Believe it or not, gamers who like the Atelier series are NOT pedophiles

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RurouniZel

Asks questions so Ezalc doesn't have to
Mar 26, 2007
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rurounizel.deviantart.com
#1
I was inspired to start this thread because I want to at least make some effort to clear up some misunderstandings many on GAF might have about people like me who have recently discovered and become quite fond of the Arland trilogy Atelier games from GUST Co., as happened last night chatting with some Gaffers on IRC who stated that the only reason anyone would ever play Atelier games is because they’re pedophiles. When I explained that I loved the Atelier series for its compelling gameplay, those statements were completely brushed aside as utter nonsense. To be honest, I was EXTREMELY offended by the sentiment, however IRC is a much better format for one-liner putdowns than it is for detailed explanations, and I was unable to put together a proper defense for my new favorite series of games. Sadly I am also aware that this is a very much a well-shared sentiment on GAF, and most people will leave this thread with their opinions unchanged. But despite this, I feel the need to create this thread so that I can explain the reasons for loving this series now, and also to reference for future discussion. I will preface that while I love the games, they’re hardly perfect and the first game in particular had some interface issues that the sequels fixed and an occasional error with crashing behind a loading screen which again, the sequels fixed.

So without further ado, let’s talk about what I and many others feel makes Atelier so compelling.

Story, Characters and Aesthetic

You know how JRPGs are typically lambasted for always being about spiky-haired teenagers and their cookie-cutter friends who must save the world from ultimate evil because it’s their chosen destiny or some other bullshit? That’s exactly what the Arland trilogy of Atelier games is not. The first game, Atelier Rorona, is about a young apprentice trying to keep her shop open so she and her master aren’t exiled from the kingdom. The second game, Atelier Totori, is about a young woman searching for her missing (and presumed dead) mother. The last game, Atelier Meruru, is about a young princess trying to develop her small kingdom into a thriving place so it can merge with a neighboring republic. They’re not out to save the world from an ultimate evil or overthrow an evil empire by forming a small resistance group etc. Alchemic-premise aside, each of the protagonists in these games have extremely down-to-earth goals and motivations, none of which I might add involve contrived, forced romantic plots.

On that point, despite one or two unfortunate CGs in each game that do NOT reflect the vast majority of the game’s content, the games treat their female cast respectably overall. If you were ever looking for a series of games that pass the Bechdel Test, these games pass with flying colors. Romance is basically non-existent, 99% of the female cast aren’t obsessed with becoming a bride as if that were their ultimate goal in life or sole purpose of existing. But most importantly they’re not dependant on men to achieve their goals. There are men in the cast, and you can enlist their support should you chose to do so, but it’s not required. The women in this game are willing to accept help when necessary, but are ultimately portrayed as being self-sufficient and self-motivated.

While I’m not going to change anyone’s mind about the anime aesthetic here (and I won’t even try to defend Meruru’s ridiculous skirt/bloomer combo), the graphics are quite colorful and run smoothly, usually at 60 fps with 4xMSAA. Additionally, the music is quite unique and charming compared to the standard JRPG flare, giving the Arland universe a rather unique feel of its own. Atelier Totori in particular runs beautifully and the character models do an incredible job of reflecting Mel Kishida’s designs.

Unique Gameplay

What initially struck me about the Atelier series when I played Atelier Rorona is how different the game’s priorities were, and in a way I found extremely compelling. Most JRPGs focus on telling a story and fighting monsters to level up so you can defeat the final boss at the end. While Atelier does have a strong story focus (just not an epic one), the combat is basic because it’s most definitely not the focus of the game. Battle is merely there to add a small modicum of challenge while gathering ingredients to synthesize new items (as dying causes you to lose precious Days, which I’ll get into in a just a bit).

Battle may not be the focus of the game, but creating items and completing missions and requests most certainly is. What made this extremely compelling in Rorona and Totori (though slight less-so in Meruru) is the unique time mechanic. Everything in the Atelier universe (outside of running around in a town) requires a certain number of Days. Making an item, going to gathering sites, and certain story events all take a certain number of days off the calendar. In Totori and Meruru, gathering items and fighting monsters also take a certain portion of days. In addition, there are story-based deadlines you have to meet to proceed in the game (with Rorona being the harshest of the three in this regard) and in Rorona and Totori, requests also have deadlines of their own. So for example, in the first game Rorona will have three months to complete a certain task from the kingdom. But in addition she also needs to make time to complete requests from the townsfolk in order to improve the reputation of her shop (in Totori this is just for money purposes). But as these deadlines keep piling up, it becomes quite clear that as the player, you can’t possibly meet all of the deadlines the game has put before you. If you take all of the missions, you will fail some of them, and in Rorona this also carries a penalty.

What this created as I played the game was a strong sense of choice. The game industry is always touting about how they give the player the opportunity to make meaningful choices, but these are usually “moral” choices that are so cartoonishly binary they’re hardly meaningful. With Atelier Rorona and Totori I found that the choices I was making made a real difference. Not with the story, but with the game and what rewards I got, or how much income I earned. I had to carefully look at each mission, its corresponding deadline, and compare with the other available requests and ask myself several questions.

“Can I resolve this mission with the materials I have on-hand?”
“If I don’t have the materials, how long will it take me to gather/make them?”
“How many days will this request take me to complete?”
“Does this requests deadline run counter or otherwise interfere with my current story deadline, or the deadlines of other requests/events?”
“Do I have to travel to an area I’m not high-enough level for to gather the necessary ingredients?”
“Do I even have the recipe necessary to make the item being requested?”
“Should I take this time-wise higher risk quest with the higher payout, or focus on these two smaller quests with less payout, but will give me no foreseeable trouble?”
"Should I turn in the items I have right now to complete this request, or should I save them in case they're an ingredient I will need to create a new, better item later on?"

To me, these are REAL choices, and it was these choices that made the game so compelling. The real game for me was trying to map out how I was going to complete the maximum number of requests, at the highest quality possible, in the shortest amount of time. The first time I played Atelier Rorona, I lost and got a bad ending (and saved myself into a trap of being unable to fix this outcome) so I had to start over. And I was pretty far along too (I was in the final year). But I could see my errors, and what I needed to do to be more efficient on the next playthrough. Instead of frustrating me and making me want to throw the controller to the ground in fury, I just loaded up a new game and this time planned all of my moves far more carefully.

You see, the Arland trilogy of Atelier games is really about learning the ins and outs of its systems, not so much to topple world-ending monstrosities, but in order to increase your efficiency. As you proceed in the game, new tools become available to help you increase what you can achieve, such as the Homs and Registering items with other shopkeepers. New areas are unlocked with better quality items and new traits, along with brand new items. But even here, you have to be careful as you can only carry a certain number of items with you at a time in the beginning.

That’s not to say there aren’t a number of optional and very tough bosses in the games, it’s just that they’re optional. You can chose to develop a powerhouse party with awesome equipment (that you have to make yourself, obviously) and take these baddies on if you wish. But like everything, it’s a choice. Also, Atelier Meruru focuses on kingdom development and let’s the player decide which areas they want to develop in the game and in what order in order to earn Development Points which the player can use to build structures that have added benefits like more EXP or synthesis bonuses. Decisions decisions. And if all that weren't compelling enough, the games have a high replay value as each of the games in the Arland trilogy have multiple endings to explore on repeat-playthroughs.

Conclusion

Now, obviously the Atelier series brand of gameplay is an acquired taste. It’s the kind of game that you either really love or really hate. Again, the purpose of this thread isn’t to sell others on the experience. All I wanted to achieve in this thread is clear the air a bit about why people like me love this series, and that liking these games neither means we’re pedophiles nor will make us such. It’s such an offensive knee-jerk reaction to me. You know how the news media often likes to emphasis how a certain criminal plays lots of Modern Warfare games, trying to paint a picture that anyone who plays these games are either murderers, soon-to-be murderers, or people who get off on others getting murdered? That’s pretty offensive to paint all Modern Warfare players that way, isn’t it? When fans of the Atelier series are labeled as pedos from a lot of GAF, I find that insulting and offensive. I play Atelier games because I think they’re great games, and I feel confident in stating that the majority of people who play them share my sentiment. We have different tastes in games, that’s all.

Thank you for reading.
 
Jul 10, 2006
42,062
0
0
#2
I haven't played any of the current generation Atelier games, but I've played a couple on PSX and PS2. Outside of the Mana games, they seem to focus much more on item creation as you said, which isn't something I'm particularly fond of, so I've kind of stayed away. I think the way that these games are marketed is the main culprit for how other people see them, though. They really push certain aspects, especially in Japanese marketing, but NISA also doesn't seem to shy away from it.
 

PowderedToast

Junior Member
Apr 6, 2008
5,251
0
0
#4
cool, i might try one out. there is such a dearth of niche japanese PS3 games that i had considered picking one up before, despite disliking the character art. looking at footage now and it looks really nice, what's the best one to pick up for a first timer?
 
Oct 1, 2006
48,836
0
0
peter.metaclassofnil.com
#7
I don't even think such uninformed opinions should be dignified by a serious response, but you did a very good job at it. Gust is one of the few reliable Japanese developers of high quality titles left.

The Atelier games offer a really unique gameplay experience, and one that is complex -- but mostly without being needlessly complicated, a trap many niche games fall into. As you say, the games are truly nonlinear and filled with choices, both in which tasks you try to accomplish and how you set about tackling them.


looking at footage now and it looks really nice, what's the best one to pick up for a first timer?
I'd start with Totori. It's a large improvement over Rorona, and doesn't have as many references to the earlier games as Meruru.
 

RurouniZel

Asks questions so Ezalc doesn't have to
Mar 26, 2007
23,399
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rurounizel.deviantart.com
#8
I think the way that these games are marketed is the main culprit for how other people see them, though. They really push certain aspects, especially in Japanese marketing, but NISA also doesn't seem to shy away from it.
While I admit I don't follow the Japanese marketing of the games outside of random trailers posted on the internet, I've not seen much marketing from NISA that emphasis's the cuteness of the girls or whatever. Either that, or I just didn't notice which is entirely possible.

OP, have you heard the phrase "thou dost protest too much"?
More accurately I just have a habit of ranting when I feel strongly about something. I guess I was just feeling particularly offended last night and it carried over through today, so I had to write about it to clear the air. Being called a pedophile is very offensive and upsetting to me.

I'd start with Totori. It's a large improvement over Rorona, and doesn't have as many references to the earlier games as Meruru.
I would agree with this sentiment. While I like the challenge or Rorona, Totori is the MUCH better game of the two.
 

ponpo

( ≖‿≖)
Aug 22, 2011
19,680
3
0
Tsukuba, Japan
#15
Atelier games are terrible.

Why include such an awful battle system? Remove all enemies from the game, keep everything else, make it a visual novel with an alchemy side game. Instant 600000% better game.
 
Dec 7, 2008
39,071
0
0
Florida
#17
Atelier games are terrible.

Why include such an awful battle system? Remove all enemies from the game, keep everything else, make it a visual novel with an alchemy side game. Instant 600000% better game.
they're simple, quick & fun. they aren't the best battle systems in the world, but i wouldn't personally call them terrible.
 
Jun 6, 2004
14,109
1
0
34
www.bjj.ca
#20
I was inspired to start this thread because I want to at least make some effort to clear up some misunderstandings many on GAF might have about people like me who have recently discovered and become quite fond of the Arland trilogy Atelier games from GUST Co., as happened last night chatting with some Gaffers on IRC who stated that the only reason anyone would ever play Atelier games is because they’re pedophiles. When I explained that I loved the Atelier series for its compelling gameplay, those statements were completely brushed aside as utter nonsense. To be honest, I was EXTREMELY offended by the sentiment, however IRC is a much better format for one-liner putdowns than it is for detailed explanations, and I was unable to put together a proper defense for my new favorite series of games. Sadly I am also aware that this is a very much a well-shared sentiment on GAF, and most people will leave this thread with their opinions unchanged. But despite this, I feel the need to create this thread so that I can explain the reasons for loving this series now, and also to reference for future discussion. I will preface that while I love the games, they’re hardly perfect and the first game in particular had some interface issues that the sequels fixed and an occasional error with crashing behind a loading screen which again, the sequels fixed.

So without further ado, let’s talk about what I and many others feel makes Atelier so compelling.

Story, Characters and Aesthetic

You know how JRPGs are typically lambasted for always being about spiky-haired teenagers and their cookie-cutter friends who must save the world from ultimate evil because it’s their chosen destiny or some other bullshit? That’s exactly what the Arland trilogy of Atelier games is not. The first game, Atelier Rorona, is about a young apprentice trying to keep her shop open so she and her master aren’t exiled from the kingdom. The second game, Atelier Totori, is about a young woman searching for her missing (and presumed dead) mother. The last game, Atelier Meruru, is about a young princess trying to develop her small kingdom into a thriving place so it can merge with a neighboring republic. They’re not out to save the world from an ultimate evil or overthrow an evil empire by forming a small resistance group etc. Alchemic-premise aside, each of the protagonists in these games have extremely down-to-earth goals and motivations, none of which I might add involve contrived, forced romantic plots.

On that point, despite one or two unfortunate CGs in each game that do NOT reflect the vast majority of the game’s content, the games treat their female cast respectably overall. If you were ever looking for a series of games that pass the Bechdel Test, these games pass with flying colors. Romance is basically non-existent, 99% of the female cast aren’t obsessed with becoming a bride as if that were their ultimate goal in life or sole purpose of existing. But most importantly they’re not dependant on men to achieve their goals. There are men in the cast, and you can enlist their support should you chose to do so, but it’s not required. The women in this game are willing to accept help when necessary, but are ultimately portrayed as being self-sufficient and self-motivated.

While I’m not going to change anyone’s mind about the anime aesthetic here (and I won’t even try to defend Meruru’s ridiculous skirt/bloomer combo), the graphics are quite colorful and run smoothly, usually at 60 fps with 4xMSAA. Additionally, the music is quite unique and charming compared to the standard JRPG flare, giving the Arland universe a rather unique feel of its own. Atelier Totori in particular runs beautifully and the character models do an incredible job of reflecting Mel Kishida’s designs.

Unique Gameplay

What initially struck me about the Atelier series when I played Atelier Rorona is how different the game’s priorities were, and in a way I found extremely compelling. Most JRPGs focus on telling a story and fighting monsters to level up so you can defeat the final boss at the end. While Atelier does have a strong story focus (just not an epic one), the combat is basic because it’s most definitely not the focus of the game. Battle is merely there to add a small modicum of challenge while gathering ingredients to synthesize new items (as dying causes you to lose precious Days, which I’ll get into in a just a bit).

Battle may not be the focus of the game, but creating items and completing missions and requests most certainly is. What made this extremely compelling in Rorona and Totori (though slight less-so in Meruru) is the unique time mechanic. Everything in the Atelier universe (outside of running around in a town) requires a certain number of Days. Making an item, going to gathering sites, and certain story events all take a certain number of days off the calendar. In Totori and Meruru, gathering items and fighting monsters also take a certain portion of days. In addition, there are story-based deadlines you have to meet to proceed in the game (with Rorona being the harshest of the three in this regard) and in Rorona and Totori, requests also have deadlines of their own. So for example, in the first game Rorona will have three months to complete a certain task from the kingdom. But in addition she also needs to make time to complete requests from the townsfolk in order to improve the reputation of her shop (in Totori this is just for money purposes). But as these deadlines keep piling up, it becomes quite clear that as the player, you can’t possibly meet all of the deadlines the game has put before you. If you take all of the missions, you will fail some of them, and in Rorona this also carries a penalty.

What this created as I played the game was a strong sense of choice. The game industry is always touting about how they give the player the opportunity to make meaningful choices, but these are usually “moral” choices that are so cartoonishly binary they’re hardly meaningful. With Atelier Rorona and Totori I found that the choices I was making made a real difference. Not with the story, but with the game and what rewards I got, or how much income I earned. I had to carefully look at each mission, its corresponding deadline, and compare with the other available requests and ask myself several questions.

“Can I resolve this mission with the materials I have on-hand?”
“If I don’t have the materials, how long will it take me to gather/make them?”
“How many days will this request take me to complete?”
“Does this requests deadline run counter or otherwise interfere with my current story deadline, or the deadlines of other requests/events?”
“Do I have to travel to an area I’m not high-enough level for to gather the necessary ingredients?”
“Do I even have the recipe necessary to make the item being requested?”
“Should I take this time-wise higher risk quest with the higher payout, or focus on these two smaller quests with less payout, but will give me no foreseeable trouble?”
"Should I turn in the items I have right now to complete this request, or should I save them in case they're an ingredient I will need to create a new, better item later on?"

To me, these are REAL choices, and it was these choices that made the game so compelling. The real game for me was trying to map out how I was going to complete the maximum number of requests, at the highest quality possible, in the shortest amount of time. The first time I played Atelier Rorona, I lost and got a bad ending (and saved myself into a trap of being unable to fix this outcome) so I had to start over. And I was pretty far along too (I was in the final year). But I could see my errors, and what I needed to do to be more efficient on the next playthrough. Instead of frustrating me and making me want to throw the controller to the ground in fury, I just loaded up a new game and this time planned all of my moves far more carefully.

You see, the Arland trilogy of Atelier games is really about learning the ins and outs of its systems, not so much to topple world-ending monstrosities, but in order to increase your efficiency. As you proceed in the game, new tools become available to help you increase what you can achieve, such as the Homs and Registering items with other shopkeepers. New areas are unlocked with better quality items and new traits, along with brand new items. But even here, you have to be careful as you can only carry a certain number of items with you at a time in the beginning.

That’s not to say there aren’t a number of optional and very tough bosses in the games, it’s just that they’re optional. You can chose to develop a powerhouse party with awesome equipment (that you have to make yourself, obviously) and take these baddies on if you wish. But like everything, it’s a choice. Also, Atelier Meruru focuses on kingdom development and let’s the player decide which areas they want to develop in the game and in what order in order to earn Development Points which the player can use to build structures that have added benefits like more EXP or synthesis bonuses. Decisions decisions. And if all that weren't compelling enough, the games have a high replay value as each of the games in the Arland trilogy have multiple endings to explore on repeat-playthroughs.

Conclusion

Now, obviously the Atelier series brand of gameplay is an acquired taste. It’s the kind of game that you either really love or really hate. Again, the purpose of this thread isn’t to sell others on the experience. All I wanted to achieve in this thread is clear the air a bit about why people like me love this series, and that liking these games neither means we’re pedophiles nor will make us such. It’s such an offensive knee-jerk reaction to me. You know how the news media often likes to emphasis how a certain criminal plays lots of Modern Warfare games, trying to paint a picture that anyone who plays these games are either murderers, soon-to-be murderers, or people who get off on others getting murdered? That’s pretty offensive to paint all Modern Warfare players that way, isn’t it? When fans of the Atelier series are labeled as pedos from a lot of GAF, I find that insulting and offensive. I play Atelier games because I think they’re great games, and I feel confident in stating that the majority of people who play them share my sentiment. We have different tastes in games, that’s all.

Thank you for reading.
 

RurouniZel

Asks questions so Ezalc doesn't have to
Mar 26, 2007
23,399
0
0
rurounizel.deviantart.com
#21
OP, does your avatar turn you on?
No. It's cute though. :)

Atelier games are terrible.

Why include such an awful battle system? Remove all enemies from the game, keep everything else, make it a visual novel with an alchemy side game. Instant 600000% better game.
I disagree, but I think we're not going to agree on this one so I'll leave it at that. :)
 
Oct 1, 2006
48,836
0
0
peter.metaclassofnil.com
#27
Why include such an awful battle system? Remove all enemies from the game, keep everything else, make it a visual novel with an alchemy side game. Instant 600000% better game.
Have you played Meruru? I've had some really intense, closely pitched battles in that. I won a fight that would have set me back by weeks with one character left standing at ~20% HP. Rorona's battles were really just about tossing bombs, but they've greatly improved on that.
 
May 16, 2012
558
0
0
semipalatinsk
#29
anyone who would say that doesn't understand the meaning of the term 'pedophilia'.
16, hell, even 15, is legal in some countries.
who is to say that's wrong?
i don't know the age of the characters in the atelier series though.
 

DCharlie

And even i am moderately surprised
Staff member
Jun 7, 2004
23,294
25
1,480
www.dcharlie.com
#30
the second you post a thread stating "WE AREN'T PEDOS!" basically ... you know.. .gives the game away.

file under:
"Look guys, it wasn't me who farted! honest"
"i know i was in the kitchen last night, but that doesn't mean i ate all those cookies"
"there's no ACTUAL biological difference between the inside of a mans mouth and a womans mouth... just saying"
 

SMT

this show is not Breaking Bad why is it not Breaking Bad? it should be Breaking Bad dammit Breaking Bad
May 12, 2011
6,319
0
0
27
NoHopeLeft
#37
I bought the atelier games because of the cute girls on the cover, I had no idea this was pedophilia. I guess I'm going to hell!
 
Jan 1, 2011
27,453
1
0
#38
I can't say that i've ever played a game in this series, in fact I didn't know what it was at all until about a year and a half ago.
But even with little exposure to the series i'd certainly seen my share of pedophile comments directed at it and the people who play them, it seems like an unfortunate situation based simply on appearances.
Actually reading this was interesting as I had no idea how these games actually played, it sounds pretty unique.
But heading back to the main point, unfortunately there are a certain set of people who love to throw pedophile accusations around at a number of things and games that star a "cute looking" female cast are one of the first things in line for such statements, hell i've been given such accusations from playing pokemon, I assume this means I must stalk playgrounds with my DS at the ready preparing to lure the nippers in with the promise of rare candies or something because the idea that I play the games because I enjoy them is apparently too farfetched to some.

I'd wager that the people who will so quickly and easily accuse people of pedophilia based on essentially judging a book by its cover aren't going to be swayed by any sort of logical attempt at explaining things.
 

Mejilan

Running off of Custom Firmware
Jun 9, 2004
38,485
0
0
40
NJ, USA
#39
Consistently terrible games, IMHO.
Gust and Idea Factory are basically the only two JRPG devs I avoid completely now.

I actually didn't know that there was a perceived pedo stigma to the franchise, though.
 

darkside31337

Tomodachi wa Mahou
May 31, 2011
34,803
0
645
#40
I haven't played any of the current generation Atelier games, but I've played a couple on PSX and PS2. Outside of the Mana games, they seem to focus much more on item creation as you said, which isn't something I'm particularly fond of, so I've kind of stayed away. I think the way that these games are marketed is the main culprit for how other people see them, though. They really push certain aspects, especially in Japanese marketing, but NISA also doesn't seem to shy away from it.
I really don't see how this is a valid argument. NISA definitely tries to shy away from it, in the case of Rorona, they went went out of their way to literally try and make all the girls not loli, by adding about 3 years onto all the girls ages. I'm not sure how much they could possibly do to market the games as something thats not pedo.

The only Atelier game I've played is Rorona and it is a atrocious piece of software that tries to masquerade as a video game. In fact if it was just a straight up Visual Novel I would have certainly enjoyed it much more than I did. The RPG system is a complete and utter joke, the time management system is awful - it's like nobody play tested this game as just about any 5 year old could manage to pull off the tasks with the time given, the graphics are awful, the combat is awful, there is almost nothing redeeming about the structure of the game in itself.

That said you can forgive all of this, the trash game that it is, at least I did because of its charm and overall atmosphere. If that doesn't hook you in there is literally nothing appealing about this game at all.
 

ponpo

( ≖‿≖)
Aug 22, 2011
19,680
3
0
Tsukuba, Japan
#43
Have you played Meruru? I've had some really intense, closely pitched battles in that. I won a fight that would have set me back by weeks with one character left standing at ~20% HP. Rorona's battles were really just about tossing bombs, but they've greatly improved on that.
No. I played through Rorona then started Totori and was like 'NOT THIS AGAIN'

No matter the subtle changes, after watching enough of Totori, Meruru, Ayesha videos, it's all the same. Like I said, if the battles and time limits were gone and it was just a visual novel
/eroge
with alchemy side game, I'd play them. I don't want to play even more bad battles in JRPGs this gen.
 
Dec 7, 2008
39,071
0
0
Florida
#45
No. I played through Rorona then started Totori and was like 'NOT THIS AGAIN'

No matter the subtle changes, after watching enough of Totori, Meruru, Ayesha videos, it's all the same. Like I said, if the battles and time limits were gone and it was just a visual novel
/eroge
with alchemy side game, I'd play them. I don't want to play even more bad battles in JRPGs this gen.
why do you want to turn the series into eroge?

Wait this is that game where you breed people right
that is conception.
 
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