pc trail

You’ve heard of it’s locked, now get ready for...

It’s blocked

It’s chalked

It’s clocked

It’s crocked

It’s docked

It’s flocked

It’s gawked

It’s jocked

It’s knocked

It’s mocked

Ist nacht

It’s oct

It’s rocked

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It’s squawked

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It’s stocked

It’s talked

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It’s Xoc’ed

8

Trails of Cold Steel II this fall (and Trails 3 to follow!) ⊟

Here are the first English screens of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II, which XSEED will release on PS3 and Vita this fall. And then, next year, it’ll be followed up by The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd! That one’s only been announced for PC at the moment.

So this series is about to be five games deep in the space of about six years. That is some serious hustle on the part of XSEED (and its other localization partners).

BUY Trails of Cold Steel
The Legend of Heroes: Trails Series - Localization Blog #1

Hey, Trails fans!

This is Brittany again, Production Coordinator at XSEED. So. Yes. The rumors were true. Every time the words “Trails of Cold Steel” showed up on news sites, we were giggling like preschooler dorks because we knew it was a real thing that was happening. On the flipside, we were also visibly cringing because of how we couldn’t participate in any forum discussion surrounding it whatsoever. And with the fanbase Trails has, you can bet there are always lots of questions.

This blog will serve as more of a preemptive Q&A session for Trails in the Sky Second Chapter, Trails of Cold Steel, and the Trails series in general to try and clear up the series’ position in the West as much as possible. We’ll also be sharing the first official PC English screens of Trails in the Sky Second Chapter along the way!

Why the name Trails of Cold Steel?

Longtime fans of the series know the game as Sen no Kiseki, which roughly means something like, “The paths/trails of a flash/flicker.” It’s typically meant to represent that glint you see on a blade being drawn as it catches the light. It’s clearly not a very easy word to render in English and still make sense with the current “Trails” moniker, so we dismissed the more literal “Trails of a Flash” and other similar titles rather quickly.

I suggested Trails of Cold Steel for several reasons:

• The story is based around Thors Military Academy, a place in Erebonia where many young political upstarts balance school life and war tactics as part of their daily curriculum. Conflict and weapons are something of a theme in Cold Steel, and I wanted words which were specifically reminiscent of steel blades.

• The term “Sen” is a fairly serious word—"Steel" alone wouldn’t have set the right tone, but “Cold Steel” together helps reflect the strain of Erebonia’s intensely classist, military powerhouse society.

• Being a big fan of the Trails series myself, I’ve bought every single soundtrack related to the series. Even before we had the rights to Cold Steel, I’d bought the soundtrack. Hell, I bought it day one! And the main battle theme (which is a killer track, I might add) is called “The Glint of Cold Steel.” The second I saw it, I thought, “Well, that has quite a nice ring to it!”

• When Ken and I were in Falcom’s office and proposed the English title, they immediately smiled and said, “Actually, we once considered using the word ‘Steel’ in the title ourselves, so that’s perfect. We like it.”

So, there you have it. As of now, the official English name of Sen no Kiseki, completely endorsed by the original developers themselves, is Trails of Cold Steel.

Aren’t there a few games that come before Trails of Cold Steel? What’s up with that?

Let’s get this out of the way: I am absolutely thrilled we’re continuing the Trails series in the West. It quickly became one of my favorite series along with Ys, and I absorb all information relating to it much like how a northern clingfish clings to rocks. Look up northern clingfish videos, by the way; they’re really cool.

When Falcom approached us with interest in seeing the game localized (and yes, they came to us), I naturally was all for it. But like most fans, I worried because of the two games that preceded it—Zero no Kiseki and Ao no Kiseki (which I will henceforth be calling Trails to Zero and Trails to Azure, though those should not be considered final or official names)—because they have some events in them that seem to tie in with Cold Steel directly. Is it okay to publish the series out of “order”? If we do take on Cold Steel, will people be missing out on some critical information by not playing Zero and Azure first?

I was fortunate enough to be able to express this worry in person to the president of Falcom, Toshihiro Kondo; I was also just as relieved by his response. Immediately, he responded: “Actually, this is kind of intentional. We wanted Cold Steel and Zero/Azure to be playable in any order because we noticed that, with Cold Steel, the demographic suddenly became younger. Many new fans of the series were going back to the old games.”

Essentially, their goal for Cold Steel was not only to continue developing the incredibly deep lore behind the Zemurian continent, but to do it in such a way that would both please longtime fans and help new fans feel right at home. Rest easy knowing that you can canonically play Cold Steel before Zero/Azure—you’ll simply be getting a different perspective on events, seeing things in an order that differs from what Japanese players experienced, but is still confirmed by one of the Trails creators to be A-OK and even pretty much as intended.

And, hey, while I’m all about encouraging people to play Trails in the Sky first, you could start with Trails of Cold Steel and then go back to the Sky series if you so desired; you’d just be enjoying a whole different set of Easter eggs. I absolutely adore the ridiculous amounts of detail this series manages to put out without completely shutting out a curious new audience at the same time, and apparently Falcom does, too.

Even if the games can be played in a different order, why didn’t you work on Trails to Zero and Trails to Azure first? Why “skip ahead” at all?

The simple answer is this: Zero and Azure started as PSP games and by the time we would have finished both of them, the PSP will have long been dead as a viable platform. Even though we’re working on Trails in the Sky SC for PSP now, all the effort going into its PSP launch is a labor of love, not profit.

However, there does exist a Japanese PC port of Trails to Zero and a Chinese PC port of Trails to Azure. This means that, theoretically, we could go back to the duology at any time if the series remains successful, since Trails in the Sky has found new life on PC in the west. PC love won’t be falling out of fashion any time soon.

Trails of Cold Steel is only for PS3 and PS Vita, however. With the PS4 already taking the world by storm, the PS3 is slowly falling out of favor, meaning we have a very limited window to get it out and still justify it as a smart business move—especially since we have Cold Steel’s direct sequel to consider. That’s the main reason we opted to move forward with Cold Steel’s localization even before we knew the series was intended to be played in any order.

In short, what all of this means is that the chances of Trails to Zero and Trails to Azure getting released here are not, uh, zero. Just keep supporting the series, and let’s see what happens together!

 You guys are still working on Trails in the Sky Second Chapter, right? Will it be out before Cold Steel? What about the last game in the trilogy, Trails in the Sky 3rd?

Yes, we are still in QA for Trails in the Sky SC for PSP (PS Vita/Vita TV compatible) and PC. And yes, it will also be out before Cold Steel, so you will be able to thoroughly enjoy the conclusion to Estelle and Liberl’s story before Cold Steel’s launch.

I say “conclusion” because, while 3rd is related to content within FC and SC, the overarching story fans were introduced to from the first game will indeed be concluded with SC, satisfactory ending and all. 3rd serves as something of an intriguing offshoot from the series and stars a beloved character introduced in SC: one Kevin Graham. Rather than take on the grand scale of FC and SC, it dives even deeper into character development and series lore, with said lore dipping its fingers into every game in the series in some way, shape, or form. Needless to say, I would be thrilled to work on it, and have made my opinion very much heard in the office. Ha ha.

While far, far, FAR from confirmed, I will personally continue to push for 3rd and hope that fans will back me up by buying the hell out of SC. Please. Seriously. Buy it. I’m not even going to try hiding how desperate I am here. I want us to keep working on this series forever.

 We’ve been waiting a long time for Trails in the Sky Second Chapter. What’s the status of that? And what’s the localization status on Cold Steel? What about “Cold Steel II”?

We know you’ve been waiting for SC. Boy, do we know! And in hindsight, we wish we could’ve scheduled its localization a lot better, because at this point we want it out the door just as much as you (ha ha). I’m currently working together with Trails in the Sky FC & SC editor Jessica Chavez to clean things up and make sure it’s as polished as can be within our crazily hectic schedule. In fact, we’re working 100% in tandem with some of the series’ biggest fans to ensure that every fact is checked and every piece of foreshadowing is correctly shadowed, and just in general taking every step we can to ensure even our biggest critics are pleased with the final product. So far, I could not be happier with the feedback we’ve received.

That being said, we know the series has had something of a rocky start in the West in terms of scheduling, and it’s stressed us out as much as it would anyone. We’ve even joked about it by dubbing these delays and surprises the “Curse of Kiseki,” which has a particularly hilarious acronym when also paired with Trails in the Sky’s now-infamous acronym.

Aaanyway, we’ve learned a hell of a lot over the years, so this time, we didn’t want to jump the gun on announcing Trails of Cold Steel too early (and we didn’t, because the translation process started a year and a half ago!). As of this writing, not only is Trails of Cold Steel fully, 100% translated, we’re reaching the final stages of editing as well and will very soon be recording a whopping 10,000~ voiced lines for the game. You may remember Nick from his sublime work in STORY OF SEASONS; he, together with the newest addition to the XSEED team, Kris, are working together to bring you one sensational experience.

…Oh, and Trails of Cold Steel II in already in the process of being translated, so don’t you worry your silky little heads none.

•        Will Trails of Cold Steel I and II see physical releases, or will they be digital-only like Trails in the Sky SC?

I’m pleased to say that both Cold Steel I and II are confirmed for physical and digital launches on PS3 and PS Vita.

 There’s still plenty of work to be done, and I’m almost certain this blog won’t answer everything, but I hope it clears up the biggest mysteries surrounding this series. The world of Trails is wonderful and full of life, and I hope fans will continue to support it in the West for years to come.


- Brittany

And, hey, just because I can: my very first localization project, Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven, just launched on June 2nd physically and digitally for 3DS! If you like SRPGs and things that melt your heart, LoM might be the game for you. 

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London, England, UK

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky Second Chapter -  Localization Blog #5

It’s good to see you all again! XSEED’s localization programmer for PC games here. I come to you today in hopes that you might join me in a look back on the journey we’ve had leading up to Trails in the Sky Second Chapter’s release, as well as answering a few questions about the PC versions that I’m sure you’re all curious about.

Looking Back – Trails in the Sky First Chapter, July 2014 to the present

As many of us will recall, the PC release of Trails in the Sky’s First Chapter was a bit bumpy. I was actually out on a trip at the time of the release, over 8 hours away from my work PC. It was an adventure trying to fix bugs with just an antique laptop and my raw determination, but somehow we made it through okay, and I’m glad for that. That said, I know that some bugs are still left behind in the original game, “FC”, and I would love to go back and fix them as time allows in the future, especially now that SC is finally out of the oven and steaming hot, ready to be served onto all of your plates in wholesome slices.

A while after the release, I began adding the high-definition assets we’d received from the PS3 version of Trails in the Sky. This made the game look a lot more modern, and I really like how it turned out. I was even able to implement some that weren’t in the PS3 version at all, making the PC version by far the most high-def. In SC, you can rest assured that these are in right away, and they look fantastic. For those of you who didn’t play FC after the changes, you are in for a massive visual treat. For best results, I recommend playing the game at 1024x768 or 1280x960 resolution if you’re using an old-school 4:3 monitor, and 1280x720 or 1920x1080 resolution if you’re using one of those new-fangled HD whatsits.

The next little adventure happened with the game’s Monster Guide feature, a feature that was surprisingly more demanded than I would have imagined. I had a rough time implementing it, since the way in-game windows work is completely different between the PSP and PC versions of the game. It was fun, though, and I think the results ultimately spoke for themselves. A few of you filled in the Monster Guide only to run into a bug where the last entry would not complete, though, and I can assure you that’s finally fixed. SC has an impressively significant amount of monsters compared to FC, and I can’t wait to see you guys agonizing over how to fill it all in without wasting playthroughs!

Another feature I ended up adding after release was the Boosted Font feature. I originally considered this an accessibility feature for players playing on HDTVs, but I’m now realizing this feature really helps some of you, and while working on SC, I realized the feature had a few bugs whenever font size would change during dialogue. This has been cleaned up, and further little corrections to the feature are forthcoming. You don’t have to worry about it being absent – I assure you, I wouldn’t dare forget.

Borderless Windowed mode was a pretty demanded feature, and I added that during FC’s development as well. The way to activate it was always a little obtuse, since you simply use Windowed Mode at whatever resolution your desktop is set to, but I was glad to have it. This is one of my personal favorites, letting you have the best of both worlds with quick and easy alt-tabbing with visuals that fill the entire monitor. I highly recommend trying it if you never have before!

Last but not least, we ended up adding 1080p videos to the game only a few weeks ago. These were created from the original files to get the best quality I could possible squeeze out of them. They use a new codec to reduce file size, the amount of errors we’d been seeing from DVD encoder software, and other oddball things. I understand that some of you have had video crashes. My advice: Use the Borderless Windowed mode. They seem to behave a bit better in that situation. Until then, I’ll continue looking at ways to improve and fix this post-release, but look forward to the same quality in all of SC’s movies, of which it has quite a few more than FC! There are several that pop up during gameplay!

Second Chapter – The journey to get a behemoth of a game working

You’ve probably seen our previous blogs detailing the trouble we’ve had along the way. It felt like every bug I squashed made another rear its head. There were also issues with various scenes in widescreen – so many issues. I know I haven’t weeded them all out, but we’ve tried to catch some of the most obvious ones and will continue to hunt them down. I’ll be starting some fresh threads on the Steam Forums for reporting standing issues in both games, hopefully a bit more categorized and orderly than we had with FC.

I first began work on SC the same day that I began work on FC. I remember it well. The games are quite well-coded, and while I can’t discuss the details, I have to appreciate how hard Falcom worked on them. Unfortunately, both games did take quite a bit of work to adapt to modern tools, however, and SC was the real problem child in that regard. From the very beginning of the game we were running into invisible walls, disappearing characters, and general chaos the likes of which the game’s villains would likely be proud of. Even as FC proceeded, I tried to copy all of our fixes over bit by bit, slowly working SC into a more stable and workable game than it had been after the initial conversion. This proved difficult, as SC had many of its own problems, and more seemed to pop up with every day that passed.

To detail some of the biggest challenges I had working on SC, the game adds a huge amount of new visuals and cut-ins, far more than FC ever had, and I had to account for each and every one’s proper display – with a couple stubborn cases. After that, I had to look over the PSP and PS3-exclusive features of the game, as it contained far more of these than FC had! I was surprised, and the more I got into it, the more trouble I had, even having to work around technical limitations that made it difficult to insert the English item names and descriptions for quite a while. Time went on, however, and I conquered these, one at a time.

The most obvious feature for some would be the New Game+ feature. This was featured in FC as well; however, I couldn’t copy as much of the code as I would have liked. Whereas you must load your Clear Data to begin New Game+ in FC, in SC all of this data will be prompted for when you begin a new game. New Games can start on any difficulty, and you can use any combination of FC Clear Data and SC Clear Data that you’d like. Even Japanese saves will load just fine, so if you’ve been a Falcom loyalist all this time, you won’t feel penalized for starting a New Game and checking out all the things we’ve done for this release!

The question most people have asked, however, is whether I managed to add the two exclusive characters from the PSP and PS3 versions of the game into our PC version of the game. The answer is yes. They are completely implemented and you shouldn’t run into any trouble using them. All I ask is that you please enjoy them! This was -definitely- the hardest feature for me to implement, and countless hours were spent banging my head into my desk trying to get each and every Craft to function just right – including when playing in widescreen. Even in an imported Japanese endgame save, these characters can be obtained; just go back and trigger a certain event, and they’ll be ready to knock some heads!

The PSP and PS3 versions also added new ultimate weapons for each character, whereas the original PC version only had two. These are definitely in, and you’ll find yourself obtaining them quite the same way as you would have in the PSP and PS3 versions. A fact few mention is that the original two ultimate weapons were also rebalanced, making everything just a bit more fair and in line with each other. Everything matches up, just as you would hope for. In summary, the PSP versions and the PC versions are feature equivalent. If anything, the PC version has quite a few more features due to all the changes I’ve made over time!

Exploring the Galaxy

One of the newest things to come with the release of SC is support for a rather recent service GOG has been introducing: GOG Galaxy. If you want to buy the PC version, but don’t want DRM, GOG Galaxy would be a great option for you. With GOG Galaxy, we’ve been able to implement achievements while still providing what can be considered a DRM-free version of the game. FC is also getting GOG Galaxy support, so if you want to play the GOG version of the game but haven’t yet found an excuse, now’s your chance to hunker down and play to your heart’s content.

Looking Ahead – The Future of FC and SC

 Even now, we continue to work constantly to find issues and improve everything we can. Just a couple of hours before writing this blog, I put the last touches on a new build of the game, containing the latest and greatest translation adjustments so that we can provide the utmost quality after these hard, long years. A small update went out for FC as well – you might notice that the revival Art has a new name, and this will be carried forward into SC as it launches. That said, bugs are the programmer’s undefeatable nemesis. I’ve named my bugs Frederik. I don’t know, they just seem like a Frederik to me.

Because bugs can never truly be defeated, I hope you’ll understand that this launch won’t be completely without them. I’m working my hardest, though, and hopefully together, we can all defeat these nasty Frederiks, one after another, until the only ones that remain are the ones we have fun with or couldn’t possibly notice. There are some standing issues I’ll discuss briefly before I close things up, and hopefully it will be helpful in training those who encounter them to defeat their insecty foes. Sorry in advance, though!

One of the strangest bugs is a crash that only seems to happen in Full Screen Mode with HD Assets enabled. It’s a rather minor bug, generally only happening when you open the menu too quickly, or when you stay in the Orbment screen for a long time, but it can be worked around by playing in Windowed Mode. I’d suggest the Borderless Windowed mode I’ve mentioned before, as it’s pretty similar to Full Screen, and that should work around the bug if you’re experiencing it, for the most smooth game experience you can get. Until then, I’ll keep chipping away, hoping I can find a permanent solution soon.

Another bug that’s been noticed at times is disappearing menu descriptions, also occurring in FC. If this happens, just close your menu and re-open it; they were just a bit shy, so they went into hiding. I’m still working on this, and definitely expecting a fix before long. Lastly, there -are- still some widescreen issues in cutscenes, as mentioned before. Just ignore them and maybe they’ll go away. Nah, but seriously, there will be a lot of little patches to address these, as well as fixing the stragglers in SC.

On a brighter note, I’ve been looking at native XInput support and I’m hoping I’ll have something to report in the next couple months. This would mean your triggers would finally work on XInput controllers, as well as the addition of accurate and precise button labels, though the controllers themselves do work fine as-is otherwise. Cross your fingers that it all goes according to plan, ‘cause with the so-called “Curse of Kiseki,” just about anything that can go wrong usually has, ahahah.

Phew! That was a lot of text. I suppose I may have rambled a bit, and I apologize for that. I’m sure you guys will enjoy the game, and please be patient with me as I work hard to fix as many of your issues as I can following the launch. As the in-joke goes, “Winter 2014 is finally here.”

Sara J. Leen

Localization Programmer, XSEED Games