Hello, everyone! This will be the third issue of the Firefly Alley Citizen BBS special "we won't be talking about the game, but about the secrets of the secret setting intentions!". So this time around, we'll comment on the opinions you all brought to us through the "Simple Results Report for the Phase 2 Enquete, Vol. 1".
Since the Phase 2 Enquete is a questionnaire for all those that played Ar tonelico, it's also set as a place from which I can further investigate the feelings the game gave you all. As it was naturally going to have quite a large number of opinions, I thought at first that I'd just take the ones sent by the first few tens of people as the sample for it... but, whoa! Currently, we ended receiving around 600 responses, all containing very strong feelings. If there are so many people who could give opinions on Ar tonelico in such a passionate way, it means that the game is truly loved, and once again, I have to give you all my greatest thanks for it. Everyone, I'm truly grateful that you have sent us your opinions!
For this Vol. 1, we'll be reporting three of the seven questions that we made in the questionnaire. I also think that those who didn't take part in the Enquete could also be very deeply interested on reading the results
[ ■１■オープニング開始後30分以内にゲームにのめり込んでいましたか？ ] #1: Did you get very interested in the game within the first 30 minutes after watching the opening?
Overall, most people said they "Got very interested in the game". However, upon reading the actual explanations everyone sent alongside their vote, while there were some differences from a person to other, in general it feels that most people had the opinion of "Just one more step...". Among the opinions that left the strongest impressions on me were points like "We couldn't use Song Magic right off the bat!" and "It took too long before a heroine joined the party!". Given that this game's most important selling point is the Song Magic combat, maybe we truly made it too long before the player could take part in such battles, as the first one doesn't take place until around one hour after beginning to play. And being an RPG player myself, I also agree that having the heroine appear is one of the things the players look forward the most in these games.
As Ar tonelico is a game whose scenario and systems depict the relationship with the heroines, it gives much more importance to them than any typical RPG. Looks like making the players wait too long for them to enjoy Ar tonelico's unique aspects... was one of the main sources of dissatisfaction for the players, huh?
For the next point, we'll bring up the topics of the protagonist's voice and personality, alongside sudden developments and difficult words.
[ ■２■エンディングは満足出来ましたか？ また、エンディング曲後のイベントが無かった場合評価はどうなりますか？ ] #2: Did the ending satisfy your expectations? And how would you rate it if the events after the ending song didn't exist?
Was the ending satisfactory to you?
[ 満足 ] I was satisfied.
[ 不満 ] I wasn't satisfied.
And how it'd be if the events after the ending song didn't exist?
As for the endings, I learned many things from this, so I'm truly grateful for the numerous opinions I got on them. It's far easier to understand them in comparison to the opening, as from following all of these arguments, I came to the same conclusions, which is that "the depiction of the heroines after the ending song was quite shallow".
While I received many responses with the "I wasn't satisfied vote", at the same time, more than half of them also wrote on it that "everything prior to the ending song was great". Actually, said conclusion also made me realize that the main issue here is "that we made an ending with a meaning that runs contrary both to the needs of the users and to the trend of the rest of the game itself". While the bonds between the protagonist and the heroine are given the central place on the game, I think that the greatest cause for the ending between them getting such a shallow depiction is because it was imagined as one that would fit better a typical RPG. If that's the case, it'd have been good (at least up to the point in which Phantasmagoria is sung), but what about the treatment of the characters!? That's pretty much the gist of it. And furthermore, since we made it so much easier to empathize with the heroines in comparison to other RPGs, it only makes the shallowness of the endings stand out that much more... so I can understand very well the opinions you all have about the endings of Ar tonelico.
We misread our target audience and in the end, we disappointed them regardless of the quality of the game or of the expectations they had, giving them an unpleasant time. Next time we develop a game, I'll keep this experience on mind and continuously ponder about what our players would want from us while I work on it
[ ■３■戦闘システムは、飽きることなく遊べましたか？ ] #3: Did you enjoy the game without getting bored of its battle system?
The ones that didn't get bored with the battle system and the ones who did are more or less split evenly. Still, I also got several opinions stating that "All RPG battle systems end up getting boring one way or other".
I thought that Ar tonelico's battles were a bit different from that all other RPGs so far have offered due to its battle system. But actually, while there are several points that I won't concede as a developer, such as "the refreshing feeling of attacking with Song Magic" and "how guarding the heroines is an expression of bonds", I also got several positive responses in this Enquete that called it "novel" and "refreshing".
On the other hand, I also received several responses that say the following: "In just one battle you have the pattern you'll follow for all the others", "Because here's no difference at all between the heroines or the types of magic, the number of usable magic spells and characters is pretty limited", all of which say the game falls on a concrete pattern. According to the majority of opinions, the main cause for this is that "the enemies are too weak", and since they can win any battles without having to think up strategies for them, it feels that all the types of attack fall into a pattern. Still, the lack of possible actions the vanguards can take is also a runner-up cause for it.
Looks like the difficulty balancing, and the special characteristics of the characters and magic have been referenced quite a bit in the opinions and seem to be a consensus reached by everyone out there, so this is something I'll keep to use as a reference in the next product in which I work.
Okay, above is the report for the three points I mentioned at the start.
I truly received a large amount of serious opinions, which I'll use as a reference for having made me realize about several facts once I read them. It took me quite some time to count them because of the number surpassing my expectations far beyond I had imagined, but here is the complete report for you all.
Truly, thank you very much for having sent me your opinions.
I hope you all will continue supporting Ar tonelico in the future!
Well then, the next time I plan to temporarily return to disclosing secret setting information, so I think we'll talk about the "The Underside of the Underside of the Hymmnos Language ~Secrets of the Work~". I'm sure it'll be very useful to anyone out there thinking "I want to try using the Hymmnos language myself!"