Story of Seasons – Seedtime and Harvest

Hello again, true believers. It’s been a while since I last checked in with you all, but rest assured, I’ve been keeping myself pretty busy. Looking back, I realized that I finished up my work on Story of Seasons back in December just before the holidays rolled around. After that, it was more or less out of my hands as Ryan rallied to get our final build of the game certified – a process that conceptually resembles a very determined game of air hockey.


When I started at XSEED in May of last year, I came in, sat down, and it was Story of Seasons right from the get-go. At that point, all that had been localized were the relevant strings for our E3 demo, and total completion percentage hovered around 2%. Looking at the task before me, it seemed like a mountain. The completion percentage went up, slower than I liked, but with a steady climb that at least let me feel like progress was being made. Eventually Tom and Ryan had some time between projects and were able to shoulder some of the burden, and man, did that ever help. Suddenly we went from “progress” to “PROGRESS!” In my time working on games, I’d never been the sole editor on a project before, so teaming up felt right – like the way anyone would naturally presume a game with as much text as Story of Seasons would go.


The biggest challenge with multiple editors is, of course, maintaining consistency in the characters’ voices while writing. When Tom and Ryan were about to jump in, I wrote up a document outlining the personalities of each bachelor and bachelorette, complete with a linear scale of how formal each of their speaking styles were in comparison to all the rest. I was surprised at how easy it was to describe them by that point, thanks to SoS’s very colorful cast with their personalities writ large. As we got to know the citizens of Oak Tree Town, writing them came pretty naturally to us, and I’m certainly holding out hope that when you pick up the game, you’ll find the same charm in them that we did.

The real fun is when you’re going through a character’s “idle talk” file (basically, dialogue that isn’t part of any particular event) and you come to the giant block of text where you get such inspired lines as “That is a nice bench!” or “Wowzers, that’s a red fence! Did you know red is my favorite color?” (you should hear my deranged Fritz impression on the latter – in spite of the fact that Fritz’s favorite color is not, in fact, red). In-game, these are interspersed around enough that they serve as gentle reminders of characters’ tastes every so often, but it is hard – so hard! – to write a bunch of lines about how this or that outfit/pavement type/totem pole is their FAVORITE COLOR and keep it all sounding fresh and not like the dying gasp of an editor’s brain. I think Danielle secretly enjoyed our torment, though, based on the number of times she asked me what my favorite color was over the next several months.


When we finally finished the complete first pass of the editing, we all began a long process of combing through the text via both actual play and the debug mode, reporting errors, and fixing those errors. As the main person in charge of checking reported issues and fixing them, I started to get the feeling that my past self had been throwing punches that were just now landing on my present self’s face. I thought our first pass had been pretty clean. I thought, “Hey, if we HAD to ship this game as-is, it would be pretty good.” I thought WRONG.

Maybe it was an ignorance born of working on PC games, where my fixes to any text issues were only as far away as the next patch. With console games, you pretty much have to get it right the first time, or your failures will be screenshotted and passed around the internet for the amusement of gamers everywhere. Fixing mistakes in lines you wrote yourself, though…that’s a good teacher, both of the errors you’re more predisposed to, and of humility in general. Peeking back at the spreadsheet now reveals the number of verified fixes at a cringe-inducing 2,729. While a significant number of those were tied up in a couple weird text display issues that the developers were able to rectify for us, the rest ran the gamut, from things as large as a character saying “This meal is delicious!” and “I hate it!” in the same conversation to things as small as the presence of two spaces in between words where there should be just one. The uniqueness of each Story of Seasons playthrough – whom you marry, what you grow, which trading partners you do the most business with, which events you win – made it a particularly difficult and time-consuming game to test, but each of those 2,729 issues we fixed was a bullet we took so you don’t have to. I think our toil will pay off in the end, when you can enjoy good country livin’ in peace and not worry about Raeger telling you to drop by his restaurant sometime when you and he are both standing inside of it.


Now, with the game’s release imminent, I’m thinking about it a lot more again. I think of how strange it felt that Marvelous would place responsibility for one of its most esteemed properties into the hands of a new hire. I think, as I have over the entire life of this project, of how I want this localization to be something that proves that faith well-founded. I think of my anticipation for how fans will receive the game, and of what critics will have to say about it. Story of Seasons is the first crop I’ve sown here, and after all that tending and watering, the harvest is right around the corner. We’ve grown something pretty nifty, and all the way, we’ve talked with each other about what players will think. In the end, I’ll be proud if you find it a delicious, nutritious addition to your 3DS library.


Thanks for sticking with us all the way!

+ Nick