Sunday, December 18, 2016

Gyakuten Saiban 2 Blog Entry 5: Psyche Locks (2002)

Title: Psyche Locks / 「サイコ・ロック」
Source: Gyakuten Saiban 2 official site (down)

Summary: In the fifth column posted on the official Gyakuten Saiban 2 (Ace Attorney 2 - Justice for All) website, director Takumi talks about the new mechanic introduced in this game, the Psyche Locks. He explains why they were added, how he came up with them and the difficulties they had actually creating the system. As usual with the columns of this game, Naruhodō (Phoenix Wright) and Mayoi (Maya Fey) have fun 'backstage', looking back at Takumi's column and commenting on that.

Psyche Locks

It happened on a morning after I had started working on the scenario. I went to work, and I got a phone call the producer wanted me.

The twelfth floor in the development building. The producer stood in front of a large window, his back to me. A leather jacket and leather pants and leather boots and a leather wallet, and more leather. As he enjoyed the fragrance that rose from the cup of coffee in his hands, he narrowed his eyes at the morning sun that pierced through the window blinds and he said with a subdued voice, as if he was dreaming: “I want you to add something new to the Investigation Parts…”

…The moment I had heard that sentence, the image of the Psycho Locks appeared in my mind. A major prerequisite for Gyakuten Saiban is it’s so simple “even my mother could play it”.  So there is only one thing at the core of the game: “Seeing through lies”. If I’d add more, my mother wouldn’t be able to follow it anymore. Not at all. That meant I could just add an element of seeing through lies in the Investigation part. Once you realize that, it was clear what I needed to add.

…But of course, it basically never happens I come up with ideas like this so easily. That was really just a mircale. But I couldn’t just agree to my producer just like that, with “Yeah, sure, I already have an idea”. I couldn’t show him my cards yet. I cast my eyes down, bit on my lips in hesitation and after many seconds of wavering passed by, I sighed out with a trembling voice, with a dramatic tone of determination: “That’s going to be difficult… But I’ll come up with something. Could you give me three days?”

…And basically, the Psyche Locks were born after this conversation.

Actually, I had relatively easily got a hold on the idea itself, but it took over a month to complete the actual mechanics. How do you make a visual representation of Psyche Locks? That was quite difficult. But once this was finished, development proceeded without any problems. Because the rest was basically just a going for the goal in the same way we made the previous game.

However, we ran into two gigantic obstacles before we completed Gyakuten Saiban 2 (Ace Attorney 2 - Justice for All). I will talk about them next time.

Psyche Locks (Backstage)

Mayoi: Okay! I’m all fired to do this, Naruhodo-kun!
Naruhodō: ..But, the column this time was nothing but “I came up with the idea for the Psyche Locks right away but had some problems with the visualization.”
Mayoi: Ah. Now you point that out...
Naruhodō: Can you just believe that TakuShū, stretching something simple like that all out?
Mayoi: Uurgh. But, Naruhodo-kun, you too start off well by pointing that out….

A leather jacket and leather pants and leather boots and a leather wallet, and more leather. As he enjoyed the fragrance that rose from the cup of coffee in his hands, he narrowed his eyes at the morning sun that pierced through the window blinds and he said with a subdued voice, as if he was dreaming.

Mayoi: He’s so cool, this producer. I think his name was Mr. Inaba?
Naruhodō: Yeah. But he was drinking coffee and looking bleary-eyed at the morning sun, right? Perhaps he had too many drinks the previous night.
Mayoi: Why would you say that?!
Naruhodō: But he mumbled as if he was dreaming. He was probably not really awake yet.
Mayoi: I don’t believe that. Ah, and also, he’s wearing leather all over! How fancy!
Naruhodō: Rumors went that at the place he went the previous night, he only ate roasted chicken skin.
Mayoi: Don’t make up your own stories about what happened the night before!
Naruhodō: It’s okay. We’re just a little extra to this column.
Mayoi: Everyone will think that all the people at Capcom are only busy drinking…..

A major prerequisite for Gyakuten Saiban is it’s so simple “even my mother could play it”.  So there is only one point at the core of the game: “Seeing through lies”.

Naruhodō: It wasn’t even supposed to be a game about the trials at first.
Mayoi: Eh! Really?!
Naruhodō: “Simple” is basically all this game is about, according to TakuShū.
Mayoi: What do you mean?
Naruhodō: He didn’t want to add all kinds of elements for the player to think about, like alibis, tricks or about the culprit. It’d just confuse them.
Mayoi: Really.
Naruhodō: Basically, you can proceed in the game if you just think about where the contradiction is. He figured that with that, the controls of the game could also stay simple.
Mayoi: But, but, why the trials then?
Naruhodō: “A story about a detective seeing through lies” wouldn’t be any different from the other games out there. So that’s why he decided to have someone whose job is seeing through lies as the protagonist.
Mayoi: So a defense attorney.
Naruhodō: Occasionally  TakuShū sees magazines introducing the game as “a work that dared to take on the theme of trials”, and that actually hurts him.
Mayoi: He never meant to be something as big as that….

How do you make a visual representation of Psyche Locks? That was quite difficult.

Naruhodō: At first, a large glass padlock would appear next to the witness, which would turn around and around. If you presented your evidence, it’d break the glass.
Mayoi: So it was a lock.
Naruhodō: But making it appear like the lock was made of glass was difficult, and they had quite some trouble with that.
Mayoi: Oh.
Naruhodō: So they finished that after a week, and they showed it to the producer.
Mayoi: Yeah, yeah. That Mr. Inaba, right? And?
Naruhodō: “It’s good as a placeholder, but you should start working on the final design.” That’s all he said.
Mayoi: Ah.
Naruhodō: He didn’t mean any harm. He really thought it was a placeholder.
Mayoi: Hmm. So it wasn’t that good when looked at it with a cool head.
Naruhodō: And so the glass heart of the graphic artist also broke in pieces.
Mayoi: That’s not funny.
Naruhodō: TakuShū says he’ll never forget the tears of the artist who worked on that.
Mayoi: Really.
Naruhodō: But it has a memory they can look fondly back at now.
Mayoi: I think it’s a bit early for that.

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