Dual Destines Q & A: Ace Attorney Producer Motohide Eshiro answers your questions

Aug 26, 2013 // Chris

The devs behind Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destines are answering questions submitted directly by you guys! Check out their thoughts on past games, case inspiration, digital releases, 3D, music and more!

A few weeks ago we asked Ace Attorney fans to submit their Dual Destinies questions to none other than Dual Destinies producer, Motohide Eshiro. We received several hundred queries, picked our favorites and passed them along Eshiro-san, he’s gotten back to us with his replies, and look at that! His fellow Ace Attorney cohort, Tsuyoshi Yamazaki, has chimed in as well! 

What follows is basically an interview conducted by the community, plus and you guys deserve some thanks for that because the result is equally entertaining and insightful. We bumped the number of questions up to FOURTEEN from our original goal of ten, however, everyone who submitted a question should notice a reward in their profile in the coming days. Thanks again and enjoy! – Chris

Jack asks: How come certain features have been phased out in the more recent games? For example, presenting profiles was possible in Justice For All and Trials and Tribulations, but not in any game since. I also heard that only crime scenes can be examined in Dual Destinies, every other area is off limits. A lot of the most fun dialogue in the previous games came from examining places like Phoenix’s office, so I’m sad to hear about that. Do you think these features can be brought back in the future?

ESHIRO: I can’t really say at this point in time which features from past games could come back in future titles.

With regards to examining scenes, Dual Destinies features crime scenes rendered in 3D for the first time in the series. We therefore decided to focus the examination aspect of the game on the crime scenes in order to best balance the investigation scene/courtroom scene rhythm of each case and make the gameplay flow more satisfying.

Classic_Megaman asks: Since both Apollo and Phoenix are playable, will there be an equal focus on both or is it skewed toward one of them?

Yamazaki: Phoenix is the main character, so there is a skew towards him, but Apollo is also a key character in the storyline and is by no means sidelined. He has a very important part to play…

Josh asks: In order to understand the plot FULLY, what games in the series should I play?

Eshiro: From the improved UI design, inclusion of better tutorial aspects and overall structure of the story, Dual Destinies has been designed so that you can play and enjoy it without having any experience of previous Ace Attorney titles .

Of course, if you are familiar with the series there are some moments where your extra knowledge will make you smile with recognition, but in terms of fundamental storyline, you don’t need to have played any previous titles to fully understand the plot.

Mark asks: I’ve always wondered, what is the creation process for the cases? Do you have the guilty party in mind from the start and write backwards so that it leads to that conclusion, or is it written just as a narrative from start to finish?

YAMAZAKI: We start with an impactful opening incident scene; for example, in the new game one case opens with a destroyed courtroom, and another with a murder seemingly committed by a folkloric monster. Next, we decide the ‘turnabout’ twist in the story. We then flesh out the story from these two points and work out who the real killer is and how the case will end.

Joey asks : Are there any real-life trials that you were inspired by when writing the Ace Attorney games?

Yamazaki: No, we don’t really take real-life trials into consideration when writing the games. The exception would be in Turnabout Reclaimed, the special DLC episode for Dual Destinies, in which the defendant is a whale. Believe it or not, this was inspired by a real-life case of an animal taking the stand in a courtroom!

MegaMan-RA asks: What’s your favorite case of Ace Attorney 5?

Eshiro: I personally like the third case best. It’s set in a legal academy, and features what I think are the most unique characters and interesting story developments in the game.

Joe Monsters asks: What is your favorite character of the Ace Attorney series and why?

Eshiro: I have many favorites, but if I had to choose one I would say Terry Fawles [the defendant in the fourth case of the third game]. He has a certain purity about his character despite being a convicted murderer, so it broke my heart to see what ended up happening to him.

Mellozine asks: What went into deciding which past characters would appear in Dual Destinies? Was it just the characters that the staff liked the most or ones that tied into the story best?

Eshiro: We made a conscious decision not to include any popular characters simply for the sake of so-called “fan service”, so the returning characters had to be not only popular with fans, but also a good fit for the new cases and able to play a meaningful part in the storyline.

Luke asks: What’s the biggest difference in making a AA game in a 3D engine compared to sprite based one?

Yamazaki: With sprites, once the character animation frames are drawn, you can’t change them easily. If we weren’t happy with a particular animation, the art would have to be redrawn, which takes time. But now with 3D character models, we can make adjustments to characters’ animations much more quickly and easily, which allowed us more time to fine-tune them and get just the results we were looking for.

Intrepid asks: The music gets catchier with each release. What is the process like for imagining and creating the tracks?

Yamazaki: First, the sound director, Toshihiko Horiyama, and I write a summary of how we want each track to sound, and give this to the composer, Noriyuki Iwadare. We also try to provide him with as much relevant visual reference material as possible; for tracks that play in certain locations, we’ll give him the background art, and for themes specific to one character, the relevant character art and design documents.

Once Mr. Iwadare has worked up a rough first version of the track, I listen to it with Mr. Horiyama and provide feedback. This is the stage where the mood and feel of each track is nailed down.  Finally, Mr. Iwadare develops the track and produces the final arrangement.

Kinnikumask asks: Is there still any hope for a physical release of Dual Destinies in the west?

Eshiro: In response to fan feedback we looked into a western physical release of Dual Destinies but from the beginning of the project, one of our goals has been to bring the game to the western market much more quickly than we have been able to in the past. As text adventures, the Ace Attorney games require a lot of time for localization, so we really moved the proverbial mountains and had a lot of people work very hard to get the text localized as quickly as possible—while of course maintaining the high quality level fans are accustomed to.

As part of this, we made the decision to release on digital only in the west in order to take manufacturing time out of the equation and allow the release date to be as early as possible. So the answer is, no, Dual Destinies will be a digital download-only release in the west.

Erick asks: Do you think that having the game english only worldwide will have a very big negative impact in sales? Wouldn’t have been better releasing it a bit later but with more language options?

Eshiro: This ties in with my previous answer, but localizing into multiple languages would have taken a very long time, and this would push the western release a lot further out from the Japanese release. We therefore made the decision to localize into English only in order to get the game to western fans as soon as possible.

Iban asks: Will non-Japanese players get all the DLC outfits ?

Eshiro: Yes. In addition to the pack of three costumes that is already out in Japan, we are working to ensure that western users can also get the additional AA3 Phoenix costumewhich, inJapan, is part of the quiz DLC that we’ve previously stated won’t be coming to the west due to cultural localization issues. Stay tuned for more information on this!

Gustavo asks: How much is Gumshoe’s salary?

Yamazaki: I have no idea how low it’s gotten to be by now, but it keeps getting lowered, and all he can afford to eat is cheap packets of ramen noodles, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s gone completely into the red (laughs).