Dev Blog

Happy New Year 2021!

It goes without saying that 2020 was a hell of a year. We had a lot of cool plans fall through because of Everything Going On, but still managed to accomplish a lot. Every year when I sit down to write these posts and reflect on what we’ve done, I’m a little surprised. It ends up being more than I expected, and this year has been no exception, especially given the circumstances.

Our biggest release of the year was Highway Blossoms: Next Exit. What originally started as a short side story ended up being the length of a full game, and set a new standard for the series as a whole. Will there be more of Amber and Marina’s (and Cassi and the Trio’s) story to come? We don’t really know yet. Either way, this little roadtrip has been a journey for us as much as the characters, and we’re glad to have taken it.

We also launched our new Bellhouse publishing wing and put out two great titles through it already. Both Without a Voice and First Snow have been very well-received. It’s nice to see that you guys liked these stories as much as we did, which is why we wanted to help share them with the world. We’ll be publishing more Bellhouse titles in the future!

Our first game as a full studio, Heart of the Woods, got a major upgrade with the voice acting patch that came out over the summer. We worked with an amazing cast to bring our girls to life, and we still can’t shut up about how happy we are with the results. Alongside that, we released I Told You So! a free and dubiously canon spinoff to HotW. While we didn’t manage to release the Nintendo Switch port for the game this year like we’d hoped,that’ll still be coming soon. We’re just as excited to get our hands on the Switch version as y’all are. 

On Patreon, we’re coming to the end of Celeste Academy, and soon Carida will discover who her true love is. We also announced and have released a few chapters of two upcoming light novels (well, I guess they’re webnovels for now): Cherry’s Story, the first entry in our Celestaria Records collection, which is the same universe and setting as Celeste Academy. There’s also Honorine’s Run to Save the World, an adventure story by our newest writer.

Looking towards the future, we also announced two future titles. Please Be Happy will be our next game to come out. We’d been aiming to release it this year, but uh, that’s not gonna happen. PBH is a slice-of-life story about a very special fox, set in a slightly magical version of Wellington, New Zealand.

Summer at the Edge of the Universe, a solarpunk game, is the other one we announced. It’s full of good vibes as Summer and her friends reunite and go on a journey around, well, the universe. We started this one with the concept of “what if Yuru Camp, but in space” and it’s grown a lot since then.

Those two games join Lock and Key, which we first announced just a little over a year ago, on our “upcoming” list. As you can see, we have a lot of stuff in the works, even more than just those three games, in fact. Not all of these titles are slated to come out next year, but we’re hoping to have more than one release. We’re not letting the disappointment that 2020 turned out to be stop us from dreaming big for 2021. Those big plans that fell through didn’t get cancelled, we only set them aside for the time being.

We’ve got a lot to look forward to next year, and as always, we’re super grateful to everyone who’s been supporting us along the way. Just below, there’s a few messages from some of our team members. 

On behalf of everyone here at Studio Élan, we wish you a very happy new year 🎉

P.S. Happy birthday Maddie!

Hey everyone, it’s adi! First of all go give yourself a pat on your back. If you have friends let them give you a pat on the back too (even if it’s metaphorical or through the internet.) You got through this year! And hey – we did too. I mean this in total, absolute seriousness – we got through this year because of you all, too. Thank you. It’s been a wild time… and filled with so much stuff. We’ve been pretty busy this year! Remember the announcement of Summer At the Edge of the Universe? This year! Heart of the Woods with VOICES? This year too! Highway Blossoms: Next Exit – also this year! 2020 feels fake sometimes, and time really is a human concept wibbly-wobbly but we did our best. Take your time to really reflect on everything you accomplished… At first, it might feel like a whole lot of nothing. It does for me when I don’t think too hard. But this isn’t nothing. We’ve all at least gone through the herculean effort of making it through this year, anything on top of that is amazing. Thanks for sticking around, I’ll continue to do my best (and hopefully deliver Please Be Happy next year)! See y’all in 2021. – adirosa

Hello friends! Rachel here to wish you a happy new year and a positive 2021! This was one hell of a year, but you made it. Mazel tov! Despite all the chaos of 2020, it was also a year of excitement for our studio. New announcements, new updates, new releases…and all of it made possible by your support! You kept us all writing, drawing, designing, programming, making music, and more! I know I already said a bunch about this in my year-end Lock and Key post, but I want to once again say how much I love all of you and how much you inspire us every day. And we won’t be stopping any time soon! So once again, thank you. From the bottom of my heart. Let’s make 2021 MAGICAL! – Rachel

Hi, it’s Adri, and… wow, end-of-year retrospectives. This is the third time I’m writing something of the sort for Élan, but this time it feels more of a formality than tending to the important task of yearly reflection. If anything, 2020 was THE year of retrospective & reflection (among a myriad of other choice nouns, I’d bet), given that this year, pretty much everyone had to rethink and reevaluate how they went about pretty much everything. We’ve had people writing retrospectives about 2020 since as early as May, probably. If you’re half as plugged in as I am, you’ve probably already had your fill of retrospectives on 2020.

Eh, one more couldn’t hurt.

Studio Élan already works remotely, as we’ve got team members from New York to New Zealand, so when it comes to working together as a studio, not much really changed. We shipped a bunch of cool stuff this year (as adi has mentioned already), and we also stepped out a bit with the introduction of Bellhouse and publishing titles like Without a Voice and First Snow. We also branched out with other content like Celestaria Records, Cherry’s Story, & Honorine’s Run To Save The World. It certainly hasn’t been an empty year for us!

That being said, it wouldn’t exactly be true to say that means we’ve been wholly unaffected by, er, events. Nothing, nor anyone, exists in a bubble, and as we are (last I checked) real humans existing in the physical realm, our personal lives have doubtless been tossed here and there just as much as yours probably has. However, we’re still here. That’s got to count for something.

When the clock strikes midnight on January 1st, 2021, it’s not like all of the problems from this year are going to magically go away (just like how you can’t just magically change your lifestyle by just writing down a resolution for the new year). All of the things that are happening right now will continue to happen. However, even with all of the bad carrying over, we’re taking all of the good from 2020 with us, too. That includes all of the progress we’ve made, all the things we’ve learned, all the ways we’ve grown, and all of the things we’ve started and we’re still working on.

This year, we’ve committed ourselves to making sure we take two steps forward for every step backward. For all of the things that have made this year tougher, your continued support has made it that much easier. If we could help you find peace, joy, safety, or whatever positive state of mind you’d like in one of our stories this year, then we’re glad. We might not have been able to vanquish the struggles of this past year, but, at the very least, we hope we could find a way to give you a reason to smile.

Here’s to more smiles in 2021. – Adri

When I started Studio Élan, it was with the plan of waiting 5 years and seeing how things turned out at the end of that. As we head into the beginning of our fifth year as a studio now, I have to say, I’m feeling pretty optimistic. I’m extremely proud of what we’ve already created with HotW and HB and everything else, but I find myself even more excited what for what comes next. Thanks for being a part of our year, through both the good and the bad. Here’s to a better, brighter 2021, and many more years beyond that. – Josh

Meowdy there, it’s Miko. September was my one year anniversary here at Élan, and it’s been a wild and fun ride the entire time. Like Adri said, we all work remotely so not much changed for us studio-wise, but rather in our personal lives. It’s been a rough year for some of us and our friends, but there is some nice closure in the year being over- I’ve always been the type to be hopeful and set New Years Resolutions, even though nothing is really “changing” aside from the calendar date. But the mindset is what I think is important- if you want to change something, do it. Make small steps towards that, and keep moving forward. Every day we wake up is a new chance to try something new, to become a better person, and I look forward to that. Visual novels are something I hold near and dear to my heart, so I’m so excited to share with you all what the team has been working on next year. Thank you for being a part of this journey with us, and please keep moving forward with us. — Miko

It’s exciting to look forward to the new year. While setting resolutions isn’t my cup of tea, my favorite part of this change of the year making a small promise to do my best in the coming 365 days. I’ve struggled a lot in 2020 (as so many of us have), and while 2021 isn’t going to magically leave every problem behind, I hope you can find it in yourself to be hopeful for the future with me. Thank you always for supporting us here in Studio Élan, take care, and be kind to yourself. – minute

Hi, it’s Stella, 19, and this is my first time writing one of these! 2020 has been a huge year for us at Studio Élan in ways everyone else has already talked about, and I get the feeling 2021 will be much the same; there’s plenty of exciting stuff going on—some of which I’m contributing to!—and I simply cannot wait for you all to see what we’ve got in store. I… don’t really have any more to say than this that hasn’t already been said but thank you for sticking with us so far, and I’m confident you’ll find us just as worthy of your continued support next year as you did this one. Happy new year! – Stella