Saturday, July 23, 2011

Engine demo - Interrogations

The very first part of the game that I decided to start working on, since I had a feeling it would be the most involved, was the interrogations - the portions of the game where you listen to a character talk about a subject, press them for more details or to get a reaction from them, and then present them with evidence to expose a lie if they're making one.  That portion of the game engine is more or less complete at this point, and I've put up a video demonstrating the gameplay for this part of the game after the break.

More info after the break.

One of the things I really, really liked about the Ace Attorney series was the timing of the text display - it added pauses and slow-downs for effect, which made it very easy to read the text as one would hear it spoken, instead of just displaying it all from left to right without any pauses - and I've tried to have a similar feel to the textual display in this game as well.

The conversation itself was defined using (at least in my opinion) a very intuitive conversation declaration pattern that I designed myself for this game engine, which looks (in part) like this:

ChangeCharacter Left TwilightSparkle       
ChangeCharacter Right AppleBloom       
ShowDialog Left Apple Bloom, if you don't mind{HalfStop} I'd like to know whether you did anything unusual yesterday.
    ShowInterrogation Right Well, I don't know what you're lookin' for, Twi{FullStop} I spent the day with Applejack. Honest!
            ShowDialog Left {Aside}{Emotion:Sad}(She WAS with Applejack, but{Ellipsis}){/Aside} {Emotion:Normal}That's ALL you did{FullStop:?} Nothing else?
    ShowInterrogation Right {OtherEmotion:Normal}I definitely didn't go near the Carousel Boutique{FullStop} {Emotion:Defiant}Not once!
        BeginPresentEvidence CapeShred
        ShowDialog Left Apple Bloom, your sister represents the Element of Honesty{Ellipsis} {Emotion:Sad}but right now, you aren't being honest with me.

Currently this is all hard-coded in the game, but before long I hope to make it so that a source file like the above can be compiled into a conversation object that the game can then interact with.

I should note that my video recording software doesn't (at least as far as I know) enable the recording of any visual feedback for mouse clicks, so you'll have to mentally fill that in.  Clicking in empty space either moves to the next line of dialog, if the current one is completely displayed, or causes the current line of dialog to be completed, if it's still being displayed.

I should also note at this point that this scenario, although it comes from an idea that I have in mind for my short, first case in the game, is largely simply a testing ground for the game engine at this point.  The final version of the first case may or may not include this interrogation, and if it does, it may or may not resemble this version.

Finally, I should note that, as I said in my previous post, both the visuals and the audio seen in this video are tentative - I've put them up just so I can have something to look at and hear while testing out the game engine.  The final product may look and sound quite different.


  1. This is incredible. The only thing I can honestly say rubs me the wrong way right now is the font, which is difficult to read... At, I believe you could ask around for the actual Ace Attorney font. We're a community dedicated to making AA and AAI fangames, actually.

    I might be able to help with making the character poses -- were you looking for pixel sprites or normal art? On /co/ I'm Lucien Lachance. I haven't done much pony-related work, but I have a little recognition, and I need to do somewhat similar art for a project I'm working on as well. If and when you do eventually decide to use new artwork, you can contact me:

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  3. I can't wait to see how this develops! I look forward to trying to interrogate Pinkie Pie, with an emphasis on try. ^.^

  4. @Techercizer

    Hah, in thinking about it, Pinkie Pie might actually be a really, really fun character to design interactions for in this game. You can't defeat the illogical with logic, so it could make for quite an unorthodox puzzle for players. I'll have to keep that thought in the back of my mind regarding what I might like to do with Pinkie.

  5. Anyway to remove the obnoxious sound the text makes when it scrolls across the screen? it's always been a big issue for me with those games - I'm a very fast reader, so that sound is constant.

    OTherwise, looks FANTASTIC

  6. @The Lord of Ábrocen Landmearca

    It would be a pretty easy thing to put in the game settings to give the gamer the option to turn off the text display sound, so I would imagine that would certainly be something I could do.

  7. This thing is magnificent! Can't wait for it to be finished. Not rushing you, of course.

  8. @Anonymous

    Thank you kindly! :)

  9. Oh man, this is wonderful! I can't code for my life, but I'm a huge AA fan and I'd love to lend a hoof anyway I can! If you are at all interested in some help, let me know!

  10. While this is a good idea, there are a few things that irk me. Don't be offended, I'm amazed with your progress so far.

    First of all, to simulate Ace Attorney more, the icons for Press/Present/Bracelet/Magatama are in the corners/centre (referring to the GBA games, which had a good way of playing it).

    Next up, if you present evidence that's correct, the music should stop. That's self-explanatory and in EVERY Ace Attorney game to date. (maybe except the mobile game and GS4Jiten)

    Last of all, I want to assist with the fact that I can rip the instruments out of games with SDAT files (basically all Ace Attorney games on DS) and place them into your game for custom music possibilities. If you want it, that is. Just contact me from that URL with a PM.

  11. @Matt

    Once the implementation of the game engine is complete I'll certainly be looking for people skilled in visual art, sound design, or musical composition, so if you have abilities in any of those areas, you're certainly welcome to submit a sample of your work to mylittleinvestigations at gmail dot com for consideration. :)

    @Vinyl Scratch

    Thanks for the feedback! To respond to your points:

    1. I'm not trying to simulate Ace Attorney; I've said from the beginning that this is a game *based* on Ace Attorney, but I reserve the right to make my own design decisions, and one of those was moving the location of the press and present tabs. It felt better and more compact to have them all in a row next to the statement that is being pressed or presented, especially since this is on the PC and is controlled with the mouse.

    2. The audio and visuals are not final; this video is just a demonstration of the game engine. I didn't bother throwing in *all* of the frills that are hallmarks of the Ace Attorney charm because I didn't think it was necessary for the purposes of this demonstration, although given how many people have complained about their absence, I'm getting the sense that in the future I should just save myself the trouble and put them in anyway. :P

    3. As far as audio goes, I'm currently intending to first try to find a composer interested in collaborating with me on this project, since I know there are many talented musicians in the MLP fandom. If that falls through, however, I will certainly keep that in mind.

  12. Darn, I am not skilled or knowledgable in any of those things! I'm more of a story guy myself. I remember debating plot holes on the Ace Attorney fan website, that was a blast! Ah well, if you ever see a need for help, I have a skype.