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Drawing inspiration from various cultures, developing a gorgeous project inspired by faraway lands... Sound like a dream? This is what drove Artisan Studios to give life to Astria Ascending. United around its passion for a specific genre, the team at Artisan Studios called upon several Japanese veteran creators who worked on the Final Fantasy franchise. But why did they carry this project from one end of the world to the other, and how did it get so beautiful? Let's hear the team explain this and much more!

GOG.COM: For starters, could you tell us about your studio and explain the motives behind your decision to move the whole team from Paris to Québec? That's quite a trip!
Artisan Studios: of course! Artisan Studios is comprised of 18 people, with one team in Québec City and the other in Montpellier. We decided to embark on the adventure in Québec because we received financial support from the city of Québec, which helped us get settled and start the production of our first game.
Indeed, it was quite a trip for a lot of us, but we were in good hands, and the human experience proved very rich.

Your team speaks French, English, and Japanese, and aims to gain recognition in the Japanese market, as well as in the western world. What is it about the JRPG genre that fascinates you so much, when compared with games developed in the West?
Well, there are a few things. First, when we started playing console games, the first ones that we got to play were Japanese, of course!
Regarding JRPGs in general, they're probably the genre that made us feel the strongest and most beautiful emotions. We too wanted to create emotionally rich universes, stories, characters, and gameplay like only JRPGs know how to do.

Let's talk about Astria Ascending. Could you tell us a bit more about the story of the
game, its world, and what makes it special?

In Astria Ascending, we tried to address themes that are, generally speaking, rarely addressed in JRPGs. Family conflict and the responsibilities that come with parenthood, for instance.
We also think that the Focus Points system is quite unique and really makes it possible to turn the tide during combat. Add to that a great degree of character customization, and what you get is something that we hope is quite special.

We have to say, Astria Ascending looks... spectacular! You're using a rather peculiar technique, blending completely hand-drawn artworks that you integrate meticulously into the game, which allows you to create graphic universes that are completely unique. But how does it work exactly?
Thank you so much! Well, it's a rather unique technique that we have been developing for a few years. The idea is really to give players the chance to play with the artwork of the characters.
You know, it used to be, and it's still the case sometimes today, that we would look at artworks of the characters in the booklets or books, and the characters weren't really like that in-game. Well, in Astria Ascending, you'll really be playing with that artwork.
This process requires several phases, including clipping, rigging, redrawing, and a specific animation technique to simulate 3D depth in 2D.

Let's finish up with an easy question: what is THE best JRPG ever, the one that will never cease to inspire you?
That is a tricky question! There are lots, and lots, of great JRPGs. Naming only one is... impossible!
Chrono Trigger? Final Fantasy VI? Final Fantasy X? It's probably one of those three!

Are you ready to set off on an adventure whose inspiration spans continents? You should play Astria Ascending!
Sounds like they have good taste, if there's anything I love more than JRPGs it's traditional CRPGs, and vice versa!

I would have loved it if they also had French voiceovers as well, too bad they defaulted to using tween-level Saturday morning cartoon direction for the English voicework...

I hate that patronizing timbre of those *"toOOodally, like wow, soOOo cool, omg!" colloquialisms infecting non-domestic titles!

*(PFWotR has been infected by modern colloquialisms, though the acting is still incredible)

EDIT: I hope to see more from this studio!
Post edited October 01, 2021 by TZODnmr2k5
Personally, I don't think it looks nice at all. Both backgrounds and characters look worse than the average game IMO. The story is the main thing that could get my interest and it is interesting to hear that they tried to tell less frequently told stories. I might eventually give it a try depending on reviews.
joveian: Personally, I don't think it looks nice at all. Both backgrounds and characters look worse than the average game IMO.
Looks horrible to me. The character designs are overcomplicated and sometimes nightmarishly deformed, and purely from a gameplay perspective the characters and backgrounds all seem to blurr together into one messy, watercolor blob.
Post edited October 02, 2021 by Breja
You know, GOG could do with an embrace of multicultural influences too.

By the way, how's finding a QA & Data Engineer going? And where did that laundry list of positions vanish off to? I can't exactly imagine those half a dozen positions just magically filled themselves.

As for Asteria Ascending? It looks overdesigned. The designs are overdone and the menus are overflourished. All that space wasted in what could have just been a roller menu.

Fake Edit: Hang on a moment, is that her muff sticking out? (Attached image.)

Actual Edit: According to reviews from the other side, it appears to have the problem of not actually taking any design cures from games made say, 20+ years ago? Where adjustable text speed and animation settings were a thing, or just "Buy and Equip/Compare in store"?
Post edited October 02, 2021 by Darvond
I know the game is new but can anyone elaborate further on how "Family conflict and the responsibilities that come with parenthood" are presented in this game?
Multicultural gaming development is not something new. With the advent of internet communication and speed it's very common to have an indie development team that consist of people from various countries. Maybe a scriptwriter from USA, artist from Sweden, programmer from Japan, composer from Singapore etc etc and sometimes they never met irl at all and only via Discord or Zoom.

Now the most important point is, what they can bring to the (gaming) table? Games are produced in large quantities and vary in quality, but how they can convince us the spend our precious $$$ and time to play their game. I mean with specific programming softwares/apps they can target a specific demographic, but with gaming they must face people who can be pretty ruthless about their game.

And to be honest, other than looking like Valkyria Profile, what this RPG will bring to us? We already have so many great turn based RPGs on our table, is the multicultural team is the only way to sell this game? Make great gameplay so we can have fun, make great stories that will intrigue and engage us. Also family problems exist in some JRPG as well, like Suikoden 2, the first Nier (western version), Drakengard almost reaching that but the publisher Enix forced Yoko Taro to back down because it was 2004 and gaming back then is not as mature as today's audience.