Dev Blog

Happy New Year 2020!

2019 is finally wrapping up. As we prepare for a new decade full of hopes and opportunities, we’re giving ourselves the chance to look back and soak in all that happened for us at Studio Élan this year – and, gosh, what a year it’s been.

February 15th saw the release of Heart of the Woods, our modern-day fairytale and our first fully-fledged release under the Élan name. We couldn’t be more grateful for the resounding acclaim the game has received in the past year. We poured a great deal of love, passion, and determination into Heart of the Woods, and we’re glad that you all appreciate the story and its cast as much as we do, if not even more.

The enthusiasm for Heart of the Woods didn’t stop there, either. Later in the year, we made an announcement for the Nintendo Switch port, which was met with an overwhelming amount of enthusiasm across social media. Not only that, but we announced that Heart of the Woods would be receiving full voice acting as well! Your faith and excitement for this update was unmistakable, as our Heart of the Woods Voice Acting Kickstarter was able to raise over $32,000 USD in funds – nearly double our original goal. With this extra funding, we’ll be able to make extra touch-ups, new backgrounds, and other quality changes to make Heart of the Woods an even more refined experience. In the time since the campaign wrapped up, the recording process has already begun in earnest, and it’s been a joy working with our incredibly talented voice cast.

In June, we gave the world a proper introduction to the world of Celeste Academy. Featuring art by Chuteki, this Patreon-exclusive series let our supporters choose Carida’s path to her one true love, and we opened the gates for everyone to read her romantic escapades for free! Since then, the series has featured five different dates (and one bonus episode!) each written by one of our talented writers. One can only wonder what encounters await her in the future…

In October, together with Studio Coattails, we announced Highway Blossoms: Next Exit, a brand-new DLC story for Highway Blossoms that sees Amber and Marina hit the road once more. The episode features art by moekki and kamifish, and sees the return of Highway Blossoms’ entire voice cast with full voice acting on release! We’re happy that everyone is excited to revisit Vegas one more time once Next Exit launches next year.

In December, we also announced Lock and Key, our newest visual novel project. This blend of the mystery and magical girl genres features the talented Shari Coté as the lead artist, and marks the directorial debut of Rachel Gruber, who previously worked on Heart of the Woods as a writer. There’s still much we have yet to reveal about this title, but it’s been a pleasure seeing all of the excitement everyone already has for Lock and Key and its magical cast!

We also shared some sneak peeks at some of the other projects we’ve been spending our time on. There’s…

WDOL, a gothic fantasy title…

“Samayuuni,” a solarpunk title…

…and PBH, a slice-of-life urban fantasy title.

It’ll be a little while until we can properly introduce you to these worlds and the characters that inhabit them, but we hope the little tastes we’ve shown you this year are enough to pique your curiosity! There’s a lot to be said about these projects that we can’t say quite yet… but one day, we will.

With that in mind, we certainly have a lot to look forward to in 2020! More Heart of the Woods, more Highway Blossoms, and more of that Studio Élan magic we’re dedicated to creating and sharing with the world. It’s been a handful of years since Élan was founded, but our goal hasn’t changed in the time since. We’re dedicated to telling stories featuring positive representation of LGBT women and weaving heart-touching tales that everyone can enjoy.

It goes even further than that, though. We hope that Studio Élan can inspire people around the world to share our dream and create stories that are just as magical and heartfelt, no matter what medium it may be: art, writing, music, visual novels, video games… you name it.

Everyone at our team is dedicated to spreading that ideal. Here’s some words from some of our members at Studio Élan.

Wow, what a year! You all got us off to a great start with your amazing reactions to Heart of the Woods, proved yourselves to be the best fans ever with our VA kickstarter, and on a more personal note, made me the happiest girl on earth by showing your love for Lock and Key when we announced it! 2020 is going to be a real journey as I look forward to directing my first game, and I hope you’re all excited to take that journey with me! Thank you for being AMAZING!

Much love (as always), Rachel

P.S. Don’t forget to #stannina in 2020!

New Years Eve is my favorite holiday – I always feel so sentimental looking back on an entire 365 days worth of life, friends, and family. Also, like… We released Heart of the Woods!!! Holy fuck. (can I say fuck in these) All the love you’ve shown us absolutely blows me away… Thank you everyone! I love you all!

I want to also give love to my friends at Élan. Every one of you means so much to me and I’m so happy we have the opportunity to work together on such beautiful games.

Please look forward to our work in the coming year! The universe is bright and the stars are waiting for us, we just need to reach for them.

– minute

Aahh… the year is ending again… this year was the year we released Heart of the Woods, AND we announced Lock and Key!! The responses to both of them made me cry a little bit (yeah i cried. fite me) and I just. Wow!!!! We have such an amazing fanbase. It’s been such an honour and a pleasure to work with my pals at Studio Elan — each of every one of them is incredibly hard-working, devoted, and skilled. But you’d know all that, right? You’ve seen their work~ I absolutely cannot WAIT to bring Lock and Key to you all, and hopefully continue to produce wonderful games about wonderful girls with wonderful stories, music, art and design!! I hope you all had a good 2019, and if not, I’m so proud of you for making it through it!!! Here’s to a 2020 filled with sweet gay girls and lots of love for everyone around you and I.

– Jaime

2019 has felt like the fastest year of my life. Looking back, it’s kind of crazy to see how much we’ve done, and how much we have on the horizon. I’m so proud of my friends at Studio Élan. I’m honored to work with such wonderful people. And of course, thank you to everyone who’s been supporting us. It’s because of y’all that we’re able to do this in the first place. I’m super excited for 2020 and what we have coming… I can’t wait to share it with everyone!

– Josh

Wow! 2020! It’s really wild to think that I’ve been in this team for over two years and somehow this is my first New Years comment. I’m sorry, I get shy. Thank you so so much for the support this year. I can’t say this enough… thank you. It makes me so excited and optimistic about the future to come. I’ve been working hard behind the scenes, and I think it’s going to be something you like. See you all soon – thanks for sticking with us. I hope we all can find our happiness in 2020.

– adirosa

Oh, 2019… You somehow felt like an eternity, yet flew past me in an instant just the same. I joined Studio Élan in the summer of 2018, so 2019 wrapping up means it’s been my first full year as a part of this wonderful team! Looking back at what I wrote for last year’s New Year’s post makes me kind of nostalgic… Being part of Élan has been an incredible learning experience for me, and I’m by no means the same person I was back in December of 2018. Coordinating with the rest of the team, communicating with our dedicated fanbase, and putting in all of those hours and work – all of these experiences helped me develop my skills & knowledge, and I know I’ll put that to good use in 2020. It’s so exciting being able to see the entirety of our team hard at work and creating so many different magical experiences time and time again, and it’s an honor to be able to help share that with the world.

The Studio Élan fanbase has grown so much this year, and I want you all to know that I’m so grateful for all of your enthusiasm and kind words. At the same time, there’s still so much that awaits us in 2020. Believe me, we’re just getting started! Whatever your New Year’s resolutions may be, make sure to put a footnote to keep up the excitement and look forward to what Studio Élan has in store.

But, there’s one last thing I want to say… make sure that 2020 is a blast! Keep at it with whatever you’re doing – honing your skills, making new friends, helping others, braving new obstacles – and keep on moving forward. Together with Élan, I’ve moved forward so much, and everyone in the team has been hard at work doing the same. We don’t want to keep all of that for ourselves! Keep on doing your best and making sure that each new day is better than the day before it. If you make sure to stay determined, you’ll be able to spread that same joy, hopefulness, and warmth that us at Studio Élan bake into everything we create and share.

As you keep your head held up high, make sure to keep up with Studio Élan, okay? I feel like I’ve already said it a million times, but there’s still so much we have yet to share with you, and we want you to be here for all of it.

Everyone… thank you so much for everything you’ve done for us. Now, then… have a happy New Year!

With all of the love in my heart, Adri