» Interview: My Little Investigations

What’s been your biggest hurdle or challenge in programming the game so far?

GabuEx: I actually have to point to one particular element here that immediately jumps out at me: cutscenes.  Just about everything else in the game has a very logical place where it goes: areas contain locations, which contain evidence and characters, and those characters contain encounters, and those encounters contain conversations.  Everything fits… everything except for cutscenes.  Cutscenes are very bizarre entities, really—they only occur once, and they involve completely detached gameplay that’s unlike anything else in the game where the player has control to direct the flow of the game.  Where in the hierarchy do they go?  I eventually attached them to locations, but I’m still to date not entirely satisfied with their design.

dawnmew: GabuEx mentioned it earlier and I just barely brushed on it, but I worked on the game’s sound system. You’d think that sound playback would be straightforward in this day and age, and it should have been—the game library we used, Slick, did have a sound system built-in. However, as we found, that system was horribly inefficient, and for whatever reason, it lacked the ability to smoothly loop music playback. I went on to study sound, the OGG audio format, how to play it back cross-platform, how to make a song loop back to a certain point instead of the beginning for smoother background music loops… it took well over a month to get anything useful out of it. I guess I know a lot more about sound now, on the positive side!

The Ace Attorney games have a trademark writing flavor and style. How do you write in that style, and what considerations do you have to make when creating a case?

GabuEx: I think that the thing that succeeds perhaps more than anything else in terms of Ace Attorney’s writing is the absolutely flawless ability to blend both humor and drama into one complete whole, one that feels neither too humorless and serious nor too irreverent and emotionally ineffective.  That more than anything else is what I’d like to strive to bring to the writing in My Little Investigations.

ZeusAssassin: By playing Ace Attorney games on a regular basis, of course! Every time I replay a case, I take a good note of the styles used for each character in the game. As for considering how to create a case for MLI, there were many factors that we considered. First, we wanted to make sure the case we were writing wasn’t too grimdark for the show’s standards. Some may think not involving murder in an AA inspired game could limit our choices for crimes, but instead, it has brought out tons of creativity from Gabu and I. Working around this fact was part of the fun I had when talking about ideas for future cases! Another factor we considered was if the case had the potential to flesh out a part of Equestria. We simply did not want to write cases that took place in places the fans of the show are familiar about. We want to help build Equestria to the best of our abilities and  take players on a journey around this diverse country with Twilight Sparkle and co.

No Murder in My Littler Investigations

By Choosing to not focus on murders, My Little Investigations strives to be more creative with it's scenarios

GabuEx: I should say here that I definitely am not against grimdark MLP stuff in general in terms of what I enjoy from the brony fandom.  Turnabout Storm, for example, involves murder, and I think they’ve done an absolutely fantastic job with their production.  That series does, however, I think, have a different sort of “feel” than My Little Investigations, in that it stays much closer to the Ace Attorney formula.  That’s not by any means a bad thing!  It just makes it different, and not quite what we were going for in MLI.  Fundamentally speaking, we wanted from the outset to make MLI feel like the show as much as possible, and involving grimdark things like murder would’ve detracted from that goal.

Opposing prosecutors or investigators add an extra dimension to cases. Without spoiling too much, is there a plan to include a foil for Twilight in the game? If not, what about future cases?

GabuEx: Players will not be seeing a proper foil for Twilight in case one.  Players will be seeing a proper foil for Twilight in case 2 and beyond.  That’s all you’re getting out of me. :)

ZeusAssassin: Hah, I wish I could tell you more, but anything more than what Gabu said is already too much. Stay patient everyone!

Your recent demo release went over very well. What goals did you have in mind for the demo?

GabuEx: The demo largely had three purposes.  First, it was intended to simply give the game’s fans something to get their hands on, both to prove that progress is being made and to show the direction in which the game is being taken.  Second, it was intended to build hype for the game, and get more people both interested in it and anticipating its eventual release.  Third, it was intended to solicit feedback from the masses on what we’ve got so far, in the hopes that we can get valuable feedback regarding its direction, playability, logic to puzzles, et cetera.  I think that it definitely succeeded well on all three accounts.

ZeusAssassin: I think another goal Gabu forgot to mention was that we wanted to show that this game wasn’t going to be an Ace Attorney rip-off. We wanted to make sure people are expecting the right things and that they understand what MLI’s direction is. So far, most of the fans have been pleased with the demo and I know they can’t wait for more content to be released!

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