PAX East 2016: Continuing to be Brave: A Development Story (Bravely Second: End Layer Panel Highlights)

Didn’t make it to the Bravely Second: End Layer panel yesterday? Don’t have the time to wade through the video for the highlights? No worries! We have what you’re looking for right here. This panel was presented by Masashi Takahashi (Bravely Second: End Layer co-producer, Square Enix) and John Townsend (lead localization, Square Enix), along with Rob Tunstall (localization, Nintendo of America).

The panel presented to a packed crowd of JRPG fans, and gave attendees some insight into the creation of Nintendo’s latest JRPG offering, which only recently released for Nintendo 3DS on April 15th. There’s often a lot of controversy surrounding localization of games—which we often cover here on this site—so it wasn’t a surprise to see passionate fans wanting to know more about this process and why certain choices are made when taking a game from one country to another.

Takahashi starts the panel by discussing how Bravely Default, the first title in the series, was intended to be an “ultimate JRPG” for a Japanese audience, with absolutely no intention of bringing the game to overseas audiences—so it was a wonderful surprise at how well-received it was by players outside of Japan. Because of this, Nintendo brought Bravely Default to the rest of the world.

If you have a chance to watch the recording of the panel, you’ll get a chance to see a short video that compared early demo screens of Bravely Default with the final product, and the differences are fascinating to see. For example, walking speed, NPC faces, map zoom, and increasing the speed of sleep cycles.

How did the team’s experience with creating Bravely Default inform their process and decisions on Bravely Second? They wanted to make it an intuitive game, a stress-free experience for players so that both new and returning fans could pick it up and play through without confusion or frustration. Literally six months on internal test play went into getting combat & the battle system perfect, and as Takahashi said, “we made sure to include internally new players who have never played Bravely Default. We thought the original game was smooth but we refined it.”

In terms of the timeline, new players won’t have to scratch their heads in confusion—there is a prologue cut scene at the beginning of Bravely Second that explains the events of Bravely Default, and what the characters have been doing in between games (there are several years in between in terms of the game’s timelines). Takahashi explained the storyline like this: “When the story begins, Agnes has been promoted to the Pope of the Christian orthodoxy and she is getting a peace treaty done. Right on the verge of this historic moment, this masked figure, Kaiser Oblivion, throws a wrench into the work and takes her away. Our new protagonist Yew sends forth on a quest to rescue Agnes from Kaiser.”

Attendees of the panel were treated to some character designs for Magnolia, a new character, Yew, the new main protagonist, Edea (whose design has altered slightly from the first game), Tiz (whose design is quite different now based on what has happened with him between the games), Agnes, a returning character, and both Janne and Nikolai who are cavaliers of the Crystal Knights.

What about the job system in Bravely Second? The team has expanded the roles within the game, for example, Catmancers (which are incredibly popular in Japan!). Yes, that’s what It sounds like—they use cats to attack. According to the team, players who choose Catmancer don’t tend to change their characters’ job afterward because they love it so much! The panel also showed off Patissier (better for veteran players) and Wizard (magic users).

However, the discussion of the game’s localization was what a significant portion of the audience was waiting for…and according to John Townsend, the Japanese script for the game came with 700,000 characters, or roughly 300 English words. According to Townsend, “we tried to stay tuned to the original script and keep the light-hearted tone” that makes the game so much fun.

The challenge came with maintaining the pop culture humor and puns inside the game, as almost every side character’s name is some kind of pun. For example, a name that might directly translate in Japanese as “Mrs. I Married Him for the Money” had to become “Mrs. Gold Digger.” An even bigger challenge came in the form of the characters which use Japanese dialects that are difficult to translate. Literally fifty voice actors took months (and did double or triple duty!) to record all of the audio for Bravely Second.

A brief Q & A followed the official presentation, and of course one of the first questions posed was: Will there be a Bravely Third? Takahashi explained that company policy prevented him from commenting on that specifically, but he also explained how dear the games are to him and his career.

Some closing thoughts from Takahashi were to thank the PAX audience for attending, as the team was unsure if they’d be able to fill the room at all! They were grateful to meet fans and really experience first-hand the love for their games, bringing the panel to a close on a high note of gratitude and appreciation.


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Author: Faith View all posts by
Faith likes games and books and cake and writing and Lara Croft, not necessarily in that order. She also thinks a Skylanders cartoon show is a really, REALLY good idea...

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