Question Time with Nich Maragos from Atlus

The hype for Persona Q is so great that it’s nearly tangible at this point, and for good reason. So for Episode 44 of the podcast, we’re very fortunate to be joined by Nich Maragos from Atlus to talk all about the game.

Nich has been part of the localizing team at Atlus USA for a number of years now, with Persona Q being one of his current projects. So if you have a question regarding the localization process, what it’s like working at Atlus, and of course details about Persona Q by all means ask away in the comments section below!

Note: This Episode will be recording on ht 28th, so you have just over a week to get in a question.

27 thoughts on “Question Time with Nich Maragos from Atlus

  1. I’m on the fence about this game simply because of the first person perspective, as I don’t like it. Why the change?

    • The easy answer is that it’s based on the Etrian Odyssey series, with the same engine, same director as Etrian Odyssey 4, and the artist and musician for Etrian contributing for certain parts of the game.

      The “Q” was a reference to the Japanese name for Etrian Odyssey, but that got lost when it came overseas.

      • More specifically, the EO series is abbreviated to SQ in Japan as it’s called Sekaiju no Meikyuu there, and Q is shorthand for “Meikyuu” (labyrinth) specifically.
        So it basically makes no sense in English unless you’re willing to say it’s a reference to the “cute” character stylings. Good for designating in shorthand though.

  2. I’m just going to throw out some questions – feel free to cherry pick whatever you want from them:

    1). How much do you know about the upcoming games prior to them getting revealed in Japan? Hardin seemed a little uneasy when Sal Romano from Gematsu let slip that Persona 5 would be shown at Sony’s pre-TGS show, so I was wondering how much knowledge you know in advance for these things.

    2). Are there any parts of Q’s localization that you were particularly proud of? It always seemed it’d be tricky making something very, very Japanese more palatable to western audiences without stripping a lot of it out.

    3). As an extension of question 2, what was your favorite and/or most rewarding project to work on during your entire tenure at Atlus?

    4). Can you tease when we might hear about Atlus USA publishing any new games?

    • I’m putting these separately, because I don’t know if Nich would know the answers to them:

      5). Do you know how long the voice over sessions lasted for Q, and when during the year they were?

      6). Do you know whether the voice actors for Q will have their names listed in the credits?

  3. Hi guys!
    This is my first comment here, I’ve been lurking and listening to the podcasts for a while now and i enjoy them immensely, You guys are awesome :D.

    Now for the question : In both the US and JPN versions of PQ there is a disparity in the sound quality of voices between normal conversation and battle sounds, what is the reason for that?

    Thank you guys, looking forward the podcast :D.

  4. Nich! I still don’t know who I should play as first! P3 Hero or P4 Hero. I need you to decide for me, man, or I’ll be stuck at the decision screen for hours! What do I do? WHAT DO I DOOOOO!

    (So basically the question is — are the P3 and P4 sides substantially different and which one would you personally choose on your first playthrough. Thanks.)

  5. Do you normally have time to play through the games before translating them and how much does the development team, the directors specifically, interact with Atlus USA on the games localization.

    Have you met any of the Atlus Japan team in person and what where your impressions of them?

    And lastly, do you have any plans to rectify the messy European release of Shin Megami Tensei IV in the future, such as using SEGA themselves to release it in that territory or letting NIS America handle the games from now on?

  6. I know this is considered just Entrain Odyssey with a Persona skin but do you think this game has returned to it’s roots?Is the five person party and first view mode a call backs to Persona 1?Or am I just thinking into this too much.

  7. Some questions: (Levito and gang, please feel free to choose any in case it’s too long)

    PersonaQ is going to be my first EO-type game. Would Nich recommend beginners to just use the auto-map function? When would be a good time for beginners to try out the mapping function by themselves?

    Also…a second question: AtlusJP announced the revival of Devil Survivor 2: Break Record at their TGS stage event yesterday. Is Nich able to make any comments on that? (Note: I’ll understand if he’s not able to though..if he’s under NDA) We Atlus fans knew that John Hardin had dropped Yamato Hotsuin’s sister in a AtlusUSA newsletter before…

    Lastly: Why the decision by the marketing side to split the first print Tarot Cards bonus in two to both P4AU and Persona Q? I mean I’m still getting both but still…

  8. This may sound like a silly question, but how closely does Atlus pay attention to it’s Western audiences and to what extent do they play a role in making decisions on the game’s development/localization? I understand if you wouldn’t know about the development part, but any idea on how they make their decisions when localizing games?

    My follow up question is why does it take so long for Atlus to announce Western releases of games and anime? Persona 5 might not be the best example, since they did already say that it is coming to America in 2015, but they have yet to announce when it’ll be released for Europe. And then there’s the Persona 3 movies and the Persona 4 Golden Animation. These have been extremely popular so far and no word has been said for English Dubs of these series. It’s funny because Atlus has such a particularly strong track record when it comes to bringing things to the West, so it’s not really a matter of “if” as a matter of “when” and I wonder why they feel they need to hold off announcing such things…

  9. Thanks for doing this Nich! My questions aren’t really Nich specific but I hope will inspire some nice conversation.

    1. Do you think PQ will encourage people who may have only played P3/P4 and not EO to go back and try the original Persona (and EO of course) if they enjoy the first person dungeon exploration? Obviously P1 is a little clunky but certainly worth a playthrough.

    2. What do you guys think about the fact that we have P4AU, PQ, DAN, and P5 all coming out within a year of each other? Of course they’re all different types of games, but do you think there will be some cannibalization from releasing all these Persona games close together? Or do you think it will just help the hype for the other games (specifically P5)?

  10. Yoooo

    1)What are your thoughts on subPersonas? Do you think they’re something Atlus should revisit in the future? 2) Skillcards being usable by every party member; I think it’s pretty great that I can customize my party members to whatever I please (fighter Yukiko, healer Kanji, etc)
    3) Who is your favorite character? Despite everyone having access to subPersonas and skillcards, I still think each character is unique due to their natural skillsets and stat spread. I’m personally fond of the P4 protag myself because of his balance stat spread (near equal strength and magic) and access to Zio skills. What about you?

    What are your thoughts on this?

  11. Hi Nich. Persona 3FES was my very first Persona game. Should I start with it for the sake of memories, or will infamous (and the real) sis-con bancho Mr John Hardin be Jedi mind-tricking people to start with Persona 4 side because of Nanako goodness as well as his waifu Chie?

  12. how is their stance on the pricing issue with the nisa europe store since it kind of affects their sales. (for you info nisa wants GBP instead of euro which most european countrys use which results that it would be much more profitable for europeans to directly import from the us. since even with taxes and all you would still be 20 bucks cheaper)

      • Speaking as another customer here, the pricing is just not in line with other games here in the UK.
        An extreme example maybe, although it illustrates my point: I bought the Tales of Xillia 2 CE which includes a pretty big figure as its centrepiece for £80 no shipping. Whereas the Persona Q special edition would cost me £70 + £5 shipping with the UK being the cheapest shipping area by far. Being elsewhere in Europe easily doubles that postage cost at least.

  13. This is more of a personal question concerning your profession, Nich–how did you get involved in the localization process and was Atlus your first employer? Thanks in advance.

  14. Hey S.Link FM Crew and Nich. This is my first ever comment but my question is. What did you guys think of the English P3 Hero trailer for Q and having the main character Makoto Yuki be voiced by Yuri Lowenthal who is also voicing Yosuke. How do you think once we hear more dialoque how is Yuri going to do a good job voicing both especially at parts when both Yosuke and Makoto have coversations with each other. How was the process of having Yuri record dialoque for both characters since he probobly had to constanly swap between his regular silly-ish voice and his more darker emo-ish voice.

  15. What do you believe to be the best method for translating something that is likely more difficult for western audiences to understand than in it’s native region such as speech patterns, puns, references to media, etc.?

  16. Hey S Link FM and Nich.

    1. How do you guys decide how much to budget for localizations of games? Im sure this stuff is decided before the launch of the game in Japan in many cases. Also do Japan sales matter or affect things later in the process for a western release?

    2. Will we ever get a release of Laura’s True Story digitally or is it too late for anything to happen with that now?

  17. Thanks for doing this Nich! How difficult is it to keep localizations consistent, especially with the several year gap between P3 and PQ? What kind of steps do you have to take to make sure the localization of PQ is consistent with the original localization of P3, especially in regards to character mannerisms and naming devices?

  18. I had no idea a GIA guy was at Atlus! I got a million nonsense questions for him. Not sure if any of this shit’s gonna be relevant to wherever you’re taking the interview tho, sorry. (But, man, Nich Maragos! Awesome job getting him on. Love you guys.)

    >Who does continuity checking for PQ? Who is responsible for “ME EAT YOU WHOLE…”?

    >Any culturally iffy stuff you had to handle in PQ? (eg the transwoman to cougar transformation between P3 and P3P)

    >I’ve read you giving props to The Yawhg, visual novels, and several Twine games — these short, weird stories nothing like what you’re working on. Even the strangest Atlus games are still pretty literal minded and plot heavy. So I’m assuming you like all kinds of storytelling. Hell, you play NetHack. And professionally you go between writing about games and localizing for a big name company. That’s gotta be interesting. So this isn’t a real question, but I’m really damn curious what you feel strongly about, when it comes to game narratives. What do you get excited over? What do you want to be playing? Hows all those hours spent iterating dialog changed the way you take in a game?

    >What’s your personal stance on honorifics?

    >Any difference in USA team size for spin-offs, mainline Persona games and the numbered SMT titles? And is Atlus Japan less involved with the spin offs’ localizations? THE REAL QUESTION: If you were going to pull a Ted Woolsey, when would you do it?

    >Cultural festivals and creepy clock towers are Japan specific: any adjustments or explanations added for English players?

    >jrpgs tend to be over the top and you’re working on thin ice (seems to me) cuz you can’t read the original JP version of what you’re passing on. How do you keep all those ambiguous, kinda corny lines sounding sincere?

    >Were any characters’ speech patterns adjusted to make ’em stand out, now that the cast is huge?

    >Does PQ taking place in an alternate Yasogami mean Funky Student and the rest are gone? Did having less incidental dialog change the experience of localizing the game as a whole?

    >Generally, what’s the tone of PQ? Is it sitcom-y? Earnest?

    >For editing, how much is flow and how much is fine tuning to nail a certain personality? (Or is that too thin a line?) Are there characters you think were received differently because of changes you made?

    >Is internet slang in the Japanese versions too? Like how Chie says weaksauce and Yosuke knows what furries are. I’ve always wondered if normal, informal teen speak was changed to internet speak in translation because the western audience is such a niche or if everyone in P4 was a nerd all along.

    >Is it true you cloned Yuri Lowenthal?

  19. As a professional graphic designer and web developer for four years now, I’ve always been curious about who handles the graphic design for text-based images that need to be altered from Japanese to English. Is the bulk of this handled by a salaried staff member within Atlus USA itself, someone from Atlus Japan given instructions by Atlus USA (making sure that no “You are slave”s makes their way in), or is it a little of both, addressed on a case-by-case basis?

    I remember someone from Atlus talking about the design choices they made when localising Etrian Odyssey IV on sites like Siliconera, and have just sort of been curious ever since.

    Cheers!

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