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Clayton S Chan's blog

12:19 PM on 07.06.2009

How to Win a Raffle Drawing: A Public Service Announcement.

I was planning on writing this after E3, but I figured "Hey, when the heck are we going to do another raffle?" Well, the answer to that question was "Anime Expo" and I really wished I'd written this piece. So, now I'm writing it to defend myself when any and all possible future raffles arise.

First off, your chances of winning are pretty low. I mean, we were getting probably upwards of 600 entries to dig through during the day's final raffle, and we were giving away 10 prizes. So while my methods below will actually increase your chance, they may not increase them so much that you actually win.

1) Be present.

I can't tell you how many "instant losers" I drew. One guy in the crowd keeping track said that I drew 12...and I was only giving away 5 prizes that round. All you had to do to win was write your name down and be there, and these folks could only complete half of the equation. If a raffle says you must be present to win, BE PRESENT. If the raffle's at 2pm, it's at 2pm SHARP, because there are going to be people crowding around the booth to find out if they won, so we're not going to wait for you.

(Side note: Don't come up to the booth after we drew, and ask if we called your name. Even if we did, you don't get a prize.)

2) Write legibly.

If you have to write in all block caps, please do so. If I can't read your name, I'm going to make the best go of it, but there's a chance I mangle it so horribly you don't know which randomly selected name I'm calling. So, if you're not the best penman, go with big, easy to read, block letters.

3) If the sign strongly suggests that you sign up for the newsletter, sign up for the newsletter.

One of the things people didn't quite catch onto was that, if you were a member of the Atlus Faithful, or if you wanted to become one, we were giving out extra prizes if we drew your name. We had it written on the board. You're already filling out the form, so you obviously are interested in us as a company. You may as well go in for the extra goodies.

If you can obey these simple rules, you'll make everything go a little bit smoother. If things are going smoothly, that encourages us to raffle off more stuff. If we raffle off morer stuff, you have a better chance of winning. We love seeing people's reactions to winning, but the thrill of of that moment gets worn down a bit when people are yelling at us to hurry up and draw another name.

While I'm on the subject of contests, though, we're doing a month-long Droplitz contest on Xbox Live Arcade. Sure, you can sit around and try and win 1 vs. 100 prizes from Microsoft, but if you want to show off your gaming skillz for a chance to win XBLA Points, (1st prize is 4000, 2-5th get 1600.) then play to win! Don't be discouraged by the current high scores, as a lot of them are Atus employees, and we aren't eligible. (For example, I'm currently in 8th.)   read

10:39 PM on 06.22.2009


This post is about the greatest thing ever. Winning.

I've been kind of wanting to write some random post about Sun Yue and the mighty Los Angeles Lakers winning the NBA championship, but I kind of figured that the post would be very non-video game related and even though I did invite the Destructoid populace out for a basketball challenge, I felt it'd still be kind of out of place. You know, I'm still new here, and I didn't want to upset the apple cart. (Cuz' when those things get angry...holy crap.)

^Yes, I missed work for the victory parade...and to get sunburned.

I was going to shelve the idea permanently until today. You see, this weekend, I'd been getting in some 1 vs. 100 on Xbox Live. (When you're an editor, if you don't have a general pool of knowledge to reference, it means you cast a very small witty reference net... Also, points for anyone who sees what I did there.) There was nothing at stake, and I figured people who were cheesing the game by just mashing in their 1/3 shot as soon as possible were breaking the system.

That was until I looked at the stats page and discovered that I was in 4th after 10 questions one match. "Eff that noise", I figured. I was going to win one at some point. So, after work today, I decided to get in a game with one of my Xbox Live pals. After far too much fiddling, we actually manage to get into a game together, and it was a game where the community members submit questions. I hadn't played in one of these before, so I didn't realize that meant this round was basically like College Jeopardy! in that it's basically a "lite" round of the game.

So, the easy first round passes, I get all 10. No biggie. I'm 250 points behind the leader. 2nd group of 10, I perfect, as well. I'm now in 5th. 3rd group of 10, I have some problem with, but I perfect that group, too. I'm now in freaking 1st. There are 37 questions total, and I manage to answer the next 6, 2 on complete stabs in the dark. (Did you know Charlie Brown's father was a barber? I do now.) The last friggin' question is about freaking Wrestlemania, and I miss it.

I felt like the Patriots, except for the part where I'm not from Boston. 36 straight correct...1 wrong. I figured I blew the lay-up, and that I'd squandered probably the only shot at a perfect run I'd ever have, but also unlike the Patriots, I was still the champion! WOOOOOOOO! (I'm a Dolphins fan, btw.)

^That's right. I took a picture of my screen with a camera.

I celebrate way harder than I figured anyone in a beta had the right to, but then I remembered back in the dorms when I was fist-pumping off a You Don't Know Jack! victory or after taking out a whopping 8 people in Acrophobia. It made me realize something. Winning is awesome, and you should enjoy it while you can. Because it totally sucks when you're on the losing end of a celebratory Charleston after a game of Puzzle Fighter.

So there you have it. A long, rambling post about me basically talking about how awesome I think I am at this particular moment, and tangentially, a fraction of how awesome I felt when the Lakers took the title. Well, that, and giving all 9 people who read this blog my Gamertag in the most convoluted way possible. (If you want to add me, just say, "Hey, I read your blog. Add me." and I'll probably add you.)   read

2:45 PM on 06.05.2009

E3 2009 Something-or-Others

I'm so glad E3 2009 is over. You might get a general feel for how exhausting this thing is by reading what Dale, Colette, or Brad is writing, but when you're on your feet the entire time, and basically anchored to one spot, it's an entirely different type of tiring.

The exhaustion and the leg fatigue is there, but you've got additional back fatigue and if you happen to be demoing Shiren the Wanderer, you've probably somehow managed to make your head hurt by wearing a kasa for most of the day. You've also got tear-down to get to if you have a booth set-up, and while I wasn't really involved too much with that part of the process, it's still a bit nerve-racking. (Should I be helping more? Am I getting in the way? Do I look like a jerk if I take off at this point? Do I care if I look like a jerk at this point?)

Anyway, here's my little recap of my personal (read: Not an official Atlus recounting of how the show was!) experience with E3 2009.

Monday I headed out to the shindig Destructoid and other companies were throwing. I figured it was going to be some little event, but apparently free booze and free karaoke means people start showing up at 5 for an event that supposedly started at 7. I spent most of the time looking for Dale (seeing as how there was a crapload of people in the place, and people on the internet aren't exactly known for posting accurate pictures of themselves.) and perching at the bar partaking of drinks. I must have waited something like 2 hours for my turn at the karaoke rendition that I had promised Dale and was planning on using as my vehicle to actually find the guy.

As it turned out I ran into him some 3 or 4 songs before he got his turn at the mic, which he was going to use to find me. (Dale actually does look like his profile photo, so I spotted him while he was hovering near the mic.) I met a good portion of the site in one big flurry and everyone was fantastic. I paid my debt to Dale by performing the classic Icicle Works jam "Whisper to a Scream", and by that time it was pretty close to midnight.

Tuesday, I, unlike 75% of Atlus, did not have to work E3. There were less than 10 of us in the office, so we spent the day tormenting the people in our forums. (What will we announce...AREN'T YOU DYING TO KNOW!?) I found out from Robyn later that Sony ran footage of Crimson Gem Saga in their giant montage of PSP games during their conference, basically ensuring that Sony had utterly and completely won the show in my opinion.

Wednesday was my first day of E3. Demoed Shiren the Wanderer for tons of folks. The sections we had for our downloadable titles, Demon's Souls, and the nurses were pretty much jam packed all day. I never really got to see the booth, so I had to find out about everything from people coming by and talking to me. Half of the Atlus crew was too tired to party, so they headed back to their rooms after dinner. That's not how Team Crimson Gem rolls, though! Devin Curry wasn't even working the booth, and he swung by the hotel to show the party-capable members some of the local nightlife. Showing us the local nightlife involved us toasting and exchanging fist-pounds with what looked to be a transient in a wheelchair, certain members of the group having their good looks complimented by drunken patrons, and some of us nearly witnessing a fight, in of all places, a Taco Bell drive-thru.

Thursday was pretty much the same, except I was now playing the role of kasa-wearing Atlus member passing out Atlus bags and brochures like a machine. I had this exchange:

Some Media Guy: "That's an awesome hat. You want to do an interview on-camera?"
Me: "Uh, ok."

I have no idea if it'll actually end up being used anywhere, but maybe you'll see me doing a completely random interview all with my face covered. (Ted Tsung, the Project Lead for Shiren here, did a full Shiren interview for Desctructoid wearing the kasa on Day 1 so maybe you'll get to see that vid.)

That's what E3's like as an exhibitor. Instead of being excited about upcoming games and cool swag, your E3 experience is a whirl of faces, pains, small problems, and some low-impact carousing. Having been on both sides of the equation, I can tell you that in terms of E3, the life of the journalist is definitely the nicer time.

Overall, it was a good show for us. I was a bit disappointed that my new favorite project, Steambot Chronicles Battle Tournament, wasn't getting the attention it deserved (One of the funniest games I've ever worked on.) but all-in-all, we made a very big impact in a spot where we could have very easily been overshadowed (we were surrounded by Sony, Sony Online, Nintendo, and Gamespot). You can even see Aram getting ignored on camera in this clip from the Jimmy Fallon show. (The bit's decently funny, but skip to 1:15 left if you just want to see the Atlus part.)

And in case I came off a tad negative, I can't say working the show is all bad. There are some benefits.

Maybe I'll see you folks in the forum at an E3 down the road!   read

6:12 PM on 05.26.2009

Crimson Gem Saga: Destructoid Questions Answered!

Well, Destructoid questions, plus I came up with some questions I wanted to have answered, and I figured I'd share the answers to those with you, as well as the questions you asked.

Nolan asked: "Were there any inspirations for the game's music?"

IronNos responded: "The person who was in charge of the music was a composer who mainly does Hip-hop style music (He was involved in producing an album for the Korean hip-hop group Leessang) and we asked him to create music that felt rhythmically like a mix of Astonishia Story and Final Fantasy. I think that maybe we forced a little bit too much musical influence from Astonishia onto the game's music, and in hindsight, we regret not asking the producer to add some more of his hip-hop forte into the soundtrack to make it really stand out as completely unique."

Manasteel asked: "I've always been curious to know if the original dev's are actually considered in name changes. IE: Garnet Chronicle = Crimson Gem Saga."

Well, here's the answer to that. The Korean version's actually named Crimson Gem Saga. ("Crimsongem Saga", to be precise.) Sega published it in Japan and changed the name to Garnet Chronicle. After asking IronNos and SK Telecom, we just kept the title Crimson Gem Saga. In every case I can think of, the developer is consulted on the name of the game, especially since they have to put the logo with the new name of the game into the code.

As for the rest of the questions for the developers, I just went ahead and asked some of the questions you likely wanted to know the answers to, but didn't know that you wanted to know. :)

What was the motivation for the battle system change from Astonishia Story to this game?

IronNos responded: "We changed the battle system with the intention of speeding up the battles after taking into account the fans' requests for quicker turns. As you know, Astonishia Story's battle system featured SRPG-style strategic battles, so we thought we could offer more dynamic combat by switching to a turn-based system and adding co-op skills, combos and bigger effects for the spells and skills."

One of the aforementioned bigger effects & skills.

Who is the artist who came up with the character designs? What were some of their inspirations for the character designs?

IronNos: The main character was designed by Kim Dong Sook. We wanted Killian to look like he had a clear and strong sense of responsibility as a leader, but still look a little green sometimes.

In Spinel's case, we wanted to make both her personality and her image stand out in light of the events that occur in the second half of the game. So we drew her and designed her to be tomboyish with a touch of sexiness.

Henson's got a complex stemming from certain events that happened with his master. We drew him to reflect that, but, despite his issues, you'll see that he's a person of character who'll work hard to win the approval of others and prove his worth.

Lahduk is a character who's having problems trying to reconcile the events of the past with how he should live in the present. We drew him to appear as dark and grizzled middle-aged man.

In contrast, we drew Gelts to be an immature middle-aged man. There's an interesting contrast between how the two of them let their previous lives determine their present-day personalities.

For Acelora, we wanted to give her the image with of someone cool and cynical to contrast her with Spinel. We designed her to appeal to Asian male players by making her seem like she was difficult to get to know.

Who are your favorite characters in Crimson Gem Saga?

IronNos: "Acelora, of course!! She's got incredible combat power and a great co-op skill. But those are just bonuses... As far as character-type goes, I find ladylike women with long straight hair attractive. ^ ^"

What are some of your favorite RPGs?

IronNos: "ATLUS' Persona series, Square-Enix's Dragon Quest series, and Bandai Namco's Tales series."

How long did it take to make the Korean version of this game from design concept to completion?

IronNos:"It took us about a year and 6 months developing it specifically for the PSP. The entire project from start to finish took a grand total of 2 years and 4 months including the first version of already existing SK TELECOM's GXG platform.

We encountered some mild snafus in the project. The lead programmer, Kim Byung Gyu noticed some issues with the load system and pushed to get them fixed, but that initiative got pushed aside, and in the end it resulted in us taking a lot more time to implement his new system. Every project's going to have its hiccups and all in all, we're happy with Kim Byung Gyu and the rest of the team's hard work."

Thanks for reading, folks! If there's anything you'd like to know in the future about an Atlus title, I'll be around. Poke me, and I'll give you an answer if I can, or try and poke someone else.

If you really feel like keeping in touch with us, our PR folks are getting a Twitter going now.   read

1:35 PM on 05.15.2009

Crimson Gem Saga: Behind the Bits

Hello there, Destructoid readers! I'm Clayton Chan from Atlus, project lead for Crimson Gem Saga, and I'm happy to be making our first of what is hopefully a long line of Community Blogs posted here for you folks to get to know a little bit more about us and how we roll.

The topic of this entry will be Crimson Gem Saga and the art of localization in general. Let's face it, probably a good 80% in the audience take a look at what we do and think, "I can do that. How tough could it possibly be to come up with 40 different boob jokes?" Well, I'm here to inform you that we in the Atlus localization department are more than a walking set of boob jokes. (Stop staring at my chest.)

So I'll start off with how we localized Crimson Gem Saga.

As some of you may be aware, the Asian version of Crimson Gem Saga was released with a rudimentary English translation in the game. While this was good because it theoretically meant we wouldn't need a translator for this project, it was also problematic because when we needed an answer about the translation, the answer wasn't ten feet away, it was some 6,000 miles away. (That's 3.05m, and 9,656 km respectively for our metric fanbase.)

In order to get the best possible translation, it quickly became clear that Devin and myself were going to have to do a lot of communicating with each other to make sure that we couldn't answer each other's questions ourselves to minimize the number of things we needed clarified, and that we were asking Korea the correct questions when we did have to go to them for clarification.

That brings us to the Atlus Important Localization Tidbit(TM) for today: Teamwork.

Here at Atlus, unless we get a project that's already in English with an incredibly small amount of text, nobody will ever be solely responsible for all of the text in a game. That means everyone here has to have to constructive discussions with each other. You can't go over to a translator and bluntly tell them that you're got no idea what's going on in a scene they translated, or that you think they completely blew the context of a scene without them getting defensive. While defense does win championships, it doesn't win friends. Opening meaningful, non-antagonistic dialogue with your team on the project is important to making a quality project and keeping everyone happy.

If you're the guy on the internet that's always getting all MC Grammar on people, you're probably not going to be a good fit in a localization team, because you're going to have a nigh-impossible time working with people for more than a couple days before someone's asking to get you removed from the project.

Devin Curry, the lead editor, started getting a group of us together to play basketball, to get us some exercise, and to get the team better acquainted with each other. Devin, myself, Scott "Big Hustle" Williams, and Aram "RoboCop Hops" Jabbari from PR went out for pick-up games. Activities like these generally help build a group's camaraderie, and you'll also start to see it becoming easier to pick up off each other's cues when it comes to writing dialogue. (BTW, if you're ever in the area, and you want to step up, we generally play on Mondays. Prepare to have your egos inflated!)

Dividing up the workload is important, too. In order to keep characters consistent over the course of the game, we assigned individual characters to ourselves to write, rather than just taking blocks of lines. I met with Devin to figure out which characters he preferred to write, and why. When you work on something that you're both proficient at and enjoy, it's only natural that the benefits will show up in the final product.

Another major concern with localization and for Crimson Gem Saga in particular, was making sure we were able to stay faithful to the spirit of the story. There was already a completely literal translation of the game script out there in the Asian version, but if you've seen it, it's not exactly the most engaging script. More often than not, a literal translation is far from an ideal one. Our ideal localization is something that follows the intended spirit of the story and the characters.

So, Devin and I worked to keep humor in where it was intended and to remove the unintentional humor and replace it with text that would convey the emotion that the original writers intended.

For example:

Lurdurk: "Stormghor? You were the one in charge of invading the gate with the Galorins!"

Stormghor: "Kekakakaka! Right on. That's not all! I was waiting here knowing you guys would be here!"

Killian: "Woot! Cunning creature!!"

Stormghor: "Of course I'm cunning! Kekakaka! What a compliment!!"

Stormghor: "Drop your weapons if you don't want to see her suffer!"

Spinel: "Taking her hostage! You are as cunning as anyone can be!"

This scene is now:

Lahduk: "So you're the one who led the attack on the Graystone Gate!"

Stormghor: "Mwahahaha! Exactly right. And that's not all! I've been waiting for you here. I knew you'd be after the Metatron Cannon! So predictable!"

Killian: "That was actually pretty smart..."

Stormghor: "Mwahahaha! Or you were pretty stupid! I don't mind which one you choose."

Stormghor: "Now, drop your weapons if you don't want to see her suffer!"

Spinel: "Taking her hostage... That's a cowardly move, even for a monster like you!"

In addition to polishing up the text in this sequence, this scene is also one of the sequences we added new voice to. We did this because we felt that it would add extra emotional impact to pivotal scenes. I had Devin play through the Asian version of the game and pick out the sequences that would most benefit from being voiced.

Hopefully, you'll all agree that that the end result is the best version of Crimson Gem Saga to date, and you'll run out to pre-order and buy it. Thanks for stopping by and supporting the blog!

(By the way, as an Inaugural Atlus Blog Post Special, we're throwing you Destructoid readers a neat little bonus. Take a look at the game's website, and some of the interviews we've done on the game, and if you've got further questions, I'll forward the best selections on to the developers in Korea.)


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