STORY OF SEASONS: Pioneers of Olive Town Localization Blog #3 (Twilight Isle Expansion Pack)

STORY OF SEASONS: Pioneers of Olive Town Localization Blog #3 (Twilight Isle Expansion Pack)

Howdy, everyone! This is XSEED Localization Manager John here with a fresh blog entry for STORY OF SEASONS: Pioneers of Olive Town. I wanted to touch on some Olive Town-related news, including the Twilight Isle Expansion Pack that released on August 26.

Let me start with a little background on where we started and where we are today. We kicked off the English localization for Pioneers of Olive Town in March 2020, and our tireless team has continued working on the title through DLC and updates continuously to this very day. There’s still a lot to look forward to, as we’ve also been hard at work in secret on a Windows PC version, announced today and arriving September 15 on Steam. The PC version will include all updates up to version 1.0.8. The same day that the Steam version launches, we’re distributing a special costume inspired by the heroine of our 2020 release Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin as a free download. “Princess Sakuna’s Heavenly Garb” will be available until March 30, 2022.

The Twilight Isle Expansion Pack is the fifth and final installment of our Expansion Pass, which features four NPCs (including two marriage candidates) from the Nintendo 3DS installment STORY OF SEASONS: Trio of Towns.

Those of you who have followed our localization blogs from back in the days of Tumblr may remember my articles about STORY OF SEASONS: Trio of Towns. Since then I’ve taken a step back from STORY OF SEASONS, but Twilight Isle represented a chance for me to return as an editor to characters so near and dear to my heart, and I wanted to take this opportunity to write up a few impressions about the experience.

When we localized Trio of Towns back in 2016-17, our diligent production associate (who has also been in charge of quality control on both Friends of Mineral Town and Pioneers of Olive Town) and I poured countless hours into reviewing the game’s text files, with the main objective of unifying the character voices across the game’s 1.6 million Japanese characters of text to make sure they sounded consistent.

We received the text files for the Expansion Pass DLC at the very beginning of January 2021, and after everything was translated by our main translator for the game, Elizabeth Bushouse, I set to work on editing the Twilight Isle romance events to help establish the tone for the rest of our team. Because of my (seriously, countless) hours of experience on Trio of Towns, I felt confident that I could jump into writing Ludus, Lisette, Tigre, and Moriya without any trouble.

I cracked open our master text folder for Trio of Towns, mostly untouched over the years except as an occasional reference for series terminology, and was immediately hit with a wave of nostalgia—and dread. Trio of Towns has over 850 localization text files, a staggering number compared to other projects, which typically have anywhere between 5 and 50. I grabbed the event files and dialogue files for the four characters and characters closely related to them, referencing the sometimes amusing codenames given to the characters in the files: Lisette is “Florist,”  Ludus is “Craftman,” Tigre is “Grandson,” and Moriya is…”Wolesaler.” (My favorite is Ittetsu, Moriya’s employee, known internally as “StuffMan.”) As I read through the text files for Trio of Towns that were translated and edited by a very talented team back in 2016, I found that a strong and oversimplified image of the characters’ speech had solidified in my mind in the past five years. My impression of Lisette, the fairy-tale loving marriage candidate, was that she used folksier words like “gosh” and “golly” a lot. Rereading her text in Trio of Towns, I found that she employed this language much more sparingly than I had thought, and it is to the credit of the original localization team that she left such a strong impression as a character and yet her speech never felt trite or overdone. We strove for the same level of quality, and I hope that her voice, and the voices of the other three residents of Twilight Isle, will be familiar to fans of Trio of Towns.

We ran into a few interesting localization challenges. Without getting into too much detail, part of Lisette’s romance events revolve around a mysterious flower. We found that the flower’s symbolic meaning, which is central to the scene, is different between Japan and the West, so we needed to update the text in English slightly to account for that. We wanted to make sure it was clear that the flower had that meaning in some cultures, to avoid too much disconnect for players approaching it from a Western perspective.

With Ludus and Tigre, we had to be sure to correctly implement their language, which incorporates phrases from Hawaiian. In Japanese, both characters pepper their speech with words that sound like English or Japanese. “Haronga” is “Hello,” and “Gominga” is “Gomen” (“Sorry” in Japanese). Our original team working on Trio of Towns localized this with words from the Hawaiian language to convey the same effect of speaking another language in a way that would be recognizable to players (or easy to look up, at the very least). A scene early in Ludus’ story lays all of this out for players who are unfamiliar with the world of Trio of Towns. Our translator Elizabeth, who did not work on Trio of Towns but clearly studied the characters carefully, did an excellent job of this and even added a few new words, making it very easy for me as an editor. 

Another way in which the “language” that Lulukoko’s residents speak is conveyed in Japanese is by using katakana characters to end sentences (i.e. “<player>に今、ハロンガってあいさつしたダロ?”)  which is a fairly common tactic to indicate someone speaking in a non-native language, but it goes without saying that a stylistic choice such as this is very hard to convey in a language that doesn’t use multiple character sets like English without seeming forced.

I was overjoyed to spend more time with these four characters (even Moriya, who I never much cared for in the original), and I only wished that the twins Iluka and Siluka had shown up on occasion to roast Ludus. After I finished editing the romance events, I passed the text over to our Assistant Localization Lead, Lori, who has worked on editing much of the game’s text, and she referenced them while working on the characters’ regular dialogue. Once the text was fully edited and proofed, we put it through our usual LQA process, checking each line in context to make sure that it properly matched the finished scene. For those of you returning from Trio of Towns, I hope you enjoy meeting Ludus, Lisette, Moriya, and Tigre all over again (and for first-timers with a 3DS, I encourage you to check out the game they come from).

Now, after a year and a half of working on Pioneers of Olive Town, and nine months of working on the DLC, we are finally looking at the finish line. It is a bittersweet feeling for all of us, and we’re grateful for all of the comments, both positive and critical, that we’ve received since launching the title, as well as for everyone’s patience as we’ve worked on getting DLC and updates out in English as quickly as possible. It’s sad to say goodbye for now, but rest assured that we’ll be back again for a future installment.