I’m proud to announce the Geofront’s Trails to Azure localization has officially completed its second editing pass. This update will be meatier than usual, as I’d like to give you all a behind-the-scenes look at what the process was like, the challenges that remain, and even address broader Geofront topics such as Trails from Zero’s final update and the future of Crossbell.
When we last updated five months ago, I didn’t expect the second pass to take nearly as long as it did, though I did still manage to outpace the first pass…by a whole 24 hours. The way the process worked was, I was responsible for proofreading and often rewriting each of the game’s 72,100 text boxes in the scenario. I can now say I’ve successfully either written or approved every single line of dialog in the game.
Granted, while the percentage you all have been following was entirely my progress, I was not working alone. I was fortunate enough to have Arvin and Addaberry rewrite several files before I could double pass them, as well as have them spell and grammar check the files I was done with. There have also been numerous translation checks and fixes done by our lead translator, Catasplurge.
Somewhere around the 80 percent mark, I changed methods. From there, I began internal testing by playing the game from scratch, marking off the final 20 or so percent as I went. This allowed me to write and make corrections with much-needed context and, more importantly, invite external testers despite the second pass not being over yet. External testing for Azure began on January 1st. At that time, we were at the 87 percent mark. I was able to stay ahead of the testers’ pace all the way through, so no sections they’ve played have fallen outside the scope of the second pass.
Sadly, there’s no rest for the weary. Next for me is inserting the hundreds of chest messages that will make it into the release out of the over 2,000 combined submissions that remain eligible from Zero and have been sent for Azure. I think we have a lot of good ones and a few surprises that will delight longtime Trails fans. Once I’m done with the chests, I’ll be doing a quick review of Addaberry’s non-scenario text. I have many busy weeks still ahead of me.
Speaking of the upcoming weeks, they’re sure to be filled with more testing and debugging. As the lead editor, it is difficult to impart how important this process is. I’d like to think I keep my finger on the pulse of our community to the best of my ability, and if I had to speak frankly, it’s disappointing that so few people understand how much of what the Geofront does is on a programming level. It’s easy for us to provide updates to all of you by using the editing progress because it’s a tangible thing that can be measured and easily understood. But behind the progress myself and the editors have made is a deluge of programming work done by Jose and Ribose.
Like I said in the last update, making the mod work has not been a “drag and drop” process. The truth is, even if we had not elected to do a second editing pass of the game’s scenario, there was simply no way the patch could have been released last August—not if people want a complete and functional experience like Trails from Zero is. There have been times in the last several months where actually playing our Azure has been a painful experience due to some irritating bugs and how woefully incomplete it’s been.
Slowly getting Azure to Zero’s level of quality has been incredibly trying for our programmers, and I couldn’t be more sorry for what we’ve put them through in such a short amount of time. We are, however, getting there. Every week, Azure looks more and plays more like the game we envisioned. For that, Jose and Ribose deserve a round of applause.
However, they’re not the only ones that deserve it. Our graphics maestro, Sorcerian, has also been working overtime to localize many of the game’s images and textures. Not only will Azure include all of the localized textures from Zero, but many more that are new. Just like Zero, this also covers the numerous images that appear in locations such as the Detective Notebook and even minigames. This is an often-overlooked part of our localization process, but it plays an integral role in making the final product on the level of a licensed release.
As we learned last year, there’s no easy way for us to keep the community abreast of how testing is going. You may occasionally hear anecdotes from us about the process on Twitter or Discord, but officially, we’ll be remaining silent until we have a release date to share with all of you.
Speaking for the C Sector, our team had been striving to finish Azure before the end of winter, which would mean the middle of March at the latest—in other words when Zero came out last year. Is that set in stone? No. Things can change. However, we have been adamant about this goal for several months.
The reason for this is twofold. First and as a collective, we’d like to move on and begin writing the next chapter in our lives beyond the Crossbell games. For some, there are other plans and ambitions within the Geofront that we’d like to see materialize. For others, Azure may be the swan song with this team. Working on Zero and Azure endlessly is not what we want.
Second—and I figure this has been the unspoken understanding—we know the future of Crossbell in the west is in a precarious position right now. While no official localizations have been announced and may never be, the possibility became renewed with the release of Zero no Kiseki: Kai and Ao no Kiseki: Kai in Japan last year. We understand the risk we would be taking by delaying Azure any longer than we need to. My heart would break for my teammates if their hard work did not see the light of day. I would be devastated to see all I’ve sacrificed be for naught, as well. And so, the last 10 months of our lives have been nonstop work to see the Geofront’s Azure become a reality.
Regarding the Patching Process
Shifting gears to less enthusiastic topics, I have a couple of statements to make. First, a short one about Azure’s patching process.
When it’s time to release, we’ll have more details to share. As explained in our June update, we encourage everyone to buy a license from Joyoland, as we do not condone piracy. It was miraculous that Joyoland made purchasing the license with PayPal possible at all, and out of respect, I hope fans will do so. As far as DRM is concerned, please be aware that modding the game isn’t possible without the removal of the DRM, therefore, the Geofront’s method of patching Azure will be removing it. You do not have to worry about that. Once the release is set in stone, we will do everything we can to make acquiring the game and patching it as easy as possible. In the meantime, we hope people will show their support by legally owning the license and downloading the setup files if you can get your hands on them.
On the Foreign Steam Releases
Next, I would like to reiterate and make an official statement on our site that the Geofront will not be supporting the Asian PC ports of Zero and Ao that will be published on Steam by Clouded Leopard this year. While we understand why many fans would like us to, it will not be possible. Please understand that those new ports will be based on Zero: Kai and Ao: Kai and not the original PC ports done by Joyoland that the Geofront’s mods utilize. This is purely speculation as those versions have not been released, but it would likely take a herculean effort to insert all of the text, graphics, and quality-of-life features that our mod supports. In other words, from a programming perspective, we’d have to start from scratch all over again for what amounts to the same games on a more convenient platform.
Again, I understand from an ease-of-use perspective why people would want that convenience, but the investment is simply not worth the return for us. Collectively, the Geofront has spent the last four years crafting our versions of Zero and Azure based on the Joyoland ports. Our programmers have done remarkable work far above and beyond what anyone would expect them to accomplish without these games’ source codes. I believe the final products of each game will stand the test of time in terms of looks, features, and character. That is why, again, we’ll be closing the book on the Crossbell chapter of our lives with the release of Azure and not be looking to support any future ports of Zero and Ao.
Trails from Zero‘s Final Update
Now, back to happier news. As teased in the first pass announcement, an update is coming for Trails from Zero. I should also apologize that it did not release before the end of 2020 as I had envisioned, but rest assured that it is coming. We’ll have a separate post to announce its release when the time comes and give more details about what’s different about it compared to the current version. In short, much of the text has been updated to reflect NIS America’s release of Trails of Cold Steel IV. However, there are also several unseen changes to the game that have to do with the mod and how the text itself is built and inserted. The backend of Zero’s text is on an entirely new platform than it used to be. Because of this, releasing Zero’s update hasn’t been as simple as saving the new files and pushing them out the door. We wanted time to have Zero tested, as well, to catch any mistakes that might have happened in this platform switch. This testing has gone well, and we should have good news to share with everyone soon.
From Zero to Azure
In conclusion, our long journey is nearly at an end. The coming months will be some of the most exciting of our lives as we write the final and greatest chapter in our odyssey to give the Crossbell games the love and care they deserve. I’m grateful we could have the support of so many people in the community, including the cooperation of the four original translators: Guren, Flame, Kitsune, and KOL. I’d also like to thank my teammates, as well as each of our friends, family, and loved ones, for supporting us this long.
The last 10 months have been a trial that we will never forget—both because of this project’s development and the way life as we know it has changed for every one of us around the world. I believe we will come out the other side of it stronger than ever before. At the Geofront, we believe no barrier is too tall to clear, and we look forward to exceeding your expectations yet again.