Little Backstage Tales

Jul 21, 2021
Jul 21
Janet Hsu

Hello, everyone! I’m Masakazu Kougou, the director and game planner of The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. So far, we’ve heard about this game’s English translation, voice recording, and music recording sessions from each section’s leader, so I think I’ll start today off by talking about how the new ‘Story Mode’ feature came to be.

Story Mode

Originally, we had only planned to implement that staple of the modern visual novel genre, autoplay mode, into the game. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t have anything like Story Mode at all. Rather, we had a debug function that did basically the same thing.

Note: To “debug” something is the process by which we look for errors in the game and fix them, and “debug functions” are helpful tools that assist in the debugging process.

One day, a request came down to me from one of the producers.

  • The Conversation:

I want you to add a new feature that we can use as a selling point.

N-Now? At this juncture?! Um… Let me check the project schedule…

By the way, how much additional time do we get to implement it?

Zero.

Huh?! Then…do we get more peopl—

No extra money means no extra staff. That will be all. I look forward to the results.

This is insanity…

*The producer wasn’t really as intimidating as Lord Stronghart, I swear!

I suppose anyone who’s worked in games, or in any other field for that matter, has come across this kind of situation before. But the producer wasn’t doing it out of spite, of course. He only brought this topic up to us, the dev team, after discussing it with a bunch of other divisions and determined that it was a truly necessary feature.

Still, I was suddenly tasked with this mission to find something worthy of being a selling point. But without extra time, money, or staff, the range of things I could suggest was severely limited and anything we’d want to do would be difficult to implement under such circumstances.

That’s when the producer approached me and asked about formally implementing that debug function.

  • The Conversation:

As I recall, there’s a debug function that goes through the game all by itself, correct?

Yes, we’re not done making it yet, but it’s in the works.

I want you to put that into the main game.

You what? I mean, it’s just a tool. It’s not that simple to turn it into something usable for actual players…

Hm, in that case, I suggest you get going and talk with your team.

B-But, putting an auto-clear mode into a game like this is…

We have neither the time nor the money, so we will use whatever we have on hand.

Mr. Producer… sir!

It’s time for my next appointment. Confirm what you must. I expect a report next time we meet.

… understood.

*The producer wasn’t really as intimidating as Lord Stronghart, I swear! Again!

Yes, we did have a debug ‘auto-progression’ tool, but the steps required to turn it into a proper game feature were many. First, we had to check with our QA division to see if implement such a feature into the main game would cause any problems, and confirm what sorts of adjustments we would need to make. From there, we had to adjust our development schedule and talk amongst ourselves to iron out the logistics. Finally, after many more discussions with the QA division, we were finally able to implement the feature into the game.

Thus, the new Story Mode came to see the light of day. I have nothing but deep gratitude for the dev members who worked so hard to make it possible.

… if only we could’ve had just a little more money or time – or even personnel – we could’ve implemented any of the numerous other features I’d thought up, including a hint system instead of a straight up auto-clear mode, but that’s life, I suppose.

As a side note, before Story Mode got its name, we used to call it ‘Auto-Clear Mode’, but our overseas branch offices informed us that that name may not go over so well in the West, so we were asked to change it. Here are just a few of the other ideas we had:

・‘Great Ace Attorney Mode’ – in which Ryunosuke would never make a mistake in solving the case
・‘Assist Mode’ – in which the game would help players along
・‘Guiding Sword Mode’ – in which the game would help players and have a name more in line with the story’s setting

I sent these and a few other names along, and after many talks between the producers and our overseas branches, we settled on the one we know and love today. But personally, I’m also very fond of ‘Great Ace Attorney Mode’.

Special Contents

Now, I’d like to talk a little about the Special Contents section of the game.

Some of you may have noticed this already, but the Japanese name of this section, 特別付録 (tokubetsu furoku / lit. ‘special supplement’), comes from the original name of the Nintendo 3DS version’s add-on contents section, 電信付録 (denshin furoku / lit. ‘telegraphic supplement’). In this Special Contents section, we’ve included a selection of items from the original 3DS version’s The Randst Magazine DLC along with the special costumes from the second game. To this, we’ve added other goodies like Accolades and Moving Pictures, along with the credits for The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles.

This screenshot was also in the first blog article, but…
  • Accolades

Like PS4 Trophies and Steam Achievements, we’ve created a similar feature for this title dubbed ‘Accolades’. We did this because we couldn’t stand the thought of Switch players being left out of the fun after we’d worked so hard to create them for the other platforms. So, we created a special screen within the game from which you can check them out.

Even if you’ve played The Great Ace Attorney before, I really hope you’ll consider replaying this and trying your hand at getting every Accolade!

You can even check your progress on the more complex ones!

  • Gallery – Portraits

For Chronicles, we’ve taken all the main characters’ illustrations from the original issues of The Randst Magazine and organized them by character. For the side characters and other standalone illustrations, we’ve brought them all together in the Miscellany section under their own separate headings. In addition, we’ve redone the layout of each illustration so that they’re bigger and easier to look at than before. We accomplished this by moving Mr. Nuri’s comments into text windows that you can show or hide at the press of a button.

The first screenshot is from Chronicles, while the latter is from the 3DS version. The reason the 3DS version looks yellower overall is because the 3DS screen is bluer in tone than a regular PC monitor. So, to compensate, the original dev team placed a yellow filter over their illustrations and textures to create the actual colour they intended onscreen.

  • Gallery – Moving Pictures

This is another section that wasn’t in the initial plans. And this, too, was another producer request that came sometime before Story Mode.

  • The Conversation:

I wish to include some videos in this title, as a selling point.

Huh? Um, well, let me check the project schedule.

Please do.

And what if we need to extend the schedule…?

No extensions, and no extra staff. I look forward to the fruits of your struggle.

… I’ll certainly give it my all.

*The producer wasn’t really as intimidating as Lord van Zieks, I swear!

And that’s how you end up with more and more work to do. But compared to Story Mode’s implementation, this feature wasn’t as big of a deal. However, there was the problem of deciding just how much memory could these videos take up. We had to calculate the total size of the game itself (but because we were still in the process of making it, we could only come up with a rough estimate), and then figure out how much of the remaining space we could devote to the videos. We strove to use every last byte available because if we were going to include these videos, we wanted them to look nice at the very least. So, we played around with the resolution, and with the help of the video production team, even adjusted the frame rate to keep their quality as high as possible.

The little animal caricatures are seated in a few different arrangements.
See if you can discover them all!
  • Auditorium – Instrumentals

There are three tabs in the Instrumentals section: Music, Miscellany, and From the Vaults (DLC). The Music and From the Vaults tabs are filled with background music, while the Miscellany tab houses sound effects and some special voice tracks. Background music tracks are set to automatically loop as they do normally in-game.

Initially, each tab was quite the mess, with some tracks looping automatically while others would stop after one playthrough. In trying to bring some order to the madness, we decided to make background music tracks loop and sound effects play only once.

… but honestly, aside from trying to make things more consistent, there were a few people on the team who reeeally wanted to listen to the new tracks in the From the Vaults tab over and over, so that’s the other reason why we ended up with looping background music tracks. Both ‘Baker Street Ball – Waltz for Chronicles’ and ‘Partners (Arrangement)’ are fantastic pieces, so if you’d like to hear them on loop forever and ever as well, I hope you’ll consider pre-ordering or purchasing this game as soon as possible!

  • Art and Music From the Vaults Bonus DLC

Actually, this is yet another feature we hadn’t planned on implementing at the beginning of the project. This was around the end of the game’s development cycle, after the whole back and forth regarding Story Mode. Game development very rarely goes as initially planned, does it?

  • The Conversation:

I wish to include an early purchase bonus for this title. Don’t you?

At THIS point in the project?! We never had any plans for a DLC, so I’m afraid I’ll have to check the schedule and…

Hmph. Then you’d best get started on your inquiry, wouldn’t you say?

Oh, and of course, you won’t be getting any additional staff, or money, or time.

…Right. Let me look into it, sir.

*The producer wasn’t really as intimidating as Lord van Zieks, I swear! Again!

If it happens once, it’ll happen again and again… and again. I honestly couldn’t believe he’d come to us at such a late stage with such a request, but the dev side seemed capable of handling it, and Mr. Nuri and the sound team were also able to provide us with the assets and commentary we required, so we started down the road to implementing this bonus DLC.

It was a very last-minute request, but thanks to the dev team’s hard work and Mr. Nuri and the sound team’s cooperation, we were able to pull it off somehow and bring it into the world. Especially with Mr. Nuri and his comments, he had so much to share that he consistently went over the page limit we’d set, so we had to quickly figure out how to add more text window pages to each illustration. All Janet (who had to translate that huge volume of text) and I could do was laugh wryly as we failed to contain his enthusiasm. *laugh* So if there’s one thing you can look forward to, it’s pages upon pages of art commentary from Mr. Nuri.

Each comment contains previously published information and some new titbits as well!
  • Auditorium – Voice Recitals, Tailor, Escapades

These three sections are also taken from either The Randst Magazine or the second game, The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve. We had wanted to make it so that you could use the special costumes in the first game as well, but the character models are just a little different between the two games. Sadly, the cost of adapting the models to work for the entire first game was so prohibitively high that no amount of tears could make it happen…

We even considered making new costumes or letting people play as Inspector Sholmes or Ryutaro, but, as with the other costumes, these ideas fell by the wayside due to a lack of time and money…

These two would make for some fun visuals though, wouldn’t they?
  • Credits

You can see the names of all the people involved in The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles here in the credits. The background music is a new piece commissioned specifically for this game entitled ‘Baker Street Ball – Waltz for Chronicles’! You can’t help but listen to it, even when you’re not looking at the screen. The little Shrewnosuke and friends that appear during the credits also take part in some memorable moments from Adventures and Resolve. I hope you’ll give it a look!

Is it just me, or does something seem different about this courtroom scene…?

The main credits at the end of each game are basically the same as the original versions. But the English version is actually a little different in the way it presents people’s names, so please check those out, too!

Even though I only talked about Story Mode and the Special Contents section, it looks like I somehow wound up writing quite a bit… There are a lot more of these little backstage stories to share, but I’ll have to save them for another day.

Thus, ends my short run here, but there are still a lot more dev blogs to come! Especially noteworthy are the ones from our localisation director, Janet. Her blogs are chock full of information, so if you’re interested in what goes into a localisation, definitely give them a read!

Thanks for sticking around until the very end!