In March 2020, Gust studio was relocated for the first time since its creation from Nagano Prefecture to a new location at Minatomirai in Yokohama. As part of a farewell to the old offices where Gust’s games have been created up until now, Famitsu and Gust invited many of the Atelier series artists who were legacy character designers over the years to return and share their memories. [Thanks, Famitsu!]
Here are the highlights:
- On the first day Kishida Mel (Arland series, Blue Reflection) came to the Nagano office to work on Blue Reflection, Gust producer Junzo Hosoi went with him to an interior shop in order to buy him his own chair, as he would be working at the offices long enough to need one. There’s a soundproofed room in the office where all of the artists would work, and Gust staff would usually just leave the artists alone as they worked in there.
- NOCO (Mysterious series) mentions that one time she came up with twelve different rough designs for Nelke in Nelke & the Legendary Alchemists and, when she was done, Hosoi told him to draw one more. Hidari (Dusk series) laughed and said he’s glad that this part of the character designer company culture has been carried over throughout the years.
- All the Atelier series character designers have drawn at Gust company offices and have gone through a phase where they felt they were unsuited to be the character designer for the series. Hidari had to ask advice from Kishida Mel when he was present for another project, while Toridamono only finally got some confidence after taking the first step and drawing some rough designs at the Nagano office. For NOCO, she was more feeling the pressure to meet up to expectations, but fortunately it was slightly better for him as the character design duties were split between him and Yuugen.
- Gust’s Atelier series is a rare case where character designers are put at the forefront of game projects, including appearing at stage events. According to Hosoi, this wasn’t the case before, but rather a change made during the PlayStation 3 era in order to give more focus on the creators, including character designers. It started with Atelier Rorona, but Kishida Mel was more talented when it came to being an entertainer than expected.
- When asked what sorts of games the character designers want to see in the future from Gust, NOCO says that she wants Gust to create a dark Atelier game, while Toridamono wants to see a sci-fi game. Hidari mentioned that the Dusk series was conceived to completely change the impression of the Atelier series and, as part of this, he drew some darker-themed and Japanese-themed concept art. However, that concept didn’t end up coming to fruition, leading to the Dusk series we know today. Hosoi said those ideas ended up getting fleshed out in Nights of Azure and Blue Reflection.
The latest game in the series, Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout, is available for the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam. The game recently became the best-selling game in the series.