Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Little Investigations - Engine Demo - Partners

As the Joker might say, "And here... we... go."

The next engine demo is up, this time demonstrating - drumroll please - partners!  This is something that people have been asking about for quite some time, so I'm happy to finally be able to talk about it.  Hopefully people like it.  It would suck if people didn't. :P

Anyway, without further ado, I'll let the video do the rest of the talking:


  1. It's kind of a shame that this part isn't in the game or anything... But it's nice to see how this "partner" system will work.

    Also, the ending was awesome! XD

  2. Well, I always liked the partners in the games (despite not being very useful most of the time), so it's nice to see them implemented here, and your improvements are a nice idea. Great stuff! :)

  3. For the hidden items mechanic, you might want to consider making the items actually visible without Rarity, even if they are fairly tiny. Then, make having Rarity as a partner give you the counter for how many 'hidden' items there are on a screen, and make them sparkle as they do in the video. I can honestly say that a large number of invisible item mechanics in games tend to bug me, as I'm always worrying that I missed some, and if I'm wandering around a screen for more than five minutes trying to spot any invisible items, it can get rather tedious. Other than that though, I think the whole partner mechanic here looks awesome, and I can't wait to play this. Thanks!

  4. Looks Great!
    Loving it keep up that amazing job your doing!

  5. I love your partner ideas! You don't have to stick to the AA formula 100%, and i don't think you have ANYTHING to worry about with your creative additions here!

    *brohoof* I wish i could help in some way, but i'm borderline incompetent with all things computers :(.

  6. At Anonymous 5:14 PM,

    Hey dude. You can still help out with the game when the Gabu is finished with the engine. As of now, we are looking for Beta Testers, Artists, Music Composers, and talented VA's for MLI.

    We aren't recruiting now, but if you know somebody who can contribute in the slots listed above, let us know and we'll keep in them in mind!

    Thanks for the interest and I'm glad you liked the Partner System. ;)

  7. ever since finding out about this game, ive been thinking about some things plot-wise, and this is as good a place as any to ask a question i have. feel free not to answer if doing so would spoil the content or youve answered it elsewhere.

    from what i understand, twilight is the main investigator and protagonist in this game. which is all very well...but investigation is not her special talent. magic is. hence her magical cutie mark. what would happen, therefore, if she were up against a pony for whom investigation was their special talent? would they cooperate, or compete? and if twilight wins over said pony, despite not being an expert in the field, would that mean the cutie mark was a lie?

  8. Another brilliant update, I love hearing how progress on this is going and this is no exception.

    It's quite an interesting take on the parter system, having them actually be useful is certainly going to be helpful, and could lead to some interesting puzzles trying to find the right partner for the job. I'm curious as to what Pinkie's active ability will be. A few questions, if you don't mind answering. Will the partners react to the things you examine, like they would in AA? And then would each partner have their own unique dialogue for examining things and general conversation? I'd certainly be the sort of person who would go through the same area with different partners, just to see what they say.

    Oh, and I love the city background you have there, it looks great.

    Keep up the good work, I look forward to seeing more on this.

  9. An excellent update, and that ending was so adorable! The partners system looks great, and I agree that it fits quite nicely with the show's emphasis on friendship and working together.

    I think the first case (or first few, depending on the number available when the game is released)shouldn't have any irrelevant hidden items, and then introduce more and more "useless" items over the course of the game. Either that, or when Twilight first comes across an irrelevant item, she say something along the lines of "..I really don't think this will be of any use in this case..." This should give players the clue that not all items will serve a purpose, and keep them from trying to figure out why they still haven't discovered a use for certain items over the course of the case.

    It's probably something you've already thought about, but I figured I'd throw my opinion out there.

  10. [Haha I posted so much I had to split it across too comments.]

    Just to put my two cents in, I actually really enjoyed most of everything introduced in the update -except- for the idea of hidden items, and red-herrings.

    The hidden items mechanic, although it sounds kinda cool in theory, seems like in practice it would be tedious and potentially frustrating for players. It's annoying having to, upon finding Rarity, search out every single location you've visited throughout the case, combing the place over like a metal detector and keeping an eye out for these little sparkles on the ground. I think that it would feel like too much of a chore to have to do that, and the idea of them being hidden in the first place feels like... artificial padding of game play, more than anything.

    However, if you're really keen on keeping it then I think it would be best if you made sure it didn't feel random. Which is to say, I think the player should always know what they're looking for. Having them randomly stumble onto a scene and find a piece of evidence they were not even expecting to find feels kind of cheap, as that makes it feel like the investigation was based on 'dumb luck' rather than competent detective work. Instead, it should be clear to the player that there is some sort of hidden item they are looking for in order to progress the investigation. Essentially, Rarity's role should be more like that of the other investigations: her use is strongly hinted at, and in specific places, not an extra mechanic heavily present in every case.

    For simplicity, suppose in a murder case (I know you'll be avoiding this in the actual game as much as possible) the murder weapon is missing, but Twilight is quite sure that it's still somewhere on the scene. Because the player has been hinted that the murder weapon is there, but somehow hidden, Rarity can be consciously brought in to help look for it. Another example perhaps is that a partner or witness has misplaced some sort of item that they want to get back before they'll help you out.

    Also I'd recommend that Rarity highlights any non-hidden pieces of evidence that may have been overlooked also. Sometimes people simply miss small objects on the overworld map because they don't stick out as pieces of evidence. So Rarity can be a tool to assist players stuck on pixel-hunts, rather than looking for arbitrarily hidden items.

  11. Lastly I'd like to discourage the idea of 'useless' items. In mystery novels red herrings can be safely used because usually in a book, although the reader is trying to solve the case along with the detective, they aren't in control of the narrative themselves and so when a lead does turn out to be false the detective can feel along with the reader and success can still be guaranteed by the end of the novel. A video game mystery is different though because the player MUST be able to solve the crime using the evidence provided. Because the player is in control, the presence of red herrings creates a number of problems:

    - It makes the game more frustrating. Nothing is as discouraging is searching down the route of a new piece of evidence you found, just to turn up nothing and find out it had nothing to do with the case at all. Although it may seem like no big deal to the creator, a typical player will find failures and false leads frustrating to fall for, and ultimately put people off trying to complete the game.

    - It punishes creativity and makes the game appear especially railed. Whenever you introduce a new piece of evidence you run the risk of a player thinking of a creative way to use that evidence to explain a crime, to get information out of witnesses, or just progress the story in general. Because video games are preset, unlike role playing, creative players can feel walled by the rigidity of the system and forced into taking that ONE particular action that the developer had in mind for how to continue. Adding red herrings only makes this worse because although a player may come up with a few ideas on how it fits into the picture, the developer outright intended for it to be ignored and their deductions go completely unconsidered.

    - It's unnecessary. The true beauty of a puzzle is the ability to make things difficult to figure out, even though all of the puzzle pieces are right there in front of your face, but once a listener here's a solution they realize just how much sense it makes and they can't help but grin at the mastery of it. Good puzzles don't need red herrings. They need creative logic that isn't obtuse. Nothing more.

    This is all just my opinion though, so if you disagree then that's your choice and I won't stop supporting this project over it. It's looking absolutely great and I can't wait to try it out.

  12. Wow MCXD! I completely agree with your opinions on the hidden items/red herrings. I especially agree that Rarity shouldn't be reduced to being a "metal detector" by having to search for hidden items.

    The ability for her to point out items that should be visible but the player somehow missed also sounds like a good idea, so that if you feel stumped, Rarity may reveal that one bit of evidence you might have glanced over.

  13. Hey, i can´t wait for a demo to come out! My two cents worth is this;

    1. If Rarity is the only means of finding hidden items, at least make it so her area of effect is bigger then the one little plot youre standing on, a 3x3 surrounding twillight would probably be allright, that way you don´t have to waltz all over the place.

    2. And you said in the video that the partners will have their rest-area or something on separate locations. Now, even if you only string together 6 or so screens for a case, having to walk back and forth and switch does´nt really sound that fun, why not make it so that once they are "activated" and avaiable, you can just switch between the ones you have activated with a buttonpush.

    3. I don´t see any problems with the red herrings, as long as they lead to some new dialog, maybe even some jokes, otherwise what´s the point.

    4. Once this game comes out, whatever you do, please, please don´t put it on Facebook. Make it so you don´t have to register anywhere to play. Although you can´t charge for this game, you should consider having some kind of tip-jar, if this game becomes half as good as it looks i would be among the first to give u and ur team? (if you have a team) a tip.

    Keep up the great work!

  14. It's great to see all the progress!

  15. Oh, and one thing more!
    Although i liked the joke at the end, it was abit out of character for fluttershy, she usually gets really apologetic and nervous around anyone who is´nt allready her friend or an animal other than a pony. Sooo, fluttershy needs to be abit shy:er in the actual game.

  16. @MCXD

    Woah!!! Thanks for the excellent feedback! Anyway, Gabu and I are still refining Rarity's Active Ability. We still want her to be used in the field, but I understand both of your major concerns.

    1. "Red Herrings" was actually an idea of mine when we first thought of ability for Rarity. Gabu quickly pointed out the obvious flaws in that and instead, we decided that players will only pick up pieces of evidence that relates to the case in some way. The once misleading clues will most likely be used for moments of lighthearted humor and perhaps some awesome Easter Eggs in MLI.

    I totally forgot how pissed these fake clues made me when I was playing LA Noire. That feature dragged out some cases far too long. I'm glad Gabu and you convinced me to make the change.

    2. Oh don't worry about Rarity's Active Ability becoming a chore for players. We are planning to add a counter to the screen that highlights how many remaining pieces of evidence (BOTH hidden and in plain sight) are at each scene. That way, players will know when to stop an investigation at a particular location. This counter will ONLY appear when Rarity is your partner.

    And trust me, we WILL make it clear via the dialogue and story about where players should investigate. Not every piece of hidden evidence will just be small/invisible to the eye. We plan to be very creative with her ability in order to not make her a mere metal detector as some has stated here.

    Thanks for the feedback on the system and of course, your interest into this game!!!

  17. Let me preface this comment with an exclamation of enthusiasm for this game. I really enjoyed investigative DS games, and combining them with ponies just makes it exponentially better (most like it does with all things).

    I think the innovative new ways to use partners is a terrific idea that strengthens the game as well as reinforces some of the ideas brought forth in the show - reliance on and faith in one's friends. I would suggest Rarity's power is sparingly used (only to find hidden evidence at a scene where you already intuitively know something is missing) and discourage the frustrating presence of "red herrings". You want your end result to be pleasing (as opposed to frustrating) and tight, not sloppy. The introduction of useless items runs counter to that design philosophy.

    Please keep posting your progress - this is seriously one of the most exciting game developments for MLP and I can not wait to play the finished product!

    -Brohoof /)(\

  18. Just saw the first few engine videos for the game, and I have to admit, kind of EXCITED! Like... just a little. I have to admit that I haven't actually played the Ace Attorney games, but I may have to put that on my list so that I can appreciate this game, and comment on it more. Instead, I'll use my previous LA Noire experience to comment.

    I like the idea of having a partner that has to help you out in certain situations, but the question is are you going for a game that is more clear cut, "railed" style of, find X,Y,Z, show to pony A,B,C, resolution; or instead one where something could go wrong? My thinking is, and to use this video as a launch point, bringing Rainbow Dash to Hooves and having her "help" only to set him off and now unable to talk to him, therefore hampering that case. Not making impossible mind you, but now a bit tougher.

    Also, a few people have said it here, I don't think invisible items are a good idea, unless they fit in the story (ala Trixie trying to cover something up). I'm sure you guys will figure it out, and make it awesome!

    Last thing, and this is more of a plug for myself than anything else, I noticed in the first comment that in the future, you may be looking for other people to help in the project. I may not be able to fit in the roles of a lot of the main characters (stupid being a guy!), but I hope that I can help with any VA work you may need.

    Excellent work so far, and I'm really excited to watch this project as it comes to fruition!

  19. @Zeus Assassin

    I am a music composer, and my buddy MC43 told me that I should come here and talk to you guys about when you start recruiting for Music Composers. Please let me know if/when you start recruiting, I'd LOVE to be a part of this project!

  20. @ Anonymous 7:22 PM

    Thanks for the interest in the game. As for red herrings, I've already addressed that in an earlier post. It was just a rough idea of mine that was quickly pointed out by Gabu soon after the video was released. There won't be fake clues in the game since even in AA, the clues were all relevant to the case in some shape or form.


    The partner system is designed so that you only need about one partner to take down a tough witness or find something useful in the field. And even if you have the right partner, you still must find the correct statement to use it on or else you won't get anywhere.

    As for your VA work, please wait until we start recruiting before you submit any work to us for review. But, if you made prior work that can be viewed by the public then let us know! Get your name out there and it'll make recruiting a whole lot easier for us when the time comes.

    @Drum and Brony

    Great! Again, please let Gabu or I know about your work. Don't submit anything to us as it will be ignored until we officially start recruiting. I'm just so glad to see so many fans wanting to get in on this project!!!

  21. @ZeusAssassin

    Well hold on a second, I'm not going to just IGNORE it. :P I'll definitely take a look at it. I'll just not be making any final decisions until the game engine is complete and we're ready to start work on the cases themselves.

  22. @MC43

    I'm planning on it being more or less linear. I personally prefer video games that have one story that they try to tell really well, as opposed to making things more open-ended. There are arguments in favor of either design, so ultimately it comes down to taste, and right from the get-go my personal goal was basically just to make a game that I personally would really like to play; it's hard to get passionate about it if you make it for anyone else.

  23. @GabuEx

    My bad Gabu. I just thought we'd want to avoid seeming a bit biased to the public with our selection for positions by accepting early submissions/work. If you are ok with them submitting some stuff to us, then I'm cool with it too!

  24. @GabuEx

    No! Please, I was just curious as what you were trying to make! In no way was I trying to sway your actions one way or the other! I just caught wind of this game a few weeks ago, and was just excited to see the work put in. I hope I didn't offend or anything!

    I agree whole heartedly with your statement. How CAN one get excited for something they wouldn't want themselves? Please keep up the good work!

  25. @MC43

    Whoa, slow down there guy, I wasn't offended or anything; I was just explaining my reasons, since I know how unsatisfactory an answer can often be that contains no explanation or justification. Don't worry about a thing. :)

  26. Wow, this game becomes more and more amazing! And the partner system is a great improvement.

    Will their be situations where the choice of the partner isn't based on their abilities but on their character?
    Example: Spike stole some rubies out of the cookie jar, but doesn't admit it because he's afraid of Twilight's reaction (or something, I'm not that creative...). Based on abilities we would use Fluttershy, but it doesn't work. So instead of Fluttershy we use Rarity. She says something like "Real gentlecolts don't steal, Spike..." and BAM! Spike admits, case solved! (sorry again, terrble example, but you get the idea...)

  27. @Anonymous

    That's something I've considered. I can't really say "yes" at this point since I haven't really run into any situation during case planning to date where that'd come up, but I will say that it's something that I've considered in the past as a potential possibility. We'll see. :)

  28. Wow, I just came across this project yesterday, and I already want in on this project!

    You and ZeusAssassin are amazing people for making something like this. If there is any way at all that I can help (VA, programming [I'm currently learning how from my dad, who is a PhD of computer science], anything someone far away can do.)

    Like I said, I'd really like in on this project. I also have a few case ideas, based on features I have read about and seen, if you'd like.

  29. @UnfairAdvantage

    Hey, thanks for your interest!

    We're not recruiting at the moment, but we now only have one gameplay feature still to implement, and once that's done, we'll be having an official recruitment drive. That should be occurring in the near future, as in within a month or so, so be on the lookout for that. :)

    As for what we'll be looking for, that'll be primarily visual and audio artists. We've already got four cases in various stages of planning, and I can handle all of the programming, so unfortunately we probably won't be looking for writing or programming help in the near future. Voice acting is something we may be looking for, though.

  30. @GabuEx

    Alright, I'd love to try out for VA. I'll have to figure out who I sound most like in the pony world.

    Once recruiting begins, I will be sure to try out!

    I really can't wait until this game is finished. I, just like all the other bronies and pegasisters(hate this nickname) out there, excitedly await the next update, as well as the finished product.

    (I just hope macs will be able to play it.)

  31. @UnfairAdvantage

    Hmm, well unfortunately I can't really offer any promises as far as Macs go - I don't personally own one, and I've been told (although obviously I'm unable to verify this) that what this game is created with (C# in XNA) does not play nice with Macs. :(

  32. @GabuEx Ah, well. Worst comes to worst, I'll play it on the computer I'm sure to get during the holidays. It'll be a mac that has an intel core duo processor. Of that is too long a time from now, I'll just play it on a friend's computer.

    For now, I shall practice my VAing. Muahaahaha