Twilight Sparkle: Princess Celestia, may I ask what this homo sapien is doing?
Princess Celestia: Twilight, my faithful student, this is the Brittanicus in action as it tries to romance its female friends in order
to acquire a suitable mate.
This is the Member of the Month; an interview that Meph conducts at the end of each month. It's a fun way of finding out about respected members of the community.
Meph personally selects each month's Member of the Month. People are picked based on their contributions to the community, whether they are: making excellent trials, providing comic relief or just being a brilliant person. The next Member of the Month could be you!
If you have any questions about the Member of the Month system, please PM Meph.
This month is the anniversary of the Member of the Month interview, with the first interview having been posted in June 2010 (the 28th to be precise, or 27th for you Northern Hemispherean folks ). To celebrate the anniversary, the tables have turned upon Meph. I, Tap, will be the interviewer while Meph will be the interviewee. Yes, all those guesses many months ago about Meph possibly being the next MotM have finally come true, so you can ask any question of him till your heart's content.
Meph is the English section management moderator, and is also the site designer, having worked with Unas for quite some time on improving the website, the forums, and of course, the Ace Attorney Online editor and player. He is a well-received trial developer, known for his featured trial, Turnabout Carjack, a trial based upon characters from British television program, Coronation Street.
He is also developing Secrets of a Turnabout, a trial which won the 2010 Best most promising incomplete trial award. You might also know him as the Puppy Kicker, as was proven by Zeel1™...
Tap: Hello and welcome to the first anniversary of the Member of the Month interviews.
Meph: Hello, Tap. I should probably say that I'm so surprised and happy to be chosen to be the next MotM, but... well... it's not a surprise so... erm... yeah.
Tap: Can you tell us about how you found AAO, and what made you want to join?
Meph: I think it was when that case by someone from Court Records.net was announced. What was it called again -- "Remnence of the Past" or something?
Tap: I believe you mean "Remnants of the Past", an abandoned PWlib fangame. Well, I suppose abandoned isn't technically correct since the creator still maintains he is developing it, but it is well-known in the community that the project is dead.
Meph: Ah, so I was right. Yes, that got me intruged about fan cases. There was a page on Court Records.net where they had a list of many fan cases and trial engines. I can't remember exactly, but I think I found AAO that way.
So once I found it, I joined. I never actually posted in the forums, though, because I only joined to try out the Trial Editor. The only problem was that usability of the site was none-existant back then, so it was very unclear that I had to make a forum account to start making trials. There weren't any of the usual "log in" or "register" links that you'd see on many other sites.
Tap: Hmm... it was about a year after you joined that you became the trial moderator of Ace Attorney Online. Can you tell us how that happened?
Meph: Ha ha. Well I suppose I'll first have to tell you how I actually started posting in the forums. But to do that, I'm going to have to look down memory lane. It's really embarrassing to look back at your older posts.
The first post I made was about four months after I joined when I announced my first ever trial: Turnabout Chill. I'll admit that it wasn't brilliant, but I was just as much a perfectionist back then as I am now, so I was very particular about little details like making sure that the time and location dialogue was written correctly or that utterances "Court will now reconvene" were written exactly as they were in the real AA games. It's too bad that the story wasn't as good, though.
But the reason why I became a mod started after Unas began development on AAO 4. I get excited about anything that's new, so I was actively contributing to his "Your ideas for the Trial Creator V4" thread. I think that caused Unas to see I cared quite a bit about his Web apps. I don't know how he was so willing to put up with me, though. I pestered him about particular things back then as much as I do today. Back then, Force was the moderator of the Your Trials forum, but he left a couple of months after I joined. I was surprised when Unas asked me to replace Force, but I was happy to.
Tap: So if I can sum this up, you're saying that due to your active contributions towards improving the AAO editor and player, Unas felt that it would be wise to make you a moderator of the English trial section?
Meph: Yes, that's right.
Tap: Tell us about the AAO featured trial systems, since it has been subject to much debate lately.
Meph: When Unas gave me the ability to feature trials soon after I became a mod, there was no QA system back then. Okappa was the first person to ask me to feature a trial. When I reviewed the trial, it wasn't actually a review. I basically just said, "Yeah, it's good. I'll feature it." The first proper trial review, however, wasn't really very broad. It was for Silence of the Turnabout, and I only mentioned two points that need fixing. It was when I gave my review for Turnabout at Sea that it became the review system that we know and hate today.
Tap: And the QA system is constantly evolving, isn't it? 2009 standards have fallen out of the door as trial quality has risen to unprecedented levels, right?
Meph: Indeed. During the many initial QAs that I had to do, I had to invent a lot of the terminology that we used today for things such as "dialogues" and "frames". Before that, the terms that people used were very inconsistent, and it was hard to understand what people were referring to, sometimes. You know what happened afterwards, though. It soon became to much, because so many people were working towards making trials with these high standards. That's why I had to ask Hodou Okappa to help me review trials. Eventually, I asked Shadow and you to join the team. I've learned a lot from you all, and I'm very thankful about the passion that you all have for the QA process and for the trials that you all review.
Tap: Haha, well I seem to be arguing with you every now and then about timestamps, or as you call them, time and location dialogues or setting dialogues.
Meph: Ha ha. Yes. I think we've decided now that they should just be referred to as "timestamps" (or "time and location stamps" for the official name). However, I do have some regrets about the QA system.
Tap: Oh? It's hard to think there'd be anything regretting with how much of a success the system has been.
Meph: The problem is that -- because of the high standards that I've inadvertently set -- people feel as though it's imperative that their trials are extremely good. I get the impression that authors feel as though people won't want to play their trials unless they are featured. And that has led to another problem. I'm also worried that players (especially visitors) just don't want to play a trial that isn't featured. I get the impression that they feel as though non-featured trials are just rubbish and aren't worth their time, which is not the case at all, because a lot of the non-featured trials are also fantastic. Authors have worked so hard on them, and yet I feel as though they've been betrayed by the system, because they're getting a relatively microscopic audience in comparison to the featured ones.
Tap: I see. Perhaps something can be done to combat this issue in the future, but sadly, I don't have any ideas at the moment. Sorry about that...
Tap: On a related note, how did you come up with your most well-known trial to date: Secrets of the Turnabout?
Meph: During the time I was scripting Turnabout Carjack, I just randomly had an idea where I could make a trial where the protagonist had a deep secret that he or she could not tell anyone, because if they did, there would be a terrible consiquence (but I hadn't thought of what that would be). However, if they didn't reveal what the secret was, then their client would be guilty.
What I really wanted to focus on was making the player feel a strong emotional tention. The rest of the story sprang off of that. When I make stories, I always try to think of how they will affect the audience emotionally, because I think that's what makes them so fun; it's why I love to hear stories!
Tap: Would you say that you're quite happy with how the community has received Secrets so far? After all, it won the most anticipated trial of 2010 award, so you must be doing something right.
Meph: The problem is that I've got this self-pessimistic attitude on anything that I make. I always feel as though there's something that I could do better and that people won't like it because I didn't make it as well as I could.
However, seeing as I got an award, I don't think I've got anything to worry about. I'm really happy about how well it's been received so far, so I'm really thankful to everyone for enjoying playing it and even just paying attention to it.
Tap: I think it's time to ask one of the most anticipated questions of this interview. Do you happen to have a favourite fan trial here on Ace Attorney Online?
Meph: Ha ha. I actually don't think I do. What I love about AAO is that everyone cares so much about their trials and works so hard just so that we can be entertained, even if it's just for five minutes. There's so much effort put into every trial, so it's a hard decision. But if I had to pick, it'd be one from the featured trial list -- one that I've reviewed. I'll choose The Bitter Turnabout, mainly because it's the trial that started it all!
Tap: An interesting answer - one that I think we can all agree on since as you said, it was the trial that started it all. I have to ask though: Have you played Turnabout Substitution and Turnabout Scapegoat? They are the two "legendary" fangames made for PyWright, as they've been dubbed by the fangaming community.
Meph: Nope. I've never played any fan cases out of AAO, so I've got no idea what they're like. The problem is that I never give myself any time.
Tap: Wh-What?! You've got to play them! I'm sure that BB will probably post or PM you about this matter. He's not going to take no for an answer and neither am I!
Meph: Yes, I'm sure he will. But you know what I'm like.
Tap: Of course, of course. You don't need to apologise as after all, you're only British...
Tap: What was your childhood like?
Meph: It involved lots and lots of dosages of Disneyland Paris with stuff in between. The first memory I have was on my third birthday when I woke up out of my mum's bed and went downstairs (if you're wondering why I was in her bed, it's probably because I couldn't sleep or something ). But it was just the usual childhood: play school, pre-school, primary school, high school.
I always used to have a computer, though. When I was in Year 2, we always used to read this book called "Rainbow Fish". There was one part of the lesson where we had to go up to the one computer in the classroom and have a go at drawing him on Paint. Then, we'd print off our pictures and put them on a display in the corridor. Later, I asked my mum to buy us a computer, but it was only so that I could go on Paint. It was Windows ME, so I saw a lot of blue screens of death until we finally bought a new computer when I was in Year 5, I think.
Tap: Disneyland Paris? I suppose that you've been a Disney fan since your early childhood, right?
Meph: I used to have a draw full of VHS tapes with loads of Disney films! I loved them, and I'm still not afraid to watch them when no one's around.
I started going do Disneyland Paris when I was about three years old. We always used to go for New Year. It was great, because they had all of the Christmas theming up. Excluding the fact that it was the busiest time to go, I always had a great time, and I had some of the best times of my life there. We stopped going in about 2006, because we couldn't afford it (but to be honest, I don't know how we afforded it anyway!). A couple of years later, my mum announced that we were going to Walt Disney World with her partner and his kids, and it was brilliant!
We're going to Disneyland Paris again for 2012 in January, so I can't wait!
Tap: I'm a fan of Disney myself, although not as much as you appear to be! But why is it that you love Disney and Disneyland (Paris) so much?
Meph: I love it because Disney have a great attention to detail. Storytelling is the only thing that they do, so they see attractions as another medium of storytelling.
Tap: What's your daily life like?
Meph: Well, on a school day, the alarm wakes me up at 7am, I fall back to sleep and then my Grandma shouts at me from downstairs to wake up. Then, I watch tele, have breakfast and finally rushingly get ready for school within the space of 15 minutes. So then I go to my lessons for my A-Level subjects (it's not that bad in school, because we usually have a laugh). Once I get back home, however, it becomes a nightmare.
Tap: Oh? Do tell...
Meph: I go on the computer and I am welcomed either by my Granddad (who has forgotten how to attatch a document to an email... again) or by an avalanche of news stories to read. I follow the development of Firefox on bugzilla, so I usually get about 30 emails during the night as Mozilla developers and volunteers post their progress on fixing bugs and adding new features. Also, I've got a twitter account, so I have to read all of the new tweets in my timeline. Finally, I've got loads of news articles to read via RSS feeds on iGoogle. It takes me about 3 hours to get through it all.
Tap: And then you check Ace Attorney Online, right?
Meph: Yes. After that, I browse the AAO forums and check a few other news sites like the BBC and IGN. I don't think I get any free time by the time that's over.
The problem is that it can sometimes take so long to read them that, by the time I've finished reading all of the new posts on AAO, I have hardly any time to do anything else like play trials or go on video games.
Tap: I see. Are there any other daily leisures in your life? Example, do you play any sports or do you walk your dog? That is, if you have any pets.
Meph: Ha ha. I've always hated football, even though Britons stereotypically love it. I just get bored watching it... and playing it... and hearing about it. So I'm not really a sporty person, but I go to a youth club at my church each week, and I also like to go swimming or to the cinema. I hate going to town though, because shopping is worse than being forced to... erm... no, I can't think of witty comment. But what I'm trying to say is that it's boring.
Tap: For anyone who might be confused, Meph is referring to soccer. They have an odd name for it in Britain, but then again, it's Britain.
Meph: Yes. I don't know why Americans decided to rename it, but I'm not going to rant about that.
Actually, speaking of pets, I'll tell you a funny story. When I was young, I had two gold fish. We called them Backwards and Forwards (I've got no idea why; it's just a rubbish name that mum thought of ). But anyway, every time we fed them, Backwards always ate all of the food, so Forwards died of starvation. The Backwards died of being over-fed.
Tap: Poor Backwards...
Tap: How about your future plans? What do you aspire to be?
Meph: Hopefully a Web developer. It's something that I've been very interested in since I was about 11 years old, so I've already got about 6 years of experience. I just love the the entire subject; there's always something new and exciting being proposed or implemented that will make the Web even better.
Right now, I'm in 6th Form (years 12 and 13) at school, so I'm at the stage where I'm looking for universities to go to.
Tap: Are you considering learning French so you can go study with Unas at his university? *wink*
Meph: Ha! I tried to learn French for three years at school. I can only remember how to say "Je Mappell Meph", and I don't think I even spelt that right. Also, Unas is working as an intern in Google London at the moment, though, so I don't think that should be a problem.
Tap: The French speakers in the community must be cringing at your butchering of the language.
Tap: Which is your favourite Ace Attorney game?
Meph: That's a hard one. I'll choose Trials and Tribulations, though, because of it's emotional ending. I'm afraid to admit it, but I almost cried. My eyes were watering. I actually want to cry when watching or playing stories, but nothing has ever made me cry yet. Maybe, one day, something will.
But I could also choose AAI. It also hadan emotional ending, but that was because it was so tense. I actually enjoyed Abassador Alba's ruthless rebuttals, because they made it so much more rewarding when they were over. I was actually gawping when Shi-na grabbed Kay, only to be shot by Detective Badd. I loved it!
Tap: So you're a fan of noir-esque games with heavy, over-arching and emotional plots?
Meph: Not necessarily noir-like games. Just anything with heavy, over-arching and emotional plots! I love them! To be honest, I usually only buy video games for their stories.
Tap:What was the first game you ever played?
Meph: The first video game that I ever played was Sonic 1 on my Mega Drive, so I became a big fan of Sonic games. I've got a lot of memories of playing Sonic 2 with my next-door neighbour. I never used to get past the first couple of levels, though. Another good Mega Drive game was Dynamite Headdy, which crazily brilliant! It was also mega-hard, so it took my many years to get anywhere near the end. In fact, I still haven't completed it.
Speaking of hard games, Ecco the Dolphin was -- without a shadow of a doubt -- the hardest game ever made... ever... ever... EVER...! I used to have that too, before I sold it back to the retro-games shop. Sorry, I'm digressing a bit.
Tap: Don't worry! I haven't heard of Ecco the Dolphin before, but I suppose that it's like Super Mario Kaizo and I Wanna Be The Guy?
Meph: Oh no. I think Ecco is on a whole new level.
Tap: Heh, heh, you seem to have quite a certain vehemence to it. Perhaps from not beating it?
Meph: Perhaps because I couldn't even get past the third level?
Tap: You've told us about your favourite old classics, but what sort of modern video games are you a fan of?
Meph: My favourite modern game is Alan Wake. Ever since it was announced, I was very excited about it, because it was being styled like a television programme with episodes. It turned out to be a great game, and I was absorbed by the characters and its environment. Also like The Sims series, the Roller Coaster Tycoon series and the Age of Empires series. That last one was a very big part of my life. I used to own Age of Mythology, which gave me a lot of the skills that I use in AAO today.
Tap: Age of Empires? Are you still friends with Yeebaagooon? (As for how I know that name, Vex Tap knows all!)
Meph: Yes, we still speak. For those that don't know, Age of Mythology had an editor that people could use to make... well... pretty much any type of game that you could think of. We used to make tower defences, RPGs and many other unique games. BerryZ was one of my favourites, where four players would have to collect 7000 berries first, whilst thwarting everyone else's attempts to do so with bizarre methods. We also made Pwn the N00bs, which was basically a comedy. I used to work with Yeebaagooon developing them, and I loved working with him because we were all just having a massive laugh. One time, when we made a scenario called "Desert Conflict" (which was basically a series of boss battles) we had a mini-game called The Wrath of the British Weather. You can imagine what that was like.
I used to be in a community called Heaven Games, which was a collection of forums dedicated to many games similar to Age of Mythology. It was the first forum I ever posted in when I was about 11 years old (which felt like a big deal for me at the time ). It was through that that I joined and then took over a design team (where teams worked together to make scenarios), which taught me a lot about moderating and how not to moderate. It was also through that that I started doing Web design, because it was when I had a go at creating our design team's website.
Tap: What other interests do you have, Mr. Eater?
Meph: Doctor Who, of course.
Tap: What is it about Doctor Who that interests you? I mean, I'm sure that those who aren't a fan of the series believe it to be about a weird alien who travels around in a shoebox.
Meph: Indeed. But it's actually about a mad alien who travels around time and space in a blue box. Doctor Who is just a classic. That said, you wouldn't want to watch the classic episodes once you've seen the new ones. It's a brilliant show. Because the Doctor can go anywhere, it has the potential for pretty much any type of story that you can think of. That's why I think it's more of a fantasy show than a sci-fi show (that said, the last two series have been very sci-fi).
Tap: Recently, Russell T Davies, the revivalist of the series in 2005, said to reporters that he has no current plans to write another episode of Doctor Who, but he hasn't ruled it out either. Do you think that his style of writing would be a nice welcome back into the series, especially after the radical transformations it has been through since Steven Moffat succeeded Davies as Head Writer and Executive Producer?
Meph: Yes, I think so. A lot of people have stopped watching the show lately, because the plots are too complicated and they can't keep up. I think Davies's style of writing would those lost viewers a break. Plus, Davies's stories were great in a different way to Moffat's. He had a tendancy to bring back old monsters instead of creating new ones, but they were still great.
Tap: Moffat also recently retired the Daleks from the scene, and rumour has that it was due to the "stuff-up" he made during the beginning of Season 5. What's your opinion on that?
Meph: I'm not particularly bothered about it, but I think that both sides of the story could be true. I love the Daleks, and personally, I liked their new design, bar the fact that their weapons couldn't spin round separately to their heads.
Tap: That's all of my questions for this month. Is there anything else you'd like to mention?
Meph: Yes. I'd like to firstly thank Unas for listening to my feedback throughout the years and trusting me to be a mod (and just trusting me in general). Also, I'd like to thank the QA team again for the brilliant work that they do. And of course, I'd like to thank the staff for being such a great team and for being the online-equivalent of very good friends to me. Finally, I'd like to thank everyone in the community for behaving ( ), for always having something interesting and fun to contribute to the community and for making it a pleasant place to be in. We're always getting feedback of how kind everyone is here, but that has very little to do with the staff.
Tap: That's it, then. We've reached the conclusion of the special interview for the MotM first year anniversary. Thanks for a great interview, and I'm sure the community will really enjoy reading through it.
Meph: Thanks for the interview, Tap! I really enjoyed it!