Monday, September 12, 2016

3DS Gyakuten Saiban 5 Special Long Interview (2013)

Title: 3DS Gyakuten Saiban 5 Special Long Interview / 「3DS「逆転裁判5」特別ロングインタビュー」
Source: Game Watch

Summary: In this interview by Game Watch with producer Eshiro and scenario director Yamazaki, the two talk about Gyakuten Saiban 5 (Ace Attorney 5 - Dual Destinies), the first new Gyakuten Saiban game in six years. The two had previously worked on the Gyakuten Kenji (Ace Attorney Investigations) series, but this time they'd be working in a game in the main series, and one fans had been waiting for a long, long time. The interview was published on July 27, 2013, a few days after the release of the game, but done a few days before the release. In this interview, Eshiro and Yamazaki talk about how they came to work on Gyakuten Saiban 5, about the characters, about working on a new game in a beloved series, on getting the look of the game just right, and much, much more.

Images are taken from the source article. Copyright belongs to their respective owners.

3DS Gyakuten Saiban 5 Special Long Interview

Interviewer: It’s been six years since the previous game, Gyakuten Saiban 4 (Ace Attorney 4 – Apollo Justice) was released. When was it decided you’d make Gyakuten Saiban 5 (Ace Attorney 5 – Dual Destinies)?

Eshiro: We basically always had proposals lying around for Gyakuten Saiban 5. It was always lined up. But then there’d be problems with development resources, or timing… Because we were making Gyakuten Kenji (Ace Attorney Investigations). That’s why we were biding our time. The users were always asking for Gyakuten Saiban 5. When we released the two Gyakuten Kenji games, we had people saying: “I like the Gyakuten Kenji series, but I also want to see 5 of the main series released”. That’s how much people wanted it. About the time we finished up with Gyakuten Kenji 2, Takumi Shū, the father of the series, was already working on Layton Kyōju VS Gyakuten Saiban (Professor Layton VS Ace Attorney). So we had the choice: are we going to work on Gyakuten Kenji 3, or something else? We talked it over. And the conclusion was that in terms of timing, we really couldn’t let the people wait any longer for Gyakuten Saiban 5.

But neither Yamazaki nor me were staff members who had been working on the Gyakuten Saiban from the beginning. We had all kinds of big changes, like a new development team, and the 3DS hardware, so we knew that this title would turn out to be a very challenging one.

If we’re going to make Gyakuten Saiban 5, we'd first need a scenario, so I asked Yamazaki: “Can you do it?”. He of course didn’t answer “Sure!” with confidence then. He replied with: “…so we're doing the main series?”. To be honest, even I, as the producer, felt the same about the project. It was the first game in six years, so the hurdle was quite high. We couldn’t release a game that would have people saying: “They let us wait for six years for this?”

To make sure Yamazaki would have the confidence to make this game, I needed to gather the best staff members we could think of. So we had the art director and design teams from the Gyakuten Kenji series come over, as they had a good grasp on the Gyakuten world and had done wonders with that. We made a diverse team, with people with long careers, but also younger people. When I had the team of which I thought: “This could work” I went to Yamazaki one more time: “You really have to decide now.” And fortunately, Yamazaki said: “Okay. I made up my mind too.”

That is how the development team was organized. That was at the end of summer, two years ago. I think Yamazaki already had some ideas about the scenario resting in his mind then. Yamazaki originally joined the staff of Gyakuten Saiban Yomigaeru Gyakuten (Ace Attorney DS) for the Nintendo DS, and he also worked on Gyakuten Saiban 4. I think in his mind, he had already played witht the idea that one day, he’d be asked for 5. I also talked about it with him long ago. I followed with: “Ah, but who knows how things will turn out”, but it did become reality.

But the first thing we did as a team was make a logo. Actually, it was already decided we’d have events to celebrate Gyakuten Saiban’s tenth anniversary. So there was no better timing to announce Gyakuten Saiban 5 then. So we had a rush job to get some video footage ready for that. After that, we started doing research on the 3DS hardware and started working on the scenario plots. This was basically how it went early on.

Interviewer: I see. So there were some troubles as you started working in a new title in the main Gyakuten Saiban series. Could you talk a bit about what you worked on before, so the readers can understand better?

Yamazaki: Yes. After I joined Capcom, I worked as a planner on Gyakuten Saiban Yomigaeru Gyakuten and Gyakuten Saiban 4. Then I was made director for Gyakuten Kenji 1 and 2, and for Gyakuten Saiban 5, I became the scenario director.

Eshiro:  I worked on various titles as a director in the past. As a producer, I first worked on Gyakuten Saiban 2 Best Price! (Ace Attorney 2 - Justice for All) and Gyakuten Saiban 3 Best Price! (Ace Attorney 3 - Trials and Tribulations). Then I worked with Yamazaki on Gyakuten Kenji and Gyakuten Kenji 2. I produced some other titles after that (DmC Devil May Cry lately) and now I worked on Gyakuten Saiban 5.

Interviewer: There is a strong image of the two of you as the Gyakuten Kenji team. Gyakuten Kenji 2 was released in February 2011, so about two years ago. So did you decide to work on the development on Gyakuten Saiban 5 right after finishing Gyakuten Kenji 2?

Eshiro: Yes. But Gyakuten Kenji 2 was also received very well, and there were also people who wanted to see a sequel in the Gyakuten Kenji series. So we had to make a tough choice between proceeding with Gyakuten Kenji 3, or taking on the challenge of Gyakuten Saiban 5.

Interviewer: Mr. Yamazaki, what were your thoughts when you were first told you were going to make Gyakuten Saiban 5?

Yamazaki: Well… I had a feeling already it’d turn out that way. Because both inside Capcom as well amongst the users, people kept asking for Gyakuten Saiban 5. But there was also the possibility that after 2 Gyakuten Kenji games, we’d be working on Gyakuten Kenji 3. But slowly, more and more people around me started to say “Let’s work on Gyakuten Saiban 5!”So I had to make up my mind too. I’ve been part of the series since Gyakuten Saiban 4. So as one of the team, I too wanted to see 5 released some day. That meant that somebody, at a certain time would need to make that game, but with the Gyakuten Kenji series, I too got a bit of experience. That was an honor, and I too wanted to make the game. So in a way, I was already prepared for the job in mind. So when Eshiro started to talk about this, I replied in the positive, but aware of what kind of pressure it’d be.

Interviewer: So it was also partly because everyone around you started going that way (laugh).

Yamazaki: They geeeeently nudged me in the right direction (laugh).

Eshiro: Ever so gently. They were all saying: “Maybe it’s about time…” (laugh).

Interviewer: Probably because even people were writing about Gyakuten Kenji, they’d say: “I like the Gyakuten Kenji series, but I also want  to see 5 of the main series released

Yamazaki: There were a lot of people saying that. Every time, we’d have people saying I like the Gyakuten Kenji 2, but as a fan, I also want to play a game in the main series!”. And every time I heard that, I’d go: “Well, yeah, sure...” (laugh). “I know the feeling. I know the feeling, but the timing….” And we of course never had the assurance that even if we’d make the game, we’d be able to come up with the game the users wanted. I thought we could pull off an entry in the main series, and in terms of feeling, I had a good grasp on what Gyakuten Saiban was, but even then, I was not sure whether I could make something that the users wanted. I just couldn’t see that at the time. But then I took the challenge and it was decided that we’d announce the game at the tenth anniversary event. At the time, I felt like: “We’ll just have to do whatever we can do,” but seeing the fantastic reactions of the users when we announced Gyakuten Saiban 5 changed my feelings completely.

Gyakuten Saiban Tenth Anniversary Special Court, where Gyakuten Saiban 5 was announced. The reaction was enormous, and amongst the cheers there were even people crying. That is what gave the development team including Mr. Eshiro and Mr. Yamazaki, new motivation.

Interview: It hit you?

Eshiro:  Back then, we were still being easy on ourselves in a way. A part of us was still thinking: “We made Gyakuten Kenji, so we’ll somehow manage Gyakuten Saiban 5” But the cheers of everyone there when it was announced… They were screaming, basically. When I heard that, I realized: “Oh no.” I realized that if we just went into the project halfhearted, it turn out in a disaster. Yamazaki, me, the Gyakuten Kenji 2 team, we all saw the upsurge there at the tenth anniversary event, and the atmosphere at the meeting that was right after that was completely different. “We’re going to do this like our lives depend on it.” This needed to be something that would surpass our own expectations and those of the users. “Visuals, story, we need to surpass expectations on everything.” That is how we decided to proceed with our work.

Interviewer: So the reactions to the announcement reached the whole team?

Eshiro: We were shaking in fear. “Are they going to start a riot?” I almost thought (laugh). “If we made a dubious game, then they really are going to riot.” Obviously, we didn’t want them to say: “What did you guys do with our Gyakuten Saiban!” or “They shouldn’t have let the new staff make this game!” If we’re going to work on Gyakuten Saiban, we weren’t allowed to betray their expectations. We did the same with Gyakuten Kenji, but we always had the problem in our minds of how exactly were going to take this challenge.

Taking Over The Gyakuten Saiban Takumi Shū Created

  When a different team works on a new title in a beloved series, there is a lot of pressure and sometimes what they want differs from what the fans want. Eshiro started with paying attention to that.

Interviewer: Gyakuten Saiban fans are, in the good meaning of the word, quite scary. They love the series very much, so their feelings and ardor for it are something to reckon with.

Eshiro: it’s really amazing. However, and I came to think like this because we made the Gyakuten Kenji series: we definitely aren’t designing the game to only appeal to hardcore users.

Interviewer: So the game should appeal to everyone.

Eshiro: Precisely. The games are made for a casual target group, but the support of the fans is just amazing.. It’s amazing, but they only play Gyakuten Saiban. So they are slightly different from more general, light gamers. They are users who like Gyakuten Saiban… their love and ardor for the series is amazing. There are things that those fans want, or are expecting, and we first want to appeal to that.
Takumi Shū created Gyakuten Saiban. But we can’t be chasing after his shadow for eternity. And at the time, he was working on Layton Kyōju VS Gyaktuen Saiban. So if we were going to do it, we needed to come up with a quality work that was our answer to the problem. A game we could be proud of saying: “This is the newest Gyakuten Saiban we created.” The hurdles of the team members themselves was already high, and I also had the things I wanted to see, and the staff made that happen, so the hurdles were quite high.

Interviewer: The Gyakuten Saiban series was made by Mr. Takumi, who stood for symbol for the series, which is loved by many. You worked on the Gyakuten Kenji series  and were well-received with that, but with this game, you basically hard to work on somebody else’s work. Some might have thought: “Is it really going to be okay with these people?” I’d figure that that would be quite the pressure for those with creative work. You might really get to hate that.

Eshiro: You could definitely say it like that. The pressure, it’s enormous. And with 5, we had both staff and hardware changes. So we thought: “There are definitely things we need to inherit from the series, but there also things that definitely need to be changed.” The only thing we could do was just trust our creative instinct. There’s where our creativity gets to work, and the rest is getting it just right. “What to leave, what to change.” The answer to that question is decided by the people producing the game, and the people directing the gae on the development floor. It starts there.

So “But it’s a main title”, those chains that might restraint creativity, I told the staff to don’t mind that. If you think of that all the time you can’t think if new ideas and ways of playing. I told them “Please bring Naruhodō back” but also: “How you’re going to do that, that’s up to your creativity.” If the team want to build on what happened in earlier game and show him all grown, that’s okay. But I also told them to not let them be constrained by whatever happened in the past, and the chronology of the games, and not to let the game turn out into something too small because of that. I guess that it’s how they kept their own motivation as creative people. I gave them the motivation to make their own game.

Interviewer: I see. That is quite important for Gyakuten Saiban 5. Mr. Yamazaki, what do you think of this?

Yamazaki: I’ve been working on the Gyakuten Saiban series ever since I joined the company, and I was able to learn directly from Takumi. Making the continuation of the world he created, that’s an incredible pressure.  And I can say this because I’ve seen him working from up close all the time, but I could never do the same thing as he. So that’s why I thought: “We’re going to make a Gyakuten Saiban that is ours.” The same thing happened when we were making the Gyakuten Kenji series, especially with Gyakuten Kenji 1, when I was director for the first time,. I tried too much working like Takumi, and there was a period I really bumbled up. So I learned from that, and with Gyakuten Kenji 2, I thought: “I’m going to do what I want, in my world.” So it went a little bit better then. I told the whole staff this time too “Let’s do this, but don’t get too tangled up in the past.”

Regarding the world of Gyakuten Saiban, I think the users are actually way more strict about that, more than Takumi himself (laugh). So what I told myself was that we weren’t going to follow Takumi Shū. We were going to keep the world of Gyakuten Saiban the users love, and do what we want within that world.

Interview: Listening to you like this, and what Mr. Eshiro said about not fussing about it too much, it seems you were too aware of Mr. Takumi for a certain period?

Eshiro: Of course. Takumi Shū’s influence is enormous. He made all these games from zero, and he’s put so much into them. I think he’s a genius. A genius in writing dialogue and creating games and more. And you can’t copy a genius. You couldn’t even if you tried. It just wouldn’t work out. So we shouldn’t. We should realize what he had in mind when he made Gyakuten Saiban, what he thought was important and making sure we wouldn’t destroy that, we needed to let our own new creativity loose on those ideas. Only then can something different and new be made. I thought that that could bring back the brand of Gyakuten Saiban.

“Don’t let yourself be constrained, but keep it in mind” If this hadn’t been our stance on it, I think the staff would’ve collapsed under the weight. This doesn’t just happens with games. There are also films that have been made by someone, but then taken over by somebody else for sequels. When you think too much of what came before, you’ll end up with something completely different from what you aimed for. You might not realize you’re being constrained, and that’s the cause it comes out bad. I tried to make sure that wouldn’t happen to us.

Naruhodō Returns! Gyakuten Saiban 5, Because of Gyakuten Saiban 4 That Came Before It.

Naruhodō returns! This was the first concept, which started with the idea that Gyakuten Saiban 5 was a result of Gyakuten Saiban 4.

Interviewer: I see. So in a way, the starting punt of the development cycle was crucial. Had it been the plan right from the start that you’d bring Naruhodō back for 5?

Eshiro: It had already been decided at the concept stage that we’d have Naruhodō back as the main protagonist. And we had also decided that we’d build on the world of Gyakuten Saiban 4. Gyakuten Saiban 4 was the start of a new chapter, with a new protagonist and all kinds of characters, and we would build on that world.

Interviewer: So you wouldn’t ignore Gyakuten Saiban 4?

Eshiro: No. However, Naruhodō wasn’t practicing law anymore in Gyakuten Saiban 4, so what were we going to do? But he himself had said at the very end of the game: “Maybe I’ll try passing the bar again.” And if we followed up on that, how would this Naruhodō turn up? I wanted to see that. So that’s why the game was set after Gyakuten Saiban 4. Also, I also wanted to have Odoroki (Apollo Justice).  Even if the main story would have Naruhodō as the protagonist, we’d also need to have the new protagonist from Gyakuten Saiban 4, Odoroki appear as a key person. I didn’t make any special orders about how he was going to appear though. Because of that, his appearance this time is a bit dark (laugh).

And then it was thinking about how we would make the story work. So we needed a new partner. And we were also talking about that we wanted a new game mechanic for this game, so the partner would have that function. That is how the new character, and new partner, and new heroine Kizuki Kokone (Athena Cykes) was born. That’s how we slowly imagined the world of Gyakuten Saiban 5, set after the fourth game.

Interviewer: You just talked about continuing with the work someone else made. I think deciding on what to do with Gyakuten Saiban 4 fits that notion, but did you want to take on that challenge as is, without cutting anything away?

Eshiro: Precisely. When more and more games released within a series, all kinds of works are created. They’ll all be different in style, tone and the opinions about them also differ. It’s very difficult to have everyone agree about all of the works. There are people who started with Gyakuten Saiban 4, who love Odoroki and like the world of that game. So we at Capcom have no intention of pretending the game was never there. We could make a 5 because there was a 4. I told that to the team.

Yamazaki: I myself have worked on 4, so I told a lot of people that we had to make a game that followed up on 4.

Eshiro: He was in the team of 4. There are things, both good and bad, you can only understand if you were a part of it. Yamazaki was a planner for Gyakuten Saiban 4, and then was the director of Gyakuten Kenji, so I think he had an idea of what he’d do if he’d be making 5. I think it became a reason for motivation for him to work on 5.

Interviewer: When you decided you’d build on everything, did you ever think: “Some things from previous games are in the way for thinking of a scenario?”

Yamazaki: Well, I never considered “It’s in the way, so let’s get rid of it.” I rather thought along the lines of: “let’s write a scenario where we’ll use that.” When I thought of the scenario for Gyakuten Kenji, I was just focusing on writing something interesting, but as this was the first main title in six years, there were some conditions, like considering things would look from a promotional  point of view, or having to use certain characters. But I wanted to take on those hurdles when writing the scenario. “I did all you wanted! Anything to say now?!!” Like that (laugh)

Eshiro: I think that if you want to make something with the negative method of avoiding things, everything will become very small. When you look at “It might be fun if we do this” as “It’s going to be a constraint so let’s give up on it”, you’ll make something really interesting. Thinking about how you’re going to make it, that imagination is what eventually makes the game better. I think the whole team thought like that. Making a game without deducting something from the whole.

Interviewer: You mean that if you just leave away the problematic parts, you’d get used to going the easy way?

Eshiro: Precisely that. You’d always go the easy path. When you’re standing in front of a mountain, you shouldn’t be thinking: “No, no, no, let’s give up on this way” , but “Let’s go this way on purpose. Even if it might mean our death.” (laugh).

Yamazaki: Everyone in the team was like that. Because of that, the hurdles became higher and higher, and it was like we were hanging ourselves up (wry smile. Thinking like that is taking on the challenge straight on.

Interviewer: I see. From your stories, it seems the Gyakuten Saiban 5 team is quite manly.

All: (laugh)

Eshiro: We were already like with Gyakuten Kenji, perhaps it’s just the titles I supervise that turn out like this.

Yamazaki: It’s always a rumble (laugh).

201 Ideas for Kokone’s Name! Eshiro Judged Everything With “The Users’ First Look”.

 The two who are always fighting (with their opinions). This time, Mr. Eshiro stepped away from the “development floor” on purpose, and looked at it with the eyes of a Gyakuten Saiban fan.

Interviewer: With the direction decided, you finally really started on development. On the official blog of Gyakuten Saiban 5, there was the key phrase “the usual fight between Eshiro and Yamazaki.” So development is a fight?

Eshiro: Always (laugh). There are always things that we want to get in from the producer’s point of view, and things the development team wants to get in. There’s a gap between the point of view of the people on the development staff and the point of view of the producer, or actually, the users. That clashes.

With Gyakuten Saiban 5, I didn’t get all hands-on on the development floor. I wanted to judge everything the team made with fresh eyes. I wanted to look at everything without prejudgment. If I was shown something and I thought it was wrong, I’d say that. Then the staff would of course ask what’s wrong about it, I’d say things like: “It doesn’t feel right.” How would this look like to the users who like the Gyakuten Saiban series? I thought that was important.

For example, the name we had the most trouble about, was that of Kokone (Athene Cykes). The team was really pushing the name Kokone, but I was absolutely against it. So I had them look at it again… but in the end I said the name was good. I think the team really thought that I really should just back off (wry smile). But because we had happenings like that, it was all completely different from how we made the Gyakuten Kenji series.

Interview: You were on the development floor of the Gyakuten Kenji series?

Eshiro: Yes. Because it was the first time I had been a producer on a title from the start. I had been a director until just before that, so I have something to say about designs, and everything. And it was also the first time Yamazaki was a director and he went in full gear, so we clashed. I am further away from them now with Gyakuten Saiban 5 compared to back then.

Interviewer: You were a director on Onimusha 2, and lately you have worked as the producer on DmC Devil May Cry, right?

Eshiro: I have experience on the development floor, so I have a good idea about what problems can pop up, where the development could get stuck, what we should do first. So I used that experience to make Gyakuten Kenji, but with Gyakuten Kenji 2 I put a bit of distance. And with Gyakuten Saiban 5, I took even more distance, and try not to say anything about the creative side of the project. I only gave them the concept and the title.

Interviewer: In terms of fighting, you’re an out-fighter (laugh)

Eshiro: Precisely. I had been in close quarters combat until now, but for this game I’ve been fighting with a slightly different position. The people on the development floor probably thought: “He’s changed his attack style!” That’s how it must have seemed to them. So when I’d reject something, they’d say they didn’t understand me, or ask me what was wrong with it. So I’d of course explain what’s wrong about it. Whether it was my feeling, or something else. “It feels like this, so that’s why I think this is out.” At the core of that, lies the same look the users will have when they first see the game. Whether the users can have fun playing this.

Interviewer: So you were looking at the game with the eyes of the users who like Gyakuten Saiban?

Eshiro: Precisely. That was I had in mind.

The new heroine and partner. Kizuki Kokone, who was also needed for the new game mechanic  Heart Scope (Mood Matrix). They had 201 ideas for her name.

Interview: And the ones on the development floor getting everything rejected were Mr. Yamazaki and the other team members… (laugh)?

Yamazaki: Yeeees (laugh). The thing about Kokone’s name, that was absolutely horrible (wry smile)

Eshiro: Horrible… I admit I was horrible there (wry smile).

Interviewer: So you came up with Kokone’s name, but Mr. Eshiro didn’t just throw it away, in the end he actually accepted it precisely like it was…(laugh)

Eshiro: Precisely. We actually had about 200 other names. And we had just about settled on a different name. But the following day, Eshiro called from his business trip abroad and said: “I think Kokone is good after all.” I of course cried out. “Whaaaaaaat?!”  (laugh).

Interviewer: Was Kokone the first name you thought off?

Yamazaki: Yes. The very first. But that was rejected, so then we had 201 others, and then he comes saying the very first was good after all (wry smile).

All: (laugh)

Eshiro: But yeah, now I think about I think that was a bad call of mine. Somewhere inside of me, I think I was looking too hard for “something that sounds good” or “something with just the right amount of cheesiness”. But after I had rejected the name I thought it over again, and when I looked at the name from the point of view whether it was a name that fitted Gyakuten Saiban, I thought that Kokone did fit good in the series. And I also realized that whether I actually liked the name or not, that was just my own preference. So that’s why I said we should go with Kokone. That was the biggest turnabout.

Examples of ideas for Kokone’s name

Family name: Shindō (新藤)
…Because she can hear the feelings from people through the vibration (shindō/振動) in their voice. Sounded too normal, so the family name became Kizuki.

Name: Kanae (奏重)
…The name that had competed with Kokone all the way to the end. Because she listens to the heart of the others, and overlaps (重ねる) and plays (奏でる) her own heartbeat over them  to control their feelings. From the image of the Heart Scope.

Other ideas:
Kiduki Sōka (希月爽香)
From sōka! (‘So that’s it’) and kiduku (‘notice’). The name was thought off because it fitted her image as a refreshing (爽やかな)  scent (香り).

The new rival prosecutor Yūgami Jin. Even though this character was thrown in prison for murder, he acts as the prosecutor. It was also difficult deciding on this design.

Yamazaki: This also happened around the same time, but we were also working on the design of the rival prosecutor of this game, Yūgami, but when I showed him what I had thought off, he rejected because it was all wrong, but I think he made the right call then. The design of Yūgami I first in mind was very like a prisoner, as per the idea behind him. So he was wearing prison wear. Straightforward. But a quick look at the design wouldn’t have made you think of a prosecutor.

I wanted to find a new design unlike the prosecutors we had seen before, so I think I thought too much of him as a prisoner. But Eshiro said users should think: “So is this the rival prosecutor?” when they’d take a quick look at the design. Thanks to him, I realized I was looking at it too narrowminded, and it changed into the current design that mixes both prisoner and prosecutor.

Eshiro: We also had that with Gyakuten Kenji 2 (‘Turnabout Prosecutor 2’). I had them redo the complete design of Ichiyanagi Yumihiko. I had heard the concept behind the design on the development floor, and I had them change the details about three times. I was like: “It’s wrong. Rethink it completely.” But the next design was OK in one turn. I decide this based on my own feelings as someone who loves games, but also as someone who has been with the Gyakuten Saiban IP for a long time now and has a good idea now of what the users like. So I do often have control about the direction of the designs.

Yamazaki: Development is often done by figuring out all the details that sound logical and putting them together.  When you combine all the elements that seem reasonable on their own, you’ll often arrive at the conclusion that a certain design should be good.

Interviewer: So you often go for something of which you could explain the reasoning at a presentation?

Yamazaki: Yes. But it is important to have something that looks good with just one good look. Of course, we also think of that during development, but sometimes it’s difficult for us. So that’s when Eshiro will look at it from his detached position.

Interviewer: The view on inspiration, or how to make a good game is quite difficult I think. You might say there’s something that’s“Capcom-like” or “Gyakuten Saiban-like”, but both of them are unique, and hard to explain in words I think.

Eshiro: If you start going into details about that, I think you’ll arrive at different answers. Something is good, when you can look at it without any presumptions at all and honestly think it’s fun. We have to trust ourselves for that, people who have worked for many years on making games. I think that a producer should be able to judge with just a quick, first look if a game is good or bad. And he needs to point out what is good and what is bad about the game in detail and tell that to the people on the development floor. I think you simply need experience for that, but I have been doing this for a long time now. So I’m quite lucky. Game development is done in a company, with all kinds of people working together, so I think you usually try to talk things over in a logical way, but I also think that creators have to let their inspiration speak for them. I think that Capcom favors the latter.

Eshiro: Like: “It’s wrong to think it’s wrong!” (laugh)

Interviewer: I think that if you don’t do it like that, it won’t be Gyakuten Saiban. You can’t have something amusing just by reasoning it out. I think Gyakuten Saiban has a lot of things where you think it might not be needed, but it’s definitely more fun with.

Eshiro: Yes. Everyone feels like that. Whenever I tell the people on the staff about my decision, I often feel like I’m explaining how I came to feel a certain way. Especially when I’m talking about character designs or new mechanics. For example, how does the court battle become more interesting with the new mechanic Heart Scope? How much more can you play around now we have 3D graphics in the Investigation Parts? Is it better to have animated scenes? I have them design the game with that in mind.

The Graphics of Gyakuten Saiban Are 3D But Made To Look Like 2D

From the official blog. The upper image is an early Naruhodō, the lower Naruhodō after a lot of trial and error. It is a 3D model, but it has been made to look like 2D, and looks natural compared to the games released before in the series.

Interviewer: About the new features in the game you just mentioned, did you decide on them early on in the development process?

Eshiro: The first thing we decided was that the new game would be for the 3DS, but our opinions about the matter were as different as they could be between myself and the development staff. One on hand, there was the idea that because the series had always been a 2D game until now, they would use the 3DS to make the ultimate 2D game, and on the other hand there was the idea to make the series 3D.

At the time, Naruhodō and Mayoi (Maya Fey) had been drawn in 3D for the first time by the developers of Layton Kyōju VS Gyakuten Saiban. When they showed us a bit of that, I thought: “Aha, so that’s the way they are going for.” And in my mind, I thought that we could find a different type of presentation for Gyakuten Saiban 5 and that we should try accomplish that. We wanted to have the models move lively, like they were 2D. Many are of the opinion that the liveliness of the animations of Gyakuten Saiban is what make the series so enjoyable, so I came up with two patterns. One was that we wanted to stay 2D and up the quality, which meant that we’d need to draw all the animation patterns as detailed as possible and it’s basically us using all the resources we had to get everything move so smooth. If we went 3D, we’d have 3D models but it’d needed to look 2D. And in the end, I said to the development team to go 3D but make it look like 2D.

It took quite some trouble before they managed to clear that hurdle. First of all the team basically said they had no idea what I was talking about when I said I wanted 3D that looked like 2D (laugh). “3D is 3D, and with lighting you can show them off really good, and polygons can move as smooth as you want,” they’d say, but I’d say: “But I don’t want that.” (laugh). “Ya need to make it look like 2D. They are 3D models, so ya can animate them, right? Ya can move them around without having to draw everything. But don’t have them move too smoothly.” So yeah, who was supposed to understand that. I said to them: “Don’t have them move smoothly, but nicely" (laugh)

Interviewer: Makes you want to cry out “Objection!” there (laugh).

Eshiro: (laugh). Getting the visuals right was a gigantic hurdle. And I just told them what I wanted. I had the image in my mind. I told the team I got to see Layton Kyōju VS Gyakuten Saiban, and I said: “I want something different.”. So they said: “Yes…”.
“So I do want 3D...”
“And I do want animations...”
“ Yes…”
“…But I don’t want them to move smoothly.”
(laugh). So everyone reacted like they didn’t know what I was talking about.

Yamazaki: Art director Fuse and everyone in the visual team who worked on the models and the animation really had trouble with that. When we first started development, we started on plotting the scenario, and the looks of the graphics. We couldn’t really start until we figured that out. So I thought that I wanted to make a scenario that would show off what Gyakuten Saiban could do in 3D. But when I went to the visual team, I saw they were busy with the completely opposite (laugh).

Interviewer:  “It’s 3D but 2D!” (laugh).

Yamazaki: Who would come up the idea of asking for 3D graphics but as if they look 2D? (laugh). But when I talked it over with Eshiro, I understood that he wanted fans not to feel like Gyakuten Saiban had changed when they’d first see Gyakuten Saiban 5. He also said that he wanted it to look 3D with the 3D option on, and 2D when it was off. As for the animations, we wanted to to be like 2D animations with flair. “Skipping frames in the animations on purpose to give them some flair, jumping between animations without letting flow into each other properly… let’s do that.” And Naruhodo was our guinea pig for that. A lot of models were made from the prototype version.

Interviewer: You put an early version on the official blog. He was all shiny.

Eshiro: The moment I saw it, I said: “No!” (laugh)

Yamazaki: The graphics team really had a difficult time (laugh).

Interviewer: Listening to you talking about animations, it almost sounds like how you’d look at action games.

Mr. Eshiro focused on getting the characters move like they were 2D. That was because many are of the opinion that the liveliness of the animations of Gyakuten Saiban is part of what make the series so enjoyable.

Eshiro: Precisely. I myself have directed action games, so I think that games need to move in a way that feels good. Gyakuten Saiban is an adventure game, but the games leaves you with an exhilarating feeling when you’re done. Adventure games mainly give you “a feeling of relief when you solve a puzzle” and “a satisfying feeling when a story is good”, but they seldom give you an exhilarating feeling.  I think that is why the exhilarating feeling of the animations is important for Gyakuten Saiban.

Interviewer: Gyakuten Saiban has a rhythm to it, like with manzai comedy. Lines are followed up by tsukkomi comments, and there is a feeling of speed to the visuals, a certain feeling of liveliness. So you were afraid you would lose that snappy feeling if you’d have 3D models and smooth animations?

Eshiro: Yes, yes, exactly that. The graphics team might not have wanted to skip frames because we could have everything moving smoothly now and for them, it might feel like a bit of a ‘lazy job’ to do it like this. Why would I want to spoil the nice animations? But when they finally made a test when I told them to, they finally started to understood what I was going for and agreed.

Interviewer: So you had trouble in the beginning sharing your vision, but perhaps this was the best way. If you had gone the 2D way, with you having to prepare all those animation patterns… the development team would’ve passed out from all that work (laugh).

Eshiro: They’d be dead (wry smile). I don’t think they could’ve made this release date (laugh). It would perhaps have taken several times the development period we had now.

Interviewer: So in a sense, you really needed to use 3D models, but to preserve the unique rhythm, you also needed to make it seem 2D-like. So that’s what you meant with “3D that looks like 2D”.

Eshiro: I thought they’d pull me apart when I first asked them to do that. They thought I had gone crazy (laugh). But they really did their best on that. They really pulled through on these weird orders of mine (laugh). If I have the team go through hardships, there will come a time when it all suddenly clicks, where you have a style of art we know won’t feel off to the people who know the series, and a style which will have the users be amazed at how lively it moves. The feedback we got about the demo last year at Tokyo Game Show was positive, so I was really glad we did this.

It was really hard deciding whether we’d go 3D or not and what way to go with the animations, and I really had the team take a very painful path, but I think we got something much better in return. The characters in Gyakuten Saiban are casual, but unique characters. And we have a lot of unique characters appear too in this game, but to bring out their uniqueness, they have to move. Things like surprising movements, and surprising break scenes (the over-the-top last moments of the criminal when they break down).

There is a limit to what we can do what that in 2D and we had troubles figuring out how to show those animations with a minimum number of unique frames. But we now have more room for our imagination in 3D. The team really made some good stuff. We also used animations is a very luxurious way. We have animations that appear on maybe just a couple of scenes. You’ll be surprised by that. “Hey, they never did that before!?” With animations, repulsive characters become more repulsive, and cute characters more cute. The range expands.

Interviewer: So you also have rare animations you wouldn’t see in other projects. I guess you can’t go all out when you use a labor-intensive method like hand-drawn 2D animations?

Eshiro: Not really. 2D just takes more labor, and that means that also limits the number of types of animations you can make. So this time, we included tons of animations.

Tons of New Mechanics, And Here Too We Have The Eshiro-ism: “Work On It A Bit More!”

The new mechanic that allows you to see the emotions of the witnesses: the Heart Scope. You see if there aren’t hidden emotions that don’t match the content of the testimony and point out contradictions.

Interviewer: While the graphics team was agonizing about Mr. Eshiro’s contradictive orders, Mr. Yamazaki was working on the plot of the scenario. Were the game mechanics there before you had the scenario?

Yamazaki: We think about the mechanics almost simultaneously with the scenario. We had decided in the planning stages to have a new system that would have psychology as its motif. But the “court battle” mechanics of Gyakuten Saiban, that’s already perfected. Even if you were to add something to that, it’d be very difficult to keep it from getting in the way of the court battle. Now you use evidence to solve a mystery during the testimonies, so we figured that if we could have a different type of mystery, but with the same flow, it could fit in nicely.

That’s how we arrived at psychology. In real trials, you have the mental state of a witness, and while that had been featured in the story of Gyakuten Saiban before, we never saw it as a mechanic. The idea of cross-examining witnesses using psychology was what led us to the Heart Scope. But the original form of the Heart Scope was very complex. You’d collect psychological information, like you do with evidence. For example, “This person likes this,” or “They get angry by this.” You’d collect all of that and then use them in court.

Interviewer: So you’d collected the reactions of people like when they saw something and collect them like you’d do with evidence and then present their psychology?

Yamazaki: Yes. We thought about that, but it was too complex and got in the way of the flow of the court battle. So we narrowed it down and arrived at the current Heart Scope. And we had Eshiro look at it. “Choosing just between four different emotions is too simple.” So he told us “Work on it a bit more” (laugh).

Eshiro: Another of my vague directions (laugh).

Yamazaki: And I’d be like: “Yeah, sure.” (laugh)

Interviewer: A vague “Work on it a bit more” is probably the worst, isn’t it? (laugh)

Mr. Eshiro’s “Work on it a bit more” led to the “Emotion Overload”. They can portray the personality and mental state of characters even better with this.

Yamazaki: Yeah (laugh). But we then came up with the “Emotion Overload”. When someone’s emotions have gone wild, you can’t see their emotions anymore and can’t point out contradictions. So you first need to resolve that problem. This is one of those things I’m happy we came up with thanks to Eshiro’s orders, and the emotion overload really allows us to show off more of the characters. For example, there is this character in Episode 2, Yumemi (Jinxie), and she’s very easily scared, and from her Emotion Overload you learn that because of that, she actually believes in the existence of yōkai. I think this mechanic also connects nicely with the personalities of the characters.

There are other characters after Episode 2 who also go wild, but we’d think deeply about what would make each character go wild, and that allowed us to dig deeper into each of them. One of the reasons we wanted to use psychology this time was so we could show deeper personalities and mental states, and the Overload really allowed us to do that.

Eshiro: By the way, the Heart Scope was first called Psychological Analysis. At first, I thought it’d be a bit difficult, considering the serious name.  But when they made it simpler, they decided it also needed a catchier name and they came to me for advice. The team had about four suggestions. Heart Scope wasn’t one of them at first. But we wanted to have something with the mind and heart, so that’s heart, and looking at psychology, that’s scope. So that became the Heart Scope.

Another new mechanic: Thought Route. It allows you to summarize the flow of the case together with the facts you discovered. The name of this system is also very Gyakuten-esque.

Yamazaki: Thought Route was named with the same idea. Thought Route is a new mechanic, where at the end of the trial, you look back at the facts you have uncovered and look for a route that leads to the truth.

Eshiro: yes, yes. When I first choose Heart Scope, I thought it wasn’t that bad. I thought they put the hurdle quite high for themselves, visualizing the psychology and testimonies of witnesses. That is what I thought thinking as an user (laugh). So I tried a few of them  and asked them how this would change later, but they said it’d be the same in other episodes. So I said it’d get boring.

They were probably thinking on the development floor that they could come up with all kinds of variations for the contents and circumstances during the Heart Scope sections, but what you do is basically the same, so it’d definitely get stale. Once you get used to it, around the middle of the game, then it just starts to turn into a choir. So to avoid that, you need to add something extra. And in answer to this vague order of mine, they came up with the Emotion Overload.

Interviewer: Just when you think it’s there again, you see it’s a different type of Heart Scope. So the Emotion Overload was also to be a surprising element?

Eshiro: Precisely. It’d make you go: “What!?” In terms of presentation, it would start as always, but then “CAUTION” would appear, and the players would go like: “What’s happening!?” It brings a change to the pace and feel of the game. And solving the Emotion Overload itself is fairly simple, so I said this was about right. But it’d get stale if it’d overload every single time, so the point was not using the Emotion Overload whenever it seemed it would come, and let it overload whenever nobody would expect it. They worked hard so you never know when it comes, and that’s fun.

Interviewer: I see. You deepened the Heart Scope with Emotion Overload, but as we’re now talking about this, and you have officially announced it, I can’t help but think there’s more behind this.

Eshiro: I guess so, considering we’re talking about it now (laugh).

Interviewer: You do. Listening to you, I figure this is information you can freely talk about (laugh).

Eshiro: (laugh) But we can’t throw in too much. The fun of pointing out contradictions between testimony and evidence in court, that’s the most important. It’s not good to play around with the mechanics too much. The trick is getting the proportions just right.

Yamazaki: We didn’t really add any more mechanics, but we have several variations of the usual Heart Scope following the story. Depending on the character, the way they go wild is also different. That is how we wanted to add diversity to the mechanic.

With 3D Graphics Also More Room For Presentation! But It Was Hard To Make It Look Like The 2D Era.

When working on a scenario, Mr. Yamazaki starts with impact. Working from there, the whole team once again had “heated fights.”

Interviewer: With the mechanics decided and the ideas ready, you’d start with the actual writing of the scenario?

Yamazaki: I first have to think about all kinds of things once I start on the scenario. You need to have a lot of characters, and you need impact. And of course, the story needs to be interesting. As for my approach, it’s the same as what I did with the Gyakuten Kenji series, but you need something that piques the interests of the players. “This case is what happens in this episode.” That’s my starting point. The whole scenario team, which includes me, then throw out all kinds of ideas, and we narrow it down to the best one.

For Episode 1 we have “The Destruction Of The Court”, for Episode 2 “Yōkai”, for Episode 3 we have the “School Drama” we never had before. Situations with impact and originality and they each have their own atmosphere. We then first throw in scenes and ideas that have impact, and later think about how we’ll use them. First we had “the court is blown up” and then we’d think about why it was blown up. The ideas themselves are interesting, but it’s always difficult to really have it take an interesting form. We’re always making things difficult for ourselves (laugh). I think we did manage jump over those hurdles we set ourselves.

Eshiro: We start from “What the!??”

Yamazaki: That’s is really important. With that as the start, you have a weird mystery, and that connects all the way to the climax in the end. And you need turnabouts in the middle. “You thought it was like that, but it was actually like this.” That’s what we work on after the start. From there it’s linking the story with the gimmicks.

Interviewer: Working from that first impact, could that be because of Mr. Eshiro, who decides on things on first sight?

Eshiro: Yes. When I check the story, I always think about whether the impact they came up with is developed in a convincing way. I think that lies, very big lies can still be convincing as a story element if they lead to daring story developments, but once you look at the details in each scene, it sometimes just feel off. So I commented on that a lot. I’d ask them what that meant, and I’d get an answer, but I’d say: “I thought this was off, so if thousands, hundred thousands of people would play this, how many of them do you think would think this was off?” So I had them either make it more convincing, or simpler. I was not checking for the gimmicks themselves, but whether it was convincing that this or that happened in that way.

Yamazaki: It wasn’t just Eshiro and me, or the scenario team: the whole team spoke their mind. So the team really fought over these things. For example, the scenario writers and designers would have fights and everyone would learn from that.

Interviewer:  I see. I suspect that more things were rejected and that the discussions within the team were more lively because now you had 3D graphics, and could make changes easier than before. When it’s 2D graphics, you might want to change things, but redrawing that would take a lot labor, right?

Yamazaki: Yes, it’s easier now to go a few steps back in the process, or change the animations or camera angles.

Interviewer: Now you were able to do more with the presentation because you could change the camera, did you also ask more of the designers?

Eshiro: I think that on the creative side of things, we could think more about what ideas or patterns would have the most effective results for the presentation. But while 3D graphics allowed us to do more, actually making the game in 3D is quite difficult. Even if you were to recreate the perspective and camera angles from the original 2D screens with 3D models, it’d still look off. So the people behind the models came up with the idea of “preparing multiple models for various circumstances.”

If you’d use Naruhodō’s court model in the Investigation Parts and made him look forward towards the screen, it would look very strange. Even if it’s the same scene, if you change the camera angle, things look different. At such times, we swap out parts of the model. Thanks to that, we can make all the 3D models look natural no matter the circumstances.

They don’t use the same models over and over, but use different models depending on the scene. It’s meticulous work, but it recreates the look of the Gyakuten Saiban series perfectly.

Interviewer: I see, so that’s how you solved that. Did you need to make a lot of different models for all the camera angles?

Eshiro: We made a lot of models so they’d fit perfectly with each scene.

Yamazaki: It always becomes like this when you want to use 3D to emulate 2D. For example, the finger pointing pose of Naruhodō in the series up until now, his hand is actually one big lie. His hand is actually made larger.

Eshiro: If you recreate that pose with 3D modeling, his hand would turn out gigantic (laugh).

Yamazaki: But if you don’t make it large, the pose loses its impact (laugh). So we now use his normal court model up until he holds back, and the moment his finger comes out we swap his hand model with a special larger one.

Interviewer: That idea is a very 2D graphic-like. Even though it’s 3D…

Eshiro: You need to do this if you want to make Gyakuten Saiban. But because of this, work also increased, so things did get more difficult for the team (wry smile). It became a battle with the schedule figuring out what we’d do with the size of the game. Everyone in each section really gave their best performance from schedule management to the correction phase, so they actually made it at an even faster pace than I had planned. I actually thought that we’d release the game later.

Interviewer: I see. When were you expecting to release the game originally?

Eshiro: I thought it’d take another one, two more months.  We’d appear on the Tokyo Game Show twice. But I hate that . Rushing the game would hurt the game’s quality, but we couldn’t let people wait too long either. So as the ultimate line, I thought  we’d go on sale just before Tokyo Game Show 2013. But in the latter half we managed to win back time in the scheduling. Once you have a clear sight on the hurdles up ahead, you go at it as if your lives depend on it. That’s the Capcom style (laugh). And that is how the team approached it.

Interviewer: Listening to you, I get the idea that all sections in your team had to adapt to a new mode, from hardware to the possibilities in presentation.

Yamazaki:  We talked about that in the team. A full model change.

Interviewer: I think that doing 3D so it looks like 2D would result in a large volume of data, but Mr. Yamazaki, do you think of that when you’re working on the scenario? For example, do you think: “I want to use this, but can we actually make this in 3D?”

Yamazaki: Hmm, when I work on the scenario, I don’t really think about that, but we do make the characters together with the scenario team and the design team, so I do think about how the presentation will be.  For example, the break scenes of the criminals are a tradition in this series, but we think about the design and background of the characters with those break scenes in mind. We compare ideas: the scenario team want to go with this kind of character, the design team with this kind of character. This time, we had that extra hurdle of how we were going to recreate those ideas in 3D. And that also depends on what the modelers and programmers can do. So there are times I’d think: “Can we actually work with this idea?”

The traditional break scenes at the end of the court battle. This time the scenes are in full 3D, so they are like nothing like the ones you have seen before. Look forward to them in the full game.

Interviewer: Ah, having those final break scenes in 3D is indeed exciting. You could all kinds of things we’ve never seen before.

Yamazaki: We can do a lot more now. The camera angle is not just from the front anymore, but we can change that, and have it circle around. Going 3D has given us a lot of possibilities. It’s been a battle with the question of how we could make the most out of the 3DS hardware and 3D graphics.

Interviewer: You don’t see the break scenes in the demo, and you don’t talk about that now. But Auchi (Payne), the usual thing goes flying again, right? (laugh)

Eshiro: (laugh). I’d be happy if people would buy the game and go see the break scenes themselves.

Yamazaki: While I was writing the scenario, there were also a lot of other things I wanted to do, besides the break scenes…

Interviewer: On the official blog, you talked about being “greedy,” I remember.

Yamazaki: We have done all kinds of things. Though the teams involved with it might’ve been thinking “What is he going make us do this time!?” (laugh). I wanted to make a scenario where I didn’t have to cut any ideas, and then we had the presentation in 3D. And with the characters, we changed Odoroki Hōsuke’s look, and he almost looks like someone else. And there are the other characters too. And we didn’t reuse the resources, but I had the designers make special custom parts for the models, for that perspective problem we just talked about. I was greedy, asking for this and that (wry smile). Everyone really did their best.

Interviewer: And you have characters from previous games also appear. And you have the Psycho Locks (Psyche Locks) mechanic appear too.

Yamazaki: In the Investigation Parts in this game, Naruhodō makes use of the Psycho Locks, and Odoroki uses Perceive. And you can investigate the background in several ways in 3D. And in court, you use the Heart Scope and the Thought Route.

Eshiro: This game has the most mechanics in the whole series. It’s really packed.

Yamazaki: Really, really packed (laugh).

Eshiro: We also present some answers to questions left unanswered in 4, wherever we could. I think people can really enjoy the game in various ways.

Interviewer: This reminds me of how packed Gyakuten Kenji and the sequel were. Especially Gyakuten Kenji 2 was incredibly large…

Eshiro: It always get packed when Yamazaki and I work together (laugh).

Yamazaki: I guess so (laugh).

The Hardest Character Was Naruhodō. A New Version Of An Old Character Was Out So New Players Could Also Enjoy The Game

The hardest part of making a Gyakuten Saiban story was actually Naruhodō. As the player character, Naruhodō is a surprisingly normal person among a large cast of unique characters.

Old characters have grown and changed in the eight years since the time period of previous games. Mitsurugi (Miles Edgeworth) has become the Chief Prosecutor now and wears glasses. The old characters appear with good reasons so new players can also enjoy them.

Interviewer; What was different about working on Gyakuten Saiban and Gyakuten Kenji? Were there problems scenario-wise?

Yamazaki: I’d say it’s the court battles. You have a defense attorney, a prosecutor, a judge and a witness. It’s pretty unique to have a story develop in a space with just those four roles. We didn’t have them in Gyakuten Kenji, and while we had similar situations, there are not completely the same and it was quite difficult. And then there’s Naruhodō. He’s the player character, so he actually has no really outstanding characteristics. Detective Itonoko (Gumshoe) is easy to do with his “-ssu!” (Pal).  But Naruhodō doesn’t have anything like that. If you don’t pay attention to his style of speaking or thinking, he stops being Naruhodō.

Interviewer: He is one of the few normal people in that crazy world, right?

Yamazaki: Precisely, he’s actually very normal. At first, it was difficult actually getting that nuance on the screen. The first episode was difficult to write, but we then started to get grasp on him.

Interviewer: It’s been eight years since the older games, ever since 4. So if you want to use older characters from the series, you need to change them keeping in mind that eight years have passed by.

Eshiro: We also need to keep in mind when using existing characters that this is the first new game in six years, and that there are lot of people who have never even heard of Gyakuten Saiban who will play this game. So there mustn’t be any problems for people who start with 5. There needs to be a good reason for older characters to appear, something that ties them up to the story.

Yamazaki: And we did our best at adding a bit of change to account for the eight years. All characters are loved and we’d get into troubles if we did weird things with them. We started with something close to the Naruhodō and Mitsurugi of the third game, and then added in the passage of time. We also tried letting them grow their hair longer, and added mustaches (wry smile). We finally arrived at the designs we now have.  Naruhodō now has a bang of hair hanging from his forehead and has his suit jacket open, to show off his adult composure. And Mitsurugi became the Chief Prosecutor, and his designs has become more gorgeous, and he too has become more adult, wearing glasses now.

Interviewer: So the old characters appear with a reason for the new players, and the fans of the series can enjoy their change and growth. As a fan, I’m curious to how many old characters will appear you haven’t talked about yet.

Eshiro:  It’d be like “I want to see that character, and that one.” if we had every wanted character appear in 5, we’d have no room for new characters anymore, and that would hurt the game on the whole. There’s a gap between making a new game, and making a game for the fans.  So that’s why we decided to only look at characters whose appearance would actually be meaningful.

Interviewer: I see, I see. I will still ask you, but how excited should I get for appearances of familiar faces? Can I hope for more?

Eshiro: Hmmm, I do want to tell you (wry smile). But Gyakuten Saiban fans get really angry when something gets spoiled. That’s really scary, you know (laugh). Even hinting at something gets a reaction. There are also people who shut out all information until the release, things like interviews like these or other release information. But we on the other hand want to talk about what makes this game great, to have people look forward to the game. And so, all I can say now is: “Rest assured.” (laugh).

Interviewer: Were there other things besides the characters you paid attention to for the people new to the series?

Eshiro: For people new to Gyakuten Saiban, we have things like adding an option to read a backlog, and having two save files. We also added a notebook function with the Investigation Memo, and there’s a Help Function for when you’re stuck. We wanted to offer an play experience that is stress free, so they can enjoy the problem solving. We also have small changes in the user interface.  We want both fans of the series and people new to the series to play this game. It’s a game with a “5” in the title, so it might be hard to pick for some, but I really hope people will try it.

Yamazaki: In the very early planning stages of the game, we talked about that it had been six years since the previous game, and with the Takarazuka Revue plays and the film, we had a wide variety of users, and we also needed to keep the people in mind who had never played any of the games. So we also redid the contents of the interface, but building on the atmosphere of the series. For example, up until now, when you’re moving between locations in the Investigation Parts, you’d need to go through certain locations first before you could go to another. Now you can go directly to those places. We remade it to be more user friendly.

Eshiro: On the other hand, if you make things to friendly, it tends to lower the difficulty level. Fans of the series are of course used to Gyakuten Saiban. And when an adventure game is easy, that’s bad. It becomes boring. So you shouldn’t push the friendliness in front, but keep the play experience of the users in mind and add something where you think they might get stuck. You don’t help them in parts where they can solve it easily themselves. The people behind that worked hard on that.

The DLC Was Made After Finishing  The Main Game! It Portrays Naruhodō’s First Battle After Returning As An Attorney

Interviewer: You have downloadable contents this time, like costumes and an extra episode?

Eshiro: First we have the Costume Pack DLC. It’s free to download for a period. We asked the character designer of Odoroki to design a casual outfit for him. And Kokone has a sailor school uniform. She’s returned from the United States, but she could have been a high school student in Japan, we figured. And then we have the Quiz Deduction DLC, with an original story. The characters of Gyakuten Saiban get caught up in some kind of happening, and as the story develops, you come across deduction quizzes. It’s split in three parts and they are scheduled to be released one after another per week. This is paid DLC, but because people will have to purchase this to play, we are thinking of adding special contents as an award for finishing it. And we are now working on the extra DLC episode (laugh). We aren’t selling something we left out of the game, but we made the main game with everything we had, and then worked on something else. And this extra scenario is quite big too.

Interviewer: So you haven’t been able to rest yet (This interview was done on July 4)?

Eshiro: Not yet (laugh). We are still busy working. This episode is a Special Episode, and is about the first case Naruhodō did after getting his attorney’s badge back. It is set in an aquarium, where there is a show with a killer whale, but that killer whale kills somebody. And Naruhodō will defend that killer whale…

Yamazaki: We figured it’d be boring if the first defendant he’d have would be someone normal.  It needed to be someone only Naruhodō could save. A case only Naruhodō could handle. And that’s why he defending a killer whale.

Eshiro: And lots of great characters appear. Look forward to it.

Interviewer: It sounds exciting, doing something crazy you couldn’t do in the main game (laugh).

Eshiro: For this occasion, let’s throw a screwball (laugh). But we’re still working on it. DLC is scary, you know. It never ends.

Yamazaki: Precisely. It just won’t end.

Interviewer: So you still have ideas you can use there (laugh). In the past, we talked about how you’d always have something left undone in a game, and that that would turn into the motivation to work  on a future title. But now you can work all the way until nothing is left anymore.

The two who are still working on the DLC after completing the main game. They laugh as they talk about how hard it is to get each and every idea out of their bodies.

Eshiro: We’re working on this until there’s literally nothing left in us, and until we’re just empty shells. But the team will have time off by the time they are completely dry, and like a sponge, they will get filled with motivation again, and will want to make something new. But I don’t have any vacation though (wry smile).

Yamazaki: We’re still busy getting the ideas wrung out of our bodies, so I hope that time comes soon (laugh).

Interviewer: Can you say something about what will happen next with Gyakuten Saiban?

Eshiro: First we have the performance of the stage play Gyakuten Saiban ~ Gyakuten no Spotlight~ (‘Turnabout Trial ~ Turnabout Spotlight~’). And we have a collaboration event with Keikyū, where we have puzzles at several stations, and people can buy a free travel ticket, find the clues hidden at certain stations and solve the puzzles. And we have a mystery event at Tokyo Joypolis. This is also a event where the users go looking for a puzzle to solve. And at the Capcom Bar, we have food tie-ups. And using the Capcom Bar and Pasela, we are working on a Mystery Event. So we have those kinds of marketing campaigns and events.

As for the game, we are waiting in excitement for the feedback from the users once the game is released. Will we go to the next Gyakuten Saiban from there, or do something else, like Gyakuten Kenji? We’ll go through the feedback and wishes we get through the questionnaires, so we’ll think about our next step based on that. We also want to do more events. Like a new Orchestra Concert. And events where the fans can mingle with each other. Something like a Gyakuten Tour. Go watch the play, then take the Keikyū train, then go to Tokyo Joypolis, followed by a visit to the Capcom Bar (laugh). It’d be nice if we could do that.

Interviewer: Can we ask you for one final message to the users?

Yamazaki: We really fought with the whole team to make this game. It’s a game we made together. It’s the first new game in the main series in six years, and I think it will be able to live up to the expectations of the people we made wait for so long. We also have DLC, and a stage play and other events, so the Gyakuten world is getting bigger and bigger. I’d be happy if not only the fans, but also people who have never played the games will try it out. I’d be happy if you’d all get into the world of Gyakuten.

Eshiro: To have people wait for six years for one title, that’s something only Gyakuten Saiban could do. It’s only possible because of the support of the core fans. I think this game can live up to their expectations. It’s a game packed with content, really, really packed. The size is enormous. But we also made sure it won’t feel like a chore. I hope that people who still aren’t sure about this game will try out the demo and see if they could get interested in it. Thank you for your support.

Interviewer: Thank you for the interviewer. We look forward to the game.

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