Playing a Good Book

28 02 2008

My doctor’s visit was hardly arduous. The travel and heaping helping of greasy if tasty food took more out of me than the PTSD-hospital-angst I normally get. It probably helps that the hospital in question looks more like a cross between an airport and a hotel than a clinical hospital… which is creepy in its own way, but not in a way that gives me the flashback heebie jeebies. Plus, the actual appointment was like five minutes long and consisted of “You’re in pretty much the same state as last time, keep doing what you’re doing, reevaluate in 2 years.”

One nice thing about that day though was that Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney came in. This is the fourth game in the Ace Attorney / Phoenix Wright / Gykaten Saiban (horribly misspelled) / Turnabout Trial series, and they’ve replaced pretty much the entire cast with newcomers. That’s a surefire sign of jumping the shark but I think the series carries along well regardless; everybody still fills the roles required to make the thing work, and I’m sure after I finish I’ll have plenty of emotional attachment to these folks like I did to the previous cast. The only weak spot is the prosecutor, who’s more of a Stock Gag Character than the more nuanced Edgeworth… but in this series you never know when someone’s gonna get a highlight episode giving them massive backstory, so who knows?

What I really love about the series, though, is not the gameplay and puzzles — because often I KNOW what my destination is but I’m presenting the evidence too early, because the characters haven’t figured it out yet themselves, which kinda sucks. What I love instead is that it’s like reading a good book. You have a lie down on the couch, get comfy, and read reams of text, of characters going through their lives and gradually uncovering a mystery. And like a good book, it’s hard to put down once you start because it’s a real page turner / screen tapper.

Hopefully this will sell well enough for a GS5 / AJ2. Far as I’m concerned they could roll this series to the end of time and I wouldn’t get sick of it.

What else is going on right now…

Fishery continues. We’re rounding out the core content now, fixing a few bugs and prepping things like the dock packs and transparent aquariums. We’re going to have at least one “blueprint” quest at launch, possibly two. Still on track for a March 15th release.

I got interviewed for a DJing gig in SL. It was kind of odd, all these questions like “What would you do if person X was doing Y thing we don’t approve of?” and the answer is always “You ask X to stop it, then if they don’t, inform management.” Shouldn’t these things be obvious? Do I really need to be asked this five times in various permutations? In the end though I didn’t take the gig… because they wanted 2.5 hours a night for three consecutive nights every single week.

That’s 15 hours in a two week pay period, and I work 40 hours in the same span on my day job. That’s a PART TIME JOB, people, not a fun SL lark… and on top of all that I’m pretty sure they weren’t gonna pay me for it, either, AND they were expecting 10% of my tips. I shot that down fast, and instead got added to their fill-in / ad-hoc DJ pool, which is much more to my tastes. I don’t mind doing fun oneshots, but I am not taking up a second career. I have enough of that with my creative work.

I guess Jen and I are just lucky that what we’re good at happens to completely pay the bills in SL. We just.. have fun, and that fun generates money through some twisted process. The idea of having to WORK your ass off and run a Serious Business in SL doesn’t seem fun at all, and seems like it’d chew up time better spent doing things that keep you happy without costing an arm and a leg.

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14 responses

28 02 2008
omahdon

What’s a little unusual in AJ:AA is that there’s actually more characterisation/backstory for the defense side than the prosecutor side this time round. Gavin’s backstory never quite reaches the bitter, angst-driven crescendo of Edgeworth or Godot (or even the cute, heartwarming “aw” of Franziska von Karma) – while Apollo actually gets more fleshing out in one game than Phoenix ever received in any of his games.
Phoenix always seemed to be a bit of a do-gooding cipher around whom things just seemed to happen all the time – trapped in an eternal fight versus injustice and shady evidence. Apollo as a character gets to breathe a little more – not a lot more, but certainly more than Phoenix’s “I became a defense attorney because my childhood friend needed my help” singular moment of backstory.
That said, Phoenix has turned into one heck of a sneaky, underhanded bastard in 7 years. I guess after dealing with it from the other side for so many years, he’s decided to turn the tables? It still feels a little weird though. Like, “he’s so not getting invited to my birthday party any more” weird.

28 02 2008
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

I’m reminded of Gordon Freeman and his ilk; underdeveloped heroes, ciphers to pour the player into, and little more. Oldschool Phoenix had his wacky antics and gimmicks but there was never much to him beyond specifically his past with Edgeworth. So, hearing that the defense gets the focus stick this time around is actually quite refreshing — I can deal with a thin prosecution if there’s at least juicy development SOMEWHERE.
And I LOVE the New Phoenix. I love how devious and crafty and evasive he is; it adds a Magnificent Bastard quality to him, a shady gray area where you can tell he’s never quite going to be a hero again, but he’s not really a villain, either. I’m looking forward to the inevitable case that explodes how he can have a ‘daughter’. I had assumed it was the love child of Ema Skye and Phoenix Wright, but then I realized the ages don’t map up properly for that…

28 02 2008
shadrad

Re: Fish.
I know nothing about SL, save what you post about, but as you may know from reading my LJ I love fish, and I love designing fish. Might you want me to design some special fishies for you? I’m getting better at 3D modeling, too…

28 02 2008
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Talk to Jen to see if you guys can share any resources — more legal textures of fins and so on are welcome! — but all modeling of fish has to be done inside SL with SL tools. It doesn’t have the ability to import external 3-D models because it’s based on entirely different concepts of building.

28 02 2008
omahdon

Wow, I just have to say I love that link there – it’s everything I wanted to know about character types and stratagems and applies excellent shorthand labels to them. I’ll remember that site, yes.
Also, I’m not sure how true the Magnificent Bastard label holds for Phoenix towards the end of the game, but it DOES turn out that the ENTIRETY of AJ:AA has all in fact been one big Xanatos Roulette. Yes, Phoenix has become a supervillain. Of sorts. Start looking for the signals now, so you can go “oooooooooooooh” later on. It’s all quite fun, if a little hard to believe when unveiled. 7 years as a hobo to execute his super-elaborate master plan? Crazy.

28 02 2008
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Hey, who doesn’t love a good Xanatos Roulette? Still, I have a hard time believing he’s the bad guy in this — manipulative, sure, and scheming, but I’ll be real confused if they peg him as a SINISTER mastermind.
I am highly amused that his favorite drink is “grape juice”. Riiight. JUICE. Sure.

28 02 2008
shadrad

I shall do this! If it doesn’t take much real monehs, I could join SL and see what the tools have to offer me. It’ll help me to know what my design limitations are, after all.
*goes to assault her with email*

28 02 2008
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

SL is basically free. You only need to pay a monthly fee if you wanna own land — not RENT land, you can do that strictly through person-to-person transactions — and hell, who really needs land unless they’re running a business? Turistas still have plenty of fun.
For creative types, you need US$0.04 (L$10) to upload a texture map (TGA format is best, 24 or 32 bit) but we could spot you for uploads, or you can use PayPal. A lousy four US bucks is enough to upload 100 images.

29 02 2008
Anonymous

Off Topic
This is abit off topic but I know you mentioned playing Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords when it first came out. Well, I just recently decided to try it out via steam and its fairly addictive. I was wondering if you had any hints on it. I started off playing a warrior and doing pretty good so far.

29 02 2008
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Re: Off Topic
The game has some balance issues. I played a Berzerker (I think that’s the class) and it’s a cakewalk with that class, since you just hammer skulls and reds as often as you can and use the massively powerful upper level spells. It’s a LOT tougher going as a Druid.
My best tip is to build up your citadel ASAP so you can conquer cities around your home turf. Once you have a good loop you can pace around, you can gather the tithes they pay you, and work up a near infinite amount of cash. You have as much in-game time as you want to finish your tasks, so farming like that is easy peasy.

29 02 2008
meagenimage

He’s not very picky: he’ll drink his grape juice even if it’s a bit “off”.

3 03 2008
loopychew

I never thought of it as a super-elaborate master plan undergoing 7 years of execution. To me, it was more like he had harbored his suspicions for that time but didn’t find a way to uncover the truth proper until the return of [spoiler redacted], chronologically just before AJ Case 1. It was upon the new information taken from that meeting that he began to plan. 6 months is a lot more believable for a Xanatos Roulette than 7 and a half years, methinks.

3 03 2008
omahdon

I just thought of the whole “waiting around for seven years for the conditions to be JUST right” to be part of the Xanatos Roulette. I mean, Phoenix had just the right amount of information and suspicion to go ahead and launch an investigation in the past – but then decided instead to wait seven years for events to fall into place as neatly as they did? If that waiting isn’t part of the Xanatos Roulette, then at the very least it’s a pretty big gamble.
Then again, I’m reminded of a 20 year old Xanatos Roulette in Jade Empire, so 7 years isn’t QUITE as long in comparison, I guess….

3 03 2008
omahdon

But it’s a large 750mL green bottle with GRAPES on it! What ELSE could it POSSIBLY be? :P
Given the savvy nature of the translation staff for the AA games – I wouldn’t put it past them to have done this purposely as a throwback to all those other J-games in which players walked into bars and ordered “sodas” or “pop”.

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