Wednesday, 28 January 2009

I reserve the right to call a hack a hack.

One thing that's been disconcerting me about the recent bug-addled, typo-riddled release of AT2 is the number of people in the "non-core" fandom-- i.e. those who frequent the GameFAQs and other such forums, but don't actually participate in AT-only fan spaces-- who've been calling out the core fans for complaining about the errors, accusing them of acting "too entitled" and "looking a gift horse in the mouth".

This winds me up for a couple of reasons. Firstly, AT2 was not a "gift horse". It was a $40 game. Gamers are no different from other consumers in that they have a right to protest a product they've paid for if they don't find it to be satisfactory. Complaining at the creators of a fan translation, who've done the job solely out of the goodness of their own hearts and on their own time, is more of a quandary; you're perfectly within your right to state your dislike, though it's also hard to argue that a fan owes any more of their time to a project than they're willing to put in.

That said, one expects that if someone's going to put in the effort to see a translation project through to completion, fan or no, it's respectful of the game-- and sensible, with regards to how much more effort it takes proportionally to output a polished translation versus an unpolished one-- to release something at least half-decent. And even if it's not exactly fair to demand that a fan should have spent more time on the game, I feel one is within their right to boycott the translation, to suggest other people boycott the translation, and to generally express disapproval of it if you find it not to do justice to the game.

Which brings me to my second point: I not only don't accept this level of localisation quality from a company whose job it is to do this-- I wouldn't accept it from a fanwork. I would have reservations about recommending a fanfic that demonstrates this level of proofreading and grammatical competence. I don't think that means I hold fanfics to unreasonable standards. I don't think that makes me arrogant. I think that means I feel that whether sentence construction has had care and attention paid to it or whether it's spilt out onto the page like a drunken IM conversation makes a difference to the experience of a story.

Stories are better when they're well-written. I want to read, and recommend, well-written amateur fiction. I expect to read well-written professional fiction. I shouldn't be expected, when I come across a badly-told story, to say "well, at least we got the story" and leave it at that. I am grateful we got the story; stories, no matter how awkwardly told, are things worth having in this world. I think it's a positive that Ar Tonelico 2 exists as it does. I just think it could have been cared for more by those who brought it over, and I don't think I'm remiss in pointing out that it's not as good as it could have been, by a long shot.

And for those who'd protest the typo-filled translation of a book but think we're getting too worked up about something that's "just a videogame": in Shakespeare's time, plays were considered popular entertainment for the masses. When the modern novel was first invented it was seen as a cheap form of entertainment not befitting the upper class. Art forms are generally only respected in retrospect. That doesn't mean you can't use your brain, examine history, and get a head start.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

interesting townsperson dialogue in AT2


Sacred Army Knight: I want to marry her.
Noble Lady: We don't want to mix the blood of Reyvateil in our family, you know?
Sacred Army Knight: Don't treat her like a fool! You don't even know if Reyvateil is hereditary.
Noble Lady: We're a royal family. I just don't want people to know...
Noble Lady: I know Reyvateils are very intelligent people. I know... but...
Sacred Army Knight: Intelligence is all that matters now. Royalty doesn't matter!
Sacred Army Knight: What is so bad about being with someone I fight with...
Noble Lady: I'm just worried about you.

(When spoken to)
Sacred Army Knight: Reyvateil partners are very important to us.
Noble Lady: My son hasn't gotten promoted yet. Maybe there is a problem with his Reyvateil partner.

I just thought this was terribly interesting in that it's a little snapshot into the prejudices inherent in society in that world, even in the supposedly tolerant Metafalss....

Monday, 26 January 2009

reyvateil rights filks

So we were driving in the car listening to "Mr. Roboto" and being very amused by how well it correlates with certain happenings in AT2, and... well, this happened.

Domo arigatou, Madame Roboto
Mata o-hima de--
Domo arigatou, Madame Roboto
Himitsu o shiritai.

You're wondering who I am, (Secret, secret, I've got a secret)
Machine or deadly rage, (Secret, secret, I've got a secret)
With parts made in Japan, (Secret, secret, I've got a secret)
I am the modern mage!

I've got a secret I've been hiding under my skin.
My heart is loving, my blood electric, my brain is /bin.
So if you see me acting strangely, don't be surprised.
I'm just a girl who needed someone and some kind of faith,
To keep my heart safe. Just keep my heart safe,
Some kind of faith, to keep my heart safe.

I'm not a robot without emotions; I'm not what you see.
I've come to help you with your problems so we can be free.
I'm not a killer, I'm not a loony, forget what you know.
I'm just a girl whose circumstances were beyond her control.
Beyond my control. We all need control...
I need control. We all need control,

I am the modern dame, (Secret secret, I've got a secret)
And hide with a new name, (Secret secret, I've got a secret)
So no one else can see (Secret secret, I've got a secret)
My true identity.

Domo arigatou, Madame Roboto.
Domo. Domo.
Domo arigatou, Madame Roboto.
Domo. Domo.
Domo arigatou, Madame Roboto.
Domo arigatou, Madame Roboto.
Domo arigatou, Madame Roboto.
Domo arigatou, Madame Roboto.
Thank you very much, Madame Roboto,
For helping the girls nobody cared for.
And thank you very much, Madame Roboto,
For helping me escape just when I needed to.
Thank you!
Thank you, thank you!
I wanna thank you.
Please, thank you!

The problem's plain to see:
Abused technology.
Machines that feel things too,
Please treat them like they do.

The time has come at last (Secret, secret, I've got a secret)
To throw away this mask. (Secret, secret, I've got a secret)
Now everyone can see (Secret, secret, I've got a secret)
My true identity!

I'm Mir! Mir! Mir! Mir.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

AT2: first impressions

Back online! There's a new post over at the Reyvablog, too; don't miss it, as Important Things are beginning to go down.

Around 9 hours into AT2, here's a quick analysis of Notable Things So Far, in plus-and-minus format:

+ Red curled-up flower buds and red birds in the intro. Symbolic of Jakuri, given that red, flowers and birds are the central motifs of her songs? I thought that was a nice touch: she's too spoilery to show explicitly, but she's important enough to the plot that she needs to be symbolically included....

+ Jakuri is, incidentally, being translated as Jacqli, not Jaclyn. We can all put that terrible, traumatic moment behind us. HUZZAH. Not that I'm hugely big on its being translated as Jacqli, but out of anything they could have rendered it as short of, well, Jakuri, it's the least uncomfortable to my mind.

+ Musume Power(ed) is being translated as Girl Power, which... makes perfect sense. It's not "Hymn Code". DOUBLE HUZZAH.

- The dialogue is full of horrible, horrible grammar errors. It's really not that different from the first game's in that respect, but still.

+ The innuendo is... present, and I guess you could say there's more of it? But it doesn't feel like it's distracting from the story, or actually mangling the characters. There were points in AT1 when I thought "that character wouldn't speak so bluntly"; I'm not getting that feel from AT2, partly because Chroche is the tsundere to sunder all tsundere and Luca is pretty cheerfully open. So that may be a facet more of the fact that no one's really much of a wallflower than of good translation, but still, I felt what's been there so far has been reasonably within the parameters of what the characters would say.

+ Croix is MATURE. Thank Deity. Okay, so I already kind of knew that, but I'm still pleased with how they've pulled it off.

+ The use of Hymmnos writing everywhere? Simply adorable, and makes the game feel appropriately otherworldly.

+ (Mild setting spoilers) I was really pleasantly surprised at how many of the ideas I'd come up with for the Reyvablog were echoed in this game's setting. I never expected to see the series portray actual Reyvateil slums; I've always thought the ideas I was playing with in that regard were just a little bit darker than the series' scope would normally take in, but no, there are slums filled with dying, cynical, confused Reyvateils. I'm... impressed by how right I actually got it.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

AT2 box shots, for the curious....

Front of the box.

Back of the box.

Just in case you're curious as to the exact packaging design, or weren't convinced it was for reals. :)

Express ticket to Metafalss!

Already posted on the forums about this, but still, something this momentous is worth mentioning twice: there are officially copies of AT2 at a Residence Near* Me.

I won't actually get to touch until tomorrow, but we will nevertheless be playing AT2 before it hits game stores. Don't expect a first report immediately, because I'll lack internet for a few days, but rest secure (or envious, or something) in the knowledge that someone, somewhere in the world, will be playing AT2 in English.

Now all I need to do is pray the translation doesn't fail. Or rather, pray it doesn't fail that badly; I think the chances of its not actually failing in any way are pretty darn slim.

Still, right now, I'm having a hard time feeling too down about that, because omgeleventyone!!4w#$!AT2!115! ...and I should really fix myself some food before I fall over.

Also, while I was posting this, a Left Behind Friday just happened. I think I may possibly die of stuff overload now.

*for transatlantic values of "near"

We're almost there....

Three days until The Big One, and it's going to pass pretty quickly for me; I'm going to be spending pretty much all of the 18th in transit, as I'm winging my way over to the States to meet AT2's release, and the inauguration of America's awesome new president, head on. Being with people you care about only make the time go by that much faster, too, albeit I wish it didn't.

I intend to keep up Reyvablog while I'm gone, but it's probably going to be a bit slow going; after my update today, expect to see new updates around the 20th, assuming I have an internets by then (I'll hopefully have it around the 19th or 20th, but it's not guaranteed). --and yes, I understand if on the 20th a lot of you are doing something else, but still. XD I'll try to keep to an update schedule of every three days or so, but we'll see how it goes.

Sorry if I'm a bit scarce in person during this auspicious time, but I do wish you all a wonderful AT2 experience. Here's hoping that NISA have kept the soul of the game intact.

It's been a long haul, and I'm happy to have seen it all through with you. Now little remains to be said but this: onwards, and upwards, to Metafalss!

Friday, 16 January 2009

First "official" Reyvablog photoshoot, and a bit of worldbuilding....

So I did say, a while back, that there'd be more SL photos of the Reyvablog avatars, this time in their home environments as opposed to a studio setting. I hold to that promise, bringing you a selection of photos from the first of our shoots, focusing in on dhezeall, heartofharmony, and neonsunray.

briyante's pics are coming soonish, as well as more from dhezeall and heartofharmony, and we should be close to being able to put AR's avatar together. polyhymnia is a little further away, but eventually we'll get her put together too.

Commuter transit is pretty tiring for dhezeall.... especially when fellow passengers keep giving her the eye.

Still, breaks in the noise and the hubbub afford opportunities to relax, as well as time for a couple of portraits.

heartofharmony looks to the Goddesses, amidst dazzling church architecture. Such places can inspire a sense of serenity even in those spirits they hold captive.

Sadly, she remains elusively hard to photograph, but we got a couple of candid shots.

neonsunray relaxes at her favourite song parlour, letting herself get caught up in the music.

Coming across a giant piano, she takes a little time out to indulge in symbolism, truly embracing her nature.

Shadowed in the doorway of the song parlour, she tries to stay discreet.

Letting go of her shyness a little, she strikes a pose.

As she leaves for home, we find her pausing momentarily to look to a starlit sky, dreaming of hope.

And now, a little world info....

The song parlours neonsunray attends are a cross between cosy lounges and karaoke establishments, with private rooms for small groups of friends and slightly larger, public areas for ad hoc socialising. The public areas generally feature a small stage, surrounded by long couches all pushed together so people can recline on them, and little else; there's not usually space to dance, and people don't tend to do so, although they may stand up and join in with the singers on stage, or sway to the music. The experience is about listening to people sing, taking your turn, and joining in with the harmonies, as well as feeling emotionally conected to the music and to each other.

Though song parlours are quasi-infamous among humans for being hotbeds of promiscuity, the interactions that go on in these places are rarely, if ever, sexual. United by the music, many choose to relax their personal boundaries or let go of them altogether, but the intimacy that results is more of a relaxed, liberated openness of being than a frenzy of passions. People will curl up in each other's laps, lean against each other, snuggle and stroke each other's hair and faces, but their actions are expressions not of physical desire but of the comfortable closeness they feel as the harmonics of the group blend and align. As with all fond interactions between people, occasionally this bonding will lead to physical attraction, but the song parlour isn't considered an appropriate place to indulge these sorts of feelings. They're really a lot more like musical cuddle parties, with the added benefit of the participants being able to experience deep emotional closeness through their magic.

Generally, people tend to come out of these events feeling warm, happy, refreshed, and released from their tensions and distractions. Being around people who, through harmonics, you feel instinctively fond towards, safe around, and happy to share your feelings with is a deeply therapeutic experience for many; it's possible to relax with the people at a song parlour in ways that many people don't get to in all of their daily lives. And while song parlours aren't sexual venues, a lot of Reyvateils who attend them find that relationships with humans feel awkward and stilted afterwards, devoid of that instinctive emotional connection, and find themselves drawn more towards relationships with others of their kind.

Due to the increased need for emotional bonding that presence at these venues can awaken in people, they've been blamed for causing an addiction to diving in some Reyvateils, though others argue that someone liable to be addicted to diving will become that way through diving alone. A diving addiction can be dangerous, as the Reyvateil will often push her partner to explore deeper and deeper levels in which the Reyvateil's, and diver's, subconscious minds are at great risk of damage, and may forgo caution on these levels in order to seek a more intense experience.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

A moment of reflection

Sometimes, like all virtual worlds, Second Life is more than a game.

I can't remember how I found it, but I stumbled across this memorial in SL recently, for those transgendered people who've been victims of hate crimes or have committed suicide as the result of the conflict between what they are inside and what society says they should want to be.

For those of you who don't have SL, I took a screenshot to show you what it's like. I think this memorial was a pretty fitting place for my Mir avatar to be; I think this declaration, displayed on the wall and reprinted here for those who can't read it, is something she could easily have spoken:

For the fallen, I will stand. I will stand to oppose bigotry, fear and hatred. I will stand to educate the ignorant. I will stand for any who suffer. I will stand for the unknown soul, facing the harshest of realities, struggling against the worst of odds, trying to remain sane in a world that neither accepts nor understands. You may have been raped, beaten, shot, stabbed and scarred, your mind, body and soul ravaged by the harshest cruelties of both man and nature. Be you live or dead, may you always find peace and comfort within these walls.

- A Monument -
To the Inhumanity of Humankind

This is what Mir is about. This is what I'm about. And yes, I cross it over with my fandoms. It'd be a poor thing if I abandoned my awareness of what I think is right and good for the sake of participating in a fandom, after all.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Reyvateil Rights Carnival!

So occasionally I find myself Googling the terms "Reyvateil rights", just to see if anyone else has put anything out there. I suppose it's a combination of hoping other people will have put forth their views on these things, because I like reading about how others interpret these concepts, and wanting there to be more representation out there of the idea because I think a work like Ar Tonelico invites it, to the point where it's almost criminal not to discuss the issues it raises. Inevitably, I only find my own work; the term, in quotes, brings up five results at current, covering my three blogs.

I'd like that to change. AT2's release is almost upon us: seven days away, almost six. January 20th is a day when many of us will unite in hope, in solidarity, as we work towards making Ar Ciel, and hopefully this world too, a better place to be.

So why is no one talking about the issues of sexism and speciesism raised by AT's world? Why is no one writing fiction, writing essays, creating art, that addresses the problems Reyvateils face in Sol Ciel? Crucially, why are the only people attacking AT on the grounds of sexism those who dislike the series for it, instead of seeing it as a flaw but the characters and world as still worthwhile, and something we should strive to explore, strive to better, through art?

I'd like to challenge you all to a little something. Between now and AT2's release, I'd like to see you write something, or draw something, or create something, on the subject of Reyvateil rights. Even if you only post in your blog about it, I'd like to hear more said on this topic. (Exceptions made for those who are having huge moving-type upheavals this month; you can submit something at a later date, or just count Reyvablog postings. :)

If you don't have a blog, feel free to post submissions in this comment thread, although I'd ideally like to see the content distributed across a number of sites.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Reyvablog avatars!

So, for the last few days now we've been working on a little project over here: constructing avatars of the Reyvablog cast in Second Life! Unfortunately we probably can't do everyone's character, since we don't have as detailed an awareness of what everyone else looks like as we do of our own characters and because of the necessity of buying items every tweak and modification costs money, so unless you're willing to pay and provide a really good description (and we can find Teru tails and horns), there probably won't be any, say, winters avatars coming along soon. But at the very least, you can get an exclusive OOC glimpse at the faces behind the words of a few of our regular commenters.

dhezeall sticks it to The Man by refusing to pose in anything other than her lounging-around-the-house clothes.

Unfortunately, it was hard to get a good shot of heartofharmony; she was too shy to look into the camera much.

neonsunray is ready to face the day.

In a society that hates what you are, even little expressions of your self can be dangerous....

These avatars aren't really finished-- dhezeall needs better eyes (she's wearing temporary eyes that were Photoshopped at the moment because the ones we bought for her didn't fit her face), we'll probably acquire more clothes for her and neonsunray as well as generally poking at various tweaks until we have everyone down exactly right, and we'll be doing photoshoots with them in more realistic settings (and poses). Plus, we've yet to put together AR's avatar, but rest assured that she'll be around soon too. Still, for now, enjoy the preview of our work to come!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009


A friend sent a Second Life screenshot to me with the following caption: Omg, a scary weird-looking version of Mir has hacked into Aurica's brain and kidnapped Don Leon!

...and that really is exactly what this looks like. (Warning: this image may disturb you if you're a Mir fan who doesn't like seeing messed-up-looking images of characters you like.) I know it's not actually Don Leon, and it's probably not actually someone trying to be Mir, but still, the similarities in the whole composition of the image are just unsettling.

For comparison and comfort, here's my version of Mir all decked out in kimono.

Friday, 2 January 2009

A very Ar Tonelico Christmas, and a hopeful New Year!

First up, letting you guys know that the Angry Reyvateil is back up and posting for the New Year! Do share your holiday stories in the current threads if you can; I'd like to base my characters' awareness of what things are like in Tenba and the Church over the holidays on your characters' reflections.

So despite the lack of AT2 this December, we still managed to have a pretty Ar Tonelico-esque Christmas over here. For your enjoyment, I present pictures of the highlights. :)

This snow-Teru might interest IC-winters. With a few twists of the foil, even an ordinary chocolate snowman can become an AT cameo! Comes with hat, too.

At Borders, we found this packet of strangely Pom-like Japanese treats.

The packaging bears pictures of all of the possible designs, including this musical Pom... Reyvapom!

Unfortunately, there aren't actually any candies decorated with "Other".

And last, but most certainly not least... someone brought a pair of tiny kittens over to the house. One in particular had a fairly familiar-looking expression on her face, and I ended up spontaneously nicknaming her Wrathface. Totally makes me want a black cat called Jakuri (who I would then also nickname Wrathface, because I've decided the word amuses me more than just about anything else in the world). This one's actually called Spooky, but... c'mon, who names a cat "Spooky"? So generic. You know that cat would make the best Jakuri-cat evar.

So now we've officially rung in a brand new year, and all that remains is to wait out these final three weeks-- less, actually!-- until the shores of Metafalss finally loom in sight. The release of a game such as this one is always a time of hope: a time of anticipating the new worlds and new wonders that will unfold before our eyes, the people we'll meet and take into our hearts for a time, the lessons we'll take away, and hoping that they will become truly beloved. Many of us know at least a little of what's coming, but who can truly say what will end up impacting us the most? What things will we learn, and how will this experience strengthen and enrich us? There's a lot to wonder about, a lot to hope for-- and in such a place as Ar Ciel, in particular, hope is one thing we can expect to find in abundance. We can even wash down release day with an extra helping of hope; as the first day of AT2's US release draws to a close, so will we also have seen Obama's first day in the US presidential office. No matter where in the world (or universe) you're from, this is the dawning of a new era, on many levels.

January 20 will bring us, I believe, a great deal of hope. Let's all take a little time to reflect on that, when the day does come.