Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth Preview for the Nintendo DS from 1UP.com


1UP: Mr. Eshiro, you're the producer on Ace Attorney Investigations, but could you tell us a little more about your role in the game's development?

Motohide Eshiro: I started as co-producer on the second and third Ace Attorney games, but this is my first time in the series as full producer. Mostly, I look over the overall product schedule and budget. I make sure everything's coming in on time -- things like that.

Another big part of my job is focusing on the overall quality of the game. While the director focuses on specific aspects -- fine-tuning the small details -- my job is more to look at the big picture. To make sure that everything fits in well with whole concept. I look at it like the average user and ask myself, "Will the player enjoy this?"

And of course, doing promotion for the game, like traveling abroad to give interviews.

1UP: Your current position sounds very different from your previous role as director on Shadow of Rome and Onimusha...
1UP:あなたの現在の仕事は、以前のSHADOW OF ROMEや鬼武者のディレクターとしての役割とずいぶん異なるようですが。

ME: Yeah, Ace Attorney is a very different type of game, but I really wasn't thinking of it as something completely different. During my school days, I used to play a lot of PC-based text adventures. I really loved those back then, and I've always been a huge fan of adventure games.

When I was a director, I was able to make action games like Onimusha and Shadow of Rome, but I just didn't have the opportunity to make my own adventure game. But when I switched roles to producer on Ace Attorney, I finally got the chance to make the types of games I loved playing when I was younger.
私はディレクターとして、アクションゲームの鬼武者とSHADOW OF ROMEを制作しましたが、アドベンチャーゲームを創る機会はありませんでした。しかし逆転裁判のプロデューサーになって、とうとうアドベンチャーゲームの制作に関われることになったのです。

1UP: Do you think your time working with such action heavy games has changed the way you approached Ace Attorney Investigations?

ME: Definitely, there's been some influence. Of course, in text-based games there's always some level of interactivity. But working in action games, I had firsthand experience in how to lay out a scene. For example, if you've got a character moving somewhere, the background has to scroll and move smoothly.

I think I was able to transfer some of that experience into Ace Attorney Investigations. When you move Edgeworth around, you're not going to run into weird scrolling issues; you're not going to see awkward movements, or things like that, and I attribute that to my action game experience.

1UP: Speaking of adventure games, over the past few years in America, we've seen a bit of a revival of that genre with games like Sam & Max and Monkey Island. Do those come to Japan at all?
1UP:アドベンチャーゲームについてですが、アメリカでは過去、Sam & MaxやMonkey Islandのようなゲームがリバイバルしています。日本ではどうですか?

ME: I don't think they do. But when I think about PC adventure games, I think about the really old titles. Of course, Myst was a popular title everywhere, but I really enjoyed Mystery House. I can't think of other specific titles right at the moment, but just really old games, or games like Portopia, which never came out outside Japan. I really haven't tried out any recent adventure games. Even in Japan, they've never remade some of my favorite titles, like Snatcher.
江城:日本ではなかったと思います。しかし、私がPCのアドベンチャーゲームについて考える時、私は本当に古いタイトルについて思いを巡らせます。もちろん、Mystは有名ですが、私はMystery Houseが楽しかった。他の具体的なタイトルは思い出せないけれど、日本以外では発売されなかったポートピア連続殺人事件が好きです。私は最近のアドベンチャーゲームはプレイしていません。日本でさえ、スナッチャーのような私の好きなゲームのいくつかはリメイクされていません。

With Mystery House, that was a game I played when I was still in college -- but it only came out in English. I didn't immediately understand half of what was written; maybe just a word like "take," and then I'd have to look up the rest to understand what I was able to take. So I'd play along with a dictionary; it was almost like studying, but a lot more fun.
Mystery Houseは、私が大学生のころにプレイしたゲームでした――しかし英語版しかありませんでした。私は書いてあることの半分も理解できませんでした。「take」というワードがあっても、何が取得できるのか、調べなくてはなりませんでした。そのため、私は辞書を片手にプレイしていました、それはまるで勉強みたいでしたが、楽しみでもありました。

But Portopia is a game that's really stuck with me over the years. Are you ok with spoilers?

1UP: I think the game's old enough that that's ok.

ME: Well, the detective that you work with, the big twist at the end is that he's the criminal. You're supposed to be working closely with this guy, and you don't find out till much later that he's actually the one behind it all. And that highlights one of the most important aspects of adventure and text games for me: the "turnaround" point.

In the Ace Attorney series you always have these surprising twists, sometimes two or three times in one case. You just never know what to expect. That's what keeps adventure games interesting for me.

1UP: It's obviously a very different type of game, but another popular adventure game I'm sure you've spent some time with is Professor Layton.

ME: Yeah, I played the very first one. And, you're probably aware that the puzzles themselves are based on a much older book series in Japan called Mental Gymnastics. I never found just doing the puzzles themselves all that engaging, but I'm just amazed that they were able to fit them into this story and make it interesting. It's good that it brings these types of puzzles to a wider audience.

1UP: Obviously, he's in the title, so Miles Edgeworth is this game's central character. After bringing in a new protagonist for the previous game, Apollo Justice, what made you decide to bring back this character as opposed to using someone new?
1UP:タイトル(Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth)通り、御剣怜侍がこのゲームの主役であることは明白です。前作で新主人公(王泥喜)を登場させたのに、他のキャラクターに戻すことを決めたのは?

ME: Well, we wanted to make a new game with new skills like logic and deduction, things like that. But we took a look at the character rankings in Japan and, next to Phoenix Wright, the next most popular character was Edgeworth. He's really quite popular, and so we thought that made him a good choice as the central character for this game.

1UP: Was there anything you and the team wanted to do with the game that you just weren't able to, because of time constraints or other technical hurdles?

ME: Actually, one of the things that the director and I had talked about was the Little Thief system. We'd wanted to add a lot more features -- to make a bit more in-depth. But we just ran out of time and weren't able to integrate it as fully as we'd wanted to. It's little more simplistic than we'd originally envisioned, but that was just a problem with time.

1UP: Is there anything you feel you've learned from Ace Attorney Investigations that you've been able to apply to your current project, Okamiden?

ME: Well, I'm also the producer on Okamiden, so the role itself is very similar. Ace Attorney was my first solo job as a producer, so a lot about learning games promotion, the timing of releasing information, keeping players interested. Various things like that about how to promote a game.

But a real learning moment came when we put together the first build of Investigations. We went around showing the game to the company, and we actually got a lot of negative reactions. So, we had to go back to the drawing board and do a lot of rethinking, redesigning, reconceptualizing.

Talking with the director, we had to think about who Edgeworth is as a character. We realized that he's actually very logical. Originally the game was simply about visiting crime scenes and investigating, but when we instituted the "Logic mechanic," that changed how the game plays completely.

1UP: Did you ever consider brining the series over to another platform besides DS?

ME: From the beginning, we knew this would be a DS game. The previous games were all on DS, and there's just a natural flow to continue with DS. We never really considered trying it on any other system.

1UP: Have you felt limited at all by the DS? With Nintendo iterating on its handheld so frequently, is there any functionality that you wish it would add to the system that you think would be great to use in a game?
1UP:DSによって制限されることはありませんでしたか? 任天堂はしばしば携帯ゲーム機を出していますが、ゲームに使うためのシステムを加えて欲しいと思うことは?

ME: I'm really not the type of person to think, "Oh, I wish they had this, I wish they had that." I look at it realistically, I look at the specs. Then I think, "What can we do with this? What kind of fun game can we create to take advantage of this machine the most?"
江城:私は「これがあればいいのに、あれがあればいいのに」というタイプではありません。スペックを見て、考えます。「これをどうできるだろうか? このハードでどんな楽しいゲームを作れるだろうか?」

I guess it goes back to my roots as a programmer, but I really would just want the system to have more memory, maybe a better video card. Stuff like that. Something so we can make the best looking game possible. It's not the most wishful thinking perhaps, but that's the way I look at it.

1UP: Going back to your roots, you've held so many different positions in the industry, are there any moments in particular that stand out for you? What roles did you most enjoy?
1UP:ゲーム業界で色々と異なるポジションを体験してきて、特に卓越していることは? どんな仕事が楽しかったですか?

ME: Starting out as a programmer for Capcom, it really was fun to be able to realize a planner's vision. A planner would come up to me and say, "Here are the game's rules," or, "Here are the designs." And it would be up to me to put it together and make it appear on the screen. That was really great, to immediately see these ideas take fruit and know that you're the one who brought these ideas to life.

As a director, it's tough to be head of a team because you then take on responsibility for everything that the team does and all the decisions. If you decide to take the game in one direction instead of another, you have to live with those consequences. It's heavy and hard, but it's also good because you have a lot more influence over the game; you can put in things you want to put in. Of course it's not 100% about what you want. It's also about listening to the ideas and opinions of your team and being able to take all those ideas and make it into one solid game. Having everything come together, the realization of those things makes it all worth it.

Being a producer is a double-edged sword. It's hard, but it's a very enjoyable at the same time. You get to stand in a different position from the director, and you get to watch a game grow from the first drafts to the very end. It's interesting to be able to manage and oversee everything in that respect. And being able to promote the game, getting out to the various media outlets is a lot of fun too. Learning how to excite people about your particular title. It's trying, but very compelling at the same time.

1UP: I know you don't control marketing in America directly, but the Ace Attorney series in particular has always had wonderful pre-order bonueses for Japan in the past. But when those same games come Stateside, it's usually without as much fanfare and with just the standalone software. Since you've been working on the past few titles directly, how do you think the company's approach has changed with each title?

ME: We've definitely made some changes in how we promote things overseas versus in Japan. For example, in Japan we focus mainly on interviews with the regular press outlets like Famitsu. But in the West, we've found going directly to the community has been very important. For Ace Attorney, we recently did a live Q&A over the Capcom UStream page. It's something that's always changing, and we definitely don't have the "perfect formula" right now, but we're always listening to the community.

1UP: Do you think there are any particular differences between fans of the Ace Attorney series in the East and the West?

ME: Actually, I went to ComicCon last year, and it was really great to see so many of our American fans in person. I don't think there's a difference between the two, or between any other countries in that respect; everyone who enjoys the games seems to enjoy them for the same reasons.

1UP: Well, thank you so much for taking the time to come out and talk with us. We know a lot of fans out there are eagerly awaiting the next game's release later this month.

ME: Thank you very much.