Azure Editing Finished, Testing Underway, and Other Geofront News

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.

29 Replies to “Azure Editing Finished, Testing Underway, and Other Geofront News

  1. Thank you so much for all of this. These games and the SSS in particular mean so much so many of us, and your work has been so impactful for me that I actually got super choked up when I saw Lloyd Elie and Tio fighting together again when I started Cold Steel IV. They feel like friends and people I care about. I can’t tell you how much I apprrciate you all and the impact you’ve had on my life over the last year. Collectively you’re the 4th Hero in the series. After Lloyd Estelle and Rean of course. 🙂

  2. It’s been amazing to watch how quickly the Geofront has been working on the localization of Trails to Azure, and I don’t think I’d have thought there would be any chance to play the Geofront version of Azure just one year after Zero. Absolutely incredible work, even more so when I consider the sheer quality of the patch not only in terms of the text, which I feel can stand toe to toe with the best of XSeeds work, but also in terms of the programming. I have been following the work of the Geofront team over the last 3 years and I can easily say that this might as well be the most impressive and successful fan translation effort of all time.

    Hope you guys and gals take all the time you need with testing.

  3. Guys,
    I just want to say from your work on ZERO to AO, you have made a dream come true, you have brought us the missing chapters in this epic tale.

    for that and most importantly your teams exceptional attention to detail.

    I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

    Thank you Geofront!

  4. Girls and Guys from the Geofront team, from the bottom of my heart … thank you! Thank you very much for your hard work and constant updates on your different projects :D! Azure is going to be an absolute Banger as Zero is right now.
    Take all the time you need so that you can release the final version without problems and peace of mind (and for the love of Aidios, rest if you need it please >_> … the amount of work in such a short time that you are doing is from a Tier S team… but even the best teams in the world need stamina to break through the toughest barriers, so promise us you’re taking care of yourself first.)
    From a distance I can’t do that much, but at least I wanted to send you guys the best of vibes and love in this final stage of this beautifull project 😀 !! So best wishes and greetings from Chile, South America!

    You guys are the best for us fans !! … Just like SSS is for the citizens of Crossbells hehe ( n _ n)-b ♥♥
    @ea_castrot

  5. Guess I should’ve waited one more day before commenting on the last post (;・∀・)
    Still, it’s great to hear you guys have come so far. Thank you for putting so much effort and extra polish into translating these beloved titles!

  6. The work that the Geofront has done these past years is not only one of the most dedicated and quality efforts seen in the trails fandom, but in video game fan projects in general. I’m glad that I became a fan of the series late enough to experience your version of Zero first. Thank you for accomplishing such a Herculean task and giving arguably the best arc in the series the attention it deserves. Like the actual Geofront, you have supported Crossbell as its foundation. I wish all of you the best ,and I hope you all find new projects and endeavors that fulfill you.

  7. This entire journey has been a labor of love that I feel we didn’t deserve. May Adios bestow her blessings on all you fine folk in the geofront, you guys are the GOAT.😎

  8. Hmm maybe next if you all get bored afterwards we can add a few other languages to the patches. 😉 I would like to visit a Russian-speaking Crossbell LOL

  9. No amount of praise is enough for the GeoFront team. You guys have gone above and beyond to deliver us a long sought gem of an RPG. And without asking for anything in return. You guys are the 8th Sept-Terrion of this world. Thank you.

  10. Herculean effort boys and girls. I think, by text, Ao is like the 4th most text heavy JRPG *ever*, so it can’t be understated the job you guys are all doing right now.

  11. As someone who talked to every NPC after every plot event in Zero, I cannot praise you guys enough for the monumental task you undertook with that game. I have no idea how weighty Azure is by comparison (surely it’s not a FC vs. SC difference… right?) but thank you for the work you do.

    I especially want to thank your behind the scenes programmers though. The array of QOL options made available in Zero were just staggering, enough so that I was willing to show off the Options screens to my friends to brag at how incredible you guys went in on making this the best experience it could possibly be. I cannot imagine how bad going from working on Falcom’s PC version of Zero to a port of Azure by an unrelated Chinese company could be (less so in quality of the materials you were working with and moreso having to learn a ton of new stuff to work around). I really hope it wasn’t awful 🙂 but I thank you and everyone else on the Geofront team for going above and beyond in making the whole Trails series finally playable in a premium package.

    I’m looking forward to finally tipping my toes into Azure (and then finally being able to circle back to Cold Steel 3!)

  12. The GeoFront team simply blows me away – the work you guys do is outstanding, and I can’t thank you guys enough for all the work you have done. Keep up the good work!

  13. My god! I waited for this day!

    I really gratefull this localization is ongoing! And I looking foward and can’t wait to play this!

    Thanks from the boton of my heart!

  14. I’m glad you guys understand how frustrating the delay is, because as someone who’s waited to play through Cold Steel 3 and 4 until I’ve finished Zero and Ao, the wait for Ao has been nuts.

    I also know COVID didn’t help matters either, but we’re getting closer and closer to the possibility of getting a legit Western port for Zero and Ao to PS4, and it would be equally frustrating to see this released mere weeks or months before that happens. I know you need to test, and I know you guys need to make this right, just please don’t make the process longer than it needs to be for the same of perfectionism. Thoroughly enjoying Zero, and thanks again for making this happen.

  15. Incredibly excited for this! Been watching the progress tick up little by little for months and really happy to see it hit this point. You all are doing fantastic work and I can’t wait to see that Geofront quality once more.

  16. I honestly don’t see why anyone would ever complain about the way you guys are working through this. No one asked you and no one is paying you to do this, so people who are complaining about the way you do your work don’t even deserve it to begin with. I understand that waiting for the translations for a long time is frustrating, but I still don’t think people have any right to complain to you guys.

    Either way, just wanted to say that your work is amazing and I’m extremely thankful for the work you guys are putting into this! The quality for these localizations has been incredible and even above the quality you’d expect from professional publishers in the West.

  17. I just wanted to express a heartfelt thank you to all of you for your work on this. I’m late to the Trails party and only started the series last year. I was so disappointed when, after finishing SC, I realized that the Crossbell arc had never been localized.

    I then found your website and was able to dive right in. In fact, you posted this on the same day I finished your translation of Trails to Zero (which was beyond excellent)!

    I couldn’t be more excited to see how Azure turns out and hope that you will share if there is ever an opportunity to support the work of your team more directly (i.e. through Patreon, etc.).

    Regardless, thank you for giving me many hours of enjoyment over the past few months. Y’all are fantastic.

  18. The folks who got me into this series have on several occasions said, “The most valuable thing that you can give to someone is your time”. Everyone involved in this project has contributed an incredible amount of their time to making this project a reality, and for that we can’t thank you enough. This project is clearly a labor of love for all of you, and I’m sure many many people here cannot wait to once again give a measure of our time to you, experiencing this chapter of the Trails saga.

  19. I just wanted to let you know that your passion and dedication have truly inspired me. I’v been been an idle NEET for many years now, but I finally have not just a dream but a realistic goal: I’v been studying japanese 8 hours a day for 2 months now with the aim of becoming a Japanese-to-English translator. I hope to one day contribute to projects as great as these, with the same tenacity you’ve shown. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

  20. Hello, thank you for all the work you’ve done so far. I purchased Trails from Zero from DLSite and used the geofront translation which was very smooth and worked well. Great Work!!

    Question about Trails to Azure, will there be a way to get the game outlined? Ive googled this a few times, and have ended up on some sketchy sites for downloading either a zip of the game already translated or fragments of the game that I have to glue together with a software. I am waiting on this translation project to finish, so I can continue this epic story. However, I am concerned about how to actually get the game.

    Thank you all for your hard work.

  21. As usual, I’m sad and disappointed on how obnoxiously rude and entitled fans can be in regards to a project that is made of 100% donated time with no expectation to be paid. I’ve known of fan translations where the author gave up and moved on because of toxic fans, it’s really sad.

    Great work guys. I loved your translation of Trails from Zero. 🙂 I would rather have an amazing product 2 years from now than mediocrity now, I have plenty of games on my list. 🙂

    1. hmm, the only thing I could find of toxic fans was someone on a certain image board having a hissy fit because of a single “bruh” that was added in the text 😛

      1. The instance where it’s used is the definition of a bruh moment lmao. Can’t believe someone got upset over that, especially since it’s a silly sidequest to begin with

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