I recently got a chance to interview some of the staff at MangaGamer about the upcoming release this May of the game ‘The House in Fata Morgana.’ Questions were taken from some of the WTG and TDM members and presented to MG Staff for your reading pleasure, so without further ado…
First off, thanks for taking the time to answer these question. I have questions about MangaGamer and Fata Morgana from the community. For the start, though, we’d like to have an introduction of each person. Just a little blurb about who you are, what you did for Fata Morgana/do for MangaGamer, etc. Basically, who are you and what do you do?
Jeremy: Hey, I’m Jeremy Davidson–or, as I go by on the internet, BlackDragonHunt. I initially began working for MangaGamer as a programmer, and not long after that, I started doing translation as well. So I handled both the translation and programming on The House in Fata Morgana.
Gerald: Hello! I’m Gerald Hiltz, better known on the Internet as ritobito, and editor of The House in Fata Morgana. This is my third project with MangaGamer (after Kara no Shoujo 2 and Gahkthun of the Golden Lightning), and a VN that’s very near and dear to me. It’s also been a blast to work with Jeremy again!
J: Before joining MG, Gerald and I also did a little bit of fan translation, so we’ve been working together in some capacity for several years now.
Kyle: Hello, I’m Kyle Roberts. People know me online as Bubusan. I am the image editor/graphic designer who worked on The House in Fata Morgana.
From a translation standpoint, how hard was it bringing Fata Morgana to the English language?
J: Honestly, Fata Morgana is probably the most difficult translation project I’ve worked on, for several reasons (some of which we can’t get into here).
To start with, every chapter has a fairly distinct atmosphere to it, so making sure that came across in the translation proved quite the challenge. Though I feel like Gerald did a great job bringing that unique flavor out in the text.
G: One interesting aspect of Fata‘s language is that, even in its original Japanese, the vast majority of its dialogue is in a modern (that is, contemporary, year 20XX) style.
At first, I made a rather YOLO attempt to adapt its first chapter (set in the 17th century) into a more historically accurate dialect, but… let’s just say we decided against that pretty early on!
J: Oh yeah. That’s one thing that might come off as a bit… odd about the text at first, but it’s a deliberate stylistic choice. While there is some “flavor” language for each period and region, the game does not strictly adhere to the language that existed in the various time periods depicted. (And I dunno about anyone else, but I sure couldn’t write anything in English as it existed in the 11th century.)
G: That would have been Old English, which would sound like gibberish no matter how accurately we’d actually be able to write it.
J: And on the subject of the different time periods, Fata Morgana also makes a number of references to historical events, people, and locations, so making sure everything remained historically accurate in translation was another big challenge. Lots of research, and even consultation with people much better versed in history, went into the translation.
K: Basically what those two said. Being the artist, I didn’t have a hand in the translation, but watching these two go through the translation and editing, I could see how difficult it was.
Who’s your favorite character in Fata Morgana?
J: Maria. *cough*
G: Definitely Michel. Without going into too many details (pardon me if I say this a lot), I found him the most relatable and interesting of the bunch.
K: I honestly haven’t read through the game yet but to pick a favorite is quite difficult because the art style is just amazing. But if I was to pick one it would have to be The White-Haired Girl.
J: Okay, so more seriously, it’s really hard for me to pick a favorite–I love almost all of the cast. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to get into much detail about why without spoiling things. So for now, I’ll go with Maria–one of the main characters in chapter 3. She, in particular, was one of the most enjoyable characters to write for. She’s a spunky, fun, slightly foul-mouthed woman, which provided a lot of opportunities for some really great dialogue (which Gerald then went and enhanced several times over).
G: Only slightly foul-mouthed!
How does it feel to bring over games from Japan and inspire new fans with them?
G: Introducing people to cool things I enjoy is why I got into localization in the first place, after all! In the case of Fata Morgana, I’m extra excited because it totally feels like the kind of game that Western VN fans (not to mention those who haven’t played a VN before, or even those who tend to dislike the tendencies of the medium) will really appreciate.
K: It’s a great feeling to bring games to people who couldn’t access these games because of the language barrier. Same as Gerald, it’s the reason why I got into localization. But to see how Fata Morgana is received, it’s leaving me quite anxious but also excited.
J: Somewhere between AAAAAH and AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH, personally. I love being able to bring amazing games like Fata Morgana to an audience that wouldn’t be able to experience them otherwise. It also terrifies me that people will be spending so much time reading text that I wrote, that they might not like my translation, or that they might not like the game. When you spend so long working on something, you kind of grow attached to it. It becomes your baby, and you’re afraid the big, scary world might eat it alive.
G: Also, what Jeremy said! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t incredibly anxious about how this game will be received, but I’m confident that there are many others out there who will fall in love with it as we have.
J: But yeah, I do agree that Fata Morgana has the potential to appeal to a lot of people who might not otherwise be interested in visual novels, and I hope they’re willing to give it a chance. (And if you’re on the fence, we’ve got a demo available you can try right now!)
What was your favorite part about working on Fata Morgana?
G: Having the soundtrack on loop while working on its most intense, emotional scenes. The Fata Morgana staff takes great pride in the game’s music for a reason; it really adds so much to the experience.
J: Maria. *cough*
G: Also, yeah, Maria.
J: At the moment, I think my favorite part is the beta testers’ reactions as they go through the game. I think we’ve probably traumatized them.
G: Oh yeah, it’s been a lot of fun watching the testers squirm! But isn’t it always?
J: It’s an emotional roller-coaster, to be sure. I really look forward to seeing how others react as well.
K: For me personally it was working with the GUI and Steam assets. The art style is just gorgeous. Working on those two allowed me to really explore the techniques used by the artist.
J: And I feel obligated to add, Kyle did some absolutely amazing work with the image editing. Being a visual novel, the visual aspect is, naturally, an important part of the experience, and he did a great job making sure everything fit in and felt natural (as well as putting up with my constant nitpicky requests).
Now that the game is in the later stages of development and about to be released, how is the team feeling? Excited to see the project at its end or feeling a little sad that all the work is about over?
J: A little bit of everything. Nervous, excited, scared, you name it.
G: Very much excited, and it takes a lot of willpower not to spend the next month going over the entire game yet another time just to make it that much more polished!
J: I don’t think I’ll ever stop polishing. I don’t know that I’m capable of stopping.
G: Same. Same…
K: I’m with these two. I’m going through a whole plethora of emotions, but I’m mostly looking forward to the release and hoping people enjoy the game.
Any last words for our readers?
J: Please enjoy the game! We’ve poured our hearts and souls into making it the best we possibly can, and I hope that comes through in the final product.
G: Thanks for taking the time to read this interview, and I hope you give The House in Fata Morgana a try! As Jeremy said, we’ve really put our everything into it, and it’s been such an honor to work on.
J: Yeah, it really has. I’m so glad I had the chance to work on this wonderful game.
K: As these two said, thanks for your time, and I hope you enjoy Fata Morgana and the work we put into this.
G: Again, you can check out the demo now, which covers a good chunk of the game and gives you but a taste of what it has to offer.
I do hope you all enjoyed that interview! The House in Fata Morgana is currently up for pre-orders on the MangaGamer website, and will be released on May 13th (5 days before my birthday!) this year. Also, as Jeremy stated in the interview, there’s a demo available on the MG site in case you want to try out the game before issuing a monetary commitment!