Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Katawa Shoujo in Comitia 96

On 5th of May, the Katawa Shoujo Japanese translation team will attend Comitia96 doujin event at Tokyo Big Sight, at table た12a. Their offerings for the day are:

1. Katawa Shoujo Act 1

A pressed CD of Katawa Shoujo Act1, including v4 installers for Windows, OS X and Linux. The disk is packaged in a DVD case along with a reversible jacket that has Japanese texts on top side and English ones on the reverse side.

2. Player's guide for Katawa Shoujo

From the beginning of the project and the foundation of Four Leaf Studios to the release of Act 1 and its Japanese translation, this doujinshi book will guide you through the brief history of Katawa Shoujo to date. In addition, the book features foreword by Aura, and illustrations of each of the heroines in the game, some drawn by the staff artists of Four Leaf Studios.

Greyscale with coloured covers, 20 pages, B5 size. The book and CD together will cost 500 yen.

"This venture is a promotion attempt in Japan by our team to utilize the time while we wait for the release of full version. The content may be too obvious for the folks eagerly following the dev blog. Please consider them as more of a memorabilia or fan item. Of course this would be a good starting point for anyone who comes across KS for the first time. If by any chance you're around in Tokyo then please drop by.

We've applied to Summer Comiket as well. If we're lucky we'll get a seat there. Will post updates on other progress.

We're kind of hoping to see some more KS doujin actions in Japan following our trail...we'll see about that on the way."

4LS is of course super excited about this as well, we hope the translation team will have a great deal of fun at the event and keep our fingers crossed for them to make the Comiket cutoff.

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Katawa Shoujo Act 1 v5 released!

Have we ever mentioned how awesome the KS translation teams are?

Katawa Shoujo Act 1 v5 adds three new translations: Russian (courtesy of Honyaku-Subs), German and Hungarian. This brings the translation project success rate to a fairly respectable figure, and Act 1 to 9 different localizations of 8 different languages. That is pretty amazing.

The only additions to V5 are the three new localizations, so the release is not recommended to those who have played a previous version and can't speak one of the new languages. There are some typo and error fixes in the English and other language scripts, but they are not major. See the changelog for the full list over all versions. We hope everyone enjoys this release and warmly congratulate the three translation teams for their completed projects.

Download Act 1 v5 from one of these links:


Like before this release supersedes the previous ones, so any help seeding the new torrents is appreciated. Also, big thanks goes to Davis for hosting help.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Words of Gods

People love canon. At least people invested enough in a work to argue about it on the Internet do; and sure enough, there's nothing better than to add to the content that is indisputably canon since it is source material, because if there's something better than a good thing, it's MORE of a good thing, and if this additional material is not canon it did not "really happen" and as such is sadly useless... right? Personally I happen to disagree (if you couldn't tell already), but this blog post is not about that.

More to the point, this thread on our forums, and especially my snarky impulse reply within, got me thinking - why does "Word of God" matter so much to people? Sure, I wasn't being nice*, but what does "we've (...) been known to troll, lie, change our mind, and make stuff up on the spot" actually mean?

1. Trolling

The ability to play with the fanbase's expectation is one of the perks of what we do. In all honesty we think that the product will include everything it needs to, and any additional information will have to be taken with a grain of salt. As a side note, trolling is not effective if you're ALWAYS trolling or even just too often. So we try to not overdo it.

2. Lying

Now that's just mean, but I know I've done it before to protect actual information or just out of spite in response inane questions. In the end it mostly comes down to point #1 anyway.

3. Changing of mind

This does happen a lot, hopefully not so much in content that is actually already out (and as such has the "highest canonicity" if you care about such a thing). We don't intend to change Act 1 in any meaningful way, but we will if we think we have to. And in the unreleased part, well... I'll just say I'd be more than happy if we changed our mind less often. Thankfully it does not seem to happen as frequently as it used to at this point.

4. Making stuff up on the spot

If I get asked a question, or even if it just strikes me by accident, I may make a statement about some thing that is not relevant to the story at all. This will, for all intents and purposes, be "canon" until someone else on the dev team cares enough to contradict it; but does that matter? In fact, if it mattered, would it not be in the game narrative in the first place?

So to summarize, I see two big problems in here, apart from the (in my opinion, overblown) obsession with canonicity people have in general:

• It's not like Katawa Shoujo is an exercise in world building like other franchises. We don't really care whether there is a bigger universe outside the story we tell; if we did, we would surely have made said world more interesting. This is not Star Trek, or Lord of the Rings, or even Fate/stay night, it's just a little story. We do care about canon as far as consistency within the work is concerned, but not a lot beyond that.

• It's not like the story this supposed world is built around even exists in any meaningful capacity yet, so everything we say is subject to change.

For example,  I have said before that Richter Bromont's depiction of the Yamaku principal as a Luchador wrestler is actually true. I know that there is nothing to contradict it in the game at this point (because he does not appear, and nor is mentioned in enough detail to make the call), so I'm not even outright lying. I just think it's funny, but does this make it "canon", an in-universe "truth"? I guess so, but I'm also aware that if we actually did decide to show him, he'd be something less... random. In fact, the principal did appear in an early draft, and in there she was a woman. Maybe THAT is more canonical than my offhand remark? But it's not in the game anymore either. The fact of the matter is that there is no objective reality beyond what is shown in fiction, and even for that you have to trust the writer. Seems obvious, but I've read Umineko no Naku Koro ni recently, and I've seen that fans of Umineko have a real problem realizing that even a universe designed at least with some degree of worldbuilding in mind is still made up and does not necessarily have to make sense in the way reality has to**. Whether that still constitutes good writing is up to the reader, of course. And even if something is not stated to be one way or the other, "undefined" can be perfectly canon. See the ending of Inception, and how a part of the audience refused to accept that as well.

Then there is the matter of fanon; Touhou is a franchise that is mostly fanon, and if enough people believe something is canon in that one, that definitely makes it "true" eventually. Fandom can take matters into their own hands, and if that is more enjoyable than the core narrative, who would argue against it? So, I will not condemn people pulling together various remarks and trying to build a bigger universe if they consider it fun; it's just we ourselves don't care enough to keep track of it because keeping track of actual core material is already stretching it. I am of the opinion that everything that matters is/will be in the game, and would take a small cheap laugh of the moment over building a greater universe than we need - It's not like we're forced to have sequel or spinoff hooks like a lot of commercial franchises. If we're lucky, all of these side ideas might in fact combine to one emergent fictional universe. But don't bet on it.


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* I find it slightly absurd to call writers "gods", yes I know it's a tvtropesism, but that doesn't make it any better, can't get into any decent discussion without tvtropes and their CamelCase puns infesting every single one these days, don't care if it was around before but tvtropes codified it into a nuisance, get off my lawn, I mad, etc.
** In fact, now that I think about it, Umineko made "trolling, lying, changes of mind and making stuff up on the spot" a core part of the narrative, and people seemed to actually like it specifically for that - I kind of did, to be honest. Not much else, but that's beyond the scope of a simple blog post.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools: Announcement - Future Plans

So now that we are getting closer to game release it's maybe a time to talk about some of the things we've kept secret so far.

As anyone who has followed our development process knows, we are committed to releasing the entire game free of charge, and this will never change, since it is one of the incorruptible philosophical foundations of our group. However, it has come to our attention that the modern internet environment offers many opportunities for monetization, and we would be foolish not to take advantage of this. So, we are proudly announcing a subscriber model for people who really take Katawa Shoujo seriously and want to enjoy it to its fullest.

Players who want to go beyond the ordinary can sign up for an account, which instantly gives them access to extra features and also makes them eligible for expansion content.

So what are these extra features the subscribers get? Here are some of the more prominent ones:

1. Access to expansion stories

This is the big one. In addition to scenes unlockable through the extra options (see point number 2), we will be making bigger stories that feature characters not seen elsewhere in the game. They won't be quite as long as the main character paths, but will feature things like romanceable characters with full plotlines and multiple endings, just like the 5 main paths. These stories will be offered as downloadable patches through the subscription system, likely going online some time after the release of the full game. There are four such stories under production, and we're going to reveal the main characters of two of them here:

Rika Katayama

A second year student at Yamaku, Rika has heart condition not completely unlike Hisao's, called hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The condition is fatal if untreated, but Rika has gone through a reconstructive heart surgery as a toddler. Even so, she still left physically weak and at a constant danger of complications. A string of hospitalizations has made Rika a loner, but not a lonely person. She is sometimes hard to get through to, and tends to get lost in thought even in crowds. People sometimes mistake this for shyness, but in reality Rika does get along with most people, although she rarely actively seeks social contact. Hisao meets Rika by chance at the school infirmary and the two find something to reflect themselves from in the other. Rika's aloof attitude and ostensible comfort with her condition might challenge Hisao to grow as a person, but trouble arises when unpredictable circumstances take their relationship to a surprising direction...

Rika's story is written by Silentcook and her character artist is moekki.

Saki Enomoto

Saki suffers from Spinocerebellar ataxia, a degenerative disease that makes her gradually lose muscle control, amongst other issues. She uses a crutch to help her balance, but is going to lose the ability to walk and eventually, all daily tasks and even eating and breathing. Fated to die with no hope of a cure, Saki is a conflicting figure. She has to live with a horrific, degenerative condition every day, yet she is outgoing and fashionable just like any high school girl. Saki takes the clumsiness caused by her condition in stride, even going against it by taking up activites that require fine motor control such as joining the Yamaku art club, where Hisao meets her. He finds Saki an engaging but troublesome person to deal with, due to her incredibly frank and complex personality. One moment she might be giggling about the new spring fashion line, the next, stating her bitterness for her crippling illness, yet never dropping her dazzling smile. But even Saki, for all her openness, holds things inside she would never tell anyone else...

Saki's story is written by Aura and her character artist is weee.

2. Bonus content

Some of the choices in KS will have options that are exclusively available to subscribers for a minor one-time fee. The unlockable options usually provide small changes to scenes, often extra event CG, sometimes extra scenes or background information that would not otherwise come up. Of course, they have no bearing whatsoever on the main storyline and are entirely optional.

3. Exclusive Merchandise

Simultaneously with the subscriber system we will open the Four Leaf Studios webstore, providing fans with Katawa Shoujo and Four Leaf Studios merchandise such as shirts, hug pillows, posters and more. Subscribers gain faster processing and access to freebies and items not available to others.

4. Premium features

The basic game will no longer offer saving/loading functionality. Instead, you can jump to scenes via the "Library" option. Both saving and loading will be available exclusively to subscribers through a micropayment system. Additionally, rolling back a line will be available for minor charge per line (of course, readback will remain available free of charge).

5. No advertising

Premium customers will not see "sponsored lines" that are inserted into the game text in random intervals. They also get the privilege to block a subset of the in-game product placement.

The KSPremium account will be available at the time of KS full release for most regions of the world for a very competitive monthly or one-time pricing, at various subscription levels. Extra features and the merchandise at 4LS webstore will be charged with Katawa Points associated with your account, available separately or through an automatic monthly fee. 100 Katawa Points is equivalent to approximately $5 (depending on your subscription level and location). This will all be made possible thanks to the cooperation of Valve, with Katawa Shoujo releasing on the Steam platform.

You might be wondering why we are making an about face with the deal about money and KS. This is because we finally have a good use for it. Many of us have found themselves in a good place in life to do something big, something cool, and that's exactly what's going to happen. Four Leaf Studios is going to become an actual studio, continuing with our adventures in the world of visual novels beyond Katawa Shoujo. We are planning to get ourselves a physical studio office in Copenhagen, Denmark, found a real company and move most of the devs there to work on further projects once KS is completed. That is to say, we are taking the big step forward and really going to make a splash in the indie game world. Stay tuned for further developments on this, both before and after KS is released. We have some pretty neat ideas in store for the future.

Thanks for reading and hope you are as excited about these news as we are.

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