent market? Not at all. We have another, smaller announcement coming legitimately soon (mostly as soon as questions about multiplayer and the actual title are sorted out) concerning an independently-made game from a developer our fans are very familiar with, and we are giving serious consideration to at least one title we discovered at this year’s Summer Comiket. But our mission transcends the boundaries of “indie” and “corporate” – if we can help bring a title to English audiences without actively harming CF, we are willing to do so. Trails is the fulfillment of that ideal.
Silver Will, Golden Wings
So Trails itself, then. Speaking personally, this is a series I’ve wanted to work on ever since CF began informal operation back in 2009 – I’ve known about the series’ reputation for quality for a long time, and how no localization firm in the States was willing to attempt it due to the size of the games, their scripts, and for a long time, their release platforms. Conventional wisdom said that Japanese RPGs simply wouldn’t sell on the PC. It was a notion I doubted for a long time, but until a few years ago was in no position to question. Even as CF began operation, however, I suspected it was the perfect title for us – big, meaty, story-and-character-rich, something die-hard RPG fans could sink their teeth into deeply. A turn-based, position-based combat system that, while not the same as an Infinity Engine game (for example), would nonetheless the feel familiar to anyone who has played an isometric RPG, Western or Japanese-made. Not always wildly innovative, perhaps, but willing and able to surprise even the prepared player. It was exactly the sort of title I would want to play on the PC – and I suspect a very great number of our fans will agree with me when they try it.
As you will have seen elsewhere, the currently scheduled Steam release includes both “FC” – the first part of Trails – and “SC”, the title we are working on now. To be clear, we have not contributed to the localization of FC – this was done some years ago and nearly drove poor Jessica Chavez of XSEED mad in the attempt. This is another small part of the reason our work has taken a while – we have been trying to pace ourselves as best we can so that our personal lives do not suffer from work. SC, or “Second Chapter”, will be our work. While Ms. Chavez and others at XSEED will be checking over what we do and contributing as necessary (and a large part of the point of the exercise is to help XSEED have resources free to do other things), in the end, the text you see in the game will be our work, and you can expect the same quality of localization as found in our other products.
Trails SC is a title I’ve come to appreciate even more having worked on it, and I cannot wait to bring our localization of it to you.
The Dream Shall Never Die
So what happens now?
First, we continue work. While we’ve made a great deal of progress on SC, work is still (yes, still) not yet quite complete on it. Once the work of tackling the entire script is done, we shall be assisting XSEED in QA testing and other tasks, especially relating to the PC version.
Secondly, our silence ends. The largest reason for our silence since the release of Fortune Summoners was that any detailed discussion of what we are doing would necessitate discussing the situation around Trails in detail – and any other discussion felt awkward without being able to acknowledge what we were doing currently. With this no longer a problem, expect much more regular communication from us, including more game announcements and blog posts. (The latter may sound familiar to old fans, but there really is nothing preventing us from talking at this point – there are no more true secrets to keep.) You may also expect somewhat significant updates to the website – while this design served us well when we were still small, it is perhaps time we got something a little more… substantial.
Finally, what happens right now is that I thank you all. It has been the unflagging, unwavering support of our fans, old and new, that have even made attempting this possible. We do this for you, and every time your support comes in the form of those big checks from our distributors, we’re a little more humbled. Our gratitude is essentially endless – and we hope our upcoming project satisfies as many people as our previous efforts have.
It is because of you that the dream shall never die. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
And here’s to the coming Trails.