STORY OF SEASONS: A WONDERFUL LIFE – Localization Blog #2
Hello again, farmers, and welcome to another localization blog for STORY OF SEASONS: A Wonderful Life! In our last blog, we talked about some of the name changes players can expect in the new localization, the new character designs, and our general localization direction for the game. If you haven’t checked it out yet, we recommend you give it a read before (or after!) you dive into this blog.
This time, we’d like to talk about some of the more technical aspects of A Wonderful Life’s (AWL’s) localization. Despite being an 18-year-old game, AWL’s text systems are some of the most intricate we’ve worked on for a STORY OF SEASONS title, so we wanted to share some of the basics with you. If you’re ever playing the game and wonder why something is worded the way it is, there’s a very good chance we had a reason for writing things in specific ways!
No, You May Not Eat The Coins
Here’s a question for some longtime series fans: in the original AWL, do you remember what Charlie and/or Cole’s response was when you gave them a coin from the ruins? They’d tell you that they couldn’t wait to eat your coin, which probably seemed a bit off to most farmers.
But here’s the thing: there’s a legitimate reason that some gift reactions in the original game were hard to pin down for a single context! It takes a lot to know when a certain resident reaction/response will be used in this game, and what sort of items that response is for. In fact, one of the reasons we were able to identify this issue specifically was because the majority of our team had played the original version, and had context on what sort of scenarios Charlie and Cole’s reaction text would be used in!
Let’s take a closer look at the text in question so you can get a better idea of what we mean. Here’s the ID for the text.
The “a” at the end here indicates that this text is for when Cole (or Pasaran, his Japanese name,) accepts a gift.
Now, let’s take a look at the corresponding Japanese text.
Literally, it reads, “Oh, I’m real grateful for that! You’re a good person, whippersnapper. I’m lookin’ forward to this.”
So let’s say the text ID is the only context you have, and it’s the first time you’re seeing this. You’d probably assume, “Oh, he’s looking forward to eating it, right?”
Not…all the time, and this is why context, LQA (localization quality assurance), and playtesting are so important for games like STORY OF SEASONS and Rune Factory! Cole can use this very same reaction when he receives one of his favorite NON-food items (like, say, a coin from the dig site), which resulted in him sounding like he was going to chow down on an old coin way back when.
We had to keep this in mind when working with this line to account for several contexts, so the final English text could not have any mention of what Cole was looking forward to, since he can’t eat the coins or crystals or flowers you find him! Because we had prior information from playing the original as kids, we were able to parse this out ourselves, but that was only the tip of the text file iceberg.
Due to their busy schedule, the developers for the remake were unable to give us full context on how residents’ reactions to items truly worked until our LQA pass, and during this time, we learned just how complicated this text system was. Here are some other examples:
- Every resident has reactions to specific item categories, such as fish, items from the dig site, tools, fresh crops/byproducts from your farm, cooked food, and so on, if they don’t feel like taking the item as a gift. They might say, “Wow! Did you catch that fish yourself?” or “Hey, that looks delicious! D’you like cooking?”
However, the residents also have separate reactions in the text files to their favorite items and disliked items. If their favorite items are fish, for example, the game will have them react with one of their “favorite” lines when you show them a fish, rather than their designated line specifically about fish like the example above, so this means they may never actually use that comment about fish…even if it is translated!
- Up to 3 days after you give a resident a food item or crop, they may comment to you about it. They might say, “wow, that crop from the other day tasted delicious!” if you give them a high-quality crop, or “um, that byproduct tasted…kind of average,” if you give them B-rank milk from a normal cow, for example. Sometimes, they will react like this:
As you can see, we’ve got lots of text tags here, from the player’s name to the <button> tag required for all dialogue text after it’s done scrolling. AWL’s text is extremely tag-heavy, which was another big challenge—we had to make sure every single tag was spelled and formatted correctly, as these tags are vital to ensuring that the game works properly!
But let’s focus in on that <repstr:0> tag. This tag means that any item name can appear here. In this text, our friendly rival farmer, Vesta, is giving her thoughts on one of the player’s crops, and she loves it—but wait! What kind of crop is she talking about? Singular, like “potato”? Or plural, like “bananas”? Either way, we need to make sure the subject and verb agree. Does it start with a vowel, like “apple” or “orange” does, or not? Well, if it can be either, we can’t use words like “a” or “an.”
<repstr:0> can be replaced with any crop name in this particular instance, and we had to ensure that it would grammatically work with every crop possibility. (Not to mention, the player can name their rare hybrid crops, so that was another factor to take into account!) In Japanese, this isn’t as much of an issue, since the concept of singular and plural nouns work a bit differently. You can say 「この前もらったトマト…」 (the tomato I got from you before) and you could be referring to one tomato, or three, or a hundred!
This is the story for a lot of item-related text, and we had to make sure they all worked in English. The valley’s residents use this tag when talking about recipes or food or wild grass—but hold on! What if the food is actually a drink or dessert? What if that wild grass was actually a mushroom? What if you didn’t even give the resident that item, and they’re reacting to something they bought from your shop stall? Due to the way the text was programmed, we had to phrase everything in an open-ended way so that any item, received in any circumstance, could fit in those empty spaces.
In this comment from Romana’s butler, Sebastian, this tag can be replaced by any recipe name. Singular, plural, entrée, dessert, drink, consonant-starters, vowel-starters, bought items, given items, items with long names... It’s gotta work with ‘em all!
So when you’re playing AWL this summer and see these reaction lines working properly, a bunch of time and thought went into them in order to make the gameplay experience as immersive as possible. Plus, it’s just nice to have residents tell you that your crops taste good. Just don’t give away too many crops and realize you have none to ship at the end of the day. We speak from personal experience…
Farm Life’s For Everyone!
Hopefully all of this discussion of giving gifts and crops and byproducts hasn’t boggled your mind too much just yet… We’ve got one more thing we wanted to talk about.
You may have already heard the news, but STORY OF SEASONS: A Wonderful Life will be the first STORY OF SEASONS title to have a non-binary pronoun option when you create your character. This is something our project lead had been wanting to do for a long time, especially after one of our Pioneers of Olive Town blogs, where we talked about gendered pronouns, and how they could be added to the text via a tag system to increase the player’s immersion and make their farm story feel more personalized.
As a quick refresher, the text files for Pioneers of Olive Town contained tags that allowed us to account for two possibilities of the player’s gender: male and female, and we could insert pronouns and customize text to reflect this.
After the blog, and after PoOT’s release, we got lots of great feedback from fans regarding this system. While some fans did appreciate the tag system, other farmers who didn’t want to conform to a gender binary felt a little left out. “The character creation in PoOT doesn’t have any barriers on the player’s gender,” fans noticed. “So why is Mayor Victor asking me whether I’m his old friend’s grandson or granddaughter? Why is there no option in between?”
That’s what got us thinking…why isn’t there an option in between? STORY OF SEASONS is a game about feeling welcomed and respected and loved in your small community. From a text perspective, it seemed like we had a pretty simple solution: all we had to do was create an extra option for these tags. Along with one male option and one female option, we could add on a non-binary option as well.
So that’s exactly what we proposed when we began talks with Marvelous and the developers for the project. We’d asked if it was possible to create a pronoun tag for the gender of the player that included a third non-binary option, and they were happy to work with us on that process to ensure that the new 3-pronoun system worked as smoothly as possible. We helped review design documents with the developers and answered questions like, “What will your child call you if you’re a non-binary protagonist?” (Which was a very good question!)
Here’s an example of what your child might call you. If you marry someone of the opposite gender, your child might call you Mama or Papa. If you choose to marry someone of the same gender, then your child will call you Mama or Papa, along with your farmer’s name. Nonbinary protagonists’ children will refer to their parents by name only.
With this new option, we hope that players will be able to create a more authentic version of themselves in the game, if they so choose. It’s your wonderful life—you deserve to be whoever you want to be!
And, of course, we wanted to thank our farmers for all of their feedback as well. We’re always keeping an eye out for ways we can improve our future titles, so keep on chatting about things you’d love to see for the future of the series! It’s been a great help to us!
It’s Gonna Be Wonderful!
No matter who you choose to marry, what animals or crops you choose to care for, or what your child’s career ends up being, we’re positive your life in Forgotten Valley is bound to be…unforgettable! With our release just one day away, keep in mind that if you haven’t pre-ordered your copy of the game yet, now’s a great time! You don’t want to miss out on our adorable goat plush, Billy! He’s ready and waiting for a new farmer friend to snuggle with!
Thank you once again for all of your support and love for this title. This game means the world to us, and we’re so incredibly glad we can bring this memorable little farming adventure back for a new generation. We can’t wait to find out how you’ll spend your days in the valley and what sort of cherished memories you’ll create.
STORY OF SEASONS: A Wonderful Life sprouts up tomorrow! See you in Forgotten Valley, fellow farmers!