On the graphical side of things

Hello, I’m the one who has been in charge of the graphical editing since… 2011? Has it been that long already? Now that I have my own blog account, I thought I should post an update on the progress and problems we encountered on the graphical side of things.

One of the weird, or fun parts of editing graphics is figuring out where things went wrong. Did NISA do a hack job and butchered the palette? Did GUST have the same graphics in two locations and only used one for whichever reason (and NISA ended up taking the wrong one)?

One such case is the prison bars graphic file, specifically the one displayed when the prison cell door is open. Just by looking at the palette, you’d see that it has 2 completely identical color entries, but none of the two has alpha information – the door ingame is not transparent, but a sheet of otherworldly black, which you can pass through. To be honest, I didn’t even look at the Japanese file, but I assume it’s the same there. It’s like they planned to make the door transparent, but forgot. And since you only see that graphic once in the game (before the routes branch), most likely it slipped through QC. In our version, though still untested until the next playtesting run, the door now should appear open.

A (technically) less interesting change was made to the ending screen of the game, where the Japanese game had a slightly grammatically broken English sentence stating “WE HAVE TO APPRECIATE THAT THE WORLD ALLOWED US.” which was changed by NISA into more correct “We have to appreciate what the world allows us to have.”, but sadly changed the meaning – namely “We have to appreciate the world allowed us to exist.” – which is the meaning derived directly from the dialogue before the screen is displayed.

Editing that image was pretty hard because of the detailed background – I even considered it being impossible at first.Turns out I was too fixated on perfectly removing the text – even if the space where the text was looks horrible, putting our text over it will hide most of that – the rest was some pixel art to restore the vines.

And now for the case so mind-boggling it got me questioning whether NISA really broke things accidentally. When in battle, your defensive performance is rated in 5 grades:

  • Perfect
  • Great
  • Good
  • Bad
  • Terrible

However, when you go to the game menu and look at your overall performance, the grades are:

  • Perfect
  • Great
  • Good
  • Bad
  • Poor

Why the change? And if you change it, why not in both places? Ok, let’s fix that. Nope. They changed the position and visible rectangle of the graphic and removed the semicolon that used to be displayed after each grade. Restoring “Terrible” leads to it being off-center, which looks… terrible. As a bonus, they also ended up butchering the palette in the process,  so parts of the background were not appearing anymore.

But wait, there is more! In the Japanese version of the game, when you get a “Perfect” or “Great” grades in battle, it also displays an important info underneath, namely “Blocked!” – a clear indicator you blocked all damage. Restoring that should be a piece of cake, right? Just replace the graphics! Nope. NISA actually went to the lengths of changing the visible area rectangle, so if you restore the graphics, they are cut off in the game. 

Why NISA, why? I understand editing broken English, but why change things that don’t require editing? Quoting aquagon, yet another problem that could be easily solved if we knew how to modify where each graphic gets displayed. Sadly, that would requires in-depth assembler hacking, and there is no one skilled enough on the team at the moment.

As for further things to do, I’ll have to put subtitles on the Infelsphere videos to keep consistency with the Cosmosphere ones, among other things. Also, looking at the preliminary IPD poll results, some editing of the names will be in order. Other than that, unless I’m forgetting something, graphics editing is complete.

That’s all from me, see you around!

48 thoughts on “On the graphical side of things

  1. mibuchiha

    “Why NISA, why?”

    Honestly, if NISA was sensible enough that we can get a satisfactory answer, we wouldn’t have asked the question to begin with…

  2. Otakon7

    Ah, totally forgot about this project, glad to see you’re still doing your best. Keep at it, I wish you the best of luck.

    Now, I am fairly fond of he NISA version, despite the flaws, so I can’t wait to see how the original will affect me.

  3. bykfiend42

    Will the finished patch only work on the US version? I was hoping it would work on the Japanese game too.

  4. aquagon

    The patch was designed for the US version, as that is the one in which all of our tools and texts dumps are based. Additionally, given how the JP version doesn’t have the appropriate text-wrapping routines and variable width-font for our type of text, we can’t work with it, even though that means we’ll have to deal with the Deathlandia graphical bugs and the graphics we couldn’t fix.

  5. Gianan

    Great project guys, thanks a lot for the hard work!

    Btw a question about the the first Ar tonelico… what’s the best version, pal, ntsc or the undubbed that is torrenting around?

  6. Soukyuu Post author

    The best version is the one you bought 😉
    As for the undubbed version, unlike At2, no JP voices were cut in the English release that I’m aware of, so the only thing the undubbed version did was slap pink comic sans subtitles on videos.

  7. Gianan

    Lol stylish! Well I haven’t bought it yet, that’s why I asked.. I borrowed it from a friend but never finished, so I wanted to buy it to play again. I guess I’ll go PAL for the first and the third, and NTSC for the second.

    ps sorry if my English sounds weird, I hope it’s clear

  8. Soukyuu Post author

    Well, personally, I went with the NTSC version of At1, because it was much cheaper to import from the USA than buying the totally overpriced EU version, so that’s one point to consider.

  9. aquagon

    We’re still making progress, though things have gotten rather slow lately. We’re currently in the middle of the second round of playtests to find any lingering issues that may still be present. After this, there will be a third round, and if there are no further issues detected in it, we’ll most likely consider the project as finished and put up the patch for public distribution.

  10. Treantsin

    We love you, and you have done much work.
    When it is complete, I will sing songs of you to my children’s children, and those of my friends.

  11. Anonymous

    “I will sing songs of you to my children’s children, and those of my friends.”

    …in Hymmnos!

  12. aquagon

    Not yet. We’re a step short of finishing the second round. After that, we have to make the new build with all the issues we’ve found so far fixed, and also including the new graphics for the IPD names that were changed.

  13. Krikke

    Hope you guys are still going strong. Really appreciate the work you’re doing, and I’m eagerly awaiting the finished product!

  14. YakumoHaku

    Woah, that’s an awesome effort. There are a lot of texts, but QC from NISA isn’t the best (I just finished AT3 and was frustrated at Tyria’s Binary Field Lv3 where the Japanese voice over is mistimed with the text by about two pages during the most emotional part. )

    Though not as dramatic as Replekia, I am rooting for you!

  15. Danzel

    Is there any improvement about the release date by the way? I didn’t mean to harm by asking this just curious when it will be released since it took more than 4 years to release this game for you guys or more?^^ Keep up with good work.

  16. NorseFTX

    Still looking forward to this–! I hope the project is coming along alright. Excited to replay the game with grammatically correct English.
    I’ve also told someone to hold off on starting AT2 until this comes out, so I hope it’ll be out soon. –But no pressure! Take your time. =P

  17. KirosXannon

    Hey guys, I’ve been keeping tabs on this project for about two years now because I loved the first game, did a quick bit of research into the 2nd and saw how terrible the translation was.

    I decided that I did have other stuff to play anyway, so I’d just wait for what looks like a fan patch with a ton of love put into it.

    So glad to hear that we’re in the home stretch. I have Ar Tonelico 3 just sitting in my drawer, waiting until I can beat the 2nd game. Thanks guys!

  18. aquagon

    Currently on the third playtesting phase, testing out the reencoded videos and making sure the changed IPD names don’t cause any sort of unforeseen problems.

  19. xeven

    I’m glad I found this site! I just finished at1 and was starting the next. I noticed horrible grammar and immediately stopped on my play through. I hope we can get an update soon!

  20. Eterni

    A lot of the blog’s links to other pages are broken, so I am curious, how is the retranslation going to be distributed? Is it just going to be via PS2 emulator? Or is it going to be a patch like the fix was that I now have on my my PS2’s HDD image of the game?

    I prefer to play on my console, and I think however it’s distributed should be fine. I am currently finishing my final playthrough unfortunately–I wish I knew about this sooner 😀 But now this means I’ll just go through the branch that I want without holdin’ back with the cosmosphere branches 😀

  21. aquagon

    It’s a full patch that is supposed to be applied to an ISO image of the game. So it can work both in emulators and real consoles.

  22. Sat

    Thank you for all the hard work!

    I have only recently finished AT1, going to wait for this project to get the best first experience possible.

  23. Dudeson

    Sorry, guys. I already took the time to learn the moonrunes. Think I won’t be reading the relocalization. But keep up the good work.

  24. Krikke

    I hope this project is still alive. It’s a little worrying that the site hasn’t been updated outside of this comment section since January. What you guys are doing is great and I don’t want to rush you, but I’d hate to see you trip up so close to the finish line.

  25. aquagon

    It’s because there hasn’t been really much worth reporting lately, as the only thing we’re doing right now is the final tests, making sure we catch all typos and grammar mistakes we can, and checking the game doesn’t break apart unexpectedly during an event scene or something.

  26. Gianan

    You’re right, but 9 months without an “official” post is a lot of time for a project that seemed almost finished (seemed to me at least…. I thought I was going to play AT2 and 3 before the coming of Ar nosurge… XD )

    I mean, if it wasn’t for your posts here, everyone would assume the project is dead.
    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to rush you guys, put pressure or whatever.. I just think a % of work or an ETA could help.

    Thanks again for everything 🙂

  27. Anonymous

    You shouldn’t go 9 months without a post. You should make the occasional post on the progress (or lack thereof), even if there’s nothing much to talk about, so we know you’re still working …or at least alive.

  28. Goober

    Happy to hear this project is still rolling along! I recently streamed AT2 over the summer and had a lot of fun pointing out a lot of the bad localization stuff in the game while playing through it.

    I’m currently playing through Ar Nosurge now that it’s out in the US and so far that seems (mostly) ok, but I have run into quite a few grammatical errors and inconsistencies in spelling.

    Anywho, I look forward to the re-localization you all are working on!

  29. mibuchiha

    Was yea ra murfan hymmne here.
    Presia yor na netvear, en yor na polona.
    Wee yea ra murfan yorr houd waats memora en ferxs.
    En yor houd li yos ptrapica yanje.
    Presia yor knawa.

  30. no

    Guys, given they’re doing the “final tests” now, the next update is all but guaranteed to be the release. There’s not much point making an update now.

  31. vn

    Thank you for your hard work. I’m really glad this project is alive. Qoga and Ar Nosurge made me realize how much do i still love AT2. Wish you luck.

  32. Curian

    So any news ? I hope you guys could give us some date so I can count down pls.
    And thanks for the hard work.

  33. Soukyuu Post author

    There will be no set date, we’re doing this in our free time, so setting a deadline we probably won’t keep makes no sense.

    There has been nothing warranting a new post so far, and posting things like “yeah we’re still working on it” is pretty useless if you ask me.

    If you want to be up to date, just look at the playtesting thread on the forums.

  34. Soukyuu Post author

    Looks like the about page wasn’t updated. I can’t edit the pages myself, so I notified the admin.
    There is a working link on the right of the page though – under Project Links above the AT3 widget.

    Ah, and it seems the project section is invisible for guests

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