This is Brittany, Production Coordinator at XSEED Games. I was the editor and graphic text monkey for the PC version of Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim. I normally also do Steam achievements for our games (and my early work was…something, let’s be real here), but the honor this time fell to our extremely dedicated in-house tester, Danielle.
I thought I’d take this time to talk about my relationship with Ys. My first real interaction with the series was shortly after I’d started at XSEED as a lowly prisoner intern with Ys: The Oath in Felghana. XSEED as a whole was new to Steam and, to be quite honest, I was not a PC gamer. I definitely wasn’t into high-speed action RPGs, either. I was asked to test the title after being given a brief run of what Ys was (“Red-haired guy goes on lots of adventures”). Everyone was excited.
Except for me.
I hated it! Oh, man, did I hate playing Oath in Felghana at first. Like said, I wasn’t into action RPGS—I was into turn-based battles or slow, methodical strategy games. I didn’t know enough about Ys to really enjoy the characters or world, I never was big on the whole “silent protagonist” thing, and I kept dying! Death, death, death! Death at every corner! My co-worker had added an actual achievement for dying because he kept telling me that was half the fun of Ys, but I was just getting frustrated instead.
It took a good, long while for me to get into the swing of things. QA forces you to test dozens of playthroughs sometimes, so I didn’t suck forever. I’d eventually gotten good enough to where I could beat the entire game with all the bells and whistles in a matter of a few hours. You might think that would make me even more sick of the game, but the funny thing is, it actually made me learn to love it.
Before you cry, “Yo, that’s some serious Stockholm syndrome,” I guess I should say this happens to me with a lot of games. The first playthrough, I’ll hate it; even if I absolutely love video games, getting the feel for a new world is always a bit daunting for me. It’s hard for me to absorb all the details while I’m concentrating on the things the game is making me focus on—and the details usually end up being my favorite parts—so I end up feeling like I missed out on something. My second playthrough, however, is when I feel like I can safely explore all the nooks and crannies of the world and absorb all of the foreshadowing and subtle references, and discover new details that just add to the world’s culture. It becomes comfortable, you know?
This is what happened with Oath in Felghana. I started to see beyond the insane amount of deaths and started going, “Wow, actually, it’s really cool how all of these items I own have hidden uses that I have to really explore to figure out. I like how the game’s not holding my hand,” and, “You know, the story and the characters are really entertaining. I can’t believe how each NPC has a name and unique character design!” The dungeons were well thought-out and left plenty of surprises to make back-tracking enjoyable. Despite the story being simple, it didn’t have any holes, but instead wrapped itself up in an orderly, neat bow. I was even starting to see the value in Adol Christin being a silent protagonist. He was an adventurer, and he wasn’t meant to actively impress his viewpoints of the world—he just wanted to explore and be a part of the world that already existed.
What truly solidified my love for Ys, however, was the series’ prequel, Ys Origin. This story didn’t star our lovely Adol the Red and his best friend (boyfriend), Dogi, but instead starred the ancestors to many known figures introduced in Ys I&II. This time, I didn’t feel so lost; thanks to Oath in Felghana’s introduction to the world, Ys Origin felt more like I was expanding upon finely-documented lore. The story, once again, was simple, but its characters, flow, and gameplay (now that I’d finally gotten a handle of Ys in general) left me craving more. Barring Ys V, I’ve now happily played every single major title in the series.
I knew we were going to do The Ark of Napishtim eventually, so I’d intentionally held off playing it until we had received the rights and were able to proceed with the localization. Of course, I had no idea that I would be editing the game until a few days before I’d started—we had several editors in the office who have played Konami’s localization on PS2 before, and then we have our own resident Falcom fan, Tom Lipschultz. Why would I be chosen to edit? But it happened. Somehow.
Initially, all the character, item, and location names in the PC version were given localized names that were more or less the same as those in the Konami versions of the game, and while most are still the same (since they were perfectly fine, accurately-translated names to begin with), I did end up changing a few here and there. This is most apparent with NPC names—little Sia, for example, is called Shea in our localization, shopkeeper Cloa is Croix, and Romn-loving drunkard Calman is Carmine. There are several more, but I’ll save those for when the game has launched.
(This screen isn’t actually in the game, but a fun text bug. QA is great.)
This also ended up being my second project at XSEED as lead editor, so while I am proud of the end result, I’m still feeling out my “style,” admittedly. I hope what Tom and Jess (Trails in the Sky, Rune Factory Frontier/4) have beat into me taught me over the years reflects well with this project. Every editor has a distinct style, and every editor will also tell you they have an easier time with certain types of characters than others. As an example, one of our Story of Seasons editors, Nick, has always said he works best with older, more formal characters. I personally struggle with those types, which made The Ark of Napishtim a challenge since there’s an entire village full of characters on the formal side. I’m definitely not a fan of the old standby “formal = no contractions” rule, as even the most formal of people in real life say things like can’t/don’t over cannot/do not—I think abusing the no contractions thing comes off as stiff and unnatural—but still, I hope that the formal air of the Rehda wasn’t lost by choosing not to go that route. Just as well, I hope that my connection with the much more rowdy townspeople of Port Rimorge shows, too. And with Geis. I like Geis.
(I also wonder if it’s really a good idea to talk about struggles with editing like this in an official blog post. Ha ha.)
To me, the beauty of Ys is that even though the series has been around for decades, the developers have cleverly designed the series so that your starting point doesn’t matter. Adol Christin is a simple young man who started adventuring at 16 and didn’t stop until his death at 63 (yes, that’s canon, apparently!), and each game features one of his many expeditions which were dutifully recorded in his travelogue. All of this and more has been known from the very first game, so you’re simply filling in a few pre-established blanks with every new Ys title you play. Developer Nihon Falcom has had plenty of time to move from laying down the foundation to building a fantastic library of information that effortlessly intertwines with each new title—all without ever forcing the player to know Adol’s lengthy history as a prerequisite for enjoying any single one of his adventures. Looking back on it now, how on earth could I have hated these games?
I can’t stress enough how much of a privilege it is to have edited an Ys title. Newbie I may be, but I certainly poured my heart into The Ark of Napishtim. If you’re a returning Ys fan, enjoy yet another wonderful entry in the series. For those who are only just now stepping into the world of Ys, all I can say is: adventure awaits.
P.S. Have some Geis.