Part 2: Update II: An Alchemist and her New Life
Well, we're done talking with Sterk for a little while. Only thing to do now is return to the workshop.
This video starts as soon as you return to the workshop, and runs until you see a black screen.
Music: Alchemy is Opportunity
Hopefully, Master will finally be motivated to work! Ha, like that's going to happen...*sigh*
What's wrong with you!?
*the girl crashes into Rorona*
*flash to white*
Music: The Boisterous Lady
There's something I really like about Cordelia's design here. I'm not sure I can properly explain it, but I like that emphasis on an old-fashioned, Victorian-era kind of dress. The whole setting of Arland is pretty analogous to Industrial Revolution-era Britain, actually. The whole concept of the Machines mentioned in the intro really gives it away.
Of course, this being an Atelier game, it is a fantasy game, so the parallels only go so far. But this whole setting is basically the really, really bright side of industrialization, where new technological innovations allowed more production with less manpower. I don't know much about the early Atelier games, but from what I've heard, they tended to focus on the unusual setting of Renaissance Germany. "Salburg" is pretty close to the real city of Salzburg, Germany, but whether that was intentional or not I have no idea. That was a longer tangent than I expected. Anyway, Astrid will say it soon, but for those not watching the videos, her last name is pronounced "Foyer-bach (as in Johann Sebastian Bach)".
Ugh...Cory...Don't tackle me like that...
Oh, you were trying to cheer me up? ...Hehe, thanks! I do feel better now!
...Simple minded? ...Or just plain dumb?
Huh? What did you say?
Nothing. So what's the matter? Did that lady do something to you again?
No. Well, sort of... This guy from the castle came to the workshop today, and...
*Fade to black as Rorona explains everything to Cordelia*
I know, but...
Who cares? If the workshop closes, it won't affect anyone one bit.
What about me!? Cory, you're so mean!
For being Rorona's best friend, she can be awfully abrasive. Especially during this scene, everything Cordelia is saying makes sense, but she can't seem to understand why Rorona would have an attachment to the workshop and Astrid. But it is a nice change of pace from main character / best friend being BFFs forever and having virtually no tension between them.
...Do you remember the reason why you started working there to begin with?
Of course. My parents got sick when I was little, and Master gave us the medicine to heal them.
But we didn't have any money to pay for it, so I decided to help her out at the workshop...
Okay, so what'll happen if the workshop is closed down?
...I wouldn't be able to work at the workshop, so I'd have to go home. Ohh!
See? No one's gonna care if the workshop is gone, along with that lady.
That's kind of sad...
Why? ...Does she even know about this?
No. I was about to go tell her.
Cory... Can't we all just get along?
No way! C'mon, let's go!
*fade to black*
I'm back! ...Master? I didn't think you'd still be here.
Don't call me that!
Fine. I'll call you Cory, then, you know, to be friendly.
Cordelia Angry is another pretty great portrait. All of her portraits are extremely expressive. It's a good way to highlight the difference in personality between characters. For example, Sterk typically emotes with his eyes in his portraits, but Cordelia puts her whole body into it.
Urrrrgh! I'm not demanding!
Ahh, p-please don't fight... Anyway, I went to the castle!
I know. I've been waiting for you to come back. We just went off on a tangent because of Cory.
I didn't do anything!
*fade to black*
...I see. I knew they weren't going to close down the workshop right away.
Can't you at least be a little freaked out? This isn't any fun to watch... Why don't you run around with your hands in the air, crying "Oh no, my workshop!" or "I'm being exiled!?"
Cordelia is an interesting combination of being both more mature than Rorona, but less mature than she thinks she is. She certainly can't outwit Astrid, but she's boisterous enough to think she can. One thing that I've always liked about these games is how the younger characters come off as young. Most of them are pretty immature, but they don't talk like complete idiots.
Panicking won't solve anything. Besides, you seem awfully calm.
Why shouldn't I be?
*sigh* Rorona. And you call yourself her friend? You're gonna have to leave the kingdom, too, if the workshop is closed.
What!? Me, too!?
What are you talking about!? Don't drag her down with you!
But Rorona owes me a ton of money. I can't let her go until she pays it all back. Or did you think I was going to be nice enough to forget all about that?
Astrid really is basically a troll given video game form. She's not light-hearted all the time, but she knows when to be serious and when to mock anyone talking to her, which also happens to be whenever Cordelia is around.
Ngh...you're right. I forgot you're scum, rotten through and through.
I'll take that as a compliment.
Either way, it's a good lesson for you! You can't just lie around all day like you used to!
Of course. Im sure I can do anything if I put my mind to it.
Ahh, I'm so glad to hear that... Anyway, what are you making?
Oh this? It's just a new sign for the workshop. I thought it might drum up some business for us.
So you are putting some thought into this.
It's ready. Let's go put it up.
This is our first CG image of the game. These are also cataloged in Extra, but the game uses them like normal backgrounds. I'll post a clean version of each CG image under Artwork.
Music: Sun Bathing
"Atelier" is a French word English borrowed, and basically just refers to a workshop of some kind. Rorona's voice actress pronounces it "At-all-e-er", but other sources tell me it's "At-all-e-yay". I'm not sure which is considered correct in English, but I prefer the latter.
This workshop is yours from now on. I'm counting on you.
N-no! I can't do this! It's impossible!
What are you thinking!? She's too nice, clumsy, dumb, and sheltered to own a workshop!
You didn't have to say all that... But it's true! I don't know anything about alchemy. You never taught me anything!
Seriously, what kind of life has Rorona been leading since moving in with Astrid? She basically does nothing for Astrid, but she keeps her around anyway. Has to get pretty boring after a little while.
Don't worry about that. Here, take this.
It's got all of the basics of alchemy written inside. My master gave this to me when I started training.
It must mean a lot to you. Are you sure you want me to have it?
Of course. You're my number one pupil.
No, Rorona, stop! She's just tricking you!
This image makes me laugh more than it was likely intended to do. The combination of everyone's portraits, and Astrid's line always makes me laugh a little.
H-hey, wait! Rorona, stop reading that book!
What? Ohh! Master, please wait for me!
*fade to black*
*day changes to 1/10*
Music: Good Morning Rooster
Oh yeah, I was reading the book and then I fell asleep. *gasp* Wh-wheres Master!?
*Rorona gets up, looks around the atelier, then rushes over to the desk*
Master? Master!? Shes gone. So this really is happening I cant do this but if I dont, the workshop will be Huh? Whats this? A letter from Master?
Thats right Master believes in me
This scene is good for humanizing Astrid. Although she never really comes out and says it, Astrid really does want Rorona to handle this not because she's lazy, but wants to see if her apprentice can handle it
*fade to outside, showing Astrid standing outside the window*
Shes making it sound like Im dead or something. Her simple-mindedness is really impressive.
*fade to black*
So we have an opportunity to view more tutorials, should you need it. Because I'll be going over the first and second options soon, and we've already gone over Trust Level, I'll be skipping them.
Music: Beginning of a Story
Every Assignment has an image like this. It nicely divides the game into 12 chapters.
Once you say I know it all! the New Game+ option to skip the intro and a regular playthrough merge. You can essentially say "I know it all!" is the beginning of the game, because from that point on you have the freedom to do as you want. But first, we're going to do something unusual.
The options menu. The reason why we're here is a little complicated, so feel free to skip if you're not interested. This game has an unfortunate glitch where, if you take a certain combination of quests at a particular part of the game (at least from what I've heard), you'll run into a vortex of loading that never ends when you return to the atelier. The only way around this is to turn off the system via the XMB or just the power button. Aside from the annoying problem of losing progress (which is why you should save frequently), there is another problem for completionists like me.
When CG images are seen, the game kinda "remembers" it via the system data, instead of the normal save data you'll see most often. The system data covers everything that appears in Extra, but even if you see a CG image and save after, the game won't log it into Extra, since it's tied to the system data. So, if you see an image, and you run into that vortex, it's lost forever that playthrough. The solution to this is fairly simple.
Go into Options, and switch the spoken language over to Japanese, then exit the menu. The game will prompt you to save the system data, and if you do so, then any CG images you've seen in that play session are automatically logged. The best part is that you don't need to overwrite any saves you might care about. The alternative is to wait until you beat the game and overwrite the system data then, but then you'd need to get lucky you don't run into that if you want to archive every CG image. Not a good strategy.
As bad as that load problem is, chances are you'll see it maybe 5% of the time the game is loading, but just to be on the safe side, don't go a couple months without saving if you can help it. There's a couple other amusing glitches I know of that are less harmful, and are thankfully easy to capture.
Anyway, before we stretch our legs a bit, let's talk endings. It may seem strange I'm talking about endings at the beginning of the game, but planning for endings comprises a significant portion of the game. There's a number of ways I could present this, but the following image should be the most succinct.
Does that look complicated? It's really not. In effect, the endings operate on a system of priority. As the chart illustrates, Game Over cancels out anything. Simple enough, but then it gets a little more complicated. This chart is arranged in terms of priority. Bad Ending branches off into three trees: Normal, Good, and True, named after the ending of least priority on each branch.
For example, if I was aiming for Iksel's Ending, I'd need to fulfill the conditions for the Good Ending, and see all of Iksel's events. Additionally, I can't have seen all of Sterk's events, or if I have, Iksel's friendship level needs to be greater than Sterk's. If I saw all of Iksel's events, but fulfilled the conditions for the True Ending, I'd get a generic True Ending with Iksel as the variable character instead of Iksel's Ending, which is something else entirely. What I mean by "variable character" is that the generic endings will feature the party member with the highest relationship score. So if Cordelia had the second highest among the roster at 89, and the highest was Gio at 92, and I got the Normal Ending, Gio would show up in that ending, regardless of how many character events I've seen for each.
As for how I ordered the characters, I believe the system works like the character that comes first has a higher "inherent" value than the character who comes next. So, if I was on the Normal path, and all things being equal, by which I mean all character events seen and relationship value the same, Lionela's Ending would take priority over Tantris'. I'll have to do some experimenting when I start getting endings to see if this is truly the case, however.
Since they serve as the prism for every other ending that matters, I'll go over the conditions for the Bad, Normal, Good, and True Endings here. The remaining endings I'll get to whenever I start doing updates about the endings themselves, but progress toward them will be done over the course of the entire LP.
- Bad: Assignment small stars < 94, Trust Level < 80%.
- Normal: Assignment small stars > 94, Trust Level < 80%.
- Good: Assignment small stars < 94, Trust Level > 80%.
- True: Assignment small stars > 94, Trust Level > 80%.
Alright, NOW it's time to move out.
This is the full town map. Quite a few areas have opened up, but they won't have much relevance to us for a while. Artisan's Way is the most important, so we'll be spending most of our time there this update. Artisan's Way is where Atelier Rorona is, as well as three shopkeeps we'll be meeting with.
This is just outside the atelier. Due to a physics thing, there's a few places in the game you can stand in mid-air, such as here. We'll be taking those stairs down, but first we have to make a little stop...
A red exclamation mark appearing over Rorona's head means you can interact with whatever she's facing. But this is just a couple of barrels. What's going on here?
The truth here is that this is a long-running gag in the Atelier series. Dating way back to Marie, each heroine in the series has an odd fascination with barrels. It's such a running gag that if you pre-ordered the special edition of Meruru, you got a T-shirt with "Barrel!" on it. By the way, you can draw a limitless amount of water from that well there. You could bring up a bunch of water and sell it somewhere, but it's worth a whopping 1 money (called "Cole" in this universe). Unless you've got quite the attention span, don't bother.
Moving just slightly to the right, we'll come upon our first shop. This video plays as soon as you enter the shop and ends when we get to the image of the inside of the shop.
*entering the shop*
Hello, Ms. Tiffani!
Music: Lonesome Silence
There she is!
Oh, she's so beautiful as always... Ooh, I should buy something!
Wait, I'm going first! I'm gonna be the first one to get change from her hands today!
Have to side with Barney on this one. Tiffani is probably my favorite design in this game. It's attractive without showing any skin other than her face and hands. Actually, aside from Lionela and Rorona, the female designs in this game are pretty conservative, and Lionela has a perfectly reasonable in-story explanation for it.
Hahaha...you're so popular.
Thanks... At least my shop is always busy.
*sigh* I wish this many people came to my workshop, too.
Hehe, I"m sure that's not too far down the road. I mean, the workshop is now owned by such a cute girl like yourself.
Oh? You knew already?
Yes. I heard from one of my friends. It's probably gonna be very hard on you, so let me know if there's anything I can do to help.
Maybe I'm dense, but I didn't actually pick up on what this line really meant until I was taking screenshots for this update. She's not referring to a generic friend that only exists off-screen, but just for a while I'm not going to spoil who it is.
Oh, don't say that. You never know when she might be listening to you.
You're right... Please keep what I just said between you and I...
Music: Shops Jig: Recorder
The inside of the shop. Tiffani's not selling anything particularly valuable right now, but she is enormously helpful about mid-way into the game. Almost game-breaking level helpful, actually, but we'll get to that when it's more appropriate.
As for now, we'll be returning to the front of the atelier. Go a bit further down the road and you'll stumble across this.
Video goes from entering the shop until the image of the inside.
Meet Hagel. He has probably the best theme in the game, and I strongly advise you listen to it while reading.
Music: Man at the Weapon Shop
Hey, hey, welcome. ...Oh, it's you. Here to sharpen your kitchen knives?
No, I'm here to buy weapons!
What? I don't agree with having some young lady carrying around a dangerous weapon.
(That's not what the owner of a weapon shop should say...) Well, I wish I didn't have to, but...
Oh, so you have a reason? Why don't you tell me what it is?
*fade to black*
And that's why you're going to run the workshop from now on...
Yeah... I have to go outside of town to gather ingredients, too, so...
Then you don't have a choice, huh? But unfortunately, I don't think you can handle what I've got.
Aww, why not?
Have you seen those halberds in the back there, Rorona? Those things go way over your head. Not that that's ever been much of a hindrance in video games, but you'd still look really silly with one of those.
Oh, I see. Then what should I do?
Aw, c'mon, don't make that face. Fine, because you've asked... I'll try to fix up something you could use.
Really? Thank you so much, Mr. Bold...
...I mean, Pops!
Sure, you can count on me!
(That was close. I forgot he doesn't like being called by his last name...)
Music: Shops Jig: Whistle
Hagel's got a lot of crates stacked around, and something that looks like a mine cart for some reason. There's some stairs in the far corner of the shop slightly off-screen, but since there's so many crates stacked around, you're not going to be going up it any time soon. Although Hagel, too, is very important, he won't be doing much until Assignment 2.
Further down the road from Hagel's shop is the final shop.
Same verse, same as the last two.
Music: Special Menu is Ready
Iksel here is no doubt voiced by Johnny Young Bosch. He's really one of those voice actors that once you've heard his voice in a few games, you'll always recognize him whenever he voices someone. Unfortunately, for a number of voice actors in this game (such as Rorona and Tiffani) I really can't think of who they are, even though I've probably heard them in a game before, and for some reason NISA doesn't credit English voice actors. Oh well.
So much is happening so fast...
Do you wanna talk about it? And would you like some tea?
*fade to black*
What!? You're the new owner of the workshop!?
Yeah. I don't even know how all of this happened...
But you're so much better than me! Even though you're still in training, you do everything at the restaurant. I'm...just being forced to do this because Master doesn't want to do it herself...
I can understand complaints that Rorona complains too much, especially early in the game, but like with a lot of things, it strikes me as more of a natural reaction to the situation rather than the writers taking a character trait too far. I really do think that the writers wanted to draw a clear contrast between Rorona at the start of the game and Rorona by the end, but it's certainly not a subtle approach.
Oh yeah? Heh, well it's not as hard as you might think. And nothing's gonna change if you just keep thinking about it. So cheer up.
...Thanks. I feel a little better now. I think I can handle this!
There you go. Oh, and that'll be 150 Cole for the tea.
What!? I thought it was going to be your treat...
I'm just joking. Don't take it seriously. Well, let me know if you need anything. I'm always here to help.
Music: Shops Jig
Final interior shot. I like all the little details in this place.
We'll be tackling the last three locations we haven't seen in clockwise order. Since it's the beginning of the game, there's not a whole lot to do in any of them, but they'll become more important later in the game. The Square is the only really important location, as there's a number of events that take place there.
First, the Square.
Next, Factory Way.
I like the random stray cats hanging out, and interacting with them makes them meow.
Finally, Main Street.
Next time, our first adventure, and an introduction to alchemy.
This is the shop BGM. Its a very traditional sounding song. I also made four difference patterns with the Directors favorite Celtic Arrangement.
Shops Jig: Whistle
This one sounds like someone is whistling. Even though its the same music, it sounds completely different by how its carried. Isnt that interesting?
Shops Jig: Recorder
Heres the recorder version. I wasnt thinking about actually playing this when I made the song, so it was a little challenging for me. I shouldve practiced playing recorders when I was a child!
This melody has three different arrangements. The first one was the theme for Rorona's parents, the next one was for the title (opening song), and this Rorona version is the last one I made.
The Boisterous Lady
Of all the character theme songs, this one is the closest to the songs from the early Atelier series [Ken Nakagawa began working on the Atelier series in 2003 with Atelier Viorate]. Its tempo and country-like arrangement is very nostalgic.
Special Menu is Ready
I was told to make a song based on this one song from the 90s. It was a very nice song, with a different harmony, but it didnt sound so pretty when I made one like that. So, this one ended up being our usual workshop-like song.
Man at the Weapon Shop
Old Man Hagel must sing, so he is in this song. This is the 3rd one. I think this song has the biggest impact of them all.
This song was supposed to portray an unlucky person, but I made it a little different toward the end. I hope this song portrays more of a warmth in the darkness.
Alchemy is Opportunity
Theres no secret meaning to this song, but doesnt it sound like there might be? I heard the opening song changes a little bit after clearing the game once I wonder if thats true?
Beginning of a Story
I made a 10 second jingle and offered that I could do slight length adjustments if needed. One week later, I was told to make it 2-3 seconds. Th-that's way beyond a 'slight' adjustment.
Good Morning Rooster
Roosters say, "Cock-a-doodle-doo!", but I heard that in some places, they say "Fluffy-fluff".