STORY OF SEASONS: Pioneers of Olive Town Localization Blog #1

STORY OF SEASONS: Pioneers of Olive Town Localization Blog #1

By Lori Snyder (Assistant Localization Lead)

Hi there, farmers, and welcome to our STORY OF SEASONS: Pioneers of Olive Town Localization Blog! I’m Lori, and I’m so excited to give you a sneak peek on our localization for this title!

Like many of you, I grew up playing the Bokujo Monogatari series and spent hours upon hours building up my myriad farms and wooing all my favorite marriage candidates over the years, so this project was particularly special to me. For Pioneers of Olive Town, I’ve translated in-game text, edited events, QA tested for over 200 hours…needless to say, I’ve gotten quite attached to this game over the course of its development and localization.

Our release date for this title—March 23rd, 2021—is only a month after its Japanese release, which is a first for STORY OF SEASONS. It was a bit daunting to take on a STORY OF SEASONS title with such a narrow gap between release dates, and we faced some unique challenges when working with Japanese game text that was still being written and edited as we localized it.

We did, however, manage to find a rhythm that worked for this process: After translating the basic system text (item descriptions, character names, etc.), I jumped into the editing process as our other translator took on the various events and NPC dialogue. Once she had finished translating, our team would edit the files and pass them off to our proofer. The Japanese source text was being updated regularly during localization, so there were lulls in our workflow as we waited for newly written text or reviewed lists of changes that had been made to the Japanese text to determine what we would need to reflect in our English. But even when things slowed down to let the Japanese development get ahead of us, we had to run like a well-oiled motorcycle to make our deadlines.

Here’s an example of our English changelog, used during the proofing process. The text on the left needs revision, while the text in the middle is revised for context. We kept track of every pertinent change in the English text like this so we could share our updates with the European translators.

Despite these new challenges, however, there was still room to have fun with the process, and we weren’t going to pass up the opportunity!

Adding Some Gourmet Flavor

If you’ve been keeping up with news on this title, you might have already met Lovett, Olive Town’s local bon vivant.

Lovett’s Japanese name is ダイスキー (Daisukii), a play on words meaning “I love (it).” I had an amazingly timed localization epiphany when we were deciding on character names and was like “Let’s call him Lovett! IT’S PERFECT!” Thanks to that, we were able to keep all the wordplay he uses with his name and catchphrase 100% intact for the English localization. I LOVETT when things work out like that!

As one might expect of a guy wearing a produce-themed peacoat, Lovett’s always looking for new and exciting culinary marvels to satisfy his high-maintenance palate…which means it’s time for you to get cooking and fulfill his many gourmet requests! (Don’t worry, he gives some pretty generous rewards, so it’ll be worth your while.)

Lovett’s requests are written out on a special bulletin board in his Gourmet Palace. He’s jotted down some extra details on the dishes you’ll be creating for him and/or why he’s suddenly craving it now…but that wasn’t always the case!

The Japanese version followed a simple formula for their text, where Lovett would just say, “I want to eat [name of recipe]!” and that was that…but we had plenty of space to do more, so I thought to myself, “what if we got creative here?” XSEED’s no stranger to adding flavor to basic system text (treasure chests in the Trails in the Sky series, anyone?), and at the time I’d been playing some games that took the same approach to create a more memorable player experience, so I was pretty intent on doing something extra for this.

I asked our team about it, and we decided to write up a proposal to the developers, to let them know how we wanted to use the existing text space. This series, we told them, thrives on its lovable casts of characters, and we wanted to add a little bit more of that where we could.

We managed to get the “okay” from the development team, so I jumped on into the system text for Lovett’s requests and went to town writing his thoughts on the food you’ll soon be cooking for him. And hey, you might even learn something new from his fun facts, so keep cooking up dishes for Lovett—I have no doubt he’ll love it. (…sorry.)

Gender Tags?! For EVERYONE?!

If you’ve been playing STORY OF SEASONS games for a long time, you will probably notice that your conversations about your protagonist, and your in-game spouse and kids use gender-neutral wording like this: “How’s your spouse?” “How’s your child doing? Say hi to them for me!”

Here’s an example from FoMT. Ran is referring to the protagonist here, but resorts to using the singular “they” here since there were no gender tags or special text to account for the protagonist’s gender.

This happened because the localization programming generally didn’t accommodate for the two possibilities of your protagonist’s child being a boy or girl, or the possibilities of your protagonist marrying a bachelor or bachelorette of the same gender. There were some extra occurrences in Friends of Mineral Town that gave us room for dialogue specifically calling out the protagonist’s gender (such as confession scenes that were more personalized), but they were limited to certain cells of text. We couldn’t just drop it in as a detail anywhere we wanted.

Here’s a confession scene in FoMT that had two sets of text specifically assigned to the protagonist’s genders. There weren’t many of these, so the team did their best to make them count.

This is where Pioneers of Olive Town gave us an extra level of freedom: we had quite a few new text tags to help us personalize our events even further based on the gender of the protagonist, their partner, AND their child. All we had to do was put in the text applicable for each situation, and poof! Just like that, the player experience becomes a little more personalized. These sorts of gender tags are often used in European localizations for gendered nouns and the like, but this is the first time we’ve been able to make full use of them to help customize the player’s experience in English too.

Here’s an example of an event with different dialogue, depending on the protagonist’s gender:

This is what the protagonist’s gender tag looks like on the text file side. The first option you put in is always used for the male protagonist, while the second is used for the female protagonist. Now let’s take a look at how this is seen in-game.
Either way, the ladies are glad to have you with them.

There are many other small details like that in this game’s events, so I hope you’ll look forward to seeing what your experience brings you!

The Name of the Game

You might also be wondering how we came up with the title Pioneers of Olive Town, so here’s a peek into the naming process for this title.

The Japanese title of this game is オリーブタウンと希望の大地 – Olive Town and the Land of Hope.

The series’ producer, Hikaru Nakano, wanted to include “Olive Town” in the title in a similar vein to STORY OF SEASONS: Friends of Mineral Town. In titling “Pioneers of Olive Town,” our goal was to capture that same sort of feeling from FoMT while still including “Olive Town” in our title. But the literal translation “Olive Town and the Land of Hope” was a little bit wordy…

From here, we explored possibilities reflecting the theme of the game: taming the wild earth. The word “frontier” was a candidate for use in the Japanese title, but didn’t make the cut, so we tried to work with that idea as well.

The day I was asked to think of titles,I got right to brainstorming:

Part of my original post from our work chat.

As you can see, “Pioneers of Olive Town” was actually one of the first ideas I came up with!

We were immediately drawn to the “Pioneers” angle, because it was a great way to capture the themes the developers were going after as well. It encompassed the story of the protagonist’s grandfather, the first pioneer of Olive Town, and the protagonist, representing a new generation picking up where their grandfather left off. The “Pioneers of Olive Town” format was also similar to Friends of Mineral Town, and therefore gave it a stronger connection to the series as a whole.

After some detailed discussions, we narrowed it down to two:

And so, after a good chuckle at the abbreviation (PoOT!), Pioneers of Olive Town won by a landslide.

A Farm-fresh Adventure Awaits!

If you haven’t already pre-ordered your copy of Pioneers of Olive Town, don’t worry! There’s still time to do so from our website link below, or from participating retailers! Purchase the retail “Premium Edition” and you, too, can have your own li’l Buffy to snuggle with, plus a cloth poster to decorate any room! If you’re running out of room on your game shelf at home, though, fear not! Digital pre-orders are now live on the Nintendo eShop as well, along with the exciting new Game and Expansion Pass bundle!

I hope this small preview into our process was a fun read! This game has presented us new challenges to tackle with its tight global release dates, but it’s been such a joy to work on. We’ve been working from home for almost a year now at XSEED, and I’ve been on this project for just as long. While the base game is ready and raring to go, we’re hard at work on the new DLC adventures at Windswept Falls, Terracotta Oasis, and Twilight Isle. I can’t wait for you all to reunite with the returning STORY OF SEASONS characters who call these places home!

Pioneers of Olive Town is a lovely little game that’s brought me a lot of happiness and laughs while I was working on it, and in a year as chaotic as 2020, that was something I sorely needed. I remember playing an early build of the game for the first time, watching the first cutscene of the protagonist on their motorcycle and beaming with pride as I realized how far this series has come in the 25 years it’s been around. As a longtime fan, it’s been an honor seeing you all so hyped for this brand-new entry in the series, so I look forward to sharing that joy with all of you once the game is out.

It is my sincere hope that when you pick up this game, you’ll be able to make the most of those small joys: growing crops, raising animals, customizing your farm, and getting to know Olive Town’s lovable and diverse cast of characters. Once you’ve got your copy next month, relax and take your farm life at your own pace—that’s what STORY OF SEASONS has always been about, after all!