The latest official posts from the Japanese Capcom blog reveal quite a bit of new information about Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice including new screenshots, the development process and the preview for tomorrow’s issue of Famitsu magazine.
According to the first blog post (translated by Rubia Ryu the Royal), Akitsuki-san (in charge of special effects), explains some of the process behind the conceptualization of the Divination Séance. Puppets and ghosts were thought of first but were tossed out for being too “out there” and downright creepy.
1) Brainstorming. Once the team has been decided, the scenario team, led by Yamazaki, set out to decide the game’s overall theme and setting. They basically throw out any ideas they have. As it’s brainstorming, they can’t shoot down each other’s ideas, it’s just coming up with ideas, because you never know what may come out. Examples he gives are:
a) What about a case about the Olympic Games!
b) Let’s have Phoenix fight in an illegal underground court!
c) Let’s have the victim on the witness stand as a zombie!
Of course, Ace Attorney has been around for a long time, so what they are looking for are “ideas that build on the fundamentals of the existing works, but are still surprising and fresh”. To do so, they also research and analyze all the previous works (not just AA5), go through user reviews etc. “What makes Ace Attoney, Ace Attorney?”. “What makes Ace Attorney fun as a game”. With a clear picture of the answer in their minds, they eventually decide on the overall theme and concept. Then it’s to the next phase.
2) Plotting. Here they decide on the overall story of each separate episode. The ‘building plans’ of the game. Questions they look at here are for example:
a) How should the level design be? (i.e. difficulty)
b) What will happen when and where, and how does this develop the story?
c) Where will we pull the player in and surprise them?
Once the plots are ready, they review them within the team, pointing out bottlenecks if present etc. They discuss each episode thoroughly. The discussions take up a lot of time, as they often remained in the meeting rooms until very late at night or stayed cooped up in the meeting room for days. But once the plots are finished, they can go to the next phase.
3) Scenario writing. Here the individual talents of each writer come alive. Some are better at coming at a mystery plot, some are better in conversation writing, some better at comedy. That’s why the scenario writing isn’t finished when the main writer is finished: many lively discussions follow. It’s this ‘chemical reaction’ with the others which helps make the scenarios better. And when the scenarios are finished, there’s one more stage to go through.
4) Direction (presentation). Because Ace Attorney is a game, direction is also very important. Graphics, music and sound effects all make the scenario come alive. And the more potential a scenario has, the higher levels the direction/presentation can reach. The person responsible for this will probably write about this on the blog.
Fukuda describes the AA6 team which makes games in a logical way, with a clear order of thing to do. There is a certain logic to what makes a good scenario. Like how karate has basic ‘kata’, there are also basic ‘kata’ to master when writing. So a fun scenario comes from ‘logic’. On the other hand, they aren’t just mass producing something, but they are aiming to make a unique work. To present the players with a game that is filled with fun and shocks, they also need to hit upon great ideas, and have the passion to make a good game.
Check out the preview scan from Famitsu, which showcases more of Phoenix’s daughter Trucy Wright as well as Maya and Ema Skye.