Vestaria Saga: Interview with DANGEN Entertainment

During the middle of August, the official English version of Vestaria Saga was announced, together with a playable demo.

Around this time, we reached out to DANGEN Entertainment–the company responsible for localising the game–to see if they could answer some burning questions we had.

For those who haven’t been keeping up–and possibly quite confused–Vestaria Saga is an indie game that’s believed to be created by one of the founders of the Fire Emblem series. But that’s all we can say on the matter, since he wishes to distance himself away from any potential drama.

Although we–Serenes Forest–are primarily a Fire Emblem fan site, we also like to cover all the spin-off games and related games, which Vestaria falls under.

With that out of the way, onto the interview itself!

Key
SF Serenes Forest (us)
N Nayan Ramachandran (Content Acquisition)
L Dan Luffey (Head of Localisation)

SF: Thanks a lot for accepting this interview! For this occasion, I’ll be asking some questions that are mainly related to the localisation and acquisition side of things. There are also some questions from our community members.

(Note: Previously, we asked members of our community to submit questions to DANGEN Entertainment. But please note that some questions could not be answered.)

First of all, can you tell us a little about your company and yourselves?

N: DANGEN Entertainment is a six person indie publisher based out of Japan. Half our staff, me included, are based in Osaka, while the rest of our staff works remotely in Nagano, Tokyo, and Kyoto. We’ve all worked in gaming for some time, and we came together to form an indie publisher that worked differently from what’s out there.

SF: Alright, time to get straight into it… Where did you first get the idea of translating Vestaria Saga?

N: I’m a long time fan of SRPGs, and always on the hunt for new ones to work on. When we were looking at Japanese titles to localize for the Western audience, I remember seeing posts all over the internet praying for an English release of Vestaria Saga. It just seemed like one of those dream projects for a lot of gamers.

SF: Why did you decide on picking up this title?

N: It was a dream game for me, and the rest of the team quickly got on board.

SF: Related to the above, Ricky Esparza is interested to know what makes Vestaria Saga a unique Strategy RPG when we have games like Fire Emblem, XCom and Valkyria Chronicles?

N: Vestaria is more puzzle-like. Instead of moving your units willy-nilly about the battlefield, some stages have you trying to figure out the optimum way by which you trigger certain events. Stages are more like puzzles to be solved.

SF: As far as we know, the director of Vestaria Saga–S_Kaga–is otherwise known as Shouzou Kaga, one of the creators of Nintendo’s Fire Emblem series. But it was never proven. Are you able to shed any light on this?

N: Sorry, we cannot.

SF: On to the translation, can you tell us your philosophy for the game’s translation? From what I’ve seen, the dialogue looks very well-written and I can see you’ve sneaked in a few jokes during less serious moments.

L: Aside from keeping the localization in line with the original world’s tone and atmosphere, we want the world to feel believable, complex but not complicated, and be populated with characters who constantly surprise you with their behavior because they react to events like real people.

SF: I noticed Zade’s class is now “Liege” rather than the typical Fire Emblem “Lord”. I assume that was a stylistic change to distance the game from Fire Emblem? Were there other times you had to do that?

L: Every decision made regarding the English localization was made in order to make the English version as enjoyable as the Japanese version. We aren’t “censoring” or changing anything because we’re worried about what other people think.

SF: During the localisation process, do you communicate with S_Kaga and Vestaria Project–the original creators–often? Or do you generally work within your own confines?

L: We do our best to seek out all avenues and make sure that we have all the material necessary in order to give Vestaria Saga the English presentation it deserves.

SF: Just out of curiousity, do you know how much text is in Vestaria Saga? Like in terms of word count.

L: Well over 100,000 Japanese characters. We’re buried in spreadsheets.

SF: Were there any significant hurdles during the localisation process? For example, did you have any issues fitting in character, class, item names, etc.?

L: There were tons of hurdles, including the examples you gave. Most of them stem from the intricacies of SRPG Studio and the fact that sometimes asking it to display English text in certain ways ends up breaking the game. We’re doing our best to work out the kinks, of course.

SF: Is the localisation mostly focused on the text, or have you made some adjustments to the game code? For instance, there are some bugs in the original game, described in the Acknowledgements section.

L: We are working very hard on fixing inconsistencies and bugs that persist in the game, but due to the complexity of SRPG Studio and the code, we can’t promise that we’ll be able to fix them all. Basically, if we find a way to adjust parts of the code that need adjusting, we’ll make it happen.

SF: Has testing the game been a challenge? After all, the game is quite difficult and there can be variations in cut-scenes.

L: It’s definitely a challenge, but we’ve got our best people on it!

SF: Vestaria Saga has a rich story filled with all sorts of cool characters. Do you have a particular favourite character?

N: I actually like the way all the characters play off each other, rather than a single character. In the same way that Game of Thrones is best observed as a complex tapestry of cause and effect, I think Vestaria Saga’s characters all play off each other very nicely, and the political intrigue and deception are best served by those interactions.

SF: Currently, how far along is the localisation of the game? Do you have a rough estimate of your progress as a percentage?

L: The localisation is proceeding very smoothly. We don’t want to give an exact number and inadvertently mislead people or create unfounded expectations.

SF: So Vestaria Saga is currently scheduled for a 2019 release. Should we be expecting the first half, second half, etc. or is the release date still largely undecided?

N: This is something we’re going to have to keep in our back pockets until we get closer to 2019.

SF: Are you confident that the game will be able to find an audience?

N: We’re confident that there are plenty of old school SRPG fans looking for the classic experience in their games. No matter what genre you look at, there are always groups of fans that miss the “good ol’ days”, and they’re being under-served.

SF: @Punyama_PunPun asks if you would be interested in translating the game in other languages, especially if it performs well?

N: That certainly is a possibility. It really depends on how the game does.

SF: @beIrhiti wants to know are there any plans to port Vestaria Saga to other platforms? Likewise, @kazuonoko3 wants to know if there’s a possibility of the game coming to Mac?

N: Because of the constraints presented by SRPG Studio, it’s hard to promise anything past a Windows release. I know that’s not what people want to hear, but that is the reality of the situation.

SF: @theprinceofiris asks if the game will come to other stores besides Steam (like GOG)? Also, will the game be DRM-free?

N: For now we’re going to use Steam, but we’re exploring DRM free options. Nothing to confirm right now.

SF: This is perhaps another dream, but would a physical copy of the game be at all possible?

N: That is a really interesting prospect. I love physical releases, and still collect physical copies of games to this day. We don’t necessarily have plans at the moment, but it would be very cool to do one.

SF: Unrelated to the game itself, @theprinceofiris also wants to know if there’s a chance of releasing the Vestaria Saga Original Soundtrack (OST) outside of Japan? (For those interested, it can be ordered from Amazon Japan etc.)

N: Hopefully we can talk about this in the future.

SF: Finally, this is looking very far into the future, but are you planning to translate the future Vestaria Saga games, like the gaidens and Part 2? Or does that depend on the performance of the first game?

N: I think it’s best that we make this completely clear: any further work on the Vestaria Saga series, which we would LOVE to keep doing, is entirely predicated upon the success of the first game. Localization for SRPGs is expensive, especially to meet our quality standards, but if the interest is there for us to continue working on the series, we’d love nothing more than to keep releasing titles in the series.

SF: Thanks a lot for your time! We hope the game does well for you when it launches!

As a reminder, the English version of Vestaria Saga is scheduled to launch sometime in 2019.

About the Author: VincentASM
Author Website: http://serenesforest.net
  • ChozoMiso

    Appreciate the interview, but for a small studio they’re pretty damn secretive.

  • James

    @disqus_bj44qPTg91:disqus That’s why they got the job. It’s in line with Kaga’s workflow. Can you imagine how he would be ruined if he was served by the Trump administration?
    As to the soundtrack release, I don’t see why the need for a domestic release seeing as it is obtainable as is. There really is nothing to the soundtrack that can benefit from a American release. If it is too hard for any of you to obtain, ask me I can get loads of them here to the states. Truly good work from Hirotoh Saitoh. I can imagine the entire story just from the music. Unfortunately though, there are missing tracks from the game and a good portion of the tracks, such as the opening sequence were made in a previous game that Saitoh has scored. Not sure if he was scoring VS at the same time as the other game or that the music just fitted the overall theme of this game as well.
    Pretty light interview btw. I can’t say that it was the right choice to ask confirmation about S_Kaga. However, Dangen still didn’t deny our suspicions.
    I’m all for a physical copy of the game, they could go as far to make it a package with a little artbook, interviews, soundtrack, etc. Like how Soul Calibur does for most of its franchise run.

    • ChozoMiso

      You’re right of course, I understand why Kaga would want to not be bothered, and these people seem up for the job. I hope they’ll get more work, like Playism.

  • Hezul

    Interesting, the soundtrack and sequels would be really good

  • Billy Meshias

    Would there be a way to send a message to S_Kaga? I mean, right now, I have some ideas that I feel might help a lot in his game. No, there just not much, but anyways a potential one.

    • xanxibar

      Even if there was, I do not think the master would appreciate your “feedback”. I seriously doubt you know Fire Emblem gameplay as well as he does.

      • Billy Meshias

        I might be lack of real experience, but I play much fire emblem for you to know. I’m no game developer, so I cannot really help him for that. But I got some ideas that he might use/modify. No need to credit me for it if Sir S_Kaga would use my ideas – I only want for his game to be great furthermore. Well, I doubt S_Kaga would appreciate me , so I guess you are right for that.

      • Charanvir

        Yes, the developer thats made like 3/5 worst fire emblem chapters

        • xanxibar

          Wow, only an idiot would beileve he made any bad fire emblem games. You’re just fucking terrible at playing them. and you probably have shit taste in games and you want Fire Emblem to be filled with loli anime waifus.